This isn’t my idea of a hedge fund

IT has taken us two days, fuelled by the conspicuous consumption of Kit Kat and Picnic chocolate bars, but we have finished the first planting stage in our project to create a new garden at The Aged Parents’ home.

DIGGING IN...Arthur The Handy Gardener tackles the job of filling gaps in the hedge
DIGGING IN…Arthur The Handy Gardener tackles the job of filling gaps in the hedge

Yesterday, Arthur The Handy Gardener and I dug out holes and planted holly, Pyracantha and hawthorn to fill any gaps in the 100-year-old hedge that we pruned back so heavily in the summer.

BORDER PATROL...The Current Mrs Feeney takes a close interest in the planting
BORDER PATROL…The Current Mrs Feeney takes a close interest in the planting

Meanwhile, The Current Mrs Feeney was planting pink and white Escallonia along the decorative trellis fence at the side of the house.

Today we planted two types of Berberis – Darwinii and Julianae – on the lower part of the hedge, and placed Hypericum alongside the entrance steps, June berries across the front wall, and Guelder roses and flowering currants in new borders around the garage.

In total, we have dug and planted 110 bushes in two days. It was cold, and frequently wet. The hot shower that followed was very welcome. The beer that followed the shower, even more so.

The next stage of The Garden Project will be to re-lay the patio, and build two walls to divide the garden into three levels. The Current Mrs F has kindly said we can have a little break before that.


A time for planting

IMGP5826THE back yard of The Aged Parents’ house is providing a fairly good impression of a garden centre at the moment. There are more than 100 pot plants in it.

They include various types of holly, as well as berberis, hawthorn and pyracantha. The one thing they have in common, as I have already discovered, is they are very, very prickly.

IMGP5817They are waiting for the next stage of The Garden Project. Tomorrow we start digging holes in the last remaining unfenced hedge, and planting them.

They will fill in any gaps in the hedge and (hopefully) in time provide a vibrant mixture of brightly coloured berries and flowers.

That’s the long-term objective. For now, it’s time to get out the spades and trowels; and to order in extra supplies of embrocation for Retired Bloke’s back.


The Garden Project #6

FOR the last three days The Garden Project has taken over our lives.

The Current Mrs Feeney, Arthur the Handy Gardener and I have been working on my father’s garden from dawn until dusk as we set about restoring it after twenty years of neglect.

Boundaries have now been cleared of any remaining detritus, ready for the fencing company to sink concrete posts and erect a six-foot feather-edged and capped fence.

Meanwhile, we have managed to insert larch wood panels into the hedge running alongside the village lane, to provide some privacy until the hedge fills out next Spring.

We have dug up and removed the mounds of sawdust left by grinding down to ground-level the stumps of the cherry and copper beech trees felled by the tree surgeons.

Arthur and I have been on the garage, removing a carpet of ivy. We were able to roll it up in one piece, while The Current Mrs Feeney offered motivational support like “Don’t fall through the roof!”

Today we are having a day off. I intend to spend it watching the roofers remove a chimney.

The Garden Project #5

TODAY we started clearing an area around the garden boundaries, ready for The Fence. We have decided on a six foot feather-edged and capped affair.

But first there are the remains of tree stumps to be removed, the last stubborn brambles to be torn out of the ground, and the remnants of past rose gardens to be tidied away.

BAG WOMAN: The Current Mrs Feeney clears rubbish from the hedge.
BAG WOMAN: The Current Mrs Feeney clears rubbish from the hedge.

Meanwhile, work continues in removing the detritus of twenty years from the hedges. We have discovered that my father followed the philosophy that no household rubbish was too humble to be used as filler for a gap in a hedge.

Running total to date includes a carpet, two mats, a toilet cistern, a pram axle and wheels, and a traffic cone (household use of the last item uncertain).

After two months of wet and cool weather, the sun is now shining (just in time for the schools to go back). So it was hot work.

PREP WORK: Arthur the Handy Gardener feels the heat
PREP WORK: Arthur the Handy Gardener feels the heat

“Why are we working this hard at our age?” said Arthur the Handy Gardener. “We must need our heads examined.”

Sat here now, I’m more concerned with my back. Still, it will soon be time for wine, so that’s ok.

The Garden Project #4

IMGP4854THE tree surgeons have finished their work on dad’s garden. Two decades of brambles and matted undergrowth have been torn up. Think of it as the scorched earth approach to gardening.

IMGP4849The two hedgerows that run alongside and behind the house have been lowered and thinned. The lady who lives next door came out to have a look.

“You’ve cut it back a lot,” she said.

“Yes,” I said: “the tree surgeons say that will make the hedges grow back thicker. But there’s big hole in one hedge.”

“Oh, that will be where the burning car came through the hedge,” she said.

“Oh. Really? When was that?”

“About fifteen years ago. When the kids were doing things like that.”

Right. Kids, eh? Little rascals.

IMGP4860We have made a start on scraping the ivy off the garage walls and roof: so far, so good; the garage is still standing.

Logs are piled where the cherry tree and the copper beech once stood. Our son’s sycamore tree has been severely pollarded in a treetop chainsaw massacre.


After three days of action, The Current Mrs Feeney and I stood back and surveyed the scene.

“It’s very bare,” said Mrs F.

“But it will grow back thicker and stronger,” I said. “Hopefully.”

We looked at one another across the expanse that had once been shrubbery. Two minds united in one thought: things will look better in the morning.

When the stump grinder arrives.

The Garden Project #3

THE rain held off (well, for most of the day. This is Wales in the summer, after all.) Good progress on restoring dad’s garden today. The hedgerows have been cut back, ready for in-filling and top pruning. And the last of the unsightly conifers has been felled!

Tomorrow (Welsh summer weather permitting) we prune the hedgerows and pollard the sycamore tree that our son planted twenty-something years ago.

Then the work can begin on restoring dad’s garden to something approaching its former beauty.

The Garden Project #2

IMGP4822AFTER two days of sunshine and horizon-to-horizon blue skies, the heavens have opened over Swansea all day today.

IMGP4817So naturally this is the day we started clearing my father’s garden. The tree surgeons arrived at nine this morning. Four hours and three changes of clothing later, phase one of the project is complete.

Conifers, and a diseased cherry tree and copper beech, have been reduced to stumps ready for grinding to ground level.

Tomorrow, attention turns to the brambles and undergrowth. The garden I remember is already emerging from two decades of wild growth.