Taming my patio trellis

Welcome back sunshine, I missed you! Not only did I plan to test out my new garden parasol while you were away I also planned to tackle the climbing plants on our patio. Neither happened until this weekend though.

There's all sorts of climbers gone (almost) wild on the patio, including troublesome ivy which grows twice as fast as everything else and the more welcome everlasting sweet peas, a burgundy clematis - which I thought I'd lost to foxes digging at its base, but haven't, some sweet smelling jasmine, my Gertrude Jekyll pink rose and a random white rose. And there's the Chilean potato plant which despite having its roots on our side of the fence, appears to have mostly moved next door - how rude!? 

It always needs some kind of taming around now, but a spell of sunshine and rain accelerated the need to sort it out. As usual the prompt was when the sweet peas started growing horizontally across the patio, so out came some secateurs, garden twine and some patience.  I think each year tackling this growth gains me about two-three inches of garden. That may not sound much, but the cumulative effect would be massive - and I'd have the narrowest of narrow gardens before too long too.

This year I was putting some new tools from the Bunnings garden range to the test:

Bunnings, who recently acquired Homebase are an Australian brand who have a big focus on DIY and Outdoor Living, sent me a pair of secateurs and loppers and I was keen to see how they fared. And if you're wondering Bunnings have already opened a store in St Albans and over the next few years all Homebase stores will be converted to the new brand. 

Back to the garden tools, the trickiest thing was removing the packaging, and a screwdriver was required. But as I'm way too impatient to find the right sort, I opted for using my bike multi-tool which did the job. The loppers were free, and I had a right result as I realised that the screw might be a good replacement for the screw that keeps falling out of our fridge - and it was, so I was already onto a winner, and that was before I'd cut or lopped an unkempt wisp.

And yes, it's only taken me four years to get around to trying another screw. It's also true that if you want something doing it's just as well to do it yourself. I'll say no more.

removing from the packaging was probably the trickiest thing

Yes, it's quite unruly isn't it, and the plants are quite high, the fence is 6ft, then there's 2ft of trellis and still the plants are above that.

Rampant climbers, overgrown ivy and blue skies

I started out at a comfortable level and was quickly impressed with the secateurs which have a more angled blade than I'm used to. This was super-handy for getting in behind the ivy and snipping it, especially on brickwork. The general advice for dealing with ivy on brickwork is to snip it in several places so it dies, and then to remove the dead ivy a few days later. Otherwise you risk damaging the brickwork as ivy is full of suckers, and a massively strong plant.

using the secateurs to accurately cut the ivy

Anyone else think these secateurs have a smiling face?

Can you see where I could reach to?!

It wasn't long before I'd made progress on one of the panels, but only at the height that was comfortable to work at. Does anyone want to guess my height?!

But the far - and high-reaching Chilean potato plant called for something else. And that was the loppers. And some steps.

But there was still the chilean potato plant to tackle, and the skies were greyer now too
out came the step ladder and work was underway again

And it wasn't long before the high, wispy branches had gone, the ivy thinned and the white roses and burgundy clematis were tied in and looking almost respectable.  What do you think?

A much tamer - and neater - trellis covered with climbing plants

I wasn't the only one that was impressed with the secateurs. No sooner had I put them down than they were picked up again by MOH used somewhere up the garden. We have plenty of secateurs, but of course it was these he needed. I got them back though and the euphorbias which are starting to die back were duly despatched to the compost.

cutting the euphorbia too, this year MOH is sad to see them go!

That's another job done, and it won't be too long, I hope, before I get to the bottom of my garden to do list.

And did I ever tell you I'm an optimist?!


* This is a collaborative post but all views and opinions are my own.

Extending our patio, again.

It seems a while ago now since our new patio was installed, but looking back over my blog posts it was only June 2013. Somehow that makes it seem more recent than the three and a bit years it is. Back then we extended the patio by an extra slab and true enough it felt roomy and more useful. 

We had some slabs left over and our original plan was to use them in other parts of the garden. But as time's gone on, that hasn't happened and our new enlarged patio began to feel smaller. So much so that we thought we should have gone further. 

Then earlier this year when we started to get serious about adding some edging - and circles - we worked out we actually had enough slabs for that extra row of patio we craved. And so, that became part of our plan

We'd hoped it would be complete at the start of the summer, but with one thing and another our gardener and patio layer couldn't fit us in, along with our tree cutting work until much later than we'd hoped. And while we wanted the patio extended, we knew the tree cutting took priority.

Finally on Saturday it was the turn of the patio. And typically rain was forecast. Thankfully though all that digging and trugging of earth to the skip at the start of August stood us in good stead and as we'd done most of the manual work ourselves it saved us some cash, which is never a bad thing. 

My plan was to build a dedicated barbecue area for MOH. Close enough to the patio so he didn't feel out on a limb, but not in the middle of the patio so the barbecue and the smoke were centre stage. The answer was to lay one of the large slabs at right angles to the house, set back from the main view down the garden. It kept us both happy even though it meant losing an old and very leggy, but much used rosemary bush. But as I took plenty of cuttings before it went it seemed worth it.

With the first slab in place the bricks were laid out and the position checked, then it was quickly done and the rest of the row soon followed.

Laying out where the barbecue stand will go


cement down, slab on top

And with impeccable timing, just as the row was laid along came the rain. Plastic sheets were quickly found and used to cover the new row of patio to protect the pointing and to stop it being washed away. It worked and on Sunday we uncovered the new row for it to bask in the sun just as much as we did. 

protecting the pointing from the rain
impeccable timing - completing just as the rain started

So that's another part of the garden plan ticked off the list. And it seems we've another week of good weather in which to enjoy it!  It's starting to come together, although there is still much more edging to install. But more on that another day.

Pepping up some patio pots

I noticed that my Spring pots had sprung and were all but done when I started to tackle the garden last weekend. And I resolved to change that and get some bedding plants for the patio. I asked MOH what colour plants he fancied this year - I wasn't quite expecting the look of confusion though. When pressed he chose orange, because as he later said, he thought it'd be hard. 

It wasn't actually. So orange and white we have. 

At the garden centre one lunchtime I picked up some Gazanias, Bellis, Tagetes and Allysum and left them in the boot of my car for the afternoon... Ahem. At home later they soon recovered, it's amazing what a drink of water can do. 

five pots, lots of plants some sun and the will to have some pretty pots on the patio

I have five patio pots which stand along the edge of the patio - somehow odd numbers work best here - but when I bought the plants I hadn't worked out how I would split the twelve of each variety equally between the pots. I was pretty sure though that six trays would be ample.  

I still didn't know how I was going to split them as I started planting, so I broke the plants away from those terrible polystyrene cases and laid them in the pots: two of the Alyssum, Gazanias and Bellis for each pot and one of the Tagetes. 

It's not symmetrical, but it seems to work. Pleased with avoiding a complicated maths lesson I rewarded myself with some faffing about on my phone.  

laying out the planting
An orange gazania ready to unfurl and flower
Gazania catching the evening sun
Bellis white flowers standing tall
A close up of the white bellis
White frothy allysum
tagetes one per pot

And there you have it, some pepped up pots for our patio. And some that conform to the request, however tongue-in-cheek it was made. But why, oh why do I find myself covered in compost whenever I plant up pots?

Please say it's not just me!

covered in compost
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