The Land Rover Owners Wife

The holly and the ivy …. oh, and a lot of laurel.

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We’ve had glorious sunny, albeit a bit cold, weather over the last couple of days and I could easily believe that spring is just around the corner but for the knowledge that, in recent years, things have never been that simple and it is more than possible to have snow over Easter and frosts in mid May.

Log BurnerSaturday, for example, was so bitterly cold, that we had the log burner roaring away in the lounge, as a secondary heating source, supporting the solid fuel Rayburn which has the job of heating all our hot water, as well as 4 radiators and cooking our food. It was a lovely nostalgic sight though, with the stove door open and coals burning away , emulating the terribly inefficient open fire that had been in situ when we moved in 10 years ago. We were all quite cosy and toasty warm, with Mud and the Mudlets trying to see ‘pictures’ in the flames.

So the advent of a nice bright Sunday, made for a pleasant change. By early afternoon, the sun had warmed the air sufficiently for me to take advantage and go do some necessary tidying up outside. Leaving Mud and the girls watching ‘Kindergarden Cop’ for the umpteenth time, I changed into an old jumper, put on my jacket, grabbed my well worn, favourite gardening gloves and went outside to tackle my one and only flower bed.

After a short while of cutting back dead wood on a couple of shrubs,  pulling out weeds and digging out loads of new growth from a particularly fast spreading ground cover plant, I came to the conclusion that holly berries from the holly tree in our hedge, are obviously a favoured food of the local bird population, as there had been loads of little holly seedlings growing amongst the campanulas, primulas and wild strawberry plants.

At the very end of our garden, in the corner, by the pond, were two huge laurels. We had planted these there as a temporary measure several years ago, meaning to move them to somewhere more suitable, as soon as we had figured where that ‘somewhere’ would be. In the meantime the young plants had grown and where now enormous and taking over that part of the garden. They had also taken quite a battering during a heavy and prolonged snowfall, back in late 2010, from which they had never really fully  recovered and it was with some regret that Mud and I decided that we needed to take them out. And that was easier said than done. However, armed with a hand saw, Mud and I removed the main branches, one by one and half an hour later only a two foot high stump was left.

Pond 2011

Pond 2011

Once cleared we were stunned to realise just how much space these two laurels had taken up, not to mention the amount of light they had taken out of the vegetable patch. It was also apparent that the pond had suffered from the proximity of the laurels and would need some serious rectification to restore it and to maintain the wildlife that depends upon it. Mud has redesigned that space now and he intends to create a larger pond a bit further up, with better access and ledges for the resident wildlife. We will be able to erect a huge 8ft by 14ft heated greenhouse down in that corner now and the beds which in recent seasons had been in the shade of the laurels will now be able to sustain the crops I plant in them.

Thankfully we have an established native hedge and several trees in the garden to compensate for the removal of the laurels, so hopefully the wildlife won’t be affected too much. With that massive job done, Mud and I, called it a day.

Today was another beautiful if cold day and so I decided that first job of the day was to pop over to the school garden and do an hour there. I had a quite messy and difficult job to do and so I was relieved to be able to leave the girls at home, watching a film, with Mud working from the home office.

Ivy 2009After lunch, it was another spell of tidying up in our garden and that included removing as much of the ivy from around the bathroom window, drainpipe and roof as possible which is a thankless task and requires a lot of pulling and tugging. It is my considered opinion that Ivy roots are closely related to super glue and I have the aching arms, shoulders, wrists and fingers to prove it. However, the bathroom window and roof have now got a 6 inch area of clear render around them, although some of the render is damaged and will need dealing with when the weather improves. I also applied a touch of systemic weed killer to the outermost tendrils of the remaining ivy, to try and cause an amount of die back, Ivy 2011although experience has taught me that it will take nothing short of nuclear strength weed killer to kill an ivy off completely.

All in all a busy, if not very exciting couple of days but I now have aching muscles everywhere but I feel good. There is nothing like a few hours in the garden doing some physical work to lift the spirits, even if I do now feel as if I’ve done 3 rounds with Mike Tyson.

ivy 2013 - after 4 years

ivy 2013 – after 4 years

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