Monday, 9 April 2012

Easter Weekend

As far as 'worky' holiday breaks go, this bank holiday weekend was pretty good as it turned out. Friday was a day off, and so we decided to catch the ferry over to Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour. A lovely day, full of things to enjoy, and so I am going to tell you more about that in particular around mid-week.

Saturday, and our first job of the day was to tidy up the four island shrub beds in a front lawn, and spread walnut stained wood chippings over them to spruce them up a bit.

These were beds that we created some years back, when we took over the property. The very large lawn was extremely badly infested with chafer larvae, and as a result, every seagull in the neighbourhood had been coming to feast for weeks, and subsequently ripped up pretty much the entire central area of the grass.
To make the whole effect a bit more pleasing to the eye while the larvae were treated with pesticide, and the lawn fed, scarified and re-seeded, a process that took several months, we broke it up with these beds so that the view wasn't one of a vast expanse of damaged grass.

It's that time of year now to give the shrubs a bit of a nip and tuck, and so we did this on each bed before spreading the wood chip. The Phormiums had all of their outer and dead leaves taken off, the Callistemons were narrowed a little, so as not to invade the other shrubs at all, the Cornus weren't pruned down to six inches for this year, as others have been, but just had there side growth removed, again, to stop them encroaching on the other shrubs,

 I had arranged for this to be delivered a couple of days before, and it now sat waiting, wonderfully dry and light for a change, due to the lack of rain we had been experiencing. Very often, the wood chipper back at Eco Composting is set too narrow, and the 'fines', or minutely chopped pieces of wood, are too many, and the result is a dusty mix that won't last as long. This stuff was perfect, and given a deep walnut stain that will last for at least five years.

We would do the pruning on each bed together, and then I would carry the mulch over in a wheelbarrow, whilst Amanda spread it.

 The overall effect is much tidier now.

 By now it was 1.30pm, and so we took a short break by the Haven Ferry, before returning to our last job for the day, at a property quite literally across the road from the one we had just been to. I told you all about the first half of the planting scheme here, and we had since been given the go ahead to complete it, as it was quite expensive and had to be budgeted for in two halves. The last planting involved about twenty different varieties of plants, this time mostly herbaceous, and in clumps of five for summer impact.

The gap by the tree in the picture below is going to have a large potted Cycad, and another is going to be further along the border. As I tidied up, Amanda gave everything a good drink.

Despite the dry weather, and thanks to a kind resident dutifully watering everything over the last couple of months, the original planting had survived, with only the loss of three shrubs, which we replaced at the same time. Among the new planting were Hemerocallis and Hydrangeas, now in place and full of promise!

The residents here are really lovely people,and we enjoy coming here, as well as the last place. When things were tidied, and the watering finished, we were rewarded with gigantic mugs of tea, and 'his & hers' easter treats, not bad eh? It had been a really tough day, and we didn't finish until early evening, but we came away very content indeed, and after showering and changing, rewarded ourselves with a trip to the cinema to see 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel', an absolute must if you haven't seen it already!

The following day, Easter Sunday, and we had the two daughters, boyfriend, husband and grandkids over for lunch. We all sat around the table, along with Amandas mum Celia, and had a vegetarian casserole with assorted roast vegetables, cauliflower, brocolli and yorkshire pudding. A little off the beaten track, but we like it. Claire, the eldest, is a great cake baker, and had asked a couple of days earlier if we wanted her to bring anything for pudding. How could I resist, and so set her the challenge of making a Simnel Cake, as shop bought ones had so far just not measured up in previous years. And DID she deliver the goods! I would offer you all a piece, but it all went the same day, and was very yummy indeed!

Afterwards, before we could fall asleep, we all headed down to the beach at Sandbanks so that the adults could relax and talk, while the grandkids blew off a little steam. Although, judging from the picture below, Claire and hubby Dom had a little to let off themselves. He didn't actually manage to get her in the water...shame!

Youngest daughter Rebecca, and her boyfriend Matt, were taking it in turns to skim stones. This is quite obviously a sport of men, as the lady folk just didn't quite seem to be able to 'hit the dam'.

Joshua, well.....Joshua....need I say more? I think the picture says it all!

And little Ella, full of deep thought, calculation and objective, studiously made sure that EVERY stone and shell in the vicinity ended up in the sea.

All in all a wonderful day filled with family, and especially the girls in my life!

Today was supposed to be a work day, with tons of compost to put down, and lawn food to apply, but alas, the dry weather had to break at some point, and today was it. We settled instead for driving out to Lymington to at least get the lawn feed in preparation for tomorrow, when the weather is supposed to be dry. I have only put twelve bags on board the van, as tomorrow there are only three places lined up. The other twenty seven will get done over the next week or two now. The compost was delivered to the property at the same time as the wood chips were to the other, and so is simply waiting for me to turn up tomorrow morning to spread it. Other than that, a rather lazy day.

I would just like to finish up with a picture of the Clematis armandii at the first property. Just a mere shoot a few years back, and now spreading over the big Rhododendrons and Magnolias behind it. My favourite Clematis of them all.

Take care all of you. I hope your weekend was good and peaceful.


  1. Gary,
    First! If your not going to share “cake”, don’t show it!!!, lol. But it does look delicious. And now that I think about, delicious is a good word to describe the look of the beds you guys worked on Saturday. Making notes of the plants used and will be checking into their hardness for this area, what can I say, it’s a delicious looking grouping. – gary

    P.S. The Clematis looks like a confection, yep! You got it, delicious.

  2. All your work is looking good. So nice of the couple to give you a treat after finishing their garden. Easter looks like a great family time. Our Easter was just as nice with a stop at my hubby's parents and then mine.

    1. Sounds a really good weekend. And I agree about 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'. We went to see it en famille last week - 21 year old son, 18 year old daughter and the 2 oldies, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Son is going to be travelling through India in the summer en route to a volunteer project in Nepal, so he was watching with interest - tho how totally true to life it was is maybe debatable.

  3. Wonderful family pictures, thanks for sharing!

  4. A very lovely family you have. .and a great career!! I spend money on my yard until I run out. .leaving not finished beds. .and start up where I left off the next season :-)I think it would be very enjoyable to spend other peoples money on fabulous plants for their yard scheme and finish them all at once!! The beds you have designed are just gorgeous!!