Wednesday 28 January 2015

Shrub rose pruning / All or nothing

So as it is with the world, after Saturday came Sunday and we returned to the plots. See once I get started on a topic I get rather excited and there is so much to be done on 14b; work were I can feel useful and productive, even it is mainly clearing away at the moment.

But to start the afternoon off I did some proper gardening, I learnt how to prune a shrub rose bush. Oh boy you can't possibly understand how great it felt to learn and then be left to do the pruning and mulching. Generally I'm too nervous to do things like that, terrified I'll mess it up, but I didn't and the bush looks happy and healthy again!! Eek!

Main points I remember:

* Make sure secateurs are sharp and cut at a slight diagonal
* Get rid of dead branches and tips
* Prune away all blackspot infected branches
* Prune to an outwards facing bud keeping the centre open (so air can circulate through bush)
* Remove branches that are crossing, as rubbing will lead to infections
* Cut back long spindly growth to encourage new growth from base.
* Lift up all dead leaves (they may harbour disease)
rose pruning - ''
rose pruning
I don't believe I have ever deceived anyone into thinking I'm a 'real gardener', Andrew is the head gardener, I'm the helper\ photographer\ the one who is there for therapy. Dare I say it though...I felt so proud of myself; I'm growing.

We worked for 3 hrs straight and left exhausted! Andrew planted lots of blackthorn and whitethorn hedging plants and prepared for edible forest area. More about that later... Plus he lifted all the dahlia tubers and put them trays to dry out in the shed.

dahlia tubers - ''
half of the dahlia tubers lifted
I wrestled with the clearing of the long raspberry bed (which shall become one of my flower beds. Aarggh the roots of those blasted devils are a nightmare to get out, if I hadn't been for the laboured panting I would have been cursing them so loudly!!

clearing out the raspberry plants - ''
clearing the raspberry bed
However, I received a reprieve as the sun went down and the temperature dramatically dropped; we packed up, lifted a sleepy Maggie and left for home.

fave sights - ''
fave sights - especially Maggie eating a biscuit

Sadly it has turned out I pushed myself too hard. I didn't know how bad until Monday when I couldn't think straight,walk or talk. I slept most of the day and yesterday was better but still poor. Today I think frustration is pushing me on but I certainly have limits. Luckily it's dark, snowing and cold and we got our new sofa delivered's embracing ought to be easy to drift off and sleep\ heal.

Hugs and love to you all
Carrie x

Sunday 25 January 2015

Saturday - An OK day

Wow, I really didn't think I would get to write a title like that for a heck of a while. However today was indeed, OK :) The depression did not win and the anxiety was under control - maybe it was even BETTER than OK...

** To begin with we slept in late, oh I love my sleep ;) Then we had breakfast, made coffee and started our hour of birdwatching for the RSPB Birdwatch Weekend. This year we really did have a good time which sounds so geeky but I swear it was glorious so see the crazy amount of feathered friends that come to feed in our garden. We had seeds, peanuts and fat balls and all stations were busy.

RSPB birdwatch sheet ~ ''

** After that we visited Ballylagan organic farm, farm shop and tea room that (to our surprise) is just up behind Carrickfergus; embarrassingly it's been open since 1999 but we only heard about it earlier this week. Yep, it was the ever knowledgeable Mamma G that pointed us in the right direction. It's fabulous and for purely academic reasons we had to have cake and coffee = thumbs up.

** Then the best bit - we went to the Lottie. It was my first time there this year to actually work and not just to glance round it and go home. I had my lucky favourite socks on, many layers and my farmers' hat (or flat cap, that I bought in the farmers' shop). For only being there an hour, when the sun went down, we managed surprisingly a lot, well I did, Andrew did a lot of chatting to a friend ;) In his defence though he is the head gardener and has been there a few times already this year.

Me on the allotment ~ ''

** His other, earlier visits have seen the apples cut back and training started, the autumn raspberries cut down and the whole back of 24a mulched. 14b also has lots of new Blackthorn hedglings planted and a windbreaker all a long the left side. It's becoming annoying to my brain that that plot is spilt in a different way than our other one.
First before and after photo of the year :)
** I focused on the flower bed and got it almost completely weeded and removed a plant of two that weren't happy. More to do tomorrow. In the plans for this season (our 8th year!) is for me to have 2 long thinner cut flower beds and I'm going to learn more about their care and maintenance :) The new plans will soon be drawn out to share with you, you know I love a good plan.

YES - cut flower bed seeds ~ ''

Home to a steaming bowl of tomato and chilli soup, a shower and a wee whisky..

Thursday 15 January 2015

Just like a bulb...

...I hibernate; with no expectations being made of me, waiting for the winds to change and life to become a more settled environment. Then I shall hopefully find that the sun and some TLC will bring me forth into life and once again I shall bloom.

I have been finding this new year, thus far, one of deep depression and confusion. The big questions playing on loop in my head are: what is my purpose? where is my voice? what has happened to my creativity? I haven't got any satisfactory answers yet and so I continue to wrestle and find myself utterly exhausted. 

One thing I am doing and getting some satisfaction from is decluttering. I'm getting rid of lots of things in my life, really old shoes, my old photography work, music CDs, books I didn't like and yes, even blogs from my reading list. I'm trying to be tough and simply get rid of that which I don't need, don't want, don't like anymore. There is a little weight lifted each time I say goodbye.

Andrew, Maggie and I have also started to do after dinner walks in all sorts of weather and slowly they shall get longer and longer. Next week I'm back into yoga too - I'm hoping I can learn to respect myself more through the dedication and slow improvements.


Allotment wise ~

Well our field is a wind tunnel at the best of times so imagine it today, we had gusts up to 42 mph! Plus it's just been so damn damp and cold there that, though we have made quick visits, it's not suitable for doing any work. We happily still have leeks, chard, parsnips and the purple sprouting broccoli looks good :)

The local nursery has been closed until this week and the other one we visit is still trying desperately to de-christmasify itself  = buying seeds and supporting local shops has been proving difficult. Still, you know me, I have my flower seeds all picked out and think I'll go with a smallish online shop. Andrew needs asparagus crowns too, so he'll also be shopping online. Oh we have such plans!

 *** P.S. NOW is a great time for pruning your fruit bushes and for training trees into shape. ***

Hugs and love and I hope you too are plotting, planning and scheming for a good year ahead 
Your Carrie x