Saturday, 21 February 2015

Progress in the garden

I am taking a break from the decoration projects at the moment as my forearms and wrists and my right hand are particularly sore from the unaccustomed exercise they have been getting. Waking up in the morning with my right hand stiff, painful and creaky is too reminiscent of my mum’s lupus symptoms to be comfortable …

So instead I have been working on the section a bit – nowhere near as much as David and Rob have been, but every little bit helps. I do bits of weeding in the herb garden outside the kitchen and sunroom and I keep pulling up quite a bit of wandering jew from outside the bedroom where it is regenerating.

David and Rob between them have knocked down a decrepit piece of fence and a block wall between us and one of our back neighbours. Both of them adjoined an illegal greenhouse/lean-to the neighbour has attached to his workshop. When the fence came down the novaroof walls had nothing to hold them in so they were flapping in the fairly strong breeze we had last week. I suggested to Peter that he probably needed to fasten them before they split. So one day when we were out he came over and did so, using a piece of aluminium strapping to screw them to the uprights. When I saw him a few days later, he apologised for how awful the lean-to looked from our side. He’s right - it’s very crappy. But we are going to build a fence in front of it, so we won’t see it, esp when we espalier some plants and fruit trees along the fence.

When he was here on Monday, Rob removed 4 giant impatiens plants around the front of the section – they were giant by name and giant by stature.  His method was very efficient – he used his short-handled grubber to chop at a bit of the root structure and then pulled out the attached branches, repeated and repeated until the whole thing was gone. He then planted a passionfruit vine next to the fence and used the grubber to dig the hole for it. Much faster and easier than using a spade. He has also planted two hibiscus for me recently – an orange one given to us by Derek, Ted and Vanessa as a housewarming pressie, and a bright pink one that I bought. The orange one has a few buds and I will post some pictures when it flowers.
The pink hibiscus

I love the colour

Rob tells me the hibiscuses will grow as tall as we want them to. They are both looking very healthy so I am keen to see how fast they grow.
Rob is amazingly fast and thorough – on Monday arvo he also completed shaping the edge of the garden beside the dining room – that was no mean feat as the ground is rock hard currently as we’ve only had 1.5 days of rain in the last seven weeks. He chopped away several extremely large lilies and trimmed the silver fern outside the dining room, and pruned two very large rhododendrons so they aren’t drooping on the ground in the front yard, His pruning is very thoughtful – when he has pruned a plant you know it’s been done because of the trimmings and because the plant looks smaller. But when looking at the plant you cannot see the cuts. He helped David get the old stove and dishwasher into the skip and cut a branch off the maple in the front yard so it wasn’t impinging on the rhodo below and beside it. The last task of the day was to plant the mandevilla and tie it to the downpipe on the end wall of the garage – it replaces one of the giant impatiens and will look so much more attractive.

Then it was inside for a glass of wine and nibbles with Jack and Sarah before catching the train home to Paekakariki.

On Sunday I used Bruce and Gary’s waterblaster to clean the green algae/mould off the remaining back fence which bounds our place with Graeme and Joy’s. On their side the fence is painted, but on ours it was scungy – until Luke and Rob cleared the trees and garden respectively, we could not see the fence as it was absolutely masked from view by trees, giant lilies and undergrowth. It was good to get it clean enough to paint on Wet and Forget – I’m not going to spray it on as it’ll get all over G&J’s plants and kill them. Once that has done its job, I’ll give the fence a coat of dark paint to give it a bit more protection. Hopefully then it’ll last for a few more years …

Monday I attacked the backing paper of the wallpaper sheets Jack has removed. I got most of it off, but it was then that I decided that I needed to stop because my forearms, wrists and hands were hurting again – important to take your own advice, don’t you think? I wouldn’t be able to get on my high horse about people not taking care of themselves if I don’t do it myself, eh? So I have been on a self-enforced slow down. It is hard but I have to do it or I won’t be in any fit state for boating or anything that requires arm or wrist strength.

So Tuesday’s lone task was to plant Caitlin’s rose. Caitlin is the darling wee grand-daughter we lost to cot death at age 6 months, 6 years ago now. Friends gave us a rose and they had a brass plaque made for our garden. As we were originally going to move into an apartment we had given the rose to Luke and Diane who are friends of Tim and Marta’s. Now they have shifted from their Tawa house and we have moved into this lovely place, Luke asked if we’d like the rose back. Diane brought it out yesterday morning. So I planted it along from the passionfruit vine, against the fence. I also have a yellow daisy bush that was a seedling from the original that we had in Caitlin’s garden at Cherswud. When we settle on a place for that (probably in the cottage garden area we have planned) we will also put the plaque up again, most likely on the to-be-erected fence.

Over the week, David has filled a skip with stuff from around the section – the piles of detritus from the giant impatiens, the stacks of rotting planks behind the garden shed, the contents and framing of a couple of pretty useless compost bins, Rob’s recent prunings, concrete blocks from the wall David demolished, and the old stove and dishwasher, plus a heap of stuff he found up in the attic. 

So, in go Rob and David to rearrange the stove they've just heaved in the skip.

Man-handling appliances

The rear view ...


A few days later - no evidence there's a stove and washing machine at the bottom.

The place is starting to look less like a deforested area and more like a work in progress. We have even started some planting, although there is still a number of plants sitting waiting for their turn ...

New leaves

The new leaf shoots

It’s lovely to see the that the severely trimmed camellias almost all have new shoots making their way through the bark of the remaining branches. At this rate, by next spring they’ll be looking like no trimming ever took place!  Survival is in their DNA.

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