I got a bit of a shock when I realised it was winter. Most of autumn disappeared in a puff of lockdown. I think the problem is that I’m a little behind in the gardening. In terms of vegetable crops I’m in a good place, a happy place, but I still haven’t finished cleaning up old crops, getting on top of weeds around the rest of the garden and various other tasks, not to mention fruit tree pruning and spraying. I could have spent lockdown making the garden look amazing but oh no, I chose to be more responsible and tackle things I didn’t really feel like doing that needed dedicated time – tidying and building storage in the potting shed and garage. Now the Garage Project has to wait while I catch up on gardening. And other things.
The vegetables in the Front Plot are chugging along nicely.
Since I had been spending more time out the front, I turned my attention to the hydrangea patch. I have been intending to remove the blue hydrangeas for a while. I’m just not that keen on the large – very large – unruly swathe of blue and there are other things I want to plant in there. I have better plans for that garden. I already have a few plants waiting to go in, so I marched out to the hydrangeas armed with tools and set to work digging them out. Well, at least with the intention of digging them out. Despite the fact that two of them had died or almost died during the drought, they were not easy to dig out. They were large and old and clung to the soil staunchly. I got one of the smaller ones out then called it quits after the partial excavation of two others.
While I pretended that the hydrangeas weren’t a problem, I pruned the neighbour’s trees and shrubs back to the fenceline by our firewood racks and the future-parking-area by the front carport. They were lolloping all over the place and it was getting too shady. The akeakes (Dodonaea viscosa ‘Purpurea’) along the fence didn’t like it. It is amazing how much of a difference pruning can make to light levels.
Meanwhile, The Husband came home and saw that the hydrangeas had started to come out. While I was up the ladder he got out the big tow strap and attached one end to a partially-excavated hydrangea and the other end to one of the carport poles. My protests did not carry much weight from atop the ladder. Fortunately, trying to ratchet the hydrangea out via the carport pole did not work. Never mind, The Husband had another idea. He attached the strap to his van. He and The Little Fulla had a great time hauling two of the staunch hydrangeas out of the garden. I was impressed. We have four more to pull out, two of which are uncommonly large. I am keeping the one closest to the gate that has rich purple flowers.
I took a tangent into tidying up the deck area when we unexpectedly won a pizza oven. We’ve never won anything like that before so we are blown away and very thankful. Suddenly, the patio project rose up the list because that’s where the pizza oven needs to go. That’s going to take a bit of figuring out though. It’s a multi-faceted project that involves three parts:
- The paving
- We have the pavers but need gravel and sand, plus the hireage of a compactor.
- The roof
- We need to extend the porch roof out on an angle over the patio area, which will require timber and roofing sheets. It will also involve moving the guttering and, by extension, the rain barrels.
- The fence
- The fence is too low for the roof to join onto so I was thinking of building a fence topper, an extra section to raise the roof height. But the fence is also getting old so I’m pondering removing it and replacing it with something. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a fence but we need something there to block the wind. My favourite idea at the moment is some sort of post and wire mesh frame to grow a climbing plant on that is also strong enough to support the roof.
Of course, all this is going to take a while to figure out so I set about making space on the deck by moving planters around and re-potting or planting plants in the garden.
With the increase in rain lately we’ve had water overflowing from the rain barrel and the overflow bucket into the patio area, which made a muddy mess that The Little Fulla was turning into an even more muddy mess. I bought a small hose and a rain tank fitting and The Husband installed them so that overflow from the white rain barrel goes into the black rain barrel. Now that the area has dried out, The Little Fulla helped me to level out the dirt that he had taken great delight digging holes in. No more ‘worksite’ for him there. Whilst borrowing a pressure sprayer from a friend, The Husband discovered that it will blast the black stain off the fence, which I was not sad about, but I suspect the whole fence will have to go.
Then I got further distracted from garden clean-up tasks when I acquired some wooden frames that I decided I could turn into a new sandpit for The Little Fulla. But hey, it was on the goals list and it related to the deck. The old sandpit was falling apart and I also wanted to get it away from the deck to make space for the future Deck Expansion Plan and because I was tiring of sand all over the deck. Now The Little Fulla has a sandpit that is smaller than the old one but actually full of sand and it’s right beside his playground, making for a better, more functional play area. And the deck is becoming a tidier, more functional entertaining area. We also have some sand leftover that we could use for the paving job.
Next I had to deal with the old square sandpit frame. The top sil was broken and useless but the sides still had a bit of life left in them, enough to be used for a compost bin, because why not have another one? I cut each side down the middle, giving me four corners to make two smaller squares. The Husband and I nailed two more support pieces onto each square to join up the pieces. Then we stacked one square on top of the other. I’ll keep them unjoined for flexibility in getting compost out. It’s a bit hotch-potch, but that doesn’t matter for a compost bin out of the way. It fitted just nicely behind my potting shed, where nothing else was going on and for easy access from the Veggie Garden. The more compost bins I have, the more compost I can make. Now I need to tidy up the rest of the bit behind the potting shed and maybe make a narrow raised bed along the back wall. With a trellis. For boysenberries. But we should really get back to those hydrangeas…