What did you do in your garden today?

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This morning, I tackled my least favourite job in the garden. It's necessary every two or three years.

This is our "bamboo forest" at the bottom of the garden.

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Not a pretty sight close up this morning.

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It started out as a clump half way down the side border. We don't remember buying it but we must have done about forty years ago.
Thirty years ago we decided that it had to go as we wanted other plants in that bed and the second of the Japanese lanterns I made.

So I dug it out which wasn't dificult, it was a clump about two feet in diameter. Instead of chucking it out I chopped it up into small clumps and planted them at intervals hard up against the back fence. Over the years the clumps have spread out sideways filling the gaps and forwards to about 9 inches.
It's very "limp" as a bamboo. It needs three wires at different hights stretched across it to contain it and keep it hard up against the back fence.

First job was to re-wire it as several new canes had grown ouside the wires.

It then needed the dead canes removing. You have to fight your way in between the live ones to cut them out with secateurs.

How many?

This many.

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The next job was removing the rhizomes that allow the bamboo to creep forward. They only travel on the surface, no chance of them "popping up" three feet away. I find the only way to do it is with an electric jigsaw. It'd take forever with secateurs and I didn't want to disturb the roots of growing canes.

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Final job was removing as many dead leaves as I could be bothered about. These leaves don't decompose, so you're stuck with them unless you can get them out from between the canes.

Anyway. Job done!

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I took my Fiskars lopper to next door's tree where it was hanging over the fence.

The house is unoccupied at the moment as the owner is in a care home and the property up for sale.
Nothing's been done to the garden for nearly six months, it's like a (grass) jungle, as there was never much in it.

The removal of several branches will allow more light into our garden. I cut them well back so I won't need to do it again for a few years.
Our quince on the fence I prune to make sure it doesn't overhang into next door's.

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These loppers can cut quite thick branches, it depends on how hard you can pull the cord.
A while back, I extended the reach of these loppers by adding a length of polypipe to the end of the handle with a length of wood inside it to stop it bending, just needed to attach a longer cord.
 
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Some small jobs turn into much bigger jobs.

Some of the tangle of creepers growing over the roof of next door's garage end up entering our garage under the roof panels. Some I can get at with my Barnel extending pruners, by standing on the roof of our shed on the end of our garage. (I wouldn't stand on the asbestos roof panels of the garage, but I built the shed and unlike store-bought sheds, it'd take the weight of several people).

But some of the creepers I just couldn't reach a few days ago, so I needed to go up between the two garages to get to them. Not an easy job as there's all sorts of junk up there (none of mine) including a pair of next doors gates, left by a previous occupant. To get up there I had to remove the small panel between the end of the side fence and our garage. When I got it out I noticed that even though I'd made it of hardwood, (recycled garden bench seat rails), it was rotting from the bottom up. Mind you ir's been there over 20 years.

So first job was to cut three inches off the bottom with my jigsaw and make a new "U" shaped aperture for the gutter downpipe. then painting the back with Cuprinol and repainting the front with Dulux Woodstain. I made up a dry concrete mix to lay under the shortened panel, so it's less likely to rot in future. There's a bit of cardboard under the panel between it and the concrete until it goes off. I re-painted the garage soffits while I was at it. Then did my pruning.

I scrubbed down the garage door and the tall left-hand fence and door which I'd treated a few weeks ago with "Wet n' Forget or Spray and Leave" whatever it's called, as the film of dead verdigris on the featherboarding had gone white in places.

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Refuse bins are a problem, they look ugly and it's how to hide them.

When I first built the fence between the house and the garage I set it back a couple of feet and built a 3" high concrete plinth for the three refuse bins, so they'd be less visible from the front of the drive. Even my hose reel on the wall above the first bin is unseen.
I dragged out the three bins and scrubbed down the plinth.

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Shortly after I built the plinth, the council insisted on fourth bin, for which there's no room. So I gave up and it lives in front of the garage door. We can't see any of the bins from the house.


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This is one of our three quinces on the side fence. This one is white and flowers early, here the blossom is just coming out in March.

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But there was a lot of dead wood in it. So I fought my way through the azaleas this afternoon and pruned it all out.


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This is the last of our rhodos to flower, usually much later in the year, but the warm weather earlier, brought it on.

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It was looking rather tatty this morning so I did a lot of dead-heading, removing about 100 blooms the remainder are past their best, but there was a lot of bee activity so I'll leave the rest to the week-end or later.

I'm going to have to remove a couple of branches in the late autumn as it's crowding out other rhodos, particularly the one on the right. Ideally, I should move the whole thing back a couple of feet, but I'm not going to risk it. A new rhodo is growing up in front of it, so although the big one will mostly only be flowering near the top, it will "fill the gap."

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I just got a raised bed in our retirement garden. Its new for all of us. I have not gardened since coming here over 4 years ago so its so good to be back and gardening. I try to stay organic. My raised bed is only 4' by 8' but I plan to get lots of use from it here in Maine. Got a late start unfortunately since they built these beds late but I am going gung ho. I have small bush tomatoes, bush cucumbers, mini bell peppers and then there's kale, arugual, lettuces, radishes and for bug prevention as well as salad eating, I have nasturtium and marigold flower seeds sown. I think I will enjoy this group and hope to share some knowledge and gain some along the way.
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More pruning of unwanted wisteris "stringers," this time on the pergola over the French windows. I needed the ladder to get at them. Doing this always worries my wife "at my age." But I built this pergola to be able stand my weight if I stood on any of the cross beams, which I do occasionally as of a couple of weeks ago when I needed to fix the gutter above the back bedroom window. So it's quite safe to lean a ladder against one.

Finished dead-heading the big tortoise shell rhodo and sawed off two big branches on the right which leaned forwards over the lawn..

I then wired it to close it up a bit and did the same to two rhodos either side, to close a small gap at the front. These will grow upwards in front of it so its blooms will appear above and behind them. I think it looks OK.

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The adjustments have restored the sight line I like to the bottom of the garden.

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In some respects a frustrating day.
I gave this sorbus at the bottom opf our garden a bit of a trim with my telescopic pruners to shape it up.
It was a bit of a disappointment this year as it had few blooms, unlike last year when there were masses. This might be down to the late frost, but it can happen that you only get a good show every other year. Thee's two trees in the gardens behind it.

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I also pruned this stella cherry, now the little fruit there was has gone. I shared it with the birds. There wasn't as lot as again the frost killed off most of the blooms and it wasn't worth putting a net over what was left. We like it for the blossom in the spring.

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I also cut the "fringes" of our two acer palmatums.
Because I'm into "symmetry," It's a bit like being a hairdresser, you have to "comb" the branches with your fingers first to make sure they're growing straight, any growing the wrong way, or sticking up have to be pruned off. Then you have to prune off some of the branches underneath to allow the top branches to turn down, otherwise you'd end up with a giant cocktail umbrella, then cut the fringe. If it gets too long the grass suffers.

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With this one the grass always suffers as it's constantly in the shade, I reseeded the dodgy area with a mixture of seed and lawn dressing.

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The azalea behind the sambucus in the big tub in the middle of the lawn had died, so I wanted to replace it.
I went to the two main local garden centres this morning and neither had any azaleas at all. "Can't get them."

So I resorted to eBay.

They look really nice, as you'd expect and quite cheap but most are in 10cms pots, fine for window sills. I wasn't tempted. I wanted something bigger but there wasn't a lot of choice, but I settled for this. It's in a 7.5ltr pot and is about 14" X 14" so big enough. It's from a supplier with over sixteen thousand sales and 99.7% feedback. So it should be OK. The postage is "an arm and a leg" but at least I'll be getting one.


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Do you think we're over indulging our birds and hedgehog?

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Since I elongated the peanut butter jar feeders so the starlings didn't get it all, a female blackbird has worked out how to get at the butter in the one on the low brick wall at the side of the patio which I deliberately only put the butter at the very bottom of the jar.
She has found if she puts her head and one foot in the jar and keeps one foot on the ground, she can reach it,.
 
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I tidied up the three wisterias on the garage pergola (white flanked by blue).
I pruned off the many dead bloom spines and unnecessary foliage against the wall.

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This will allow more light to the several giant lilies, despite the canonopy filling out nicely as I want it to do.

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The blue wisterias at each end are trailing nicely but the white in the middle has work to do. There'll be as lot of growth in the summer so I can get it more symetrical.

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I'm quite pleased with the progress of these wisterias which replaced a huge old one that died. This is how it looked just three years ago We'd only bought the white one a couple of months before I took this photo.

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We've two planters with three hebes in pots in each which are coming into flower. Symetrically arranged of course. These can get a bit pot bound so I pushed a cane down three-quarters of the way in four or five places a couple of inches in from the sides through the root ball, then pulled it out. So when I watered them, the water didn't run down between the wall of the pot and the root ball.

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Then just as general tidy up and a vaccing, Took over two hours though.
 
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Just a bit of a tidy up. But I did re-lay the five paving stones down the left-hand side of the tea-house. These had become slightly uneven over time and could form a trip hazard. I'd been putting it off whilst 'arry was living under the tea-house.
It was a pig of a job as to get them out, I could only lift them a couple of inches and slide them out over each other as part of them are under the skirt of the building. They are positioned with a slight fall away from the skirt so rain water won't run under the skirt.
 

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