Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Gardening with wildlife in mind...I

     From my previous post you may wonder how the hell I actually earn a crust as a professional gardener, the pictures of the dumping ground that is at present masquerading as a little piece of Eden ...ahem... i.e. my garden would not inspire confidence in my green fingered abilities to any client, present or potential. But I happen to be a bloody good gardener, even if I do say so myself. My businesses USP (gawd the caveman uses modern jargon) is that I garden with wildlife in mind. Now this is not always possible with every client and as a extremely small business I have to firstly provide the garden that they want not what I would have myself, I do not have the luxury of been able to turn work down willy nilly as I have the same responsibilities as most folk to pay for and being choosy does not pay the bills. 

     But I am fortunate in that most of my clients, once they get to know me, will listen and allow me to introduce ideas into their gardens that will help encourage wildlife to visit and become a permanent fixture within what were once wildlife ‘un-friendly’ spaces. It is the most rewarding thing to hear a client waxing lyrical about the joy they now have from the wildlife that blesses their outdoor space. Now that I have returned to the blogosphere I thought that one thread of this blog would be nice if it introduced folk to ideas that would indeed encourage wildlife into their gardens. After all, just imagine if everyone in the country gardened with wildlife in mind (I know, “never going to happen”) the combined areas of all our gardens would provide a natural resource for our native flora and fauna larger than any of our national parks! And I also have the perfect setting to show how a small urban space can indeed become a wildlife sanctuary....my own private abandoned pikey site!

     So here we go, number one in a series...Gardening with wildlife in mind....ta da...

     Now from my previous post you will have seen the sad state of my own garden but at least (hopefully) you will come see that with a little knowledge, some labour and a lot of passion that even such a crappy back garden can become a place in which nature thrives. But not only this, I also strongly believe that one’s garden should be a tranquil area where one can take time to recharge, to meditate and to find peace within. Don’t worry I have not gone all soft in the head (not even with medication that I swallow daily), I am still a rough arsed caveman deep inside. 

     So having said all this I can now reveal that there has been some progress towards my garden’s transformation here at the ‘House in the Rock’. Up until last month the area in front of my garage actually was more of a mess than the garden itself and was the result of a little bit of bother with one of my interfering nosy old bag good neighbours, bless her (a story that may well appear upon these pages when I discuss human nature one day, or not). 

     Anyway back on point, In the last few weeks, time allowing, I have tidied and disposed of all the mess that adorned this area and was left with an area that, although tidy, was certainly not a winner in attracting wildlife. 

         As can be seen in the above photograph the parking area is now clear of debris and just requires the area re-covering with fresh gravel. The left hand side was planted last year with a various plants including a Elder sapling, Holly, a rose bush, Creeping Comfrey, Lily if the Valley, Hosta, Asta, amongst other things. The right hand side was actually planted up just before the rubbish was cleared as I was given some sorry looking Hebees that someone had dug up and were going to tip. To these I added London Pride, English Lavender, a couple of Rowen saplings and some bulbs. All the plants used were throw outs or split clumps from clients gardens so the cost was only my time. So to all intense purposes, once re-graveled the area would look just like many other suburban driveway, that is functional, tidy and with a nod to some boundary planting although I have endeavoured to include many insect attracting plants in these areas. As it is an area for parking that would be it, job done so to speak. But as I looked at it I realised that I could add more interest and more planting. 

     So firstly, with a a nod to my machine servicing side of the business (to be found at The Orc’s Workshop, but more on that in later posts) and also to my cider making, I have adding what I like to call my “agricultural art” piece...

     ....which is basically a knackered old rotovator and an old fruit press planted up with a Buddlea, some Aubretia and Bugle. The base has yet to be planted but I am probably thinking of adding some logs and planting ferns here. Just a quick note, the machine has been drained of any fluids and any harmful metals such as copper wiring has been removed also, so it may now rust in peace. But still not satisfied that I had done enough I banged my two brain cells together for anything else that could easily be used to attract wildlife yet leave the area functional. It was only when I was asked to dig up and dispose of some “weed infested turf” that the light bulb lit....

     Just like many a narrow country lane has a strip of vegetation where vehicles do not wear it way because the narrowness of the lane prevents wandering, the above strip is the “weed infested” turf that I lifted and now resides in the middle of my gravelled drive, just between my van’s wheels when parked. This turf is a joy, far from being weed infested it is loaded with Daisy and Selfheal. I have added one piece of Fox n Cubs to see if it will survive but the plan is in September add some Yellow Rattle seed if the grass proves too lush this year and then add a selection of the shorter growing meadow flowers. 


Selfheal leaves

Fox n Cubs

     So it goes to show that the most unlikely of areas can be used in a more wildlife friendly manner. Hopefully this thread through my blog will start to give you some ideas and also that you will enjoy my own garden transformation.

Saturday, 22 May 2021

My garden, err well sort of....a tour...

      Like many gentlemen of a certain age one tends to have many a project upon the go. Unfortunately this tends to mean that said projects are never completed (or even started for that matter!), are the cause of many an upset between that gentleman and his beloved (if somewhat misunderstanding partner) and the source of dwindling supplies of money. I have thousands one or two projects on the go at this moment in time and after several discussions with G we (she) feel that it is high time that the garden resembles something less than an abandoned pikey site (read ‘about me’ upon the side column if offended at this point). 

     Now if you have indeed read any of the blurb within this blog, that’ll be two posts and the aforementioned ‘about me’, then you will have gleaned that after three decades of factory work I am now in fact a professional gardener (‘professional’ used in the loosest possible context) and one would expect that my own garden would be a little piece of paradise...it is not! Due to various reasons and excuses my garden does indeed look like an abandoned pikey site or worse for that matter. Last year I did indeed make a half arsed attempt at transforming it but like many things my mind has let go of over the years it fell off the radar.

    But there is salvation for this derelict piece of land and, as mentioned in my first post, I am in a far better place these days to cope with life. So this post is the first of many steps on the path of turning my garden into a place of peace, meditation and a small haven for local flora and fauna. So this will be the base level from which all future ‘my garden’ posts will be judged, so on with the tour of shame....

     To give some perspective, the garden is situated behind our end terraced house t’other side of a shared path that services the group of three houses. It slopes rather steeply front to back ending with my garage that sits some eight feet above the garden’s top level Access is via steps and a path that then runs the length of the garden, I have placed the following pictures in order from the initial steps (that would be the crap covered mess in photograph one) and then onwards as if you were walking up the garden..

     The final photograph is one looking back down the garden from the direction of my garage. The garden is indeed a complete shambles at the moment but hopefully by the end of this season it will be nurturing place that I crave it to be.

Friday, 21 May 2021

Bloody Spaniels....

     Tis my birthday today and as usual I try to let it go without fuss or bother, but Bramble (my ever present sidekick) decided to mark today with a special present all of her own making. Waking up and fumbling my way to the bathroom my one good ear (I hates this getting old and decaying m’larky) detected the quiet but unmistakable sounds of a certain Spaniel retching on top of the stairs. After emptying my space hopper sized bladder I faced the task of cleaning the little darlings present and investigating what had brought on this morning’s vomiting episode....oh joy.

     Armed with various cleaning appliances aka a lot of tissues the clean up and investigation commenced. Within the slimy, but to be fair not very stinky mess there lay the cause of said retching .... several pieces of thin, pink rubber. Calling upon all my forensic skills and computer like brain I was finally able to deduce the source of this heinous find.... a football that I had caught Bramble chewing in a client’s garden. I thought that I had caught the little bugger before she had ingested any of the ball and thought no more about it. Nor have I thought about it for over four weeks, yes it was four bloody weeks since she had wrecked some poor child’s football. How the hell can a fair amount of rubber sit in a smallish sized dog’s stomach for over a month with her showing no signs of stress and still crapping like a Rhinoceros? All I can put it down to is that the little bastard  darling has saved it for my birthday, bless.

Footnote...as I sit here typing away to share the joy of Bramble’s little birthday gift she is curled up at my feet snoring with contentment and farting like a trooper....bless.


Sunday, 16 May 2021

Many false dawns...

     I have written one or two blogs in the past with various degrees of success. My first was “Musing of Murphyfish” which had quite a following, especially it seemed from across ‘the pond’. But, as depression gained a stronger hold upon my mind this blog dwindled along with my will to live. A tad dramatic? perhaps but unless you have walked in my shoes it is hard to describe to you the debilitating effect that the ‘Black Dog’ has on a person’s mind once its teeth are set. Since that first blog my life has had so many ups and downs tis truly hard to recount all that has happened since. I tried at times to find solace in writing other blogs when my mood lifted for awhile, though I never seemed to be able to muster the commitment nor desire to persevere with them and they all fell aside to be forgotten along with many other things my troubled mind let go of.

     So why try again? Well that is a damned good question, even if I do say so myself. Firstly I enjoy writing, I guess it is partially wanting to connect & share and partially a form of escapism. I remember too the ‘buzz’ I used to get when receiving recognition for my words but this can be a poor addiction as I started writing for praise and not for just the way things were in my world. I guess it became a type of ‘fix’ against the effects of depression. Having said that I feel that at this moment in time I’m in a position to write honestly and not fall into the trap of seeking plaudits. This leads me to ‘secondly’ quite nicely, and that is after so many trials and tribulations over the last decade (that’s a long time to self loathe) I am in a far better place mentally. I am in a loving relationship with an amazing woman, I have a job that I enjoy totally and I have my ever  present sidekick Bramble Bear. The combination of these three have finally led me too a far better place in my head and I can finally look at myself and back on the past years without actually hating myself and feeling that the Black dog is around every corner. Yes, I’ am still on the happy pills and yes I still have dips but essentially I am in a far better place than I have been for many a year. 

     So what to expect in the scribing to follow? To be honest I am not entirely sure, but gardening will feature, Bramble’s tale will continue, I am sure coping with depression will raise its head and what ever else happens to take my fancy. So I hope that you will join me as my journey continues and hopefully I will raise a smile and give you something to think about over the coming posts.