I have been off the grid for a while, had a bit of a computer disaster when my laptop decided to break down. I have managed to get online again by using borrowed equipment but I will have to bite the bullet and buy myself a new laptop again. This will be my third laptop, the one that just broke down only lasted 3 years and 4 months and even had to be repaired after 18 months. My son, who works in IT retail assures me that 3 years and a bit is a decent life for a mid range laptop that runs 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, but I think it is a short life. I suppose it is the same as with all electrical appliances today, not really made to last. Can you remember when fridges and washing machines were expected to last at least 25 years? Oh, I guess I sound old now, but I can remember those days, and it’s not that long ago. These days, a washing machine would never last 25 years! And I am not asking for 25 years from my next laptop either, it would be a piece of museum exhibit by then – but a few more years than 3... would that be such a big ask? I have already chosen my next laptop, it is a Sony Vaio, haven’t had that before, it cost more than my previous one and hopefully it will last a bit longer, time will show...
While I have been having my unintentional blogging break, the holly tree in my garden has gone. I must say I had a bit mixed emotions about letting it go, but now I am happy I finally did it. The tree was here already when I moved in 11 years ago, although it has grown considerably since then, towering almost 8 metres by this summer. Anyone with a holly bush or tree in their garden knows what a big task it is to pick up all the incredibly sharp leaves it drops 6 to 8 months a year. Holly is an evergreen tree growing to 10–25 m tall, it can live 500 years, but usually does not reach 100. My tree was right up against the wall between my garden and next door garden, giving me a bit of privacy, shelter from the sun and heat in the summer and hours of joy picking up leaves from the gravel on the ground. Have you ever tried sweeping gravel? Well, I have, I do it often, but it doesn’t work very well, and the holly leaves tend to end up under the gravel rather than in a nice pile on top of the gravel. Hand-picking is your best bet. The last 5 years the holly tree has been riddled with scales, infecting many of the other plants in my garden too and whilst I can treat the rest of my garden by spraying, getting spray into the crown of an 8 metre tall tree is impossible without hiring someone to do the job. The result has been that I am forever losing the battle against scales since as soon as I have got on top of it, everything susceptible to scales gets re-infected from the holly.
The final straw came when my neighbour’s landlord decided to build an extension to his house to give his tenants an extra bathroom. Over the years the house owner has just chopped off the lower branches on his side when he needed to paint his house or the branches were in the way, making the tree listing a bit due to the uneven weight. But in February this year the house owner started excavating for the foundation and building an extension right on the other side of my wall. My peaceful little corner was not so peaceful anymore, the whole wall started cracking up, the breeze blocks came apart and the wall threatened to come tumbling down with the slightest little poke. I had to contact my housing association to get some advice, they sent a surveyor who was not pleased about the way things were built next door and he promised me a new wall or just extending the fence, but the tree was in the way being only 2 inches from the wall. That made the decision quite easy, I agreed to having the tree cut down, and now it’s gone.
And what a massive transformation it made having the tree removed! In this picture you can see how far the next door house owner has made it on the extension, he started in February...his tenants are not surprisingly rather frustrated with the lack of progress and so am I. The wall on the extension facing me is rather crudely put together with either gaping mortar joints or mortar spilling out of the gaps, and the house owner had no intention of rendering the facade on my side when I asked him about it - it sounded as if he had not thought of that. It looks like a building site and at this speed who knows when it will be finished. The tree sheltered me a bit from seeing all the mess next door, but having the tree removed brought a lot of light into this part of my garden, it’s no longer a dingy corner, it’s so bright!
And what happened to the tree? As I don’t have a back access to my garden the whole tree had to be carried by the 3 tree surgeons through my house, in small pieces, branch by branch, trunk piece by trunk piece out to their wood chipper in the street. By the time they were finished I had about one million green holly berries more or less squashed by 3 tree surgeons steel capped boots in a path all the way from my backdoor, through my kitchen and hallway out to the front door. Anyone for holly berry jam?? They made an attempt to clear up after themselves, but I had to get both the vacuum cleaner and bucket and floor cleaner out after they had left. And in the garden there are still another million holly berries among the gravel. I hope those berries will just rot and vanish over the winter, imagine if only half of them should survive and start to germinate....oh my goodness, I would be picking holly seedlings all next year – or the year after perhaps, I think they take a whole year to germinate. As for the tree stump, well it’s not much of a stump really, it is neatly cut almost at ground level, and they poured a stump killer on it which hopefully will break down the root over the next 6-8 months or so.
When the extension next door is finished it will of course be taller than it is now and let less light into this part of my garden again, but not in any way like it was when the tree was here. Thursday next week my housing association is coming back to fix the crumbling wall and the plan is to take it down and put fence panels there instead, same panels as I have in the rest of the garden. I think that will look quite smart and I have asked for the tallest type fence, to cover as much as possible of the next door extension. It is at times like this I am so happy I am renting my house and that I am not a house owner myself, all this work is not costing me a penny and as long as the housing association consider the work necessary they will take care of everything, the bill included. I have given most of my garden a facelift over the last 12 months, and some of it has been major work, like getting rid of the rest of the grass, making the flowerbeds much bigger and putting in new bed borders. I have also got quite a few new plants the last year, as the flowerbeds grew I managed to squeeze in a few more plants! But this seating area has looked the same the last 8 years and I think I will use this opportunity to get out with the old and do something new.
But I am not sure what to do...I am dreaming of a large corner sofa with comfortable cushions so I can lie down properly or sit in the corner with my feet up, I would like to get rid of my old green plastic chairs and get a couple of wooden chairs instead and I’d love to have a chiminea! Not sure what a chiminea is? HAVE A LOOK HERE and you’ll see what I mean. These can be used as BBQs too using solid fuel, but can be fuelled by a chim-burner if you only use it for heating, using bio-ethanol – giving a completely smoke free burn. Great when you have neighbours close by. I am also thinking of hiring someone to make a stud wall so I can have fence panels on the wall here too, hiding all the pipe work and covering the ugly patches. Having fence panels as a backdrop here in this corner would look really stylish I think. And perhaps extending the patio and get rid of the gravel – so much easier to keep clean. And some solar powered lamps on the wall would be nice.
Perhaps I should win the Lottery before making any more plans?? First I have to pay off the new laptop I am planning to buy this week-end...and then we’ll see. I guess this corner will evolve just like the rest of the garden has; bit by bit when I am able to afford it. But in the mean time I can dream :-) Until next time, take care.