Saturday, January 03, 2009

Big Plans

My garden is in a bit of a state. The hedges have grown to Empire State Building heights, we have sycamore and ash limbs blocking most of the sunlight, and there is a problem with overcrowding. Two years ago, we pulled half of the shrubs and trees out to make room, but it's still a mess, so I've hired someone to help me get it sorted.

The hedge:

I'm not sure what kind of evergreen this is, but it grows like kudzu. We keep having it cut back and every year it seems to double in size, so this year I'm having it taken back by 2/3rds. That'll teach it.

The trees:

Completely out of control -- and you can see the shade we're getting from the hedge opposite. This hedge will also be cut back to nothing, and I've instructed the tree surgeon to lop off anything growing above a 45 degree angle. The overhang must go!

A general sorry state:

I'm not sure why we need all of those 'decorative' trees. See how close they're planted to other things? I think the previous owner of the house was going for a 'mature' look by planting lots of things. It didn't take long for the trees and shrubs to start choking each other. We've taken out a lot, but there is more that needs to go.

The tree surgeon is going to cut and stack all usable wood for us. I'd like to get a woodburning stove installed this summer, so keeping the wood makes sense. I would also like to plant lots of brambles to intertwine with the hedges. I don't enjoy vegetable gardening, but growing fruit is great, so a couple more fruit trees will also go in.

Lastly, I am desperate to set up a free-ranging area for the hens. As it stands, the garden isn't secure enough for them (and the farmer behind us has lost at least 25 hens, ducks, and turkeys to foxes in the last year), and I want them to be safe.

So big plans for a crumbling garden!


PG said...

Quick word of warning - if you are going to burn your evergreen cut-offs, they need to season for at least a year, to let the sap dry out - burning unseasoned pine/leyllandi type wood can lead to nasty flammable deposits in your pipe/chimney, as they are very sappy when green and when it burns, it goes up with the smoke and cakes on the flue or whatever you have. Last winter we burned nothing but lleyandi, lots of it, given to us for free by someone who had just cut a tree down - and we didn't know this. Until we had a little chimney fire last autumn, and the firemen told us.

Anonymous said...

Great idea to grow more fruit trees in the cleared areas! We prefer useful plants to ornamental ones. :) It makes your heart sing when you harvest the fruits from your own trees.

Have you thought about using electric fencing for the chickens' free-range area? It worked quite well for us against dogs and raccoons, etc.

gracefruit said...

G, I remember reading about your fire. Yikes! I didn't realise it was the evergreens that gave you trouble. We're only planning to burn the ash and sycamore, and only after the wood's been in the shed for a few months. The brash from the evergreens will be burnt in the garden and then used to counteract the chicken poo.

Teresa, I love making jams and things, so fruit makes sense. I'll support the local economy and continue to get the organic boxes from Mollinsburn.

We'll definitely be looking at some electric fencing for the hens. Most of the fox attacks last year took place during the day. I guess it's a myth that they only strike at night.

Anonymous said...

Definitely a myth as we've seen foxes roam about during the day (and foxes got our friends' chickens during the day). Good luck!

madpiano said...

don't plant brambles - there is no need, they come all by themselves and if you are not big into gardening (like being out there every day removing the shoots) you will have nothing but Brambles left in there. Honestly, Brambles and Bindweed (although pretty and draught resistant) are the bane of my life in my garden !!!! In the summer I swear I can watch the brambles grow - the bindweed is more sneaky and only grows when we are not looking ;-)

If you need any saplings (don't worry, any part of the plant will root, no matter how small and how long the post takes), I can send you plenty. But I do have to admit, the berries taste nice, when picked above the height of a fox's leg.....

gracefruit said...

MP -- we already have a few blackberry brambles growing, so perhaps I'll leave them alone to do their thing. We want to plant some loganberries and raspberries along side them. More for jam!

The idea is to use the vines as fencing within the hedges and keep them cut back yearly. The more tangled they become, the better.

Sue N said...

Hi, have you come across Omlet, suppliers of double-skinned plastic coop with integral fox-proof run. There are two sizes - an Eglu for 2 - 4 med sized hens depending on the length of the run and the larger Eglucube (similar to mine) which house up to 10 med-sized chickens. Although they are not the cheapest I highly recommend them for the quality housing, ease of cleaning and security.

Their website is:-
Have a look and see what you think.

Sue Nicholls

gracefruit said...

Hi Sue -- I have a purple Eglu currently, and we're trying to decide if we want another Eglu or a Cube to accommodate the new hens when we get them. I like the Eglu a lot because I can clean it without help. The Cube looks like a project!