And more flowers…

Posted in Plants and Gardens on September 27th, 2011 by Coffee

Today we finally have our first actual blossom on the fruit trees. Yippee!

It’s a apricot, I think, if I can read our little orchard map correctly. Not sure if we’re meant to get any fruit off it this year or not. Probably better we let them get a bit more established this year and worry about fruit later.

How do I know it happened today? Because they weren’t there on yesterday’s orchard walk, but they were there today!

“Wildflower” of the month – September

Posted in Plants and Gardens on September 27th, 2011 by Coffee

That’s right! The wildflower of the month would have to be the dandelions (or more officially, Taraxacum)that have seemingly invaded the far reaches of the short grass this month.

I do actually quite like them as flowers, and the way they hide when the sun’s not out is really cool. But I really don’t want them in my lawn! Just about time to go chop all their heads off with the push mower before they go to seed.

Although it does seem that they are also completely edible, so as we’re short of dinner material maybe I’ll make a dandelion salad. Bec’s always saying she wants salad for tea. I’m sure she’ll love it!

More construction…

Posted in Plants and Gardens on September 25th, 2011 by Coffee

It was just under a year ago that we put up the pump shed. My, doesn’t time fly! And what better way to celebrate an (almost) anniversary of that than to undertake more erection action.

This time the project was to get a poly-tunnel kit-set up before it got too windy and we lost the cover over the neighbours fence or something.

Having been told of a trick to help get the stabilisation stakes in the stony ground we tried it out today. And it worked a treat! Bang in a crowbar first, then the stake will follow. Genius. Although it still took some muscle power to drive them all in. That and big hammers.

With the help of many that participated in the shed building, and a few more welcome extras we got it up with relative ease, and quite quickly too. Much more quickly and easily than the shed, anyway. Thanks to all involved!

We even had time to install some of the gravel that we’d painstakingly shovelled out of the grass from various building activities. Pity we’ve only enough for one end, but another small trailer load and we’ll be sorted.

So now all the seedlings that have been cluttering up the table can start to wander outside to the hot house. I’ll just have to remember to be careful with the temperature. It can get damn hot in there, as we found out. Especially before any vents had been cut in the covering!

Boxing day came early this year…

Posted in Plants and Gardens, Rants And Rambles on September 17th, 2011 by Coffee

“Box” seems to have been the order of the day. At the same time I was planting a line of English box across the front of the house, Bec was busy putting the last coat of stuff on the crate that contained our old TV when it was shipped from the UK.

The painter that was here sorting out a few remedial issues gave us the idea, suggesting a bit of work might make it something that might add a bit of colour and interest to the place. So a coat of stain and a couple of varnish later we’ve got something that will sit in a corner quite nicely for a bit. At least until something better comes to mind!

As for the front boxing, I think I managed to get it almost straight with the help of my trusty builders string. Any excuse and I’m likely to bring out my roll of string to much derision from Bec, but it’s worth it. I figure any small deviations will be able to be sorted out with a bit of pruning. Assuming it all grows! We’ve still got a spare plant or two if some of them don’t like their new homes.

As it’s the dark side of the house hopefully it won’t grow too fast. Twice yearly clipping sounds like enough work to me!

Some unusual visitors

Posted in Animals on September 17th, 2011 by Coffee

I was staring out the window looking for general inspiration when right past the window traipsed these guys…

A not so quick trip around the net later I decided they must be pied oystercatchers looking for a place to nest. First time I’ve seen any around here. And if they’ve got any sense they’ll move on, as apparently they nest in shallow depressions in the dirt. Just perfect for little kitties to invite themselves over.

(Apologies for the horribly washed-out pic!)

The New Lawn: Part 8 – Rippin’ stuff!

Posted in House, Plants and Gardens on September 13th, 2011 by Coffee

After a very early start for me shovelling some of the AP20 into the entrance path while Tony levelled out the last of the drive, I finally got to sit back and watch the lawn area start to be more defined as he then started to rip it all up. The noticeable boundary between the old ground and the newly dumped dirt faded away into a freshly ploughed field.

He was done by lunchtime and tootled off. We won’t see him again for five weeks, while the soil all relaxes again, and all the weed seeds that have been disturbed have a good old sprout. Mind you, there are currently a huge number of birds out there having a good old munch on something or other that’s been dragged up. Hopefully it’s all the weed seeds. Or maybe grass grubs. But it seems like it’s definitely an early Christmas for them!

My job over the five week hiatus is to collect up all the stones that are over a fist size so the stone-burier can do its job and push the others down. It’s actually not as bad as I feared. Some areas are pretty clear already. Even Tony was surprised by how few boulders appeared.

We still need to finish off the entrance too (just a bit short of the AP20 in the end), but at least now there’s a path leading to the door that isn’t made of mud.

So all you visitors, park on the drive and come to the front door now.

And stay the hell off my lawn!

I guess I’ll have to find something else to keep you lot entertained now…

The New Lawn: Part 7 – Look Ma! No more piles left!

Posted in House, Plants and Gardens on September 12th, 2011 by Coffee

Ok, so technically there wasn’t actually anything to do with the new lawn area today, but we’ve reached a bit of a milestone. As of now there are no piles of anything around the place. We’re back to a flat(ish) base again! In fact we’re better then we’ve ever been, as with all the driveway and lawn levelling, along with the holes that the extra shingle filled in down the back, we’re now flatter than we’ve ever been, with even more usable land. (Now we just have to work out what to use it for…)

It’s a bit odd to walk around the house and not see anything sticking up and spoiling the views. But I’m sure we’ll get used to it!

And with perfect timing, as soon as Tony had finished dealing with the piles the AP20 arrived to go on the top of the drive which he could then level out. What’s AP20, I hear you ask? Apparently it stands for “All Passing 20mm”. I.e. a gravel and sand and clay type mix, but with nothing over 20mm long. I’m learning all sorts of stuff lately!

So he had a good ¾ of an hour to shove all that around to level it out. We’re still a few cubic meters short, but that should arrive tomorrow morning. Assuming it’s not raining Tony can then shove it all around, then we just have to get the roller back to give it a bit of a settling down. But the rain that’s currently persisting down will be helping with that. (By the by, why is it that it only rains here after I’ve got desperate and watered the most thirsty plants by hand?!)

The driveway’s a nice sideshow, but next on the lawn progress if for the whole lot to be ripped up then cultivated. Crossing fingers for that progress tomorrow!

Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’…

Posted in House, Plants and Gardens on September 10th, 2011 by Coffee

Dawn finally arrived this morning, and once the toast and coffee had been gobbled down it was time to mount the roller and give the drive a bit of a going over. I was slightly apprehensive about how it would all go, not having driven anything like the roller before, but in the end it was pretty easy. But only once I’d been up and down the drive a couple of times. The first few trips up and down were pretty bumpy (especially with the vibrate function working overtime on the rough piles of gravel), making me wish that I’d left my breakfast to settle a bit more before setting out.

The most interesting and unexpected thing to me was watching the impact one big rock in the gravel had on the rolling for metres afterwards. It’s kind of like the impact that a rock has on the water of a river, but I really didn’t expect to see that sort of pattern in gravel and rocks. Other than that it was just a grind. Up and down, up and down…

But up and down, up and down, round and round, up and down I went for a few hours. Stopping only to let my stomach settle a bit, and to pull out some of the big stones and fill up some of the worst holes. I swear I’ve never reversed as much in my entire life as I did today! (Of course some of that is probably due to riding motorbikes rather than driving cars. Not much call for a reverse gear on a sports bike!)

But it did look enough fun for Bec to give it a go for a while too. I think she even enjoyed it. The grin suggests she did, at least.

On Monday we’re getting another layer spread on it of finer and firmer stuff. That’s going to need packing down too, so we’ll have to give it another blat with a roller sometime soon. But luckily we can’t do that quite yet, my kidneys need a chance to climb down from my ribs first.

We have bud-break!

Posted in Plants and Gardens on September 9th, 2011 by Coffee

Yes indeedy. Life has appeared in the orchard. The first tree to end its winter slumber is the quince. A couple of others look set to go soon too. Let’s just hope all the rest managed to survive the stress of us novices digging them in and will do the same!

In other tree related news, we decided that two trees together are never right, so we’ve added a third to the specimen trees out the front. A hardy maple this time, so we should now get some red in autumn to go with the yellow and purple. Well see. Not in a hurry for autumn to get here just yet!

The New Lawn: Part 6 – Driveway Refilled.

Posted in House, Plants and Gardens on September 9th, 2011 by Coffee

After a bit of a break where Tony had to go off and do some stuff for much bigger clients than us (can’t blame him, and it didn’t worry us), the driveway got fully refilled with shingle this morning.

Tonight we’ve hopefully got a ride-on roller being dropped off so we can spend an few hours tomorrow morning going up and down, up and down it to pack it all down properly. I just hope I can learn how to drive it without hitting anything important. Like the house!