Before And After: The North Breeze Boundary

‘Boundary’ is a polite term for what should have separated our garden from that of ‘North Breeze’, the unoccupied house to the west of ours. It stretches from front to back from the street to the corner of the back drive and most of the way down that.

I learned this when the Head Gardener decided to hack through the undergrowth on that side of our brick path. Until then I had enjoyed a short-lived oblivion.

Boundary

 

I began on the section adjacent to the patio. This is what I found on 26th May 2014. The lonicera hedge had romped with brambles over and through the bits and pieces that were meant to divide the gardens, rooted on our side, and sent further stems to settle further in. I really rather wanted to go home, until I remembered I was already there.

Lonicera tangle

By 1st June I had cut my way to a length of strong wire. I still had to dig out the root shown on our side.

Netting fence

There was quite a lot of netting lying around the garden. We gathered this up and the next day I reinforced what I could make out of the dividing line. I could now see where I had come from, if not yet where I was going.

Blackbird's eggs in nest

The day after that, mother nature granted me a respite, in the form of a blackbird’s nest, complete with eggs. I clearly could not disturb this any more than I had done already. I waited patiently for another couple of weeks whilst the parent incubated her offspring. Then a magpie struck. This story was not inspired by Bruce Goodman, although I trust that fine storyteller would approve of it.

Adjoining fence of IKEA wardrobes

On 21st July, I continued my makeshift fence with discarded IKEA wardrobe sections.

Lonicera hedge far corner

I had reached the far corner, and was about to turn into the back drive. Oh, joy.

Ivy

Ivy covered stump

Brambles and ivy proliferated, even rooting in the line of dead stumps, and, of course, across the drive itself.

Wire netting in hedge 1

Wire netting had become entwined with the infiltrators. The iron stake in the bottom left of this photograph was one of two rows each of four lining either side of the drive.

Derrick hacksawing iron stake

They were deeply buried in concrete, so I had to hacksaw most of them off.

Rooting out

Having reached the five-barred gate at the far end on 16th October I made a photograph showing the lopping of the griselinia and the rooting out of brambles.

I stayed inside today, whilst Jackie continued her sterling clearance work.

For the first dinner I have been able to face in two days, I opted for a bacon sandwich which I enjoyed. I required no liquid sustenance. How long, I wonder, will an opened bottle of malbec stay potable? Fortunately there was still some curry left for The Cook,

Before And After

This morning I e-mailed Ray Salinger a set of the photographs taken at the ‘Seventy Years On’ party.

After this I joined Jackie in the garden, where we continued yesterday’s tasks.

Gravel path front garden

I edged the front garden gravel path with rocks dug out over the last couple of days, then spread the transported earth around the flower beds fronting the house. The thick, stubborn, root behind stone near the front of this section of the path is of lonicera, an overgrown hedging of the honeysuckle family that I did battle with last year.

Weeping Birch Bed

Jackie further opened up the Weeping Birch Bed. In the process she took down the golden arches that we had erected last summer to support honeysuckle and passion flowers that festooned the bed. Anyone inclined to follow this link will be treated to the original state of what became the rose garden. The moss-covered stone edging the bed is tufa. We dug much of out last year, but there was much more still to be removed. These rambling climbers have been reduced in size in readiness for a more suitable frame.

Libertia clump

I dug out a thick clump of trimmed libertia in readiness for its division and replanting.

Colchicums

Colchicums are spreading nicely in the triangular bed, and

Red Admiral on verbena bonarensis

Red Admiral butterflies are having a resurgence.

Suset on wall

This evening the lowering sun burnished the back drive fence and the wall of Bev and John’s house that we had cleared last year;

Virginia creeper, calibrachoa, and fuchsia

and inflamed the Virginia creeper, calibrachoa, and fuchsia.

Cumberland, chilli, and pork chipolata sausages were included in Jackie’s divine  casserole this evening. She served it with ridiculously creamy mashed potato and crisp carrots and cabbage. Treacle sponge pudding and cream was to follow. The Cook drank Bierfest and I drank more of the chianti.

Cave Dwellers

On a warm, sunny, morning, Jackie drove me to Lymington hospital for a physiotherapy appointment. This had been rescheduled because I forgot the first one. Apparently, although it still looks pretty manky, and required the physiotherapist to cut away scabs clinging to the parchment of dead skin, my hand is healing well. I’ll spare you the photographic evidence. Later, I walked around the garden where Spider on cranesbill geranium

a minute spider clung to one of the many different cranesbill geraniums;

Glechoma

a glechoma has produced tiny flowers which neither of us has ever seen before;

Lonicera

a rich carmine lonicera adorns the arch leading into the planned rose garden;

Aquilegia and ornamental grass

and ornamental grasses cast their shadows across pale lilac aquilegias.

I needed to climb onto the Ace Reclaim bench to photograph this unidentified clematis,Clematis 1Clematis 2

because it is so close to the fence that it is our neighbours who are getting the benefit of it. Clematis Doctor Ruppel

Jackie had no difficulty in identifying the marvellous magenta Dr Ruppel variety ascending the weeping birch, because she had planted it beneath that tree.

The Heligan Path sign

I thought it rather generous of her to have added a dedication to The Heligan Path sign.

As you approach the entrance to Lymington hospital you are currently greeted by a sparrow concerto of splendid amplification. This comes from a colony inhabiting the walls. The architects have provided a facade of stone chunks without apparent grouting. A strong metal grid covers this, presumably to prevent an avalanche. These, the head gardener tells me are cages called gabions.Wall with sparrow

The birds flit backwards and forwards to and from the crevices behind which they are nesting.Sparrow 3

This one appears to be carrying food for chicks.

Sparrow 2

Various males stand guard outside their respective entrances.

Sparrow 1

You wouldn’t want to tangle with this one. (Click on him to reveal his malevolent visage).

The house sparrow is an Old World sparrow believed to have evolved in the Mediterranean region centuries ago. It is unlikely to date as far back as the times of the Neanderthal or Cro-Magnon humans. The latter term for our ancestors comes from the name of a hill in the village of Les Eyzies de Tayac in the Dordogne in Southern France, within reasonable driving distance of my house in Sigoules. This was where bones were discovered by workmen in 1868. These people were also cave dwellers, and lived on this hillside:4182885-cliff_dwellers_cave_Les_Eyzies_de_Tayac 2960806-The_National_Museum_of_Prehistory_Part_II-Les_Eyzies_de_Tayac

One former resident, surveying the valley below, has been preserved in stone.

Perhaps far more famous are the caves at Lescaux where early folk have left their marks on the walls. Chris and Frances were rather disappointed a few years ago when they took a trip from Sigoules to see them. In order to preserve the artwork intact, the public are not permitted to enter the original dwellings, and are shown around a replica, at the speed with which anyone who has been marshalled along a crowded art gallery will be familiar. Here is a two and a half minutes guided tour taken from YouTube:

There was no YouTube in prehistoric times, so people told their stories in scratched markings and pigmentation. 13000376 In Argentina’s Patagonia stencils of human hands, together with other rock paintings depicting the life of hunters who lived between 13,000 and 9,500 years ago, cover the walls of the cave known as the “Cueva de las Manos” which literally means, “the Cave of Hands”. Perhaps these people didn’t live long enough to be inflicted with Dupuytren’s contracture.

This evening we dined on a tangy variation of Jackie’s cottage pie topped with sheets of mature cheddar cheese; baked carrots and leaks; stir fried cabbage, onions, and peppers; and piquant cauliflower cheese. This was followed by Lidl’s Deluxe New York cheesecake, use by 18 May. Jackie drank her habitual Hoegaarden and I relished my customary red wine, in this case the last of the Cotes du Rhone Villages.

Not Fit For Purpose

Lonicera by patioYesterday, Jackie tackled a section of lonicera forcing its way through a piece of matting fencing erected by our predecessor. Because this invasive shrub was sandwiched between our side and a garage it had nowhere to go save through our flimsy fence. It was also very difficult to access. She did rather well, I thought. The matting suffered a bit.

Support for golden archesDay liliesThis morning the head gardener acted upon her conviction that my golden arches were not fit for purpose, and provided them with strengthening support. Dancing either side of the new structure, yet another variety of day lily, of a rich, red hue, has emerged into the light.

Jackie had cleared the entrance to the kitchen garden. Kitchen gardenKitchen garden 2There remained, however, a daunting amount of unwanted undergrowth choking and concealing what there is of interest in there. Clearance of this was the task I embarked upon today. I set about the brambles, and the brambles set about my new gardening gloves. We have decided to turn it into a rose garden, which, coincidentally, is what I eventually did with one of the vegetable patches in Newark.

There are some very attractive and established low box hedges which we will retain, along with several gooseberry bushes, at least two apple trees, and various herbs. Who knows what else might come to light.

This afternoon we were visited by Vicki and Barrie Haynes, friends of my sister Jacqueline and blogging friends of mine. We have got to know each other through WordPress, but had not met until today. The afternoon was so successful that we extended the meeting until the evening and all dined at The Jarna. Our friends enjoyed the establishment, the food, and the service as much as we do.

The Bay Tree

On my way to continue attacking the lonicera and its companions, I made a pleasant discovery. Red rosebudI mentioned yesterday that the clearing of the area around the collapsed arch had revealed a red rose. This is because a pointed red bud provides a finial for the new gothic version. White roseWhat I noticed today is a tiny white rose bloom with quite a number of buds. We have two roses on the arch.

Four hours later I had almost cleared the lonicera from our side of the now virtually non-existent boundary. I followed the familiar process of lopping, uprooting, and tossing into the jungle anything that emanated from the other side. I thinned out our shrubs and tied up a rambling rose. The myrtle required special treatment. The leaves are meant to be variegated but sports have taken over. Taking them all out hasn’t left much vegetation, but the ochre coloured bark is very attractive. A sport is an abnormal result of spontaneous mutation. In this case the leaves were no longer two-toned. Netting fenceAfter lunch I dealt what I hope is the killer blow to the lonicera. It has, of course, rooted all over the place, but I think I found the original thick bunch of stems, sawed through them and smashed out what I could without going to the trouble of digging out the tangled clump. We now have a clearance all the way from the new arch to the patio, so I will wander along every now and again and see off any invaders before they become colonists. We also have a fence of sorts, constructed of various sections of wire netting found around the garden, that I attached to iron posts that once probably held a proper boundary. For artistic merit my handiwork would doubtless score a perfect 0, but it forms a marker for any stray vegetation wandering through.

I made the mistake of asking Jackie to bring me some of the netting. This led her to divert from her own allotted task. Most of the netting came from a tangled heap behind a makeshift wooden screen near the side entrance to the house. She thought she would rather like to clear that space and make herself a den. This gave me the job of heavily pruning a holly and a bay tree that had got rather out of hand.. As I did this and smelt the wonderful scent of that culinary aromatic, I though of other bay trees I have known. The garden of the Phyllis Holman Richards Adoption Society in West Hill, Putney, possessed a beautiful bay tree, the elegance of which I always admired. In Newark, we had an enormous such tree, as high as the house and surrounded by pretty mature suckers, giving it the appearance of a very large bush. One day in the early 1990s I told Sylvia, the agency’s administrator, about this and asked why theirs was different. She explained that they had cut out all the surrounding growth to give it shape. I went home and did the same.

Jackie got her space, cleared it, and furnished it with further items from the skip pile. Jackie's denDiamond set in pathCentral pathThe shelves had once been in the garage, but I didn’t think they were quite up to scratch for the library. The rubbish heap has once more been somewhat depleted.

My lady’s main task today was to continue the renovation of the main central path through the garden. She did a good job on this, and added a tile with a concrete base she had found behind the screen to a path I had cleared some days ago.

For dinner we enjoyed chicken jalfrezi (recipe) and mushroom rice. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I had some more of the Languedoc.

A Result

Today being Jackie’s birthday, her choice of activity was to work in the garden. Oh joy.

We managed to postpone finishing off yesterday’s task by going on an arch hunt. Otter Nurseries in Everton didn’t have metal ones; Everton Nurseries had some but they were too small; so we went off in the opposite direction to Stewart’s in Christchurch where we had seen the very thing when we bought the tower/obelisk. Albeit more expensive than the Gardman product, this was much more robust and exactly the right size.

They only had the model on display. We could have it with a 25% discount because it was the last one, and a bit dusty. The very helpful young man dismantled it for us and helped us into the car with it. I commented that it was a pity we didn’t have a bigger car then he wouldn’t have had to dismantle it and we wouldn’t have to reassemble it. Jackie commented that her drive was much easier than had been the one with Elizabeth’s rose arch occupying all three passenger seats and part of hers. We had bought that at the Bishop’s Waltham Garden Fair in May 2012. It did not come flat-packed, as it had been handmade by a local craftsman. There was no room for passengers in the car, so Jackie had to drive alone with the lanky rustic creation attempting to cuddle her all the way to The Firs.

The trip to Otter Nurseries wasn’t exactly wasted because they had a special offer on four bags of gravel, so we bought some.

Straight after lunch I attacked the lonicera, brambles, and ivy once more. Yesterday I showed you what the view over the fence looks like. This is what the lonicera looks like through the remnants of fence after I have hacked it back:Lonicera tangle

Again, a sister and brother in law provided an opportunity to take a break, by making a visit. This was Shelly and Ron who also brought more of the plants they have been fostering. GeraniumsAll the flowers, including these geraniums, have thrived through a comparatively mild winter under Shelly’s attention.Chinese lantern treeRose

Ron, having broken his heel, was somewhat restricted, but I was able to take Shelly round the garden. Among all the other interesting specimens we have, the Chinese lantern tree is now in full bloom, and a red climbing rose enhances the back of the house..Robin While Jackie joined Shelly on her tour, I sat and chatted to Ron. The bird feeders have now been erected and he and I watched a young robin trying them out.

Before and after enjoying our visitors’ company I tackled the undergrowth behind the broken arch,and Jackie cleared the front, and fully exposed the edge of the path. The Virginia creeper and all the brambles mentioned yesterday had choked and obscured a very leggy climbing rose which possesses one red bud.

Before attempting to reassemble the new gothic arch, we needed to untangle, and free from the surrounding vegetation, the creeper and the rose. We decided to give the Virginia climber a most severe skinhead haircut in order to allow the rose to toss out its tresses. Jackie climbed the stepladder to tie up the limbs. The arch was fairly  straightforward to put together, a little less so to set astride the path. But we managed it and are very pleased with the result. In fact, in football parlance, to obtain the last one the store was ever going to stock, at such a discount, was in itself a result.Jackie sweeping by new arch

This photograph was taken from the Heligan Path, which would not have been possible much more than a week ago. Yesterday, the large tree to the left of and behind the climbers on the arch, was obscured by undergrowth, as was the metal rail and knotted jumble behind that, which is the subject of the first picture above. Incidentally, this clearance seems to be adding about four feet to the width of our shrubbery.

Dinner this evening was delicious chicken jalfrezi (recipe) with mushroom rice and vegetable samosas accompanied by Cobra beer.

 

Over The Fence

Virginia creeper cornerKnackered at the end of the day yesterday, I chose to ignore one encroachment of foliage onto the path. This hinged upon a Virginia creeper no longer adequately supported by a partially collapsed wooden arch. It was beset by one of our own expansive trees and rambling bramble. I knew, however, if I ventured into the undergrowth, I would find that what was pushing everything forward would be the invasive jungle from next door. I wasn’t up for that. Until I got up this morning.

First of all I had a wander round the garden trying to put off the beckoning task..PhiladelphusThalictrum aquilegifolieumPampas grass The philadelphus is doing well, and a thalictrum aquilegifoleum now blooms alongside a pampas grass that echoes the unidentified evergreen I photographed yesterday.

Until they are given a permanent location, the plants recovered from Shelly and Ron’s are deposited in various spots in the garden. Diasca and gernaniumsThese geraniums and diasca flank the bench:

That’s enough prevarication.

Holly, brambles, ivy and Lonicera were all seeking new accommodation on the other side of their ramshackle fence. One ivy entwined around our unidentified tree had a stem a good inch and more in diameter. Everything in our shrubbery fled in the path of the invading army.

I set to with the loppers, and when I eventually reached what was left of the fence and trimmed enough to look over it, this is what confronted me:Garden next door

I had no choice but to pursue the lonicera along the boundary until I met the rest of it by the reclaimed patio shrubbery. No doubt had I continued in the other direction there would have been more.

All this makes me rather relieved that the garden on the other side is all laid to gravel.

This afternoon Helen came for a visit. This meant I had the perfect excuse to come inside and chat, and to leave the task unfinished. Wire netting pushed inwardsBefore that,Shrubbery clearance I had reached a section of wire netting that our home’s previous owner had attached to the iron posts that seemingly were once supporting a fence. This had been shoved forward by the neighbour’s lonicera. I have begun to fix it back, although must remove more of the invader before I can make it taut. The cleared space shown is part of what I have hacked out.

Jackie produced a chicken jalfrezi (recipe) as marvellous as ever for our dinner this evening. We enjoyed it with boiled rice, vegetable samosas, and Cobra beer.