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Archive for June, 2013

They’re Baa-aack…


The fearsome hunter and his weapon

Well, this spring I posted about how something was “missing” from the garden; the slugs were a long time in coming this year, but they’ve finally appeared. Sadly…

Their numbers aren’t as great as they have been other years; this morning I only found 34 while strolling around in the garden with my morning coffee, but I’m sure they will soon regain their former numbers unless I keep at it, so I do. At least now there are 34 fewer slugs that can eat my plants.

It might be a somewhat macabre start to the day, strolling around the garden in my bathrobe with a sharp hoe to cut the little bastards in two, but it’s effective, and when carried out regularly it actually seems to do a better job at controlling slug numbers than pellets did when I tried those.

Further to the 34 slugs, a meagre 4 common garden snails also crossed my way, and these were expedited in much the same way as the slugs.

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My Mum came over last week for my Mother-in-Law’s 55th (okay, 65th – but don’t tell anybody!) birthday, and she brought quite a haul with her. She brought a large trailer full of goodies for me, including of course my dahlias that have overwintered in her frost-free shed and were potted up in early May.

The haul also included:

  • 9 large pots for the terrace, the Courtyard and wherever else we might want to stick them. Most of them a 15″ or more in diameter, so they can hold their own even if I use some in the garden to add some height or focal points to the beds and borders.
  • 1 bicycle – because the two bicycles that came with the house when we bought it were both rather shabby and needed replacement, and my Dad’s bike was just sitting in her shed, taking up precious space.
  • 1 sun bed (or whatever you call it) so my Mother-in-Law has somewhere to recline gracefully in the garden when she visits. We used to have two, but they were both nasty plastic things and fortunately both have collapsed under visitors in the past year so we could throw them out. My mother’s sun bed is made of aluminium and a nylon mesh, so it’s much more solid – and doesn’t need to be stored inside during winter!
  • 1 plum tree ‘Anita’ that she originally bought for her own garden but then decided against. It’s 2.5 meters tall and will have red plums as far as I can see, and as Anita is the name of my Mother-in-Law my Mum felt that it belonged in our garden.
  • 1 large toolbox – without tools – so we can get our tools in the apartment organised, rather than having a screwdriver here and a hammer there and not knowing which is where.
  • 1 small wardrobe that used to belong to my great-great aunt or something like that. It’s dark oak with a weathered mirror front and it will help us keep the house tidier by simply giving us more space to stick things out of sight.
  • 1 bag of stones with holes in them – don’t ask me why she brought those, but I’m sure I’ll find something to do with them.
  • 1 crate of home-made apple juice.
  • 2 pots of cuttings; lavender and something else I can’t quite remember what is. These come from my Grandmother’s garden, so of course I really hope they with root and be happy.

She also brought her new dog; it was the first time I saw her since I went to check her out before my Mum decided to buy her:

Flâneur Puppy

She’s grown so much, though admittedly she’s still a tiny dog and probably won’t be very big when fully grown, but she’s adorable and rather well-behaved for a puppy. She seemed to enjoy sitting on the steps of the terrace and supervise the garden while my Mum and I sat on the terrace.

The plum tree was planted immediately, whereas the rest of the plants and pots have just been dumped in a corner to be placed in permanent locations next weekend when the Flâneur Husband and I shall be spending the weekend in the garden. The tree has been aligned with the small apple tree and one of the axes of the terrace, so in time it should look like a logical placement without being too stringent.

Plum tree 'Anita'

The white tub at the back holds the dahlias that needed a thorough watering, so they got an overnight soak, whereas the tree that has lived for nearly a year in a tiny plastic pot has been nursed a lot more so it was ready for planting. I’ll have to re-fill the planting hole, I’m sure, as the soil is certain to settle quite a lot. I loosened it so much that when I’d planted the tree and watered it, I tried firming up the soil but ended up ankle-deep in mud…

I do like fruit trees… So pretty in spring, and yet not purely ornamental. This plum tree fits in with my original idea of letting the less-used North-East side if the garden become an orchard of sorts, and with an apple tree, a pear tree and a plum tree it seems like we’re well under way. I suspect, though, that we will need another pear tree in the garden somewhere, since the pollination of our current pear tree is at best rather haphazard and it has never yielded more than two pears in one year.

Anyway… Lots of presents from Mum – again – and lots and lots of hopes for how they will enhance the garden. And planting a tree is always so satisfying. As the Danish poet Piet Hein wrote:

You have shares in a future;
For that you must plant a tree.

Perennials are for ourselves, whereas trees will only look good when they are old – and I shall probably be in my grave, or close to it. The trees are planted for a future we might not see ourselves, but if you look at our new plum tree and squeeze your eyes nearly shut I swear you can almost see what it could look like 60 years from now.

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Sunny Flâneur

The picture above was taken quite a long time ago, but I just haven’t gotten around to posting about a rather significant development in the garden. Sometime ago, the Flâneur Husband voiced a desire to pull down the roof over the covered terrace in front of the house. Basically it was poorly constructed and didn’t really handle heavy snow or rain very well; heavy snow would make it sag by an inch so the terrace door from the house would be blocked, and heavy rain would run back towards the house as the incline of the roof was too shallow.

Dismantling roof

So one weekend we got started on the project, with moral support from a friend, seen perched on a ladder in the picture above. Basically it was just a matter of pulling down the roof and the roof beams and leaving the posts and top board all around the terrace to create a pergola or arbour, though with no roof.

View from the roof

Having removed the roof means several things. First of all the house is no longer structurally compromised by a poor addition to it, and obviously that’s the main benefit. However, removing the translucent roof over the terrace also means we get more light into the house – and we get a view of the sky when sitting in the sofa, rather than having the top of the view cut off. And finally we now have a much sunnier terrace, the problem corner to the North-East of the terrace is not as soggy, and generally we have a nicer transition from house to garden.

roof-less

In pictures the difference is not that visible, really; there’s still the frame of the terrace to breack up the length of the façade and make the house appear somewhat larger, and there’s still the low wooden fence around the terrace that means you won’t accidentally push your chair back a bit too far and find yourself toppling backwards into the garden.

We already have several climbers around the terrace – 6 clematis, a rampant honeysuckle and some perennial sweet peas – but we plan to continue planting more so eventually the terrace will become more private. A partial and removable fabric awning of sorts is also being considered so it will be possible to create some shade – and shelter from the dew on summer nights.

This change is really for the better; I shall miss having a covered outdoor space, but we can always add that at another point – and probably in a different location where it won’t darken the house so much or create structural issues for the house.

Sunny Flâneur

So I repeat the first photo. See how lovely it is to have the sky up there?

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