Snow storms...

Snow storms visit the garden at Mooseys and the brittle Wattle trees do rather a lot of self-pruning. Sifter the cat starts disappearing overnight, returning only for food.

 The succulents under the seat are sheltered from the cold.
the dog-path seat in the frost

Sunday 16th June

I moved my pots not a day too soon! Last night we had our first big frost - about three or four degrees. It's still very white out there, but the sun is definitely shining. It's 9.30am and still a bit fresh and cold for contact gardening. Perhaps a gentle walk around with a hot cup of coffee? Gloves? Hat? Winter gardening Christchurch (New Zealand) style?


I turned the almost shortest day into the almost longest day of winter gardening. Now I am so tired, it's only 7pm and I wish to retire to bed with my old lady gardeners legs. I have done the following things...

List of Today's Accomplishments in the Garden

Parts of the back lawn stayed frosty all day and the midday sun was very pleasant to work in. I didn't even take a break and worked through until 4.45. I am a gardening legend, and this would be the perfect time to drink some of my home-made wine. Stephen and I talked more about the hazelnut orchard, too, and about retirement. It would be nicer if we both were here. Just imagine being able to make more choices... Just imagine having no money...

Written on Monday night by the light of a spluttering lantern

 Taken early on the morning after.
The driveway

We have serious snow outside - four inches deep and settled. We have no power and Sifter is still missing (he hasn't been seen for four days now). There are sharp cracking sounds every two minutes or so as a tree branch crashes down with the weight of the snow.

I am going out soon with the flashlight to see if Sifter can be found - if he is hurt I hope he at least is sheltering. Everything is white and flattened, and the boundary pines look like frosted models for a birthday cake. It's wet snow, too, which our trees just won't be able to handle.

Saturday 22nd June

I think this might be the shortest day. If not, it's close. I am very nervous as I write this, on a clear, frosty but sunny Saturday morning. Perhaps in half an hour I'll wrap up warm and get my things and go outside. I've typed in the words I wrote earlier in the week. Sifter turned up the following night, dry and well.

 Looks cold...
Snowy Seat

Tree Damage

We know there is tree damage but haven't been able to walk totally around yet to see how much. How many shrubs will be cracked and flattened? I know that many of the hebes will have broken branches (but they will hard prune and grow back better for it).

Even now, four days later, the flaxes around the house are still looking rather sad and flat. The worst damage is in the Wattle Woods Garden, where I watched two huge trees split and crash to the ground.

Already this morning, our neighbour has started to clear his fallen tree mess. Pretty soon I imagine we will be joining him and the chainsaws will sing together for most of the weekend and maybe days to follow - noise pollution creating winter wood for the next five years.

 Taj-dog doesn't seem to mind sitting in the snow. Dogs are strange.
Dog and gardener in snow

Snowy Dog

I took many morning-after photos, all white on white on white. It's been too dark each day on arrival home from work to do anything. I guess you'd have to experience living and gardening here to know how unusual it is to have ground snow. I'm actually not sure what I'm going to see out there - it's a scary feeling.

We last had snow settle on the ground seven years ago. I am putting off the moment, finishing a second cup of tea, listening to the radio. I will go get Stephen to walk around with me - I dare not go alone. I will be back (my goodness I am nervous).

I am back. Where to start? We are lucky, really - downed branches everywhere, but nothing we can't clean up. A lot of the pittosporums have cracked branches, and the Wattle mess has created a bit of a dam in the water race. One of the remaining Wattles is now leaning over at a desperately rakish angle. Will this be the end of the Wattle Woods? Hmm... We are off to get the Saturday paper and wait for the air temperature to warm up. Then we will begin.

Well, we've been clearing and sawing and dragging bits of branches for five hours. Two Everest rhododendrons are wrecked, but I've never really liked their dirty white flowers. Several bush roses also, but they'll sprout again. Hebes and Pittosporums - well, they'll prune - should do them good. A rhododendron called King's Milkmaid which has been a very poor do-er. My big fireman red rhododendrons are OK. Quite a few of the variegated mallows are down and out, but since they are considered a weed by certain others who live here I'm shrugging my shoulders. There are huge piles of branches over the lawns and we have decided to burn in the big paddock. Everything is too wet. It could take a few weeks to completely get organised.

Stephen keeps on saying things like :

He really is a honey and a chain-sawing legend, and I am forced to agree with him.

Sunday 23rd June

There are piles of branches to be dragged onto the trailer and driven out to the burning pile in the back paddock. There are also just a few bags of bulbs to be planted (poor things, they have started to sprout so will be buried en masse). Also I have two weeks holiday coming very soon. It's my winter holiday and I've started to look forward to it. Last winter holiday it froze and froze and I seemed to spend each day cold and sad stuck inside. I am determined to have a positive gardening experience this time. Time to find my gum-boots and gloves and make a start.


My back and my hands are very sore, and my knees are aching. Oh dear! We spent a lot of hours clearing in the Wattle Woods. All the rogue fallen branches are chopped up and stacked, and the prunings are in piles to be burnt. The Everest rhododendrons are pulled out, and some flaxes which were ripped and squashed have been re-potted. It's still quite a mess, and plants like the Iris confusa and the Ajuga have been trampled on, but things will re-grow in there. Roses have been squashed sideways, but I will just hard prune them and let them make the adjustment. It's a good chance to maybe clear out shrubs which have seen better days - certainly the hebes won't suffer from hard pruning.

The next time I write in my diary I will be ON HOLIDAY!!!!!!