Any time for the garden?

My real Christmas holiday begins - summer sun and wind, and days filled with cricket and reading - where is there any time for the garden?

Monday 18th December

The stone edges over the water race still look fresh and new and a bit silly. They need plants near the edge, to soften the look. The new elliptical lawn shape looks - well - rather elliptical, really. My new cricket radio, however, is a huge improvement on the old (which was so gutless I had to put it in my shirt pocket to hear anything - and it kept falling out). Today I plan to garden serenely for 1 to 2 hours, before Xmas shopping.

 Foliage contrast.
Flax and Breath of Heaven

And I did, too, but when we returned I put in an extra 3 hours clearing by the hen house where the Xmas hammock (daughter present) is going to be hung. Now I can walk in there without getting tripped up or speared in the leg by a piece of old tree. From the proposed hammock spot there is a fabulous view of the start of the native border (the properly native part, with pseudopanax and Toe Toes). Hebes planted under the gums are thriving (tough customers to grow under gums), and the Renga Renga likewise (but that is known for surviving in dry shade). Flaxes would fill in the rather large gaps around the hammock trees, too. There's a hideaway sort of atmosphere in there which I like. And there isn't a rose in sight... this has to be a good thing!

Wednesday 20th December

I didn't do any gardening yesterday. I sat in the shade reading a book (where I fell asleep). Today it is going to be hot hot hot, and my plan (at 8 am) is to do some more clearing by the hen house until the cloud cover goes, then reassess.

It's 1 pm and it's beautifully hot. I've been poking around under the trees, just weeding gently and listening to my NEW CRICKET RADIO (which is a great success).

 A lovely summer colour.
Sunny Yellow Roses

Thursday 21st December

I have had a great day - first, working in the Wattle Woods building another new wild and winding path, then poking and digging out the huge compost heap whose underneath is well composted. The plan is to plant the new rhododendrons there, where the irrigation will reach them, instead of above the pond, which gets the direct sun from midday on and no water.

It's now dusk, and I've checked out the proposed site for the new rhododendrons. They are a gift from a friend, and she has included a tree peony. I think I'll get them all planted tomorrow - I love working in the shade on hot days. The compost is great, it's almost Christmas (the day before the longest day), I've started the Most Valuable Cat competition for 2000, and I'm loving being on holiday!

Friday 22nd December

I have just explained to Big Fat Sifter that getting points in the Most Valuable Cat competition requires a little more effort. All he does is sit by the fridge looking beautiful and making strange squawking noises (this morning he sounded like a seagull).

Well, I am having my morning cup of tea, and very soon I am off to dig out and level the old compost heap and plant the rhododendrons. Tree peonies have to be in a frost free place, but will this place be too shady? A gift can shift, I guess.

1.30 pm

I have made excellent progress - two rhododendrons are in, with lots of compost, on the water race edge. During a break in digging and planting I've been potting up irises. Humph... my new secateurs are quite sharp (evidence - a short deep cut to left hand index finger) and I am forced into early retirement. The finger is bound and throbbing a bit, so gardening (and piano playing) for today is cancelled. How stupid of me!!

Saturday 23rd December

I lay awake last night planning the rehabilitation of the cut finger. I will garden one-handed this morning, then remove the dressing and expose the cut to the healing air. Do I really need to write all this down? Yes - gardeners (and piano players) get rather obsessed with cut fingers.

But back to the gardening aspect of this diary - I am going out to finish the spreading of the compost and the planting of the plants. Sounds like a Christmas carol...

Oh boy.

Sunday 24th December - Christmas Eve

Today I will finish the new Rooster Bridge garden and dose it with water. It's enjoyable dig/spreading out the compost slowly, without rushing. I have a load of stones to go with the huge ones I'm finding in the dirt. This is a great summer spot, and I think the rhododendrons will like it here.

Buzzy Bee

I am reading a gardening book (my Christmas present to me) which has terribly serious paragraphs on the scale of one's vistas. I wonder if it's time that I succumbed and tried to identify or manufacture a vista? I could build a round stone tower of the appropriate scale (but what would I do in/on it?). That actually might be the whole point - that nothing needs to be done in/on the end point of one's vista - I'm not sure I've got all this right...

O.K. I've retired for the day. Rooster Bridge garden is built, and rhododendrons are installed. So is an edging of Renga Renga (I found a clump in the native garden and pulled it apart. This is an area of the garden that I would like to live in - maybe have a small studio here (what for?), or set the hen house up as a summer retreat. Hmmm...

Monday 25th December - Christmas Day

Merry Christmas! The wind is blowing, and it's 7am, gusts up to 100 km per hour are forecast, and the big gum is rattling noisily.

Exciting news - I think that I have inadvertently created a pseudo-vista with the latest garden (Rooster Bridge) and path. I think it 'happens' when one approaches from the glass-house. The object at the 'end point' of this vista (have I really got this concept right?) at the moment is a slim column of lucerne bales - I think a photograph might be in order.

 White Cistus shrub in the background.
Flowering Flax

I'm off outside to do a bit of Christmas weeding, before the big Chrustmas brunch starts.

Tuesday 26th December

I'm off to do a bit of Boxing day weeding, before that ghastly wind starts blowing (and the boxing day cricket starts).


I've been pulling out foxgloves and dead-heading roses etc. Several paths through borders have 'disappeared' and need attention. That might be on tomorrow's list. Middle Border has little pockets of weeds wherever the newspaper mulch has a hole. I should also be sensible, forward thinking, and clone some of the larger flaxes (good chance to try out the new kitchen knife maybe). Until tomorrow then.

Thursday 28th December

I did some serious weeding yesterday! And I removed one of the paths overgrown with plants. The wind blew, but the cloud cover stayed. I found patches which need serious watering, though, and sneaky watering in the hot dry winds is hard to get away with.

Beautiful things that I saw yesterday...

Things I saw yesterday which need attention...

Now it's time to contemplate the day. What should I do first?? I'll just get a cup of coffee and talk to the cats about it.

Friday 29th December

I'm always a day behind! Must be the holiday mood. Yesterday the weather was cloudy and much much cooler. I did more serious weeding, and edged the big borders over the water race with stones. As usual, they look really silly (until the plants soften them by draping and lolling over).

 I love pink!
Small Pink Roses

Today my lovely daughter (who dug only ONCE) is going back to Perth en route to India and the Himalayas. And younger son has a new artistic idea for the area by the stables - he has stood me on the drive and shown me his vision, with grand sweeping gestures. Truly creative people don't do digging. Older son, who returns home to live next week, is busy designing a new and hugely improved website for the garden. I have told him off for paying too much attention to the new website while ignoring my diary updates. Things will change next week - if he doesn't update the diary I will not cook him any dinner.

I wish that the subject of the website was equally new and hugely improved!

Beautiful things I saw yesterday...

 This is my son's idea of a joke. Humph...
Gorse Seedling no. 142,235

Saturday 30th December

I did nothing yesterday, not even sneaky watering (which I should have done). Today it's a little cooler, and I am about to go out. Today's rule is that I must wear gloves - the new secateurs are proving rather hazardous to my piano playing fingers. I shall return!

Sunday 31st December

Wind... Sun... Cricket...


I've shifted in some more Renga Renga to the Rooster Bridge garden, and dug up some pretty unhappy pulmonarias to be neighbours. Also I've dug up seedlings of Nicotianas (the small lime green Llansdorffii variety, I hope) and moved them in between the rhododendrons. I've sneaky watered and pulled out 100 gorse and broom seedlings from Middle Border (I could do this each day for a 100 years...).