Phase One – June & July 2016

magdelen green garden 14 june 16Nothing much changed in the first part of the garden in June.  Some planting of bedding plants to add some interest, but nothing major.

Since our trip to mexico we had a plan of something we wanted to do.

All the bars around the hotel had one thing in common, swings!  They all had 2 seater swings surrounding them so you could sip your Strawberry Daquiri or Dirty Monkey, Or Grasshopper, or anything else we embibed whilst gently swaying to and fro in the shade.

We wanted a feature at the end of the garden, something that would be the main focus for when we had friends round or our annual BBQ for friends or family.  We had looked at various structures, roofed and strutted and in the end settled on a simple pergola.  This would be the frame from which we would house the swings.

The project began one sunny morning.  I had measure it all out and dug my holes.  Prepared the cement, so all we needed to do was put up the for side beams, build it and let it dry.

Sounds easy right.  It was after all only 4 “legs”, 2 cross beams and then the struts to go across the top.  We layed everything out, screwed on the braces for the struts and set to work.

It was going fine until the precarious moment, when halfway up a ladder and trying to join the two outer frames together (they were slightly unsteady at this point and needed to be supported) the heavens opened and the heaviest rain and hail storm started.

I couldn’t go anywhere.  I had to stand on the ladder holding the frame on one side.  Simon propped up his frame and ran indoors.

We griped and moaned at eachother about whose idea this was, it was propably the nearest we’ve ever come to an argument.  Though there was jest and sarcasm there was also narky, grumpy comments being hurled about freely.  Even more so when at another crucial time, after ten minutes of reprieve and sunshine the rain started again.  I was once more stranded up a ladder holding a support beam to stop the whole structure from falling.  All we had to do was get the screws in at either end and it would be fine.  But the rain was so heavy you couldn’t see what you were doing.  Simon ran indoors and ran back up the garden bearing a waterproof mac for me to throw on.

And so there we stood, in the rain.  Waiting for it to end.  Which is did.

After a couple more hours the Pergola was complete.  And we were happy.  Ish.

Now we had to leave it alone so that the cement would set before any more work could be done.

A week passed and we were in July.

magdelen green garden 14 july 16

The pergola was holding steady. and so the start of some beds were dug out around it so we could get some plants in.  We wanted some climbers to go up the main supports, so chose a Wysteria for one them and a campsis for the other at the front.  Not in the picture, but the rear right leg got a bed too and that had a white grape planted. A Dwarf Pampas was planted by the last leg and the beds were filled with various grasses, cosmos and to the right you’ll spot  a small Eucalyptus Gunnii (about 2ft high back then) and something else whose name I’ve forgotten as I’m writing this.  It might come back to me, but don’t hold your breath for this blog!

To the left of the pergola I dug out another bed.  I wanted to try something.  I had an idea to do a sunflower bed.  No idea if it would work, so I wanted to trial it and see.  If it worked I hoped this would eventually take over the whole left hand side of the garden.  For now though, I settled for a small patch, about 1.5m deep and 2m across.

magdelen green garden 16 july 16

At this stage it was planted with very little – some ponytail grass, some shasta daisies and helianthus maximiliani , heliopsis and another perennial helianthus.  As you can see in the pic above, there were three tall individual stems on the latter and the maximiliani was one plant with three stems.  They grew to about 1.5m in their first year and all flowered.  Now in their second year, having been cut right back at the end of the season, the maximiliana has quadrupled in size, and currently the tallest stem is around 2m.  The other helianthus, of which only two survived the winter, have also bushed right out.  I’ll post a pic in another blog later, as you will see that my plan for a sunflower bed went ahead.  The above were joined by dwarf annual sunflowers a bit later, but I didn’t take a pic of those at the time.

July was getting away with us, and there was still so much more I wanted to get done.

Whilst I was busy digging, Simon was busy painting.  Everything.  From the decking to the fencing and the back of the house.  The garden was beginning to take shape, slowly but surely.

magdelen green garden 20 july 16

July…to be continued 🙂

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