Gardening in late winter is totally unpredictable. The weather could be mild and balmy, inspiring al fresco daydreaming sitting on outdoor furniture, or freezing and wet. It's also the start of serious rose pruning - where are my thick gloves?

Sunday 20th July

Yesterday the weather was amazing! Seventeen degrees (Celsius), and I did nothing except sit on the patio and dream my way through several hot cups of coffee. I could have been digging more of my new water race border. I could have been burning more of the broken wattle branches which are lying in a mess by the Hen House. I could have been spreading compost.

 The red flaxes are really beautiful mid-winter
the house patio in winter


I feel very guilty. I have a trailer-load of rich dark compost to spread somewhere, and a barrowful of rotten horse-poos (a present from an understanding friend) to try out. If I like this gift (hmm...) I can hopefully take trailer and shovels and get a lot more. The classic scenario - it's good for the garden and it's free. I remember worrying about the correct time of year for spreading stuff like compost and horse-poos on the garden. I know better now - the correct time is when it's available and free and you can be bothered shovelling.

Timing is never a problem! But now my garden turns into a rabble of undernourished borders and beds, all clamouring for food. Where shall I put this organic gold? Which areas of my garden are more deserving? Which areas will have to miss out? And (sadly) which areas are closest to the compost pile?

Today I will be decisive. There are so many things that I need to do in the garden. There is no time for drinking and dreaming. Or for prattling on in this diary, putting off the moment when gumboots go on and gardeners go out. The weather is strangely warm, with nor-west winds swirling the gum branches around. Hard work awaits.


Sheepishly, I have to confess that I only worked for two hours. And all I did was clear out the small area where house compost is dumped. I have dug out (hopefully) all of the disgusting weedy grass. I spread a few barrowfuls of my new compost as well, and wandered around looking yet again for Sifter the cat.

 What beautiful stripes...
Sifer the Cat

Where is Sifter?

He has decided to go off for a new three day cruise. Someone else must be feeding him, since he always arrives back in top condition with the roundest of tummies. Where is he going? Who has he found to con into giving him food and shelter? I am very cross with his attitude. Being highly decorative is at the moment his only good point.

Saturday 26th July

I feel terribly guilty about Sifter the cat - since I complained about his attitude he has totally changed his habits. Each day of this last week he has turned up early evening, shared the warmth of the wood burner, sat on laps, purred and smooched, and even slept once on a bed. This is how a winter cat should behave.

This morning started frosty, and I couldn't go outside until 10am - even then the air temperature was pretty cold, so I started burning more of the wattle tree rubbish, mainly to keep warm and on the move. This ended up being the only thing I did, and I trudged around the property wheeling barrow-load after barrow-load of burnable rubbish to encourage the fire. I felt very peeved because I had fancied a spiritual wafting sort of gardening day - but never mind. Now I am ready to go to bed and it's only 7.30. Hopeless.

 It all looks quite cold...
Winter Driveway

Sunday 27th July

It's frosty again and today I refuse to just have a burning day. I feel like being creative. The plan is first to get a hot cup of coffee, then to walk around for inspiration. I will ignore the fact that I desperately need new gumboots - whenever I put them on in the mornings it feels as if there are slugs nesting in the toes. It is possible that I will continue digging near the Plank, if the frost isn't too solid.


My garden time has finished and I have come inside to get ready to go to work. Humph! This is my weekend, my time, and I haven't organised it or used it wisely. I've been digging over the water race expanding the new garden bed, but my efforts have been half-hearted. Usually I make sure I get all the weeds out, but this time I've been fudging things, covering things with straw without even trying to weed. I will pay for these gardening sins.

 Some of winter's cheeriest flowers.
Blue pansies

I've shifted some clumps of pansies in from other parts of the garden, which look rather forlorn and silly. Oh well, at least I haven't prematurely tried to plant anything major. The wind has been biting cold, though the sun has been shining - can't really blame the weather.

There is a good spot over here for the large and mainly unloved Lavender Lassie rose which annoys me on the pergola. It's a rather large majestic waterside Willow tree stump. If I promise to keep cutting off most of the sprouting canes it may do very well as a support for the rose. I will think about this possibility as I do my school work. Sorry to end this month's diary on a grumpy unsatisfied note. Perhaps I should retire from my job and embrace gardening freedom...

Saturday August 3rd

I have just spent four hours digging. I had forgotten about digging. The first digging day is terrible and there seems to be no inspiration. Then the second day is just the same - monotonous, muddy knees, going nowhere. But usually by the third or fourth day the halfway point is reached, and suddenly things brighten up. Then all sorts of great planting ideas pop up, hopefully incorporating the row of reject roses sulking in pots behind the glass-house.

Keep On Digging

It's hard to write anything about a first day of digging. The large new garden border is just far too far off in the future. There are far too many nasty creeping weedy grass roots. Should the digging just take twice as long and be twice as carefully executed? Or should some chemical spray be ordered in and a blind eye turned? Thick newspaper and layers of mulch are a good compromise - should that be tomorrow's job? Decisions, decisions...

Burning Rubbish :
In a country garden the burning heap gets a lot of use - but only for dry things that cannot compost.

It's August already - and I wonder if I would like to retire from my job and spend each August day in the garden? It's really an in between month, and it will be a burning and pruning weekend gardening month for me. I am always burning. And I do not necessarily like burning. I can think of better gardening things to keep me warm...

More Garden Plans

The row of potted roses behind the glass-house are tempting. But will they look totally silly when planted along the water race? Or will visitors be inspired by the combination of roses and flowing water, and praise the designer flair of the gardener? There are some daffodils in here, too, rashly planted when their gardener was in her free-form naturalising mood. Trouble was that she chose the wrong type (large yellows, suitable only for the local supermarket). How quickly will the small Oaks planted near here grow? Actually, when will they start growing? Warnings as to purchasing root bound specimens at two dollars each should have been heeded. Would this be a better place for rhododendrons? In which case, how can the Oaks be subtlety killed off so that the garden helper who planted them won't take offence?

 In the garden by the Plank.
Red Flaxes

By the Plank

And back along the race past the Plank, ridiculously placed, there is a little red beech. This silly purchase could also be sneakily killed off. I am sure it is quite the wrong tree for that location. Meanwhile all the self-sown Pittosporums flourish and fatten in Middle Border, pushing onto select shrubs and completely shading elegant clumps of daffodils which are supposed to herald the fresh hopes of spring. Dare I clip them into small blobs, or will the frosts get them? Several red flaxes planted in moments of euphoria last year are getting alarmingly large over here. Does one have the strength and stamina to lift and split them - I mean, is the spade sharp enough?

I think I'd better stop writing - I seem to be in a very grumpy mood and this is no way to start off a new month. Apparently there are six weeks until the equinox, and this should cheer me up. Does it?

Sunday 4th August

I am still pretty gloomy. The All Blacks lost the rugby to Australia (again!), and today I have to go into work. Before I do I should mention the good things - there is freshly made bread to have with coffee, and Stephen and I are about to go outside together to start clearing the Hen House Border. There are wattle trees which have almost fallen down, splitting their branches and blocking the sun. The Hen House awaits. I have approximately two hours in which to make an impression.

Wednesday 7th August

Ha! I am having a day off work! Not so good - I have a cold and laryngitis. I am wrapped up warm and am soon to wander outside to see how I feel. Perhaps a gentle walk around, maybe taking a few barrowfuls of mulch and filling in some garden holes, maybe a small garden fire... I may not feel very energetic, though. We'll see.

Seeds in Pottles:
I like growing annual flowers and vegetable seeds like lettuces.

It's no good - I must be a bit sick, since I've only lasted an hour and a half, spent sowing seeds in the glass-house and burning rubbish. Actually I feel tired and sad - oh boy! And I feel lonely - ridiculous in this garden with cats and dog (granted, though, that they are all snoozing inside in front of the wood burner). Anyway, I am hopeless, back inside so soon for a cup of tea and a wee rest. The garden feels like hard work today.


Another hour spent pruning roses around the front of the house. But I've come back inside to sit down and read my book. No stamina! I've dumped the barrowful of prunings on the ashes of this morning's fire - hope they burn. I just don't seem to have the mental energy today. Hmm...I must really be sick!

Saturday 10th August

A beautiful spring-like day and I've spent most of it in bed feeling sorry for myself. And sleeping, I guess. Sorry to be so gloomy - even writing up my garden diary, usually one of my weekend joys, is no fun today. This diary should not over-concern itself with my bad health, though. It annoys me that a mild sunny August weekend day has passed me by. I will get a cup of tea and maybe go for a walk outside for some fresh air.

Sunday 11th August

Another mild day, though today there is cloud cover. I am still officially sick, and have been loafing in bed reading - I am now about to have cup of tea and wander outside. I feel hopeless - no energy. I will find some small task to do outside which I can sit down for. Or I might prune the main driveway rose bushes and have a burn-up. Sorry to be gloomy again - it feels like I've lost another weekend. Retirement becomes a very desirable option. Must seriously see if it's possible.