That was quick!

 My table and chairs keeps getting moved around.
A Pleasant Place for Lunch

Hey - where did January go? That was quick! And February is that annoying gardening month which is short on days, but full of summer sunshine, lots of watering, and a Garden Club visit. Aargh!

Monday 1st February

Sorry, February, I didn't mean to sound quite so tetchy. I love every gardening month, and you are no exception. And think of it positively - it's time to turn the page of my Moosey Cats calendar past Fluff-Fluff (Mister January). My goodness, a new month so soon in the year, with Lilli-Puss posing cutely as Miss February.

I remind myself of my mistress plan to get the garden ready for visitors. Another gardening day means another path to clear. And guess what? I am on a Zero Dollars Plants Budget for 2010. And how much did I spend in the month of January, through which I've just happily gardened? Zero dollars! I do have some new plants - a friend gave me some bags of Solomon's Seal, I've found seedling grasses to pot up, and some rock lilies (Renga Renga) need dividing. What a wise, well behaved start to the year I've had - long may it continue.

 A sweet cherry red perennial.
Summer Penstemons

Free Things

Right. I'm back from swimming. I've picked up some free horse manure. The best things in life are free - and horse manure, through weedy, is one of the very best - if it's free. Blimey, does that make any sense?

Anyway, I'm about to launch myself into the mid-day sun. First I remove the sweltering horse manure bags from the back of my car and spread the contents on the old fashioned rose garden. Then I cover the organic matter with mulch. And then I lay more stone edges of the new pond path. My friend is coming in about an hour to do a trial visitor's run (well, probably a walk) of my garden's paths and routes. I'll take a notebook and make a list of dodgy things.

Much, Much Later...

Wow! A fresh pair of eyes, and I know exactly what I need to do. For example, I must sew some red cushions for the white wire seat (it's too deep for the smaller visitor with short legs). The red will echo the painted hats of my gnomes. I've planted four Carex trifida plants in front of the seat, and moved Bossman garden gnome to stand on nature's plinth (a low sawn-off tree stump nearby). He's OK about that - he can still see the pond.

Block Off, Shift, or Retire

My friend has sorted me out. I should simply block off paths that are non-negotiable. Shift or retire any paths which push past huge, floppy Phormiums. Rake all other paths and trim overhanging vegetation - be it shrub or grass.

 A lovely spiky shrub.
Sunny Green Phormium

My friend says that paths need somewhere to go, or at least they need have a natural stopping point. Otherwise visitors will get stuck in the vegetation, feel silly, and lose the confidence to explore. It's good that I like to control where my visitors' feet go, but every route need stone or log edging. Visitors then know they are meant to be wandering off 'down there'.

 Stylish? Not really. Rustic? Maybe...
A Rusty Wheelbarrow Blocks the Path

And so I have worked to her instructions, and the Wattle Woods paths are clear - all except one, which is blocked by an old rusty wheelbarrow. I've wheeled out three barrowfuls of trimmings, and burnt the lot. I've fed the cats, and now I'm feeding myself. I am very very proud of my day. A fresh pair of eyes has done the trick - and I feel energised.


My friend did go a bit quiet when I said I only had seven more days in which to get the garden ready, though. She then diplomatically asked me what my priorities were. 'Ha! Everything!' I replied emphatically. Leopards (and lady gardeners) do not change their spots.

Tuesday 2nd February

I am still overflowing with confidence regarding the clearing of the Wattle Woods paths. In a gardening flash they changed from - zero to hero? And all it took was a rake and some secateurs... Anyway, today I am retiring half a path in the Dog-Path Garden.

 In full flower by the house.
Floppy White Dahlias

My friend was adamant - the flax was far too big to push past (and far too beautiful to cut back). The seat to which the path lead was - rustic? Rotten, more like. She would not feel safe sitting on it. My friend is a generous sized lady, but size has nothing to do with it. I will reuse these edging stones for the main path behind the pond.

And a tiny thought. I've always thought that February was the scruffy month in my garden. Perhaps it's not the month that's scruffy, it's the gardener? Oops...

I do have other things to do today - if, and only if, I get bored with paths. I will list them here - just in case.

Aargh! I've thought of some more tasks! The vegetable garden needs attention. It would be a pity to create such wonderful impressions in the ornamental garden and be let down by floppy tomatoes...

Much later...

I've worked for six hours, and more paths are cleared. Stones have moved from one garden to another, and I finished my day by burning all my rubbish. I've planted out daisies, pelargoniums, and lupins. I've weeded and raked and watered and sawed trees down. I don't feel very wordy right now - no doubt tomorrow morning I will make up for it. And I have an old lady's problem - my feet are very sore. This does not please me.

 Golden in the sunshine.
Coreopsis Flowers

Wednesday 3rd February

Apparently older lady gardeners get sore feet in the middle of the night - another nagging reminder that I am not superwoman. Blast! If I'm awake after midnight I'd prefer to be lauguidly dozing and planning my garden, not wriggling around waiting for an anti-inflammatory pill to kick in. Humph.

Sorry about this personal stuff. I've restuffed my orthotic soles into my sturdiest, most supportive gardening shoes, and we'll hear no more about foot faults. Hopefully there'll be fewer garden faults, too, after today's session. I've chosen NOT to go hiking for eight hours.

I'm still fixing up all my paths, in preparation for the Garden Club's twilight visit. Today with my trusty rake I should get all the paths over the water race cleared. They tend to be shorter, leading from the grass lawn to the water's edge, and are usually blocked by overgrown Phormiums or self-sown plants and grasses. Yesterday I had to go undercover and prune a few pieces of the big pink rhododendron alongside Middle Path - this behaviour is rare. An original Hebe, straggly and woody, has been chopped out from underneath.

Coffee Mug :
Oops. I'd better collect up all the old (and cold) coffee cups and mugs from the garden.

Right. Cup of coffee in hand I will start my gardening day. The weather is pleasantly overcast. Hoses go on first, as I continue watering the back of the Shrubbery and the side of the Frisbee Lawn Border. Lots of little things, done in the right order... Ha! I am being sequential and well-organised.


And the sun beats down fiercely upon the weary older gardener, whose feet are bearing up quite nicely. I've finished the paths in the Hen House Gardens and raked pieces of gum bark off the borders and lawns. Yet again I remind myself how easy it is to make my garden look - better than it actually is? A raked path and a trimmed edge - the solution to the most vexing gardening question in the universe.


I needed a break from the rake, so I've been standing in the water race weeding. The cold water should relieve the feet, should they decide to get sore and puffy. I've not stayed out long, though - I'm mindful that English roses (like me) can get sunburnt through long-sleeved shirts. I've had yet another great summer's day in the garden.