This last week was to be the first, official, full week back at work. Sunday evening promised to bring a certain little 'something' by way of difficulty, in the form of the laptop cooling fan stopping. Not usually a major problem, but there were the invoices to make up, accounts for January 31st to finalise, three quotes to do..... you know, the usual thing. I did manage to sneer at the machine as I stuck everything on to a memory stick just before it died, in readiness for firing up the desktop pc in the garden office. The laptop would be taken to the doctors the following day, and all seemed fine.
Monday was planned, with three gardens to visit, and some extra planting to do. It was a bitterly cold day, with snow still lying around in places. A visit to the nursery first, some shrubs purchased, and then on to the garden centre for some compost before heading to the first job. A trolley was grabbed, and as I perused the soils on display, Amanda pointed out that she couldn't believe that a company such as this hadn't bothered to salt the ice in the public areas. I agreed of course, and we moved along a little further, selected three bags of their finest, and WHAM! Amanda was none too pleased to be prostrate in a public place, screaming at the pain from the broken arm she now had. First aid was called for, all rather ineffectual, and so the accident book was filled and I rushed her to the local hospital.
The days work hadn't gone quite as planned, and now the poor lady is off work for two months due to the nature of the fracture, and so the year has started! Son-in-law has been dusted off, and has been called in to action to assist with all of the individual re- landscaping and planting that must be fitted into the regular maintenance.
While he started with a toughy that entailed the removal of some yew trees that had been in place for a number of years and had become too large, I set about ticking some big places off the list and catching up on some individual shrub planting. Not a large amount, just things like a couple of Photinia 'Red Robin', a large urn planted with Hedera, and this Cupressus sempervirens Pyramidalis in the picture above. This plant in particular was to replace a rather badly placed Cupressocyparis leylandii that someone had deemed it a good idea to stick in the middle of a large, and very conspicuos heather bed. For me, not the most exciting of jobs, as the two things I hate the most are heathers and conifers, and together, well disaster I am afraid. But the customer is always right, and so the job was done. Note the rather magnificent 'flames' of the Cornus 'Midwinter Fire' in the background.
Grevillea gracilis Alba
The orchard at another property also had to have three apple trees removed, as they had dried out a couple of years ago and never really recovered. Two new varieties were chosen to plant in their place, although not in the exact same location. 'Grenadier', an old English cooking apple, first recorded here in 1862 and recieved an RHS First Class certificate in 1883 was one of the pair chosen. The second, 'Bloody Ploughman', dates back to thee 1880's, and is a dep red desert apple. The tale goes that it got it's name from a loughman that was caught scrumping by the landowner and subsequently shot. The stolen apples were thrown onto the compost heap, whereupon the apple that we now have grew.
It's been a tough week logistically, what with badly timed computer malfunctions, compressed workloads, and hospital visits for both Amanda and her mother Celia to fit in, as well as making sure that Amandas one armed needs are met at the start and end of the day. But the end of the week is in sight. Last night I did what a lot of us do, and on my way home grabbed some things for an easy stir fry, a couple of beers, and what I thought would be a good film to switch off to. Usually, when we are exhausted and want nothing more than a good, distracting film, we pull out the trusted 'Bourne Trilogy' with Matt Damon, or 'Casino Royale' with Daniel Craig. This time however, I decided to try something new. I didn't read the description on the back, but trusted instead to the actors starring.
John Malkovich (Of Mice and Men) - check, Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption) - check, Helen Mirren (The Madness of King George) - check, all three fine thespians in their own right, and of course Bruce Willis (Die Hard), to go with my beer. I should have seen the sign when his name appeared, but I was tired, hungry, and in need of distraction. The film was called 'Red', and I can only say that I shall never get those 111 minutes of my life back. Tonight I think Jason Bourne is going to be put through his paces again!
The pictures are of a few things in flower in our garden. To relax, I sometimes just like to wander around and take pictures of anything that catches my eye.