Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Gates Weekend Project...

Living up to the saying an English man's home is his castle saying and also that we like to define our land, I have been wanting to put a gate on the drive way for a while.  On a serious note it lets me close up the back of the house so when i am not there no body can just pull in the back of the house.  Its pretty hidden away at the back so I'm always concerned about break in etc.  Its also a lovely feeling when your home at night to close the gates and nobody is going to stop by.  Above is the finished gates

The plan.  My inspiration is a typical english 5 bar gate which are all over the family farm.  But of course to buy one in this country i would need to sell the house to afford it. So necessity is the mother of all invention.  How hard can it be. So i set too with my trust power tools and this very technical drawing (ha)

This is sort of what I'm going for...sort of ....

What is great about the drive way is that i can just use the 10ft lengths of 2x4 planks so the cutting was minimal, not that its particularly hard to cut 2x4 shorter.  Especially since i splashed out the 7 dollars and bought a new cutting disk for the circular saw- life changing, no more fighting to cut through the thinest piece of wood.  Here i am setting the gate post in.  Digging is normally the hardest bit but there was a couple of giant stones here and once they were out I was able to easily sink the gate post in.  Then it got cemented in the same way the fence went up.  Very simple just adding the dry mix cement in and adding the water and letting it set up. Main thing it to keep it level and give it time to set. 

Theres the giant stone..

Here we go,  a work in progress.  Its projects like this when you really need another person. Lifting these gates up a 100 times on to the hook and lining up the eye (that the metal bit in the photo below that goes over the hook) wears thin after a while.  But i have to say i was pretty pleased with the way it was shaping up.  The gate on the right is hung.  There pretty high off the ground, my thinking is that if we have the many feet of snow that we had in February this year then there is a fighting chance the gate will still open and close.

Placing the cross pieces.  The easiest way to assemble this is to get all the horizontal and vertical pieces in place and the lay over the cross plank.  That way you can just mark the angle and not have to worry about measuring to much.
Also I'm going to wax lyrical about my power tools for a moment.  I didn't buy them new, like most things I turned to eBay and got a set of Bosch for a great price.  This way I got to buy a better make of tool that I wouldn't be able to afford, just simply because they aren't the newest models.  Also I'm not a full time contractor so its not so important that they are in tip top shape.  I did however buy a new batter pack as is one of the first things to go in a rechargeable set up. Also please note that Bosch tools are the least offensive color of power tools.  They are not day-glo which i thoroughly appreciate 

There she is.  Trusty Miranda (the truck) full up as usual.  Half the battle with these projects is getting all the materials you need.

Branching out into video

Getting real hi tech with my angles.  You think I could find a ruler.  Once the cross pieces are placed its easy to mark with a ruler (or a scrap of wood) and the rip through with the circular saw

The proper gates use a set in construction and if I had more time I would love to do this form of wood construction, true carpentary.  But alas i didn't have the time so its just as simple laying the wood on top of the uprights and screwing in well.

The cross piece can be laid out and cut to size one all the  vertical and horizontal planks are in place.  The cross piece is what gives integrity and strength to the gate, and also gives it great character.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Autumn bulbs...and more boxwood

Allium azure (below) is one of my favorites.  I already have a few alliums groups in the garden but i want big clumps of them everywhere.  When i was home last year i visited Alnwick castle and they have hundreds of them scatered beneath trees in a well light but wild area.  Im thinking about putting more all around the small orchard area i have and seeing what happens.  Not sure if it will work as you need to let them grow in the summer and i will want to mow the grass, so it may just be in the flower beds.  I may try some in the wild meadow area beyond the small orchard.  Anyway now is the time, in fact I'm being.  Alliums need to be planted now so they can get settled before it starts to get too cold.  That will be this weekends project..

Graceful Allium
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Azure Allium
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In the allium bulbs go, i want this whole bed to be covered in them. Not too spread out but little clumps all mixed in.  The plan for this bed all along is blues and greys to play off the house and it looks beautiful.  Strangely enough my iris is blooming for second time which is strange, need to look into why its decided to do that.  Its a lovely treat non the less.  Oh and thats my good friend David in the back ground, always good to have friends to help you.

Also my new Joseph Bentley Bulb tool was put to good use.  If your looking to update your tools or need to buy new ones then this is the company you should look too.  I really like the strong stainless steel and wood handle construction, and they are of course handsome to look at.  I know what else is on my shopping list, the whole set.

Another purchase was a new set of pruners.  Not the ones with the plastic handles and orange tips. These are from a company called Flexrake and they do a classic line of garden tools.  They a much better price than the Bentley and are the best you can find (trust me) at that price.  Between the two brands you can get everything you need.  Im all about investing in something that is well made and is good to look at.  Enough with the plastic and primary colors!

10 Allium Bulbs - "Mount Everest" Snow White - Perennials Bulbs , Now Shipping !

Back to bulbs.  The White alliums will be clumped into the white garden bed.

Snow drops and bluebells.  Quintessentially British bulbs. These will go everywhere if i have my way.  I have ordered 80 blue bells and 50 snow drops.  I will have to channel my inner Martha Stewart and gather as many hands as possible to get these in towards the end of the month.  I have a busy travel schedule coming up so timing is everything.  Not to early or they will start to grow and i don't want to leave it too late.  First weekend of November is when I'm thinking.  I have my beech  tree seedlings coming then too so i will still be a busy time.  I still need to order the hornbeam to go in as well to fill out the hedge idea.  I will leave this property with plants that will go on forever, and one day it will have a fantastic hedge and an all year round flowering garden.

This i s a sight i love, these boxwoods popping up over the truck.  The lovely chap at the garden nursery gave me a great deal on these guys, there a little off color and were not particularly loved.  Fingers crossed with a good feed and some attention they will come back strong in the spring...

I love this view...and now i added more to it..see below

Look back to the house from the woods.  Im going to keep adding, of course, but the space around them is what is important so not too many more can go in, I would like a few smaller one dotted around.  

This is where all the blue bells will go in.  Then come spring it will be box wood and blue bells.  I think it will be so beautiful too take a walk up there and sit.  I will have built a stone bench or found a wooden bench i like to situate up in there by then i hope.  Off to the left is also a very basic nursery bed where i have a whole bunch of fox gloves growing so i may also leave a few of them in there for good measure.  All my favorites.  I think it also needs another little topiary, the smaller version of the big guy at the front.  We will see what happens this weekend...stop me!

My Bulb List
  • Allium (purple and white for there respective gardens)
  • Bluebells(woodland walk)
  • Snowdrops (orchard)
  • White daffodils (along the hedgerow)
  • Grape Hyacinth (Around the Norway Maple)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Willow cuttings...how too and other garden nonsense...

My mum inspired this process.  Whilst chatting she mentioned how easy willow cuttings are to root by simply putting in water so i tried some the other week and would you believe it, they rooted.  You should just be able to shove a piece of willow in the ground and it will root, but it needs to be constantly wet and we have been so dry, so this process works a treat.

Its as simple as taking cuttings, which i needed to do as the bushes were getting out of control.  Then just strip the leaves, and i should have cut the top off a bit as well, but it worked the last time without doing that.

Then you just put them in water, the picturesque stream is optional but i had one to hand so used it.

After a few weeks this is what i got, and then they get shoved into the ground, hopefully with a fighting chance of survival.

This hedge/white garden area is a little bit of an obcession.  I really want it to feel full and lush and a good wall.  I really love the sense of enclosure so the more willow sprouting along here the better, and its free plants! I also planted in a few holly bushes that will become more visible as everything else starts to drop its leaves.  I also have some beech coming in a couple of months when they are dormant, so my initial dream of a British hedge row with the holly and the beech will happen.  The willow gives such an instant screen i can now invest in some slower growing things that will come over time and they will all grow together well.  The only problem is i have to keep making the flower bed not the other side deeper to fit everything in.  Not such a bad problem to have.

Obsessed with foggy mornings and looking out over the lawn.  Theres my new guys just on the edge of the woods. This is the beginning of the woodland garden, there is a natural sort of clearing up there and i want to have (another) bench and path leading up there.  Little balls all dotted around....heaven.

A close up of the holly, and a comparison shopping shot.  I take a pictue where ever i am to review and compare pricing amongst these different nursery i go to.  These were on 33% off and i found some at 40% off. 

Look at this!! In love with it...so many boxwoods so little time ( i mean money)..

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Garden Update...

 Your probably bored of the garden posts by now, but I'm not, so get used to it. Here is just a bunch of photos, everyone loves a before and after shot.  Oh and i ramble on about the garden.  I basically want to be monty don on gardeners world.  Americans will have no idea what i am talking about.  Nothing new there....:-)

The most recent image of the garden and fence, its funny to think non of this was here 6 months ago

This was a really wild friday night updating my gardening book.  I keep all the tags and then can write alongside them any notes i have such as when they should be trimmed, or if i want to move them before next spring.  Its riveting stuff i know. What can i say it makes me happy.  The hydrangea trees are some of my favorite things i planted, filling out above the fence and giving some great structure to the garden.  The plan was for this to be the white garden and to provide a barrier between the house and then the road. 

Here i planted two "harry lauders walking stick" also know as corkscrew hazelnut.  It was discovered in 1800 in (of course) the english hedgerow.  Its branches are contorted and provide great winter interest.  The plan is to have a few more box woods around them.  All in time...
Here is the new gate and arch way that i put in a few weeks back.  It opens on to a little wild area, that next spring will be full of wild flowers, a little meadow of sorts.  I have this idea of a path mowed through it leading up int the woods.  Also in the picture is my first peach that grew on the tree.  It promptly fell off after i took this picture, so no peach pies at Jordan cottage this season :-)

A cute view looking at the back of the house.  This is the little field that is also part of the property and is divided by the stream from the main house. I have some amazing hard wood trees.

Here is a mid progress shot.  Cant believe what mother nature can do in a few months, with the right soil, food and water.  

Here is is today about 4 months later. The willow has grown in amazingly, and the hydrangea trees are in full force. You can barely see the stone bench or fence.  I cant wait to see it next spring.  There is wisteria growing along the fence with lots of raspberry and other brables intertwing along it.  Ideally it will be a great habitat to attract birds and also create a great frame work for more plants to grow over.  I have recently added it some very young ivy plants that will then cover the fence even more.  Willow (supposedly per mum) is very easy to root, so currently i have cuttings that we will see if they take root.  The idea is to keep adding in more plants so that the hedge next spring is really dense.

This is the master plan, the main house with the tree that is giving the symmetry to the garden with the fence running down the left side.  That is the white garden area.  So far there is hydrangea trees (3), white engilsh old style roses (3) annabell hydrangea (3), bobo hydrangea (1) he will probably move as he shades into a pale green.  Oak leaf hydranges (3), ornamentl thistle, bugbane, culvert root (my favorite) and many more...all in white.

progress shot

Obsessed with my double balled box wood.  Arne Maynard is a constant reference point. He obviously has an endless budget but i have to start somewhere.  Large topiaries everywhere is what i want, but slowly and surely i will get them.  Seriously take the time to look at his work, simple, edited and beautiful. Gardening with restraint is key and i love all his projects.  

Arne Maynard....dream garden .  Anybody want to give me a 100 boxwoods??

More garden inspiration, oh Arne...

Exciting! My tomatoes are coming on like crazy.  Never really planned on having any veg this year, but just planted them and they are pretty self sufficient ! Now the big decision is where to put the veg garden permanently.

I have jabbered on about all my fruit trees, and here are the apples starting to come in.  Planting trees is one of my favorite things to do, yes I'm that exciting.  For the same price as lunch you can put something in the ground, and with a little care and attention it can live on for years and years.  Its pretty amazing.  This past weekend i put in a new maple and really want more!!
I lost my shirt again.... its in the bush somewhere.....but here is a great shot of the hydrangea tree.  

My essential cuppa always with me...

Isn't this what we should all be waking up to everyday.  The fog and dew, its literally like being at home in England, but then it gets hot, unlike England.  The best of both worlds..kinda of...I just need a beautiful topiary emerging from the woods...that would be perfect...

Close up of my weird twig fence.  Thats the raspberry plant starting to take over.  Next year this will be covered with fruits.  

I loved seeing this guy but he needs to stay off the hydrangea's
This is not actually my rose, but it will look like this next year, i promise...

This is my rose, its a terrible photo but i love them.  This is a David Austin (this didnt' mean anything to me, but it was my mothers first question "is this a David Austin" apparently a good grower, and apparently as the nursery told me not very appreciated in the states, so i obviously then bought them all).  Anyway they are British roses, old style, full flowing and smell beautiful. I planted one but quickly realized soon as you start to cut flowers then you are left with an empty garden, so then i planted two more.  This way I can cut a few from each bush and not really notice.  They need attention.  Im all about gardening that needs attention.  Thats the therapy of it.  The Japanese beetle love a munch on them, so you need to spray, you need to dead head to encourage more blooms.  There is something rather lovely about looking after something and seeing it flourish.

always make sure to measure your balls correctly 


Bug bane and culvert root add great height to a border and they are beautiful old plants.  Look at Sissinghurst, and Vita she loved these plants.  In the below photo you can see them reaching for the sky and I just can't wait for them to spring to life next year.
At Sissinghurst the white garden is absolutely stunning.  Im just finishing reading a book written by the wife of Vita Sachville-West's grandson which takes you through the creation of the garden, with the life that was lived there intertwined in the story.  A great read.  It stresses the importance of getting the foundations in sooner rather than later.  Big shrubs, roses, box, all need years to grow and this is what rings through my head as a rush to use the last few planting months of this year.  

My essentials...

Thats Annabelle on the left.  She was discovered by Harriet Kirkpatrick in 1910 when she was out riding in the country side in Ann, Illinois. She and her sister then obviously dug it up from the wild, as we all would have done, and then started sharing it wit there friends.  Basically this means when i am pulling up a plant in your front garden you should encourage me....

Look at these little box woods in the bed in front of the house.  They are perfect.  I want to eventually move them out further into the lawn so that the bed sort of over flows into the grass.  Next spring it will develop more.  Also here is lambs ear, lavender, russian sage, the irises that weirdly re bloomed this year. At the back is a plant very similar to buddleia but less invasive.  Its a haven for bees and i have so many frogs.  Also i did have a gardner snake in here but i relocated him to the field.  They are good for the yard but they still give me the willies so he was outta there....

What a shot.   Thats me from my best angle.  This is a little nursery in Patterson, NY.  Its not fancy, but the plants are so healthy.  They are not overly preened or made to look good.  They just grow.  Put them in good soil and watch them go for it.  This is my kind of perfect day.

This is my mums first visit....

....and this was a few weeks back with my niece. The front flower beds have really filled in.  Here its all green and purple and blue.  Im all about a color story and it works with the grey of the house so well.  New lights either side of the kitchen door have gone in.  Solar so I'm being green and top tip here.  Solar light can be so harsh sometimes so i took the lights apart and added a lighting gel, so that they give off more of the Edison glow.  It actually works...

There you go, no nasty white light here, a nice orange glow.  Whats great is that they come on at night and turn themselves off and don't need wiring.  Basically the easiest thing to do.  The hardest part was sinking the pole in the ground.  I was thinking about wall mounting but i wanted to get ivy going up the house and this is a great way to get that going.  I found at another nursery some pre grown lengths, so they are wrapped around the poles and are already arching off to grown over the house. I know people freak about climbers on the house, but as long as you watch it and again trim it all will be fine.  Ivy does not grow as fast as people think.  

If you want to know the cheapest places to get boxwood in a 1 hour drive of my house, then I'm your man.  Just saying....

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