The red climbing rose flowers just before the second flush of Crepuscule's apricot blooms. It's a pity it's not fragrant.
red climbing rose

Time is rushing past like the water race which runs through my garden. January is my long gardening holiday. Those ubiquitous lilac phloxes appear everywhere, I snack on the fresh peas from the vege garden, and make ambitious new plans.

Wednesday 1st January

Happy new year! Today there is cricket, and already temperatures are getting pretty hot. I intend to be a rather minimal gardener today - the plan is to relax, weeding in the shade somewhere, and gently move the hoses every half-hour or so. There is absolutely no wind, and the borders look beautiful. The rich red climbing rose on the pergola is flowering madly again, and the flaxes along the water race seem to shine in the sun.

Thursday 2nd January

Today I intended to shift a path in Middle Border - one of the original Dog-Paths is now far too silly and impassable - but the day was so hot that I ended up sitting in there doing nothing.

 Taj-Dog loves going for mountain walks.
Mountain Dog

I can't decide on the re-route of the path, and each alternative place involves the digging out and shifting of one or two plants. Some of the self-sown reedy rushes are no problem, but the start of the path requires the moving of a Corokia and a Hebe, or a larger green flax. In a way the flax should go, because the other shrubs can be trimmed later, while flaxes are supposed to get bulky and I refuse to prune off their leaves.

Dog Holidays

We decided to take the dog for a walk in the forest park in the mountains instead. That was nice, walking through the native beech forest, though it was just as hot up there. It's a summer holiday tradition. I would like to have a piece of native beech forest (unfortunately we would need to relocate). Hmm....

Friday 3rd January

Ha! I am up early and there is nice cooling cloud cover, so maybe today could be a marathon garden day. I'll have to decide on the path shift first, then perhaps a wee trip to the rhododendron nursery would be nice.

There are photos to take for the diary (I took some yesterday, but some of the lawns needed mowing, and my borders look dreadful if their surrounding lawns are untidy). Then I'd like to go down to the river to get some stones, and I'll bet Taj-dog would agree. So many plans inside my head, too - what should I do first?

 This is a view of the lawn over the water race which used to be visited every spring by a family of ducks.
Duck-less lawn

Saturday 4th January

I did the new path. Only one hebe had to get shifted but there was a lot of digging. It took me nearly three hours and I celebrated by sitting in the water race. Then I retired to the house, feeling very proud and extremely wet.

After tea I took Jerome and the dog to try the path out - perfect. Then I lay down in the middle of Duck Lawn (Duck-less lawn this summer) and agonised over my roses - bits of rust and black spot, particularly on the Bantry Bays and the Dublin Bays. I think they might have to come out.

This morning I am all fired up and inspired. There is cloud cover again which makes summer gardening so much more pleasant and easier for those of us (me) with pale skin. I read half of my new Fine Gardening magazine with my early cup of tea, and one of the articles has emphatically put me right regarding seats in the garden.

Here are the rules of seats :

Thus your visitor is conned into lingering and your seat magic has worked...

After sitting in the running water of the race yesterday I had the idea of stationing another of my $8 plastic green seats by the water's edge, tied to a tree. The concept is more adventurous than the Willow Tree seat though - the tired and hot gardener would sit comfortably in the plastic chair ACTUALLY IN THE WATER RACE as the water (mid-thigh deep) rushed past and over. Like a therapy seat, a water adventure for the older person...might try it.

Today I have some new rhododendrons to plant, and I need a few more stones for the new path. I've tipped a bucketful of smaller stones onto the problem Dog-Path surface and I like the look very much, so perhaps the river visit can help here as well. The trick though is to get it level first - slicing with that spade again. I should do this first before temperatures rise too much. Also there is cricket.

Dublin Bay :
One of Dublin Bay's serious problems is that it is completely scentless - this seems so wrong for a red rose.

And I remind myself that the lady at the rhododendron nursery has a gorgeous red climbing rose, called Parkdirektor Riggers, climbing up and over her pergolas. She reckons she doesn't ever have to spray it - I like the look of it.

So maybe it's goodbye to Dublin Bay - your flowers have always seemed a little bland and passionless, never rejoicing in their redness...

Monday 6th January

Yesterday was a day of complete gardening triumph. Inspired by an early morning read of my Fine Gardening magazine, I went outside and made major improvements in the new border by the Willow. I planted the rhododendrons, shifted in some Bergenias, a sad flax and a tree peony which had been suffering in dryness near Rooster Bridge. The magazine articles have inspired me to look at smaller details - I may shift the Pulmonarias as well - and to appreciate the contribution that smaller plants make to a border. I shifted stones around, realigned the curves of Duck(less) lawn, and enlarged the wee island garden by the Cercis tree.

 A new garden often starts by taking all the rejects from other places.
the Willow Tree Garden

My new Christmas gardening book is pretty inspiring, too. It is by Bob Flowerdew and is called The No-Work Garden - I have really warmed to the author's sense of humour and style. He is wise, and his gardening cliches are lively and valuable reminders of common sense and garden reality. He has a great sense of development in a garden, too.

Today there is more to do out there. First I am off on a plant hunt in the dry scruffy gardens at the back of the Wattle Woods. Plants in here are badly misplaced, due to the extreme summer dryness. Rather than trying to remember to desperately water them I have decided to reposition them by the Willow tree. I am pleased with the new path through Middle Border which now has only one large flax to bend and duck around. If I remember to clip and trim the shrubs this path should last for years...

I have been incredibly lazy keeping the shrubs at Mooseys under control. Favourites like hebes respond so well to trimming - even getting cut to the ground they are good natured enough to re-sprout fairly quickly. Perhaps this could be a belated New Years resolution - judicious pruning BEFORE things get oversized...

Wednesday 8th January

We are back from the river with large edging stones and 5 buckets of smaller stones which are experimentally to be laid on the Dog-Path. I am now off to level off more of it, though the sun might get me since it's nearly midday.

 Using stones for edges makes shifting or redirecting paths quite easy!
The new path

Thursday 9th January

The dog-path surface idea has worked - it looks great, and feels good to walk on (which is after all pretty important). Today I have a lot of smaller jobs to do outside.

I re-read parts of my new Bob Flowerdew gardening book with my early cup of coffee, and am inspired! This book is just great, though ironically it inspires me to prune and chop and thin things. I'm not sure that this was Bob's intention - he is advocating a less-work approach to gardening, but somehow causes this hotheaded southern hemisphere gardener to rush madly outside grabbing shears and secateurs. He advocates sensibility, yet here in the middle of a fire ban I am producing barrowfuls of trimmings and prunings which all need a burning pile... I like his style.

In honour of this I have braided my hair in a long Bob Flowerdew plait (which pokes out the back of my soft yellow gardening cap). Off I go.

Back I come, triumphant. Go Bob Flowerdew, fruit tree fanatic - I am even thinking about better looking after the plum and apple trees. And where once I was thinking of ripping out raspberry plants which have run riot down one long thin flower bed, now I am thinking of letting them take over and bear fruit.

A small confession - a few days ago I drowned my cricket radio - by completely submerging it unintentionally in a barrowful of water overnight. Yesterday, rather sheepishly, I went shopping to replace it. My new radio is the same make as the dear departed one, but much more silvery. It ran well today as I leveled more of the Dog-Path in the blazing sun. I shifted stones around and edged the small path to the Willow tree.