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Rss FeedAnecdotes and stories from our resident gardener, Happy G.

Happy G is back. Page 4

Posted by: Happy G Posted Date: 04/09/2012

Happy G is back, after a very wet summer and few opportunities of working in the garden, it is good to be in the thick of it again.
I read somewhere that gardening is like “Talked up house work, done outside”. There may be some truth to this as I seem to be spending a lot of time raking, weeding, brushing and general tidying up.I asked the other half if she would me lend me a hand; surprisingly she said yes but only if I bought a proper yard brush. I have always used a normal sweeping brush, but I have to say the yard brush is much better for the patio and garden path.
I have a rubber plant which has been growing indoors for the best part of thirty five years. It now stands at 7 feet high,far too tall to remain in the house. I have replanted it in the garden, in one of the sunnier parts beside the small hill for shelter (see photo).
Not sure how it survived for so long or whether it will last in the garden. Thinking of wrapping something around it to keep it insulated for the winter. If anyone has any ideas regarding how to tend it, or how it survived so long, please let me know.
I’ve also started to weed out more around my exiting plants, allowing more exposed soil between each of them. Maybe a little traditional but the overall effect helps show off the difference between the plants and keeps pests down.One of my favourite plants is the Osteospermum (Sunny Martha). A lovely plant that comes in many colours flowers from June until the end of October, and if you cut it to ground level and cover in compost before the frost comes there is a good chance it will grow again the following spring.
Another favourite is the Dahlia, another hardy plant and more of an evergreen. Then there are difference types of Dahlia, for pots and borders, or the larger ones which grow to about three feet. They will flower from late spring to the end of summer and come back every year.
Over the years I have bought my plants from various places, especially when we go on holiday. Cornwall is good but in London I usually buy from Squires or Homebase. I like Homebase, especially the branch in Wandsworth as it has a discount section where you can find cheap plants. Some are discounted because they are in a poor condition, but these can put right with a little TLC. I was there last week and bought some Osteospermum, reduced from £4.99 to 0.50p and Dahlia, reduced from £7.99 to £2.00 among others Perennial plants which were reduced by as much as £5 or £6. Really good deals. Also if you find a plant you like [in the reduced section] which has not be mark down, ask one of staff and they will do it on the spot.
Until we meet again

Battle of the pond, Page 3:

Posted by: Happy G Posted Date: 03/01/2012


I was in the first floor bedroom, which gives a good view of the garden, and there he was: The Heron, who would not be out of place in a Jurassic Park film, standing in the shallows of the pond with his head thrown back as he swallowed one of my goldfish. I couldn't believe it! I ran down the stairs, through the garden room, and came out charging at the pond. In that time he had snatched up another fish, another appetizer in his five course meal.

Standing two metres away, he ignored my frantic jumping up and down and continued with his feast. The water in the pond was getting cloudy as the fish panicked and tried to get away. It was then I saw the most amazing sight I have ever seen: Jaws, Goldie (almost as big as Jaws) and Long Tall Sally alongside a few other big fish ducking and diving, throwing up more clouds of dirt, zigzagging not away from the heron but towards him. Jaws was leading the charge, with his head held high.

Standing entranced, barely believing my own eyes, I saw a real battle was going down. Jaws and co were now attacking the heron, and the Heron was retaliating by stabbing at the water with his big long beak while flapping his massive wings. Yoshi, locked away from the action in the kitchen, started barking, waking me from my trance. I ran back to the gravel path, scooping up the stones in both hands, before throwing it at the Heron. With that, and the fish below attacking him, the Heron had enough: Flapping his wings once again, he took off to the safety of the trees.

I had a good look around the pond to count how many casualties we had. I couldn't see a thing. I had around forty fish or more, and I had witnessed two fall victim to the Heron's beak. Likely there more, but I couldn't see them.

I never bothered netting the pond apart from the late winter months, as the pond is close to the house. So for the next couple of hours I spent netting the pond over. By this time the water was starting to clear and the fish were settling down again. Little did I know, as far as the heron was concerned, this was just beginning.

The following morning I took my tea out to the pond at around 8.30am to find the Heron in the exact same position as yesterday. Glancing at me with his beady, black eyes, he took off but very slowly as if he had some trouble getting airborne. He looked much fuller this time I thought, as if he had enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner all at the same time.

What I saw next was awful: Poor Goldie lay on his side, not yet dead but badly wounded. The corpse of another large Koi lay beside him, and I couldn't see Jaws at all. A quick headcount of the ponds inhabitants told me that around ten fish were missing. I was furious. All I wanted at the moment was to kill the Heron! I didn't care if they were a protected species, or anything about the beauty of nature and food chains, the only thought I had was how to catch it and dispose of it. One way of doing this was setting up a hide by the thorn bush, and as it flew overhead I would pop up and give it both barrels of a shotgun. I'm not sure what the neighbours would think of this. Perhaps that wasn't such a good idea.

When I was cleaning the pond and removing the dead fish, I suddenly remembered talking to a friend who knew a company that could specially design metal bars to cover the entire surface of the pond. I wasn't sure I would have liked the pond looking like a prison cell, and it would take a couple of weeks to make, which by that time there would be no more fish left in the pond.

Another night passed, this time with HG sleeping on the couch in the garden room. Her indoors thinks I have lost the plot completely. On sentry duty early the next morning I caught up with the heron again, managing to drove him away. To my delight as I inspected the pond Jaws resurfaced, unharmed. That same day somebody mentioned the idea of planting a decoy. A heron decoy, resembling the real thing. Apparently they hunt alone. A few hours shopping and I returned to the pond with my new guardian in hand. Lo and behold, the following morning the Heron came down,
Took one look at the decoy, and flew away again. Since I've had the decoy, the Heron has reappeared a few times, but never before quickly flying away again.

You heard it here first folks, from Happy G: If you have a problem with HERONS, get a DECOY.


The Battle of the Pond Page 2:

Posted by: Happy G Posted Date: 25/11/2011




Had a funny phone call from some plumbing company. Hendersons? Or was it Andersons? Anyways, I think they drive around London in big orange vans. They started asking me a lot of questions: At the beginning I hadn't a clue what they were on about. Apparently I'm on their website as a resident gardener? And they asked me to remove my blog from their website.

I explained to him that I had no idea what he was talking about, that my younger son had set my blog up and as far as I was concerned this plumbing company was squatting on my website. They should sling their hook and find another website! There was a long silence on the line which I presume meant he had got the message, so I hung up.


Anyway I want to tell you about my pond which I built 9 years ago. As you can see by the photos it is a rather large pond, in some places it steps down to five feet deep.
I built the rockery using the excess soil from the pond. And a waterfall, where the water is pumped from the deepest part of the pond to the highest point of the rockery, where it flows naturally back down again. Apart from being a nice water feature it acts as a good filter for the pond.
Over the years I've introduced a number of oxygen plants, and with the filter, the water has always been clear. The pond does not suffer too much from algae, while the ammonia and nitrite levels are low. As a result, the oxygen levels are good.




A good selection of fish have built up over the years: Koi, Goldfish, Shubunkin , Tench and numerous others. But the undisputed king of them all is Jaws, a very large Mirror Carp at twenty four inches long, weighing 8 to 10 pounds.

Jaws has a habit of eating anything that gets in his way: Small frogs, tadpoles, baby fish and all types of insects. He can move extremely fast, raising his head out of the water to attack. He is known to take on cats, which come within vicinity of the pond and has the scars on his back to prove it.




About two years ago a family of herons took up residence within the tree on the embankment beside the garden. Two fully grown ones and a baby. The baby came down a couple of times and used to look into the pond (see photo). But as soon as I came out of the garden room door it would fly away. About two weeks later they disappeared and I never saw them again. Until a month ago.


The baby one was now fully grown, and had started to stalk the fish. This was the beginning of the Battle for the pond...

Compost : Page 1

Posted by: Happy G Posted Date: 24/10/2011

Page One 

Happy G has been busy working as usual, in my little spot within the deepest surburbia of Putney.
As you can see by the photographs my compost is coming on very well.
HG has certain golden rules regarding his compost:
I don't put anything larger than the smallest of twigs in it, the rest is made up of the usual stuff: Cut grass, leaves, weeds, all kitchen waste including tea bags, orange peels, all leftover vegetables etc etc. The remains of any smoothies from the juicer are particularly good. Any rotten fruit from the trees goes in as well. Yoshi, my new puppy friend, all his poo gets tossed in to the compost too.
Having two separate sections for the compost comes in handy, with a wooden fence between them, because I can fill one up completely, which usually takes about two and a half months, then I turn it over with a pitchfork and put in the other section, so the top of the compost is now at the bottom and vice versa.
When I have about two feet of new compost waste I usually help breaking it up with my sheers and then lay three to four inches of soil ontop, and then start again. So the compost is sandwiched in with soil every two feet.
I've got an old pair of graphite golf shafts, which I use to drill holes into the compost, so that plenty of air can get in. I get better use of them that way than I ever did out of my golf. I've got a builders bucket which I keep in the outside toilet, which I pour all the leftover teas, coca-colas and any other left over drinks into. Her-indoor's who used to tell me that she drank her wine the way the French do, which I believe means she leaves some at the bottom of the glass. This used to go into the bucket as well but she's not acting very French anymore because I only get empty glasses now. I also pee in the bucket and when the bucket is full I pour it into the holes in the compost.
Within approximately six months the compost is completely broken up and a very dark texture which is then ready for distributing in the garden.
Until we meet again,
-Happy G                                 
  8th Sept 2011



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