Six on Saturday: the Streamside and Other Projects

I got a shock looking through photos to try and find one which showed the overgrown streamside border because, at this leaner time of year, I had somehow forgotten how floriferous and leafy the garden is in summer! The one above was taken at the end of August but there was even greater abundance in the July view I considered; neither shows the streamside border very well, but one end of it is just visible under the pergola on the left of the photo. The (pumped) stream runs between the border and the grassy area, not that you can really see it because much of the border has filled out and spilled over to conceal it. Sandwiched between the paved area and the stream, the border has also become home to an unwelcome quantity of couch grass, and if you watched the end of month video last week you will have seen that work began last week to eradicate it and blitz the border as a whole.

As well as removing couch grass, the pretty but rampantly spreading Geum rivale was in for the chop, with clumps of persicaria and various grasses downsized and dormant clumps of astilbe and painted ferns rescued and replaced. Once the thinned out plants were replaced in the now empty border, any loose soil was swept up and sifted before replacement to avoid any snippets of couch grass sneaking back in. The task was not without mishaps (but fortunately with no dislodging of rocks or sending of loose soil into the stream), and saw me flat on my back like a stranded beetle at one point and left the Golfer hobbling all week with an extremely bruised foot after a slab he lifted broke in his hands and landed on it…ouch! But the end result was worth the pain and the effort, as you can now see the stream again!

Other tasks, in what must have been an especially busy week as I completely forget about posting a Wordless Wednesday picture, were minor and completely without mishap – more seed sowing and pricking out, cutting back clematis, ordering more (why not?) roses and other outstanding tasks like preventing the frequent falling over of these top-heavy galvanised containers, which would normally sit decoratively in the shrub border, by filling them with concrete to  add stability:

… and lifting the dovecot folly off its post to tackle removal of the remnants of the wasps’ nest which filled it last year, leaving the Golfer to make detours to get to the shed to avoid walking past it. The ‘entrance’ will then need to be discretely blocked to prevent it happening again:

By including several photos of the streamside border project, I must have already more than filled my SoS quota, so shall leave it at that for this week. Do visit our Saturday host Jon the Propagator to see his six and those of other bloggers who, I am sure, will have been dutifully strict in their counting.

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37 Responses to Six on Saturday: the Streamside and Other Projects

  1. What a lovely garden space you have created. I look forward to seeing more! (BTW, I’m rarely “dutifully strict” in my SoS counting, and haven’t been ousted out of the group yet! Ha!)

    • Cathy says:

      Thank you, and thank you for visiting – admittedly I rarely stick at just six photos anyway, but generally have 6 or so themes

  2. tonytomeo says:

    Dovecote folly is an interesting concept. When I was a kid, martin houses remained in some of the home gardens around the Santa Clara Valley. Some were on tall poles, as if they were still intended to accommodate the martins that chased other birds from the orchards that were removed to build all those houses decades earlier. Ranch architecture incorporated attic hood vents that resembled martin houses, particularly over garages. Of course, birds sometimes nested in them.

    • Cathy says:

      That’s really interesting, Tony, as I have seen pictures of those iconic structures, but did not know they were traditionally for martins (are they the housemartins we have in the UK, or a different type?). The Golfer wanted to build a full-size dovecot but as well as there not beong anywhere in the garden that would sensibly accommodate one I certainly did not want to encourage collared doves to nest in them as they are noisy and make a mess. They wouldn’t fit in this one which is possibly quarter scale, which is why I call it a ‘folly’

      • tonytomeo says:

        To this day, I STILL have no idea what a martin is. I know that they are not many of them left here. When I was a kid, I thought they were the same thing as the swallows, which they are closely related to. They either overwintered here, or returned earlier than the famous ‘return of the swallows’ (on Saint Joseph’s Day in San Juan Capistrano). Italian cypress were planted in vineyard for them to nest in. The cypress are so dense and narrow that they can provide many nesting sites without shading the vines much. I do not know why cypress were not planted in orchards too. I can barely remember a few of the martin houses, or bird apartments. One remained within view over the homes across the street from where I lived in high school. I do not know why they martins chased other birds away. They did not compete for the same food. A few mulberry trees grew around the perimeters of some of the orchards to distract the birds that the martins could not chase away.

        • Cathy says:

          Always interesting, Tony. Housemartins in the UK arrive around the same time as swallows but are easily distinguished by very different tails. They build their nests with mud and grass under the eaves of houses, hence their name. They often nest in colonies and may return to nests in future years

  3. Paddy Tobin says:

    You have the garden work well in hand.

    • Cathy says:

      Lockdown has given me the gift of Time, Paddy – a valuable commodity. Even just exercising via Zoom saves about 2 hours of travelling time a week, and the absence of activities that haven’t been able to function for the last year (although I shall be pleased to be doing them again in due course) means an extra 4 hours or so a week. It all adds up – and the garden benefits

      • Paddy Tobin says:

        Yes, we are not short of time at the moment. With good weather we are in the garden at ten, in for lunch, and out until five and this will extend with brighter and warmed days.

        • Cathy says:

          And I am probably not out till after luch, leaving the morning for other forms of exercise and other necessary tasks (none related to housework, I hasten to add!!). A big new project would bring an earlier start though, although no new plans as yet…

  4. Anna says:

    Oh getting shut of couch grass seemed to be a permanent feature of allotment life 😢 I detested it with a vengeance. I hope that you have succeeded in your mission Cathy, that you are fully upright again and that the Golfer’s poor foot has recovered. Exciting to think that our gardens will soon be greening and filling out again.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, you won’t miss that part of the allotment, Anna! I escaped my upturn without any after effects and the golfer today has finally been able to put a shoe on the affected foot so it is much less swollen but in no way fully recovered…but it will be by the time golf starte again on the 29th, I am sure!!

      • Anna says:

        Glad that you are both ok Cathy and will keep my fingers crossed that the Golfer can take to the greens when golf resumes. It must have been painful to say the least! xxx

  5. Cathy bringing the stream to light has been a hard and difficult job having to save the plants with their roots and replant them. She is very sorry for the golfer’s poor foot: that he recovers very soon. The result of the work has been magnificent, wonderful, divine: I love to see the stream run again, it is charming. Galvanized containers I like a lot, but standing with their weight empty must be a big problem. Cathy, now that spring is at hand, you have to plant something in them, please. Be very careful with the Palomar: clean the wasp nest well and cover the door well: the wasps made a nest for me in the rear-view mirror of the car, between the mirror and the rear-view mirror housing, Incredible! Take good care of yourself and the golfer, and keep yourself safe. Have a great week. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

    • Cathy says:

      My goodness, what a bizarre place for wasps to build a nest! The Golfer’s foot is nearly better, thank you

      • Poor golfer’s foot! Better neither in one place nor in another. And yes, the rear view mirror of my car was a very strange place: I made a video with my old mobile so that people would believe it: unfortunately the sim card of the mobile was damaged with the mobile and I lost everything. The wasp nests better well away in corners where you do not have to go or approach at all. I love your stream, the joy of the murmur of water has returned to your wonderful garden. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

  6. Wow, you’ve been busy! I really enjoy these posts to see projects in process, as well as before and after. Enjoy the spring days ahead!

    • Cathy says:

      It is some time since I have had anything other than a very minor project, and once I got started I really enjoyed it – maintenance projects are never as appealing as new ones!

  7. I love your stream! When you’ve mentioned it before I imagined that it marked the bottom boundary of your garden. How nice to have it run through the plot. Good job btw!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Allison – if you look on the map under The Garden tab, it will give you a better idea where it is. It takes advantage of natural changes in levels in the garden, dropping into an underground ‘reservoir’ before being pumped back up again. It took a lot of thought before it was constructed, but generally works quite well and looks reasonably authentic. Only real drawback is scooping leaves and apples out of it towards the end of the year – and I had no idea how much water could be lost from evaporation and bird activity! I would of course love a REAL stream!

      • It’s brilliant! Very well done. I’ll certainly check out your garden tab. I would love a stream too. We pump water about in two or three places for fountains and pools, but you are perfectly right about the surprising rate of evaporation. In fact we’ve currently stopped running one until we can get to grips with why it loses so much.

        • Cathy says:

          We have put all (!) of our water features on timers – from 10-4 approx – which cuts down potential water loss by three quarters. Birds splashing and drinking account for some loss in certain features too

          • That’s a v. good idea. Our troublesome one is like a smooth millstone with water continuously spreading across it’s surface. I think it evaporates very quickly from that surface, especially in wind (and it is in a draughty corridor). A timer might make it usable!

          • Cathy says:

            Is that the one you included in a photograph a little while ago, with a reflection? Or was that more of a pond? How big is the ‘reservoir’ for your feature (most of the water from our stream is in the reservoir when the timer is off)?

          • The one shown in my IAVOM post was our largest watering hole (a ~6m pond), which contains tons of water and is fine. I don’t think I’ve shown this particular water feature before. It was one of our first lockdown projects last year: digging out our leaky(? maybe it never was?) 1m square patio pool and replacing it with a ‘mill stone’ fountain and reservoir. The water tank is quite large and the ratio of cascading water to that stored is minuscule, but the surface area across the top stone is relatively large. I can see that you that your solution would help considerably though. We will have to try it. Thank you!

          • Cathy says:

            Yes, in that case it should make a big difference. – and I can certainly see that any wind will make an impact with a feature like that. And even though you might hear the water from an open window at times when there are other noises inside or you are asleep you won’t miss the sound when the pump is off. Good to know your VERY large pond doesn’t have a leakage issue though 😉

  8. Noelle M says:

    I too now realise where your streams runs, what a delight to have one. Looking back at what a area looks like at different times of the year is amazing. I love the way the seasons allow us to have such changing tableaux in our gardens, but then of course, we still enjoy and need to revamp areas.

    • Cathy says:

      If you look at my reply to Allison it tells you a little more. It’s one of the joys of the blog being able to quickly look back at a certain year, time of year, or feature. Seeing the photos from July/August were probably a more of a shock because there is pleasure to be had in this garden whatever the time of year, with or without the sheer abundance of summer

  9. Chloris says:

    I love the idea of a stream flowing through the garden. That was a job well worth doing, how satisfying. It looks fabulous.

    • Cathy says:

      It was worth it to get rid of the Geum rivale as well as the couch grass – it self-seeds everywhere, into the grass as well. I would of course love a ‘real’ stream, but this is not bad for a woman-made structure, and the liner is still fine after 15+ years. In the process of the revamp I have taken out 2 roses and am adding an alternative two – I would probably get withdrawal symptoms if I stopped buying roses!

  10. croftgarden says:

    I’d forgeotten about the stream, it’s lovely to see it restored. There is something very satisfying about restoring an overgrown and neglected part of the garden.

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