Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Wed: Sunshine, glorious sunshine!

Sigh, one of those days when it's just soooo good to be alive, and working outdoors.

Lots more weeding this morning, but first I want to show you some more composty bins: this time, under the general heading of How To Do It Properly. (well, nearly!)

As you can see, we have three compartments, which is the correct number to have.

And they are a good size, but not overlarge. And there's a handy water tank to the left so that in dry summers, I can water them.

This garden, by the way, is so large that these are the "small compost bins": we have the "large compost bins" at the other end of the garden, this time built with sleepers and not as high, but each one being four times the size: plus we have the "grass pits" , another set of three, this time out in the meadow with a handy grassy slope leading up to them, so the client (or technically, the client's husband!) can run the big sit-on mower right up to them, and dump out the grass cuttings without having to get off, and without having to lift them! Very sensible.

These bins have the front wall in two sections, so when I start to empty them, I can get so far, then take off the top section so I can reach in more easily.

The only bad thing is the long batten nailed across the fronts.... I have repeatedly explained about banging my forehead on it when emptying the bins, but to no avail. But otherwise they are so lovely that I don't complain.

And then I saw my first Peacock butterfly of  the year, here he is having a taste of a big old-fashioned daffodil!

Now I'm hoping that we don't have any sudden sharp frosts again, which might kill off both the early butterflies and the daffs...

So, work today included weeding, admiring butterflies, and nipping off some of the dead wood from the fruit trees, and from the Vibutnum opulus, that's the one that makes big white puff-ball flowers.

This is a good time of year to do it, you can clearly see where the buds are, and which twigs are not showing any attempt at budding, and can therefore be neatly nipped off at their nearest junction. It all helps to reduce congestion amongst the branches, which in turn helps with air circulation, keeping the plant as healthy as possible.

Another milestone of the spring is when the Epimedium versicolour 'Sulphureum' starts to flower.

Here it is as it looked this morning: a domed mass of leaves, held about a foot off the ground by wiry stems, and after a hard year the leaves go a lovely purple colour, as you can see here.

But there is a surprise hidden away inside the foliage - the flowers are just starting to open, but sadly they rarely grow high enough to be seen above their canopy of leaves.

So, at this time each year, I carefully go in with my secateurs and snip out the old leaves, to reveal the delicate flowers.

Here's a close-up of the flowers, so you can see what little beauties they are.

In this situation, they are on top of a wall at about four feet high, so we can get really close to them.

It always looks heartlessly bare when I've just done it, so to keep it looking nice, I leave a "fringe" of foliage to the rear, forming a sort of informal backdrop to the centre of the clump.

As a picture is worth a thousand words, I took a picture to illustrate that, but it's out of focus, so you will have to settle for my description of it.

After lunch I was once more lifting and moving shrubs in the Circles garden, but we're making good progress, and the worst of the back-breaking part is over.

And, joy of joys, the clients have bought a new wheelbarrow!!  I can't describe to you how horrible it is to have to work with a naff wheelbarrow. I've had all sorts: ones where the body is so low that you bang your shins on it at every stride: ones where the handles are so close together that you can't walk comfortably: ones where the hands are so bent that you have to bend double to pick it up: ones with no tipping bar at the front, which ought to be compulsory on wheelbarrows: rusty metal ones with holes in, that BANG and RATTLE at every step.... the list goes on. I didn't mention flat tyres, but you know that I am thinking it... (*mutters darkly*)

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