The Water Tower

The Water Tower
The Water Tower at Dusk

Friday, April 1, 2011

April 1st

I have just been so busy in the garden lately to blog anything and I am feeling guilty. The weather has been dry and cool and just perfect for working. Gerry has become a log lover and I think he may have developed a manic attraction to collecting felled wood. There’s a lot around because of the bad winter and almost every day we get a phone call asking if we want some wood.  Our good friend Colin is able to use a chain saw and although I get to try it out he won’t let me use it for any length of time. Jo suggested going on a course to learn the basics. The course lasts for 5 days and G and I are both going to go. Watch out everyone – I may be blogging my tree trunk sculptures this time next year.
One pile of wood that we collected was pole stage trees that had been cut down in Midlothian. I could see Colin’s despair at the prospect of cutting up such insignificant pieces. What to do then? Well the edges of a slab path don’t look that pretty in the garden and a pile of pole stage trees against the edges have transformed a short path section into something quite magical. Interspersed with Cedar of Lebanon branches; spiky green with lovely round cones, it all looks very woodland wonderland with my copse of Silver Birch and Rowan beginning to come into bud. Plus the profusion of daffodils that seem to be enjoying the extra light in the area this year. The tree stumps from the Scottish Power cut are regenerating with tall twiggy growth. It’s mainly Elm which should look wonderful once it comes into full leaf.
I’m thinking of a Pampas Grass hedge somewhere. On the TV programme May The Best House Win, we visited one house with Pampas Grass. I checked out the internet and found this interesting snippet from a couple who moved from London to Herefordshire
Pampas grass in your front garden is a sign that you are swingers
It was at a dinner in aid of the Docklow Church repair fund, oddly enough, that a woman asked me if I'd be prepared to throw my car keys into the middle of the table. "You know what we're like in the country," she said, with a glint in her eye. "Anything for a bit of excitement." She was joking, of course, but in the subsequent conversation about wife-swapping, someone said that clumps of pampas grass in front of a house indicate that the residents are prepared to swing. However, this begs more questions than it answers. What if you happen to buy a house with pampas grass already at the front? And more alarmingly, what happens if your pampas grass is, as ours is, at the back?
Check it out for yourself – put “pampas grass swingers” into an internet search.
What else is happening at water tower wood? Well the tennis club strip has been re vamped and planted out with around 100 small plants – blackthorn, hazel, holly, rowan plus 30 evergreen Berberis plants. Wild flower seed was then scattered on the open ground. I think it will look stunning this year.
I continue to work in the run-off area and use it as a form of physical exercise. The loose soil from years of leaf mould is so good I’m collecting small bucketfuls at a time and using it to nourish the borders next to the tennis courts. The soil in the borders is very poor because of the blaze that has washed into the ground in the past. It’s really hard work but the run off area will benefit when I am able to scatter ivy cuttings and plant more in this area. To date anything I have planted has washed down hill. I’m still not on really solid ground yet but it’s getting there. I am almost able to reach one of the areas of rhododendron ponticum but not quite. I see snowberry in this area as well which was noted in the woodland plan, although not for removal as per the roddodendron. It’s not native but it is very pretty and I think the birds appreciate the berries so I think I’ll leave well alone. The woodland is not classic native anyway – apparently Sycamore isn’t native to Scotland and I have a fair few Sycamore trees.
Have surveyed the 500 understorey plant tubes which were planted in 2006. Many are growing well but I have collected about 30 empty tubes and am led to believe this is a typical non take-up rate. In fact there might be more but I can't reach some of them. The empty tubes are in the store for now and if anyone is looking for some protective tubes, come and get them. I can't use them all and they take up space.
Started to re site my bamboo this last week as well. Its remarkably easy to lift and re plant bamboo. The stems are so strong you can pull as hard as you like and they don't break. I'm moving my bamboo out of the more woodland areas and into the garden areas where it is a help to screen the tennis club fence.
Have planted Rhubarb and Strawberries this week. I had Rhubarb already but not enough for Gerry's crumble. Ask Colin - he is on the search for the Rhubarb in his pudding. Just as well this was not on the menu for the Hustings (tonight at Westfield Hall 7pm). I wonder if rhubarb would grow well on the slope? it would make a nice green and red vista if the deer and the rabbits didn't get to it first. I can envisage the competition for the fresh green and pink stalks and who knows, I might turn over the biodynamics of the slope. What about glass cloches over the rhubarb to protect them. The glass might glisten in the sun and light up the slope. I could make rhubarb gin maybe? and invite Jack Nicholson - Batman 1989 - "Never Rub Another Mans Rhubarb"............
Planning Application? still pending! the council forgot to do the neighbourhood notifications and now the application - which was lodged late Dec 2010, will not be heard until April 12th. Could have moved to appeal for non determination within the alloted time frame but to what end. I just wish the council were more efficient since it did provide another 5 week window for complainers.
So from Pampas Grass and Rhubarb I wish you a happy April 1st.

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