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Clearing The last Bit And More Planting.
This picture shows the last bed to be cleared of the dreaded Conifer hedge. One to the right had already been removed and one in the middle has been stripped of its branches and is in the process of being removed. The bed is about 6 feet in depth and 25 feet long, but when the conifers were there it was completely covered by them as you can see from the one on the left!
The next picture shows the bed with everything cleared including another half a ton of Rubble and Gravel from around the base of the last Conifer! When the Conifers were actually dug out they left big holes that were filled with a load of Top Soil from a friends house. Then about 20 Compost bags worth of home made Compost were spread over the area as a soil improver. Basically, this composed of the partly rotted Conifer Shreddings that I had taken up to my Allotment some weeks earlier and that had been mixed with some weeds in my Compost Heap. The Conifer would have taken a long time to rot properly, but should be alright as a top dressing. For good measure I added some fertilizer in the form of processed Chicken manure Pellets because, the soil would have been depleted of any goodness after many years with the conifers in.
Nearly all of the Herbaceous plants used to plant the bed up came from Work where they had been grown from seed and cuttings. Indeed even the Acuba, or Spotted Laurel, and the ornamental Ice Crystal Fig, were also grown from cuttings, and the Sharon Fruit Tree and Eucalyptus Tree, were grown from seed. These should add some height to the border at the back. Many people think of Eucalyptus Gunnii as a quick growing thug, but it can be pruned very harshly to keep its growth in check and it does have a very distinctive and attractive leaf colour. The Sharon Fruit Tree was already several years old at this stage, but the Eucalyptus was last years seedling. Many people don't consider growing trees from seed, and you will need patience for them to mature, but they cost a tiny fraction of what they would cost as large pot grown specimens and there is also an enormous range of tree seeds available on the Internet these days, many varieties of which you would be hard pressed to find at normal retailers.
A Solution To Storage Problems.
At the bottom end of the bed you can just see a Plastic Tool Store that I was given by a friend. It was not something that I would have bought myself, but having been given it, I am happy to use it. It will get some shade where it is to partly protect the Plastic from the effects of Sunlight as they will break up under fierce, direct, sunlight. It has helped to solve my ongoing dilemma of whether to have a Greenhouse, or Potting Shed once and for all. Originally, I was going to treat myself to a bigger, new, Greenhouse until someone pointed out the merits of having a Potting Shed that was part Greenhouse and part shed. Indeed I did need some storage capacity to replace that that was lost from the removal of the two small sheds and that would have provided it. However, with the Tool Store this is no longer needed, so I am clear to have my Greenhouse after all. At first I didn't know if I would be able to have the sized Potting Shed that I wanted anyway, because the only access to the back garden was through the Garage which had a normal sized house door out into the garden. However, as the company that were going to supply the shed actually made the building themselves, they would have been able to bring it in small bits and complete the assembly of the sections on site to enable them to get it through the door in the Garage. I had had visions of them needing a Crane to hoist it over the Garage, or climbing with it over the roof! This special assembly option would have come at an extra cost though and in part this also helped make up my mind to go for a Greenhouse. The Greenhouse comes in kit form, in relatively small pieces that will go through any door, so access to the back garden is no problem for this choice.
Using A Water Tub On The Greenhouse.
The new Greenhouse has Guttering and a Water Tub fitted which the old sheds didn't. Not having Guttering can cause problems and was doing so for me, because, the water was running off the sheds straight into the ground causing it to slowly wash away and the ground level to sink. A lot of people don't consider this when putting up sheds and greenhouses, but it is important to deal with Rainwater run off as it can be substantial at odd times of the year. In fact you really you need to have some sort of over-flow system on your rainwater tub as well, because, when that fills it needs the excess to drain safely. I had a while to wait after ordering my Greenhouse that enabled me to get the slabbed area sorted properly. This involved laying some more Crazy Paving to use up some of the Gravel and Broken Slabs. I did have 3 good slabs to use as well, but it is easier to giveaway 3 whole, surplus, slabs than a pile of broken slabs and gravel! I didn't relay the whole area for the greenhouse, but when my friend assembled the Greenhouse he leveled it up with wedges laid underneath it anyway, before cementing and pointing it up properly.
As you can see the Greenhouse is a standard 10 foot x 6 foot, made with glass and aluminium, and nothing fancy. It does however, have a metal plinth to give it a little more height for easier access. The plinth means that you have a little step in and out of the greenhouse that can be a trip hazard until you get used to it, but the alternative is to pay a lot more for a better quality greenhouse with more height and therefore no need for a plinth. The 6 foot width allows for 2 foot of Staging either side and a 2 foot gangway which for most people is adequate, if you take a little care when moving about.
At the time of buying the greenhouse there were all sorts of offers available with free gifts included such as; extra window vents, an automatic vent, metal staging, etc. There were also offers available regarding an erection service and general price discounts on certain sizes and finishes, as well as glazing options with perspex and safety glass options available, so do think carefully before plumping for one model over another as there is a lot to consider and it is, for most people, quite an expensive purchase!
It is advised that greenhouses are erected with an alignment of North - South, i.e. sideways on to the prevailing winds coming from the East and West. This way wind is unlikely to cause problems if the door is left ajar as well as the greenhouse having a little more strength against the wind this way round. However, space didn't permit me to do this, so I have planted a small, but large leafed, hardy, Eucalyptus tree that I raised from seed last year, at one end of the greenhouse to act as a wind break. Being evergreen it will retain its leaves throughout the winter when winds are at their worst. Eucalyptus have a bit of a reputation for being large and fast growing, and that is generally true, but they can be pruned back quite hard to restrain the exuberance.
This next picture shows my flower border in its second year as it is now it has been planted and is in full growth with another Eucalyptus tree seedling in the middle of the bed. This variety is the commonly available Gunnii, but occasionally others can be found at some outlets and on the Internet. Do be aware though that some varieties, such as the popular Lemon Bush, will need to be pot grown so that they can be taken into the shelter of a greenhouse for winter as they are not fully hardy.
The end of May was when this picture was taken showing many plants starting to flower, but there was a little colour earlier on, because back in the late winter, I also planted a lot of bulbs, including Daffodils, between the emerging Herbaceous Perennials. Alliums and Irisis are also in the bed along with Alstromerias, Kaffir Lilies and Crocosmias, to give a wider range of height and colour throughout the season as some plants fade and others start flowering. Hardy Korean Chrysanths that I grew from seed will also give later flowering. The Red Hot Poker, Knophofia, and the red Geum add an almost startling vividness.
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