Garden page 1
"To be a gardener is to be re-born every spring"
As you can see we have no immediate neighbors, only sheep and cattle from time to time and we look forward to when there are lambs or calves in the fields on either side of us, it is wonderful to watch them playing and hear their cries.
FLOWER OF THE MONTH
When we arrived here in 1995, six weeks was spent in working inside the cottage getting new flooring laid upstairs, fitting in built in wardrobes etc and gutting and refitting the kitchen as this is perhaps the most important room in the house, we moved in five weeks before Christmas so it was a bit of a rush to get ready as our son and daughter were coming with two young children.
The garden was a bit of a wilderness when I started work in it in late January 1996, there was nothing but a few mature shrubs and trees with no flower beds, in fact what is now flower beds in front of the cottage was covered in concrete, I feel that all that was done for quite a few years in the way of maintenance was to cut the grass.
The first thing to do was to get a shed erected so that I had somewhere to store my tools and other equipment such as the mower and scarified etc, the next job was to put up a greenhouse as I had brought a large number of fuchsias with me and they were not all hardy, these were up the top of the garden covered with an old sheet to keep off the worst of the frost, fortunately in this part of the country frosts are few and not very severe, even so, if the roots of a hardy fuchsia are frozen its very unlikely to survive. There was an off peak electricity tariff still in existence as the cottage was heated by night storage heaters prior the installation of oil fired central heating in 1992, I felt that electric heating would be the most convenient and controllable in these circumstances. This did mean that an overhead supply would have to be run from the cottage to the shed and thence to the greenhouse, as luck would have it the electricity board had placed a pole in the garden from which we take the cottage supply so it was also used as an intermediate support for the overhead supply to the greenhouse.
An electronic two stage thermostat was used to control a 1 Kw fan heater, this type of heater was chosen because it keeps the air circulating and helps to prevent botrytis from getting a hold in the winter, during Dec, Jan and Feb I only keep a frost protection level of 4 to 5 degrees C, then when the days begin to lengthen the overnight temperature is gradually increased as more plants that have over wintered spring back into life, also at this time there are trays of young plants and seedlings that need a little more warmth to give them a strong early start. Extra help is provided with a little bottom heat from propagators where required.
The main problem with this location is the prevailing westerly winds which have reached over 100mph in severe conditions. The western boundary consisted of a Hawthorne hedge, now this is fine when in leaf but not a scrap of good in the winter when bare, this was taken out and replaced with a conifer hedge of Cypressus 'Castlewellan Gold' which will provide good year round protection from the westerlies.
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