I can't believe how busy I've been in the garden these last spring weeks. Typical question to retired lady gardener - But what do you do with yourself all day?

Monday 18th September - Questions and Answers

Hmm... When I start talking about having joined the Garden Club, and going walking, and looking after the new chooks, the questioner's face takes on a sympathetic glaze. And saying that most days I 'just do the garden' makes it worse. Boredom and hopeless loss of self esteem is suspected. I must miss the hustle and bustle, the cut and thrust, the challenge and stimulation of teaching adolescents. Well, mustn't I?

 One of my new colours, grown from seed.
Blue Denim Pansy

Please Don't Eat the Pansies

Ha! I'd settle for the hustle and bustle of my annual seeds shooting up in the glass-house, the cut of another flax trim and the thrust of the emerging hostas. I'll take the challenge of stopping the pet lamb eating my pansy flowers any day! Now, where was I?

While doing my dawn mind-gardening exercises (and listening to the melodious crowing of the new Moosey rooster) I came up with several plans suitable for today in the garden. They include laying the final weed-mat by the water's edge - thus finishing the Dog-Path garden nicely, just in time for spring - and getting the feet wet. Thermal socks might be nice.

Then the Pond Paddock needs some final touches - grass seed sown on the bare patch in the lawn, some perennials planted out in the gaps, the Pond Garden weed-and-rip-out session completed. I'll plant the tray of blue and cream pansies around the new garden park bench. What do I do with myself all day?

Tuesday 19th September

+5 Yesterday was a fabulous day! Hands - drug-free, and not sore! Chooks - fine, and so funny. Pet gardening lamb - just lovely. During a short break inside the house to make coffee Haru the lamb took herself off back to her den to snooze in the sun. Surely this is a mark of deep sheep intelligence.

Unlike gardener intelligence - late afternoon I spied one of the ewes, in the front paddock on her own, licking and nuzzling an inanimate lumpy object. Aargh! A late lamb in difficulty! Couldn't see properly from the fence, so crept up slowly, fearing the worst. Hmm... Ewe no. 98-362 got a terrible fright. She was enjoying licking a large salt block. Gosh I felt silly! I really should wear my spectacles more!

 I still love the colour.
My Newly Painted Fence

My day ended with a speedy visit to my friend's old garden, car full of shovels and spades. What plants would I like? The red rose Opulence, a David Austin called - Pretty Jessica?, the moss rose William Lobb, another red rose, and some clumps of yellow flowering Dog Tooth Violets (Erythroniums). What beautiful foliage! Hope they don't notice the move. I picked a bucket of silver beet for my chooks, and drove home happy. It's nice to make a living connection with a soon-to-be bulldozed garden.

Fame for the Moosey Water Race Garden

And great news for the Moosey water race - a photograph is to be used, promoting a Water Race Beautification Competition. This will show the world (well, the local world) just what an inspired garden designer (me) can do with an irrigation canal (the water race). Sorry about all those brackets.

 One of my surviving Phormum tenaxes, and some spring sprouting Gunnera.
Garden by the Water Race

Today I have some serious planting to do. The water race edge is finally weed-matted, and half covered with small stones - more are required. William Lobb, who I think sprawls a bit, might like to recline higher up the bank in the fresh air, by Buff Beauty. It's also time I released my two pots of the ornamental grass-like Acorus - a water's edge position appeals. Right. Off to have some breakfast (eggs, compulsory, from own chooks). Then - to work! If I have a productive morning, I might be allowed a wee reward - an afternoon guided tour of springtime in the local Botanic Gardens. Yippee!

 Apparently they tase yummy - for a lamb!
Pink Bergenias

Don't Eat the Bergenias

Later - my morning has been extremely successful. I've even potted up rooted cuttings of pelargoniums and daisies. All the new roses are in the ground. Aargh! My gardening lamb likes eating Bergenia flowers - no matter how I try to confuse her she manages to find her way back to them.

And I love my chooks - they chortle and gurgle with animated delight at their afternoon greens. Such good taste! Brewster the rooster seems a bit pecky, but he's allowed to be - after all, this is his first serious roostering assignment, and the hand that fills the water bowl could be a threat to his hens. Ouch!


I did go on a lovely spring tour, guided by one of the Botanic Gardens volunteers. The magnolias were lovely - absolutely beautiful - this seems to be one of their best ever springs. And the drifts of golden daffodils were lovely, too.

Magnolias :
My local Botanic Gardens has a lot of old Magnolias which are blossoming now.

Lovely seems to be the seasonal word - I just love the spring season, and it's hard to be cliche-free when writing about it. Everything about spring gets the word 'lovely'.

Just as the rose blooming season gets the word 'beautiful'. Perhaps a quick peep into Roget's Thesaurus? Some new adjectives are needed...

Wednesday 20th September

Eek! This time last year we'd just had a nasty snow storm. No way! No gardening today, as I've been climbing every mountain, so to speak - Mount Thomas, to be precise. It was hard work, head down, to reach the top. New Zealand is a magical country, and I love the weekly walking I'm doing. So much better for the soul than walking from the classroom to the staffroom... Right. Tomorrow needs a list - there is always much to do after a day off.

Thursday 21st September

I just want to say how lucky I am. My hiking legs had the most restful night's sleep, and are ready for anything - except ascending zig-zags in the bush (to Mount Thomas, 1023 metres, which is around the maximum height for a Canterbury foothill). Ha!

So today, after a bit of gentle twittering, I will descend (ouch! sore calves!) into my garden and do the list. I must admit I feel a little cheated - having the day's tasks already listed takes the fun and randomness out of the early morning. I am wearing three-quarter gardening pants. Too much detail? It's so I can stand happily in the freezing cold water race to finish my 'stonescaping' of the edges.