Late January

These later days in January are spent clearing paths, weeding, and wishing I didn't have to go back to work.

Sunday 13th January

It is so disappointing, raining again. Not that I mind rain, but I can't get out there to do any gardening. I wandered around before with tramping parka on. Humph...


I am cutting down New Dawn. It's too dark to do any more tonight. Tomorrow the remains will be killed. New Dawn is no more. I fancy a Wisteria, possibly two, to climb up the patio pergola.

New Dawn is down

Monday 14th January

I'm up early to finish the New Dawn attack but it's raining again (I hate it when other gardeners complain about the rain - are they soft, or something? Just get on out there!). Seriously, I am disappointed more in myself than in the weather.

New Dawn :
Sorry, New Dawn. I hope my experience doesn't stop other gardeners growing you.

It's so much brighter in the house without the canopy of diseased, ready-to-drop rose leaves shading the patio. And less hazardous to walk over the paving stones when wet (which they are). I have reprieved one cutting-grown New Dawn which is much less vigorous, with lighter leaves and noticeably less leaf spots etc. This could be a reasonably scientific thing to check out - I know that some people prefer roses on their own roots because they eventually grow stronger. Always thought that this was with respect to wind assaults, not fungus nasties - we'll see. Anyway, the idea of Wisteria appeals, so I will go get a cup of coffee and check out some books, while I wimpishly wait for the rain to stop.

I did it. The rain stopped, and I ripped out the rose. Then I cleared the Oak Tree path, pulling out a rose I didn't like, widening and clipping back overgrown lavender. And the path actually looks better - maybe I am learning something.

Tuesday 15th January

It's not raining! Out I go, no time for writing. Back later.

Yes! I have cleared the original dog-path, shifting stones and pruning Pittosporums. The path wiggles a lot more, but it is passable. There is still an ambience to be enjoyed, too, as the water race trickles past with its gentle sounds. It really is a tranquil spot.

Thursday 16th January

Lovely day yesterday spent contemplating nature, talking to cats and raking up grass clippings. Lots of rain = lots of grass. Some of the roses aren't coping, though - the David Austin rose Geoff Hamilton is balling badly. I was pretty lazy, really.

Jerome :
Jerome, a grey short-haired tabby, is one of the original Moosey cats.

At dusk I found Jerome the cat sitting on Middle Bridge, so I decided to go for a walk with her, getting her to go first. That was a fun experiment! She led me along a dog-path, then short cut through the Dog-Path Garden, then back to the Hen House Borders, along the other dog-path ending up at the Oak Tree seat, where she sat down. As I did. We sat in relative silence and watched the water race by. A moment of tranquility to treasure.

What shall I do today? Rip out the patches of Shasta daisies which are annoying me? Rake some more grass clippings? Clear the grass edge of the water race by the plank? It's warm and cloudy - the perfect gardening morning. I'll see if I can find Jerome the cat.

 rustic ambience.
the hen-house in summer

Friday 17th January

Spent ages by the hen-house just pottering. Weeded some of Rooster Bridge garden by wading in the water race - very refreshing. Would like to plant ferns etc. there as a weed suppressant - the slope is quite extreme, though the soil/clay is stable and well packed in. Now it's today, and I am going back to the same spot. Thought that I might do a major clear right to the fence-line. This has never before occurred, and there are lots of burnable bits of old gum tree to remove. It's shady and reclusive over there, and Jerome seems to like it. Off now before it gets too hot. Yes - the SUN is shining!


Worked hard under the gums and wattles by the hen-house. I could live over here - it's secluded and restful (no wind blowing). Much of the ground is cleared, almost back to the fence-line now, and I plan to move in some excess hebes. They won't get enough sun to flower well, but they are tough and neat, good space fillers underneath gums and wattles. Already I've cleared the other Wattle Woods paths of any Iris confusa creeping over the edges, and planted a swathe (hmm...) of these around the large wattle tree trunk in the middle. I am not thinking to any design, as usual, merely plonking in sensible tough things. One early year I had a row of stylish apricot foxgloves in here, but they were undersized.

 Growing behind the glass-house.
Red Hollyhocks

Sunday 19th January

We have won two cricket matches since I last wrote in this diary. This is a good thing. It has been consistently raining again, though. Stephen says that we have had three quarters of our annual average rainfall in the last three weeks. Naturally everything out there is rather green and a bit wet/messy. There are a few premature flop-downs, too (some of the self-sown red hollyhocks). I am glad I was brutal with New Dawn. No replacement Wisterias as yet, since a small amount of research is needed. Prefer the concept (spiritually that is) of the one that winds clockwise...

Saturday 25th January

I have been in the garden this past week, but there have been rainy days and unfortunately I have had to go in to work at times. Today is a gardening day - the sun shines, there are a few puffy clouds, and I am ready to do an official cup-of-coffee tour. The scary thing is that with the heady mixture of rain and sun there could be huge growth spurts everywhere, and I will get a shock. I will return soon.

Well, there were! On my way to the hen-house, with several new bargain bin Pittosporums and hebes in the barrow, I stopped by the new rose garden and lingered just a little too long. Two hours later things were in better shape - I removed a huge flowering thistle (not an ornamental!) and cut back a spreading salvia and the clump of Scrophularias, discovering several sad roses underneath. I planted the purple heirloom potatoes (which I rightly or wrongly call Maori potatoes) and harvested some spring onions and stubby carrots. If this sounds like my vegetable garden is a well organised production patch, don't be fooled! I counted ten parsnips which are being saved for autumn/winter. My no-stake (lazy!) tomatoes are starting to show some fruit, and the courgettes continue to produce, though the courgette/marrow transformation seems to happen overnight.

 The most beautiful cat in the garden?
Sifter on a Stump

Then I pottered in the shade by the hen-house and planted the new toughies. They are spread out, mulched, and I am ready to hang the hammock. Sifter hung around squawking like a seagull. I have stashed one garden armchair in the hen-house which I can whip out for old lady rest sessions.

Sunday 26th January

WE WON THE CRICKET again, against Australia, so the whole of New Zealand has a silly smile on its face. Apart from watching the cricket highlights, what should I do today? Technically this is the last day of my holiday, and there is more cricket this afternoon.

First I will tidy up the side garden in the Pond Paddock, and get rid of the Shasta daisies and some of the scrubby euphorbias. This border needs a total replanting, I think - and possibly could be reshaped near its entrance. Maybe the excess roses (at the moment housed in the Dog-Path Garden) could relocate here. Then there are roses around the house to dead-head, and edges to do. Should keep me going happily for hours.