Monday, November 28, 2011

Anatomy and Treasures

Schefflera digitata
Business as usual! After a much needed (and well deserved me thinks!) short break it's back again to tending to the garden during the weekends. I was actually really looking forward to it after not seeing the garden properly for several days, almost two weeks in fact. Although we have only been away for a few days the lack of daytime light impedes in seeing the garden properly during the week, being that it's dark when we head off to work and already dark when we get back. So it's only at the weekend that we can give everything a proper look over and continue with things that needs to be done.

The shorter daylight hours in the winter has both bad points and good points; bad being that you only have a short amount of time to get crackin' in the garden with natural light, and good being that at least you are forced to pack up and head indoors much earlier and do something else. Artificial lights are never the same really, you get to see better detail with natural daylight.

In the summer we can continue outdoors till nine in the evening, now we start packing up just before four. I'm still getting used to the routine of being indoors relatively early but it's good to be able to catch up on a few more 'indoorsy' activities that gets sidelined in the summer. Mind you, we don't exactly stay indoors most of the time. Four pm is still early and there's plenty of time to go shopping and places after being in the garden, fantastic!

By the way, if the title seems disjointed it's because this entry is actually a small collection of updates of what we got up to last weekend. It'll make sense pretty soon!

The Heart of the Pond

The pond build continues but with the shift in season and temperatures we have to focus on the wood work aspect of the build, and that includes the Filtration House. It was just the two of us this time as Dad was unavailable last weekend but we were still able to do plenty. Most of the thinking, hammering, and sawing is done by Gaz and my role is mainly to just pass things around and hold things in place as he hammers away. My role is not as physically intense compared to the other aspects of the project but I regard it as just taking a rain cheque, considering how much hard labour I've put in sorting the base.

One of my colleagues at work christened this part of the built as building the 'Heart of the Pond'. As romantic as that may sound, it's not really the heart of the pond but more like the ribcage. It will be the Ribcage that will enclose and protect the three Hearts (pumps), Lungs (aeration), and Livers (filtration);  and it is these hearts that will keep the entire Vascular System (pipework) circulating and making sure that the water is at it's best for the health of the fish and clarity of water.

The Filtration House is very much part of the design and plan of the overall area and deserves it's own dedicated attention. I somehow underestimated the amount of time needed to build this but it's clearer to me now that this will take much longer than I expected. There's actually a lot to, both inside and and out, aesthetic and functional bits.

So far so good, the main timber frame of the walls and roof are already built and the waterproofing membrane has been fastened, bar the apex of the roof which has been left open to let more light in temporarily. We have now started putting up the exterior cladding which will be the face of the structure. 

Funny enough, most of the cladding work that was done last Saturday was to the back of the structure facing our neighbour's garden so at the end of the day it looked like nothing was done. On Sunday we were able to do most of the left side facing the temporary greenhouse and most satisfying of all, have started the front of the building. After days of building the Skeleton (timber framework), it's great to see the Skin and Face slowly unravelling. But unlike real anatomy, Muscles and Fat (insulation) won't be applied until much later on when the Skull Cap (roof) has been applied and the interior is mostly watertight.

Treasures in and out of the Greenhouse

It's not all building works that we did last weekend, we also had time for some gardening as well. First was I started grouping some of the plants that are likely to be planted out on to the raised beds which includes the lovely Buddleja 'Silver Anniversary' that has matte and silvery leaves which will reinforce the colour scheme of the first raised bed; and Edgeworthia chrysantha which has lovely, bluish foliage that will be perfect for the second raised bed, with the blue tone picking off the scheme from the first raised bed.

Buddleja 'Silver Anniversary'
Edgeworthia chrysantha

And then on to the greenhouse. It always makes me smile that whenever we have visitors they are just as curious as what's inside our greenhouses as to what we have growing outside. The temporary one is jam packed for the winter and I took some time to do some tidying up, removing dead leaves that may attract excess fungal growth if left in situ, as well as some watering. I've also done some rearranging to accommodate a few more plants in, like a Dichroa febrifuga and three pots of seed grown Schefflera digitatas.

Dichroa febrifuga
This Dichroa febrifuga was going to go in the compost heap, treated as an annual. It was already uprooted from it's summer residence but somehow I forgot to pick it up from where I've put it and it stayed there for weeks, bare rooted on it's side and exposed to frosts on one occasion. And then I found it again a few days ago, full of buds. It wants to live! Such resilience has called on to me and it deserved to be kept so it has since been repotted and now earns a rightful place in the greenhouse.

Schefflera digitata
As for the three pots of Schefflera digitata, one of the plants seems to be keeping the serration that are typical of juvenile leaves, unlike the other two which already are already exhibiting the mature leaf form which has smoother margins. An unusual looking Schefflera and I'm hoping it carries on with its unusual (and more desirable) trait. It seems to be a weak plant though, slow yet demanding with water requirement. The sort of plant for collectors only.

Hmmmm.....Two days and six hours each day. Not bad! :)


  1. The plants are really cool, but the building is coming along fast I think. I am getting ready for quite a bit of work at my own house. Already into some now that I can do. Lots of work but it's so satisfying when you sit back and look at it. I know it makes you two feel good at how wonderful everything is looking.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. You construction project is really quite the project. I can not wait to see it finished and planted.

  3. The size of the pond and filtration house is amazing, Boys. I've just bought myself a fish tank so it's funny to hear you talk of filtration and aeration but on such a huge scale. Messy fish though koi, eh?

    I love how certain plants just want to live so much. Well done for reprieving the Dichroa.


  4. You guys are so clever and I love all your plants! pond will be fabulous, good luck!

  5. You guys sure keep busy!! It's astounding how much you have accomplished this year. Your filtration house looks like a thing of beauty; it's better built than many houses I've been in this side of the pond :-). I can't wait to see what it will look like when it's finished.

    :: Bamboo and More ::

  6. Thanks Cher! We're doing as much as we can whilst the weather is still mild, hopefully we can carry on with our pacing, if not faster. Good luck with the work that you're doing in your house, it'll be worth it in the end :)

    Thanks Donna, Clive! It's moving along nicely and looking forward to getting it finished and doing lots of relaxing after :)

    David, we're into indoor fishkeeping too and got a tropical fish tank in our kitchen. Would love to have another one but probably best to wait till the outdoor project is done as the current tank tends to get neglected a bit in the summer. Only toughie sort of fishes are in there so they've been fine and easy to maintain.

    Koi does produce alot of waste, even on our small pond it's amazing how much crud the filter collects!

    Thanks Gerhard, Gaz will be most pleased to hear that :) The aim was to build it like a small house, insulated and all but it will be rather functional inside as it will hold lots of water containing filters. So far so good :)

  7. This really is a mammoth undertaking - you definitely deserved a break away from it all! I have so much respect for the quality of the work you are doing, and the fact that you still have time to nurture the plants over wintering, well, hats off. I'm exhausted just reading about it all.

  8. I am still in awe at your construction work, and still you can garden and have regular work. Congratulations. But who does what and who does which? LOL

  9. Choice comment Janet, thank you so much! The project is not as labour intensive as it was, and thankfully all of the hardest bits are through, whew!We'll get there eventually :)

    Andrea, it can be tricky but it's all about multi tasking! :)

  10. It is going to be incredible!! I'm so looking forward to seeing it. Your Brussels trip was great, I'd love to day.

  11. It looks as if you have a major project to keep you occupied during the winter months. At least though we will soon see the daylight hours slowly increasing. Off to find out more about that attractive looking buddleia :)


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