Not superwoman...

This February I have some unexpected time off work to enjoy the garden. I'm looking forward to spotting all the little changes I usually miss. I'm reminding myself I am not superwoman...

 This annual salvia with its beautiful dried blue flowers shares space with variegated Scrophularia
summer colour

Wednesday 29th January

I am home from hospital. Today I walked around the garden slowly, one-handedly dead-heading daylilies (that's some alliteration!) and breathed again. I am back, hopefully one of the successful statistics, to take things quietly and enjoy the summer garden in February. The Korean Angelica planted behind the wood shed is about to burst into its ridiculous purple seed head flowers, and is a foot taller than I am. What amazing growth - I love it! Surely some fashionable foliage-fixated garden designer (more alliteration) will soon discover this bizarre and lovable plant - I've never seen it mentioned by anyone else ever.

Tomorrow I might write out a gentle plan for gardening while recovering. I am looking forward to the challenge.

Thursday 30th January

There will be time tomorrow for a slightly bigger programme, possibly a sit-down weeding session by the Willow tree. I could clip the flower heads off the Stachys and pull a few more spent Lychnises out of the house borders. We'll see. The biggest challenge will be to keep things nice and easy. My gardening thoughts are as energetic as they ever were. I promise I will be sensible.

Korean Angelica :
This biennial came to me from a mail order catalogue.

There will be no major gardening for a while - just a few gentle weed pulls, maybe the odd secateur snip. And lots of walking around enjoying the plants. One of the hebes in the Wattle Woods is busy flowering (longish white panicles) and the purple Korean Angelica flower head has almost fully unfurled.

Today I supervised while my garden-help bucketed water on the Hump rhododendrons. Then I sat in a shady chair and enjoyed the 25 degree warmth of the day.

 The view from one of the upstairs rooms.
House Bound!

Saturday 1st February

Today, like yesterday, is really hot (well, 26 degrees or so). I have been watching the vege garden, where my garden-help continues to harvest marrows of all shapes and (tending to large) sizes. How do they hide themselves so successfully while they are sneakily growing like this? She has also dug two buckets of potatoes, and the big red plums on the Pond Paddock plum tree are just ready to eat. Thus our gourmet diet is set up for the next week. I have been gently leaning over to pull weeds, thus noticing seed heads of favourite flowers like the purple cornflowers and blue pansies. I now have collections spread over the kitchen bench which I will clean and put into paper packets.

Tuesday 4th February

I can't garden properly at all! This is so annoying, and funny too. Yesterday I tried to be sensible, but after stretching and lunging into the undergrowth trying to weed I almost fell into the Dublin Bay rose bush (which I don't even like very much). I am doomed to wander around dead-heading and turning on hoses. At least I managed to fill one wheelbarrowful, but I can't actually wheel it anywhere. Ooops! Today I have banished myself inside with a jigsaw, television programmes recorded to watch, and I am rereading Harry Potter for light relief. It's raining, so being inside is inevitable. This garden diary is going to get rather boring! I will be sensible though, I promise.

Wednesday 5th February

I did some! Well, for about 20 minutes - I poked and prodded the Elm Tree Garden, cutting back penstemons and the large clary sage, whose alarming scent is still on my fingers. I have left piles of rubbish for my garden-help to collect in the wheelbarrow. I am enjoying this part of the summer season - things don't look very familiar. I can't do the edges though - may have to bribe Stephen with large cakes of chocolate.

 This was once a small seedling tree - until the gardens over the water race joined the Moosey irrigation system
pittosporum island

Friday 7th February

Right! This is the morning. I intend to garden (with the garden-help) for at least two gentle hours. The intended target is the Pond Paddock, where my helper and I will do absolutely everything that looks needed - edges, weeding, clipping, pulling out. I will be an active supervisor. This had jolly well better work.

 Very subtle.
Light Pink Flower Carpet Rose


It sort of worked! And I can wheel the wheelbarrow (a little slowly). After about an hour I went proudly apres-gardening, but hey! Better than nothing! My garden-help did all the edges and tipped out the barrowfuls of rubbish. I am now off to collect the tools and may indulge in a spot of dahlia dead-heading on my return. Maybe will do some more gardening tomorrow, but I must remember not to be stupid and overdo things. We didn't actually finish the Pond Paddock at all, but it was nice to be out there with a mission.

My garden-help is getting better too. She shows good discrimination when pulling out things, and so far hasn't stood on anything precious.

Saturday 8th February

One of these mornings (soon!) I want to wake up and feel instantly better. Of course this doesn't happen. I'm not sure I should be quite as crazy today in the garden. I have some plans though, which I will form into a...

Quiet Little List:

(This next one is a mental exercise to be attempted while resting sensibly in a chair)

Right. Time to stop feeling sorry for myself and start the gentle healing action of independent GARDENING (my garden-help is off to the supermarket).

 pretty flowers.
Summer in the Garden

Later (but not much later)...

I have accomplished number one on the list. I am also sulking and am off up to bed to lie down and read. What use an enforced holiday at home when it is too difficult to garden? I am feeling very sorry for myself - take absolutely no notice. I will take up pen and paper and try sketching some Frisbee Lawn plans. The fact that I am hopeless at visualising on or off paper will not deter me.

Sunday 9th February

Today is a new day. I will not sulk. Gardeners cannot sulk for more than one day at a time - that's the theory anyway. What will I try and do in the garden? It would be nice to weed and clear out the Pond Paddock Gardens - we'll see. I should also take some February photographs.

Tuesday 11th February

Finally a good morning clearing in the Pond Paddock. My garden-help sawed a lot of overhanging tree branches and pruned the old apricot tree, while I dragged them (gently) to the trailer. A whole corner of what I call the Apple Tree Border is now open to the sun. the old roses in here are summer flowering only, and will really enjoy their new surroundings.

 A brave and subtle hydrangea peeps out from behind a huge clump of Mountain grass in the Apple Tree border
peeping hydrangea

This garden was planted quite early on, when there was little shelter, and lacks - elegance? Lately I've let the Lamium (which I never planted) get away a bit, and have poked various plants in (like a supposedly ruby coloured Astelia which has matured into a scruffy dirty grey-green). Mountain grasses have got fat and coarse looking, and a patch of purple-leaved Cannas has been struggling as each summer the trees overhang more and more.

Acanthus :
These foliage plants have very dramatic flower-heads.

There are some ill-advised Camellias in here who have tiny mean-spirited pink flowers and whose leaves are the same colour as the Astelia. The self-sown Acanthus is nice, as is the Yellow Choisya. This whole area needs a sharp spade now, and some think-big ideas to freshen it up (and maybe the misnamed ruby coloured Astelia needs shifting to a distant fence-line).

Thursday 13th February

Hopeless! Yesterday I felt a little too stiff and sore to garden properly, so instead I planted some of the Irises out and wandered around setting up the hoses. I really wanted to keep clearing the Apple Tree corner, but common sense prevailed. Now today I feel similarly restrained. This is rather frustrating. Trying to distract myself with the drawing of designer plans for the Frisbee Lawn isn't working either. I am suffering from gardening-withdrawal symptoms. We'll see.


I cleared one barrowful of stuff, very gently, and will ask my garden-help to dump it. The weather is so hot - it feels like close to 30 degrees. I am about to return to the garden for a spot of weeding by the water race. If I just do small sessions then I can do more than one a day and trick my body into accepting that this is normal...