The shrubbery has had a few more plants added to it and I've laid down the first of the weed suppressing membrane and put down some ornamental bark over the top of it. Now I know that I should have lifted all the grass before we started and planted into bare soil, but I simply don't have the strength or energy to do this for an ornamental area when there is so much to do in the productive areas of the garden. Recently I started HRT in the hope that I'd feel better, have more energy and strength, so far it's had absolutely zero impact except to increase my insomnia, make me feel cold all the time (except when I'm having a hot flush) and have a negative effect on my digestive system, but that's probably not something about which I need to go into detail.
We were both a little surprised at what a small area a 100 litre bag of bark covers and we realised that it is going to take a lot of bark to cover the shrubbery areas. I had a quick look online at the prices of buying in bulk and it seems that we don't need enough bark to make it worth having delivered in a couple of 1000 litre bulk bags as the delivery cost makes it uneconomical. So Mr J is going to be driving back and forth to our local garden centre to buy lots of 100 litre bags of bark for the shrubbery.
Jack and Diesel have become project managers and often come to inspect what we are up to. We tackled removing some more of the nails and screws from the reclaimed wood I bought a while ago. It's slow going as each length of wood seems to have about 16 rusty screws and 8 to 10 rusty bent nails. I've been removing the screws and leaving the wood ready for Mr J to remove the nails. So many of the tasks that we do here involve a learning process, not only learning new skills but learning about each other and we often end up with us laughing so hard that we can't actually do the job any more.
In a quiet moment over the weekend, I headed out to turn the compost heap, I am very pleased with how well the contents are starting to rot down. I don't have the strength to shift the whole heap around in one session, so I moved as much as I could from the front onto the top at the back of the heap and scraped out some from the bottom and mixed it as much as I could. I am hopeful that I will be able to use the compost from the first heap in the bean trenches in 3 months time. I also took a moment to have a look at what is in flower in the garden. We have crocus and sweet little tete-a-tete daffodils, the pink camellia which was flowering on New Year's Day is still in flower, after seven weeks of blooming its still looking lovely.
I also found a ceanothus which is just starting to promise a nice display and a several white hebe.
As we've been planting the shrubbery, we've also been adding plants along the inside of the stock fencing on the edge of the garden where we haven't yet put a hedge. I am still in two minds about what sort of hedging to put on this side of the garden. I don't want to block the beautiful view across the fields that surround us, but at the same time I really want to have some sort of screen that will help break up the wind as it hurtles across the fields. So at the moment, we have put in a few small conifers and some honeysuckle. I am erring towards some evergreen planting interspersed with wild roses and dog roses. This would give us some windbreak all year round and the roses would provide food for insects and bees, flowers for us to enjoy and then bright coloured rosehips in the autumn.
Yesterday we tackled the next stage of creating the chicken condo. Having completely mucked out about half of the large stable and taken it back to the soil at one end, we are ready to make that section secure for the hens to live in during the coolest and windiest months (for the rest of the year they will be out in the paddock). Once we've secured the far end of the stable, we can move the little chicken house into that end and tackle the second half of the stable to create a second chicken condo area.
So I stapled the chicken wire to the top of the existing railings and Mr J fixed it into place with a two by one batten. I then stapled the wire onto the other railings and started to tuck it under the sawdust, hay and straw that still remains in the stable. Eventually, the chicken wire will be under tucked under the new membrane and covered with sawdust. We will also build panels covered in chicken wire to fit above the section already done, taking the enclosed area up to the roof. I am very pleased with how much we achieved in an hour or so yesterday afternoon.
In between the other jobs we've tackled this weekend I have started sowing some seeds so that plants will be ready to put into the vegetable garden in spring. Starting with summer purple sprouting broccoli, salad leaves and leaks, today I will continue with the task of filling seed trays with compost and seeds.
We've also had some lovely food, the positive side to the weather being dreadful is that we have the perfect reason to light a big fire in the wood burner and eat comfort food. So we've enjoyed baked potatoes with beef bourguignon on Saturday and then Sunday we tucked into minced lamb with butternut squash, roast potatoes and roast parsnip. I also made a rather nice rich chocolate cake with vanilla cream cheese icing.
Life feels rather good!