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,

Owling With Attitude

The blackbird still sits on her nest. Peering through shrubs at a safe distance, sometimes her bright little eyes are visible to the viewer, sometimes her upturned tail.

Brambly bedToday’s task for me was to clear one bed of brambles and other unwelcome growth. Simple enough for a day’s work. I thought. In fact the wild blackberry bushes were the least of my problems.

As I began to feel my way into the undergrowth I came across a number of previously unseen plants. Passion flower chokedOne was a heavily-budded passion flower which had become entwined in a hebe, and, of course brambles. The necessary disentanglement was a most delicate operation.Passion flower support Having carried out the surgery I gave it a leg-up by means of netting attached to a metal post set in concrete that Jackie had found elsewhere in the garden. Another such climber had clung to the weeping branches of the birch tree, but had many stems trailing in and out of the bed grasping at anything in its path. Further similar treatment was required. This time the netting was strung between two wooden stakes.

Two types of tree that are abundantly self-seeded in this garden are hawthorn and bay. There was one of each in this bed, their roots, as always, taking shelter among those of  other plants; in this case the weeping birch and some lilies that have not yet flowered.Bed head screwed to birch I had no chance of reaching them unless I removed the wooden bed head nailed to the tree. No doubt this once had a decorative purpose of sorts.  I couldn’t prise it off. Once the rust had been scoured off the nailhead it turned out to be a screw, so dilapidated as to be bereft of a slot. I tried to make one with the trusty hacksaw. I couldn’t get it deep enough.

Then along came Superwoman, who saw that if we removed the rickety slats and the other end, we could leave the post where it was. D’oh!

That is what we did. I dug out the offending trees and replaced the rest of the bed head. Two of the joints had by now disintegrated, so nails will have to be used, when I have bought some of sufficient length. In order that it does have a decorative function, I optimistically fed a passion flower stem through the secure bit.

Jackie speaks of the June gap, which is that unproductive time between the finishing of the spring flowers and before the arrival of those of the summer. The planting here has been so well planned that there is no such hiatus. Water lilyPhiladelphusWhite bush roseRose - pink abundancePetuniasPetunias - magentaDiasca and pelargoniumBegoniaPoppiesVerbascumRodgersiaClematises Star of India and Rouge CardinalI took a break after lunch and photographed water lily, philadelphus, roses, petunias, diasca, pelargonium, begonia, poppies, verbascum, rodgersia, and clematises which are just a few of those we currently have flowering.

Our blackbird is still awaiting the emergence of her chicks. Not so the owl in my friend Hari’s tree. Her two are about three weeks old, and able to reach the ground, but do need to be returned to their Mum. If I am able to photograph our fledglings I am confident that my pictures would not be as striking as the one Hari e-mailed me today.Owling by Harri She believes the creature was displaying a mind of its own when it stared back at its rescuer. I rather like her term for a baby owl, especially one with attitude, which has provided today’s title.

This evening’s meal was Jackie’s beef and mushroom pie with mashed carrots, swede, and potatoes; and crisp cauliflower and broccoli. Tiramisu ice cream was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the tempranillo.

If you have a shop that can sell you ready prepared pastry and have saved enough beef casserole (recipe) you, too could make the pie. Simply drain off the sauce from the casserole and use it as gravy; roll out the pastry, insert the filling into it, and bake it in the oven for about half an hour on 200. The chef, when pressed for her timing, said: ‘Oh, I don’t know, I didn’t time it, I just stood and looked at it until it was the right brownness’. I don’t expect she did this for the whole time, but I think that gives you the idea.