My Garden This Weekend – 1st April 2013

The sight that greeted me when I returned home on Saturday
The sight that greeted me when I returned home on Saturday

As I mentioned in my post last weekend I have had the last week off work but the weather has not been at all kind to me.  However, saying that it has been nice to relax and spend time with my youngest son, who is home from University.  The snow that fell a week ago on Saturday has finally gone and if you look carefully there are all sorts of plants putting their heads above the ground including peonies, Solomons seal, meconopsis poppy and geraniums.  I am hoping that we don’t have any more real drops in temperature which will affect these new shoots.   The Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ is just beginning to open its flowers and should look wonderful by the end of this week.

I have rearranged the greenhouse twice in a bid to try to make some more space for seed trays as well as for the trays of seedlings which I will hopefully have in a few weeks.  I just need some warmer weather so I can move things on from the cold frame which will make room for plants to be moved out of the greenhouse. There are a few things beginning to germinate but mainly alpines in the cold frame: Primula wilsonii anisodora and Delphinium requienii as well as some Dahlia x Twynings Eight seeds which Karen gave me last year.

At the end of Sunday after my efforts
At the end of Sunday after my efforts

The only real work that has happened in the garden is down to my sons.  While I was at the monthly meeting of the local Hardy Plant Society on Saturday they started on extending the steps up the garden.  I have been waiting to do this for probably 3 years and am absolutely thrilled with the result.  When I got home the first 3 risers had gone in and the steps levelled.  On Sunday I collected stone from around the garden – we are always digging up lumps of Malvern stone – and edged the steps.  My father is excellent at constructing dry stone walls and makes it look easy; it isn’t and I was only trying to get two layers.  But it will do for now and I know that later in the year my supply of stone will increase due to the next major project. I then put down some path membrane which we had bought back from the allotment when I gave it up last year and topped dressed the steps with left over gravel from when we put in the bike store.  Sadly, and inevitably, we didn’t have enough gravel so another four bags were bought today and the job finished while I was at my local AGS group’s show (more  of that later in the week).  I am amazed at the visual difference the steps make, they tie the garden together better and finally I can stop sliding over backwards on the mud. Oh and the third compost bin was also put up as we had no where for the lifted ‘turf’ to go.

The view when I got home today
The view when I got home today

The big project is that I have agreed to my eldest son having a workshop in the garden for his woodwork.  He currently works in the garage but it is far from ideal – being dark and full of garden tools etc.  We looked at converting the garage into a workshop by removing the front door and bricking it up with a window but building regulations are demanding and we would have to dig foundations, add insulation etc.  Plus cost aside I still need to store the gardening stuff and it would  also restrict access to the garden and back of the house.  I did consult a builder I know and am waiting on a quote but something didn’t sit right in my mind so I suggested to my son he might like a shed instead, with power and insulation.  Surprisingly, he was more thrilled with this idea than the garage conversion – there must be something deep in the psyche of men that they get excited about  sheds!!  We have worked out that the best size will be 8′ x 8′ and he has found some with a high roofs which is important as he is 6′ 5″ but we also have to make sure the roof is low enough not to need planning permission!!

I have agreed that he can have the area to the right of the top of the path as this is one of the few flat areas in the garden and an area I tend to ignore as I can’t decide on an identity for it.  We will need to cut back into the slope so the shed is set right back and not quite so dominant.  The result of this is I have many plants to re-home and that is on top of the moves I have been trying to do over winter and the new border I want to create which I have plants ready for.  I have concluded the only way to cope is to pot the plants up and then to rethink where they are going.  Luckily my son is happy to wait for a bit and is going to help me create the new  border but I now have lots and lots to do so I really need the weather to warm up a little.

The local AGS group's show
The local AGS group’s show

I know I will lose some gardening space but I am digging up the back lawn which will give me more room, plus I will have more space in the garage for overwintering plants which will free up space in the greenhouse and most importantly I really want to support my son who I think has a bit of a talent for  wood-turning. I also think the workshop will help the garden overall since I think in some strange way it will add structure and the paths will make more sense.

I have decided the only way forward is to get a thick dull novel which will help me sleep at night!

28 Comments Add yours

  1. Pauline says:

    What wonderful steps and wonderful sons you have! You certainly have lots of plans for your garden, I hope the weather warms up soon so that you can get on with them. The alpine plants look so neat and tidy with their lovely flowers, so cheerful!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Pauline
      Yes I am lucky to have such great sons. It would have cost me a lot of money to have someone else do the steps or if I had tried myself I would probably have given up quite quickly

  2. Oh, how wonderful to have your son working so close to you. I agree that the shed will add structure to your garden. With a clematis climbing up a trellis on one side of it and a wreath of flowers on the door, it will look lovely. That’s if he doesn’t mind Mum prettying it up. P. x

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Pam
      Climbers up the shed have already been negotiated and maybe a window box! But there was a distinct wrinkling of the nose when I mentioned a wreath on the door!!

  3. Cathy says:

    What an impact this has made already, Helen, and is obviousing helped you see your way ahead more clearly – you seem to have got lots of things sorted out in your head over this weekend. Well done!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Cathy
      I know its amazing isnt it. I knew the steps had to be extended but I had completely underestimated how fab they would look.

  4. Cathy Thompson says:

    The steps are lovely Helen (really beautiful – aren’t you lucky!), and I’m sure the workshop will prove to have been a good choice too,

  5. Donna says:

    Love the path – your boys are so handy and clever aren’t they? Also, brilliant idea to turn a shed into a workshop and it will look great at one end of that pretty path!
    Most blown away by your success with the meconopsis though Helen. How did you do it? Did you put it in the freezer at any point?… and what seed company did you use?…how many seeds germinated?… I may have mentioned that I earnestly tried to grow one from seed with no luck at all – suffice to say that you’ve totally awed me!

    Step-by-step instructions on how to do it would be gratefully received 🙂

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      The meconopsis I bought last year and it has reappeared – I whispered this to my son as I think I was frighten I would tempt fate too much. Only small leaves at the moment but fingers crossed. I think I have also germinated some seed which I collected from the plant last year. I just used some gritty compost and left them outside over winter. I dont know if it is the freshness of the seeds or the cold or a combination of both but probably luck!!

  6. I love the steps! The shed is a brilliant idea and will be another great addition. Do you have a color in mind? By the way, is the yellow foliage to the right of the path a Choisya? It is an eye catcher!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Marian
      Yes the shrub is a Choisya its been there a few years now and has got rather leggy. I think I should have been pruning it so I have started to to try and make it more compact.
      Havent thought about a colour for the shed – dont like those blues etc and I think I would prefer a more natural colour but then would it make it more obvious. Difficult to tell.

  7. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Looks great – by they way I thought garages were for cars – is there room for yours in you multi-pupose garage?

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Yvonne – you are right garages are for cars. However our house was built late 1970s and cars must have been smaller then as my hatchback would only just fit in if there was absolutely nothing else in the garage let alone a tumble dryer, garden tools etc etc. No one in our road parks their car in their garage as they are too small!!

  8. Holleygarden says:

    How nice to get your steps done! And how wonderful of your sons to help you. A completely different shed for your son’s woodworking sounds ideal. You have a plan now, which is the most important step!

  9. What good boys you have! They did an excellent job on the steps.

  10. April 1st was the first day that I have been able to really work in the garden and my plantings are on pace with yours. Love your new steps it really creates a fun element in the garden.

  11. Anna says:

    What a great sight to come home to Helen. I know that a shed will mean less garden space but your talented number 1 son could no doubt add some unique touches. You will end up with a feature which will enhance the garden. A most colourful AGS display 🙂

  12. hillwards says:

    I love those steps, don’t they just look as if they should be there? A shed will sit well in the top corner as well as giving your son somewhere to work – win, win! I’ve recently sown seeds for Delphinium requienii too, tempted by their slug-resistance.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi HW
      I didnt know they had slug resistence, I got the seeds from the AGS seed distribution and choose them as I didnt recognise the variety and I love Delphiniums – slug resistence would be a real bonus 🙂

  13. djdfr says:

    So was I thinking shed?–climbing plants. 🙂

    Plenty of stone here also.

  14. What a great job the boys have done. I wish my son was as keen to help me in the garden!! I had a bit of a step makeover in my garden this weekend. Only one step, though!
    Lovely pictures from the show – I’m off to my first ever SRGC Show this coming weekend and I’m really looking forward to it.
    Your son is very excited on getting his new workshop and I’m sure without much effort you will have it blended in with the landscape.

  15. Those steps look fantastic, but is that a purple wheelbarrow I spy in the first picture..?

    We need more purple tools and equipment.!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi CG
      Indeed it is a purple wheelbarrow. I got it for the allotment on the basis that none of the mainly male allotment holders would pinch it! I rather like it

  16. Lyn says:

    Those steps do make an amazing difference – a continuous curve up from your existing steps. And just in time for some burgeoning spring growth! I also approve of the purple wheelbarrow.

  17. Your steps do look fantastic. And I am in awe of anyone who can grow a meconopsis poppy; well done! I’m not even successful with the standard oriental poppies (though I keep trying).

    I, too, admire the purple wheelbarrow. My 7-year-old daughter would probably admire it more and refuse to surrender it unless she could ride atop every load of mulch I schlepped. Clearly, there are pros and cons to be weighed before I make such an investment.

  18. Those steps are fabulous as you continue making progress…talented sons much like their mother.

  19. It’s amazing what a difference a bit of hard landscaping does, makes you look at the whole garden in a different/new way. Looks much more practical to have access all the way up too. I hope my boys are half as helpful once they grown up, they are more keen on pulling up flowers at the moment thinking they are weeding!

  20. happyoldbag says:

    I’m so pleased to see you have bare patches of soil too! I was starting to feel a bit left out 🙂
    I love your steps – and your cat!

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