June Mid-Winter

New Zealand is approaching the shortest day, and Moosey the Intrepid All-Weather Winter Gardener is still going strong! Nothing can stop her as she rakes, clears, chops, weeds, and burns...

Saturday 19th June

It's 8 am, I'm up and ready to go outside, and the temperature is a balmy twelve degrees. Today I think I need to make a list - I need to get out more, too, having been single-mindedly stuck in the Wattle Woods for the week. Well - maybe not a strict list - how about a geographically strategic plan? With signposts? (Possibly not the correct word...) Here goes.

Two hours maximum in any one garden area, fifteen minutes minimum. Right.

 The Gunnera will die down with the first frosts.
Cold Reflections in the Winter Pond

Apres Gardening,
Four Impressive Hours Later...

I have impressed myself - but mustn't overdo it, or tomorrow I'll be a sulking write-off. My list was a little ambitious - I've just really been working near the Hen House in the small waterside foliage garden. A large ill-placed flax is dug out, several Pittosporums are sawn down, and the paths and gardens are raked clear.

I've had chook and cat company (rooster and Jerome) - uneasily sharing the same pathways, even crossing by each other on Rooster Bridge. The two hens are chicken (!) and won't come across the bridge.

Jerome loves the seat opposite the glass-house - so I'm now going to return outside in my fresh white linen shirt and read the paper there, with a fresh, hot cup of tea, of course. Nearly the shortest day and it's about seventeen degrees in the sun - I am SO lucky to have such a lovely garden and the good health to enjoy it.

Sunday 20th June

It is Eggy's birthday today - I think of him sweltering through the long light days of heat and celebration in London. Happy Birthday! Here in New Zealand it is nearly the winter solstice and I'm celebrating a half a year of successful semi-retirement and fully committed gardening.

 My glass-house needs a good tidy up!
The Winter Glass-House


I've been in the Hen House Garden by the gently gurgling water race - weeding, tidying up old flax leaves, trying to fix up the path past the hebe hedge, pulling out millions of little gorse seedlings. What a beautiful area this has become - contrasting foliage everywhere (rushes, grasses and flaxes versus hebes and pittosporums) and gorgeous winter colours like the rusty tussocks.

 Silly bird!
Rooster by the Water

A Descriptive Writer?

The gardening books are right - seed-heads on the grasses look amazing at this time of year. One of the Miscanthus grasses has delicate feathers which are a tawny copper-brown. The garden seems to shrink in size, while the flaxes turn into fat strappy giants. The silhouettes of the big cordylines look amazing, now that their deciduous neighbours are bare of leaves. And I am trying hard to be a more descriptive garden writer!

Monday 21st June - The Shortest Day

This will be the shortest day for gardening, too as I have to go in to work. But all the work I did in the 'Shortest Weekend' has made up for it. I've taken a few mid-winter photographs, swept the patio, fed the chooks...

One real seasonal give-away is the lack of a patio table (moved into the garage for its biennial cleaning and oiling). Oh, and the ridiculously low sun which rises and sets in ridiculous places of the garden at ridiculous times.

Wednesday 23rd June

Yippee! The days are getting longer... Hmm... Today I am home all day. As soon as the outside warms up I will go out there. I'm not sure what I'll do today - I should continue my sweep down the gardens over the water race. There's a bit of slash and burn, but probably more clip, weed, and shift.

 Clip, weed, and shift...
Trusty Wheelbarrow in the Hen House Garden

For example, the main path through the Hen House Garden has all but disappeared - unless you happen to be 30-40 cm high and furry, with four legs. It's easier to shift the offending rose than the flax.

Oops... I'm back - a false start - just a little early and cold (i.e. 9am, frosty). I'll try again in an hour's time. Three fat puffed up chooks are performing their ritual morning-decking-stare. They'll have to wait.

Three Very Productive Hours Later...

Ha! The water-side Dog-path through Middle Garden is officially no more - shut, blocked off. I've installed a small seat which can be reached by stepping though the garden. The Dog-path now has a completely different route, through the very middle of the plantings - just one rhododendron needed to be shifted to accommodate it. I need more stones to edge it, as I want to leave the water-side stones in position.

 And a Viburnum Tinus in flower.
Red Cordyline

Burning, Burning...

As I write the rubbish is burning (mainly flax leaves, pittosporum branches, and more remains of the thug Golden Hop), and I am feeling really good. There is nothing like a good day in the garden with cat, chook and dog company.

Numbers of Gunnera seedling plants are colonising right by the water's edge, though - eek! They've all been water-born, carried into my garden from a plant clump up-stream. A timely ecological reminder - there are some areas in New Zealand where Gunnera has escaped to become a nuisance in the native bush and streams. Hmm...

Thursday 24th June

I have started clearing the Dog-Path Garden, trimming branches off Pittosporum trees and digging out Viburnums which have crept over the ground forming roots as they go. There are lots of daffodils starting to show, and the rhododendrons have lots of flower buds. Yippee! It will soon be spring (actually, first things first - i.e. Winter!). Everything is burnt in a slightly windy but safe fire.

I am enjoying my winter garden, but I get SO envious when I see Moosey photographs with the colours and flowers of summer. I love the roses especially - I miss them! And all the clean greenery.