Sunday, 28 August 2016

Pleached Trees - Higher Privacy Solution

As you are aware we have had the new fence put in and are trying to find some ways to gain some privacy back, the new garden fence.

Today I took the boys on a trip to one of my favourite places to look at trees and plants. English Woodlands located at Cross in Hand, East Sussex. We brought our laurel plants from them about 4 years ago, they were extremely good plants healthy, strong and have since flourished. As a nursery, they helped us choose what we needed and even told us to buy smaller ones as they would grow so fast, saving us money.

I have been looking online and wondered if pleached trees maybe an answer to our height issue. What they should do is bring height to the fence but still allow light in. Now these are by no means a cheap and as always I am not sure if Mr MC&W is going to like them.

So what is a pleached tree you ask?, to be honest, I only found out when frantically on google looking for solutions for the new fence. A pleached tree is where some clever people train the branches of the tree onto a framework and then interweave the new growth so you get the look of a narrow hedge. This is highly skilled work and looks amazing. I love the fact they have these beautiful trunks leading up to the interwoven branches.

My mission was to have a look at what they had and a chat with someone who knows more about them than my internet research. On arriving I could see the trees at the bottom of the nursery so we made our way down.

This is what I found:

Carpinus betulus - Hornbeam - This is a native tree to Britain and from my reading can tolerate soil that's maybe not the best. It will change leaf colour in the autumn to a golden yellow and will hold onto some leaves. Though a very hard winter, it will loose all leaves. I love the look of this as it looks so natural and country garden.

Carpinus betulus - Hornbeam  

Photinia serrulata - Red Robin - They are an evergreen so we will get all year coverage. It is the new growth that is red in colour. This would have to be maintained at least twice a year and would need the soil to be improved. Though I planted a red robin in our last garden in thick clay soil that had not in any way been improved and it just took off. But would not want to risk these with the same behaviour.

This show not Pleached version but more of the colour of the leaves

Prus calleryana Chanticleer - This is, in fact, an ornamental pear, it will give us flowers in the spring and then the leaves turn into a strong red in the autumn. What is appealing about this is I like to see the changing of the seasons and also its one of the last trees to lose it leaves and one of the first to grow them back. Though I think we would have to improve our soil as they prefer well draining and we have clay!!! Another area of research I will need to do.

Loving the green leaves but a little messy 

Stunning glossy leaves and the flowers I am sure would be very pretty

Tilia americana - This has been the hardest plant to find out much about, I loved the colour and look of the leaves, they are a beautiful light green and we would get white flowers mid summer. The leaves turn yellow in the winter and do fall from the tree. Reading what I can find out about this tree is it will tolerate clay soil and the flowers are fragrant. This has been hard to read about and would certainly be unusual.

This is such a different look, which I really like and has great coverage already

I just love these leaves such an amazing colour

At the moment I must say I am liking each one for a different reason, I need to create some hybrid version of them all. The other concern is maintaining them, this would be too complicated for me so I have contacted the gardeners we use for the larger jobs. He has a tree surgeon as part of his team and has experience of maintaining Pleached trees. I think this would be a job I would get them to do until we were happy with the look. This has to be factored into the financial side as the costs would be on going. So off to show Mr MC&W and see if this was what he was thinking. If not we are back to the drawing board.

But I have a few more ideas that I need to look into. I need to look at some climbers and I know a nursery that sells the most beautiful climbing roses and the most amazing cakes.
A Cornish Mum

Admissions Of A Working Mother

A Cornish Mum

Mudpie Fridays
Quite Frankly She Said Sunday Best

Friday, 26 August 2016

Meal Plan Saturday 27th August 2016

It has been very hot here in the south East over the last week, meaning that non of us have really wanted to eat. 

The chicken satay its safe to say we will not be having again. I like it when someone else makes it but not made by me.

The potato Muffins were good to try but very dull. We will have again but they need extra cheese, ham and flavourings. I will try these again with some major changes.

As its bank holiday weekend I want to have a little rest from cooking so some easy meals have gone into the plan.

Saturday - Curry this is a ready meal but as we are still watching the food we eat this will be a healthy eating version. Boys will have nuggets, chips and peas.

Sunday - Another ready meal, tesco had a lovely lamb dish with crushed new potatoes and loads of green veg. The boys will have roasted gammon with roasted potatoes and veg

Monday - Mr MC&W and I will be trying venison burgers with a few cheeky chips. The boys will have pasta with tomato sauce.

Tuesday - our favourite madhouse carbonara

Wednesday - hassle back potatoes with a tomato sauce and veggies. I have never made these but they look interesting.

Thursday - fish finger sandwiches again these are new to our family but worth a try.

Friday - another new idea risotto balls. 
Quite Frankly She Said Sunday Best
A Cornish Mum

A Cornish Mum

Saturday, 20 August 2016

The New Garden Fence

We have done something really rather dramatic to our garden. The problem is this, it was not meant to be quite such a big change as it has ended up being. Would you like to see what we have been up to?

We had one fallen fence panel that haf to be replaced, in order to do the work we needed to ask next door for permission to go into their garden. When I popped round to ask we opened one huge can of worms. I was led round to be shown the state of the whole fence, this has never been mentioned to us and I come home feeling rather shell shocked. We knew this had to sort this out.  I could see why she was fed up, the fence was a mess and brambles were growing through, but it had never been mentioned to us. Anyway lets move on from that shall we, Mr MC&W and I found a bottle of wine and rant to each other eased the the pain and we moved forward with the task of sorting it out.

We had just put in a new patio and this shows our messy but privacy protecting hedge.

Here we had a larger boarder put in and removed the conifer

Around came our gardener who does all our larger work, to price up getting rid of all the dreaded brambles, the old fence and to put up a delightful new one. Then we can all be happy neighbours again.

The day of the work came round, it was a beautiful summer morning.  Three of them set to it, pulling brambles, nettles and the old broken fence out. I can not tell you how hard these guys worked, I made sure I provided plenty of tea and encouragement.

The start of the day

Just a few brambles

After a few hours all the area was cleared and the posts were ready to go in. I think we had three large bags of garden waste.

This took all day to do, the guys did not stop. After all the clearing they then were digging holes and concreting the new posts in and making sure the everything was level.

Below is the finished fence, I love this fence as it looks pretty natural and I hope provides a good backdrop for our neighbour. We made sure the border curved round so it looks like it has always been there. We left for the moment a couple of shrubs that should come back, problem is I can not remember what he told me they were!!!

The plants that are to me sticks poking out of the ground

Our slight (I use the word lightly) issue is, we are a very private family. We liked the messy hedge, it was a wildlife haven and it meant we had privacy and now we do not. Please do not get me wrong, our neighbours are delightful and we are very lucky. But we like to potter about in the garden with out people looking in on us, Mr MC&W is 6"6 which adds to the privacy issues. As he can see above most fences, I am 5"1 not effected so much and look confused when he complains.

All that's left a few shrubs that have been cut right back and my arch nemesis a conifer. I detest conifers, no rhyme or reason to this its just I do not like them.

So the next few posts I will be looking at privacy and how we can get this back. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to start again, but I am also filled with fear that maybe I am not up to such an enormous task.

A Cornish Mum

Mudpie Fridays
Quite Frankly She Said Sunday Best

Friday, 19 August 2016

Meal Plan Saturday 20th August 2016

The boys have been doing so well on trying new meals and the healthier diet for Mr MC&W and I has been a success. I was shocked by how much I do not miss bad snacking and the desserts we used to have were so full of calories.

Though OB does not like noodles which surprised me as he loves spaghetti. He has come so far as he will now try new food and that's all I can ask of him.

Saturday - Cajun Chicken with homemade chips - this again is from the Hairy Bikers Diet Book I will try the boys on it too

Sunday - Sausage Pasta, chili and sweet tomatoes - this is from Jamie Oliver's Healthy Eating book and looks really nice. The boys will have the sausages with roast potatoes.

Monday - Savoury Pancakes found these on BBC site and they look tasty and different

Savoury Pancakes

Tuesday - Simply roasted cod with plain rice and mixed veggies the boys love this simple dish as do I  because it's so easy to do

Wednesday - Bacon and Potato Muffins - found these and they look amazing, boys hate bacon so will do ham instead

Bacon and potato muffins

Thursday - Chicken Satay - I have no idea how this will be received but want to give it a go. I will serve the sauce in a bowl in the side

Cheeky chicken satay

Friday - some kind of meatball sub - there were lots on line but not one I really like so will make simple little meatballs and and a passatta sauce then serve on crusty rolls with some cheese. A bit of a make it up as you go. Will post if it works out.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Menu Plan Saturday 13th August 2016

We have had busy old week with hospital appointments, dentist visits and a few play dates mixed in. This week is not so busy which is good in my books.

Mr MC&W and I are still trying to watch what we are eating in terms of a bit of calorie counting and generally being more aware of the food we eat, but with out going mad.

We have a few new meals for the boys this week but they have been doing very well on new food and I am feeling we need to change things up a bit or it gets rather dull.

Saturday - From the Hairy Bikers diet book we are having sweet and sour chicken. I will try the boys on this!!!! But a simpler version.

Sunday - Jamie Oliver's healthy eating cookbook we are having a lentil Bolognese style dish. The boys will have roast chicken.

Monday - Spaghetti with a tomato sauce with ham and green beans. Most families would have the ham in the sauce my children hate it so its ham on the side

Tuesday - Mini tarts with salad


Wednesday - Jacket potatoes with Tuna Mayo

Thursday - Mozzarella pearls, tomato and lettuce salad with ciabatta croutons

Friday - Sweet and Sticky Noodles from BBC Good Food

Sweet and Sticky Noodles

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Meal Plan Saturday 6th August 2016

We enter week three of the summer holidays, my wine consumption has been increasing by the day. Mr MC&W is about to have the week from hell with Southern Rail being on strike, not sure if he will be eating with us or having to stay in London.

Saturday - The adults are having a burger  from Jamie Oliver's new healthy eating cookbook. Using mince mixed with beans and wholemeal rolls, wow get us. The boys are having Spag Bol

Sunday - Again the adults are having a Jamie Oliver healthy eating meal (can you tell I got a new cookbook). It is a healthy Chicken Kiev. Boys will have roast chicken breast with roast potatoes and lots of veggies.

Monday - OB has his three monthly hospital apt, he is very scared as last time he was very sick when we went to hospital. So I allowed him to choose so we are having Pizza and Chips as he deserves it.

Tuesday - Chicken Curry 

Wednesday - Gnocchi with a simple cream sauce served with fine beans, mushrooms and sweetcorn

Thursday - Mac and Cheese with broccoli on the side 

Friday - Fish Chips and Peas this is ATM choice.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Digging ivy and brambles

It's safe to say I am shattered, I have collapsed on the sofa watching the Olympics and wanting a drink but no energy to get one.

I have spent the last couple of hours digging the most horrible soil. I started this job yesterday and continued today (to be honest I think it's going to take some time). The area is under two trees and is full of ivy, brambles along with nettles and too many weeds to mention. 

This is the sort of digging that you can not get the fork back up as its so full of dense roots. I have done dig number one to get a lot of the basic weeds out. The area is all but clear on the surface, but underneath is a world of hurt.

I am going to go back over the whole section again and re dig and re weed but I know there is no way I will be able to get all the roots out. Some of the ivy roots are huge.

Not a tree a root

This week I will be investigating what I can do to improve the soil and try and break down the roots.

It's a wonderful area that I think can look beautiful just needs some attention and careful thought about plants. 

I will also contact the gardener who helps us out in the big jobs to get his tree surgeon out to work on the trees to allow some more light into the garden. 

I will return with a post on some things to try and in the mean time I am going to do some more digging and more weeding and I think a glass of pimms may help me, cheers.
A Cornish Mum

My Random Musings

Friday, 5 August 2016

Planting my own Hanging Baskets

I have a bit of a guilt secret, I love bright and colourful hanging baskets. We have always brought them pre planted from the garden centre, but this year I decided to be brave and plant my own up.

I went to our wonderful local nursery Staverton in Halland. They have a large selection of plants and have a whole area all labeled up for hanging baskets and containers.

As I have no real idea what plants to buy I headed straight for this section. I had three hanging baskets and three wall baskets that needed to be designed and planted up. As I looked around a sense of panic arose and I kind of went plant blind. I was just blankly looking at plants, picking them up and putting them down.

I needed to focus my thoughts, I realised colour combination would be best, I decided each one would have a colour theme of its own. Then I would have an an abundance of colours but at least they would match in each basket.

Yellow and white x 2 but differing plants
Oranges and whites
Pinks and purples 

So off I went choosing plants, I made sure the hanging baskets had ones that trail and a couple that are upright so I get height into the basket. It was great, now I was concentrated on what I was looking for, I could read the labels and know exactly what would work or not. I also had the help of my five month old baby in his carrier, to ask for his opinions on my plant selections. My next concern was number of plants, I got about 6-8 for the hanging baskets and between 4 and 6 for the wall baskets. Again this was a bit of a guess.

I went home with a boot full of plants and a sinking feeling that I could kill a lot of money if this did not work.

Tea made and baby in his pushchair, I took out my empty baskets and filled them half full with the compost then arranged the plants. I found this part hard, getting the soil around all the plants and keeping them in place and not to break them. But with lots of handfuls of compost I seemed to get there. I had to take my gloves of for this part and it was actually fun getting properly dirty hands.

Messy but fun

I am genuinely amazed at how well they have done and feel a sense of pride in the fact I have done this myself.

Trust me if I can do it I am sure you can give it a go. I will write soon a break down on how each one worked and what I will change next time.

Below are a few pictures and the plants I used.

Yellow and whites:

The hanging basket the flowers are Petunia Surfinia in Yellow and Snow

So pretty and a much paler yellow than the other baskets that are very bright.

The wall basket the flowers are Bacopa Guliver White and Bidens Golden Glory

This yellow and white are so happy.

The orange based hanging basket:

Lantana Camara Lucky Red Flame is the slightly taller plant, the trailing plants are Million Bells this is a Calibrachoa (mini petunia) Cracking Fire and the white ones are Calibrachoa Calita Double White

I loved all the orange and so glad I could get a basket full of them.

The pinks and purples hanging basket

Two taller Aztec Verbena in Violet, the trailing are Bacopa Topia Blutopia these are the small little soft purple flowers and Calibrachoa Calita Rose the darker pinky trailing flowers

Can not beat pinks and purples all together.

Purple wall basket 

The purple wall basket is made of one plant only Osteospermum Purple 2012 they can deal with shade which is good as this area does not get as much sun.

So pretty and does not mind shade a real winner I found here.

The red wall basket

A couple of Upright Geranium Scana Julie Purple Red then below a mix of Aztec Verbena Dark Red and Calibrachoa Calita Deep Red 

Reds big and bold much needed when the sky's are grey.
Quite Frankly She Said Sunday Best

A Cornish Mum
My Random Musings