Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Flower Garden - February

This year I've decided to take photos of the various flower beds each month so I have a record of what is in flower throughout the year and can use that to decide if I want to change the plantings. This month the snowdrops are out and tiny miniature daffodils are just opening. One thing I can see is that it would be nice to have more snowdrops in thicker groups, so I've begun moving them into clusters as I weed. I think I will plant some more groups for next year, as well.

There are lots of bulbs coming up all over the garden, so in a few weeks there should be a big change in the flower garden with a lot more flowers coming into bloom.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Planning Ahead

Although it's still winter, we have started planning for Spring. I'm very excited about Spring this year, and about the garden. This time last year we were still unpacking boxes every weekend, and my entire collection of clothes was stored in a heap of black bin liners handily stacked beside the mattress on the bedroom floor which was our temporary bed.

By the time we turned our attention to the garden, we were late planting most things and all the flowerbeds were out of control. It took us all year to get things back in some kind of order. We did have some successes with vegetables, and also some less successful crops, so we've got new ideas for 2011 as well as some old favourites.

This year we are planning well ahead, and looking forward to starting the growing year right at the beginning of Spring. The key to all this is our new greenhouse!

The greenhouse itself is flat packed and is currently waiting patiently on the patio. For the last few weeks we have been working on constructing the foundations. We decided to make these using concrete paving slabs. The first step was to take the greenhouse base measurements from the instructions and use those to produce a scale drawing of the foundations. The drawing enabled us to see how many slabs of each size we needed and to order them.

The garden is not level, so the base has had to be measured, dug out and levelled.
First the area was marked out according to the plan and the turf was removed.

Then the area was dug over and levelled out, which left some sides higher than others. We decided to put a wooden edging all around to make sure that the edges didn't cave in. To do this the area had to be enlarged and then the edging had to be hammered in with a mallet.

Finally, using sharp sand a level bed was made for each paving slab and then the slabs were carefully placed. At each step the measurements were checked to ensure that when we reached the end there would be enough room for the last slab, that the base was square at all corners and that the base and slabs were level. We invested in the biggest spirit level I have ever seen and it has been one of the most useful tools for this job.

This has taken a month at weekends, but the result now looks a bit like the foundations of a ruined Roman Temple! Some of the slabs need to be levelled a tiny bit more, and we need to put sand in the gaps and some gravel at the back of the slabs, but then we will be ready for stage two - putting up the greenhouse!