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Archive for the ‘landscaping’ Category

When I dug out the septic access a few weeks ago in preparation for a visit from the honeywagon, I found that the hole had last been filled with loose debris, including rotting wood and bits of foam insulation.

Digging out the septic tank access

Digging out the septic tank access

We were going to have a riser installed to make the tank easily accessible for future pumps – until we priced it out: Adapter ring: $60; two twelve inch risers: $85 EACH; a $50 lid and the labour at $50/hour PLUS the cost of the pumping and disposal – priced separately. This was going to be a $600 plus operation.

Instead, I dug it out – and Miles from Bonniebrook Services (home of the Poo Pirates marine septic service!) helped out when it turned out I hadn’t dug quite far enough. After the pump truck had gone, Cottager and I put our heads together and figured out this home made fix that cost $30 and took about 90 minutes to fabricate and install. Its just a strong wooden box, built to fit, that exactly fills the space between the tank and the gravel courtyard. Yep, that simple.

Fashioning a sturdy box to fill the gap between septic access and courtyard surface

Fashioning a sturdy box to fill the gap between septic access and courtyard surface

Next time I will just rake away the gravel and lift out the box.

Next time I will just rake away the gravel and lift the lid off the box.

The next hole to tackle was one built into the deck where bamboo had been planted long ago and gone out of control. I trimmed the bamboo down, pried away the rotten wood frame and screen it had been growing through, then cut the bamboo down to the ground and carefully applied a lethal dose of herbicide into the open stalks. Sadly, short of taking up our whole deck, there was no other way.

This bamboo has got to go.

This bamboo has got to go.

Then cottager cut some planks to fit the hole. Not a perfect fix, but once I power wash the deck and re-stain it, it will be invisible but still give us access to the space under the deck. I will put a climbing plant of some sort in a large pot in this location. The running bamboo will likely need some further intervention, but this is a start.

A necessary fix. And now I can paint that peeling wall. One thing always leads to another.

A necessary fix. And now I can paint that peeling wall. One thing always leads to another.

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So satisfying to pick one sad corner of the garden and do some spring cleaning.
That’s what I did last Friday while waiting for the honey wagon to come and pump out the septic tank.

Before

Before

and After

and After

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I can never remember -exactly- what blooms when. So I will be posting pictures once a month for future reference and so I can choose and position new perennials to best advantage in future. 

Peiris

Peiris

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Lenten Rose. (Hellebore)

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Bluebells and primrose

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Pig's Ear

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Heather

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Trillium

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Rhododendron

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Mystery plant from my neighbour Elaine

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Sweet olive tree just one sunny day away from bloom.

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Trellis-Style Gate Repair

Trellis-Style Gate Repair

A good friend and neighbour of ours enjoys spending a few days with his son at Keats View during school holidays and they always leave things better than they found them. Over Spring Break they noticed that one of the gates was off kilter and sagging badly. As a result the gate didn’t swing smoothly and it had to be hoisted up in order to secure the bolt. The gate hangs on a post attached to the boundary fence and the sagginess was actually in the fence.

So here is the nice solution they came up with. The fence is now straight and stabilized; the gate hangs straight and swings smoothly and a short extender allows the bolt to work properly.

In addition, I have a new trellis-like structure to support some kind of climbing plant – get me to a nursery!

I plan to stain the gate’s frame and the post and top bar of the trellis brown to match the railings. Add that climbing plant and some spring sunshine and it will look terrific. Thanks guys!

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Perhaps you recall the huge stump I uncovered when trimming back the laurel tree? And how Cottager said it was rotten and we should just chop it out?  Well I’m glad you can’t see the smug look on my face since it really isn’t very becoming….

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In other developments, a pair of bucks have been hanging around the cottage nearly every day. The first time I saw them, I rolled over in bed and one of them was right outside the window. I thought for just a moment he might stick his head right in, a la Jerome the Giraffe. However; he did not.

 

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Then later, I found one observing me in the bathroom and grabbed the camera again.

 

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And finally, here is a long overdue photo of Stella, back from rehab.  Her weeks in close proximity to humans have made her quite approachable. She is readily identifiable as a result of her greyish coloured legs and the fact that some of her feathers no longer sit perfectly smoothly. It is nice to have her back.

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All that cooking wasn’t quite enough to purge me of all my mental clutter and exhaustion. So when I got to the cottage that recent early morning and Cottager needed a nap on the couch to recover from a late night and an early morning, I grabbed all my sharpest and most dangerous tools and went out to deal with Laurel.

This single shrub has monopolized the sun, harboured invaders like English Ivy and Morning Glory and crowded the paths from day one.  My initial timid trims gave way to repeated efforts to keep the top shoots under control, but on this particular day, it was like I was seeing it for the first time.  I knew I couldn’t kill it if I tried, so why not  give the girl a serious haircut?  Luckily, I remembered to take out my phone and take a few pictures before I started…

From one side . . .

 

. . . and from the other side.

 
And here is how it looked a few hours later after I had unloaded all of my urban frustrations, anger and guilt:
 (yes, there was a stump in there!)
 

From one side . . .

 

. . . and from the other side.

And here is what I removed from this shrub, including the forementioned parasites and an enormous salal growing out of the stump:
 

What Cottager had to haul away when he got up from his nap.

Now, what to do about the stump? It is fairly degraded, and Cottager is of the opinion that we could tear it out easily. I, on the other hand, like the idea of chopping enough of a hole in its soft gooey center to hide a nice pot with some trailing flowers in the spring.  O!  and some small white lights for the laurel branches, I think.

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Many more travel photos and stories to follow, especially now that I have my laptop in front of me again.  Skipped over to the cottage during a break between rentals to check on the garden and was dismayed by what I found. The cool damp weather and the two yards of compost-enriched topsoil we spread this spring caused our always- fecund garden to morph into a jungle!   With guests arriving in two days, I got out the clippers and, frankly, started hacking!  This was an emergency operation to clear pathways as much as anything. Here is what the garden looked like in early June prior to my departure: 

All was left in good order . . .

And here is what I found upon my return this week . . .

Badly overgrown and in need of attention.

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