Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Willow weaves and light metal.

Top-of-the-stone-wall makeover time. Or, in normal, old-fashioned english, remaking the willow-weave fence that sits on top of the stone-faced wall we can see from our conservatory. Here's what it looked like before (you see, it could be on a makeover TV programme):

I did the willow topping several years ago, and here you can see it's all rotting away. Joe stuck in a couple of upright supports to stop it disintegrating altogether.

First gather your willow. The yellow stuff on the ground is a type of basket willow got from friends years ago. There's a red version too which looks really pretty where it's growing alongside the drive. Not long enough, though, for this job. The yellow is just about, and its colour is glorious.

The mainstay of the weave, though, is the mile-a-minute stuff that has provided quick and excellent growth in hedges around the place. Cut it to the ground and back it comes every year filled with early pussy willows appreciated by the first bumble bees out of hibernation. It came from the same friends with the label bio-mass. You can make structures out of it too - arbours and the like.

So willows cut and trimmed. Then remove the old stuff.

A few extra willow branches cut and trimmed, then the fun bit. New posts to wind the willows between and here's the result:

It looks so pretty when freshly done! The yellow will fade with time, but the structure should be good now for another several years.

Good to get outside and work on a satisfying project. Great weather for it - absolutely still. So still it seems somehow unreal, like being in a giant bowl some massive creature has made into a toy garden.

A side-effect of the willow weaving was willow cuttings. They work well stuck straight into the ground but I put these in pots in the greenhouse alongside the pretty little yellow flowers, whose name I should know, which seeded themselves liberally in the gravel at the edge of the courtyard. A common summer planting for tubs, I'll have plenty for next year.

There's flowering currant here too. And lavender. I'll have to watch it though as the winter progresses. Mice got into last year's lavender cuttings looking, I suppose, for roots when there was little else to eat.

Finally here's a green dock leaf beetle (Gastrophysa viridula don't ya know) that's settled in shiny accommodation that makes it feel at home. These beetles wear metallic-looking jackets that shimmer in sunlight and can appear anything from bronze to violet to green.

More dry weather please - I still have weeds to pull.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cactus and copse

Isn't that fantastic? I immediately started seeing all sorts of possibilities for artistically posing plants and pots. I bet people still do it on a quiet Tuesday morning in winter, probably posting lookouts at either end of the cactus house.

We were in the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin in Dublin, somehwhere I've been wanting to visit for years. Here's another great exhibit in the same cactus house:

Those furry lads? They're not furry. I kind of knew that - my Nana used to keep cacti - but Joe gave one a surreptitious stroke. Ouch.

In another glasshouse plants were going incognito:

And look at this roof:

One of the things I wanted to do while we were there was look at trees in the arboretum. We're planning to plant some in our new garden - I want to re-create something of the woodland feel we have here. There won't be anything like the glorious mature beech, oak and sycamore of this place, but I think I can still make a woodland atmosphere by planting a mix of native and non-native trees alongside those already on the boundary:

We were up at the site yesterday marking out the boundary on the Land Registry Map. The really good news is that Liam who we're buying it from has included a small copse of mostly birch. I've major plans for putting in primroses, cowslips and bluebells and adding native trees at either end. The primroses and cowslips shouldn't be a problem, and there's a couple of bluebells on the ditch already, so I'm hopeful.

One thing I'm really going to miss is the astonishing variety of wild flowers I have in my garden here. Not sure if their absence at the new site is because it's been grazed by horses and donkeys. But I'll be doing my best to make it a garden me and the wildlife will love.

So I'm just looking back at photos to see if I can find one of the copse - I wasn't taking pictures of it because I didn't think it was going to be part of our land. And I found this:

It's  Joe in our field with a bicycle. I was looking down from the neighbour's patio to make sure our house won't block his view of the lake. I think the bicycle had something to do with that. Or maybe Joe has entered a Third Policeman time warp (for those who've never read Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman, you should).

And look at all those buttercups. Oh my. So pretty, but that's my next gardening life, pulling up creeping buttercup. And where's the bicycle?

Here's the copse. Just to the left at the back. How astonishingly different a place looks in summer and winter. This was the excavations for the percolation test to see could we have a septic tank - essential before you can get planning permission.

Still can't really believe this is happening. Best not to think about moving from here until it's upon us. At least we're only going over the mountain. And at least I now have a copse to play with.