The International Steam Pages

Tua Pek Kong Rules, the Mitcheldean Garden 2019
The Wall Part 3 - June

This page is part of a series of garden blogs from 2019. Click here for the index.

I've split the month into two, with the plants stuff in the other half, this part is full of other trivia.

I'm expecting a call from Donald Trump any day now asking for advice on getting a wall built because at long last ours is finished. The issue was that we felt an extra row of bricks would be a good idea so that the bed would not slope too much but would still be visible from below. We had to wait for our builder to make a scheduled visit to his supplier and as soon as the bricks arrived I took them up to the top. The plan was simple, he was building a rather larger wall at the other end of the road and would bring a bucket of mortar around at the end of a day. Unfortunately, his other projects got in the way and then the weather took a turn for the worse. Finally just when I wondered if it would ever be done, after 7 weeks the skies cleared, the job was done and I spent a couple of hours adding the cladding. 

Click on a picture for a larger version and click on that to return to this page.

In the meantime, we somehow acquired some decoration for the wall, you can read more about 'Garfield' lower down. At the time the geraniums were in residence, but they have since been moved on (again) and replaced by (about 50) dahias - which had the usual horse manure preparation.  I put the bricks in position because there wasn't really anywhere else to store them, at the back is a crescent of gladioli.

This is how the wall looked with the cladding added. I had measured everything up and had the batons ready to be applied as shown at the end of the May blog. I'm pleased to say everything fitted perfectly. There was a nasty 'gap' at the bottom where the footings were but I knew how to raise the level of the bed, even though some of the soil shown was used to top up the bed above. I call it 'soil conditioning', the bags contain a few leaves, lots of horse manure and plenty of twice used compost. I dug out the first of four rectangles.

A thick layer of part rotted horse manure from the mine at the top of Plump Hill was added and a covering of compost added in case the rotting manure overheated.

Each 'dig' was filled in turn and the new bed gently raked to make it near horizontal. Yuehong was of the opinion that a set of David Austin roses was just what was wanted. However, I did the digging and I believe in recycling plants where possible, so I had a couple of dozen fuchsias from 2018 which had successfully over wintered in the vegetable patch and which I had been hiding out of view next to the hawthorn hedge. It didn't take long to plant them up and even Yuehong had to admit my cunning plan had worked well. Some of these are tender and will probably have to be replaced if we revert to traditional winters. 

About a month ago, I looked out of the kitchen window around sunset and saw a cat sitting on our steps. Normally, such a creature takes one look at me and bolts. This one looked me in the eye and I went out to say 'hello' (as one does to strangers). We had a brief discussion and when I went back into the house this one followed me and strode up to Yuehong. Two days later he was sitting on her lap and looking pathetic.

Eventually Yuehong weakened and we bought some cheap minced beef and for an unhealthy treat nothing goes down better than a small slice of streaky bacon. He knows just whom he has to keep sweet. I'm not a cat nutrition expert but either he's a great hunter or he's stringing along at least one other family or another cat is regularly losing its meals.

All through the wet spell we had to throw him out of the house twice a day, but since the sun came out again, we see him only when he thinks it's meal times and when we are in the garden. It's the perfect environment for a cat and the fields and adjacent gardens are just a giant adventure playground.

There is nothing he likes more than to pose for a photograph with Yuehong in the garden.

Such behaviour by ginger cats is not unusual, as illustrated by the recent case of King Wilbur of Ruddington: and

Nice as it is to have a cat about the place, we do have to make an effort to return him to his official keepers because in a few months we shall be off back to Penang for our regular winter break, there would be no-one to feed him here and a lengthy stay in a cattery would not only be cruel but would bankrupt us sooner or later.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson