OK, so now it's really Autumn...

OK, so now it's really Autumn. The Frisbee Lawn had a frost last night. A fierce southerly storm has blown down half the beautiful autumn leaves on the Moosey trees.

The soft-stemmed dahlias look like they're ready to expire. Not the roses, though - I have house vases full of the lemon climber Casino, the deep pink climber Ueterson (which has incidentally never bothered to climb) and William Shakespeare - a David Austin rose whose blooms get dry and tatty in a day. Pity - named after the famous bard, whose writing never gets dry and tatty...

 Not the most robust of country roses!
William Shakespeare Rose

Autumn Animal Report

Hmm... No wonder the chooks have deserted. The early morning birds' food is out on the house lawn, and I've just spied puppy lurking in the nearby Island Bed. For an active, bouncing, morning puppy he's lying awfully still - must be waiting to pounce on the poultry. Aargh! I blame the owners for lack of correct, vigilant puppy-training. The sparrows and blackbirds are getting a good feast, though.

Smoocher :
Smoocher is growing up into the most beautiful ginger cat.

The cats and kittens are all well - ginger kitten Smoocher is to be credited with catching several rats. Go Smoocher! Perhaps his fierce poultry stalking was the straw that broke the camel's back? Interesting mix of animals in that phrase - I do miss my itinerant gang of chooks, though...

Tuesday 26th April - Gardening Plans

Today I am going to float around in thermals until I get too cold or too bored. There's a lot of hands-on weeding to do in the autumn garden, as I discovered yesterday. I have gum tree rubbish to burn - when don't I have gum tree rubbish to burn? At least raking and burning will keep me warm...

 Ha! Another autumn leaf close-up photograph - this time using the new camera!
Autumn Dogwood Leaf

Warm and Wet

Well - I might be warm, but I am also rather wet. My rubbish pile has been burning in the drizzle for the last two hours (that's ten wheelbarrow loads) - I've been poking at nests of flames with the rake, disbelieving - surely with rain falling down the fire would have gone out. No chance! Gum tree leaves have a burning energy all their own!

So now I am inside with the zooming kittens, the wood burner going, a hot cup of coffee - and to be truthful I don't think I'll return to the dripping trees and the wet leaves. It's a chance to relax, catch up on my English RHS gardening magazine - perhaps do some sneaky visiting of some English Gardens on the internet - then I could go and get some sushi for lunch and visit my Walking friend. How rich a simple life is!

And the William Shakespeare rose (photograph published above) had done the trick - my gang of chooks appeared (there is a connection - the littlest hen is called Hamlet). My poultry are alive and well!

Wednesday 27th April

I am just off outside to do some more burning. Which area of gum tree rubbish will I burn this morning? Hmm...Let's choose. What about going into the Hump? There are piles ready to collect, and at least twenty more barrowfuls could be easily raked. Or I could continue behind the pond - there's lots more there. Then what about along the fence from the Hen House? Gosh this is exciting stuff...

Time to Burn?

Yesterday late afternoon I timed myself - it took nearly 20 minutes to rake, wheel, and sensibly distribute on burning pile ONE BARROWFUL. It's easy to see why I become an escapist gardener-diarist, frantically writing about autumn leaves, cats, chooks, garden make-overs - anything to make the real garden day seem more interesting!

 Aargh! Check out the gum tree leaves!
Still Life on Decking

Botanic Gardens Visit

But later today I am meeting my oldest gardening friend for lunch and coffee in the Botanic Gardens. This will be my reward. I will roll that wheelbarrow like a gardener possessed for two hours (hey - according to calculations that's only six barrowfuls). Then I will descend on the famous Christchurch Botanic Gardens with my new camera, and snap up some autumn vistas.


I haven't got very much to say. The Botanic Gardens were strange - I couldn't find many autumn trees in colour, yet there were (it seems) oak leaves scattered everywhere, and happy groups of volunteers in sensible woollen gardening jerseys were raking them into piles. The visit has given me some positive reinforcement, though - I am reminded why I do not have a perennial border. The only perennials flowering in the Botanic Gardens perennial border were the bushy salvias. There was lots of scruff and half cut down stalks, then a beautiful Black Knight Salvia - the setting somehow didn't do it justice.

The Burning Question

As far as the Moosey garden goes, ten barrowfuls of rubbish have been burnt. There were two burning sessions, and lots of new piles of rubbish were uncovered - I could write a Neverending Gum Tree Leaf story. All the while puppy did a bouncing and zooming circuit around the fire, with a pinecone in his mouth.

Rooster doesn't like me at all any more (actually it's the canine company I keep) - I saw him late this afternoon, made encouraging 'pook pook pook' noises (as one does), but he launched himself frantically up into the nearest tree. He then became incredibly thin, perfectly still, and silent. Puppy wasn't even with me! Oh well. My poultry self-esteem was never very high.

 So lovely to see the colour yellow!
Late Daylily

Thursday 28th April

Today I feel like doing something totally different garden-wise. I think I might be suffering from gardener burn-out, hee hee. The chores I can think of - like fetching mulch from the back paddock, or collecting pine-cones, or collecting and stacking firewood - don't quite fit the requirements. I feel like something adventurous, something mentally new. I could return to the Botanic Gardens to find autumn leaves, if all else fails.

Or perhaps visit another garden somewhere? Please understand that this is not strictly a boredom issue. I'm just heartily sick of burning, and just for today I'm sick of autumn. When in doubt - take the puppy for a long walk! Back soon.

Friday 29th April

My new network of Hen House paths is a success! Visitors walked around the garden with me late yesterday, and they noticed! Puppy also used the paths properly, leading the way forward, taking no shortcuts. This is obviously good path design - or a shockingly cramped planting policy? Hmm...

 Hmm... What shall I do in the garden today?
Abandoned Garden Tools

Drama in the Hen House Gardens!

But puppy then disgraced himself in front of the visitors by chasing the chooks. Animal Comedy, played out on the Hen House Garden and the Wattle Woods Stage, begins. Noises off - intense chook squawking. 'Rusty, come!' bellows the embarrassed head gardener. Beige furball puppy appears, hurtling around the path corner. 'Sit. Good dog. Don't chase the chooks.' Puppy is sitting, gazing up adoringly at the head gardener. 'OK' - this sensible command releases puppy from the oh so strict human control. Off he hurtles back to where the chooks were last seen. Intense chook squawking again. A multi-coloured rooster-like bird (oops) is seen flapping, up and over the hebes. 'Rusty, come!' bellows the head gardener, again... And on it goes...

Burning :
I compost any green waste that is suitable. Burning is really for the gum tree rubbish.

Let's get today straight. I am going to work hard today. I have two small digging projects (small extensions to the garden near the Pump House and the Pond border garden). High autumn day temperatures (19 degrees Celcius) are predicted. I will have to do some burning first to warm myself up (it's still early morning). I'm almost ready to go outside. Wish me luck, for I did absolutely no gardening yesterday - could this be the start of a ghastly trend?


No way! I've been out working (and my rubbish fire has been gurgling) for three hours. I've shifted a Yellow Wave flax and planted a dianthus called Mary, as well as raking gum rubbish out of the Hump. I've had tree-climbing kitten company, which has kept puppy amused. My unlucky rooster has gone next door with the nosy cows (actually cattle) and has been continuously crowing. Can roosters become hoarse?

Now I'm going back outside to dig the new garden expansions. Then I can retire for the day. Incentives and rewards - a hot bath (with my fragrant English bath-gel evocatively called 'Summer'), a good book (yesterday I joined a local library), a nice cup of tea, dollops of gardener's handcream, and Vivaldi's string concertos. And please, please, puppy - don't chase the chooks!