Early December

December has sneaked up on me again. It means summer, children arriving back home for Christmas, and the start of summer holidays spent gently pottering in the garden. If there are enough cloudy days it might mean digging a large new border.

 An example of Moosey's robust cottage gardening style, in one of the patio borders.
blue and pink near the house

Saturday 1st December

Hey - how can it be December so soon? This is really scary. I feel like I just haven't been concentrating on the garden these last weeks, and suddenly it's turned into December, with images of sneaky watering and hot dry winds, gardening grumpily in the shade and getting far too hot, retiring to a cushion on the grass with a book... hmm...

Anyway, this weekend I will have to behave. I am having a private open garden in 4 days time, for my workmates. This is the perfect excuse to tidy up everything - lawns, banks of the water race, rose aphids... in fact, there is so much to do that I will get out there immediately, not to return until I have seriously accomplished things worthy of recording.

It is crazily hot! No wind, temperature probably about 28 degrees. I have come inside, looking rather red-faced, and plan to relax on the patio until it cools off. I've been watering and tidying, and have suddenly taken an irrational dislike to the purple foxgloves which are fiercely blooming everywhere. Out they come!

Sunday 2nd December

Help!! The visitors from work arrive in two days and it's gently drizzling. Perhaps I could take a day off (hee hee). Yesterday I retired early, about 3 pm, and came inside to watch the cricket. So far we have done really well, with four batsmen making centuries (against Australia). I will briskly clip all the edges as a celebration.

Purple Foxglove :
Foxgloves are great flowers for creating that cottage garden look...

It's later, and not only have I done almost all the edges, I have gently weeded, cut back old aquilegia foliage and removed every purple foxglove. Things are not ready, though. Took a few hours off midday to visit some country gardens which were having an open day. Interesting, and inspiring in a reverse sort of way. For once I returned thinking that my garden may be 'big enough', or certainly nicely spread out - and I'm still rather fond of my semi-cottage garden areas...

Saturday 8th December

Well, the garden tourists have been and gone. Apart from my lack of knowledge of rose names all went very well. Today (a Saturday and thus an official gardening day) has been rained out. I have peeped out of raindroppy windows and taken a few photos of rainy rose petals. Some of the yellow shrubs are in flower - Senecio by the pond arch, Hypericum in the side garden, and of course the many clumps of yellow daylilies. There doesn't seem to be much blue around - I may need to look into this. And I have this rather sinking feeling that there are too many roses. It's a December feeling that I remember from other years. I have been rose-greedy. Hmmm...

 Such generous shrubs.
Beautiful Roses

Sunday 9th December

Humph! I am not happy. I have just returned from an hour's mud-weeding near the pergola. My vegetable garden is a disgrace. There are colonies of dock weeds in there, foliage glistening, tap roots as fat as parsnips. How did I have the nerve to allow garden tourists in? I am deeply embarrassed, and very muddy.

 Superbum. Oops - that looks rude!
Blue Summer Salvia


Things are far worse than I thought. I have just cleared four barrowfuls of mess and weeds from an incredibly small part of the Jelly Bean Border. The dog-path over the water race is stocked full of knee-high weeds. You can't even see the artistic stone retaining walls. My roses are now covered with dead aphids, glutinous masses wrapped around the stems. How come the rain hasn't washed them off?

As soon as I start to feel smug and proud of myself, I get jolted back to reality. OK, so I sometimes work a fifty hour week, and some weekends it rains. So what? It's just not good enough. I am far too haphazard and far too dreamy, seeing only what I want to see. I think I need to start wearing my spectacles at all times in the garden. And reading labels. And I must make some harsher management decisions regarding garden maintenance.

Tuesday 11th December

Only 2 days to go and then I am on official summer holiday. I am looking forward to listening to my cricket radio and getting my whole garden sorted out. I promise to go gently and to enjoy the garden every single day. I might even dig a new border over the water race (on cloudy days).

Dogs are complex creatures. Musical son has arrived home with a digeridoo, and Taj-dog is terrified of it. He must think it is a talking vacuum cleaner. He is quivering under the table as I write.

Thursday 13th December

It's Thursday Evening and I am officially ON HOLIDAY.

Yes. I am finally on holiday. My work year has finished. It's nearly dusk and the gentle sounds of the lawn mower can be heard. Tomorrow is the first proper day of my holiday. What shall I do first? I'm going to set my alarm, just for the excitement of waking up and remembering that I don't have to go anywhere. I will lay out my new holiday gardening shorts. This is a very very good feeling.

 One of the best yellow flowering summer shrubs.
Senecio in flower

Next Morning

Right! Here I am, ready to begin. Time is stretching out before me. Unfortunately I have totally lost my cricket radio, but this is merely a minor setback. The birds are singing, the sun is gently shining, and I am OFF OUTSIDE.

Hopeless. I have wandered around for half an hour, and there is no sign of my stylish silver radio. It is a tradition to start the real summer holiday with the sounds of NZ sports radio, and so I am forced to zoom to the nearest store and buy a replacement. Oh well, I can check out this year's models. Back soon.

Saturday 15th December

Yesterday got even more hopeless. Firstly two of my (lovely) teacher friends ended up coming with me to buy the new cricket radio. I hinted that it was traditionally a private ceremony, but they wouldn't listen. The older friend twittered on about good brand names, and the need for good reception. I tried to explain that there was a gardening style at Mooseys... Well, after consumer consensus (humph), I bought one, got it home and it didn't go. After 2 hours sulking in front of TV cricket I found the old one in a terribly sensible (?) and safe place, tucked in with the recipe books in the kitchen. So the first day of my gardening holiday started at 3pm.

Cricket Radio :
The cricket radio is almost as important an accessory as the hand digger and the gardening gloves...

But then things improved. I watered pots and made a good start on path maintenance. The dog-paths are completely impassable - no wonder none of my garden visitors commented on the cute picturesque walking tracks through my garden. I am considering re-routing one, and calling in an anonymous chemical weed sprayer (partner) to clear the other. The sun shone down, the water gurgled past, and the trusted old cricket radio crackled and spluttered as Australia lost wickets... And now today I am up early, ready to continue. I am quietly confident and feeling at peace. My new gardening shorts are a triumph, and my lovely daughter arrives from Australia tomorrow. Perhaps I should start digging that new border...

 The leaves are everywhere.
Petunias and Gum Leaves

Four Hours Later...

I have uprooted masses of spent blue pansies along the top of the dog-path, weeded and dead-headed roses, and chopped said pansies up back on the gardens (self-seeding mulch). Now I am inside, sensibly, as the midday sun is very very hot, in a quasi apres gardening state (i.e. clean). My seed grown petunias are rather a mixture of shades - purples, magentas and blues - and there are more cosmos seedlings to plant out. I'm pretty happy, though, and my work memories are slowly receding. Being in the garden certainly helps bring a calm balance into one's life. I am really very very lucky.

Now it's just before six o'clock. This is a magical time - the sun has gone down, but there is soft light everywhere. All the lawns are freshly mown, and the borders have a very pleasing shape. The front-of-border blue spikey salvia is in full flower, and there are more and more patches of daylilies appearing, including some which are raspberry coloured (can't ever remember planting them). I'm rather glad that I didn't write a list today. I've accomplished a great deal without one. Timetables and lists only create stress and guilt anyway, and I am on holiday.