Monday, March 19, 2012

A Rather Satisfying Weekend

Like many gardeners we always have one eye on the weather forecasts, and with sunny weather heading into last weekend we were rather disappointed with the forecast for the weekend itself - rain, rain and more rain.

We had already made plans on the tasks we wanted to complete - block laying, being the main task. Unfortunately block laying and rain just do not mix, so on Friday evening we were thinking up a plan B.

So on Saturday morning, instead of mixing concrete we headed down to Crews Hill, an area just on the northern edge of London filled with various garden centres and nurseries. When we last visited about a month or so ago Mark had spotted in one of the garden centres hundreds of the banana plant Ensete ventricosum 'Maurrelii'. These had probably been there since the previous summer as they were of a good size, much bigger than the typical small plants you see being sold in early spring. We thought it would be a good time to pick two or three up to grow on until they could be planted out. But luck would not be on our side as they had either sold them all or removed them - the area was full of newly arrived fuschias.

Gloriosa rothschildiana

A recent delivery of Trachycarpus at Paramount Plants
A selection of exotic plants at Paramount
So the rest of the morning was spent nursery hopping, although we came back with very little, just a Nandina domestica and two packs of dahlias.

The rain had stopped by the time we got home, and even better the forecast had been revised, we were now expecting a gloomy afternoon but no more rain.

We opted against block laying and decided to tackle one big job that needed to be tackled for some time - trimming the Yew tree (Taxus baccata)!

Angry grey clouds and a misshapen Yew
As you can see from the first picture it had ended up losing its symmetry with a couple of branches getting out of proportion. So up went the ladder and we took the branches down bit by bit. Mark was busy holding the ladder and passing me tools to take any pictures during the big chop, but down it all came safely. This was rather tricky as it would have been easier to cut these branches off at the base and let them fall, but with delicate plants underneath we had to take our time.

With the branches trimmed the view was opened up.
Twinkles having a look at what was going on.
Knickers quickly climbed up to see what Twinkles was up to, and then found the branches he usually climbs on had been removed.
On Sunday we were again expecting an overcast day, although we did get a light drizzle in the morning it wasn't too much to put us off, so we got stuck back into the pond.

The far corner is where the return pipes from the filter house will enter the pond. This had been left outstanding as we had to pick up the correct pipe for this (2" pressure pipe). Each piece of pipe juts through the wall and will be connected into the filter system once it is installed. On the pond side these will eventually be trimmed flush and sealed by fibreglass when the pond is made water proof.

There are still two layers of blocks to lay, but we will do this next weekend. Then the pond will finally reach its final depth (roughly 6'6").

After lunch we got stuck into some spring cleaning in the garden (see Marks blog); cutting, trimming, and leaf blowing, which was topped off with a trip to the recycling centre.

After fitting in so many different activities we both felt this was a most enjoyable weekend in the garden, so diverse and so many different tasks. 

Roll on next weekend - the forecast is currently sunny!!



  1. We were due for a stormy wet day on Saturday but it turned out rather nice. Unlike you guys I didn't do a single garden related thing. By the time night fell I was feeling a little guilty.

    Thanks for the reminder to start thinking about potting up my Ensete ventricosum 'Maurrelii' that I've been over-wintering bare root.

  2. Last week we had the worst weather. Rain, snow and wind! Sometimes it's best to leave the chores behind and endulge in a little plant hunting. Those trachycarpus look healthy, I wish we had more nurseries selling that kind of thing.

  3. It is so lovely following the process of your garden development. I think I am getting excited as you about the 'Big Fill' lol!

  4. Loree, We seem to always end up spending a lot of time in the garden. So many things to do, and always something interesting to look at or plan. How big is your Ensete?

    Nat, I agree sometimes you have to have a plant fix!

    Libby, we are really looking forward to water going in, not too much longer now!

  5. Hey, I recently got a dwarf novak banana tree :-). As per instructions, I can never plant this plant outside but I have found out that there are dwarf banana trees that can be planted outside and will bear fruits; they can withstand snow/freeze. I can't believe that. How can that most tropical plant survive snow!? The banana plant that you are looking for, will it survive snow?

  6. Hi KL, the one we were after is too tender for snow, we have grown it in the past and brought it into a garden shed for winter. But any snow or freezing weather would kill it. However it is very fast growing, and looks great once it gets big!

  7. The weather gods often thwart gardening plans but I imagine that the wet stuff is much needed in your neck of the woods. Still it looks as if you achieved a good deal despite the elements. That pond looks big enough to be a swimming pool :)

  8. Hi Anna, yes the South East needs all the rain it can get (but please not on the weekend!)

    The pond will be 20'by 10' or 6m by 3m.

  9. Nandina domestica - detestable plant! No offense at your purchase but you can have too much of a good thing! When we first got our little yard in the USA it was ENTIRELY planted with these so I've rather gone off them and spent the last four years nibbling them out one at a time and replacing with more interesting plants - I wonder if the landlord has noticed? Isn't it wonderful that we all like different things!

  10. Hi Ian, In many circumstances it can look dreadful - especially when used as a "car park" plant or mass planted as you describe. Have you seen the large beds at Kew in next to the Japanese House.

    However we intent to grow it as a standard, and keep it fairly neat rather than allowing it to get too big, hopefully will give an interesting effect, and if not you can come back and remind us that you "told us so" :)


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