Category Archives: Maintenance

Hello, It’s Good To Be Back …

Oh dear, has it really been so long since my last post, I apologise.  I’ve had an awful lot on my plate renovating our house, a miserable winter and slow spring, not to mention a shoulder injury have all triggered a tad of writer’s block.

We did manage to put up the new greenhouse which I’ve really enjoyed as I can now sow seeds for the garden and allotment and I can also overwinter some of my more tender plants.

I have also had the tree surgeon in to clear the dying silver birch, ugly conifer and numerous fruit suckers which were threatening to take over the garden.

My wonderful dad has also provided me with a professional design so I can get going with laying out the garden over the next few months, starting with a winding brick path which will divide the garden into 3 different areas.

My equally wonderful mum has sent me some apricot seeds which I will be attempting to germinate and grow on as container plants.  More about that in a future post.

It’s good to be back.


Spring Flowering Bulbs Planted

Today has been such a lovely day that there really was no excuse for not getting out and doing all those autumn jobs that I’ve been putting off for one reason or another.

The grass has been cut so I’m now hoping that the temperature will drop and it’ll stop growing.  Having said that the smell of freshly cut grass is lovely at any time of year.  I’ve cleared some of the fading annuals, sweet peas, some of the Phacelia and Calendula, but left the Nasturtiums as their foliage still looks good!  The summer flowering perennials have all been cut back and the weeds have been cleared too.  

This left me with some space to finally plant out the spring flowering bulbs which have been hiding in a dark cupboard quietly whispering to me for the last few weeks, “plant us, plant us, you won’t regret it!”. 

Come the spring, here’s what I’m looking forward to seeing emerge, Chionodoxa forbesii (Glory of the Snow) which flowers March/May, Iris reticulata (dwarf) flowering February/March and Narcissus ‘Tete-a-tete’ flowering in March.

Chionodoxa forbesii






Iris reticulata




Narcissus ‘Tete-a-tete’







Here’s how it looks now.  I’ll be keeping a close eye on this border as I eagerly await the first flowers of 2013.  

Not much to see yet but just wait until Spring!

At some point over winter I’ll be widening this border so that scruffy edge will be history, I might even do it tomorrow if the sun shines!  

Potting-On Bonsai

The word Bonsai means ‘tree in a tray’ in Japanese.

Chinese Elm

Keeping the root environment healthy is  essential when cultivating bonsai trees, and that means re-potting when the roots become overcrowded or the plant is still in the early stages of growth.

When choosing the media you should use the tree species as a guide and use a soil composition which replicates that in which it would grow in its natural habitat.  Generally though a mix of equal parts loam, peat and sand would be fine.  Alternatively, you can buy proprietary bonsai composts which will suit most species.

My bonsai is a Chinese Elm which has been in my family for nearly 20 years (no pressure to keep it healthy!).  It has been a while since I re-potted it last, the roots are in need of trimming and the soil is depleted.  Here I explain the simple process of re-potting it.

Soak the whole rootball until saturated.

Making sure the root zone is wet will lessen the risk of transplant shock

Tease out the old soil from the roots.

Remove as much old compost as possible

Trim any excessively long roots.

Place a layer of fresh compost back in the tray before replacing the tree and gently dibbing in the fresh compost around the roots making sure there are no air pockets.

Adding new compost

Water well with a rose.

Maintaining Feverfew

Tanacetum parthenium, (Feverfew) appears in old herbals as a remedy for migraines and headaches.  It was ignored however, for many years until a doctor’s wife in Cardiff (Wales), Mrs Anne Jenkins discovered in 1970 that it cured her headache!  She duly reported this and in 1980 clinical trials were carried out which confirmed that Feverfew is fairly safe and effective against headaches.

The Feverfew in the garden has been in flower since mid May and just finished a couple of days ago, so today I’ve cut it all back and there are some new flowers lurking beneath.  It is worth noting that they are growing beneath a large conifer (more about that later) where many plants would fail.  Because they grow best in dry, stony soil which is well drained they are coping with the poor soil here.



It’s important to cut the dead flower heads off promptly or they will self sow their seeds and spread quickly.

A Hard Day’s Graft

So here’s the result of a full day of battling it out in the undergrowth.  The lilies by the shed stay put and I’ve transplanted a harts tongue fern in among them which you can’t really see in the photograph.  Before I develop this area any more we need to get the sick birch tree removed and I’ll need to go over the ground again as there is undoubtedly more bindweed lurking below the soil surface.

The Bit at the Bottom

So all in all a job well done as far as it goes and a very big glass of wine has my name written all over it just to finish off the day right.

Choosing The Right Lawn Mower

It is a widely accepted fact among industry experts that grass is one of the highest maintenance plants you will ever grow in your garden and the time and effort you put into your lawn will have a direct impact on the quality of the turf. You only have to look at some of the top-level sports pitches to appreciate the standard that can be achieved with the right maintenance regime. So what does it take to achieve a healthy lawn?

Achieving a healthy lawn is all about the quality of the soil, feeding, watering and of course, regular cutting. Deciding on the right lawn mower for your plot can be a daunting task and it is helpful to ask yourself a few simple questions before you start browsing the multitude of makes and models that are available in today’s market. This is one purchase that should be considered an investment and finding the right one will make mowing a pleasure rather than a chore.

The most important consideration when choosing a new lawn mower is the size of your lawn. For small lawns corded electric mowers are ideal. They’re more environmentally friendly than gas-powered mowers as well as being quieter and cleaner to run. For medium to large lawns there is a range of cordless electric mowers to choose from such as the Black & Decker CM1836. This model has a 36 volt rechargeable battery which makes the engine more powerful than conventional electric lawn mowers. Gas-powered mowers are ideal for large lawns, they tend to last longer and are more powerful than electric mowers.

Many of the models that are available today also have the ability to mulch the grass as it cuts. This is a great feature if you want to improve the fertility of your lawn by returning the mulched grass to the surface of the lawn. This should only be done during the dry summer months however as a build-up of damp thatch during autumn and winter can lead to lawn problems such as fungal growth or moss infestation. If the mulch is not being returned to the lawn it can be composted in the normal way.

A few other considerations are cost, warranty period, ease of storage and safety features. Some lawn mowers for instance have cushioned grips which reduce vibrations to your hands. Most lawn mowers now fold away for easy storage, check this out if space is tight. The warranty period on most new models is around 2 years with additional guarantees on engine life and on some such as the Black & Decker CM1836 the deck is guaranteed for life. So it is important to compare the different warranty periods when choosing the right machine for you.

Even when you’ve asked and answered these key questions there are still a great many different lawn mowers to choose from and a lawn mower review site can help you to focus on the lawn mower which best matches your needs.

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