Flowers and Froggies

Has everyone had a nice bank holiday weekend? Mines been a bit up and down but overall I am quite pleased by how productive I’ve been.

Just to get the not so good side out of the way – I have stupid taxotere burns (it burns me from the inside out – an interesting feature!) down the sides of both my feet which makes walking a tad painful. Am also still a feeble weeble with steroid induced water retention and the limb strength of a ninety year old. Chemotherapy side effects are getting old now… so impatient to feel better. On the plus side my mouth is slowly improving. I am currently in the ‘everything tastes of 2p coins’ stage which is a distinct improvement on everything tasting of rot. Onwards and upwards. Anyway, the point is we haven’t really been able to do a whole lot this weekend. It would have been nice to go out for the day but not very realistic. I’m also really conscious that we are off on a week long zoo / safari park tour in just two weeks so I need to do everything I can to be feeling better by then – which means resting and putting a shit load of moisturiser on my feet every half an hour.

So what have we been up to? Well on Saturday morning it was horrid and grey so we went to the Cinema to see Oblivion. Less said about that the better as far as I’m concerned – I gave it a 3 out of 10. M didn’t dislike it as much as me but still only gave it a 5. I wasn’t expecting much… and my expectations were met!!

The rest of the weekend has been largely devoted to resting or gardening. I’ve been thinking about constructive things I can do while recovering from surgery and have decided that I am going to try to keep some plants alive in the garden. We rent and our ‘garden’ is all gravel, patio – and most of the time weeds and overgrown trees. For these reasons I am aiming for pots of things that we can take with us when we finally buy a house – assuming they live that long! So on Saturday afternoon I decided to make a start on tidying things up. I sat on the floor and did weeding and then got a bit over-enthusiastic and got the saw out. I quite enjoy sawing back our trees – I like how much impact you can have by lopping a branch off. Much more so than the never ending bloody weeding. Oh my god sawing is an energy sapping enterprise though – and weeding wasn’t much better. I had to stop when I realised I was just limply jabbing my trowel at a dandelion and the dandelion was winning. I had to have a lie down too. Pathetic! I made myself get up and go to the garden centre for a reckie though. Limped round and looked at lots of flowers – decided that a herb garden would be nice and then went home for my lying down. In fact I don’t think I got up again until Sunday. I did do my last lenograstim injection though – hopefully forever. Hurrah!

I ached like nobodies business on Sunday but I really wanted to carry on with the garden project – possibly not my wisest choice but I am stubborn. I did get up late and we had bacon sarnies and lounging around first – but then I spotted that the sun had come out and decided I should have a look at my container ponds and see if they needed any maintenance.  I first started my container pond in 2010 I think and I added another smaller one in 2011. This has actually been my one garden triumph to date – I have managed to keep pond plants alive and attract wildlife which was the original aim. I have had some plant mistakes – I am here to tell you that ‘water mint’ will try to take over the world if you don’t keep a close eye on it!! So on Sunday I pottered into the garden and took the plants out of my ponds so I could fish out all the dead leaves etc. It was while I was fishing around at the bottom of the larger container that I felt something slimy – and up popped a little friend… a froggie friend!

I love that I have managed to attract frogs into my simple little container ponds. There were actually three that I saw when cleaning them out on Sunday – two biggies and a little one. I didn’t want to disturb them too much so quickly finished grabbing all the leaves and put the plants back in. Spent the rest of my time outside  crawling around clearing the patio of weeds – which again very nearly finished me off! My back really really hurt actually and the arms stopped working again – I had to ask M to give me a bit of a back massage which did help thankfully. Lovely M – he is so good to me.

Which brings us to today. I promised M I would not do any weeding or sawing today as to be honest, I may have overdone it the last two days after all my talk of resting for our holiday. We went to the vet first thing this morning so our cat (who is called Weasel – don’t ask why!) could have her stitches removed. Bless her she has been wearing a cone for ten days as had an operation to remove a cyst. We also discovered recently that she has an overactive thyroid so she is now on pills every day. Anyway, we had the first appt at 9am and the stitches were removed along with the cone. She has been frantically washing ever since! After that we were off to the Garden Centre to have brekky in the cafe and so I could buy some pots and plants to put in them.

We came away with:

  • Three bags of compost (for the price of two… lovely!)
  • 40cm pot
  • 30cm pot
  • Brooklime – marginal pond plant, apparently good for covering containers which is supposed to help with algae as blocks the light
  • Slender Club Rush – oxygenating pond plant
  • 20 pack of ‘Lobelia Trailing Mixed’ – says it’s good for hanging baskets or window boxes… so I’ve put them in pots!
  • Spring Magic Blue & White Aquilegia – provides food for bees
  • A 6 for £10 deal on herbs and alpines – I got Rhodanthemum African Eyes, Erodium Bishops Form, Chives, Rosemary, Oregano and Thyme.
  • 2 pots of what I think were called African Daisies – they are pink / yellow and pretty!

The lot came to £57 which I didn’t think was too bad. I probably could have got pots cheaper elsewhere – to be honest I do need some more and I think I will be hitting up The Range for cheap and cheerful!

After the garden centre we stopped off at a place called Lockey Farm where they have some animals and a farm shop. We mooched round to look at the animals briefly and then got some cookies in the shop. Headed home after that and after a bit of a rest I have been outside potting plants this afternoon and taking some pictures of my handiwork.. and the frogs obviously.

SO… it’s time for some pictures…

First up – this is what the container ponds look like now:

Pond 6 20120506

That’s Norbert the dragon who guards the ponds for me.

If you look closely in this one you can see some of the residents:

DSC_0781

… and a shot of all three of my little hopping friends. They seem to like the new Brooklime:

Pond 1 20120506

The smaller container on the right is 30cm I think and I’m guessing 60cm for the bigger one. They are just big pots intended for plants – but they have no drainage holes so work great for the ponds. I didn’t get frogs until I added the smaller container – and they do use both. The little pond has two plants and some free floating oxygenating bunches of what might be Mares Tail? I don’t know – I got it ages ago. The bigger one has the two new plants I got today plus two that I added in 2011. Who the hell know what they are called either!! Sorry I’m not very informative – I tend to buy stuff on a whim and see how it turns out. All the bits of tree are for allowing bugs etc to crawl out if they fall in – I don’t know if the frogs use them to get in, but I know they just jump off the edge to get out as I’ve seen them do it.

Onto the herb / alpine pot:

DSC_0779

I honestly don’t know if I’ve picked things that work well together – I just picked herbs that I like to use in the kitchen and I though would smell nice. I plan to buy a nice comfy chair that I can recline in the sun and read a book after my surgery – assuming it’s sunny obviously – and I thought it would be nice to sit by a lovely smelling herb pot. The only thing I knew not to get was mint as apparently it is a space hog and is better planted alone. We’ll see how the rest get on together.

Then we have the flowers which I currently have in a random assortment of pots. I think some of them (the Lobeli-whatsit) are a bit crowded and I will probably have to get some more pots and spread them out a bit :

DSC_0777

DSC_0778

So that’s what I achieved this weekend – not bad considering my crippled state. I didn’t take a ‘before’ picture of the garden which is a bit annoying but I’ve made a good start and that’s the main thing. M and I both like the idea of growing tomatoes and strawberries but I thought it better to start small and add things later. The whole point is for me to do it after I’ve recovered a bit from surgery but am still off work. I will be off for at least two months and I’m hoping I won’t be a total invalid all that time. Not sure how realistic gardening is but I’m sure after a few weeks I’ll be ok for light duties. I’m also hoping that the plants bring the bugs and I can do some photography too.

On that subject – I did go out with my camera for an hour last week and I also took some close up froggie shots today… a selection:

Frog 1 20120506

Buttercup 2 20120502

Garden Flower 1 20120502

Garden Flower 2 20120502

Garden Flower 3 20120502

It’s been nice to get out in the sunshine this weekend – and I’m pleased to have done something constructive even though I am shattered. Now we have three days at work and then another long weekend as we have taken Friday off just to do something fun. Probably cinema and lunch out as my taste should be more normal by then. I have only 8 working days left until our week off and then surgery and I have a shit load to do at work. Should help keep my mind off things I suppose…

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