A four seasons gardener?

It's the second week of my official winter holiday. The frosts this year have been quite spectacular - whatever happened to the tough four seasons gardener?

 Taj-dog is missing Stephen too.
Frosted Dog

Sunday 8th July

Another milder day (though there was a 5 or 6 degree frost). I am inspired again, and have been burning and cutting and clearing for 3 hours. Also I have been thinking about summer annuals (I have written the first ordering list from the new seed catalogue) and surfaces for my paths (gravel paths through woodland? - not sure). Off now for a dog walk - will try to sneak out the gate without Big Fat Sifter noticing.

Monday 9th July

A mild frost, and temperatures again are milder (about 10 degrees). Clear blue skies and sun in mid-winter - what can I possibly complain about? Am off to shift things. Watch this space!


I attacked the Pond Border and pruned the Ballerina roses (a bit early, but too bad). Also removed a huge nuisance grass from the back of the Jelly Bean Border. Will have a burn up later when sun goes down (could cook sausages on it? - maybe not). Hope I'm not too lonely tomorrow. I miss Stephen (who is in Canada en route to London to visit Eggy).

Tuesday 10th July

I will continue to clean up the back of the Jelly Bean Border. I'm a bit lonely, which is hopeless really.

12.15 and it's still quite cold. I am lonely, so have come inside and vacuumed the house. What a wimp!


I spent a short time clearing more mess out of the back of the Jelly Bean Border. I think I may be learning, too, as I resisted the temptation to thoughtlessly plonk a huge clump of daylilies in one of the new gaps. This area must stay a shrubbery. I cut out an old woody Senecio and moved a Berberis. There are two more nuisance grasses which I will dig out tomorrow - I have self-sown seedlings of Mountain (or is it Fountain?) grass and these will be far superior. I will shift the kniphobias and bronze leaved cannas and put them in buckets. I may also pull out the hydrangeas as they are too water dependent to be planted in here. The Jelly Bean Border hasn't been tidied up for 3 years now, and as the backbone shrubs and trees grow so the needs of the extra plants in the gaps change.

Tomorrow I will finish the clean up and lay down mulch. If I end up with a dozen buckets of plants needing relocation then so be it.

 Pittosporums form a green backdrop for the flax and the Oak leaved Hydrangea.
winter foliage

Wednesday 11th July

Hmm... the first day without a serious frost since my holiday began, but still the air temperature pretty cold (8 degrees). I worked for 2 hours in the early afternoon continuing to clean up the Jelly Bean Border, removing of the huge patch of Salvia uliginosa and several Hydrangeas. I don't like the rose Phyllis Bide on the fence here. She has never performed well, so I will hedge-clip her tomorrow and give her one last chance. The back of this border has never looked right, and I hope that my return to simplicity will help things.

Thursday 12th July

No excuses today! It's not very warm outside, but there's nothing frozen either. I've got the log burner on inside, and am about to get organised. I expect to be fully functional today - none of this pathetic lonely nonsense. How can I be lonely with the dog hunkered down in the freshly dug dirt, a crazy black fantail flitting and swooping over me and Jerome (jaw shaking, head full of catch-the-birdie thoughts) for company?

Things To Do First in Jelly Bean Border :


I've done the list stuff, working solidly from 10am until 4pm and the end of the Jelly Bean Border is cleared. I've also cleaned up around the big gum tree. I've had a much better day. A few parts of the garden are still frozen, but there's little frost left on the grass - it's nice to see green again! I have cleared up all my rubbish, too. Taj-dog and I are sneaking off (without Sifter seeing us) for a walk down the road before it gets dark.

Friday 13th July

Didn't do much today. Got a new job though.

Saturday 14th July

My holiday achievements have been rather modest, with a lot of time huddled by the log burner reading garden magazines. My new job is a bit scary.

Today I am off to the local big nursery (for the second time) to try to spend a garden voucher. What shall I buy? Yesterday I saw a miniature green cordyline and some native NZ myrtles in burnished cream and wine colours. I am tempted. Then I will finish clearing the Jelly Bean Border, plant the myrtles in it and mulch. Hopefully this area will be more pleasing and therefore will be visited more and enjoyed more (by me).

New Zealand Myrtle :
New Zealand myrtles are a little bit frost tender - I'd better be careful where I plant them.

3 pm and I've been working for 3 hours. I have cleared the rose garden by the pergola, pruning (a little early) and removing weeds and a clump of shasta daisies. I have also weeded in the vege garden - this is the first day that the soil hasn't been frozen - and organised a cute row of lettuce seedlings. As for the nursery visit, the down-sized cordyline was too dear ($35) so I got the myrtles and a reddish pseudopanax hybrid. After my coffee break I will go back outside and finish mulching. Also I need to collect up my tools which are scattered carelessly around the Pond Paddock.

 Self sown pansies bravely flowering mid winter.
winter colour

Sunday 15th July

This is the last day of my holidays. I haven't used my time wisely at all. And I've complained all the time. Hmm...


Have done a little bit of weeding and pruning. Pansies are bravely flowering. I have had an idea for enlarging the garden near the wood shed and washing line. Just a slight enlargement...

Saturday 21st July

Too wet to do serious gardening - the ground is quite sodden. I wandered around the garden and the flaxes look unbelievably big. A variegated elm is coming to live with us. The big shift was to be today, but the rain has put my friend off. This is a relief as I'm not totally sure where it is going. Perhaps the elm could be the focal tree of the new enlarged wood shed garden... which is already dug, in my mind.

Saturday 28th July

It's dry and mild, and I am about to wander around with a cup of coffee and make plans. The winter colours are beautiful - a lot of burnished golds, brown seed-heads (hydrangea, phlomis) and those glowing flaxes which wave and leap out at me as I shuffle past...

Two Hours Later...

I've chopped and trimmed the Laundry Garden. Some plants have frost damage on their tips, and will be left until warmer months (not that today isn't warm). It's funny, but I can't remember gardening at this time of year ever before, so I've just checked last year's diary. In July 2001 I was chopping and pruning and being totally greedy buying up sale bare-root roses. Hmm...

Sunday 29th July

Actually, I've been thinking more about last winter. I went for a walk just before sundown yesterday to get an overview of the garden. Of course one immediately sees small scale details (like piles of leaves which need raking up), but the overall look is rather scruffy.

The frosts have damaged many parts of the lawns and the tips of many shrubs are burnt. Some of the rhododendrons have drooping leaves, and a few have been frost damaged. Many smaller flaxes seem squashed flat, as if the dog has been sleeping on them. And still the weeds grow. It is mildly disheartening - well, the patchy grass certainly is, as I rely on my lawns to be calm connectors between borders. But all is not lost. The newly tidied back of the Jelly Bean Border is now a pleasure to walk through. Ha!

Now we are off to get the variegated Elm tree which is coming to live with us in the country. I promise to take before and after photos, as I'm certain this is the beginning of a new garden development. The elm will be planted near the wood shed, in its own new border which I will (naturally) call the Elm Tree Garden. There will be a grass path connecting the Laundry Garden to the back lawn by the glass-house.