Two new garden digging projects on the go...

Now I have two new garden digging projects on the go, simultaneously, and still I'm tempted to sneak off and buy more roses and hebes. And when am I going to start weeding all the beds, ready for spring?

 By the glass-house.
First Red Rhododendron

Saturday 18th August

It's the weekend, and so I have tactfully explained my latest lawn shifting project to Non-Gardening-Partner (NGP), inviting him to 'supervise'. He will be mowing the new lawn, and therefore it should be moderately level, without lumps.

NGP in Action :
Anyone who has met my NGP knows what a lovely, serious, thoughtful, brainy chap he is. Ouch - that's laying it on thickly. Like good compost?

How proud and supportive he is of my gardening efforts! I have suggested that I provide the pieces of turf, and lays them properly in their new place, using his civil engineering expertise. This is stretching the meaning of the word 'supervise' somewhat...

Some ground rules (hee hee) are needed for today's effort, since I've created a chain of garden changes. This first list considers the plants which are moving out from under the fence, so the lawn can move in.

Where do the Shasta daisies go?
All Shasta daisies will be roughly planted next to the car bridge, by the water.
And the two Mermaid roses?
To be butchered, with the axe.
The other roses?
They will move in front of the glass-house.
Bulbs and perennials?
Replant by the glass-house path.
One of the cherry ramblers?
Into a pot. When in doubt, pot up.
The Zephirine Drouhan climber, newly planted?
In the same garden, shifted to sit by the new corner post.

And now to itemise the heavier work which I need done. This might look better in a paragraph than in a list - lists are so bossy! Only one or two or three, or maybe four fence posts need to be dug out. Another load of wood shavings for the Moosey path covering programme needs to be collected. And possibly spread around - but that's another story!

 On one of my new Wattle Woods trees.
Pink Plum Blossom

Right. The big dig. If I dig out all the plants first, NGP will know that I mean business.

Much, Much Later...

Another six hour day, and all the new pieces of turf have been expertly laid. This new lawn area is going to be a real winner! I've started replanting the Shasta daisies, and I also have a large collection of early flowering perennial Salvias to place. One fence post and one Mermaid rose are gone. Estimated length of time required to finish project - only two or three more good gardening days.

I've also started emptying the new trailer-load of path mulch. A huge, huggy thank you to NGP who helped me in the late afternoon - after pruning several rows of hazelnut trees and cleaning sheep's bottoms. Two legends in the same house at the same time! Now I'm about to enjoy (home made) fish'n'chips and watch the rugby with a can of Speights, a New Zealand style Saturday night. My gardening status is extremely high.

 I've been pulling my old succulents to bits and repotting them.
Succulent Cuttings

Sunday 19th August

Right. NGP has gone skiing (I guess he is allowed a day off), and I will continue the shifting of the lawn on my own. It's a beautiful, crisp late winter's morning - blue sky, squeaking birds - and I am feeling refreshed, energetic, and motivated. Yippee! I love my garden.

Real Head Gardeners

I've been peeping at my holiday photographs yet again - I loved my visits to the Scottish gardens. Beautiful Attadale! Inspiring Arduaine! These places had real Head Gardeners - nice, friendly, knowledgeable chaps - in charge of under-gardeners, I suppose. Whereas I am in charge of nine cats and a dog, and an elusive NGP who disappears whenever I try and change things.

 Look at the huge rhododendron trees!
Scottish Garden Seat

As a non-real, non-Scottish Head Gardener I have two burning questions about this morning. Firstly, should I make a hot coffee, right now, so soon after my cup of tea - or should I just get outside and look forward to a coffee in, say, an hour's time? And which gardening denim jeans should I put on - skinny-leg stretch, or bootleg, the ones that need a safety pin? Real Head Gardeners (well, Scottish ones at least) would be more concerned about the laying of the new drains, the replanting of the fern garden, and which new rhododendron hybrids to order. Hee hee...


My animals, at least, are good at accepting change in the garden! Yesterday Lilli-Puss was charging along her old route to the hen house. Obstacle en route! She deftly sidestepped my new foxglove plantings, and slalomed around the new tussock and rock rose - no problem! My cats and the dog have always been good path testers, too - if they keep cutting corners, then I know my design is silly.

 Keeping me company.

Six Hours Later...

Two six-hour gardening days in a row! Progress on the new lawn is - solid. Three-fifths of the space has been laid with pieces of turf, and I love the new look. The water race, running straight through with its beautiful shining flaxes, is now opened up to the new back lawn, which is a contrasting curvy shape! I love it! And for readers who appreciate literary continuity, I wore the bootleg denims with the safety pin, and I'm only just having that cup of coffee! Boy it tastes great.

What Should I Do With the Shasta Daisies?

I've planted the Salvias on the water race edge for now, and all the bulb clumps are in my new glass-house garden, which is looking like a plant refugee camp. That doesn't matter - this is garden plant recycling at its very best. The only plant I'm worried about committing to a new garden is the Shasta daisy - mine are tenacious nuisances, forming rock hard root clumps, and setting seedlings everywhere. And the flowers smell like my kittens' litter box after a week of wet weather. Enough said.

Mermaid Rose :
Two Mermaid roses were planted early in my garden's history, when dear old Taj-Dog had a wire run along the back fence.

The second Mermaid rose is dug out. Honestly - it's easy digging new gardens and changing things around. One just needs stamina, patience, and a decent light-weight shovel. I haven't even had to use the axe - yet. One last thought - I don't suppose that an older bloke who has been skiing all day would feel like removing two more fence-posts, before dinner? It's roast pork, with pumpkin and kumara, and home-made apple sauce...

Monday 20th August

No - an older bloke back from skiing needed to soak in the bath until it was too dark for any garden chores. But perhaps if I dig far down enough myself... Anyway, today after swimming I'll be busy again on my wheeling circuit.

 Percy the kitten investigates.
Whats In Here?

My Wheeling Circuit

A load of compost is dumped in the new glass-house garden, and a load of path mulch is shovelled from the adjacent trailer and spread on the new paths. Then, from this same spot, a load of grass turfs are sliced up - these are laid on the garden where the back fence was. Plants for removal and/or weeds are wheeled from this garden. Plants go where the grass was, weeds are dumped back past the compost. And so the circuit, with an elegant symmetry, is repeated.

The new garden being degrassed is almost ready for some serious planting - one specimen tree, possibly a dogwood. Hmm... If I work really hard today, I wonder how close I'll be to finishing? My cats are really enjoying all this digging - they love peering into the holes in the dirt.


Oops. Not such a good day - I got really tired, really early. But I'm ready for the remaining two fence posts to come out (no luck trying to dig them myself). I am extremely pleased with the new look lawn, and I'm sure that the new glass-house garden is bigger. I remind my doubting, drooping self that digging a new garden area is a finite process, and eventually one does run out of stuff to dig.