The secret garden in February

It’s been a beautiful day here on the Island, warm, sunny and dry. I’ve not really been able to get into the secret garden for a few weeks so today was a bit of a treat. I’ve started to cut down some of saplings and prune some very wild branches. Clearing the brambles is well underway and I’m managing to to dig up some of the roots, though that’s not so easy to do. Although I’ve got some plants waiting in the wings ready to plant it’s going to be a while until I’ve got all the ivy and bramble roots cleared and the ground suitable for planting again.

I’m going to need to find some plants to hide the fence, I’ve put a call out for some bamboo so hopefully before long it’ll be hidden.

Secret garden update!

I’m still clearing the ground and the compost heap is getting higher. I’m starting to lop off some branches from the larger trees to get more light into the space. In this January sunshine we’ve been having on the Island its all looking lovely.

I’m still discovering new things like these plaques. I’ve no idea what they say or even which way up they should hang….but that’s for the future!img_20170122_1523000_rewind

I made a trip to Ventnor Botanical Gardens this week as they had a pre season plant sale.

When we moved to the Island ten years we took on a garden that was just a couple of old bushes and a big lawn. Bit by bit we filled it with plants, mostly from the botanical gardens. Our theory was that if they thrived just along the road then we would be pretty safe with them in our garden. When we left the house everything went into storage and we simply had to say goodbye to all the lovely plants we had collected……so it’s back to square one. img_20170122_1520275_rewind

We had the Lampanthus all along the outside hedge hanging over the wall along the front of the house. It thrived in the poor soil and in full sun. The almost day glow colour of the flowers could hardly be photographed as they were so bright . Lots of people took cuttings and then complained that they had died. They’d put the cuttings in potting compost, kept them in the greenhouse and watered them regularly but still the cuttings had died? We had to explain that in fact they thrive in poor soil and don’t need watering….just stick them in a sunny spot and leave them! I’ll be able to take loads of cuttings from this and so we’ll soon have plenty around the garden.

The Agave (filifera) is a baby from a plant that they are excited about at the botanical gardens as it shoots up a dramatic flower (eventually) so I’m looking forward to how that develops.

The Hebe (brachysiphon) is another of those terrific plant that once planted can just be left alone and will be soon be covered in lovely flowers.

The other plant is labelled as being Euryops but looks nothing like the plant I looked up on Google so I’ll just have to wait and see what develops.

It was a lovely day so after looking round the gardens I made my way down to Steephill Cove which is at the bottom of a steep path below the botanical gardens.

I was the only person there (well I didn’t see anyone else anyway) and it was really magical. The sun was shining, the sea was calm and the little collection of houses, shacks and beach huts looked wonderful.

Rain stops play in the secret garden this afternoon

It rained quite heavily last night but it was dry this morning so armed with my loppers and new gardening gloves (why has it taken me so long to get a pair?) I ventured into the secret garden. It’s hard going but we’re really starting to see some results now. The heap of cut down undergrowth and branches runs along the end of the garden and is getting higher daily but will soon break down………….well it will do eventually!

An hour ago the rain came back and I got soaked and filthy however with my clothes in the washing machine and my gloves drying out on the boiler I’m going to spend a bit of time looking at the gardening books for planting inspiration.

I think that if you compare these two photos taken today with these….

taken last week you can begin to see just how far we’ve come!

Another amazing discovery in the secret garden!

OK so it’s not a particularly amazing discovery but it certainly gave me a surprise! Pulling away at the undergrowth in our secret garden this morning I uncovered something looking back at me………..a concrete crocodile. No classical piece of sculpture for me, no marble urn or column………..a concrete crocodile closely followed by a concrete lizard with glass eyes!

These items may not find themselves included in the new design and planting scheme.

It’s a slow processes but I’m making progress, mind you the compost heap is massive!

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The secret garden today!

Another beautiful day on the Island and I’ve been back at work in our secret garden. It’s become a bit of an obsession and I’m afraid I probably did too much and will suffer tomorrow. Most of the undergrowth has been cut down from one side and today I concentrated on clearing the ground, cutting up the branches, brambles etc and gathering it up into a rather massive compost heap. I did think about having a bonfire but we have only just moved in and I don’t want to blot my copy book with the neighbours, plenty of time for that later!

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There are ivy runners everywhere which will take some time to eradicate but I’ve made a start.

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This is a bigger job as the ground is less even and was completely covered with brambles, I’m going to need the strongest pair of gardening gloves to clear it! There isn’t a rush (who am I kidding of course there’s a rush) but I’d like to get everything cleared before things start growing again so I can see clearly what’s coming up……..and deal with it!!

The secret garden

If you’ve been following this, and if you haven’t why not? you’ll be aware that we’ve discovered a secret garden through a gate at what we had thought was the end of our garden! It’s all ridiculously over grow and so for the last couple of days I’ve been attacking it with a pair of loppers.

The other day I discovered a planter and after a lot of cutting back of undergrowth and Herculean effort I’ve been able to drag it out. In fact I’ve now found another, smaller one.

They seem to be made of some sort of concrete so nothing particularly special but they’ll look nice all planted up again.

Bit by bit it’s getting cleared, well getting cut down anyway!

It’s all a bit of a surprise!

It’s all a bit of a surprise to us. When we came to view the house we knew that it backed onto a wood. We knew that there was a gate into the wood at the end of the garden though we didn’t go through it because we were told it was jammed. What we didn’t realize was that on the other side of the gate is more garden, a secret garden, one that’s been left and allowed to revert back to the wood it leads into!

Since I was young I’ve wanted a bit of woodland. As a child I loved playing in woods, building hides etc and as I’ve got older have always liked the idea of looking after a bit of woodland. A garden is great but looking after a bit of woodland, clearing the undergrowth etc is something else entirely. Well now I’ve got it and it’s all a bit of a surprise………and quite exciting.

It’s not big, but big enough to be manageable and keep me interestedimg_20161228_1419599_rewind

I’ve spent the last couple of morning’s chopping down branches and trying to clear some of the ivy and brambles.img_20161228_1420102_rewind

There’s a bamboo and some very overgrown bay trees, so it must have been managed at some time.

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I’ve also discovered a carved stone trough or planter which looks as if it will take a bit of moving.

So what’s the plan?………..well I’ll start by clearing away the brambles and the dead branches so that I can see exactly what we’ve got. I’ll let some light in and then wait and see what comes up in the spring. It’s all a bit exciting and all the better for being a surprise.

 

 

It’s Christmas!!!

Well actually it’s boxing day.

I’ll start by saying that the panto was fabulous, rather too many children there for my liking but you can’t have everything. The script had enough ‘adult’ content to keep us laughing and enough child centred stuff to keep the whole audience entertained for the two hours. The Shetland Ponies were everything I’d hope they would be and more, completely adorable. I’d been looking forward to it and it far exceeded my expectations.

That and the carol concert in the local pub (always a good idea) got me in the Christmas spirit (only the two glasses)

Christmas day was quiet with just the two of us, a bit of a change from previous years but nevertheless lovely with messages and calls from loved ones.

We woke this morning to beautiful sunshine so simply had to walk to the beach and watch the mad boxing day swimmers. There were hundreds of people, far more than in previous years, swimmers and enthusiastic observers.

I hope you’re having a terrific Christmas and I send you love and very best wishes for the new year.

Pre-Christmas gripe!

Well this has been a long time coming!

We’ve moved house……………….and have had no internet for two months!

The move itself was a nightmare. When we moved out of our previous house we actually had no idea where we were going. The solicitors couldn’t tell us if the purchase of the new place would happen or not …….or even give any indication how the purchase was going. The idea that we might want to move out of one property and straight into another seemed like a completely new concept for them. The quite understandable (to us anyway) worry that we might have to put everything into storage and find a short/longterm interim rental property that could (at very short notice) take us and the two cats was beyond their comprehension! They had no understanding that moving into a rental property would mean that we would have (certainly initially) no internet access and as it turned out no mobile phone signal.

Even though we explained that we had no internet or mobile phone signal they still insisted on sending texts and online messages and got quite shirty when we didn’t immediately respond.

As soon as we heard that our purchase was going to happen we contacted the internet provider to get connected. It’s taken two months and hours on the phone. Hours of being ‘on hold’ whilst listening to tinny sounding carols while someone in a call centre tried to find out what was going on. We must have spoken to every person in the two call centres, one in Darlington and the other in Plymouth, and had four or five case workers who were going to make our case their top priority (only one of whom ever rang back)

However…….yesterday the router arrived and today we have access to the internet.

We’ve spent most of the morning setting up our bits of equipment and everything seems to be working so fingers crossed!

We’re off to see the local panto now, it’s Cinderella and there are going to be Shetland Ponies on stage from the donkey sanctuary…..fabulous, I’m actually a little excited.