Six on Saturday: 13 January 2018

It’s the thirteenth, right? But it’s not a Friday so I hope I’m safe from untoward happenings as I embark on the production of another six wotsits to celebrate Saturday. In a week that I was shocked to discover that the Chair of another Hardy Plant Society group wasn’t even a member of HPS, this week, my wotsits are sort of linked – distinct elements in a process.

1. The New Raised Bed Thingy (a.k.a. Edifice2)

In my last contribution of 2017 (which seems so long ago now), I included my plans for a new raised bed thingy in the front garden. Things have now progressed beyond sketching and the final plan has been agreed, approved, costed and is ready to roll once I’ve dealt with some things that have to precede construction. But, the project has now become this:

Which looks a bit more exciting. Viewed from the road, which makes the side that faces the road the front and not the rear, there will be a sort of castellated look. I may have a very modern-looking house (perhaps because it is modern), but I’ll have a medieval-looking raised bed. Viewed from behind. there will be a nice Monty Pythonesque mix of differing levels which would, no doubt, please the Knights Who Say Ni (or did formerly). The different compartments won’t mean a variety of vegetable crops but, rather, of growing conditions. On previous experience, were I to start building at dawn I could actually finish by dusk but I intend to spread the work over a few days for the sake of my back. The vast bulk of the time the job takes will be spend on preparation.

2. Pre-Requisite One: Stumpy

I chopped the tree that was attached to this stump down last year. The stump has been treated with stump-killer and looks as dead as they come. But it’s now time to remove the remaining bit above ground because it’s in the way. There is a lot of gravel around the stump. I will remove as much as I can but it will still be risky to use a stump grinder as (a) they don’t like stones and it’s surprising how easily one of the grinding bits will react badly to encountering any and (b) even if the grinder doesn’t start falling apart, chucking lumps of gravel into the air right next to parked cars isn’t really the thing to do. So I’ll be using some less risky power tools, like a side cutting drill, and a lot of whacks of chisels.. Taking my time and being careful.

3. Pre-Requisite Two: Rooty

I have to be nice to my neighbours. One of the reasons for the demise of former tree was its prowess at throwing out some pretty damned thick surface roots. As this photo shows, one has lifted the boundary-marking kerbstones separating my front garden from next door and has been a bone of contention whenever the neighbours cut their grass. So it has to go. Another root has shot out on my side and that also needs to be partially, if not totally removed. There are other smaller roots just breaking the surface but we’ll leave those be for the time being as they should rot down fairly quickly.

4. Pre-Requisite Three: Planty

The gravelled area was an idea that didn’t work. Originally supposed to be mainly heathers, as they didn’t perform they got replaced with other things. There are a few dwarf Acers, a couple of Heucheras and a Hydrangea still in the ground (don’t look at the weeds please). I have to see whether I can successfully remove and relocate them somewhere. Which causes another headache as I ponder where!

5. Pre-Requisite Four: Hedgey

The Berberis hedge has to go. The first bit will be easy – swinging the chainsaw along just above ground level. Bye hedge. But then I’ll need to get out most of the roots. Not all because I won’t be that worried about regeneration but the bulk have to go. Which will mean a small trench maybe or at least lots of dips in the ground right next to the pavement. Which then means I have to consider Elfin Safety and will need to erect some sort of barrier. Not a problem as I have a roll of that orange barrier netting from a previous incarnation and I have a quantity of the metal spikes which support that netting. Except that the aforementioned spikes are currently in use as part of a temporary ……

6. Pre-Requisite Five: Badgery

…… badger barrier. Badgers can be vicious creatures, especially when they’re a male, getting past it, who has been ejected from the sett my a younger, more virile male and has wandered off into the sunset to live out his remaining years in celibate solitary confinement. Some strong barrier was needed to dissuade him from visiting my garden to dig up the lawn. I don’t know why but, it seems, that if you block an old badger’s route into your garden the right way, he won’t necessarily look for another route but will wander off into the sunset in a different direction. I know he’s still around as there’s evidence but he hasn’t tried breaking and entering anywhere else. Making a permanent barrier just takes a bit of time, effort and concrete!

So before I can use the spikes to support the barrier netting out front, I have to remove them from the badger barrier. Which means I need to replace the temporary barrier with the permanent barrier. Which means removing the fence panel, digging a trench, making the framework for some tough badger barrier wire mesh, fixing the mesh, concreting the bottom of that mesh into the trench and then on the garden side of all of that, installing a standard gravel board and then replacing the fence panel.

And I’ll have to do something about that damned Acanthus too!

So you see, nothing is straightforward here. And I think that’s enough of a list to keep me occupied for a week or two before I get to the juicy building stage.

Meanwhile, due to a minor scheduling error, the bulk of the plants to go into the new raised bed thingy, which have been deliberately grown hard at the nursery so they could be planted out straight away, were delivered on Thursday. Which means they couldn’t be planted out straight away. I don’t want to cram them into the greenhouse as that would negate the whole purpose of growing them hard. But I can’t leave their roots outside in unprotected pots and I have no spare ground to temporarily sink the pots into. So it’s carry them out in the day and into the garage at night.

And I’ll flatten the first person to suggest that moving them into an unlit garage overnight means they’ll suffer light deprivation in the dark!

Far better to spend your time popping over to The Propagator’s Blog where you’ll find his Six for today. In the comments you’ll find a growing list of links to other contributions. As the theme of the meme is based on six, this will particularly assist one Gill Heavens who is currently blogging a single photo every day as she ploughs (as in ploughing with nothing more than a cocktail stick) through her digital photograph collection whilst trying to organise it. At one a day, she should complete the job in 2,737 years, 8 months and 11 days (allowing for leap years) so the occasional six photos a day will be like a dose of laxatives. Please give her every encouragement.

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10 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 13 January 2018

  1. Good luck with your project, looking forward to seeing it progress. Badgers for you and foxes for me – wildlife is part of gardening just like building!

    1. Thanks, I have foxes too but they’re friendly and don’t do any damage. They deal with any out-of-date eggs for me too. I guess country foxes have a different mentality from urban ones.

  2. This is more like building than gardening! I have a new allotment and in terms of design all I know is that i don’t want it how it is. I will take this post as a warning not to get above my physical and time-available level when I dream about how it could be.

    1. Gardening is often building! The preparation in this case is the hardest bit but would have to be done whatever I do next. Building up is actually easier than a lot of digging down here, which I doubt my 64-year-old back would cope with.

  3. Your Edifice 2 sounds a bit like There was an Old Lady who swallowed a spider to eat the fly that wiggled & jiggled inside her . . . I was about to break a few Thou Shalt Not Covet Neighbour’s Goods commandments until you laid out the prep list. Well, maybe some venial coveting, but certainly not mortal coveting. Can’t wait to see the finished product, fully planted.

    1. Prep is always the hard bit. But I’d have to do that whatever I did with this space. And if I didn’t build up, I’d have to dig down and there would actually be a lot more work. Plus, with raised beds I can “adjust” the soil. You can’t grow alpines properly in heavy, claggy clay!

  4. I hear you! For me too, any project begins with ‘pre-prep prep’ which includes looking for and rescuing repurposed materials. But you atleast know where everything is!

    1. In this case, the only reusables are a few plants and some gravel. The hedging and root bits will be going to the local community composting scheme. The advantage of blogging is that I’ve now announced I’m doing something so have to get on and do it. That’s motivation! 😉

  5. Sounds like a lot of hard week to me, will keep you out of mischief, perhaps. A bit of a set back for me today. OH’s birthday so no SoS. I try and catch up in the week.

    1. Is OH aware that you regard his birthday as a set back? Maybe he needs more spider plants. Oh well, 2,7 ……. 12 days! Unlike some, I never get into mischief 😉

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