I'm deciding...

These next few weeks see me make the big retirement decision. Yippee!

 Some of the subtle colours of winter seen here on a Sorbus trunk.
Tree Trunk

Sunday 10th August

Today had jolly well be a good gardening day - after all the All Blacks won the rugby last night, and I had a long good sleep. First I am going to sow some more seeds. No point dreaming of colour drifts of wafting flower-heads in a gentle summer breeze until you've actually started them all off in their cut-down cat pottles. From humble beginnings, etc. etc.... Then I might take the saw (Pittosporums beware) to the original plantings in the side of the Island Bed. There are all sorts of scruffy trees in there (including a basic lilac which has suckered madly) and it's time for a clean out.

I am apres gardening...

...elegant and warm in navy blue needlecord, very tired but very pleased with my day's work. I have almost finished pruning the roses, and I've burnt the prunings. I have also sprayed them with copper oxychloride. I have sown about ten more pottles of seeds. I have weeded the small garden but the Sleep-out, moved in some self-sown foxgloves, and mulched the weed-free soil with rotting straw. I am using the round bales which are right down the back of the very back paddock - it's quite a journey down there. I reckon today I have walked several kilometres with my trusty wheelbarrow full of one thing or another.

I reckon that I would be a very hard working retiree. This time of year there is a lot of garden maintenance, and if I had more time I wouldn't forget important things (like painting the new parts of the fence). I would be able to nurture my seeds responsibly, without the weekly neglect that they suffer at the moment. I could even sweep the patio two or three times a week, and clean the fallen gum leaves out of the pots on the decking. All these retirement resolutions...

 Flowering soon!
Yellow Wallflower

Sunday 17th August

Lots of things have happened. On Friday afternoon I came home early, and my friend (chauffeur) and I took a leisurely walk around the garden. It felt far too small! Yesterday (Saturday) I worked really hard all day. I ripped out two patches of Japanese Iris from the Pond Paddock Borders, pruned more roses, and had a large fire. I reckon there is enough gum tree mess by the pump house to fuel a daily fire for the rest of the year - I must try to encourage Stephen to help me rake it out.

I am also certain that there is enough full-time gardening work to keep me very busy and occupied. My seeds and seedlings in the glass-house are doing well. Today I am going to try to propagate from the new shoots of one of the lupins (I'm sure this should work, like it does with delphiniums). I am also keen to finish the rose pruning, which is becoming such a bore. There are masses of self-sown Cerinthes and I want to move some to a shadier spot. An easy job, but I only remember when I am marching past them with armfuls of prunings. I also have more seeds to sow - I'm trying to do five or six new pottles per weekend. I need to prick out the Aubrietas and the Four Seasons lettuces. Busy, busy, busy!

Iris Confusa Garden Plan

My Iris confusa rationale is simple. It is allowed to grow in large patches in the Wattle Woods. Any other patches are to be removed. It is far too scruffy, and has been flattened by the snow. There is also a problem with the big brown flax by the morning decking. The last snow squashed it badly, and it hasn't recovered - it is now shaped like an upside down pudding bowl, consequently taking up far too much space. My shovel is twitching with anticipation (maybe it can move into the Wattle Tree Garden, where only the tough survive). Anyway, I'm about to go outside and attack some more Iris confusa. We are having tea with my gardening-by-the-sea friend (who I haven't seen in ages) Back soon.

Later... back from tea by the sea...

I am very tired and very pleased with the day's efforts. Yes, another patch of Iris confusa has bitten the dust - the triangular patch by the water and the Hebe hedge. I reckon I have two to go (the one by the grass path through the ex-Island Bed and one over the water race by the plank). Has waging gardening war on innocent Japanese Iris become an obsession? You bet it has!

Aloe Polyphylla :
My sea-side gardening friend grows lots of lovely succulents - like this spiral Aloe.

I have come out of the retirement closet - in other words I told my gardening-by-the-sea friend that I plan to leave work at the end of this year - much jubilation, and an invitation to join the  Friends of the Botanical Gardens  and the  Succulent and Cactus Society  (both of which sound like they are full of old men and grey-haired ladies). Yippee! A severely exciting social life looms for me. This week I will talk to my bosses at school - I'm rather nervous, but this is something I have to do. Surviving cancer may be its own reward, but I reckon I deserve a little more. As long as I have enough money to buy a truck-load of compost every now and then...

Saturday 23rd August

I HAVE DONE IT. My letter of resignation will be presented to the board next week. I am soon to face the biggest challenge of my life - I will be able to be a full-time gardener. I wonder what it will be like - having more time to enjoy the seasons, having more time for maintenance and planning (hee hee). I won't need to frenetically zoom and rush through the weekend hours. I wonder how different I will feel. Perhaps I might even learn how to grow good vegetables. My tomatoes might finally thrive. Hmmm...

 A thread of Lamium winds its way through a winter flowering Erica in the Laundry garden.

The day started with a quick trip to buy some budget rose arches and some more seed-raising mix. I also sneakily loaded the back of the car up with bags of free horse-poos (normally these smelly bags are not allowed in the car, but I am on my own for a few days, hee hee). Now I'm about to go to the glass-house, where I expect many pottles of seedlings to have germinated. It's pretty cold outside (5 degrees) but the air is clear and there are patches of pale blue sky. Some snow is possible, according to the weather forecast - we'll see. I probably won't do too much aggressive gardening today (there are only two clumps of Iris confusa left for me to massacre anyway). Back soon.


I've worked for a couple of hours. No great rush today - I've started clearing around the large water race flaxes, and in a weak moment have reprieved a clump of Iris confusa by the Plank. A bit if light weeding, a few seedlings pricked out, a walk down to the end paddock with Taj-dog and Dudley-dog (visiting from next door)... Dudley is a great rabbiter, so I am happy to let him loose in the back paddock. Taj-dog is too old and slow, so he plodded all the way back to the garden with me, stopping every so often to look wistfully over his dog-shoulder. Now I am going back outside for a final hour or two of gentle gardening, such as befits a soon-to-be-retired full-time gardener.

David Austin Roses :
You might enjoy looking at my favourite David Austin Roses.

I am back, after having screwed together one of the budget rose arches which I have stuck in the ground at the end of Middle Path. Tomorrow I will plant a couple of the David Austin roses to reach up it - they hopefully won't be too heavy. Now I am about to relax in front of the fire with Harry Potter (I am rereading the last book). Tomorrow I will work harder out there. I am already missing Stephen, who is in Canada visiting his family.

Sunday 24th August

I wonder what I should do today. There is a light frost, but the sky seems quite a strong blue. I have lit the fire, so I will probably start off by drinking my cup of tea fireside (it's 8.30am and is still wintry outside). I have my new country lifestyle magazine to peep at. Then I hope to find some weekend energy. Mind you - pretty soon I'll be able to spread my energy out more sensibly...

 Frosted Astelia leaves.
Frost - Brr...


While Stephen is away I am being thoroughly naughty. I have already tramped inside and upstairs wearing my gumboots. I have found his good scissors (which he hides away in a drawer) and used them to cut up my plastic pottles and labels in the glass-house. I have cleared and weeded and chopped and burnt and watered seeds. I've also collected up all the messy plastic plant pots left lying around in various borders. The water race flaxes look much stronger now that the ground around their bases has been cleared. I have attempted to construct the second rose arch (destined to support the rugosas behind the glass-house). Unfortunately the screws don't seem to fit. I have also solved the problem of the flooding pond, thanks to a kind visit from a farmer neighbour. Altogether a most productive day in paradise.

I would love to be able to spend a slow couple of weeks continuing the work I've done today. But wait - I soon will be able to do just that! What an exciting thought! My goodness - a full-time Moosey gardener! Imagine how beautiful my garden will look (I might even start to think I'm in control). My idea for a pond in the Frisbee Lawn may soon become a reality! I promise to plan more. Moosey at the cutting edge of garden style. I also promise to look ahead (Moosey the gatherer of horse-poos) and to start noticing the tiniest little things - like the white, yellow and blue crocuses which are flowering, and the patches of miniature daffodils which seem to be the first to get going.

 Daffodils look insignificant in a photo, but are so powerful in their real space in the garden.
The First Spring Daffodils

Thursday 28th August

I came home early from work today. The seedlings in the glass-house are really coming along well. I went around the garden picking blossom, Daphne and some small daffodils, which are now in vases. Their perfume is really strong and very beautiful. I am going to make a success of retirement.

Saturday 30th August

Hurray! August is nearly over - and this is the last August where I'm busy at work, with such little time to notice the new spring things. I am about to spend a couple of rainy hours with the seedlings in the glass-house. I have again taken Stephen's GOOD SCISSORS and have a brand new permanent marker for labels. The garden seems to glow with warmth, and the small patches of yellow are very cheering. Lots of individual Honesty plants are starting to flower, too, as is the Rosemary by the laundry seat. This morning might be a good chance to start off some cuttings - the weather is set to improve by this afternoon. Back soon.

I've come in briefly to get some new batteries for my cricket (rugby) radio. My glass-house production is going well - already in my mind the seedlings are flowering in beautiful clumps in the garden. It's almost stopped drizzling, and I can see blue sky. If I am to become a successful retired gardener, I will have to enjoy slow drizzling gardening days as much as I enjoy balmy sunny ones. I'm back off outside.

 Ready to prune.
Dead Hydrangeas

Later, apres gardening...

It's a very beautiful time of year, with so many hints and promises - a time for the imagination. The small bursts of colour are subtle and take your breath away - I've found and picked some deep red fragrant wallflowers, and some little baby pink camellia buds. Today hasn't been as productive as I'd hoped - not totally feeling OK (had to have an old lady mid-afternoon sleep). On my last wander around I saw many areas which just need some gentle weeding - maybe tomorrow. The rows and rows of well labeled glass-house seedlings sum up the day I guess. I am a gentle gardening legend.

Sunday 31st August

This is a very symbolic date - surely it represents the last of the sad limitations of winter - the garden is waking up, stretching, ready to burst out into life and movement. Hmm... Poetic thoughts indeed, but will they get the seeds sown and the seedlings pricked out? No way! I'm off outside now - it's quite early (8.30am), but I intend to be gentle and thoughtful and garden quietly for six hours. I will alternate the glass-house jobs with weeding, where I will jolly well sit down and get comfortable in the dirt and mud. This should be one of my very best days. Wouldn't it be wonderful if absolutely all the garden could be weed-free at the same time?

A Few Days later

Actually the day turned rather odd, and we won't go into the details. I ended up quite sick with a sudden virus, went to my gardening friend's to recover, and now I'm back. I have to take the rest of the week off work - I am still quite wobbly.