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OHIO in action

Victoria Plum blossom
Victoria Plum blossom

This week: OHIO in action; Pathway; Ready, Steady, Plant; Vernal Equinox;


I broke open the wall in the Top Orchard on Monday. Behind the large façade stones there are several cubic meters of small stones. Much as I suspected, the outer façade stones are just a retaining wall for all the small stones and other rubbish, which over the years has been piled up.

Breaking open the old wall
Breaking open the old wall

This is the classic “out of sight – out of mind”. However as I remodel the area I need to move them.

I have a use for an amount of small stones, as all weather paving, but as I assessed the problem I realised that I need to create the pathway before I start moving the stones. For speed I had thought about just digging them out and piling them up. This is OHIO in action.

Only Handle It Once is another of my mantras. closely followed by “Never Handle It More Than Necessary”. However there is no snappy acronym for the latter turn of phrase.

So this set me off on another work strand.


Pathway

It took less than a day to dig out the weeds around the old yellow plum. Then with a path width of 80 centimetres, I graded the soil so that rain will run into the bed around the plum, rather than into the work plaza area.

Creating a path
Creating a path

I have several lengths of plastic sheeting that I have neatly folded, so cut a 1.6 meter strip off one. This will be laid double as a weed suppressant with the stone pathway on top.

I do get frustrated some times because of a lack of space. Currently there are several heaps of large stones in the architectural storage area. These have been removed from buildings as I dismantled them. Each has been cleaned and is being kept to be used in a wall that will surround the old fold yard. But because of where one heap is, it encroaches onto where I want the path to go.

Laying the plastic membrane
Laying the plastic membrane

So I had to move a few of these stones, so I can lay the plastic sheeting in place. I’m lapping the sheeting under another small retaing wall, so that the rain gets to where it is needed. Starting building in the middle and working outwards us not the best recipe for success, but needs must.

Sheeting in position
Sheeting in position

With the retaining stones in place, I could start to move the pebbles for my path, only the’re not. After removing the external façade stones and cutting back the foliage, so I can now at least see my boundary, what I expected to be small stones were large and uneven.

Rubble and rubbish
Rubble and rubbish

They are no earthly use except as a foundation layer for a path. They look awful, are all uneven shapes and sizes and will just not work. I contacted my friend Cvjetko who made some phone calls and the result will be a delivery of a cubic meter of graded stones next week. Then I will just need to move them by wheelbarrow through the courtyard and down into the orchard to where I need them.

By the weekend I have finished digging out the foundations for the path, removing and saving the topsoil layer for plants. The first few loads of stone rubble have been moved to form the path foundations and they have been tamped down. At least all this stone rubble is easy to move, even if it is hard work.

Ready for the pebbles
Ready for the pebbles

The first length of plastic membrane has been laid and I’m only handling stuff once!


Ready, steady, plant!

With just under 10mm of rain overnight on Tuesday/Wednesday, the soil is now moist again. With warm days this week, nudging then exceeding +20ºC every day, the soil is warming and of course drying too.

I’ve taken the top covers off the citrus trees so they get direct sunlight light. After folding I packed them away until I will need them again at the end of November. I’ve left the side wall protection in place round the trees until they have acclimatised. They have been fully protected since December.

Boundary line
Boundary line

I’ve built 10 linear meters of retaining wall against my boundary, then moved the heap of soil recovered from the compost pile in behind. But first I had to remove all the large stones and lay in some underground irrigation.

This is the start of my garden project With the soil in place and tamped down, I started planting.

Retaining wall in place
Retaining wall in place

With almost 30 plants, shrubs and trees that have been over wintered either in the greenhouse or outside, I created a list of every type, its growth habit, eventual spread and height and growing preferences.

First into the ground were the Fox Tail lilies, Eremurus, followed by Spider lilies, Hymenocallis, which I grew in a pot last year. I also have some Autumn lilies that have gone into the same area.

I’ve repaired a wire mesh fence, in itself a task because of the stones. I needed my long wall drill again just to make a hole in the ground before I could drive the three meter post into place and wrap the wire round it.

Once that was fixed, I planted an unusual red Jasmin, Jasminum beesianum, and an Italian Honeysuckle. These are plants which like their head in the sun and their feet in the shade. So against the south wall, this should provide the optimum growing conditions.

I also have an Echium which has half a dozen new shoots. That has been planted at the base of the support pole.

Everything has been transferred to my master planting plan, so I know what plant and variety is where. It will take two or three years for this garden and the plants to develop and spread, but when they do, there will be lots to see and enjoy.

The postman called on Thursday with another gardening book. Designing with grasses by Neil Lucas.

Designing with Grasses
Designing with Grasses

With Xeriscaping in this area in mind I want to use grasses as artistic features. But I will also protect the soil with a weed barrier. I have had cardboard down on this bit of the old orchard for 12 months. It has prevented all but the most obnoxious deep rooted weeds, which could force their way through, from growing.

The soil here is poor quality, being sub soil from a nearby excavation, so after I build the ornamental pond, with a small wetland area, I’ll plant things like Japanese Blood grass, Imperata cylindrica.

Japanese  Bloodgrass
Japanese Bloodgrass

This is one of those grasses which can become invasive, but will actually grow in very poor soils, just as I have in this particular area.

With almost a dozen different grasses ready to plant, I want to use the book to plan a nice design. I have little experience with grass, save a traditional English lawn and with the weed variety, so this will be a new venture for me.

One shrub I planted two years ago has just produced it first bud. Do you recognise it?

Mystery flower bud
Mystery flower bud

Answer next week…


Vernal Equinox

Blossom continues to open. This week my Victoria plum has been in full blossom, followed by my cordon pear ‘Rana Moretini‘.

Rana pear
Rana pear

The pear has been attracting Carpenter Bees, Xylocopa violacea, to its flowers.

Carpenter Bee
Carpenter Bee

I saw the first Scarce Swallowtail butterfly, Iphiclides podalirius, just emerged, on the Victoria plum.

Scarce Swallowtail
Scarce Swallowtail

The Vernal Equinox (from the Latin: Ver =spring) was on Tuesday the 20th at 22:58, needless to say I didn’t stay up to watch!

Traditionally this is the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere. Practically here on Hvar, we are affected by the warm Adriatic sea and the first signs of Spring are noticeable by late January. Our last frost was 3rd January and now we are at the transition from late spring to early summer.

I had always thought that the two “Equinox” were the days of the year when there are exactly 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. Reading this week, I find that it is yet another miss-learned truth from school.

It’s all to do with how the moment of sunrise and sunset are measured. Viewed from earth, the sun appears as a disk. The moment the first pinpoint of sunlight appears over the eastern horizon, is taken as the moment of sunrise.

Moment of sunrise in Abu Dhabi
Moment of sunrise in Abu Dhabi

Sunset is when the last point of the sun’s disc disappears. (And by the way I’ve still never seen the “Green Flash“).

Because of the earth’s atmosphere bending (refracting) the light we see, the sun is still completely below the horizon when we first see it and when it disappears from view. That is of course when you can see the horizon. To the east we have a range of hills which surround Dol and our horizon is the Dinaric Alps, 70 kilometres away.

Equinox sunrise panorama
Equinox sunrise panorama

To the west we can see the sun disappear into the Adriatic sea. Few places on land have a completely flat horizon

Because the measuring point is the top of the disc rather than the centre, in short it means that although in theory at the equinox, day and night length are exactly equal, the reality and the variation based on your latitude makes the actual day length longer by 14 minutes at the equator and longer still, the further north or south you are. Another of those science myths debunked!

And that’s it for another week. The windows are open, warm evening air is drifting in, there are the sounds of kids playing basketball in the street and the felines are complaining because they haven’t had tea yet. NRC

5 Responses

  1. Elizabeth
    | Reply

    Magnolia! Xx

  2. Marcy
    | Reply

    Norman,
    Just wonderful. I love your pictures and the depth of discussion you provide.
    Thank you.

  3. Tony Griggs
    | Reply

    Great to see Norman. Spring is with you whilst autumn is with us in Australia! Enjoy the colours….

  4. Richard J Ellis
    | Reply

    Norm,
    Any drone photos, of your property, so we can get a overview of what is what? (Layout of the area)

  5. John Fox
    | Reply

    Really enjoy following what your doing Norman

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