A pruning and burning obsession...

I have a pruning and burning obsession - it's about time that the scruffy Pittosporums are dealt to.

Thursday 17th July

I've started my day by re-reading 'Colour by Design' by Nori Pope. I've been peering at the photos of Hadspen House's colour designed borders, taking notes on a scruffy piece of paper as I read (impressing myself, at least).

 I am determined to look after my seeds this year.
seed packets

I will summarise these scribblings, so I can be shamed (or inspired) later in the gardening year. I have only read the blue/yellow/green chapters.

Colourful Planting Plans

The overnight rain has stopped, and today is supposed to be really warm. It's almost 10 am, quite late to be starting a gardening day, but it is winter. I intend to continue my war against oversized shrubs. Moosey the Merciless, owner of six new pairs of cheap red-handled secateurs, is on the loose.

 Burning, burning, burning...
Garden Bonfire

Doing Big Stuff!

Lunchtime - my goodness I have been ruthless. I have spent three hours doing 'Big Stuff'. Several large Pittosporums have been cut down at the knees. The Jelly Bean Border is lighter in texture, and the remaining shrub foliage looks so much better. I have found more and more to cut as I've walked around the Pond Paddock (some will need a chainsaw). I am having a short break now - my homemade bread is baking as I write - then I'll end the day with the usual burn-up. Just think how much better this garden would be if the gardener was full time (hee hee)...

5pm - past sunset

...and I've just finished burning. I've been thinking about how to organise a life of gardening retirement. There could be rules - for example, at least one full day per week spent in the vege garden (think how beautifully my tomatoes would grow!). Perhaps this gardening diary could have weekly pages (that could be very boring).

Perhaps I could have visitors to stay, running a garden lovers bed and breakfast (matching towels and duvet covers, big colour photos of the garden on every bedroom wall). I could learn to cook nicely, and vacuum every day. How can I possibly last in my job until the end of the year? On a sadder note, there are only TWO days of my winter holiday left. I am going to have to cram everything and more into these next 48 hours. I could have a relapse (only joking...)

Friday 18th July

A slower start to today because of frost. I've been rereading some more gardening books as I wait for the sun to come up, taking notes again. This diary could easily become a boring list of new inspired resolutions. For example, I may lift some of the dahlias (if they aren't already dead by freezing). Anyway, I'm off outside to shift some pots into the glass-house before the frost does permanent damage. The walking around with the wheelbarrow should keep me warm.


Today I have shown that I am definitely ready to be rewarded with retirement. I have worked gently and steadily in the garden from 10 am until 5 pm. First I organised pots and rescued some curry plants and daisies, plonking them into pottles of potting mix. Then I tidied up in the Wattle Woods by the fence-line, organising the view of next door's pond so it was nicely framed with tree branches (this involved sawing down rather large tree lucernes, raking out rubbish, and trimming old flax leaves). Then I decided to experiment in Middle Border - rather than cut down two offending oversized Pittosporums, I cut off all their lower branches (it took ages). Suddenly the rhododendrons have room to breathe, and can be seen from over the bridge - the results are very very pleasing.

 A photo of one of my daily burn-ups.
Fire and Flaxes

My rubbish fire was ongoing - I started about 1.30 and the last scraps were burning at 5 pm. I am very very pleased with my day. In fact I am incredibly pleased. Like yesterday I feel that I have accomplished 'Big Stuff'. How am I going to survive going back to work? Honestly I feel that my time there is over, and that I have the resources to be very happy gardening every day. As a statement of faith I haven't yet cleaned my fingernails.

Mary Rose :
Any excuse to have a pretty picture of a pink rose on this wintry web-page!

I wonder why I've never tackled the trimming and shaping of trees (for example) before? I've been rather preoccupied first with flowers like roses, then flaxes, then other foliage plants. The Pittosporums I've attacked have grown themselves from seedlings - there are always plenty of new ones growing on in the borders. The results when an overcrowded border is thinned out are amazing.

Sunday 20th July

No gardening yesterday - unfortunately it has been raining all day and I have spent some of the afternoon at my work. I wrote a list of things I have to do before Monday morning and then proceeded to ignore it.

 The house patio.
Too Wet

Last Holiday Day

Today is the last day of my winter gardening holiday. I plan to work until about 3pm, then I'll have to stop and organise myself to go back to work. Blast! I am trying to talk Stephen in to doing a bit of chain-sawing (the Great Moosey Pittosporum Hunt). Then I just might lift the nicest dahlias (like Bishop Llandaff) - then a remake of one of the small house borders, perhaps a planting of the rose Parkdirector Riggers to hopefully adorn the Pond Paddock archway, and the digging out of any oversized big green grasses (they are one of my controlled self-seeding plants, beautiful to fill in spaces for two seasons maximum, quick to grow, easy to remove). I will now get a ceremonial last holiday day's cup of coffee. This is so sad!


Yet another scruffy Pittosporum is down, very quickly thanks to the chainsaw. The shrubs in the Septic Tank border will now have lots more light and space. They are an interesting lot - a deciduous Azalea, a red flowering Weigela, an early soft pink Camellia and a couple of workhorse Hypericums (which are severely pruned). There is also more room for the rose Constance Spry (a once flowering David Austin) which has the most beautiful blooms.

 Thinking about something...
Tak-Dog in the Garden

So my gardening holiday is unofficially over. I have so enjoyed myself - it started off slowly, and ended in a frenzy of confidence and energy. I know I could be happy spending more time in the garden - we'll just have to see what the immediate future brings. The way I feel at the moment, I wonder if I'll last the year at my job! Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a proper spring-time in the garden? Hmm....