Right Said Shed

The last couple of weeks have been less gardening and more sorting out the infrastructure, at least on the few days where it hasn’t been pouring down with rain. The idea of getting the ‘lawn’ area done first kind of went out the window because of various things that need to be fixed first (some of the wall needs repairing, there’s a big stump that has to go and we don’t have a working chainsaw currently, etc…)

Mum changed her mind on where she wants her shed, too- it was going to be on the ‘lawn’ but will now be going in a bare-ish patch around the side of the house. Well, bare apart from one dead tree and various other stumps… sob, more stumps. So I’ve spent my time clearing up that area ready for the shed.

Before…
…and after

The garden paths also needed tackling as they’d basically disappeared under grass. While I like things to look overgrown, everyone was tripping up and slipping on the grass so it needed to go for safety’s sake. Also the drainage channels along the side were utterly overgrown and we don’t want floods (I would like a pond eventually, but I’d also like to choose where it is!)

There’s a path under there somewhere.

The pics above show the before-and-after of prying up about ten bags full of grass and dandelions. Sorry dandelions… you’re welcome elsewhere, promise.

The slabs need re-cementing and I’ve got to replace the old chippings. But at least for now you can SEE the paths.

The trouble is I feel like I’ve been doing more pulling up and destroying things than actually putting anything together- baby steps, I know, but I wanted to actually GROW something. So I’ve planted some wildflower seeds in trays in hope of having some plugs to plant later in the year when there’ll hopefully be a place ready for them.

Primrose and Field Scabious

….I have no idea if these will grow or not. But I wanted to do something garden-y.

One of the other seed packs I bought that I’m going to plant once I find another tray is Dog Violet. I had a thought that they’d be nice under the bushes in the side garden, if that’s going to be a wildish ‘woodland’ area. The seeds arrived yesterday, and that morning I glanced down at the spot I was thinking of eventually planting them out…

Garden: I heard you liked violets.

A tiny splash of purple and a ‘NO WAY!’ from me. There are a couple of dog violets already growing there, presumably having arrived all by themselves! I guess my instinct was right- and hopefully this means any more that I plant will grow well in that area.

The problem is they’re right next to the Suspicious Bluebells. I’ll have to be really careful not to squish the violets if (and it’s looking increasingly likely) that I have to dig up the bluebells. They’re showing buds now so I’ll know soon!

Saxifrage & suspicious bulbs

So… this post is going to be about Mysterious Triffids and Suspect Bluebells.

To the side of the house is this strip of garden:

The back of this patch is bare other than some stumps and has been earmarked for mum’s storage shed. But the rest is a wild sort of area with bushes and a big variegated holly tree. Unfortunately it’s also been a dumping ground for people’s beer cans, takeaway trays, footballs, bricks, and other stuff thrown over the fence while the house was empty. I’ve been cleaning up some of the rubbish (in the photo is a drinks can I missed, ugh). Otherwise, though, I kind of like it! When I finally get to working on this, I think I’m going to mostly leave it alone except for adding some more bulbs and shade tolerant wildflowers. It should make a nice woodlandy looking area with those big, established bushes.

Admittedly I’m not certain what all of said bushes¬†are, and they’re undoubtedly not native. But they’ve been there for years at this point and are basically small trees that would be next to impossible to remove. Most importantly they’re always full of house sparrows, which need all the help they can get. The birds like the bushes so they’re staying.

That though brings me to the… things growing at ground level- goodness knows what has been planted, or otherwise arrived by itself, in this area. Unfortunately I’m not in touch with the person who used to do the gardening for my grandmother when she lived here, and when I used to visit I didn’t really pay attention to what the plants were. So everything is basically a surprise at this point.

Firstly I noticed some of these odd little rosettes around the place. There’s a lot of them and they seem hardy to the point of indestructibility.

Triffids

I’d been trying to identify them for a while; Google was only giving me succulents. Which these aren’t. But after posting a confused question on Instagram someone was kind enough to point me in the right direction: they’re a saxifrage, probably London’s Pride. The area they were growing was covered in dead grass and rubbish, so I cleared that away to see just how big the patch was….

Spoilers: it’s pretty big.

Looking these up, these aren’t native either and a lot of people consider them a weed, but again… I like these tough little evergreen things and the history behind them, as something that would colonise WW2 bomb sites. Plus bees apparently like the flowers, which should look amazing where they’re growing right by the front gate! So they get to stay, I’ll just try and keep this little green carpet from spreading too much further.

There are also a whole lot of spring bulbs of different kinds popping up right now. Again, I have no idea what some of them are- but I know there were bluebells here in the past. And most of the greenery that’s appearing looks like bluebell to me.

…Now, if that’s what these green clumps are, it’s either a very good thing or a very bad thing. I love bluebells… so long as they’re the right kind.

These could be either the native UK bluebells, hyathinthoides non-scripta, invasive Spanish bluebells, or a hybrid of the two. Unfortunately the latter two types are taking over from our native, protected ones. There are apparently still native bluebell fields in the immediate area, so if these are the spanish/hybrid type we’re going to have a problem.¬† The London’s Pride gets a pass but Spanish bluebells will not, meaning I’m going to have a fight on my hands trying to get rid of them…

The highest likelyhood is that they are Spanish/hybrid as those got planted in gardens a lot, apparently. But there’s a chance they could be native ones (or at least mostly native). The leaves look thin to me, like native bluebells are meant to have… but I don’t have the experience to be able to tell, honestly. I need to wait until they flower to know, and until they do I’m keeping my fingers firmly crossed….

 

To leave off on an unrelated but more positive note, though, there are definitely Things starting to happen in the hedge I planted! Here’s what was the saddest and deadest looking twig of the bunch, which is now growing some buds!