Summer, family and Christmas...

 Mary Rose survives the hot summer nor-west winds that blow her canes around.
Mary Rose in Bay Window Border

December means summer, family and Christmas, HOLIDAYS!, cricket, not working, the 2000-2001 Most Valuable Cat competition, not working and of course the garden.

Friday 1st December

I came home early. I've been digging the Frisbee Lawn border making it more sensible (i.e. bigger), and it's hot work.

The garden looks so beautiful. Mary Rose in the Bay Window border is blooming her heart out - she's never been this good. There are a lot of new roses which are extremely beautiful too, and I just love them. All of this adoration takes place from a distance, though, as some roses (the house patio roses particularly) continue rusting and blackspotting.

Now a funny fine black version of rust is appearing on the yellow and red rose on one of the posts. Ironic, as I bought that rose as a cutting from my old house 7 years ago, and it's always been a poor performer. I thought I'd successfully dug it up 4 years ago, but next spring a brave shoot appeared, and it was allowed to grow as a reward for its persistence. Should have known better!

I'm taking a break to have a cup of tea and to reflect. It's December! I'll bet that this gardening month flies by. There'll be edges to do and things to dig and weeds to pull all month. My lovely daughter is home soon from outback Australia - perhaps I could pay her Xmas money to do some digging etc. I am so lucky to have such lovely children, and a garden which I can work hard in, despair over, and also thoroughly enjoy. Back soon.

 The cats always enjoy walking at sundown.
Sifter on a Catwalk


I have just taken cats for a walk at dusk. Is it possible to have too many roses? There are so many in bloom now - Iceberg is starting, and the bright red Dublin Bay, Graham Thomas by the Big Gum, and Sparieshoop (pink) - I love them all!

Saturday 2nd December

Discipline is required today. The plan is to write down one task at a time. I am then required to report in and sign it off as done. Then the next task will be written down, etc.


Humph... The only thing I accomplished today was digging the wider Frisbee Lawn border, and planting a few annuals. No wonder lists are more satisfying - they are full of bull! It took me ages and ages, but the results look good - a sensibly wide border, filled up with spare roses, perennials, annuals and dahlias. I wheeled 5 barrowfuls of weeds grass etc. onto the hump.

Stephen and I went nursery shopping too, to look for trees for over the water race. We planted some very very very cheap oaks which were labeled cochinnea but are definitely not, and we are thinking about replacing them. We bought 2 replacements, and I bought a Cercis (which I've admired in books) and a Fagus with dark browny purple leaves, both of which can go in the Dog-Path Garden. Wrong time of year, but we'll keep them well watered.

Tomorrow I will use the same rules as today and write up one task at a time. It's not as much fun, but it might keep me on track.

Sunday 3rd December

Not sure whether this new form of recording and reporting is very satisfying, but it seems to work.

Saturday 9th December

I've missed my garden this week! I've raced around it each night, squinting at the drifts if texture and colour in the borders, peering at imaginary vistas and plotting to take the next day off work (but I haven't!). More roses are puffing out their flowers - Graham Thomas has started up, and the Icebergs are in full healthy puff. I think the roses are too beautiful - is this possible? - and somehow there are too many, or I have over-indulged... it's like a Xmas garden smorgasbord, where with so many dishes to feast on you feel bloated.

 The water is really cold, even in summer.
The Moosey Pond

Hmmm... on to the minimalist task list for today.

Minimal Task List

 Iceberg roses never fail to impress. These are the climbing variety.
Puffy December Roses - Iceberg and Unknown

Hey, this is reverting into one of those all day lists which immediately lower the standard of gardening discipline required to accomplish things.

I'll try it out (hee hee).


It didn't work at all. All I did was plant and water the annuals, then I went off on a gardening tangent (weeding, papering and mulching the top of the ex-Island Bed and replanting some bargain hostas by Leroy's shed). Are these two items on my list? NO!!!!

Even later...

A couple of hours doing edges and weeding along the back lawn. I'm sure I weeded this last week. Humph... I'm really tired. I would like to sleep outside, but the dew would get me (will organise a sleeping platform under the trees). Wonder if the cats would find me?

 On the pergola.
Sunny Red Roses

Sunday 10th December

My lovely daughter arrived 1am from Perth. I have a garden labourer for a few weeks! I have made a gracious start to the day by casually dead-heading the patio roses (we won't mention trying to cut off the worst of the fungus-covered leaves). Stephen put the irrigation on last night, which usually brings on the rain, so I will get back out there. I might go and wake up daughter first. There will be no lists today, as I try the free spirit plan.

Hmm... think it sort of worked. I ripped out the sickly Heritage roses, cleared the driveway border and then continued the rough path at the back of the Wattle Woods Garden. It's sensibly winding around trees, very natural. I shall order some daughter weeding tomorrow.

Wednesday 13th December

I am on holiday... (with all sorts of work things still buzzing in my head, but enough of that). Today I am just going to let the day stretch out in front of me. I might weed. I might finish the Wattle Woods Garden path. I might sit on a seat and read.

10.00 am

I've cleared the glass house, putting the same sized pots in the same piles, and I found the purple beans! They are planted, along with a rather long row of carrots, in my apology of a vege garden. I have come in for coffee and Brahms (i.e. playing his first piano sonata, in C major, on my piano, to celebrate the first day of my holiday) and will return to the shade and the Wattle Woods Garden path clearing soon. The hours are flowing by.


I have cleared the last part of the Wattle Woods Garden path, and watered the pots. Today I've enjoyed being lazy - I've walked around the garden, just peeping, with no need to hurry, no timetables or deadlines to keep. Tomorrow I might take things a little more seriously.

Thursday 14th December

I have ordered the Christmas asparagus (yum). It's a bit late (9.30 am), and I'm just having morning coffee with the cats. I might do thoughtful things first like dig up the white irises and rebuild them. The white shrub in the Septic Tank border is about to burst into flower. Looks like wedding rice and confetti out there, as the white lychnis in the foreground is about to do the same. Ha! I can claim a gardening design medal for creating a deliberate "echo".

 Hostas and Heuchera.
Foliage Friends

I've come back in at 11.30, after 2 hours spent slicing weeds off one of the dog-paths and setting the stone edge back a little further from the water race. It's turning stinking hot, and quite humid, which is odd for here. I have gone quasi-apres-gardening.

Friday 15th December

I have been totally lazy again today, spending about 2 hours weeding, laying paper and mulch in Middle Border. Then I came inside (What a slacker!) to watch the cricket and read my book. This is just not like me - I am usually very gardening conscientious, and get through at least 5 hours before running out of oomph. Hmmm...

 Perennial plants.
Blue Salvias

Saturday 16th December

It's supposed to be a tradition - I garden hard on a Saturday - so I need a new approach to my garden preparation. My normal lists have been hopeless as they are completely unrealistic and I don't get half of the items done. My 'one item at a time and call it a task' list was uninspiring and no fun. My 'no list at all' plan (see the first 3 days of my holiday) has been a disaster, and has resulted in pathetic gardening.

The trouble is that I've now run out of options! I love my garden, and I love making lists! I could try a cryptic list, or allowing a maximum of 4 items. Will have a cup of coffee and contemplate.

Sunday 17th December

Later yesterday I finished widening the dog-path like I said I would. Things are not all bad. I had an idea for changing the shape of the Hen House Border. But the most important thing I did was to buy a NEW CRICKET RADIO! It is silver, (a very fashionable garden colour) and capsule shaped (very modern, tres trendy) and it's loud enough to hear! I promise a photo, as soon as it has been 'broken in', i.e. laid gently in the dirt out there, with ceremonial reverence, and SWITCHED ON.

It is done - the new cricket radio rocks! I've been tidying and laying stones over the water race, as the New Zealand domestic cricket season groans along. Just one more dog-path (the original) to clear, and I'll be happy. The Hen House Border is a slightly new shape, and relatively clover free. I am off to do the owner's tour with cup of tea and hopefully Stephen (for whom I have more construction plans - a second smaller pergola, in view of the first, and possibly some trellis). He has the knack of totally disappearing at such times.


I found him.