What for me makes gardening a pleasure is raising and nurturing plants and admiring their beautiful flowers. I appreciate this isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time though. Over the last few weeks I’ve been tackling some of the garden related jobs I’ve been putting off. There have also been some pressing issues to deal with. I started with the rendered wall that drops down from our terrace to the garden below. It was badly in need of some tlc. The wall is around 17 metres long. The paint I slavishly applied 2 years ago had blistered, so there was a lot of scraping to do first. It was hard work, especially given the temperatures we’ve been having lately. Once the prep was completed, the painting bit was quite satisfying. The masonry paint tin says Guaranteed to last 10 years but so did the one I used last time. I did some research online – should I prime the wall with something first? The tin and most of the advice I found said not – apparently this would stop it breathing – we’ll see. Anyway it looks a lot better at the moment I think you’ll agree. Look I did a before and after photo (despite Lily featuring in the photo, she was absolutely no help – luckily the paint is pretty close to her hair colour). I’m wondering if I’ll ever finish the next job I’ve embarked upon– painting our terrace railings – they span the same distance as the wall I’ve painted. Grumbling Rose has handed over his electric sander to me. He has a good excuse – painful arthritis in his right thumb (this has been verified by a doctor). I think I’m going to lose the use of my entire right arm by the time I’ve finished. I’m trying to apply sensible elf and safety measures. I’m wearing my tennis elbow support (I don’t play tennis – think it should be renamed mouse elbow), padded gloves to try to dull the vibration, protective goggles over my varifocals, a mask and a hat on account of the sun. Despite all this and looking a complete numpty, when I stop sanding, my fingers and arm tingle for about 15 minutes. I’ve sanded 3 sections so far – only another 9 to go before I can start painting. Well actually I have painted one of the gates. The Hammerite tin says to test the paint on a small area to check there is no “reaction” – I painted the whole gate – well it is quite small in relation to the entire job. There was no explanation as to what a “reaction” might look like. Again I Googled but all the forum contributors I came across simply referred to a “reaction” in a knowing kind of tone. They said the “reaction” can occur when older types of Hammerite meet new. I was concerned as the paint I’m sanding is about 15 years old – Rosie painted it for pocket money when she was at school. Eventually someone in one of the forums (sorry, should that be fora) mentioned that a “reaction” might look like puckered cling film. Anyway I’ve only done one coat on the gate (two will be required) but it looks OK. I’ve calculated that if I worked for 8 hours a day for an entire month, I would just about get this task completed – so think Christmas – or even longer – just noticed the paint shouldn’t be applied in extreme temperatures! Now to the emergency jobs. I noticed last week that a big hole had appeared in the bottom of the fence between us and our neighbours (not Victoria – the other side). Foxes and badgers frequent their back garden due to its open plan nature. This is great in terms of observing local wildlife, but I don’t want the badgers actually in my garden, digging up my lawn and flower beds. Also all the neighbourhood cats were using the hole as an effortless access point – less taxing than scaling the fence. I wouldn’t mind but Lily and I have chased off 4 different moggies this week – all caught sitting directly under my bird feeders. I did feel a bit bad about one of them as I only noticed when he scrambled over the bottom fence, he had a leg missing – he was pretty nifty all the same. I also broke the news to Grumbling Rose that something had been digging its way under our bottom fence. I stuffed some bricks into the offending hole as a temporary measure. Anyway, with a view to patching things up, he’s ordered what looks like enough wood to fence the entire garden. On a positive note – there is a small (minute in truth) sign of some broccoli trying its hardest to make an appearance, following the mass caterpillar invasion and the tomatoes are finally turning red! Also it’s rained – the water butts are full again – but now there’s a hosepipe ban!