Polar Expedition


The bank 061 Wm


early August


The bank 060 Wm


early July


More a case of “Dr Livingstone I presume” than Scott of the Antarctic but, notwithstanding, I made it to the pole. The telegraph pole. My target for the month. And, in keeping with any polar expedition worth its salt, not without challenges..


Danger of Death 002 Wm


The pole conquered and this particular adventurer safely returned to tell the tale I am nevertheless tardy with the end of month post. Again. Life’s like that at the moment. The plasterers are fitting our job into an already busy schedule, turning up whenever rain stops play on their outside work. For better or worse there’s been a lot of rain lately. Yesterday Mike decided to lift one of the floorboards in the bedroom and another chunk of wall came out with it. Isn’t it lucky there’s a stock of ready mixed haired mortar out on the drive. I wonder if the professionals will notice the homespun repair? A rethink of the design has come about with decisions that still have to be made becoming ever more urgent. Where are the electrical sockets going to go and the ‘tails’ for the radiators? And then there are requests from the builders. Could we just go out and source slate for the fireplace hearth and a nice bit of oak for a new mantel shelf?

I will get back to a more regular blogging schedule, eventually. Honest!


Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' 004 Wm


Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’


I digress. Between the rain and perusal of plumbing suppliers’ websites I’ve cleared another strip of land about eight feet wide and, allowing for a dogleg created by the presence of a hydrangea bush, from the drive right down to the very precipice of the Precipitous Bank.


The bank 063 Wm


The hoses are part of the irrigation system. They’ll soon disappear when the area is planted.

The berberis in the foreground is the latest recipient of my now standard renovation prune hack back to within six inches of its life. It will resprout. They always do. And hopefully I can keep it within bounds this time. What I should have done though was to clear up all the prunings. That would have been the sensible thing now wouldn’t it? Certainly before going on to dig out a truly humongous fern?  The fern removal method of choice, especially if the Under Gardener is acting Under Plasterer and therefore temporarily unavailable, is leverage. With a garden fork strategically placed on the uphill side I can apply all of my weight to the handle and force the rootball downhill and out of the ground. It works exceptionally well until one of the tines hits a rock and the fork is jolted, unexpectedly, to one side. The gardener, with all of her weight resting on said fork, is hurled to the ground landing on her knees dead centre of all those berberis prunings she really, really should have moved. I am still extracting the thorns two weeks later.


The bank 064 Wm


It’s not much fun working on the precipitous edge either, especially when the earth is slippery after rain. But it does give a pleasant view back across this most recently developed bit of the garden.


Chaenomeles 005 Wm


Chaenomeles, variety unknown


Along the way a number of plants have been rescued from the forest of weeds now taller than me. Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, two grasses and this ornamental quince, even producing an out of season bloom by way of thanks.


Hydrangea 025 Wm


The aforementioned hydrangea was moved from the terraces some three years ago. In those days it was bright pink. In its new location it seems to have decided that purple is the way to go.


Arrhenatherum bulbosum variegata 002 Wm


Arrhenatherum bulbosum variegatum

Described as a low growing grass, on the terraces it knew no bounds and shot up to a metre high in a single season. Perhaps unsurprisingly, relocated to a position where it really needs to be tall it has reached the lofty height of.. oh, all of a foot. Being nibbled to the ground by the rabbits in Spring may not have helped the cause.




So. How do you follow an expedition to the pole?


The bank 062 Wm


Why, a saunter into the bramble patch of course. Next target is half way to the tree.

Lovely. Not.


Linking with Helen’s End of Month View at The Patient Gardener. Click through to see what other gardeners are up to this month. With luck they won’t all be picking berberis out of their knees..


2017-10-26T10:46:47+00:00August 4th, 2016|Tags: , |


  1. justjilluk August 4, 2016 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Adventure playground springs to mind. Well done – yet again !

    • Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:04 pm - Reply

      Or an assault course. I should hire it out for army training.

  2. New Moons For Old August 4, 2016 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    Hi, Jessica. Quite the scramble! Are you sure that’s a telegraph pole, though? “Danger of Death” is usually fixed to electricity poles in this neck of the woods. I hope you’re getting wayleave payments for it, either way?

    • Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:10 pm - Reply

      It’s both. It carries all the utility cables from one side of the drive to the other, a sort of spur off the main network because we’re a distance from the road. For that reason I doubt it attracts any wayleave, I certainly haven’t seen any!

  3. Backlane Notebook August 4, 2016 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    It’s looking great and the plants must be over-joyed to have clearer ground and more light. But gosh hard work although rewarded by the quince in flower.

    • Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:16 pm - Reply

      The rescued plants are looking a bit sorry for themselves but with light, space and water over the rest of the season hopefully they should come back as normal next year.

  4. Freda August 4, 2016 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    Brava Jessica! I’m exhausted just reading..I hope you sometimes get to just sit and enjoy.

    • Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:18 pm - Reply

      I should make more time for that!

  5. Mark and Gaz August 4, 2016 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    The tranquillity of your garden defies how busy you guys have been! Decisions, decisions!

    • Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:19 pm - Reply

      Too many decisions. It’s doing my head in.

  6. bumbleandme August 4, 2016 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Oh how I sympathise!! I’ve given up gardening/jungle work for now to concentrate on the house, but as the weed flowers turn to seed, I’m increasing conscious I need to get out there, or they’ll be double the trouble next year!! Onwards and upwards (quite literally!) forever in the persuit of a beautiful weed free garden!! Xxx

    • Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:27 pm - Reply

      Weeds are pretty good at reseeding themselves aren’t they. They’re catching me up as I progress into new areas. And of course the more I clear the harder it is to keep the ‘done’ bit maintained.

  7. Kris P August 4, 2016 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    Forget the shoe cleats – you need to wear armor on that slope! With all you’ve got going on inside, I’m impressed by how much you got done on your precipitous bank. My own slope is in a woefully sorry state as I’d reduced the irrigation level down there before the horrific heatwave hit in June. I’m seriously considering replanting it from scratch in the fall.

    • Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:35 pm - Reply

      I have three more berberis in my sights but this time to remove them completely. The difficulty will be getting them out without hauling half the bank down with them. I may have to compromise my principles a bit and use a chemical solution to kill the stumps. Be careful on your slope. It looks just as steep, if not more so, than mine.

  8. jannaschreier August 4, 2016 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    Having now had the great honour of seeing your amazing garden IRL (an acronym I learnt yesterday and which makes me feel very young in using) I can honestly say that ‘Danger of Death’ is no exaggeration. I don’t know how you do it, especially when Berberis thorns are combined with those slopes! Your Arrhenatherum did make me laugh. Why, oh, why, do plants do this to us, when we lavish so much love and affection on them?!

    • Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:39 pm - Reply

      It happens so often too.. I move a plant to a position I think will suit it better and it does precisely the opposite of what I was expecting. Well the Arrhenatherum can stay where it is now. We’ll see what it does next year, rabbits permitting.

  9. Dorothy Borders August 4, 2016 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    Good luck with all your future expeditions. Love that purple hydrangea!

    • Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:41 pm - Reply

      I’m thinking of buying a pith helmet.

  10. Helene August 5, 2016 at 3:11 am - Reply

    Oh my…..I get exhausted just looking at your photos, what an achievement getting done all you have completed so far! Good luck with your next expedition 🙂

    • Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:45 pm - Reply

      Thanks. It is pretty exhausting. I do a couple of hours each morning and then pack it in for the day and move on to something easier after lunch. Little and often seems to work!

  11. bittster August 5, 2016 at 3:42 am - Reply

    Brambles and barberries, I do not admire you having extracted plenty of barberry spines out of feet and fingers over the years. Brambles are horrible, but how is it possible that barberries can be so sharp!?

    • Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:47 pm - Reply

      Brambles are the worst. Some have developing fruit though, so I can dig and snack at the same time 🙂

  12. Jacqueline August 5, 2016 at 7:59 am - Reply

    So much to do, so little time …. a gardener’s life is such a busy one !!
    Our hydrangeas are all white or pink ……. we obviously don’t have an acid soil.

    • Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:51 pm - Reply

      The soil here appears to get progressively more acid the nearer to the woodland it is. I can use the hydrangeas as a personal pH chart! No proper blue yet though. Our neighbour has a blue one, so I’m still working on it.

  13. frayedattheedge August 5, 2016 at 8:32 am - Reply

    Sorry, still laughing at the thought of you removing thorns two weeks later!! Have a good weekend!

    • Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:54 pm - Reply

      I’m coming to the point of declaring war on berberis. I was going to keep them, but trimmed low. Even that is fraught, especially picking up the clippings. I’ve half a mind just to get rid of the lot of them.

  14. derrickjknight August 5, 2016 at 9:12 am - Reply

    More lovely shots. I’m surprised you have time to post at all. Have you tried pole dancing? 🙂

    • Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:55 pm - Reply

      I shall keep that in mind for next month’s title!

  15. Marian St.Clair August 5, 2016 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    I admire your stamina. I don’t know how you keep going, but it is coming around and looking well worth the effort. Your next bit looks even worse than the last, I’m afraid. Hope you find another treasure or two.

    • Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:57 pm - Reply

      I planted an Acer somewhere in there but the brambles grow so fast, they’ve completely overwhelmed it. I hope I can rescue it too.

  16. pbmgarden August 5, 2016 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    Love the purply hue of the hydrangea.

    • Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:59 pm - Reply

      I have a feeling it may be getting progressively more blue year on year. I shall have to take a photo next August and compare. It’s an interesting colour.

  17. Sue Garrett August 5, 2016 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    Our berberis was almost taken down to the ground and are back to six foot high. I don’t envy the fight with the bramble patch.

    • Jessica August 6, 2016 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      I started on the bramble patch today. Oh my. No kidding, I was pulling out stems 12 feet long.

  18. bitaboutbritain August 6, 2016 at 1:04 am - Reply

    Loved your descriptions. One day, when you’re old and grey, you’ll be looking back on this and laughing. Ok, maybe hysterically.

    • Jessica August 6, 2016 at 9:37 pm - Reply

      It amazes me that the men in white coats haven’t turned up already. Surely it must be any day now.

  19. smallsunnygarden August 6, 2016 at 8:51 am - Reply

    Oh, your poor knees! It’s always bad when you end up feeling that a particular plant just might have a personal vendetta with you… 😉

    • Jessica August 6, 2016 at 9:41 pm - Reply

      I had been thinking that I would keep the berberis trimmed and low. But that’s easier said then done. I have to admit I’m now looking at them with something more permanent in mind. Over here it’s called Root Out..

  20. Island Threads August 6, 2016 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    I admire you and all the hard work of digging out the bramble, so different to people like Beth Chatto who said they hired a digger and truck which took umpteen truck loads away, to me people like you are ‘real’ gardeners, people like Chatto are directors, just giving others orders, no time for them,
    the change in hydrangea colour is probably due to the terraces being more limy/alkaline from the stone and cement, the slope being more acid from the conifer and deciduous leafmold in the soil,
    at least you are making progress, I didn’t on the rose border mainly due to other things needing attention but I did make some good progress on the alder garden which I gave up on as my EoMV a few years ago, Frances

    • Jessica August 6, 2016 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      I wish I had Beth Chatto’s budget but as I haven’t it’s the hard graft option. And boy was it hard today, an unaccustomed hot day. Too hot for trousers but shorts and brambles (plus horse flies) is really not a good combo. Back to ‘normal’ temperatures tomorrow. Sleeves, trousers, wellies. You’re right about the hydrangea colour. I hadn’t thought of the lime in the cement.

  21. stephanie young August 6, 2016 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    Jessica the Brave…you need your own television show!!!

    • Jessica August 6, 2016 at 9:57 pm - Reply

      Any reasonable offers considered..

  22. Brian Skeys August 6, 2016 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    I could say it is enough to drive you up the pole, but that would be a bit predictable! Love the new colour of the hydrangea.

    • Jessica August 6, 2016 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      Except that you would be right! It doesn’t have those metal foothold attachments though, I’d need to get a ladder.

  23. sustainablemum August 7, 2016 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    I am sorry I seem to have gotten a little behind on my reading here. It sounds like you have been having enough adventures to last us all a lifetime! I have been contemplating stripping wallpaper from our hall but reading your posts I am wondering if that is wise…….

    • Jessica August 7, 2016 at 9:23 pm - Reply

      With woodchip paper there is always the worry about what it was put there to hide. The stuff is in every room here, I just hope the rest of the house is a bit easier! Never again..

  24. Linda August 7, 2016 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    It’s hard to work indoors and out at the same time so I am impressed with what you’ve got done. And I’ve stuck myself with barberry prunings. Nasty!

    • Jessica August 10, 2016 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      It is nasty. Part of my inheritance. Woodchip indoors and berberis out.

  25. Chloris August 8, 2016 at 11:00 am - Reply

    I have done that berberis thing with discarded pyracantha cuttings. Ouch. But well done on getting the fern out. I know all about that leverage thing. I was told that the whole thing is quite easy it you create a fulcrum. Being told that by a bystander is very annoying. Because it’ s not easy at all, I felt like shoving the fulcrum where the sun doesn’ t shine.
    Your task inside and out seems never ending, I hope that you are enjoying it despite the challenges.

    • Jessica August 10, 2016 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      Bystanders can be extremely annoying, most especially the idle ones. It’s a blessing that I mainly garden alone. One’s less than decorous moments, of which there are many, are then shared with no-one but the birds.

  26. CherryPie August 10, 2016 at 1:14 am - Reply

    I can’t imagine working with all those difficult garden projects. I am daunted by the rather small area at the back of my garden. I do however have a plan 😉

    • Jessica August 10, 2016 at 9:48 pm - Reply

      Excellent. I shall look forward to seeing the plan come to fruition! You have more than I have. Mostly it’s a case of “that’s a nice plant, where shall I put it?”

  27. Peter/Outlaw August 10, 2016 at 5:22 am - Reply

    Oh my, you are as busy as ever doing so many projects. Your hard work is an inspiration! Love the “Danger of death” sign!

    • Jessica August 10, 2016 at 9:49 pm - Reply

      Very apt I thought. If the sign hadn’t been there already I might have bought one.

  28. Rick August 11, 2016 at 11:20 am - Reply

    You have really worked hard rd but by giving yourself targets you must have a tremendous sense of achievement as you complete each step.

    • Jessica August 11, 2016 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      Achievement and failure. I’ve lived my working life with targets and it’s hard to let them go!

  29. Cathy August 15, 2016 at 8:56 am - Reply

    Love the concept of a polar expedition!

    • Jessica August 15, 2016 at 9:38 pm - Reply

      This one was warmer!

I'd love to hear from you..