At work!

This is terrible! I have been at work all week. The only time I've seen the garden is on animal walks with puppy and the ginger kitten. It always seems to be dark when I'm home!

Thursday 16th June

Today we three (cat, dog and shockingly absent head gardener) went around and around the Hazelnut orchard. There is a lot of spring pruning to do, and weeding around the trees. It's odd, too - some trees have grown really well, while others are still small and sulking.

 Quite an apt name, considering how cold it seems to be getting!
Iceberg Roses in Mid-Winter

I wonder when I can plant my old fashioned rose avenue? Probably when I can afford the timber for the posts - which is why I've been at work during all the hours of daylight this week! Everything has its price - and the day temperatures have been a bit low (8 or 9 degrees Celsius). many can I buy?
The Winter Rose Catalogues

I can't even write a genuine list of my current winter gardening plans - I'd only be making it up! Tomorrow will be better. I only have a lunch commitment, which I will need clean fingernails for, and I will then be bringing home lots of newspaper for my mulching programme. Get on with it, winter! Only two weeks until the shortest day!

Old Fashioned Rose Ideas

I've just had a good idea for the rose avenue (hmm... I seem to gradually be warming up - in the garden inspiration sense). Wouldn't posts and chains be nice? I would need to choose the right old fashioned roses to festoon them. That would be heaps of fun. Ha! What a good idea - I will speak to the head carpenter/handyman at dinner tonight.

Friday 17th June

There might just be time for a puppy walk this morning before going in to work. I will also pace up and down the new proposed old fashioned rose avenue in the Hazelnut Orchard, and measure things. I have only just realised that chains and posts won't work - the tractor can't drive through a chain festooned with dripping roses. My rose plantings may have to look like those at the local vineyards, with a stubby shrub rose on a post at the end of each row of trees. Blast! It all seemed so logical yesterday!

 This photograph was taken last week when I was working on the new Hump path.
Smoocher the Kitten in the Hump

I have laid out a set of serious gardening clothes for when I return. The plan is modest - it involves laying damp newspaper under the straw mulch in several gardens, and scooping the straw back on top. Then puppy and I will do some serious puppy-school training - since he caught that bird earlier this week, and absolutely refused to come anywhere near me, there is much work to be done. I am also thinking about joining the local dog obedience group.

Rose Book :
Old fashioned roses are so evocative, and timeless. They can also be rather untidy.

I am a bit scared about the old fashioned roses, too. I don't know very much about them - I will be reading books to gain confidence, but I need to choose wisely, particularly if they will be confined to single posts. Most of the old fashioned roses I know and grow are huge. I could always slip quietly back into the comfort zone and choose fragrant rugosas...

Saturday 18th June

Right. Yesterday didn't work out well, gardening-wise. Today I am up early listening to birds squeaking, cats miaowing, and a far away crowing of (possibly) my itinerant rooster. Where is he living now? Has an irate neighbour captured him for the pot? Aargh!

 One of the plants which provide winter colour in my garden.
Red Flax Leaves

Winter Warm

The weather is winter-warm - in fact quite balmy, windless, and with a decidedly dry feeling. On the puppy walk this morning I reinspected the Willow Tree Garden, and traced out the shape of the possible expansion. I will do it before too much analysis and thought occurs! Impetuously I will dig, all morning. All this new garden space - roses, roses, roses!

Rose Resolutions

Then I promise to read up my books about old fashioned shrub roses - Gallicas, Albas, Moss roses and others - all roses who guarantee to restrict their growth to gardener-high, and gardener-wide, and no more. Spherical bushes need not apply! Choices will be made for the Hazelnut Orchard - perhaps pairs of the same rose can face each other. I will discuss (a euphemism for 'strongly insist on') the required posts and irrigation with the Orchardist (aka Handyman and Post Erector). Then I will work fulltime for at least a month to pay for the timber and the hiring of the post-hole digger! Aargh again!

I should quit while I'm ahead, have another cup of tea and then start my major dig. Digging doesn't cost any dollars, and will warm me up. No more loose words or rosy promises will appear on this page until I have finished.

Later, Apres Digging...

Ha! The digging legend returns - five solid unbroken hours later - but the new garden is finished, and now awaits some mulch, and some new roses. I fully committed myself by sitting in the muddy dirt. The new shape looks great. It looks - well - correct, and in scale with everything else. This is one aspect of garden design that winter is good for.

 Smoocher is the best cat-company there could possibly be!
Smoocher - Looking Up?

And for every minute of those five hours Smoocher the ginger catlet provided top-quality cat-company. He sat on the old tree stump and supervised, or in the wheelbarrow (where he had to dodge the clods of weedy grass). Whenever I knelt down (often) he jumped on my back and purred loudly in my ear. I Felt quite humbled by these outpourings of friendship. Every morning when I mix his cat-chemo drug into breakfast I wonder where it's all heading - will his next blood test be clear? Cat remission?

Then after I'd packed my tools away (be very impressed!) we - that is orange dog, orange cat and red-faced head gardener - walked down to the hay barn (no sign of the next door cat) and through the Hazelnut Orchard. I counted the number of places I have for orchard roses. There could be 26 posts, or 13 archways - archways seem to be favoured by Stephen (foolish man!) when tackled on the subject. Eek! Perhaps if I did 26 extra hours of work - one per rose... and thirteen specially welded metal rose arches will use up my nursery sale plants allowance for the next fifty years. Hmm...

Sunday 19th June

Sore hands, achy shoulders, stiff back - ha! Will these little infirmities of garden-body put me off today? No way! Yesterday's five continuous hours of digging was a jolly fine effort, and today I can bask a little in the reflected glory. I am obviously in an old fashioned rose mood - I can see some grand old ladies (duchesses, and the like) planted in the new Willow Tree garden extension. And there is no reason why I shouldn't press on with the roses for the Hazelnut Orchard - it is simple to order them, pay for them, and wait for them to arrive!

What should I do today first? On the morning puppy walk we went through the Hump. The newly planted hebes need water - oops - and there is suddenly much weeding to do, as well as firewood to collect up. And raking of paths, and hoeing (if I can find the hoe) around the recently planted Easter-sale Pittosporums.

 This is the area which I desperately need to weed and clear!
Chain-Sawing Firewood in the Hump

So it is decided - the Hump (see the above photograph) it will be, and hopefully with orange dog and orange cat again, as soon as I have finished writing up my journal and found some gardening gloves. This symbolises the new responsible version of Moosey, protecting her delicate multi-purpose hands (which are trying to play Bach and Brahms with molto espressione on the piano, in her breaks from the garden). I am in a Book Two Preludes and Fugues plus Rhapsodies phase - together an extraordinarily rich harmonic diet.

Two Hours Later...

Hopeless! No stamina! Yesterday's legend is today temporarily lost in space! I have retired in a sulk for a long lunch break. I am lacking my usual gardening drive - pity, as it's another perfect, calm 15 degree day. I have been weeding in the Hump, though - and I have a new pile of rubbish to burn. I urgently need newspaper (weed suppressant) and straw mulch, to deal sensibly with all apres-weeding garden border surfaces.

Monday 20th June

Smoocher the cat is fast turning into the Mister Personality of Moosey Animal Farm. He insists on joining the morning puppy walk - cleverly he walks along my stone garden edges, rather than wading through the dewy grass. Puppy is so adolescent - rough, bouncy, the center of the universe - and somehow Smoocher keeps up without being squashed or trodden on (or in the least bit frightened). Puppy still shows an unhealthy interest in all flying things - saving his big air bounces for formations of ducks passing overhead. The dog-traditions of dear old Taj-dog are still in place - alas, Duck Lawn is doomed to be duckless again this spring!

Pinecones :
Pinecones make great kindling for the winter log burner.

However... I spent yesterday afternoon at a neighbouring farm collecting pinecones and helping with the firewood for next winter. How responsible is this?

And furthermore, I am off back down there this morning with more bags to fill. I may even take a bow saw and trim some of the side wood off the big logs. Thinking ahead twelve months is incredibly responsible, in my opinion!

Enough. We are going for our walk now, and then I will collect more pinecones. There is no frost, it's the week of the shortest day, and web-master Eggy's birthday. Yippee!