The Birthday Garden...

It's the Easter weekend, and I've been to the big plant nursery sale once - so far. I plan to have the whole of the new Birthday Garden planted, manured and mulched. That is, as long as the long range weather forecast for persistent rain is proved wrong!

 I am busy trying to dig and plant this whole area!
Birthday Girl in New Birthday Garden

Good Friday - 25th March

Yippee! I have a wet-clothes plan for today's rain digging. So far I've been working outside in thermals - it's not cold, but it's wet. When I need a short rest I close my eyes and imagine I'm in the mountains tramping (hee hee - I think I'd rather be wet in the garden)... When I come inside the thermals are left in a muddy heap on the porch and on go my so-called 'hut-clothes' - warm, clean, dry...

I have bought my first carload of sale price shrubs and grasses - alphabetically Berberis, Bergenia, Carex Testata, a few Hebes, lots of Pittosporums, and six Toe Toe (New Zealand Cortaderia Richardii) - these are the genuine South Island pampas grasses. I found some fifty cent pots of crinkle-leafed Ligularias which some childish nurseryman (I'm guessing it was a man!) has called Martian Invader, or something similar. I resisted the large Phormium Tenaxes, which of course I am busy digging out at the moment. I am prepared to return, later today, just to see if the absolute-bargain bin table has been restocked.

 Perching out of puppy
Hamlet aka Henlet

Digging and Mulching

The Birthday Garden is an hour and three quarters more dug than it was yesterday. I've started some sensible mulching - horse-poos, damp newspaper (that wasn't very hard!) and old lucerne hay on the top. This should suppress any weeds and discourage bits of dandelion root left in the soil from sprouting.

Stephen was kind enough to present me with a pick-axe, before carefully disappearing - 'This could be helpful for your digging' were his actual words. Hmm... My plan now is to return to the wet for another Birthday Garden digging session. What a legend! What a wonderful birthday present!

Mid-Afternoon Rural Ambience...

I am just having a well deserved cup of hot coffee, and then I will return for one last dig. The rural ambience is delightful now the rain has stopped. Rusty the puppy is playing on the Frisbee Lawn with next door's very wet cocker spaniel called Dudley, while rooster and the hens have just appeared silently, like ghost poultry, on the house lawn.

I've thrown them some stale grainy bread - rooster has raced around in circles, picked it all up in his beak, and has run into the dog-safe depths of the Jelly Bean Garden. Smoocher the stalking ginger kitten has belly-crawled up to the hen called Hamlet - and been tactically ignored. Two bouncing dogs are, however, a different matter, and rooster is being rightly cautious...

David Austin Roses :
David Austin roses are very beautiful, and they have the best pastel colour range.

I've done heaps more in the new garden! The third standard Olive tree is planted, as are the roses Emmanuel - a pastel David Austin rose - and Kronenbourg (a very bright magenta hybrid tea - possibly my very first bad-taste rose). The fire ban has been lifted, so I will be able to finish a very productive day with my first autumn burn-up. There are piles of flax leaves and dry gum tree rubbish along the fence-line - I reckon I could burn continuously for 24 hours!

Easter Saturday 26th March

First of all, happy birthday to daughter - the inspiration for the new Birthday Garden - which is looking good, half finished. Important things like laying down newspaper for weed control, and mulching are happening, as well as the fun stuff (planting). This is no cosmetic dig from which a million liberated weeds will spring to freedom - that's the theory, anyway. It's hard work, but how better can thirty years of joy be celebrated? Excuse the twisted pun, but the words of a song come to mind - 'I never promised you a rose garden...'

More Memorial Moosey Gardens?

Hee hee! Having now set the tradition, there are two sons of Moosey who can also get memorial gardens at suitable times of their lives. For example, Eggy in London can get British plants (I can see boxes of new, exciting mail-order perennials). My plan for family memorial gardens is possibly one gigantic excuse for garden expansion - and buying loads of new plants...

 here is my first spider close-up. What type of spider? I don
Spider in Flax - New Camera!

Last night, feeling pretty pleased at the gardening day, I retired with my 2004 March diaries - just to check what I was up to, when I had my first autumn burning session, that sort of thing. It was devastating - my garden life sounded so boring! All I talked about was digging out raspberry canes and weeding Hazelnuts. My goodness - if I am ever that boring again I promise to stop writing immediately - perhaps I could do photographic essays?

I Love My New Camera

And that's another thing - my new photographs with my new camera - I am trying to show new, interesting things (for example, check out the spider), but I still haven't read the manual. I love my new camera, and it definitely takes great pictures of red dahlias (check out the dahlias), but is it making a difference? Same old March garden views, same old flaxes shining in the March sun, same old roses flowering in late March...

Today I am going to peep into the nursery sale, just in case there are twenty sale-price weeping coloured flaxes sitting in a row (sounds like a 'nursery' song). Then more digging, more mulching (the strange smell of manure mixed with quietly decomposing lucerne), levelling the ash heap, and then some serious burning before the southerly, forecast for late afternoon. And if all that sounds boring, too bad!

 These sprawl in the Pergola garden every March - when will I remember to stake them?
Cherry Red Dahlias - New Camera!

Almost Lunchtime...

The new garden is two hours more 'dug' than it was when I woke up this morning. I've planted a Golden Celebration David Austin rose (rescued from Middle Garden), a sage green leafed Hebe and a small Pittosporum. The Birthday Garden is now three-quarters finished - mulched, too! Now I will have a hot coffee, watch some cricket, and have a rest. All around the world there are Easter weekend gardeners (like me) doing basically boring things, making progress in a boring, normal sort of way.


Today has been great! I have just one of the Jacqueline du Pres roses to plant, and the smallest triangle of grass to dig and mulch. Then the new Birthday Rose Garden is finished. Yippee! All my muddy gardening clothes are soaking in the tub. The wood burner is lit - our first indoor fire of the autumn. There has been coldish rain all afternoon - annoying weather for gardeners but brilliant for planting and mulching a new garden. Even the cricket has been OK - for once.

Gardener Digging :
Here I am digging in my striped underwear. I'm proud that all my garden has been dug by hand.

Tomorrow I will start extending the Stables Garden. I have Pittosporums and Carexes to plant in here, and I've been thinking about planting a couple of South Island Toe Toes in the very middle. The Stables Garden will have a yellow-lime-green look, while the new garden opposite, dominated by the Olives, is more sage green. I'd like to shift (or get Stephen to shift) the Weeping Silver Pear tree in from the Hazelnut orchard paddock - then the Birthday Garden would be complete.

The thing I am most proud of is that on my own, with one half-sharp shovel and one hand digger - sustaining no gardening injuries and using no nasty chemicals - I have created this new garden - in under two weeks! Walking along the driveway the Olive trees look lovely. I can just see the new roses from the house corner. It's the perfect place for new plantings!

 The new camera even takes nice photographs when the sun is shining!
Late March Roses

Easter Sunday 27th March

Woke up earlyish with the sounds of running, shrieking poultry - looked outside to see Smoocher the vigilante ginger kitten, apprentice rat-catcher (that was yesterday), slithering across the house lawn on his cat-belly, in supreme stalker mode. Wondered about web-site protocol - is a nearly-six month old kitten-cat too young to have his own web page? He would take his place alongside the archive cats - cats with the stature of Slow Puss, Lucky Puss, and Big Fat Sifter. After all, Smoocher has proved his worth by catching his first rat. Might have a photo shoot later this morning. Hmm...

I don't understand the puppy. Yesterday he did interactive puppy-gardening, had good quality, varied, fun company all day, went for the longest walk, chased his tennis ball for over half an hour, that sort of thing. Yesterday evening he became a canine delinquent - trying to rip his bed to pieces, chewing the bottoms of the chair legs, ripping (and eating!) the door draft-stopper, tearing the day's newspaper to strips, and biting huge holes in the floor rug. Where's the gratitude?

Another Digging and Planting Day

Back to imminent gardening - it's another digging day - a thermals-in-the-rain type of day. I should be able to get the Birthday Garden totally finished, and get the Lemonwoods planted in the Stables garden extension. Should, should, should! Enough writing - I have diggings to dig and plantings to plant. Back soon - hopefully not too soon!

Right - it's 1:30 pm and I have been gardening since 8:30 am. The Birthday garden is finished (a fanfare of trumpets, please!) and the Stables garden extension is about one third dug. So far I've planted two Pittosporums (Lemonwoods) to screen out the view of nextdoor's driveway. Time for a rest and some TV cricket watching. Digging is very repetitive - even boring. A tired old lady gardener who only had digging to write about would be incredibly boring...