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Entries in Didcot (9)


Garden diary - more compost

Not a very visually-exciting update this week. I was out gallavanting in Oxford with two of my longest-suffering friends on Saturday, which was lovely. We started with a spot of lunch and some drinks in the Old Bank Hotel, went for a wander along the river before going for a pot of tea each in the Ashmolean Dining Room, and finally finishing off with a very lovely meal in the Turl Street Kitchen. Seriously, the chocolate brownie was fabulous. The company was pretty good too. It's been a while since we got together, and a catch-up was well overdue. 

This, along with three (sunny! Oh wow!) days last week with the Women's Cricket Association Golf Society (WCAGS for 'short'), meant that come Sunday all I really wanted to do was nap. So I did. It was rather lovely. 

Still, Clarkie got a bed dug over on Saturday, working in two more bags of compost. I then sprinkled it with some seed for some 'bird-friendly annuals' from Sainsbury's on Sunday. Fingers crossed at least some of it will grow, but for now it really doesn't make for the most stunning picture! 

Compost tally:

  • 200l of General purpose compost
  • 90l of Ericaceous compost


Garden diary - it is begun

Forgive another long bout of radio silence. We had no internet connection at home, and I've been slack. Now, however, I do have a good internet connection at home (although I may still be slack). We've been up to all sorts, but the two week break in Florida probably did most to recharge my batteries - with vitamin D if nothing else!

The garden is still predominantly a patch of mud, but now I have big plans for it. They look a lot like they've been scribbled on the back of a fag packet, and require far too much pointing and explaining to post up here. But I do now have some idea what I want to put where and what will join the various bits and so on. The slightly trickier bits are the execution of said plans: they require lots of levelling of shed and patio bases, preparation for turf, paving and the like. So we're still drawing breath and pausing before really getting going on the tough stuff.

The grey of the mud patch has been starting to get to me though, even with the amount of grass that is trying to force its way through. So when we popped to see my parents this weekend, we couldn't turn down a trip to their local(ish) nursery, Simpson's in Fordham. We knew the garden had to have a cherry tree, and Simpson's normally do a good line in all sorts of trees. We probably should have stuck to just one, but they were half price, so we got two. That meant a drive back with 5 people in the car and two trees sticking out of the sun roof. Then we had to get the two trees out of Mum and Dad's large Lexus and into our tiny Audi A1 (no sun roof) for the 2.5 hour trip home. I lost a game of shotgun to two trees. Still, all four of us made it, pretty much none the worse for wear.

We planted the trees (labels preserved for posterity here) yesterday on opposite sides of the garden.

This is a droopy (not an entirely technical term), dark pink one that apparently flowers in Spring:

Prunus pendula 'Pendula Rubra'

And this is a more upright one with white flowers, apparently in Autumn/Winter, with a Mickey Mouse bird bath for company that our friend Pat bought for us as advance payment for staying with us on her retirement trip to the UK later this year:

Prunus x subhirtella 'Autumnalis'

We've also potted up a couple of blueberries that our friend Steamer gave us as a house warming present. Those are going to live on the patio, each side of the doors to the conservatory. Hopefully that will be close enough together for the bees to find their way from one to the other, and close enough to the house for me to eat the blueberries before the birds. We've just put a load of violas in with them - not sure what they will make of the ericaceous compost, but I guess we'll find out! I've mulched around the two trees with two 50l bags of compost, and put the rest of the violas in that. I'm sticking with the no-dig approach where I can (although we're planning on rotavating once, particularly under the lawn) This soil will need masses of compost to make it even halfway decent, so I'm going to stick with spreading it on the top and hoping the worm population will step up to the plate and drag it down into the clay beneath. I have seen some (small) worms, so there is some hope. 50l bags of compost are not an affordable long-term strategy, but it gets things started.

The two trees in their islands of compost do look slightly incongruous, I'll admit. But I feel better for getting something growing. I'm going to try for some annuals too, so we don't have to worry about them if I get the lines of the beds slightly wrong. It is begun!

Tally so far:
100l of General purpose compost
90l of Ericaceous compost


Once more, with pictures

Turns out Clarkie had a picture of the mud, so no more imagination required!

I present, for your viewing pleasure, our new garden...

Garden mud


New Garden

Of course, with a new home I also have a new garden. I've been holding off posting about it, waiting for a chance to get a photo, but I'm never home in daylight at the moment during the week, and have no internet access from home at the weekends. What I do have is the sketch I made for the measurements:

Garden Dimensions

The house is at the top of the picture, which is also sort of North, North-West-ish. It's an odd shape because of the garages either side and the conservatory. The rest of the garden is... well... mud. There are some paving slabs, but other than that it is what is known as a 'blank canvas'. There is a large tree that sits at the bottom right (in that sketch) just behind the fence, which currently has no leaves but will cause some shade when it does. The soil looks a bit on the unimproved clay side, which is currently holding water nicely but will dry like concrete come summer, plus there's a fair bit of construction rubbish around.

I'm not rushing, but I have some ideas I'm toying with. I need to start sketching them so I can share them properly with Clarkie. We're defintely not at the stage of monthly shots yet, but it's a whole new wonderful space to play with! 

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