Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, July 25, 2011

Onwards and upwards

Over the weekend we were able to put in another full day working on the pond build, with the mixed weather we have had this summer we are not as far into this project as we would have liked, but with warm sunny weather forecast for Sunday we were able to really get stuck in.

Spending the first few hours of a Sunday morning pickaxing solid chalk for the concrete footings of the pond walls is not my idea of fun, but it sure is a good way to exercise (something my mother commented on when she came round to visit, apparently i need to lose a few pounds!!). So with Mark busy elsewhere in the garden dealing with the existing pond maintenance and also feeding the tree ferns, I got stuck in. A couple of hours later and It was finished, Mark joined me to remove yet more spoil from the hole, before we started the less boring task of wheel-barrowing round sand and gravel to mix up into concrete.

Finally several hours later and another little part of the project was done and the footings poured for one of the longer sides.

After a well deserved break for lunch we got stuck into something a little more visible and laid another 20 odd concrete blocks on the previous section.

Gradually I think I'm getting a little quicker at laying blocks, which is just as well as there are another 288 of them sat on the driveway!!


Chenies Manor Plant Fair

Another day, another plant hunting trip. This time to a fairly local plant fair held at Chenies Manor in South Buckinghamshire a week last Sunday.

Chenies advertise as the largest fair after Chelsea, so with that bold statement in mind we were not entirely sure what to expect. Now whether they are really as big as claimed or not we were still impressed by the size and number of stalls.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

"Its my Birthday tomorrow"

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A trip to Olive Grove Nursery

Having discovered Olive Grove Nursery at the recent Cottesbrooke Hall Plant Finders Fair we felt we really ought to visit the nursery and have a look round, so with the poor weather forecast stopping work on the pond we took a trip to Olive Grove. The owners Tim and Jackie were not there on our visit as they were at another plant fair.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fashionably Beautiful

Dahlias are back in 'fashion' again, about time too! I never did quite understand why it went out of fashion in the first place, blame it on our 'grandparents' they say for it's overuse in the past. But I'm glad it's now back in 'fashion', as the blooms of most of them are absolutely stunning.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

And the walls go up!

Last week turned out to be a truly hectic week for the both of us, mainly due to work and other commitments but a big development has happened as we now have commenced the build of the walls of the pond. After months and months of digging it was great to finally reach this stage!

The weekend before we dug out the base of the wall of one side of the pond and filled it with concrete. That was hard work but found it amusing that at the end of the weekend there was very little visual reward as when filled up with concrete it was level to the base of the pond, almost like we didn't do anything at all. But like with most construction work, a sturdy build starts with a solid base and this was no exception, amazing how much work is needed 'below ground'.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Allure of The Kalopanax

Kalopanax septemlobus, the Prickly Castor Oil tree, and a sole species in its genus is one of my favourite plants, so much so that we have several in the garden. Even now, whenever I spot some in the nurseries we visit I still find myself gravitating towards them, admiring the overall form of the plant with it's lush leaves on spiny stems, gorgeous! Mind you, I say that about a lot of plants and I have loads of other favourites too, but there is something special about the inherently unique Kalopanax.

Lush leaves....

If this Myth was True...

Then Adam must have been well 'equipped'...

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Concrete and Clay

No not the 60s song by Unit Four Plus Two, but an update on our big dig project.

As some of you will know we started digging last summer to create a large Koi pond in a new section of garden, well after excavating something like 18 cubic meters of clay and chalk by hand we are now more or less ready for the concrete. We had hoped to have been fully dug out a couple of months back, but due to having to down tools over winter (far too wet, sticky and messy) we pushed the project back a little.

Many people building a large pond would use a mechanical digger, but due to very limited access this wasn't possible, so armed with spades, shovels and a pick axe we have systematically hand dug our pond. Our neighbours must think we are mad and have been keeping a close eye on all our endeavours.

We decided early on that we would recycle much of the spoil to landscape the area around the pond. This works well on several levels, firstly it will help the pond blend into the surroundings, it will also reduce our own physical exertion as if we had to wheel barrow the spoil round to the front of the house it would have taken a lot longer to remove, thirdly getting rid of so much soil would prove quite costly, and we would much rather spend the money saved on plants or towards the equipment needed in the pond.

The pond itself will be fairly formal in style, being a rectangular pond that is raised up out of the ground, giving at least 6 feet of water depth. We have constructed raised beds that flank a curving pathway to what will become a decked area in front of the pond.

The beds have been built from concrete blocks and topped off with a blue/gray sandstone. To tie in with the sandstone the walls have been rendered with an undulating finish mimicking the undulating nature of the stone. Although these will not be planted up fully until next year we have made some plantings already to get some key plants established.

So whats next?

Now the pond is dug the next phase is to construct the walls of the pond, the filter house, the decked area, and no doubt a dozen other things we will think of... Certainly plenty to do to, and there wont be any chance to get bored.


Monday, July 04, 2011

The Start of Summer!

Now we are into July, we always feel that the garden starts to really get going, many plants are growing at full pace, and the various perennial plants have knitted together and filled in the areas of bare earth we always see in Spring.

Its been reasonably sunny of late, and sun and warmth always brings the camera out.

The area around our jungle hut has filled out well. One or two plants filled out too well, and we removed a bamboo that was taking up quite a lot of space. By the end of the summer this area will no doubt have filled out even more.

I'm particularly pleased with how the jungle area is looking this year. We haven't needed to do too much work in this part of the garden this year, the plants are now doing all the hard work!