Spring has well and truly settled in here, with warm sunny days and relatively high temperatures of around 25degC. I've taken the chance to take a few days off, to try and get my head straight over a few things, and working on our garden has been the ideal way to spend time.
One of the very first things we did in the garden when we got here a few years back was to build this tyre planter. It was in a corner of the garden which is now more private, with trellised walls and a canopy roof, and the planter had become hidden.. it took a fair amount of effort to move it, and to try and replant it; fortunately succulents such as these Sedums are pretty tolerant of abuse.
The tyre planter now sits at the top of the path, near the bus door, and at the entrance to the secluded eating area. The perfect place for such a feature.
It's kinda hard to see, but at the centre of the planter is a baby Cordyline. Last summer my Dad had to remove a giant parent plant from his garden (one of the red varieties of Cordyline), as it's roots were causing structural damage to his garage. We rescued a few offshoots and only one survived. Now it's in a prime spot with room to grow.
In the corner of the secluded area, near where the tyre planter used to be, we've now planted a Passiflora (Passiflora Caerulea) that we got at a garden centre yesterday. I'm not keen on many of the climber plants yet the leaves and flowers on this one are more unusual and interesting, and it's both tolerant of shade and lower temperatures, making it ideal for the spot.
We've still a bit of work to do on the secluded area, but it's almost ready for barbecue season. The ground is real hard and needs to be levelled off a bit in the corner where the big planters were, and then we may swap the table and benches around with the sofa, which in turn will provide a more private area for relaxing and hanging out.
We moved the herb garden to this spot next to the bus during autumn last year, where it catches the morning the sun. It needed a bit of weeding as it'd been overrun by self-seeding Valerian leaves, and we planted some lemon Thyme and another Rosemary shrub.
We've gained a new bench, and this spot next to the bus is a morning sun-trap; ideal for enjoying the first coffee of the day.
We nabbed this abandoned ceramic double sink and have seeded Rocket on one side and mixed salad leaves on the other. (we're kinda keeping the edibles on one side of the garden - the morning sun is ideal for the veggies. The other side of the garden scorches!)
A second old sink has been put to use under the tap, and it's now surrounded by old hollow terracotta bricks, which were also hiding away in the now secluded corner.
I've potted up a variety of Sedums, Echeverias and succulents in the pots on this side of the garden. Some of them are plants I've propagated from cuttings, others we've found in garden centres recently. I used to have a largish collection of succulents and cacti in the flat in the London, and the balcony would overflow with them. It's heartening to be able to grow a few species outside again, especially given that the climate here is much more suited to these types of plants, and there are many more varieties available, as you'd imagine.
A friend on site found a discarded Opuntia plant a couple of weeks back, and together we broke the plant up into it's separate pads, to let them dry out for propagating. There's still a box of them waiting; even if only a quarter of them take we'll still have more than we need! This type of cactus is pretty common here, and I'm told this will likely fruit in this climate.. eventually. Opuntias are generally surprisingly hardy - I had about 3 different varieties growing on the balcony in London and they all survived even the snow without a flinch (though none of those ever bore fruit).
A few varieties of Sedum grow like weeds by the river, and yesterday the boys collected a few whilst out walking. Some of these are going to join a similar yet different variety growing around the Cordyline in the tyre planter.
Jimmy and Fi have been enjoying the spring, and are endlessly curious about all the changes in the garden, as cats tend to be.. Fi was spotted digging at the freshly dug soil, in true terrier dog style, attempting to catch bugs.
For my birthday earlier in the year I was gifted a rose bush, which has now been planted in a recycled washing machine drum. I've never really grown roses before, and I'm interested to see how well it fairs. Around it's base is yet another variety of trailing Sedum, that I'd grown from cuttings in the secluded corner. I think they'll appreciate being moved to a much sunnier spot.
I've one potential planter left, but we're not sure what to use it for. It's another piece of innards of the broken washing machine we took apart, this part being the support and mount for the drum. It's pretty big and will take a fair amount of soil, and methinks it will be ideal for growing garlic, or maybe even onions. Mind you, the last time we tried to grow garlic the snails did their worst.
Working on the garden has been a welcome break, and we're really pleased with how it's coming along. It's been good to think about something else; not about work, or any of the other anxieties circling in my head. That said, I really ought to get on an finish the last samples for Playful Woolly Toppers! Last week's photoshoot didn't happen and time is ticking on.