Gum tree leaves! Aargh!

More serious nor-west winds blew throughout the night - my house lawns, which were raked, watered and freshly mown yesterday are once more covered with gum tree leaves and strips of bark. Aargh! No wonder I've never tried to have a 'real' lawn!

Wednesday 18th January

And no wonder I don't sweep the house patios and decking very much! The theory is that the horrible nor-west wind blows all the rubbish in, then the nice nor-east wind (hopefully the following day) will blow it all off again!

 Still waiting for some extra Pittosporums...
Part of My Pittosporum Forest

Today I feel like having some time off from my garden. I have already been for a swim, and I am now in the middle of making jam. What is the weather up to? I don't care, for the moment anyway. I have a good book waiting, cats and kittens to play with, Rusty the puppy-dog to take for a walk and talk to if I get lonely. A trailer load of compost is waiting for the arrival of the Manly Garden Help...

The Silence of the Lamb?

Hopefully I will not see (or hear) Fred the pet lamb today - he is re-banished down the back. Will he charge into the neighbour's house again if he senses humans nearby? How to convince him that he is a sheep? Perhaps I should have done major dress-ups, covered all my skin, face and hair in sheepskin rugs, etc. when feeding him - thinking of that theory of visual imprinting, where people who have to hand-rear wild birds put their hands inside big mother bird puppets... Or I could have restricted my conversation to 'baaaaaah' and 'maaaaaah'. Human conversation acts like a lamb-magnet. The gentle, soft voice of the head gardener calling for the kittens - 'Here, little Beige Puss - here, little Fluff-Fluff-Fluff-Fluff-Fluff' - is likely to be rewarded by a fat woolly lamb busting through the undergrowth. 'Here I am, mother!'...

Aargh! Mary had a little lamb! I might go and have an old-lady snooze! Hopeless.

Minutes Later, Ascending the Stairs with Good Book and Cup of Tea...

Aargh! 'Baaaaaaaaah!' I spoke far too soon - Fred has just appeared on my front lawn. Blast this pesty lamb! I've had another thought. I could set up the mountain tent and camp out in the back paddock with him, to help him in this important life transition...

 Hmm... Would these taste nicer than my boring paddock grass?
Fred the Pet Lamb in the Hazelnut Orchard

Thursday 19th January

A brilliant plan! Hatched when warm and snug in bed at sunrise - doing my usual half-hour of mind gardening. It concerns the Driveway Borders, both sides, and has a rather nice symmetry about it - like neighbours swapping houses for the weekend and each doing a ghastly make-over of the other. Hee, hee! I am going to swap sides of the Driveway. For example, there is a silly clump of species daylilies in the mid-summer shade under the Golden Elm. While almost directly opposite, a poor runty late-flowering rhododendron suffers in the mid-summer sun. Another beautiful rhododendron with rich lemon flowers blooms far too late in November to enjoy its position out in the open. Whereas the red rugosa rose Robusta is on the summer-shady side, and compensates for this by impersonating a thorny basketball player...

Magenta Hebe :
Hebes are great New Zealand shrubs.

And another less flamboyant plan concerns my Hebes, dug out of the non-irrigated Hump and sitting patiently in pots. They need a little watering - just a little. Why not plant them in the Wattle Woods, a dry garden area which is reached by the big irrigation and in which I have sneaky watering hoses permanently installed and often running. Ha! Another planting problem solved!

Cats, Kittens - and Lost Lambs!

Now if I could solve the problem of Fred the pet lamb (any minute I expect him to arrive, frog-marched in by two very annoyed neighbours)... There is a possibility that he can join a well-fenced paddock of weaned lambs down the road. I don't think I can teach him at this late stage to be safely tethered - and anyway, I believe in the power of the flock! Wish he would!

The cats are a hoot in the mornings. Tiger the big tabby-tortoiseshell has rediscovered her kitten-side - she's taken to leaping out of hiding places (like underneath carpet rugs, and inside the dog biscuits bag in the pantry) to scare the gardening pants off me. Fluff-Fluff and Beige Puss the kittens play 'Fight the shoe!', be it on the head gardener's foot or not. If not the game unfortunately changes to 'Fight the foot! Go, teeth! Go, claws!'... Old Mother Stumpy sits on my lap, ignoring the scampering racket, while Grandma Mugsy watches, swooshing her head from side to side to follow the action - like a spectator at cat-tennis...

 I think this is called a kniphofia - but my spelling might be a bit dodgy!
Lime Green Flower

Right. I am obviously in fine writing mood. Well, what I mean is that I seem to be enjoying a rather major twitter - whether the content could be described as 'fine' is another matter! I think it's time to take Rusty the puppy-dog for his morning constitutional, and then, while the concept of 'Changing Borders' is still fresh in the mind, get those Driveway gardens fixed up. Then, when my Manly Garden helper arrives later today there will be two freshly planted strips of garden for his manly compost spreading! Ah, the success of forward planning!

Five Gardening Hours Later...

I've almost shifted everything! The two rhododendrons are replanted on the shady side, and the patch of sad daylilies is out, trimmed, and replanted in the sun. Some sad hostas have had their day in the sun - and should now be happier on the 'other side'. Two spindly white Icebergs (grown on their own roots) are in a bucket of water, and Robusta, severely pruned, is lying in the shade.


And I had man-company! I rather enjoyed this - the Garden Helper shovelled compost and we talked about going to the West Indies to watch cricket. He thinks that Rusty dog is changing shape - that means that the dog-diet is working!

Friday 20th January

Another wonderful day where my gardening energy should be boundless! What to do first, after the forty-five minute country bicycle ride with the healthily shrinking Rusty dog, now the owner of a slight dog-waist? I am going to compost the new shady-side Driveway Garden. I like the look of the rhododendrons in here, but alas! I have been known before to 'misplace' these noble shrubs... Then maybe I can locate more stones for the Dog-Path - and even finish laying the weed-mat. The path now goes from Middle Bridge, past the little seat, and stops at the large red-bronze flax. Nice - a definite punctuation mark for this small gardening sentence...

 When are we we going for a walk?
Rusty the Puppy Waiting for Action

What else to do? There's always the two Ws (weeding, and watering) - or the Wattle Woods, where those rescued Hebes could be planted. The wattle seeds are now dropping, making for an interesting mulch. The trick will be to start off by the water and move into some shade gardening after morning tea.

My Grand World Garden Tour

And while I am splashing water and weeds around I can contemplate the day's big question - when, exactly, should I travel on my Grand World Garden Tour? July? Eek! That's a bit early - wouldn't leave enough weeks to plan and anticipate (and earn money)... Serious competence issues have also germinated - I have already confused Ontario with British Colombia with respect to the Canadian leg of my journey (I know where they are on the map, I just kind of got the names mixed up!). Oops! Canada is a little wider than New Zealand, coast to coast...

Europe could be equally interesting - images of a bumbling older lady-gardener looking for famous French potagers and ending up in Black Forests... There is also the issue of personal appearances. My internet gardener friends may evaporate (and change their e-mail addresses) when threatened by a real live Moosey visit. And does everyone realise how old I am? Aargh! Daughter in the Maldives (a proposed stopover) says the only gardens there are underwater. Sea gardening... Hmm... a lot to think about. Intrepid adventures of the gardening kind.

Much Later... Having Gone All Gloomy

I've worked hard today without quite finishing anything. I worked in the water race all morning - the surface of the Dog-path is levelled and covered. I need a lot more stones, though. The overhanging flaxes needed a lot of trimming - I hate this job!

Green Wheelbarrow :
Yippee for the faithful Moosey wheel-barrow.

In the afternoon I did a work circuit - filling the wheelbarrow with weeds and rubbish, dumping this on the fence-line, then filling the barrow with compost and dumping by the new rhododendrons. The hot summer sun, hands getting really sore (even though well-gloved) from ripping out old Lychnis plants, this seemed to take ages and get me nowhere. I think I miss the elusive Manly Garden Helper, who did not appear today.

And I went all sad about my travelling plans. How quickly I can lose confidence! Eek! Wallowing in the jacuzzi of self-doubt! Gloom, get thee gone! Perhaps five more barrowfuls of compost, raked and spread on the Driveway Garden will cheer me up - a job worth doing is a job well finished - that sort of thing...