Thursday 23 October 2014


Erm.....oooops indeed. I'm not quite sure where the summer went, except in a frenzy of gardening, but I certainly didn't quite get round to blogging - but here we are now, ready for another except from the delayed tales of how to build a Japanese garden!

Some of you with sharp eyes and long memories might remember that in the early days of the garden, oh so long ago now, there was a fruit cage behind the the tea house....frequently complete with a football care of the son of Mrs. AnotherBloodyEyesore! This photo is from May 2011 - oh how things change! ;-)

Anyway, that summer we had Big Bud Mite on the blackcurrant bushes in the cage and the only rememdy was to dig the fruit bushes up and burn them ...incurring the wrath of Mrs. A.B.E yet again because she had some laundry out! BUT given that my magic eyes aren't quite strong enough to see through a 6ft high, 3ft wide thick holly boundary hedge and it appears that she always has laundry out so that she has an excuse to shout at people, it was a risk I had to take! 

Anyway, I burnt the bushes, survived the verbal mauling from our delightful neighbour and resisted the urge to get drawn into pointing out how often their footballs had damaged our plants, landed in the pond, nearly hit us on the head, etc.etc.etc before realising that I couldn't replant new bushes in the same place in case of recontamination from mites in the soil. 

Relocating the fruit cage meant that suddenly there would soon be all this unclaimed land up for grabs! .....Now what could I possibly do with that eh?!
I have to confess that I was never particularly happy with having the fruit cage directly behind the tea house as I felt it detracted from Himself's work of art, but as the fruit cage was there first, I'd never come up with a strong enough reason to shift it - until now!

But it was summer and the redcurrant and gooseberry bushes were still in fruit so moving the cage had to be an autumn job if we didn't want the birds, squirrels, foxes and badgers to get to the fruit before we did! However, having got rid of the blackcurrant bushes, there was space inside the cage to work! I laid out my trusty bit of old hosepipe to form the route for a new path I'd envisaged and Himself kindly offered to dig it for me - and who was I to refuse?!

 It was hot, hard work ...glad it wasn't me that was digging! I was nice - I kept the pints of water coming!

Once the path was dug to a  depth suitable for motorway foundations, Himself raided our sandstone store up the garden (which was created with what we'd dug out of the pond years ago!) and used that as hardcore foundations. I got him to pile all the topsoil up to create a 'mountain' for the path to curve round and to give that very flat area some topological interest (Ooh er, there's posh!)

 The mountain in the background.

And, as usual, the new bit stayed like that for quite some time! Well, actually, that's not quite true! Being me, I couldn't resist a bit of instant gardening, so I pinched various grasses and ferns from other parts of the garden to use purely as temporary fillers, planted the Killmarnock Willow that our lovely neighbour, Tony, had bought us as a Silver Wedding anniversary present.......

Found a few Hebes going for a song on the 'Rescue' table at the local nursery....unlike the Twisted Beech, which was also at the local nursery, but wasn't exactly going for a song!

I then bought some Irish Moss as ground cover.

And I left it to get on with its own devices for 3 years until this spring!

I wanted to join up the now-not-so-new path to the veranda, so Himself had to move the huge rock that had acted as a retaining rock when the fruit cage had been behind the tea house, from its original upright position to a horizontal position to make a step from the veranda to the mean feat given the size and weight of the rock and we bent the scaffold pole lever - again!

 You can see here that the grasses have become too dominant and need to be moved - fortunately I appear to have got myself involved in the after-school gardening club at one of the primary schools we teach tai chi at, so the grasses have found a new home as part of the redesign of their raised beds in the playground ....quite useful that I was doing the redesign really! ;-)

Anyway, the next few photos were taken yesterday - and our trusty bent scaffold pole makes a very good netting support to keep the leaves out of the pond. A bit over-engineered (as ever!), but it keeps Himself happy!

The grasses have gone, the hebes have grown, box balls have found a new home and the Irish moss, which worked well in the very wet summer of 2012, didn't like the direct sunlight of 2013 and died, so has been replaced by a creeping ground cover that I don't know the name of and don't have a photo of either!

I've finally made a start on doing the path edgings - bought a load of old  roof tiles from the local reclaim yard for 35 pence each - bargain! The path, which will soon be covered in weed repellant matting and a thick layer of pea gravel to match the other paths, now joins the veranda step at one end.....

goes up to curve round past the twisted beech on the mountain.....

and has currently got as far as my lovely Buddha statue, which was a Christmas present from our best friends - they know me so well!

There is still a way to go yet though - but I'm hoping to get it finished off during the half term holiday next week if the weather is kind to me!

The sharp-eyed amongst you may have spotted a certain final bit of annexation! There was a metre (or so) beyond the back wall of the fruit cage that went up as far as the concrete path just behind the maple tree. This area was originally planted up with rhubarb and blackberries which appear to have moved themselves to the other side of the garden to be with the rest of the soft fruit ;-P

Various other bamboos, cornus, pieris, hebes and an acer have somehow appeared in the empty soil ...don't know how it happened! 
I have now had very strict instructions from Himself that I am not allowed to annexe any more of the garden :-D


Sue Garrett said...

I think you exercised great restraint by not mentioning the footballs. We all seem to suffer at least one unpleasant unpleasant neighbour shame we can't move them all into one place and let them fight amongst themselves.

Bag End Gardener said...

It looks splendid - you two don't do things by half, do you {giggle}.

As for awkward neighbours, Sue's idea is wonderful :}

Kathryn/ said...

Truly astounding what you two joyfully tackle and manifest! Always inspiring, Liz! I love the beautiful playground you've created and cherish it in my visions of the UK! Well done!

Angie said...

I was exhausted just reading about all the work you've achieved.
It all looks wonderful.

Shady Gardener said...

Himself has "laid down the law?" So, I guess that's final? I will wait and see... ;-) hugs!

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Wow, you were busy! I like the result!
Now, you can have a break and be lazy through the winter!

Nutty Gnome said...

Sorry about the delay in replying to everyone - I had problems with my computer, so we're in the process of changing over to a new super speedy one! This means I'm currently working two computers as I'm in the middle of transferring all my stuff - and zillions of photos across. Two screens, 2 keyboards, 2 mice ...what could possibly go wrong?!

Nutty Gnome said...

She is a bit of a pain Sue - but there's been less hassle from her this year since Himself caught her teenage son climbing onto the tea house roof in order to get his ball back! Himself gave him a very loud verbal rollocking...and we've not heard a peep out of her since!

Nutty Gnome said...

Well you know us Jayne! ;-P
You coming to see us soon?

Nutty Gnome said...

Thank you Kathryn - it says 'daft' in big letters right across my forehead! ;-)
It is such a lovely and restful place to be - and you'll, hopefully, be able to see for yourself one day!

Nutty Gnome said...

Thanks Angie - I often feel exhausted by it all too! :-D
But I wouldn't swap it and still have plenty more plans to achieve in the garden...I'll be out there on my zimmer frame!

Nutty Gnome said...'s a virtual law Shady - the Japanese garden is now bordered by paths, so it can't actually be extended unless I want to dig the paths up - which, as I put them there, isn't going to happen!!
(but I think it made him feel good to say it - lol!)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Tatyana - thanks. Glad you like it. It's getting there!
I had planned to finish off the top path this weekend but got diverted into clearing all the leaves along our great long drive instead! I've just got to hope that this mild weather holds for a couple more weeks so that I can get it done....and then relax into winter!