Tuesday, 18 August 2015

How to love your garden

I love joining gardening groups on FB, my favourite being 'Friendly gardeners' and this year I've noticed alot more posts from people feeling frusrated with their gardens, whether it be because they don't seem to have the motivation to get out there, they compare their gardens to other peoples and find their own lacking or just because they never seem to be able to get on top of the weeds enough to actually have the time to create new areas.
Over the last few years I've blogged many times about my own lack of motivation, my own frustration that my garden just never looks good enough (in my eyes) and that I've seriously considered just giving the whole thing up and letting it run to seed and do as it will. The problem with that solution was guilt, I felt guilty that I'd considered giving it up, guilty that I wasn't motivated to be out there and guilty that I just couldn't get it to look how I wanted.

I don't know what happened this year but I suddenly have a different outlook on the whole thing - it started when I made a comment on a FB group that I hated my garden, while many people were understanding and going through the same thing so many others were actually quite short, sharp and to the point and comments varied from "Get a grip", "Well I wish I had your garden" to "Think yourself lucky, at least you can get out to do the garden".
It made me think. What was my real issue with the garden? Once I had those questions in my head I decided to find a solution to them and the solutions I came up with really surprised me.
  1. No motivation to weed: So don't! Simple as that, don't do it! One year of no weeding is not going to turn the garden into a jungle of unimaginable horrors and if it does, deal with it next year but for this year don't weed and just see what happens and what grows.
  2. My garden has no appeal to me: Once I'd thought that one through I realised it wasn't that I didn't like my garden it was simply that certain aspects were not what I had envisioned - such as THAT pond. Once I realised this the solution was simple, keep the things I liked and change the things I don't. The pond is now exactly what I had in mind when we began it a few years ago.
  3. My garden is boring: I figured out that the boringness came from a lack of structure which is easily sorted. I won't buy wood for garden structures but I have heaps of pallet wood and scrapwood so I built the gazebo and am building columns for gargoyles to sit on. I've made plans for solar lighting and have garnered enough battens off Mr TG to build another 3 or so obelisks - the ideas are now flowing and with no weeding to do I have the time to do them.
  4. I have too many gardens to cope with: Sounds ridiculous doesn't it - too many gardens lol. But it's true, we have 3 acres here but I have several areas dotted around that need tending - none of them connected so it's all a bit haphazard. The solution was really quite simple - don't worry about fruit and veg in the PT this year, they take too much time to tend and never really produce much. The tunnel now houses tender plants and a few cutting flowers and takes a bit of watering and that's it. The greenhouse area has a garden that was once a masterpiece (as far as I'm concerned) because it was the only garden I had, this year I've adapted the greenhouse (more a shed with extra windows- DIY) for the hens and the garden is their territory - no tending needed. I have another area next to the natural pond that I've been attempting to renovate and make look smart but can never get it to look right, this year I've left it. The weeds are head high but I don't care I just don't look at them when I pass it lol.
  5. Gardening is pointless because no one ever sits in it: This was the easiest solution of them all - get a grip woman! Who cares if no one sits in it, seriously? This year I've taken time to sit in it myself (which I never do) and I've really enjoyed it. A year ago the weeds would have done my nut in they just don't now, all I do is take some scissors cut the flower heads of and go back to my book. Who knew it was so nice to sit in a garden!!!

I think the best thing about this new found garden freedom is that the plants seem to be growing better without my interference. Yes, there's weeds everywhere but they're green so they blend well lol. and let's face it, some of them are prettier than the rest of the plants.
Taking the time to relax in the garden ahs also helped me to watch the garden through the season and see what's working and what isn't - I have alot of Day lillies in the wrong place and are reluctant to flower, roses that aren't getting enough air and are looking mildewy and a Buddleia that isn't looking too healthy due to it's damp position. These are all things I can improve for next year.

St Johns wort? Certainly self seeded whatever it is.


Stag Horns Sumach - despite it's tendency to migrate and sucker everywhere I have wanted one of these for years. I grew this one from seed and was surprised to see it doing so well as I didn't really think it would survive the winter here.


There's Thalicturm in flower in this image of you look close. I grew it from seed and planted them out last year whereby they did nothing! If I'd been weeding this year I would have dragged them out but luckily I didn't weed and they've now flowered. Can't say they do much for me though and certainly won't bother with them again.



In amongst the weeds Roses bloom. The pink one was due for ripping out this year as it never flowers, now it decides to flower. The white one is my favourite - it doesn't do well after a shower, the blooms rot but it's now about 9ft high and has been plastered with blooms this year.


So lazy have I been this year a wheelbarrow didn't get emptied on the muck heap and not only did I find this Pink growing but also a most amazing poppy and a lovely Lily. Both the lily and the pink will be saved and I'm garnering the seeds from the poppy.


So you see, learning to love your garden doesn't necessarily mean producing the immaculate instant garden that we see on TV. Often times it's about not stressing, accepting your garden as YOUR garden and learning to relax in it. If you really don't fancy gardening this year - don't! It's certainly not going to do you or it any harm and you never know it may just make you fall in love with what you've got all over again.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Octagonal pergola and lazy people

This weather continues to astound me. It's now the height of summer and yet I not only needed to wear a thick fleece when I was mowing the lawn on the ride on but I had to have the hood up and tied tightly to keep it there! I have never known summer to be so naff in the 12 years I've lived here - I understand the North East of Scotland is never going to be tropical but seriously, it feels like Autumn right now.
The garden has taken a serious battering and has been neglected for a while now because I've been getting on with building projects instead - weeds can wait lol.

I decided I wanted to build a gazebo as a walk through where the formal part of the garden meets what will be the new unformal part of the garden (once I've done it) but it couldn't be any old gazebo. Me being me I decided to go for an octagonal one and me being me again decided I could mash it together without plans.
The first few attempts were diabolical - I built the panels in the workshop (and even made a mistake on those that still exists because I'm too lazy to change it) and then formed the structure in situ. The problem is I'm one of those people where if there's a quick way and a right way I'll choose the quick way and every time I do that something goes wrong - as it did here.
I just could not get the angles right and couldn't figure out how to do it. In the end I sucked it up and asked Mr TG what I needed to do to get the angles correct, unfortunately this meant doing the job the long slow way and required me to build a square frame and work measurements out - booooooooring!
I have to admit though that the structure went up much quicker and easier once I had the frame to go by and used scaffold poles to hold things in place instead of attempting to hold everything level and drill at the same time - yes, that it how lazy I am.

 Stage 1 - after several attempts at getting these level upright I had a tantrum, pulled them out the ground (even though I had blisters on my hand from digging holes for the spikes) and threw them on the ground. Yes, I had a paddy!! and there they stayed for a few days.


Stage 2 - Mr TG told me how to get the angles correct and how to keep them level while I worked on the structure.



Most of it's up here. It's not perfect but then neither am I so who cares!!
Do you see the mistake on the panels I mentioned earlier? I must have measured 2 of them from one end when putting the cross sections in and two from the other end because two of them have an extra piece at the top - two don't lol.



The tedious job of painting it. I also weeded the bed to the right and planted Bamboo and a climbing rose. The rose is tied to the vertical wires I added to the side gaps as an afterthought.
The bed to the left is in dire need of weeding but it will have to wait.


Gras mowed makes a huge difference. I also completed the base inside the gazebo. It involved loads of cement and plenty of mess - those bricks and shingle are going nowhere!
The bricks sit just proud of the lawn on this side because the ground is lower here and I used the other side as a reference for height. The bricks are level but I will be adding a small step this side so there'll be no tripping over bricks.



I bought the compass slab a few years ago and have never used it until now. Mr TG set it in concrete for me but I didn't realise until it was done that he has the North pointing the wrong way. I did give him instructions as to where it needed to be - everyone here knows the sea is directly south lol- so the North should have pointed just before where the East currently is. Mr TG did offer to rectify it but tbh I like the quirkiness to it now and it's typical of all my projects - there's always something not quite right lol. I like it!



Friday, 10 July 2015

Weird trees, floods and weed growth

Mr TG and I ususally take our holidays during the winter months with the idea that it would break up the long winters here in Caithness and give us that Vitamin D boost when the daylight levels are so low here. We also figured this Vitamin D boost would set us up for the following spring and keep SAD at bay for us both, I now realise this hasn't been the case - the Vitamin D would always be depleted by the time spring or summer came so I would usually be well on my way to a bout of depression by the time the gardening months rolled around.
Having just spent 2 weeks at a friends place in Los Lobos, Almeria I've decided that this is the best time for holidays - we've returned rejuvinated and ready to tackle what is now an extremely over grown garden and land.

I've also noticed that all the things that would normally have bothered me in the garden and set me on a downward spiral are actually not bothering me at all - novel! Everything suddenly seems doable and what isn't doable right now doesn't matter - its not going anywhere.

Faced with these weeds I would normally run, hide and possibly cry at the thought of the work, it's not bothering me at all though, in fact I saw it and smiled.



Initially I took the shortcut to the polytunnel but was faced with this and had to go the long way round - honestly there's a path in there somewhere and I found the weeds amusing.


I got to the polytunnel and was faced with a river of water both outside and inside. We definitely need to get the drainage sorted this year because this area tends to hold water the longest and it makes the flower beds in the tunnel too soggy to grow anything.
On the upside instead of having to fill a watering can for some plants that had dried out I just put the pots in the water for half an hour.


This is inside the tunnel after I'd swept most out. The left hand bed is fine as it's a good 18" high but the right hand bed is only about 8" high and you can clearly see how wet it is compared to the one on the left.

While out in Spain I was surprised to find a lack of flowers anywhere. I figured anyone living in such a warm climate would have lovely plants growing. Maybe the fact that every day was over 40 degrees makes it too hot to garden so most places were filled with Oleander in flower and Aloe Vera.
There were these wonderfully weird looking trees though - I wonder what they are!