Wednesday 27 May 2009

Wisteria Lane ....and then some!

It's been a wet, windy and chilly few days plus my computer isn't working properly as the internet connection to the house is via a microwave link and has gone intermittently squiffy so, as I've not been able to blog, email OR garden reliably, I decided to cheer myself up with a few photos of the wisteria at the front of the house as it has slowly blossomed (in spite of the weather!) whilst the computer is actually working - hope it doesn't pack up half way through!
The first hints of blooms begin to show.

The Wisteria has gradually sent out shoots to climb the drainpipe near the front door. It's a bit more sheltered there so they have bloomed slightly earlier than the main bush.

The pre-blooms look feathery-soft.

A single self-set poppy peeps through the fronds.

Up close and personal.

The Wisteria in full bloom.
The scent has been wonderful this year - if I could bottle it, I'd wear it all year round. I know many people love the fragrances of Lilac and Lavender - so do I, but Wisteria in full bloom beats them hands down!
I've had all the windows open on dry days and the perfume has drifted gently in filling the house with its glorious perfume. It is so evocative of warm Spring days ......if only we'd had more of them this year! (if only we had smell-o-blog so that you could share the scent!)

The blooms are beautiful even in the rain.

I love the raindrops on the petals.

Even I can eventually have enough photos of Wisteria, so here are a few different plants and flowers to delight the eye.

An Azalea just opening up - on yet another rainy day!

The same bush a few days later ....and sunny!
The Labernum trees have been fantastic this year too. I think they must have liked the long cold spell.

In the back garden, just above and to the East of the house.

Senetti glowing and brightening up a dark, shady bed.
Plants and ornaments waiting to be planted into the Japanese Garden. Their time will come!

Thursday 14 May 2009

If at first you don't succeed, try again...and again...and again..and...!

When it came to building the stream, I have to confess to my usual level of naivety (some may say ignorance!) about how much work was involved, how long it would take, how we'd do the technical bits - you know, the usual sort of thing!

I hadn't sat down and worked out what I wanted either. I just had this plan/vision/idea (call it what you will) that the water would meander gently down a stream which was bordered by rocks and stones which were meant to represent valley or canyon walls.......I had NO concept of what the stream bed was made of or how we would deal with the changes in water levels given that I now wanted a shallow pool at the top in front of the waterfall, or anything vaguely helpful that would enable Himself to understand and interpret my vision! It wasn't a problem for me - I could SEE the perfect end result in my head. Getting there - phah!

Anyway, once Himself had got over yet another episode of sheer despair at my ineptitude and complete lack of interest in the nitty gritty (boring!) details, he began to try to draw the details out of me so that he had something to work on. The conversation was along the lines of:

Himself: What's the stream bed going to be made of?
Me: Err, dunno really, something flat?
Himself: (sigh) Where are we going to get something flat from?
Me: Err, dunno - have you got any ideas?
Himself: (sigh) How do you want to do the levels changes?
Me: (with lots of arm waving and gesticulations) Well I sort of thought of a couple of little waterfalls about 3 or 4 inches high each - you know, water gently trickling over the rocks, that sort of thing! Lots of pebbles and pea gravel on the stream bed to look pretty and interesting and natural, like it's always been there.....!
Himself: (sigh) Hmmm! How are you planning to do the sides of the stream?
Me: Err, hmmm, erm, well, sort know..., stones and bolders....erm.... dunno really yet - but I know it'll be right when I've done it because I can see it in my head!!!!
Himself: SIGH!!!!
Does this man deserve a medal or what?!

Himself had the brilliant idea that we could aquire some flat slabs from around the garden .....I found some slabs making up a hideous crazy paving path down the east side of the house where we rarely go (probably because the path is so awful.....!). The slabs are sandstone and split easily, giving us large, but thin and relatively light pieces to work with. These were laid on a bed of sand and the 'correct' slabs identified for each bit of the stream. This involved trying lots of slabs in each position to work out which one was the nearest to perfect fit we could get for butting up to the waterfall stone coming out of the pond (that took several attempts to find, I can tell you!) which ones would become the stream waterfalls, which one looked right in which position, which ones would make the curves in the stream, etc,etc (yeah, I know - straight slabs, curved stream!!) - and then they were lifted up, had the sand readjusted, put back, lifted up, readjusted etc, several times - for each slab! Well they had to be level or the water would flow unevenly and disappear down one side and neither of us wanted that!

The top photo shows Himself (still slightly in despair mode) having identified the first slab for
the shallow pool and enjoying making the bridge and ensuring that it was perfectly level on the slab on the sand on the butyl on the fleece!!

The photo below shows the 1st attempt to line the bed and the sides of the stream and create the edge of the area for planting (can't call it a border or a rockery, so I'm stuck with calling it a bed - but that's not right either!)
The two photos below are the 1st attempt at creating my river valley - but the whole thing looked too 'forced' and un-natural. I wasn't happy with it at all - despite the fact that I had heaved hundreds of stones in and out of different position zillions of times, tried assorted permutations, balanced, twisted and turned rocks to get the 'right' shape and woke up on the Monday morning aching all over, even with bits of me I didn't know I'd got!

The water flowed smoothly over the slabs, but the sides were just SO wrong!

I was eventually happy, however, with the sides of the stream up at the top between the pond waterfall and the top bridge!
Both Himself and I spent ages trying to work out what was wrong with the river. I realised that the stones were all too sharp and regular, there were no water softened boulders. Himself, ever the sailor, realised that the river shouldn't all be regular - it needed a beach........!

So we made a beach at the point where a beach would be created naturally - that man is so clever!

The photo above shows the stream with an assortment of stones and baby boulders down one side and the beach on the island at the other. The green on the island is moss - from our moss mine, otherwise known as a lawn, down the garden! The soil area on the right is where a lot of topsoil from the ponds and streams was dumped. Here I had begun to dig it out and shift it (again!) to other parts of the garden. Why couldn't I have done that in the first place instead of ending up moving it about 3 times?!

The stream flowing. Oh yes!!!

Looking upstream past the island. the variety of boulders, rocks, stones, pebbles and pea gravel is more obvious in this picture - as is the reason why the first attempt didn't work! Ho hum!
The bottom pond will be FAR easier to build because we've learnt so much from building the top pond!