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It's been a lovely warm day again today and mostly sunny. Yesterday was lovely too;  it makes me feel it must be Summer!

John and I sat in the yard with our coffee, he with his newspaper and I with my book.  Suddenly there was a terrible commotion and I looked up to see Morgan running along the top of the wall like greased lightning after a poor little blue tit.  The tit eventually managed to fly away and I thought Morgan was going to launch himself from the wall after it.  Other birds in the willow tree on the other side of the back lane were twittering and getting very agitated and I was rather afraid that my naughty Tootles was going to get himself mobbed by angry starlings, which happened to Phoebe once when she was minding her own business on my windowsill.  He jumped down and hid under the table until the commotion died down.

Charles was up early today, all without my intervention;  I wish it meant his sleep patterns were going to return to normal, but we had a week or so at Christmas when he became more or less "normal";   it didn't last.

He had the results of his City & Guilds IT exams the other day;  two Distinctions !!.  He didn't even bother to do any revision, but he does have almost-but-not-quite photographic memory, especially for things he's interested in, and, of course, he did do an IT course at Skool, although doubtless everything's changed since then.  We've decided that he must go back and do the next bit of the course, even though he will have to pay for it, since more funding is not forthcoming.  If all three of us chip in, he should be able to start again in September.

Today we went to the garden centre and I got BOGOF bedding plants, mostly petunias and lobelia, which I shall use in my hanging baskets.  (Only allowed four per voucher, though!)  I got a really cheap bent bamboo frame thingy to grow the clematis over, so I've bought another of those incredibly cheap earthenware pots and I shall put the clematis in there, then I won't need to use the trellis for it and it won't have to go right up against the wall, which I think helps the slimies get to it.  I actually found a snail asleep in the pot today when I moved it.    Cheeky hooter!! That snail quickly found himself out on the back lane after a short flight through the air.

I also bought a new type of pelargonium which looks as though it's made from red velvet.  I bought some more runner beans as well.  If they all do well, we shall get sick of them, or of course, I could freeze them.  I don't really think I ever could get tired of runner beans.  After a brief tussle with myself involving such thoughts as "What about the gas bill?"  I bought a vast hanging pot of strawberry plants with several plump strawberries on the brink of being ripe, but I shall have to remember to look out some old net curtain to put over them tomorrow, otherwise the birds will eat them before I can.  I bought a couple of other plants which I can't remember at the moment... some sort of daisy thing and something else.

Almost as soon as we'd had a reviving cup of tea out in the yard, it started to rain, so nothing got planted today.  The forecast for tomorrow is dire, but from Thursday onwards, the weather is meant to improve again.  I need to have a blitz on this room in any case.  When I was trying to fish my new-ish slippers out from under the TV stand, I found enough cat hair to knit a cardigan!

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I spent some of the afternoon repotting my new dwarf acer into the large pot I bought last week.  Then I transplanted the tomatoes A sent me into a growbag, cleared out the weeds from the honeysuckle tub and took off all the dead wood;  it looks much better now.  I cleared all the weeds from the tub with the self-seeded buddleia and a large lavender.

I adore the scent of lavender and have it in everything I can.  My Grandma loved it too, but as far as I can remember, she never grew it, I wonder why not!

I also planted some Morning Glory seeds, because it said on the packet you can still plant them in May.  I read the packet which said that germination is aided by soaking them for 24 hours in warm water, but I forgot about them and soaked them for 48 hours.  When I came to plant them I discovered they had already started germinating, but I didn't know whether the sprout was the leaf end or the root end.  I consulted the resident biology expert, but he didn't know either.  So I planted them sprout upward in those little peat blob things and I've put them into a germinator on the dining room windowsill.  I hope it works;  I want lots of Heavenly Blue Morning Glories.

While at the windowsill, I discovered that the last lot of planted things have been going mad so I left the lid off the germinator and shall have to try to transplant them tomorrow, if it doesn't rain.

I shall have to remember to look up Lily of the Valley, because I really love those too, but I believe you have to plant them at some strange time of the year, or do arcane things to the corms or bulbs or whatever they are.

All the time I was doing all this I was thinking how nice it would be when my Sis comes to stay, and how we could sit out there with our coffee, or reading books, because the last two years when she has come, the yard pots hadn't been done, because I wasn't well enough, not to mention the awful summers we had.  So I feel quite sad after speaking on the telephone this afternoon to find that she can't come this year.

Tomorrow I must clear out the wooden trough opposite the back door and plant the clematis I bought two weeks ago.  It's thriving there, even though it's still in its pot, so, fingers crossed, it will continue growing and flowering all summer.  It may not be Heavenly Blue, but it's still very pretty!

Everything is doing very well, except the runner beans;  the leaves are not only being eaten by cats, but apparently by slugs or snails as well!  Drat!  I meant to put some slug killer down.

It's beginning to look quite nice out there, even though I have still such a lot to do.  The worst thing is the dirt!  We definitely need to give the whole yard a thorough brushing and then use the power hose on it.  If I get Charles in the right mood, I'll get him to do it.  He loves messing about with the hose pipe.  He helped me water the plants with plant food dissolved in the water this afternoon, so we hope everything will flourish even more!

This evening I watched a programme with Ian Hislop talking about Poets Laureate.  It was one of those lovely programmes which remind you why you still pay the licence fee!  It made me remember to look up The Poetry Archive when I came back upstairs.  I've been meaning to look at it for ages, but forgetting.  What a wonderful resource!  It would be worth Andrew Motion being Laureate for that alone!  I sent them an e-mail saying that I was sad they had nothing by Gillian Allnutt.  It says on the site that they don't reply, but I don't care about a reply;  I just hope it makes someone think "Ah!  Yes!  Gillian!  We must get her to read something for us!"

Sadly I shan't be able to go to her next Poetry awayday, because I can't afford it now that I have enormous gas and electric bills to pay, buggrit!

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On Tuesday morning I noticed that I had a huge swelling between my gum and the inside of my upper lip;  it didn't hurt at all, but it was enormous.  Even though it didn't hurt, I thought it was probably yet another abscess, so made an emergency appointment for this morning.

When I woke this morning the swelling had gone down a little and my mouth was full of blood.  I was pleased, as you can imagine.

My lovely dentist agreed that it was yet another abscess
.  I told him I'd had one when he was on holiday and had used the emergency prescription of Amoxicillin he left me, which eventually made it disappear, but obviously not permanently.  So this time he gave me a double prescription for both Amoxicillin and  Metronidazole.  Fortunately I asked him if the latter was the drug which makes you very ill if you drink alcohol and he confirmed that it was.  Why do they never tell you?  Do they assume that someone of my age and appearance is naturally too straight-laced to drink?

So I have to take all this stuff and see him after the Bank Holiday;  I didn't even realise there was a Bank Holiday coming up.  Wish me luck, everyone, because if this doesn't work, the lbooyd tooth, which has already caused endless trouble and can't be repaired further because it's too hard for the drill to penetrate, will have to be extracted and I am more than sufficiently lacking in the molar department as it is.  Sulk!

It's been another lovely day, in fact, you might say a perfect day;  incredibly blue sky, endless warm sunshine and an absolute joy to sit out in with a pot of coffee and book.  I didn't do any chores in the yard, just sat out there and chilled out.  Lovely!  Yesterday was  a lovely day too, but with a freezing cold wind.

Yesterday I went to the garden centre and succumbed to the BOGOF hostas as well as two pots of mixed salad leaves to cut every day for lunch-time sandwiches, and a beautiful dark blue gentian.  I don't know why I bought that, as I have no idea how to look after it and no ericaceous compost for it, but it was such a beautiful blue..............  I was also fortunate enough to find a large, allegedly frost-proof clay pot for £9.99, which must make it the cheapest in the county.  I thought I would buy it while I was there because if I'm able to get a dwarf acer next week, it is the perfect pot for it, but if I hadn't already bought it, it would, of course, be out of stock when I wanted it.  If I don't get an acer it will be fine for something else.

I spent ages driving round the garden centre in my scooter looking for the gorgeous blue morning glories they had a couple of weeks ago, but couldn't find any, and none of the staff has any recollection of them, buggrit.

As well as a self-seeded buddleia in a tub in the yard, I've found a well-established self-seeded elderflower, about to burst into blossom; I shall try to keep and cherish it.  I've also found a tiny self-seeded hawthorn, which I shall cosset.  I had a look at espalier fruit trees while I was at the garden centre, but sadly, they are just too big and need too much wall space for a tub in the yard.

I have tomato plants which A sent me to plant out and a couple of cucumbers, which I've never grown before, so I bought a couple of grow bags as well.  I also bought some dark blue lobelia, because I can't really believe the stuff I've sown will ever be big enough.

Still no rain, so we've had to water everything with the watering can this evening.  What I've bought and planted out in the last couple of weeks is growing like crazy;  I'm very pleased.

Tomorrow I have to get up at the crack of dawn (for me) in order to get to an appointment with my lovely lady doctor.  I made the appointment a week ago and this was the earliest they had and the only one left for this week.  The trouble is that the appointment is at 8.40 am, and I find it so hard to drag myself out of bed early nowadays as my heart condition seems to slow me down dreadfully in the morning.  This probably means I'll get very little sleep tonight as I shall be worrying about getting up early enough.  Sigh...............

I suppose I'd better dig out the consultant's letter and make a list of what I want to discuss with her before I go to bed.

Oh!  Edited just to say that I saw my first butterfly of the year today, a red admiral!!

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I went to the garden centre today, in the drizzle, to get my BOGOF patio roses.  I got four, although only one is scented and that only slightly, which I'm a bit cross about, but obviously I could only buy what they had on offer.  I got a cream, a scarlet, a floppy pink floribunda a bit like an old-fashioned rose and another pink one.

I bought a beautiful heavenly blue clematis to try once again growing something up the wall trellis opposite the back door and the very last pot of three runner bean plants to pot on and keep indoors for another couple of weeks.  Apparently they will be selling more later in the month, ready to go straight outside.  I thought I'd buy these anyway, because I missed them completely last year.

I also bought another 20 little peat plug-pots to start off more seeds and I bought catnip seed and Sweet Cicely seed.  I'm a bit disappointed to see that the Sweet Cicely seed is meant to be planted outdoors in December or January because it needs the cold to germinate.  I'm tempted to try sowing some anyway to see what would happen.  Would it help to put them in the freezer for a week?  Or to plant them and then keep them in the fridge for a fortnight? What would other people do?

Next week's BOGOF offer is for Hostas which I'm not particularly keen on, but they will be quite big ones in 2 litre pots, so maybe they'd be a good buy.  But how would I keep the slugs'n'snails off them?  Because I've noticed that whenever I see displays of hostas in horticultural gardens, they've nearly always been attacked by something.

The following week's offer is for half-price Japanese acers, which I assume includes the dwarf ones.  If they're not way out of my price league, I might try one in a barrel tub, because I love the way they look.  After that is the Biggie!  Half-price bedding plants.  Heigh! ho! for perfumed purple petunias and other annual goodies.  I see the small print only allows for 4 packs per voucher.  I wonder if I can get them to give me another voucher next week?

All I've been able to do with today's purchases is dump everything on the table in the yard and wait till tomorrow when I hope it may have stopped raining.  Naughty Morgan has already started to eat the roses!  Who needs slugs and snails when they have a barmy cat?

Charles has had his yearly psychiatric evaluation this afternoon.  I was very pleased because he's always asked me to go with him before, but this time he went on his own, although John drove him there and waited outside for him.  They think he's so much better that they've decided he no longer needs regular visits from the higher grade Mental Elf (I can't remember what his post is actually called) and can make do with Amy and Christian most of the time although Dave will come occasionally.  I'm so pleased.  He's also going on a STEPS programme soon, which I hope will build up his confidence.

All in all, I'm feeling very cheerful!  And my arthritic knee which has been agonising for days is a bit better today, so all in all, I think it's a Hurrah! day today!

Edited to add

On examining the patio roses again, I find that three of the four are described as scented.  How odd that I didn't see that before, especially as I was looking for it!

Yard stuff

Apr. 20th, 2009 06:15 pm
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Yesterday we spent quite a lot of time in the yard.  John and Charles swept and tidied the yard and took all the rubbish to the tip while I started potting-on the herbs I'd bought and some stuff from last year which needed repotting.

Before we did that I spent some time sowing seeds in the propagator I'd bought at the garden centre and the mini-propagators I bought at B&Q.  In the end I wished I'd bought trays to go into the large propagator instead of those little peat "plugs" because the arthritis made it very difficult to manipulate the seeds and sow them in the tiny space at the top of the plugs.

So I sowed basil, physalis, mixed salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumber,  and lettuces.  And I sowed sapphire lobelia, double marigolds (to act as companion plants to try to scare off pests), busy lizzies, and geraniums.  They're all sitting on the only windowsill in the house, which is the one in the dining room, so I now have to remember to look in there every day to see if they need watering or whatever.  Actually I lie;  we do have a windowsill in the kitchen, but it's always full of washing up stuff, dishwasher tablet tins, Milton and other stuff unsuitable to mix with growing plants.

This summer I plan to reorganise the shed and throw away a lot of stuff, so I think I shall get John to put a couple of shelves in there under the windows so that I can use them to bring on seeds as well.  When I had my plastic greenhouse I could use that, but I haven't replaced it since all the plastic blew out of the mesh in a mini-tornado type storm, about 18 months ago.  I will try to replace it before next spring. 

I wish I could afford to have a tiny porch/conservatory built onto the back wall, moving the back door to round the corner and walling up the present back door.  It would really help draught-proof the house and provide a place for plants and seeds.  We could keep the cat litter-box out there too, which would save litter forever being tracked round the kitchen.

This afternoon I finished potting on all the herbs.  I've covered the bare earth in the pots with pink grit to discourage the cats from digging in them and hoping it may discourage the slugs, although I bet it doesn't.  It actually looks rather good.  The grit is barely pink really, just pink enough to stop it being grey.

I am so frightfully slow nowadays that I only managed to repot five pots this afternoon.  Admittedly I have to carry them and lift them onto the table, remove all the dead stuff, and the top three inches of compost, then plant the herbs, fill up the holes with compost and cover the soil with the pink gravel, but even so, I'm pretty sure I would never have been so slow a couple of years ago.

The lovely two-year-old compost from the bottom of my composter is wonderful, dark, sweet-smelling and rich.  There were even worms in it, which I returned to the composter.  I wonder where they came from?  The nearest earth to my yard is a sun-baked bit of heavily trodden earth under the willow tree on the other side of the back lane, but I suppose the land adjoining might be a good home for worms.  They've recently spent yet another fortune tarting up that small piece of land, putting in another bed for shrubs, and sticking in large rocks.  If they would only put a bench there, it would be really inviting.  They've defiled the whole thing, though by erecting two prominent notices saying in large red letters "Playing golf prohibited".  I hadn't noticed anyone playing golf there, although it's true that a golf-ball shattered the loo window three years ago and I found a rather nice new golf-ball in the yard today, which the cats adore because it's so bouncy!

Now that I've made some room in the composter I shall be glad to return to putting all my vegetable peelings in there rather than wasting them in the rubbish.

I'm so glad I've been able to make an earlier start this year.  Last year it was still freezing cold in May, even in the sunshine, which made it impossible for me to sit outside long enough to get anything done without ruining my knees for a couple of days.

This year, if it continues like this, I shall have all the pots and planters cleaned up, topped up with good compost and ready for the petunias and so forth that I buy in every year.  Who knows, I might even have time to sit out there and laze in the sun with a book!

I'm always amazed at how happy an afternoon spent playing with my pots and plants makes me.  I must be very easily pleased.  Or perhaps I'm just getting old!


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