An exciting day for Non-Gardening Partner...

Happy Birthday to non-gardening partner. I have planned an exciting day for him in the garden - birthday chain-sawing, followed by birthday shredding. Blast - he has escaped to a rural fire-fighting training day. The best laid plans of mice and older-lady gardeners...

Sunday 22nd July

However, I am not down-hearted. After all, the All Blacks beat Australia at the rugby last night, so all's well with the world. So I will attack the garden, single-woman-handed, and I will quietly and efficiently do heaps of good work, as women all over the world do every day. Ha!

It's pruning and trimming time for the gardens over the water race, where roses and lavenders need shifting. I need to see my beautiful rhododendrons flowering, too - so more Pittosporums may need to get the chop. Pity about the chain-saw - but I promised my piano-playing self years ago I would deliberately never learn to use one. My hands are getting the olive-oil-hand-cream treatment, and I can cope with the odd rose and kitten scratch.

 A wee scuffle between the rooster and Rusty the dog.
Sharing the Garden?

The hens may be a nuisance, particularly rooster if he's having an aggressive moment, so I will take Rusty, poultry protector of lone women gardeners. Cat company would be nice, and kitten company is jolly well compulsory - they will love the trees in these gardens!

Four Hours Later...

I have had so much fun! Firstly I've widened Middle Path - after cruising around Scotland's finest gardens I am embarrassed by the mean-spirited dimensions of my paths. So before I cover each with wood shavings, I am making certain it is sensible in both scale and position.

Lifestyle Change for my Poultry

My poultry have suffered a serious lifestyle change. They all happily flew over the water race towards me and my chook food bowl - this is why I've been finding them loose in my house gardens. I'm sorry, but this is far too free range for my liking. They are now shut in their very spacious chicken run, and I am back to buying them silver beet and picking the old leaves off the lettuces in the supermarket. Rooster has never been so quiet - he's sulking? Had the stuffing knocked out of him? Ouch! There's no such thing as a free range? Another ouch!

Middle Bridge :
Middle Garden's waterside aspect is now much tidier. The area by the bridge really deserves a comfortable seat, to enjoy the water rushing by.

The remaining Phormium tenax is trimmed back (thanks to a kitchen steak knife, the only comfortable implement to use). I've trimmed a native Myrtle, and shifted some dark red peonies. The Gunnera is organised, with dead leaves protecting the crowns, and I've trimmed back the chocolate Corokia. As I worked in the warm sunshine the kittens bounced in and out of view, and the man reading the weather forecast on my radio kept telling me it was raining. Hee hee!

It's a pity about the lack of birthday chain-sawing, but hey! I'll cope. There's still time for a birthday visit to the rose nursery to buy some birthday rugosas...+5

Monday 23rd July

Early this morning, while it was still dark, Nanny B-Puss took the kittens out on the roof, where they had to quickly learn a new, unnatural cat-climbing technique - the retraction of the claws. Otherwise, squeaky sliding down to the guttering, where they would need to self-arrest, metres above the ground. Eek! Like teenagers they have to be free to make their own mistakes - I couldn't look!

Lavender Garden

Later in the day (when the sun had warmed up the frosty ground) I leapt into my gardening clothes, full of good intentions to clear, dig, and install Rusty the dog's Lavender garden. Every dog should have a Lavender garden next to his kennel, to appreciate the finer fragrances of life - other than chicken manure, stinky old bones, rotting piece of unknown... I think I'll stop right there, before the nasally squeamish complain!

 That beautiful clean dog-nose!
Rusty by the Water Race

But, as one does, I ended up doing something different - raking and burning my huge rubbish pile of rose prunings, and dragging out other loads of burnable rubbish, stashed on the fence-line.

Tuesday 24th July

Today this is my plan. I will 'construct' the new garden. I will wheel in loads of wet ash, lay newspaper, and then get serious about the planting. I might even be able to find some home-grown compost.

My hens, robbed of free-ranging in their large food-garden, are sulking - they stare at their layer pellets, and ignore their grain, choosing instead to gather around the door of the chicken run. So this morning I've added oatmeal to their cooked vegetable peelings as a special treat.

I am not allowed to write anything more until I have done the following:


Three hours concentrating, and Rusty's Lavender garden is finished. He has been more interested in escorting pigeons off the property. Rooster has been shrieking from the Hen House, prompting me to race over to see what's wrong. Each time, absolutely nothing - it has not been a chook-life-threatening situation, he is just bored, showing his contempt of my tasty oatmeal breakfast by standing in it. Hmm...

And I've almost finished my list. Some improved Singapore pictures have been selected for the Botanic Gardens articles. My problem is that I always try to write personally, rather than paraphrasing some brochure or web-site. Matching the photographs to the text then becomes rather difficult.

 What beautiful plants.
Heliconia Masses

Dogs and Heliconias

For example, I decide that a dog peeing on the Ecological Garden's elegant signpost is interesting and entertaining to talk about. But naturally I have not taken a photograph - that would have been far too rude! Whereas I have heaps and heaps of close-ups, mid-shots, and long-shots of Heliconias, and very little to say about them.

 Beautiful colours in winter.
Flax and Hydrangea

Not Much Colour

There's not much colour to take pictures of in the Moosey winter garden. Neither have I any new pet pictures. The big cats so far today haven't co-operated - far too busy snoozing in chairs. All three kittens descended the Mutabilis rose from the upstairs balcony (too scary), then ran off into the shadows. Percy actually got a bit stuck, and had to climb down my outstretched arm.

Wednesday 24th July

I wonder what happens in the latest (and last) Harry Potter book? Must read it. But this is a gardening journal - enough! My gardening day has been brilliant. I've cleared, pruned, weeded, and trimmed in the Stables Garden. There is little plant colour, but sunny warm days like today are rewarding and rich in their own colour.

Since I've been home from my trip - did I mention that I've been away? For four weeks? Visiting the most beautiful overseas gardens? Enthusiastic returned-from-travelling gardeners can get quite boring - they simply must keep reminiscing... I'll start that sentence again.

Ideas and Questions

Since I've been home from my trip I have resisted buying new plants, like a carload of hedge rugosa roses. I have so many ideas - I'd like to buy some more hebes, and some red leafed Ake Akes (the poor-woman's purple Cotinus). And some new hybrid daylilies, and some sensible new perennials. I also have loads of questions. What am I going to do to spice up the plantings in the Welcome Garden? And should I buy a huge pot? And how can I get non-gardening partner to take his weekend garden duties seriously?

I will write him a concise list.

  1. Chain-sawing, under direction.
  2. Shredding of Pittosporum branches.
  3. Buying and inserting stakes for standard roses.
  4. Repairing existing chicken run, and constructing temporary extension for bored poultry.
  5. Getting trailer loads of compost and wood shavings.
  6. Constructing new Monet-style bridge over water.
  7. Designing water-wheel.

Hmm... oh boy! No wonder he escapes to the orchard, as the thought of pruning suckers off seven hundred Hazelnut trees suddenly becomes very appealing...