Mike's Garden Muse

The history and ongoing news, of the development of our garden from a mud heap, to it's present day state


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Thursday, October 23, 2003

New Bird Sighting

Today I noticed a Grey Wagtail in the garden for the first time. It was washing itself in the pond and then perched on our stone bench whilst drying itself off.

posted by Mike at 5:20 am|Link

Monday, September 08, 2003

Photographs (Before, During And After) The Latest Landscape Project:

You can find some photographs of the latest landscaping project, as it progressed, here. Photographs have been taken from the moment the project started through to it's completion.

posted by Mike at 3:30 pm|Link

Monday, September 01, 2003

All Done!

Finally all the landscaping and electrical work is complete, the lighting is up and working, as are the pumps and filters on the pond. The final test was done after dark last night to ensure the positioning of the spotlamps were to our liking, a couple of minor adjustments were made and I feel we are now up and running.

Once the electricial had gone yesterday we decided to take a trip to one of my favourite aquatic suppliers, Mike & Judy's in Birkdale to see what they could offer for stocking up our pond. I have bought equipment and tropical fish from them over the last 20 years or so and have never been disappointed. Whilst the range of fish supplied are slightly limited, their holding tanks are always kept in pristine condition and the quality of their stock is unbeatable. They are also willing to dispense good information from there obviously vast experience and knowledge of keeping fish to anyone who asks both beginner and expert alike.

Now you can imagine my disappointment when I saw a sign outside their premises indicating that a clearence sale was in progress due to imminent retirement. I'm not averse to saving money in any sale, but it wiil be a sad day when Mike & Judy finally retire, I will have to start the painfull process of find a new trusted supplier of tropical fish. In all the years I have dealt with them, I have never had a problem fsh, which is something most dealers would be hard pressed to admit to.

The shop (a wooden cabin at the back of their Bungalow), was extremely busy yesterday, in fact I don't think I've seen so many cars outside of their house before, everybody was looking for a bargain. Suffice to say most of the plants were gone, but I managed to grab 4 decent sized marginal plans for £2 a piece. I also bought ten 3" shubunkins for £10 which seemed like a bargain, plus fish food for both my tropicals and the pond fish, I also bought some netting to place over the pond to catch the leaves from nearby trees as they fall in the autumn. I really would liked to have bought some Sarasa Comets but unfortunately these had all been sold, and will have to try other sources.

Mike & Judy's will finally shut up shop at the end of September, I will be paying them one final visit before their doors shut forever, I may find further bargains, but if I don't then I won't worry, it will just be nice to wish them both well in their retirement years. They will be missed.

posted by Mike at 1:34 pm|Link

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

New Source For Garden Spotlights Found

I've found a supplier locally who is due a delivery of mains operated spotlights suitable for garden lighting. They are Denmans Electrical Wholesalers, the lights come at a price of £6.18 each, but the bulbs are extra.

The electrician is coming to do the work on Sunday, so all being well we will have the electrics fully installed and running by the time he leaves. At last we can leave the pond pumps, filter and waterfall running continuously. This should mean that the green algea explosion, currently affecting the pond, will disappear and hopefully, we will have a crystal clear pond in the very near future. The electrician will also be fitting some security lighting to the outside of the house along with PIR detectors. Now all I have to worry about is the increased electricity consumpsion.

I also now need more plants for the pond, to give the fish, which I haven't seen since Saturday, some extra cover. I know I should have waited for the filters to be working 24/7, but some friends emigrating to Spain, prevailed upon us to take and look after the fish, from their now filled in pond. There were only seven fish and they are fairly small. I don't think that they should cause too many problems, during the part-time filter period.

posted by Mike at 3:06 pm|Link

Monday, August 18, 2003

Brief Update

All landscape work is finally complete, now I am only waiting for an electrician to come and connect the wiring and lighting to the mains.

One problem that I am encountering is finding some decent mains operated garden spotlights. There are low voltage spots aplenty, but spotlights for lighting up features from a distance are hard to come by. One shop can supply them but there is a 10 week waiting list. The electrician arrives on Sunday, so I may have to just ask him to lay the cable and I'll connect the lights when I can find some.

The fruit and veg crop have been decent this year, it could have been better, we've made a number of mistakes but this year was our first real attempt at planting vegatables outside a greenhouse environment. We've had an endless supply of tomatoes, a crop of radishes, peas, a few of cucumbers, carrots, cherries and broad beans. The sweet corn will be ready in about two weeks I reckon, and there are still some Scarlett Empreror beans which have just started to flower.

The grape vine (2nd year) has produced a few bunches of small grapes that are bigger than last years crop, but probably will not be suitable for eating yet. Maybe next year, or the year after, we will have a few bunches to eat.

The sprouts have been ravaged by caterpillers, there are loads of them. As we like the butterflies that they are hatching into, we have left the insects to their own devices. The buddleia were covered in red admiral and cabbage white butterflies this weekend, I've never seen so many butterflies in one place.

posted by Mike at 1:14 pm|Link

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Ongoing Landscapes

The landscaper didn't appear at all for most of last week, as the scorching hot weather was not ideal for laying turf. He finally turned up with the new turf on Saturday morning and had completed laying it by 2pm. It really brought the scheme together. In the meantime we bought a few plants for the pond, we cannot buy fish until the filters have been installed and running for around 3 weeks.

Jobs the landscaper has now left to do:

1. Position and construct stone bench at lawn/rockery edge to overlook the pond
2. Collect and fit pond filter including UV filter
3. Lay electrics and arrange for connection to the mains, for the pond pumps/filter and garden lighting
4. Complete rockery construction using up the so far unused rocks and complete planting to hide filters.
5. Position and erect the dovecot
6. Lay capstones on top of the retaining wall

Even unfinished the work looks excellent and I'm champing at the bit to complete the planting and to stock the pond with fish. One downer though, we sighted the pondkeepers nightmare, a grey heron, checking out the pond on Thursday night. It flew over and landed on a neighbours conservatory and then flew to the sycamore tree at the bottom of the garden, before finally heading westwards towards the woods in the country park. I can see I'm going to need to ensure there is plenty of cover for any fish to hide in. Apparently a heron can eat between 350-700gm of fish a day.

Other birds sighted on Thursday night included numerous swifts and around seven swallows.

I just wish I could get the PC fixed so that I can scan some photographs in for this site. As an aside, the landscaper has now started purchasing materials for his design for the 2003 Southport Flower Show. He won a gold medal at last years event, were we first met him, with his design under A & S Landscapes.

posted by Mike at 1:28 pm|Link

Friday, July 11, 2003

Garden Update

It's been a while since I updated this site, mainly because my home PC is still dead. The mouse drivers all died after we salvaged the pictures, the error messages indicated that they needed repairing from the Windows disk. When I tried this all sorts of other errors appeared, so I have decided on a rebuild when time permits.

Anyway, a brief update, the landscaping of the middle area is progressing nicely now, the pathway down to the patio is almost complete, the pond and waterfalls are complete except for the planting, and the rockeries on ether side of the path are partially planted. The area to be lawned hasn't been started yet, apart from being rotovated. The electrics for the pond pumps lighting and UV filter still needs to be laid, but we have had the pumps working and it looks really good. I expect the landscaper to complete the path today, and then start laying the underground cableing.

posted by Mike at 7:52 am|Link


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