It's wonderful to see tiny featherlight touches of spring in my garden, though the daffodils are still very sluggish - that's a very poor choice of adjective for a gardener!

Monday 21st August

Since I've been back from my short holiday in Samoa I have worked like a gardening fiend. I have accomplished major earthworks (the intensive weeding of the pergola gardens). My glass-house systems are in place (repotting, pricking out seeds, dividing and potting up perennials). The volcano of burning ash is distributed over the Wattle Woods (fifteen wheelbarrow loads). I have planted all my trays of pansies.

 I feel quite colour-starved at the moment.
Lone Blue Pansy

I have purchased the fence paint. Hmm - it's an experiment, a terracotta shade - time I stopped choosing drab dark brown colours. And let's face it - a well-painted terracotta coloured fence has got to look better than the peeling messy version I have at the moment.

Time For A List...

I have a list, which sort of follows on from yesterday, of things to do today. Naturally I will be guided by the weather. Here goes...

Today's Weather-Wise List

Lay newspaper underneath mulch in Welcome Garden.
This is my weed suppressant, and there is a cold front arriving later, with rain - thus the newspaper will be dampened by nature.
Start painting fence.
The air temperature needs to be at least ten degrees Celsius - c'mon, sun!
Dog-Path Garden
The Iris confusa swathes have not recovered, and need removing, with smaller offshoots replanted while the soil is dry. Roses need shifting nearer the lawn edge, and pruning, and...

Aargh! The Dog-Path Garden could have had its own sub-list! That's quite enough detail for now. I've got time to have a cup of coffee, get gloves and gumboots, and tour the Camellias. The reds and pinks in the Wattle Woods are now flowering freely. Hurray for a four-seasons garden, where spring and autumn have such contributions to make!

Botanical Research Breakthrough

Yesterday at the big hardware store I saw some of the tropical Samoan hedge plants in pots. Their name is Codiaeum Variegatum - they may be totally normal for some gardeners, but not so for me! I could assemble a miniature indoor plant hedge, in memory... And a diarama, with golden sand and coconut palms...

 This was the view from our holiday verandah.
Golden Sand and Coconut Palms - Manase Beach

Later, Relaxing out of the Rain...

Much progress has been made. The Welcome Garden is - oops - a little bigger, just the arc of the curve, you understand. I have done all I can for now (having run out of newspaper). Then I weeded my way around to the Dog-Path Garden - a risky strategy, since there's often so much to do en route that the destination is never reached. But I've successfully started on the Iris confusa removal, and have pruned nearly all the roses.

 Pretty flower, but a scruffy plant. what a pity!
Iris confusa Flower

Fence painting was not an option - from mid-day on there was a definite feel of rain in the air. And that's cold rain - not that lovely soothing warm stuff we experienced in Samoa! Brr...

Tuesday 22nd August

Good news - I have passed my choir audition! Now my old-lady retirement is complete - I belong to a garden club, a walking group, and a ladies choral society. Tra la la...

Half-bad news - it tried to snow last night, and there are light scatterings of slush on the lawns and patios. Humph. This is simply not appropriate - what if I wish to start fence painting today? I also have more newspaper to lay in the Welcome Garden, and I have found some wood for a welcome sign. Also my work in the Dog-Path Garden needs to continue, and that will mean wet knees, and possible semi-immersion in the water race. Can my tropical-beach-conditioned feet handle snow-melt in the chilled water?

Off to the Hebe Nursery

A trip to the nursery for some more Surfer flaxes (my favourite at the moment) and some blobby Hebes might be a good start to this chilly gardening day. Hebes are very positive, weather-proof shrubs with great attitude, traits to be encouraged in plants and gardeners alike...

 This is one of the local nurseries I visit.
Winter in the Nursery


Oops. I went to the nursery, and bought three trees (to be collected), two flaxes (Surfer Green), ten hebes, two blush pink rhododendrons, five hellebores and two more golden Escallonias. Then I decided to prepare planting positions in the Wattle Woods, something which I thought would take me about half an hour. Nope! It's been three blustery hours! To ensure that my new plantings look unified I have had to clear the whole area. In the process I rescued two smothered roses (Othello and The Pilgrim) and replanted them nearer the lawn edge. I weeded out an annoying ground cover, cleared the little path, and pruned other roses. The new plants are still tucked away in the back of my car - but the Wattle Woods are one step closer to getting their garden make-over.

Right. Back out I go. But to which part of the garden? We'll see, we'll see...


Look, it's not that I am totally random, or I can't finish anything, or stick to a plan. It's just this - one must be allowed to be a free spirit in ones own garden!

Hellebores :
I'm trying to add new plants and new colours to my Hellebore patch each year.

So I returned to the Wattle Woods, planted the hellebores, and cleared a bit more ground. There's now a perfect route on which to create a new connecting path, so naturally I'll do this before I plant. Ha! I have gardened for five full days now, since returning from my tropical island holiday. I feel very virtuous, and will take tomorrow off. But even I will not garden in a hailstorm!

Thursday 24th August

I'm waiting for the slight morning frost to become slighter. Yippee! I have at least half an hour to twitter on about my gardening plans for today - starting with my new path concept. This is really exciting. For years parts of the Wattle Woods have been shapeless, and my rather random layers of plantings haven't helped. What better way to create some shape than to forge a bold new path, which can start at the glass-house corner, scoop around the big red Kaponga rhododendrons, and finish - where, exactly? What's the point? Reaching the Wattle Woods seat! Brilliant!

Red Rhododendron :
The Kaponga rhododendrons are just starting to flower - luckily they were hardly damaged at all in June's snow storm.

And while clearing underneath I found evidence that I have the name right - an old weatherbeaten plant label. Ha! Now that their garden is sunnier, I hope my big red rhododendrons won't be adversely affected. Particularly as I would love to plant a few more close by...

Now what I should be doing is writing about the fabulous tropical house gardens of Samoa. I wonder if any four-seasons temperate gardener can properly understand just two seasons - dry, and wet. Oh well - perhaps I could just show a page of pictures!