Guest Posts, Lighting, Lou C, Solar Lighting

Let there be light….

After laying our new patio at the bottom of the garden last year we have decided that the bottom of the garden looks very dark a compared to the Christmas grotto at the top. To address this, we have invested in some new solar post lights. After all, they’re in a shadier part of the garden so they shouldn’t make our garden look like a landing strip and we have the ideal place for them. Just at the edge of the border in the patch we have named ‘Pooh Corner’ for reasons that I won’t go into — suffice to say that we have five cats. After all, who wouldn’t want lights there?

Garden Solar Post LightsSolar Post Bubble Lights
Having deliberated over the merits of solar versus wired, we decided to take the lazy option. However, if we want to install a water feature there (it really is the only possible place in our garden, although yes I do have concerns about its possible use as a cat bidet), then we will have to install electricity at some point.

For now however, we have plumped for ease. Never one for patience, I am struggling to wait until the weekend to install them. They are on a spike, wire-free and the solar panel is concealed in the top of each light. Perfect!

It turns out to be a quick and easy job. The spikes slide easily into our clay that is still damp from the torrential rain and I can’t wait until it gets dark. The cats seem to like them too although there is very little for them to damage, unlike my fairy lights which one of the furry five decided to snack on one morning.

Solar light posts in the garden
As the sun sets, I’m bitterly disappointed. They haven’t been out long enough to charge up, my husband informs me. (Once an engineer, always an engineer). Day two dawns bright and sunny. I have high hopes and I’m not disappointed.
Seen from space? Our garden at night? Well, I never!

Lou C

Charlotte, Gardening, Guest Posts

New Girl on the Plot

It’s all too easy to spend every moment in the garden being ‘busy’. Particularly at this time of year, when there’s so much to be done, it’s difficult to put down the tools for a minute and appreciate what your hard work has created.

Charlotte and child hanging birdfeeders
During our first days in the new house we hung feeders to attract local birds

So this morning, I spent a few minutes with a cup of tea, perched on the wall, admiring the garden around me.
We’ve only lived in our present home for 3 months so the garden is still somewhat of a stranger to me. Having grown up following my parents and grandparents around their own beautifully maintained patches, I developed an interest in horticulture. However once I’d flown the nest for University I spent a decade living in city apartments, with little more than a window box to occupy my green fingers.

This year my husband and I decided to relocate our family home from inner city Brighton to the suburbs of Hove. Granted we only moved a few miles, but the lush surroundings and birdsong of our new home seem a world away from the traffic and noise of our previous one. Lily of the ValleyWhite flowersSo finally I have a garden of my own, and with it, a duty to care for the land.

I feel a huge responsibility to create an environment in which our children and the local wildlife can thrive. Consequently I plan to tend it in an eco-friendly manner; working with nature and avoiding the use of chemicals and artificial fertilisers. In order to do this I first need to understand my new plot. So rather that rushing in with drastic changes, for this first year, I’m allowing the garden to reveal itself. When we initially moved in, the garden welcomed us with a mass of snowdrops and daffodils. These withered to make way for colourful tulips and poppies. Now the borders are filled with lily of the valley, wild garlic and the last few bluebells of the season.
Daisy in gardenStone path steps in garden

Suddenly everything is springing to life. The fruit trees are filling out and flowers appearing on the roses, while the pond is overflowing with lilies and irises. As I sat, sipping my tea and taking it all in, my arm brushed past the bank of lavender developing around the patio. Releasing a waft of fragrance, it hinted that the garden has many more surprises in store for the coming months. I can’t wait to see what they are!

– Charlotte

Gardening, Guest Posts, Lou C

Mission Almost Impossible: Montana Clematis

Here’s a guest post by Lou C, on her adventures wrangling her Montana Clematis plants earlier this month.

Lou C's Clematis Montana
May bank holiday — A time when gardeners traditionally overexert themselves in the garden and bedding plants come out to play. Suddenly everyone is a gardener and the neighbourhood battles of the baskets commence. Unfortunately, this May everyone is a little behind with things and for one reason alone– Rain has stopped the play. I can now imagine how Noah must have felt.

The forecast for the bank holiday weekend is for showers rather than torrential rain. Promising. Since the start of April we have lived with a half painted fence that is begging to be finished. Initially we planned to allow our two (yes, two) Montana clematis that are clothing said fence to finish flowering but the rain seems to have put them all behind as well.

We have a montaña to climb and we’re going to need the best in the business. Undaunted, I contact the Impossible Missions Force, also known as my mother. The challenge, should she choose to accept it, is to help us remove the clematis from the fence so we can paint it and put the clematis back a) before it rains and b) by sacrificing as little of it as possible.

Lou C's Montana Clematis
We plump for Sunday – predicted as the better day. The Force arrives, all 73 years and 5 ft 2 of her. She’s bought a packed lunch so she really means business. Before I can ask if she wants a cuppa, the first Montana hits the floor and my mother is nimbly scampering up my rockery incline to the second with no thought to the possible hip replacement that might be necessitated by a nasty fall. The second Montana proves slightly trickier as it has also wound its way through a trellis planter and we have some serious untangling (not to mention a little sacrificing) to do. But not to be beaten, less than half an hour later the first part of the mission is accomplished. Sadly it takes a lot longer than this to finish the fence. In the meantime, the Force makes herself at home with a bag of potting compost and a queue of plants.

Lou C's Clematis Montana on a trellis
A lot later and we set about resurrecting both Montanas. The fence is dry, we have only had to dodge one shower and most of my planting has been completed, just not by me! As they are trained onto new wires I stand back to admire their new svelte physique. Yes, there is less of them, and yes, I could have waited until flowering was over, but flowers they still have and they will grow back very quickly if the number of new stems is anything to go by. They stand out beautifully against my new “seagrass” fence and I cross fingers and hope that I will not be greeted by a mass of wilted stems in days to come.

Mission accomplished and no one disavowed. The Force will be suitably rewarded with a trip to her favourite garden centre. May the force be with you, too.

Lou C

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