Decisions, decisions...

I've decided not to personally saw down the apple tree in the Island Bed. Non-Gardening Partner's chain-saw will do in five minutes what it would take me all day to do. This seems to be very unfair... Perhaps if - if - a big IF - Non-Gardening Partner doesn't go skiing in the weekend he could help me with this.

Friday 17th July

Finally some pale sunshine! And finally, a day which is warmer than seven degrees (Celsius). I've spent about two hours doing quite boring things - collecting up firewood, hammering in standard rose stakes, and cutting back dahlias. Then I tried to get the bonfire burning. Nope - it didn't work. Blast. I have to lower the pile - when the digger was here it broke off some gum and pine tree branches up the drive, and these need burning. And I'm pruning roses now on a day by day basis...

Saturday 18th July

Aha! It's the weekend, and Non-Gardening Partner is not going skiing. Yippee! This makes him available for chain-sawing down the apple tree, trimming the oversized conifer, collecting another load of compost, and safely encouraging (with diesel) my rubbish pile to burn.

Non-Gardening Partner :
Hope he isn't reading this journal...

Champions of NGP can be heard off-stage whispering 'Go skiing! Go skiing! Go skiing!'... But seriously - yesterday afternoon I approached the apple tree with my trusty bow saw. I thought about using a ladder and climbing up into the tree. I looked at the thickness of the trunks - note the plural.

Then I stepped back and mentally listed the tree's potential - blossom (single. pale, pathetic) and apples (small, floury). I checked the time, as one does when contemplating a six hour garden job - two o'clock, sun drop at five.

I thought some more. What would benefit the most from the tree's removal? My beautiful, wonderful, overcrowded ornamental Cornus, the middle feature in the Island Bed? My new pink roses planted nearby, the textural veiny-leafed Viburnum up the side, the squashed Lilac which I never see flowering?

 I have no idea what the name is.
North American Lilac

The advantage of someone else doing the sawing also became obvious. I could 'help' by protecting the big pink Azalea and the new cream rhododendrons from getting flattened by falling branches. And After five more minutes of chain-sawing NGP could wander off to read the paper while I loaded the firewood logs, lopped off the small branches, and carted away the rubbish.

 In the Botanical Gardens, Hamilton, Ontario.
In the Lilac Garden

Aha! NGP has just appeared. Partner psychology - I will ask him what he'd like to do first...

Much, Much Later...

Brilliant! It's taken me all day five hours to do the burning and saw down the apple tree. Hmm... Impressive but rather dishonest - I mean that I helped NGP, who did all the big work.

Not a Lilac!

He's kindly pointed out the reason why the Lilac hasn't been flowering - it's not a Lilac. Fair enough! But I want one - in memory of my short North American holiday in May during the lilac season...

Kitten Company

Minimus has been scooting up and down the trees and climbing all over the piles of apple branches. As a reward for being such good kitten-company I sneaked her a couple of slices of smoked salmon (her favourite). Now I wouldn't say that Minimus is spoilt, but...

''Yet who would have thought the old tree to have had so much wood in him?'
-Shakespeare and the Chain-Saw.

Tomorrow I might spend my nursery voucher on a Lilac shrub. And NGP (who gets 10 out of 10 for today's effort) will further help me by shredding all the branches. To paraphrase the slightly sinister words of Lady Macbeth - 'Yet who would have thought the old tree to have had so much wood in him?'

Sunday 19th July

I'm seriously working in the Island Bed. We are shredding all the apple tree mess - blowing it straight back on the garden. I'm digging out the suckering shrubs that I thought were lilacs. Another undistinguished evergreen will be chain-sawed down. I may rip out much of the flopped down Iris confusa. For a mass planting of soft ground cover spikes I much prefer Renga Renga, particularly in tree shelter - and I want to fortify the whole border with compost anyway.

 Still treeless...
Young Stumpy the Cat

Stumpy's Memorial Cornus

Nice gaps will thus be created for a proper Lilac and a Cornus. My kind friend has given me two sturdy Cornus Alba trees. The other will be memorially planted in the orchard slightly to the left of Stumpy the cat. My Google research tells me that this tree has a skill level of 'Beginner'. Hmm... Suits me...

Right. Another non-skiing day for dearest NGP. But I know he likes using the shredder. The cyclic symbolism of sun creating a tree creating chipping mulch and space for a new tree appeals to him - I think...

Monday 20th July

Oh boy I've been busy! Perhaps I started a little late (11pm) and finished a little early (3pm) but it is winter, and we did have a ground frost of minus 2 degrees Celsius.

Yesterday NGP and I shredded the apple tree, plus a large Pittosporum which was rudely growing up the middle of the flowering cherry. I've planted a white Banksia rose to share the tree gracefully instead. The white is said to be not as vigorous as the yellow Banksia (one of which is doing its best to bring down the Moosey washing line behind the laundry). Hope I've got this right...

 Hmm... How long will this load take to spread?
Compost to Spread

I've also been spreading compost and raking and shovelling the shreddings around. I've half dug out the roots of the unknown suckering shrub, and I've rationalised the seedling Pittosporums (oops - actually I've pulled them all out).

Pink Spring Azalea :
The Azalea in the Island Bed is my first spring flowering shrub. I am so looking forward to seeing its beautiful pinkness.

I've trimmed the Choisya so that the pink Azalea has more room - it will be flowering soon! Yippee! I've found a poor, smothered Daphne which looks rather spindly - wrong time of year for pruning, maybe, but I've sawn its unhealthiest branches off at the base, and nipped a few of its other branches. It just looks a bit tired...

A Grand Old Gardening Lady

For the last three days I've been a grand old gardening lady. I've worked tirelessly (hmm - a slight exaggeration) without getting bored (hmm - a slight inaccuracy) and never grumping once (well, not out loud). So as a reward I am off to do some couch-cycling, watching the scenery as the Tour de France pedals its way into Switzerland.

 Lyttleton Harbour in Winter
Some New Zealand Mini-Mountains

The mountains look impressive, but unlike the New Zealand ones there are also clusters of human dwellings and old churches, towers, and chateaux to peep at. The trees are much more coniferous, and I think the tree-line is higher. And there's so much history of habitation that we miss out on down here in youthful New Zealand...

Shocking Confession - Moosey Ditches The Bachelor!

In a serious TV confession I am coming out of The Bachelor closet once and for all. I am over The Bachelor. In protest at Jason sending home my favourite girlie from Queenstown, New Zealand, I've looked at You-Tube and seen how it all ends - we have a much-delayed airing of this silly programme. Anyway, there's been too much bikini-in-the-spa stuff and not enough helicopter scenery for this old gardening chook. Honestly! Phew - glad I got that off my chest...