Every Single Day……

….something new!
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Today was the very welcome discovery of Hedge Woundwort on part of the margin our garden. So that little piece must be kept clear of the bush cutter, which is helpfully and very effectively doing exactly what it says on the tin. I kinda squinted at this plant, checked out the shape of leaves etc, but it was only once picked, that i knew we have a woundwort…that smell!
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The other day we found a clump of hardy geranium and frankly never was i so pleased to see some of this stuff, our garden is what is sometimes referred to as a field-garden. The ground here is v damp and in down season wet as well. But give it a couple of days of sunshine and the ground opens up, cracks wide enough to slip my hand in. Usual and ordinary plants just won’t get a chance here, unless we put in some raised beds. But it’s rental and is it really fair to change the garden in such a major way, when the next people might not want this? We think not. So we’ve decided to mow and clear…and hopefully when the darling home returns to the landlord, the garden will be in better shape than we received it. And we will be fitter!
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Attempting to keep the various helpful clumps of meadowsweet is proving interesting, Mr Kitchenish mows very effectively and with deep concentration. And so far the (much pointed out) meadowsweet has all been neatly mown. So imagine my surprise when himself informed me of the presence of orchids in our grass! And none have been mown!! Not one, but Two types of wild orchid have found their home in our garden and I am quite twitter-patted by this discovery…..
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A very odd looking plant thrust itself skywards but in spite of books on the subject, i was at a loss. Daughter helped…others offered possibilities….but it seems that we have a clump of Martagon Lillies.
Swoon……
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There is a hedge around most of the garden, but parts have either fallen into disrepair or been allowed to ‘lapse’.. There is a low wall, but that’s not enough for pets and previous tennants have installed an assortment of wire fencings. But wire fencing….in this area, looks naff. So having obtained permission, we will ensure that the wire fencing acts as a suitable support for a suitable series of hedging plants. So far three elms, two beeches and a honeysuckle gone in. There are various other pots of hedging plants waiting to be planted once the much dreaded ground elder roots are removed from a small enough area to allow planting. Various hedging plants over the years have gone in….and helpfully self seeded in the vicinity, so it’s just a question of filling in the gaps. We already have beech, sycamore and ash helpfully cut to size, loads of honeysuckle and type of hedging shrub that i really ought to identify soon and miles of ivy.
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The bush cuter initially required attention but newly serviced the blessed thing has started earning its keep. Goodness; the toads have ambled smartly into their holes and remained there, or waddled under the shed… whilst the frogs have either legged it towards the japonica or removed themselves to the far reaches of the garden. The wilderness is becoming tamed. Slowly and with less finesse than a gallon of weedkiller might manage. But, the change is noticeable. And pleasing.
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The advent of a ride-on mower provided an interesting start to mowing this amount of grass. But all was not what it was supposed to be. So in the words of Dear Zoo….it’s gone back. We will be getting another, but until then we have a self propelled push type and it’s doing very well indeed.
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But easily the largest change to our lives….well mine anyway…is the addition a family of tawny owls. They set up stall and start their chorusing around 10pm…..lull us to sleep until midnight, when i am acutely aware of silence. They return around 4am for a little trill before fluttering off…the whole family….and leaving us in peace. Only today it was pieces.
So i got up.
Himself appeared around 6am and asked if i felt alright. A sensible enough question , given my dislike of all thing Early.
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It was very peaceful sitting with a brew before 5am. The pets ignored me. The world was silent. I wonder if it will happen again tomorrow?
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aide-memoire

Well. Previous days have gone and if i can recall anything from them great, but if not then hopefully it all starts here.

I ended up screeching out of the kitchen door, having managed to carefully place a full mug of tea on the side but NOT having managed to stop myself from flinging the phone and some kind of long-horned beetle across the room + along the way upending a chair and the clothes airer. Upon sober inspection, the beetle was quite glorious but that’s not the point, is it? I first saw little parts of it out of the corner of my eye. Just stop. And consider those last few words for just one moment. I was sitting down…in the kitchen ..which meant that the beetle…yup. You’ve got it! Waaaay too close! So i flicked my hair and one outraged beetle ended up on my leg and waggled his legs at me. The rest is history.

Overhanging branches in the lane were lopped, so a few have ended up filling in gaps in the ‘hedge’ and the flowering ?cherry ones brought inside to stand in front of the fireplace. It looks fabulous.

I’d been waking up in the middle of the night for quite some while and couldn’t really work out why. According to Quadrille’s fabulous bird song book, it’s a family of Tawny owls. For a few nights i’d been closing and opening the windows which scared them off but their exit was very vocal indeed so i’m just living with my wonderful nocturnal choir.

Whilst uprooting a thistle, i had quite obviously not checked carefully enough as a shiny blue (large) beetle scurried up the nearby grass and waggled it’s legs at me. I carried on, so the beetle came much closer and carried on waggling. Left it to the thistle and will go back tonight.

Clearing the well established dock i (yet again!) didn’t check carefully enough and leaning down with face at ground level, brushed aside a clump of not-yet-gathered grass cuttings. An eye opened and closed; clump of grass cuttings was replaced smartly! Five minutes later i lifted it again. The eye opened again, closed and four legs were gathered closer to the toad’s round cosy body. The eye opened for a final time and i swear the toad said,
“Would you mind? thank you very much indeed”, as it sank down further into the moist grass cuttings.

There are some orchids growing in the garden, common spotted i think and hopefully not blind. Don’t like the look of them though….sure the leaves should be more rosette-like…Hmmmm. The toad and i shall keep an eye on things.

Whilst de-brambling the japonica an eye opened and there was a rush of greeny yellow as a young frog nipped into the middle of the bush. It sat tight, keeping an eye on me. We eyed each other, then got on with our lives….i clipped while it dozed.

We have some ancient beech hedge around the house that is partially maintained by someone else…and ….a low wall with fencing on top (that i originally didn’t like but now understand the reason for for). The wall and fencing also has Some hedging/ trees/ honeysuckle/ other plants in it. This needs adding to. We have already had one dog break Into our garden for a play with ours! i am almost certain that a fox was strolling through another part as well. THAT part has now been firmly blocked but something tried to get through the other night, i’ve blocked it again! the fox can jolly well go round and go through any number of far more easily available gaps on the Other side of our garden.

Apparently it’s going to be cold tonight so before the garden runs away with us completely….i’m back off outside….
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Drinking…apparently, far too much tea
Eating…..anything that can be prepared swiftly
Listening to….birdsong and tractors
Watching….things grow
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…and just like that, i’m home.

For me anyway, the concept of “home” is an odd one and it is something that i’ve chatted about with others. Is “home”, however one defines it, an area? A building? A room? Is home the people? A person?
For me anyway home is really about having a bedroom, my own space, even if shared with another or others. True, if more rooms are involved, i’m even happier. But push to shove….the nurses home at Central Middlesex Hospital springs to mind… i can make myself at home, in a room, quite easily. Opposite that nurses home there was an old deserted children’s home that had escaping purple iris, galloping pink flowering currant bushes, wild and endless herbaceous borders with flowering shrubs around the edges and random bulbs providing endless blooms throughout the year so my bedroom usually had flowers.

A swift count tells me that this is my 27th bedroom. So it’s the 27th time that i’ve put down roots, invested emotional energy in a place, coaxed plants to grow, arranged photos on a handily available surface (gosh, that dates me!), it’s the 27th time that i’ve made decisions about where to place furniture. The 27th time that i’ve shaken my head and wondered yet again about my propensity to collect clutter.
We are almost there. There IS the minor matter of a previous home to sell, but matters are taking their natural course and i have no doubt that the right person is waiting to move in, to start their life in that part of North East Manchester that i grew to know and love so well. Initially (way back when) there were misgivings about living on the edges of a city, loathing suburbia it had to have easy access to wilderness and Moston Brook so near provided a much needed escape for me. Moston Brook with its damp and ever changing habitat.

So imagine my amusement to discover that our garden here in Scotland, is frankly a minor Moston Brook! But however tempting it might be, a Garden is not a publicly available wild space nor should it be treated in the same way. So no, i will not be encouraging swathes of bouncing meadowsweet, nor will our garden include banks of butterbur. For now at least, what grass is available must be cut….the thistles will not be allowed to grow….ground elder or dandelion can’t be allowed to flower along the boundary with our neighbour….and somehow, the rush will have to go away without forming damp, dank, colour-leached patches. Hedging plants need to occupy some gaps…..a massive towering bundle of old brambles and odd dead branches must be cleared….a few shrubs require rescuing…. but that apart, all we need to do is reclaim what was once a perfectly decent garden.
As far as gardening goes, I’m not great at destruction. But here? Here there needs to be some fairly tough ground rules:

1) Thistles and brambles are banished. If we want blackberries there are perfectly acceptable thornless varieties and don’t start me on the thistle.

2) Eating ground elder/ sorrel/ dandelion is not a rational form of weed control, not in this garden …

3) That old adage of ‘Less is More’ is a very good place for us to start…and also remain for a little while longer.

4) Rush in one’s garden is neither acceptable nor helpful. Some people might want to weave with them and suchlike, i don’t. They can go and the sooner the better. I’ve been told about and shown nicely mown areas that were once rush infested. So i know that without recourse to draining the land it is possible to heavily discourage their existence in a garden. It shall be so.

5) Gardening on into the evening is now out. (Midges)

Excuse me, there are about three years depth of dead rush to rake out.

Oh…and would i go back to living in England or on the edge of a city?
Nope!
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