Tidying up

What a lovely afternoon it’s been!  We’re on half term here so it meant a whole afternoon in the garden without having to break off to do the school run.  Big daughter went into Manchester with a friend so it was just small daughter, me and the dog – for a while, until he broke through the hedge into next door’s garden and had to go back into the house in disgrace whilst I did some emergency hedge repairs.

We’ve got relatives coming to stay with us this weekend, so I wanted to get the garden tidied up a bit just in case the weather is good enough for the children to play outside.  The storms have brought down small branches from the trees, blown leaves everywhere and there is just general garden mess that I haven’t had much chance to get out to tidy up until now.

It was one of those days to bring out the big guns so out came my shredder.  I love my shredder.  I love how it turns garden waste into something useful which either goes into the compost bin or onto the borders as mulch.

I’m almost ashamed to admit that one of the first things that got cut up to go into the shredder was the Christmas tree.  February and the Christmas tree was still in the garden!  That’s the problem with real trees – they come wrapped up in nets and after Christmas they’re fully open with needles dropping everywhere.  It might be easy enough to put it in the car to take it to a recycling centre, but you know that you’d be picking up pine needles for the rest of the year!

After so long, the tree was pretty dry so cutting it up wasn’t a problem.  And then – oh boy – I forgot to feel ashamed as the smell as the tree went through the shredder … it was just so Christmassy and generally wonderful!  I loved the way that the needles were shades of green and silver, so they even looked a little bit Christmassy too!

It put me in such a good mood that it seemed that all afternoon I was finding more treats in the garden.  A few tiny houseleek, hidden in a pot full of dead things.  Houseleeks are amongst my favourite rockery plants.  I was so pleased to find them and they’re now heeled into a patch of earth ready for re-planting later in the year.  My whole garden needs some serious work – borders re-building, plants dividing and re-planting.  I’m hoping that there will be enough plants already in the garden that I can split to save me too many expensive trips to the garden centre – because I do find it hard to resist buying plants!

The snowdrops are in full bloom now.  There are patches of them all over garden, and their little white and green nodding heads are just a joy to behold.

I’ve got quite a lot of hellebores in the garden.  This on is Helleborus angustifolia or Corsican hellebores, one of the largest varieties.  It’s just full of green blooms at the moment, with shiny toothed leaves.  They can cause irritation and you should always wash your hands after touching them; they’re one of the few plants that you have to treat with caution that I have in the garden – after all, poisonous plants in a garden where children play is not always the best idea!  Foxgloves are another one that thrives, but the girls have learnt from an early age not to put anything in their mouths that they find in the garden unless they’ve been told it’s safe.

This picture was taken at about four thirty in the afternoon.  It was only a few weeks ago that it was dark at four thirty, but I just love the blue sky in the background of this picture.  This is Viburnum bodnantense “Dawn”, a winter-flowering viburnum with the most beautifully fragranced flowers.

And finally, just on my way back into the house, I noticed that the self-seeded wallflowers are just about to break into flower.  Another few days and they will be riotous shades of orange and purple with a powerful scent.

By the time the light finally started to fade and it was time to meet big daughter off the train, small daughter was exhausted from alternately helping me and practicing her roller-blading skills along the path.  We may not have done much out of the ordinary on this half-term holiday day, but the time we have spent outside together has been lovely, and I’m sure we’ll both sleep well tonight.

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