Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Project ' Address the Outside'.

The weather forecast says rain tomorrow. I can't tell you how disappointing that will be. It's been amazingly, joy inducingly, dry for a couple of weeks. Cold  frosty nights and clear bright days that are lengthening noticably. Heaven. Sheer heaven. A distinct dirth of the mud that's been everywhere for the last twenty-three months of monsoon. I say twenty-three months because I distinctly remember three weeks of sunshine at the end of March / beginning of April 2011 when the Dearly Beloved and I set to building a new 'occasional' stable. This was in the days before The Girls moved to their livery yard. We got unexpectedly sunburned putting in the framework then never got any further as we waited in vain for a few rain free days to coincide with his time off. We're still waiting. Granted, with The Girls moving house and me attempting to move house  the pressure was off but the framework still stands there, like some strange wooden skeleton, making the Dearly Beloved feel bad every time he sees it. I hope to get it finished this year even though it's not actually needed as a stable any longer.  Because this year is Project 'Address the Outside' year. Whatever the weather.
   Now that I'm staying put I need to focus on getting the garden / grounds arranged so that I can manage them myself. I can cut the main lawn and the ground level boundary grass with my untrusty old ride-on garden tractor provided that the stars align favourably and a number of factors apply. These being;
  • That the days when the grass requires cutting coincide with dry weather thereby preventing the grass getting too long for the ancient almost toothless tractor to manage. 
          Likelihood of happening - nil.
  • Me being mobile and sprightly enough to carry out the basics of ride-on mowing including emptying the grass collector / unclogging the chute (this necessitates a hand and knees position with a drainage rod, I'm sure it shouldn't. I've never seen anyone else in this position by their garden tractors) / moving the heavy and  permanently connected temporary battery starter unit (which is another thing I've never seen on other people's garden tractors) each time the grass collector is full.
          Likelihood of happening - possibly / possibly not.
  • The tractor actually starting.
          Likelihood of happening - depends on which way the wind is blowing.
  • The tractor's cutting drive belt remaining in the correct position. Or even on board the tractor.
          Likelihood of happening - debateable.
  • The tractor actually running for the duration of the task.
          Likelihood of happening - decreasing.
  • Having managed to cut the grass the previous week as the tractor dislikes anything other than scalped lawns and is very temperamental when faced with actual blades of grass. (It faints).
          Likelihood of happening - unlikely given all of the above.

So you can see that maintaining the main lawn is a bit of a hit and miss affair. Then there's the smaller back lawn and the side lawn which is not accessible by tractor. And then there's the bit that really irritates me. The area that surrounds the whole plot that is outside the fence but within the boundary, is on a 2 - 4 foot retaining wall and is about 6-8 feet wide all the way round. With shrubs. Here's a photo of the lowest point shortly after I moved in, very overgrown having been abandoned for a couple of years.The height of the grass around the base hides the fact that the lowest part of the retaining wall is actually two feet four inches and the ridiculously wide hedges hide the six foot width of that portion. The highest point has a four foot cliff face and an eight foot width. Why would someone plan a garden that way?

    Cutting this area has proved a difficult task indeed. First one must lift a lawn mower up there. For me, difficult enough on the lower wall. The higher one makes for a considerable challenge. I've overcome that with a strange method of balance and counter-balance, ropes and strategically placed platforms along with the lightest lawnmower I could find, which is electric and needs several extensions. 
    Then I get up there. I've found that the 'horizontal roll oneself on, then onto the hands and knees then pulling oneself upright using a handy shrub method' is most effective, ignoring the fact that the neighbours probably think one has hit the bottle prior to grass-cutting.
    It's obviously very important to remember that the extensions are all plugged in and the electric is switched on  prior to this. I speak from experience. 
    Getting off the wall is just reversing the process except when not paying adequate attention, when stepping backwards can certainly expedite the dismount. It's the waiting for help that takes the time when adopting that method. Again, I speak from experience.
    I pay someone to help in the garden and as I write there are a few mountains of golden gravel sitting in strategically placed bags atop the retaining wall. The wonderful Wulliewullie ( I misunderstood his strong Scottish accent when he introduced himself and the name stuck) will be coming this afternoon to put an end to the death defying feat of wall-top grass-cutting. I'm really not cut out for it. The irritating area is being gravelled. The shrubs remain and there will be some new planting to ensure there's some greenery and colour and I'll go out there each day and smile, happy in the knowledge that I no longer need to risk life and limb every week to keep it tidy. 
    As for the main lawn I'm reluctantly removing most of that as well, but am just girding my loins to receive the estimated cost. I'm not struck on 'low maintenance' gardens but 'needs must' as they say and I'm lucky that I'm surrounded by a myriad of shades of green in the surrounding fields and woods so hopefully it won't look too harsh.

And I love flowers so I intend to keep all of the lovely shrubs in the borders and practice more container gardening. Areas where I've combined the two in past have worked out well I think, even if the remaining grass is overgrown! Obviously the stars weren't aligned favourably for a while there!

so I'm cautiously optimistic that it will work out ok. As long as I keep my shameful love of gnomes in check.

So it's time to plant my bedding flower seeds and start to assemble a collection of suitable containers. As I said, Project 'Address the Outside' is underway.



  1. It is nice to see green..and I see your helper is carrying the hammer:)

    1. Yes i love the greenery, that's why I'm a bit reluctant to get rid of the grass but there is a lot round here! Rolf is extremely 'helpful' in the garden although sometimes our opinions of helpful differ quite a lot! :-)

  2. Dont envy cutting that grass at all! Urgh! We`ve got enough, and I hate that too, concrete for me!

    You sound in good "nik", and obviously "fettling" on. Good for you! "Wulliewullie?"

    1. I'm doing ok thanks Cheyenne. Unfortunately keeping well away from the horses helps.
      Wulliewullie is really just Wullie but I misunderstood him when I first met him. So he'll always be Wulliewullie now. After a couple of years of close concentration I can usually get what he's saying but still not always!

  3. Your garden looks beautiful and I love the gnome!

    Given your grass-cutting challenge, I'd be tempted to have wild flower meadow.

    1. Sadly it often unintentionally ends up that way Karen! But it looks neglected and overgrown rather than eco-friendly.
      I'm sorry to say I have several gnomes. Although they're more goblin like and they don't tend the garden like they should.

  4. Please would you send my pal Rolf up this way... I need someone to hold my hammer for me! xx

    1. He'd be happy to 'help' and wonders if you need some huge holes in your garden?

    2. When I need to plant a tree I'll know who to call on!