Regaining my gardening confidence...

I am slowly regaining my gardening confidence. And still the weeds keep growing!

Friday 14th February

I know that this is supposed to be a strictly gardening diary, but I have some great news - WE won the cricket against the West Indies! I have just come back from visiting my dear gardening friend clutching a frilly echeveria and a chunk of ornamental bamboo for a pot. It's raining, which is a good thing for the garden and the surrounding fields. I am about to watch a replay of the cricket on TV - perfect timing. Happy Valentine's Day!

 Echeveria, variegated geranium and and a weather-beaten angel garden statue in front of a large bronze flax
pots on the decking

Saturday 15th February

My garden-help (who I love very much, but that's another story!) has gone sea-kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park for a week. Without her I plan a measured sensible garden improvement strategy, the results of which will be noticeable on her return. It is time that a lot of the early 'lazy plantings'(where I got given bags of stuff and plonked them all in to fill up space and create instant gardens) were simplified.

Remove Me!

At the time of planting there would have been mental tags on some filler plants (namely 'remove after 2 or 3 seasons'). The Jelly Bean Border is a prime example of initial over-planting with free shrubs, to get a windbreak - there is a row of now-thriving Viburnum Tinus shrubs which I know were only temporary. Will I be able to saw them down to size one-handedly? Hmm...

First I'll pick some plums, then I'll try and redesign the Jelly Bean Border. Thus a quiet Saturday morning will commence. Back soon.


I lied. I've been quietly pottering around the house gardens, clipping down hollyhock and bronze fennel stems. I have filled my one barrowful, which is the maximum I am allowed in a gardening session. The gardens in here are nice and busy doing their own thing, and I've dead-headed and pulled out some Lychnises and divided one of the thin red flaxes. Have also tidied some pots. Time for a break.


I managed another gentle weeding and pulling session, with another wheelbarrowful of rubbish as a result. I am quietly regaining my gardening confidence. And I have never ever before dead-headed the dahlias.

 With flaxes and grasses on the edge of the water.
Water Race

Sunday 16th February

Today I will try again for one measured hour of 'garden-sculpting'. The plan is to go over the water race and sit down to weed. Back soon.

I was semi-successful, but only because I couldn't find my blue digger and consequently my weed pulling wasn't extremely thorough. There is good growth in the new plantings by the Willow tree, though, and not too many weeds. The reject flower bed can be definitely called a hot border, as the colours are mainly reds and oranges. I love it.

Monday 17th February

I have completed my first hour's work, and retired inside like a good recovering patient (but I think I am feeling quite a lot better). I have a gentle plan to move a small connecting path between the lawns over the water race and the dog-path. After a break and a rest I think this will be a nice afternoon project. It's quite hot, and there are huge green-growth expanses in the gardens and lawns over there. This is certainly the best soil in my garden, and doesn't need irrigating as much as the areas nearer the house. Roses over here seem less blackspotted, too, and weeds are easier to pull out.

 The ducks still love visiting this area.
Dog-Path Garden Downstream

The only negatives are the thousands of gorse and broom seedlings (relics of the old hedges which were ripped out of here four years ago) which will continue to germinate for the next hundred years. But hey! - this is the littlest of problems (though when I miss a seedling and then a few year's later discover a small gorse tree hidden in the shrubby texture...)

Gentle Plan For Later:

Now it's later (about 4:30 pm) and I'm off to rejoin the garden and to hopefully do all those gentle things up there. The hot dry wind would have made midday gardening rather unpleasant anyway. Am seriously feeling a bit better.

Ah!... I am back, triumphant. I moved the Dog-Path seat and built the new wee path. All that is needed are some gentle (there's that word again!) steps down to join the Dog-Path at the water's edge. A good day in paradise.

 The Dog Path by the water is now sensibly joined to the lawns. The pink rose to the left is Pink Iceberg.
path to the water

Tuesday 18th February

I gardened for two hours, clipping edges and weeding by the Willow tree. I am feeling a lot better. I even pulled (gently) some weeds out using both arms. Reading back through this month's diary makes me laugh - how naive I was, thinking that I would be able to be an eight-hour gardener in a few days!

 Tied up in case the wind tries to blow it away.
Plastic Garden Seat

Wednesday 19th February

Another better day. I tidied up around the house this morning, then took a rest break, then returned late afternoon. I am still restricting myself to one wheelbarrowful collected and dumped in any one session, but my gardening stamina is definitely returning. I am enjoying the novelty of dead-heading dahlias (usually I am too busy working) and have also pulled out quite a few Nicotianas and Hollyhocks. The one negative in working directly around the house is the gum leaves all over the house lawns, spoiling any thoughts I may have had for swathes of restful green. It's raining now, but I still need to water some of the pots. Another gentle day in paradise.

Saturday 22nd February

Eek! I haven't really been in the garden since Wednesday (mind you it has been raining). And I did have a short spell on Friday morning weeding the vege garden. Naturally there were some new families of over-large courgettes to pick. The grass was quite wet, though, and the wind was chilly, so I didn't stay long.

But today I have bigger plans. My first plan is to gently coax Stephen into mowing absolutely all the lawns. I have a new rhododendron to plant, and some weeding to do in the Hen House Borders. The paths over there need clearing (remember my clear path resolution), and they can be my focus until lunchtime.

 An inspired(?) planting allows this wonderful rose to flop all over a brown tussock.
red flower carpet rose

I also have a confession to make - even though I have been bleating and moaning about wanting to leave work, I feel I am not quite ready to do so. I have unfinished business! So I am going to return for three days late next week and see how I go. I promise never ever to mention retirement again. Perversely, the very moment I have the ideal excuse to take the plunge and leave the job, I decide I am still inspired to stay being a teacher. There is no hope for some of us! Now the hen house paths are calling out to me 'Weed me! Weed me!' I will return, with muddy knees, in a couple of hours.

This has been a crazy month. I need to give a huge thank you to family, friends, and students who have been there for me, with a specially big hug to my live-in garden help / gourmet cook (love you JJ). And to all the cats (Stumpy, Jerome and Mugsy) and Taj-dog - thanks for behaving as though nothing unusual had happened to me (I needed that!) Cheers.