Marching on!

March is definitely marching on towards autumn! There are already some golden-yellow leaves on the birch trees, and the crab apples are starting to ripen. My birds will enjoy feasting on them!

 The Birthday Rose Garden is almost one year old!
Daisies and Roses in the Birthday Rose Garden

Friday 24th March

So I need to be very, very sensible - with sowing seeds now, and getting in some grass seed now, and thinking ahead now - before the weather snaps cold! Sweet peas for the vegetable garden, for example - I'd love to have some flowering next spring. Is this how sensible sweet pea growers do it?

Merino Ram

The New Ram

Welcome to Charles the Merino Ram - registration number 11536, bred from the famous Sir Thomas (a desirable Merino bloodline). His wool is classified at 14.5 microns - one might correctly describe him as a rather 'fine' ram! At the moment, Charles is in the front paddock by himself, looking rather forlorn. Sheep hate being alone - and then there is the delicate business of ram-celibacy.

First of all I need to report in on yesterday's small garden effort. I started by cleaning up the very beginning of the driveway. An imaginary Garden Club (eek!) was arriving to visit the Moosey garden, walking up the driveway - first impressions, first impressions... Dead hebes in the grass are not a good look. Messy grass underneath the Locust tree reeks of neglect, rather than rural ambience. The two kittens (Fluff-Fluff and Beige Puss) raced in and out of the trees, keeping me company.

I may even get as far as the gate garden. This will be an absolute first - the tiny triangular area by the front gate has never once been poked at, weeded, or dug, in all the eleven plus years I've gardened here. Apart from a certain pruning partner who insists on trimming the Forsythia shrub at totally the wrong time each year, resulting in eleven winters with no flowers...

 What a well-tended arrival garden should look like!
Further Down the Driveway

So off out I go, to make some decisions on this last wilderness area - first seen by visitors, last thought about by the head gardener. Then I have a lunch date - one is so very busy when one is retired! Mid-week tramping (a legend of Lagoon Saddle), daily dog-cycling, gardening, playing Mozart piano (first time ever), swimming (yesterday with my new swimming friend - yippee!)... Why, there's hardly enough time to go shopping or drink lattes! Hee hee.


I can't decide. If I am to clean up the entrance to the garden properly I will need some tough filler shrubs and/or trees to plant in the spaces I create. Pittosporums spring to mind. Can a large garden like mine have too many such plants? They are green, they are basic, they are cheap, they can be boring - but they survive. Hmm... Pittosporums could teach all of us mere mortals a lesson.

Advice to self - if you can't decide, definitely don't start digging! So I have momentarily redirected myself to the perennial garden by the Pergola. It is a huge mess, and I remember promising the cerise dahlia a stout system of stakes. Needless to say, the sprawling, flopping cerise dahlia looks wonderful, despite my neglect.

 Very upright, the Bishop - he needs no artificial support!
Bishop Llandalff Dahlia

I have also been responsibly sorting and stacking firewood. Rusty and I have been down to 'say hello' (through the safety of the fence) to Charles the new ram - he took one look at us, turned and ran away into the far-side hedge. A scaredy-ram? He has curly horns and a lovely face. C'mon, Charles - get over it!

Even Later...

I've spent two hours more clearing - cutting down the phloxes, trimming the old daylilies - both are symbols of my mid-summer garden. Oh well - the autumn colours are something to look forward to. Meanwhile perennials like the variegated Scrophularia definitely earn their keep. I've cut down their stalks, and already fresh new foliage is growing at their bases. The towering flower-heads tend to be unspectacular, but the bees like them. Nice.

Saturday 25th March

Charles the ram has spent the morning hiding in the hedge. He is not put off by people waving tree branches at him, trying to 'shepherd' him into the small Pond Paddock. He is staying firmly put in his hedge. So this afternoon a small group of youngish ewes (lucky girls) are arriving from a friend's farm down the road - they are to be used as ram-bait. Hmm... One wonders if there is such a thing as an anti-social ram.

Pergola :
The pergola was one of the first big Moosey garden design projects. Every year the thornless rose Crepuscule covers more of the wood.

While Charles lurks in the bushes, I have been robustly weeding underneath the Pergola, where my self sown Ligularias have begun to totally dominate. Do I want them to? One needs mental energy (at least) to remove them. It's far easier to pull out the overshadowed irises. Apparently the fire ban was lifted at midnight, too. This is earth-shattering news - something I have not planned for today. So I am also levelling the ash heap in readiness for the first autumn burn-up, as well as carting barrowfuls of firewood and stacking them in the woodshed. Thus it's been a thoroughly 'farmy' sort of morning!

 An old retainer who gets disgracefully black-spotted.
Gerbe Rose

Digging and Poking

And while I dig and poke underneath the Pergola the apricot rose Crepuscule is flowering above me. The Gerbe rose (which I do not like much) has its black-spotted-tentacles all over the compost heap. There are huge numbers of self-grown potatoes in here, and lots of nasty creeping grass weeds. Hmm... Might be nicer to return and burn!

Later - The First Autumn Burn-Up

I have burnt eight loads of rubbish. It's taken me ages, but now I have finished for the day. Charles is still sulking in the hedge. Oh dear! Low ram self-esteem?

Sunday 26th March

Happy Birthday to the Daughter of Moosey, proud owner of her very own Birthday Rose Garden. It's early in the morning, and I have already done at least half an hour of mental gardening. Visualisation is a powerful psychological tool. I'm not sure, however, that lying snug in bed visualising barrowfuls of gum tree rubbish being wheeled slowly to the burning heap is very productive.

Animal News

Charles the Ram has come out of the hedge, joining the ewes in the top of the pond paddock. I thought he would. Obviously Charles is going to 'pack a sad' whenever he's left alone, rather than charging at his owners and running them over. This may not be a bad thing.

Tiger my lovely fat kitten-cat has reached finally 300 votes in the Most Valuable Pet Competition! I may be the only person voting for her, but she deserves every click. Lately Stumpy the old grey has been rather nasty to Tiger, silently sneaking up and trying to bite her backside. Tiger, puzzled, just skips out of reach. Do not vote for Stumpy!

 Best friends 4 eva!
Two Consumer Cats - Fluff-Fluff and B-Puss

Enough cat-rambling. I'm afraid that the only sensible thing for me to do on this windless morning is to burn. I will be hot and bothered, red in the face, with smoky clothes - nobody will want to see me back inside the house.

Rubbish Fire :
I mainly burn dry gum tree rubbish like leaves and branches.

I do not fundamentally 'like' burning - for example, I have never enjoyed throwing spuds in foil into fires and holding in sausages on long sticks. If any passing person asks me if I am happy burning I will glare back at them. And when I run out of puff (but probably not out of burnable rubbish) I will zoom off to the nursery to buy The Birthday Present for the Daughter of Moosey - it's a new rose! Hee hee! Right! My morning in the garden is organised.

Morning Coffee Time

Just reporting in, after two hours, or ten barrowfuls, of burning - that's an average rate of one load collected and burnt every twelve minutes. Ha! I am clearing two areas simultaneously, equidistant from my fire, and whose rubbish content is complimentary. Sounds rather mathematical! And guess what? I am not panicking! Retirement rocks! And my hands are not sore, which makes my little foray into Mozart and Beethoven rather more enjoyable. So the stress of being a teacher caused my hands to ache? Hmm... Self diagnosis is a wonderful thing.

Now I am off to bike with Rusty the dog around the country block. Then the purchasing of The Important Birthday Present will take place - maybe a Claret Iceberg rose. Does Daughter of Moosey like claret? Daughter of Moosey would possibly prefer a case of real Claret...

Later That Evening...

Oops! Mother of Daughter of Moosey has just spilled her Claret (well, more accurately her Shiraz) on the carpet. Eek! She (who burnt rubbish for approximately six hours today) couldn't find the right rose, and so has decided to wait for the rose sales. Then she can buy more than one birthday present, because they will be cheaper. It's the thought that counts, isn't it?