Light gardening duties...

 Henlet is the solitary chicken that brown hen hatched and raised.
Rooster and Henlet

Oops! The Year of the Rooster has started a little vaguely. For each of the last three extremely hot days I've had to go in to work. I've been on light gardening duties, and have spent most of my gardening time shifting hoses and watering things.

Thursday February 9th

Sorry - my second gardening week begins a little late, in a real Canterbury heat-wave. It's been rather hot for gardeners and animals.

The Year of the Rooster

I note nervously that 2005 is the Year of the Rooster. Aargh! I am totally used to the Night of the Rooster (crowing at the moon), the Early Morning of the Rooster (arriving on the house decking at dawn and crowing) - even the Day of the Rooster (scratching and shrieking randomly). But a whole year of officially sanctioned rooster events? Aargh!

Moosey Poultry Report

OK, it's been a while - so what's changed? It seems that at any one time in my garden there will be a resolute hen sitting on a nest of nothing - this time it's brown hen, who has been in the Olearia hedge for close on 8 weeks. She comes out for food. And henlet has started laying - egglets - in the ivy by the carport.

Chooks :
Chooks really are totally random - bird-brained, I guess!

These chooks are far too random - I can see 2004 turning into the Year of the Roosters Plural if a sitting hen ever manages to successfully avoid Moosey detection. But they do so love their free-range poking and scratching lifestyle. They also make me laugh so much - like the shrieking sessions at roosting time, with noisy quantum leaps up to the preferred branch high in the Viburnum tree. I'd swear rooster's tail was on fire - the noises are incredible!

Enough of this chook nonsense. Today there is work to be done. There are hoses to shift. And plans to make - my walking friend suggests a timely visit to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, to re-view the herbaceous border which is apparently at its peak. She has shown me a newspaper clipping featuring the border's head gardener (a much younger and spunkier-looking perennial than Moosey). Apparently the original border was planted alphabetically - how odd!

 The rose Crepuscule has its second flowering in February.
Crepuscule Rose - Second Summer Flowering

Later... It's too hot to do anything in the garden except watering. We are having a week of Australian temperatures - Today is probably at least 30 degrees. Parts of the garden are extremely flowery - floriferous? - I wonder if the blooms can last in this heat?

Apres Pond Swimming...

Ha! I am refreshed by a long swim in the pond, accompanied by Rusty the puppy - I have showered all the leaves and pond debris off us both, so we are both allowed to sit down on house chairs. It was magic! Two friends dog-paddling around in circles in the water. Puppy can swim a bit faster than the Head Gardener, though, and can get himself up and out in a flash (Head Gardener finds it a bit of a struggle emerging elegantly through a flax bush).

 These plants grow along the fence line at the back of the house.
Mermaid Rose and Shasta Daisy

Crisis! Perennials in Drought!

Then I went for a walk over the water race to check out the results of the overnight watering. Things do not look good in some of the Dog-path Garden's dry spots. I think that some perennials have died - but then I found an extremely happy batch of broom seedlings, all over a foot high, obviously thriving in the heat. I weeded this garden - two, or maybe three weeks ago - and I thought I was really thorough. Humph.

Then Rusty the puppy - my special swimming friend - disgraced himself by chasing rooster and the hens through the gate into the Hazelnut Orchard. Oops.

Friday 11th February

Right. After the shocking discoveries in the Dog-path Garden yesterday, I rushed out at first light (well, almost) to repair the damage It seems that the only victim of the Moosey Random Irrigation Scheme is a perennial with purple foliage. I've ripped it all out (tough love). After some pretty wet speed-weeding I've decided to retire inside for hot coffee and dry clothing elegance. My confidence is back, though! Those broom seedling trees come out really easily!

 This woody Lavatera is a very useful filler shrub.
Shrubby Lavatera in the Dog-Path Garden

Bad Dog Habits

It's now late afternoon - I managed another hour of semi-wet weeding in the Dog-path Garden before the rain made me too cold. Puppy again has been chasing the chooks - well, the little brown henlet - it seems he has picked her to be the slowest. So there was much digging and weeding, with quite a lot of commanding (i.e. shouting) and chastising of the puppy. Hmm... this appears to be a new bad dog habit.

Now the rain has set in - this is brilliant for the garden, so perversely I find myself full of gardening energy, overflowing with large-scale weeding and digging plans. Hmm... let's see what tomorrow brings...

Saturday February 12th

This being the Year of the Rooster, good gardening luck should come to a gardener who looks after (and sometimes has long conversations with) a beautiful silver barred birchen cockerel. Apparently roosters are 'well-organised' - and maybe this admirable trait will be transferred to the head gardener.

I'm not sure the rooster is sharing in the good luck at the moment, though - his small and well-mannered pack of hens being menaced by a hurtling puppy-ball of beige fur. The serene ambience of country gardening is utterly destroyed by booming out 'no' in a large, resonant school-teacher voice every five minutes. Problems, problems with Moosey animal equilibrium...


I have finished my manic weeding session in the Dog-Path Garden. I've split up some Acorus grass to grow on the other side of The Plank (which is still closed for repair - apparently $100 will buy me a suitable length of scaffolding plank). I have also been fishing stones out of the water race (with puppy standing in the water helping) to act as weed suppressants. Perhaps this small garden area by The Plank could become a rockery (aka a stonery). I already have a juvenile rockery - another could be stylish...

Rusty the Puppy :
Rusty is a red Border Collie - and already growing up into a beautifully natured dog. He is completely cat-proof.

So far today puppy has not chased any chooks, so he has been rewarded with a cold slab of lunch steak (cajun marinated - hope this is OK!). It's now time for the Head Gardener (me) to find a seat in the garden and enjoy some hot coffee and some quiet contemplation (with salmon and tomato toasted sandwich - yum).

Sunday February 13th

What should I do first? I'll take puppy for a walk down the road and enjoy the Canterbury countryside - then how about some - mmmmm - weeding? Weeding! How original! Where? Which border? Borders! Which one of you could possibly need weeding?

The garden down the back fence (along which the Mermaid rose so viciously grows) won the weeding prize. This is not a good garden for my gardening self esteem, though. I remember spending ages getting really sore hands thinking I was eradicating the rogue raspberry canes from this narrow, innocent little strip of dirt. Humph!