What Makes A Hole Like This?


Hole in the wall Wm[1]



Thankfully they haven’t yet learnt to scale the walls. Though they are working on it.

Death watch beetle?





As a condition of our thatched house insurance we have to undertake an electrical safety check every few years. The electrician duly came, saw and, somewhat predictably in a house of this age, found things that needed to be done. He was an amiable and seemingly competent sort of chap so we engaged him to carry out the work as well.

Old fashioned rubber cables can corrode over time, with the potential to cause a fire, so should be replaced.

In an ideal world the electrician would attach the new cable to the old and pull the whole lot up through the wall conduit into the attic, where it can be connected to the main electrical circuit.

You’ll have guessed, especially if you’ve been following for a while, that the world of rusty duck is generally far from ideal.

The area directly above the offending cable is constricted to say the least. It can only be reached by crawling through a tiny hole in a partition between it and the main attic. And then only in theory, because no-one has actually tried it..

Mike volunteered.




Confronted by the prospect of intermittent power outages and reigning chaos around the epicentre of works, namely my study, I issued suitable dire warnings on the consequences of misadventure and retreated to the relative safety of the greenhouse.

Sometime later, covered in dust, Mike appeared at the door. “I couldn’t get through. Or maybe I could, but wasn’t at all sure about getting back.”

Thank goodness. Common sense prevailed.

Can you imagine the embarrassment of having to call the fire brigade to get him out? Sawing through ancient structural timbers in the process? And in the worst case scenario, having to actually remove the roof? It would have made for an interesting conversation with the insurance company at least.

Perhaps it would have been easier just to leave Mike where he was until he slimmed down sufficiently to exit the hole. I’d have passed up a copy of Winnie The Pooh, just to keep him amused.




And so on to Plan B.

Nothing for it but to knock a hole through the wall to get to the wire.

And did it end there? Oh no.

The hall light fitting was next. I already knew that some of my floorboards would have to come up. But destruction and devastation find a way of spreading, do they not. By the time I next ventured a peek upstairs Mike’s study floor had been ripped up as well. And the side was off the bath.


Is it any wonder I find cleaning so pointless?



rusty duck’s First Law of Plastic Pots


Veg Production Line 001 Wm[2]


The number you have is inversely proportional to the number you actually need.




I’ve always stashed plastic pots. While we were living in a rented house with no garden I had boxes full of the things, brought with us from the previous abode. Mike was forever either falling over them or having to move them from one place to another. In his mind their only rightful resting place would have been at the dump.

These days they find a safer refuge in my greenhouse. In winter the mice get their daily exercise by using the staging as a climbing frame. The serried stacks of pots are inevitably knocked over, leaving me with the job of picking them all up.

But now? In April the greenhouse is a hive of activity. Sowing, potting up and potting on. Endless watering. The production line, mostly of vegetables, is in full swing. And here I am staring into the abyss of yet another pot crisis. However many I have, even with all the plants (or more to the point their pots) that I have subsequently bought I never seem to have enough.

Especially the three and a half inch ones. The ones that are the perfect size for a single bean. These are the ones that always run out first.


Veg Production Line 002 Wm[1]


With greenhouse space at a premium, the larger plants get shifted out to the cold frames and I can begin the process of hardening them off. Lids raised by day and closed at night.

The trouble is, as it stands today, the cold frames are also now full. Mostly with peas using each other for twining support.


Veg Production Line 003 Wm[1]


On milder nights some get to stay out in the open air. With the appropriate protection.

The ‘nursery’ is in a sunken area, bordered by retaining walls and one side of the house. It is a proper little sun trap and holds on to that heat well into the night. Needless to say, it’s one of Ptolemy’s favourite places too. He has discovered that when the cold frame lids are closed he can leap on top of them and, almost, peer in at us through the kitchen window.


Veg Production Line 004 Wm[1]


At the end of the production line comes the prize for getting this far. For the plants, and for me. Automatic irrigation.

Perhaps I have taken a risk, putting the peas out quite so early. But it is relatively mild in the south west and I have fleece. And besides, I need the pots. So the whole bloomin’ cycle can begin again.




Linking up with Helen’s Greenhouse Year at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog. Click through to find out what other gardeners are growing this month.



Blooming April


Erythronium revolutum 'Knightshayes' 001 Wm[1]

Erythronium revolutum ‘Knightshayes’


Fleeting, but enchanting.

And regrettably just the one. I hope this Erythronium will spread itself around.

Seeds sown from it last August have not germinated yet but then they didn’t really get the prerequisite winter chill.


Hacquetia epipactis 001 Wm[1]

Hacquetia epipactis


When it comes to subtlety, not many blooms can beat this.

At first I thought I had lost it amongst the mass of vegetation on the woodland floor. You can understand why. Another one that needs to rapidly form a clump.


Primula 004 Wm[1]

Primula vulgaris


From the unusual to the commonplace. The wild primrose is everywhere right now.

In drifts all around the garden..


Primula 005 Wm[1]


.. and on the Devon banks which line the country lanes.

Alongside the drive it rubs shoulders with other wildflowers, like these violets.


Camellia 005 Wm

Camellia (inherited, variety unknown)


Last month I included a shot of a single bloom. Here is the whole shrub, still going strong.

It is a ‘rescue’ Camellia. When we arrived here we found it languishing in a tiny pot, a spindly little thing with chlorotic leaves. It has thrived planted out in our slightly acidic soil.


Chaenomeles 002 Wm[1]

Chaenomeles (inherited, variety unknown)


…coming to an end


Azalea 003 Wm[1]

Azalea (inherited, variety unknown)


… coming next.


Geum Flames of Passion 002 Wm[1]

Geum ‘Flames of Passion’


The Geums are just starting out too. I do love these plants. Mounds of foliage provide excellent ground cover and they flower on and off for months.


Geum Lemon Drops 003 Wm[1]

Geum ‘Lemon Drops’


Tulip 001 Wm[1]

Tulip (inherited, variety unknown)


I have been bemoaning, to the point of boredom I know, my lack of Spring bulbs.

Well look what I found.

The photo shows off their good side.. there are beak marks on the back of one. I caught Mr P in the act.


Tulip 002 Wm[1]

Tulip (inherited, variety unknown)


And it gets even better.. this looks like a species to me but I have no idea which one.

Delicate white tips and a flash of blue at the base. It has appeared in a clump of transplanted grape hyacinths.


Erysimum Bowles Mauve 001 Wm[1]

Erysimum Bowles Mauve


Three purchases this month. They’ve gone into gaps in the newly renovated terraces for, I hope, a more cottage garden feel.


Armeria maritima Armada Rose 001 Wm[2]

Armeria maritima Armada Rose



Lithodora diffusa Heavenly Blue 001 Wm[1]

Lithodora diffusa Heavenly Blue


Spring has sprung!




Linking to Carol and Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens, where you will find other April bloomers from around the world.



The Leaning Tower Of Peas


Weeding 001 Wm[1]

Hairy bittercress*



It’s been a busy old week and I am cream crackered. Still, it’s Friday. Wine night. It could be worse.

We have been trying to get the veggie garden ready for planting. I don’t know how the weeds manage it but some, like the Hairy bittercress* above, are flowering already and getting ready to seed. This is bad news. The lightest touch or gentle breeze is enough to propel their progeny up to a metre from the parent plant. Once you have it you will never be without it. The bloomin’ stuff is everywhere.


Raised beds 001 Wm[1]


But we have made progress.

I’d better admit it’s the royal ‘we’ with respect to the new raised beds. I love to see them looking like this, so full of promise for the season ahead. The only thing better is to have them groaning with delicious things to eat.


Nematodes 001 Wm[1]


The nematodes are out of the fridge. And not before time. Veggie patch preparation got completed just two days ahead of their use-by date.

Whilst Mike may be breathing a big sigh of relief he has clearly forgotten that I actually signed up for a two part programme.. in three weeks’ time a further batch will arrive. Trouble is, as I was late applying the first lot, the second will need temporary storage facilities too.

They look like fine, if slightly damp, wholemeal breadcrumbs. I simply carved up the mixture and sprayed it on to each bed in turn. 30 million nematodes unleashed on a seek and destroy mission for slugs, not that I was counting.




But what of the peas?

Last year I used bamboo canes tied into wigwams as the method of support. And it was a nightmare. The plants grow wider as they get taller, the conical structure operates in reverse. After several weeks of flopping about in the wind the whole thing collapsed.

It needs a Plan B.

There are plenty of neat solutions available to buy, with a pretty price tag too. I thought we could construct something and drew out a rough plan. Mike used poles left over from the gabion and some old stock fencing we also had spare.


Pea supports 002 Wm[1]


So should I have drawn attention to the fact that the nearest support was leaning over to one side?

Apparently not. Toys were seen to depart the pram and there was talk of dismantling and rebuilding from scratch. Thankfully Mike is never in a huff for long and over lunch a compromise was found. I would bring to bear my not inconsiderable weight, now enhanced by half a pizza and a banana, and he would hammer in a wedge.





*EDIT: As it turns out, it’s actually the very similar Wavy bittercress. It’s all in the number of stamens. Under a magnifying glass the plants also have hairs on the lower stems whereas Hairy bittercress, ironically, does not.



Stand By Your Beds..


Pheasant 015 Wm[1]


Now, my experience of lady pheasants is neither long nor exhaustive. But I had thought they tend to be shrinking violets, preferring to stay within the shrubby undergrowth, rarely seen.

Isn’t it the males who do noise and all the prancing about?

Possibly not.

First spotted having a good old scout around at Ptolemy’s favourite Flappy Place, our latest arrival then came strutting along the garden path, up the steps and across to the bird table.

She paused only briefly in her journey to glare at us through the kitchen window before marching on straight through the previously floriferous Geum ‘Leonard’s Variety’ and off down the terrace wall.




The boys have gone into hiding.

The new Mrs P has all the demureness of Nora Batty. All she needs now is a broom.



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