Sunday, January 22, 2012

Something Old, Something New

Sometimes, being able to do some of the small things you've been wanting to get done for awhile gives as much satisfaction as doing much bigger things. And that's what it felt like when I finally switched this pot for a new one this weekend.

I placed this terracotta pot, planted with the terrestrial bromeliad Dyckia frigida on top of this pillar last spring and it stayed there all year up to this weekend when I finally made the switch. Although I did buy this pot specifically for this purpose I wasn't too happy with it once in situ. I overestimated the size and it looked disproportionately too small for such a prominent location. It was supposed to help demarcate the transition to the new garden but instead it looked like a non entity there, plus I thought the plant I chose to go in it didn't look right for the spot either.

But I was none the wiser what to replace it with so it stayed there until I got the chance to acquire a more appropriate replacement. And finally I managed to do the switch this weekend, out with the old and in with the new.

I spotted this pot in one of our nearby garden centres and took an instant liking to it. The colour and material looked right, a combination of concrete and grey stone chippings, and would fit in with the colour scheme of the new garden. And it was just the right size, big enough to make it's presence known and help tie in the new garden with the old, but not too big that it would pose a risk of falling off when strong winds pass by.

And fall it will not, much to my surprise this pot is exceptionally heavy for its size. When I first tried to pick it up I nearly fell over and Gaz thought I was just messing about. When he lifted it he instantly knew I wasn't. We both had to lift it to the trolley and once on the till (which has a scale on it) it weighed a whopping 30kg!! Anyway, with a bit of a struggle we managed to lift this 'small' pot in it's place and I'm finally pleased and content with what's on top of the pillar. I still haven't decided what to plant in it though, probably a glaucous leafed Yucca to remain there permanently. Or a mixture of tender succulents, with some trailing down the sides of the pot, as a temporary, yearly changing display. Lots of time to decide!

And on to newer, much bigger matters, I will pass you over to Gaz for an update on our pond project (Yes another new thing, our first ever combo blog!)...


After the recent recap on the pond build we haven't featured the project for a couple of weeks and quite a bit more work has been done. Since the update, we have completed the roof and ridge tiles of the filter house and then added gutters and drainage that leads to a soakaway.

Agave bracteosa is happily suckering away...
So with the filter house reasonably water tight attention has turned back to the landscaping with further construction on raised bed three which will include a small water feature. The third raised bed is rectangular in shape with one end sectioned off to form an additional pool that will have a small fountain or geyser to provide a gentle background sound to the area.

The pipe work to filter this pool runs through the bottom of this raised bed and into the filter house, where it will be on a small filter separate from the main Koi pond filters. This pipework is now all in situ and the raised bed is now partially filled with top soil.

Part way though this mini project we ran out of concrete blocks as we did not expect the mild start to the year, so with another delivery and more mild weather we were able to get this mostly finished off this weekend.

Once the block-work was completed we spent this afternoon getting the walls rendered. Normally you wouldn't expect to be able to do this in January, so yet again we are benefiting from the mild winter!

On a sad note Charcoal passed away on Tuesday evening. Peacefully at my mums house where she had been having some TLC for the last few weeks. Charcoal initially joined our family when I was just 16, coming to live with Mark and I in early 2005 when my parents were planning to move into a smaller property. Over the last year or so she had started to show signs of her age, slowing down and sometimes looking frail. She had a check up at the vets who identified a tumour in her stomach, which due to her age could not be treated. The vet recommended keeping her inside, so back in November she moved home to my parents, who are semi retired, so usually one of them is at home during the day. 

Charcoal 'helping' insulate a Greenhouse.
Sadly on Tuesday she took a turn for the worse so Mark and I went round that evening to see her and unfortunately she no longer seemed to have much strength, we all felt that she may have to have a final trip to the vets. Charcoal, as always had other plans, she had never liked the vets, and after having had a cuddle from us all, purring away for a few minutes in Marks arms, she crept off to her bed and went to sleep for a final time. She went out the way she had lived most of her life, on her terms. 

Charcoal: May 1993 to 17th of January 2012


and back to Mark again....

Our beloved Charcoal, the cat that changed my mind..

June 2007
I was a 'dog' person before and never really liked cats for reasons I don't know, more likely I was just preconditioned not to like cats after being a dog owner for years and years. And then I was introduced to Charcoal many years ago, not so much as a choice but as part of the 'package'. And she took an instant liking to me and she won me over, for she was very affectionate and was a great company in the garden.

Charcoal guarding some of my succulents in August 2007
But her lasting legacy with me is that she changed my mind about cats. Prior to her I would never even consider getting a cat as a pet. But she has won me over and I now view felines in a better light. For without her, I would have never had this two:

We will always remember her with fondness, lots of happy and funny memories when she was still with us. And grateful too, that this beloved old cat also paved the way into something new.

Mark :-)


  1. So sad about Charcoal. But she had a great life, I have no doubt, and she'll live on in your memories.

    I can't wait to see what your finished garden will look like. It'll blow the socks off many public gardens!

    I love that new pot, too. I've never seen anything like it over here. I think you'll something tall and majestic AND something else trailing over the sides. Lots of choices!

  2. So sorry your beautiful wee cat passed on - I got all teary reading your post. Best Wishes, Cat

  3. What a beautiful gentle lady. Although I currently have a dog, I'm always puzzled when people say they don't like cats. Glad she made you change your mind Mark. They can be independent though and will choose who they want as friends. How could you have possibly done all the work you have without your 4-legged supervisor.

  4. Sorry to hear about Charcoal but seems like she had a great life. On another note, it seems like you have lots of those succulent plants. What do you do with them during winter? Bring inside or leave them outside?

  5. Very sorry to read about Charcoal... :(

    The garden, however, is coming along impressively. I am looking forward to seeing the water feature and beds in conjunction with the pond when everything is finished.

  6. Damn, I'm so sorry about Charcoal. I got all teary eyed too, reading how she was with you for so many years Gaz and helped you Mark to understand just how great cats can be. That's exactly what Lila has done for me because I was always a cat person, with no like for dogs at all, but she's helped me understand my foolishness.

    On a lighter note....I had no idea you had THAT many succulents!

  7. sorry about your cat, perhaps with your new building skills and excess concrete blocks you could build a giant mauseleum as part of the developments?

    your raised beds and pools look so fabulous, very inspiring! I cant wait to see them full of water

  8. Hi guys, so sorry about Charcoal, though she is a very good reason for your first joint posting. I am, as ever, really impressed with The Pond Project, not least with the meticulous attention to detail in your planning, quite a feat when it is so complex. It's great seeing it all come together so well, including the painted fences and new plantings. I agree that the new pot looks better on your pillar than the old one did, but since I really like the shape of the old one, I assume you have found it a new, happier home - and occupant? And I really like the idea of having some exotic trailing plants in your new pot, some vivid colour would look amazing against the greys.

  9. Sorry to hear about your kitty... We get so attached to our pets, and they become a part of out lives. Charcoal had a happy life, and this is important!
    As for your projects, you are not wasting this winter time! Envy your agave. They don't grow big in my garden. Stay warm there!

  10. REally really bad about your cat. Loved your pot

  11. Thanks all for the lovely message re Charcoal. It's strange she's not around anymore but she's got a permanent home now in our garden :)

    Gerhard, lots of choices indeed! I do like the old pot, I just need to find it a new spot now.

    Thanks for the lovely words Cat :)

    Missy, you are right, cats are choosy who to be friendly with and rather independent. Charcoal is our original supervisor and taught the other two very well, lol!

    KL, I used to have a lot more succulent but I'm gradually reducing them to a more manageable size/amount. Most of them go inside a heated greenhouse for the winter.

    Thanks College Gardener, we're getting there :)

    Loree, yes I have a bit of a succulent collection, lol! I have been gradually reducing my collection to a more manageable size but I still have enough to fill a small greenhouse. Must do a blog post about it soon!

    Clive, no kitty mausoleums in the pipeline I'm afraid. Once this pond/garden project is completed we'll stop and rest for awhile, until we get the next itch to start building something else again, lol! Looking forward to seeing your garden this year!

    Hi Janet, thanks for the lovely words as always :) I actually really like that pot, just thought it looked out of place on top of the pillar so I changed it. I'm still looking for a new home for it but it will definitely be somewhere nice.

    Thanks Tatyana! So glad that the winter here has been mild enough that we're able to carry on. In theory it should make work load in the summer much lighter :)

    Thanks Catharine :)

  12. I know what its like to lose a lovely cat, so my heart goes out to you. {{Big Hugs}}
    Can't believe how much you have managed to do this winter, its amazing.
    Are you just using topsoil in your raised beds or have you bought some in?

  13. Libby so far we have been able to recycle what we dug out - putting subsoil at the bottom of the raised beds and then top soil. However we will probably need to get some top soil in to fill this one and then probably get rid of some of the chalky subsoil we have left over.

  14. So much to comment on! You did very well choosing a new pot. I agree the color and materials are a perfect complement to the surroundings. Progress on your pool area is amazing. It is really starting to take shape, and I can imagine the finished product, though I know it will turn out much better than my imagination! And finally, I am so sorry about Charcoal. She was a beautiful cat. I am glad she had a peaceful passing in a place she loved. We have always had dogs, and my husband thinks he hates cats. He is very prejudiced due to bad cat stories passed to him by his grandmother, who saw them only as bloodthirsty killers. I know better and am hoping a little kitty may one day steal my husband's heart, as yours was.

  15. Thanks for the lovely words Debs :) Work on the pond is still ongoing and managed to do more today. I hope you'll be able to change your husband's mind about cats. Might be worth borrowing a kitten in the near future and see how he'll find having one for a few days? :)

  16. I am so sorry to hear about Charcoal! What a nice kitty. And your raised beds are looking awesome! I can't wait to see them done. I really like the pot with the dyckia! It looks great! And I really love that new pot of yours. Wow, that is heavy! It needs something tall and a spiller in it. But that is my opinion. A filler could be echeveria's or whatever. Can't wait to see.


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