So much to do!

I am fully on holiday. I have been three quarters on holiday for a few weeks, but this is the real thing! The yellow flowering summer shrubs are beautiful. The roses are amazing. The lawns are terrible! So much to do!

 Proudly grown from seed I collected.
Annual Cornflowers

Friday 9th December

I love the garden in early summer! The sun gets fiercely hot, and the house lawns go very patchy. But there is such vibrant colour everywhere! I love the greenery - plants like the waterside Gunnera and the clumps of Ligularias come into their own. My hostas are still looking good, and the grasses and flaxes are starting to flower.

But There's More...

I love the pond. There are fish in there - yesterday I saw a leaping brown trout, and huge numbers of tiny wriggling fishlets. Summer is the season when the graceful blue dragonflies arrive to hover over the water. Country ambience would be complete if I had some frogs...

And I love having water running through the garden - today puppy-dog and I cooled off after our bicycle ride by sitting in the water race. Consternation from a pair of floating ducks who came upon us by Middle Bridge.

I love all my animals. We all seem very peaceful and well-balanced at the moment - there is animal equilibrium. This time last year, of course, there were two brand new kittens, and Rusty was a small puppy. Our only youngster this Christmas is Fred the pet Romney lamb. He is still drinking two bottles a day, and is fun to take for paddock walks. But fat roast lamb with mint sauce is definitely NOT on the Christmas menu!

And it goes without saying that I love all the humans in my family. I even love the Moosey ex-House Guest (who is wave-surfing in the Maldives where the daughter of Moosey is working for a year).

I haven't actually done much in the garden these last two days, but this doesn't really matter. I have had two very successful patio barbecues - what a sizzling social life I lead! I have read a whole book, and played my piano. And if I've spend a lot of time each day talking with Rusty the puppy-dog and the cats, so be it. One just cannot be lonely with such good cat-and-dog-company.

 The much loved David Austin yellow.
Graham Thomas

Saturday 10th December

Ha! Today I have more social plans. This afternoon my cricket-mad friend (alas - there's only one) and I are having a progressive cricket picnic. We start eating and watching the cricket at 2 pm this afternoon at my house, then zoom madly to her house in the tea break. Go New Zealand! Please win!

Gardening Themes

I have garden plans, too. I thought I'd try something different, and have a theme - today's theme will be cleaning up the backsides of borders. Like the Jelly Bean Garden, the backsides of my borders don't often get the full clear-and-weed treatment. Surprising plants lurk at the back of gardens, too - like a clump of red hot pokers and a rogue peony, deep pink and flowering, which Fred the lamb has been trying to reach through the fence.

 Growing in the Stables Garden with a bright yellow-flowering Euphorbia.
Bright Pink Peony

I will also put the hoses on, and be systematic in my watering plans. Mindful that there could (if not already in place) soon be a fire ban, I should finish spring-cleaning the Wattle Woods and the Hump. Thank you, Australian gum trees, for being so brash and beautiful, and for dropping leaves and branches whenever there is a puff of summer wind. It's a great look...

It might be nice to start deadheading the house roses, too. Compassion seems to have finished its first big flush, and Othello is looking quite shabby. Dark red roses seem to wither quickly in the heat and die disgracefully.

 Paddock companions to Fred the pet lamb.
Nosy Sheep

Right. OK. It's time to do things. Get the puppy-dog up, feed the cats, then get out and garden. Fred is fed, with nosy George the wether close by staring at me. Does he actually remember once being a pet lamb himself? If I could tap into the childhood memories of a sheep...

Late Morning Coffee Break

Aargh! Light drizzle! This is not required for the cricket, which starts in town in three hours. I have been a good gardening person - dead-heading, sorting out border backsides, raking and wheel-barrowing all the rubbish to my burning heap - after coffee I will fire up the lot. I also have another new Hosta to plant, plus a red flax and two lovely lemon and green variegated Corokias. My favourite Corokias! Where shall I put them? Definitely not in the new native garden by the water tank, where wimpy plants not labelled 'Pittosporum' are showing signs of water stress - and it's only early summer!

 Green, variegated, and chocolate.
Different Corokia Leaves

After a lawn edges complaint (ever so polite) the Frisbee Lawn is freshly mowed. Add to my list of things to do before the cricket the following: Trim Frisbee Lawn edges. And kindly stop drizzling, Canterbury sky.

Sunday 11th December

Great sporting success! We won the cricket! It's hard to settle, after such a momentous day. Mere gardening seems so - inconsequential? Except the mere gardening I did yesterday was necessary and overdue. How things sneak up on one - I notice that the rugosa roses behind the glass-house have finished flowering, for now, and the late old fashioned pink rose Raubritter is adorning the variegated elm tree with pink, having climbed a third of the way up. An old apricot tree which supports the rose Moonlight (I grow this rose as a tree-climber) has stopped being just old and seems to be very dead - all over. Oops. All the aquilegias have been trimmed, and I've started to pull out foxgloves. Time waits for no lady gardener.

 Roses, lavenders and flaxes - a great combination.
Stables Garden Roses - 2005

I should cut the irises into bits soon? I mean, of course, 'divide'. I should do this very year? Could be over-zealous. I should remodel the dry gardens at the end of Middle path. This is no place for peonies - they've struggled this year, and I've struggled to enjoy them. The soil is dry and compacted, my hoses won't reach, and the Leyland Cypress windbreak is an arm's length away. Add a lack of nurturing sun, and one has a pretty negative peony environment, I reckon. This sounds awfully like a place for Pittosporums.


Two hours of clearing, weeding, and burning. Boring but basic. I'm off to put the hoses on. Then, apart from shifting them up and down the borders, I might retire gracefully for the day - perhaps even go apres-gardening and contemplate our heroic cricket win over Australia. The realistic New Zealand cricket fan has to make the most of what she gets!