The conservatory upgrade.

 This month it was all about giving the conservatory some TLC.  It is around 30 years old and the areas of rotten wood were just kept patched up.  This can only work for so many years and it was in desperate need of ripping out.  We kept the wall so the footprint is exactly the same but we went for white UPVC instead of wood.  Some problems faced by someone in a wheelchair at doorways are: the width of the door, how to open and close the door easily, and whether or not there are thresholds to negotiate.  As the old wooden doors kept sticking so much when it rained I couldn’t open or close the doors easily (sometimes not at all!).  The new doors are emergency exit type doors where you can either twist the knob, or push the bar to open.  They are so much easier to use.  However – they come with quite a large threshold attached.  It is extremely difficult to take a cup of tea outside onto the patio while you are pushing a wheelchair and bunny-hopping over a threshold.  Also I often have newly potted up plants on a tray to take to the patio and bunny-hopping over a threshold would mean plants and compost everywhere. The thresholds on the doors are actually quite easily removed so although we now have a draught under the doors and the gap lets in rain, I can get through all the doorways easily.  At the moment we can just use draught-excluders but I am sure we will find the correct brush attachments that would be better.  They will probably still let in rain which isn’t that bad as the patio and conservatory floor are made of the same slabs.  I often throw water over the conservatory slabs in hot weather to condense and slightly the cool the area.  It was meant to take just one week to complete and have a fully glass roof, unfortunately there were a few mistakes made at the roofers end which led to  the decision to partly tile the roof and it has taken weeks longer to complete partly due to the awful weather during October.  All the plants that belonged in the conservatory had to be temporarily  homed on the dining table, craft table, coffee table, filing cabinet and patio bench while this was taking place.  It will be painted when we finally get round to redecorating the sitting room.  We will also need to get some blinds as next door to us  are doing some building work and have taken out the large magnolia tree and a silver birch.  These trees used shade the left side of the conservatory (which got the most sun) but now there is nothing to shade the plants on that side.

old conservatory walls and door garage side
Old conservatory garage side

old conservatory walls siting room side
Old conservatory sitting room side

new conservatory garage side
New conservatory garage side

new conservatory walls and roof sitting room side
New conservatory sitting room side
magnolia and silver birch trees casting shade over conservatory
Magnolia and silver birch trees casting shade

magnolia and silver birch trees removed now no shade
Magnolia and silver birch removed

I haven’t taken many garden photographs during September and October but there is still a lot of colour about.  Still in flower are the nepeta, Japanese anemones, salvia Amistad,verbena, persicaria, miscanthus (which is almost the same colour as the acer palmatum), white foxgloves, fuschia and erigeron.  There are a few sporadic flowers on the, hellebores, rose, cirsium rivale, astrantias and weigela.  I had planned on getting a photo of the witch hazel foliage which was spectacular this year with it’s bright oranges but by the time I got out there, they had already fallen.  The Japanese anemones went a bit bonkers this year so some will have to be removed.  The purple acer will soon turn a spectacular bright red colour very soon and the rowan has started it’s colour changes now.  It has very few berries this year despite many flowers – I think the birds have eaten the flowers before they had a chance to turn into berries (do birds eat flowers?).

Japanese anemones going berserk
Japanese anemones Mont rose (front) and Whirlwind (back)

russet coloured fallen witch hazel leaves
Fallen witch hazel leaves

We did sort out a few wee jobs such as: cutting back the tortured hazel to let more light around underneath and to the other side of the bed.  We also dug out some of the cyclamen that were struggling around one of the curling stones as there wasn’t enough space for them to expand their tuber. In their place is now some mossy saxifrage.  We bought a compost bin to put behind the back wall which will be a hot compost bin and  we will be trying to use a lot of the fallen leaves to make  leaf-mould in cold compost bags. I would love to encourage hedgehogs into the garden but as our garden has walls around the back we have had to make the space under the gates large enough for creatures to get under and we have made a hole in the bottom of the fence out the back big enough for hedgehogs to get through but not our dog.  There is now a little hedgehog house behind the wall too.

I am still making plans for the front garden.  So far it means taking out a few more slabs in the middle and possibly beside the ramp.  Ripping out the white periwinkle that got a bit scorched in the summer heat, and digging up some of the yellow epimedium.  I don’t know where to re-site the large yellow iris.  I love it in flower but it doesn’t look great for the rest of the time.  My bulbs are all potted up now (except for a few tulips) so I have no more clay pots left.  Must ask Santa for some new ones.   Now to start looking at the flower catalogues for ideas for next year!

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