Missing the time bus...

 It's Lavender flowering time.
Lavender Bracts

Today needs to be a serious gardening day - I notice with puzzlement that a lot of November hours have already passed. I always seem to be missing the time bus, so to speak.

Someone has tinkered with the timetable? Hey, where did all those first November days go?

Tuesday November 9th

I need to do some rose checks. It's the beginning of the rose appreciation season, in which I must be a vigilant and enthusiastic participant.

Many of the big climbing and scrambling roses are starting to flower - I can see Buff Beauty from the house, high above the Crab-Apple tree.

Other roses close to the house look wonderful. I love the all-shades-of-apricot climber Westerland and the dark, brooding Othello. I remind myself that I pruned him fairly robustly this last winter. Ha! He obviously liked the attention. And so far, so good - no black spots to spoil his shiny green leaves!

Today demands my fullest attention. The weeds I sprayed (ouch) at the very back of the Welcome Garden can now be covered in thick mulch. That's my first job.

 Shyly peeping out from underneath his leaves.

Dear Othello

It's not as romantic as sniffing fragrant roses - dear Othello, you are so handsome and you have a gorgeous perfume.

And another job is to water the vegetable garden and feed the tomatoes (I've got special tomato food). Eek! I've just remembered - I must stake the floppy peonies in the Birthday Rose Garden (without trampling down too many cornflowers). No point in flowers opening at ground level on the dirt, is there?

Cat News

Nothing much to report, catwise. Percy, usually such a gentleman, continues to chase Kaya the black whenever he sees her. Tiger the tortoiseshell is still too fat, and Lilli-Puss the grey is still too random. Little Minimus has taken to spending the sunny days up in the Shrubbery's courtyard - my watering hose usually finds her before I do. Oops. Histeria the tabby is bouncy, cheerful, and outgoing, as always. Histeria would have made a great dog, if you know what I mean.

 Isn't he just the most beautiful fluffy cat?
Fluff-Fluff Cat on a Garden Seat

+10Long-haired Fluff-Fluff has his usual seasonal sticky biddi-bid problem (from forget-me-not seeds) so there are piles of dead green seeds on the arms of chairs throughout the house. Cats choose the time and place for their grooming, and so I have brushes etc. scattered around the house, within easy reach. Fluff-Fluff is shameless, displaying his tummy with the tiniest of tickles, completely relaxed.

Pet Lamb News

I am pleased with Stu lamb and his Sheep Integration Programme. He's down to two 200ml bottles a day, and spends all his paddock time grazing with the other ewes and lambs. I appear at random fence-lines with his feeds (just to confuse him, if it's possible to confuse a sheep).

Stu Lamb :
This is my favourite photograph of Stu, sitting underneath the Omar Khayyam rose.

When he runs at full speed to me, the others come charging after him, in hot pursuit. Run! Aargh! A scary person! Stopppppp! Run! They turn and scamper back to where they came from. The flock instinct can be very funny sometimes.

Right. Off outside I go with my trusty dog, who doesn't get a special report today because he is always just there, faithfully plodding beside me. Dear Rusty!

Two Hours Later...

This is terrible - only two hours of rough weeding and mulching, and I've switched off totally from the garden. All I feel like doing is eating. So I've stopped for some strong morning coffee with cheese, salami, and crackers. I will get my book and go sit in the Shrubbery courtyard. I think it's called taking a break!

Ha! Four Hours Later...

Another day where I redeemed myself slowly. I've done quite a lot of fussy weeding, and stood on the purple leafed Ajuga with all my spare stakes, propping up peony stalks. I've trimmed edges and done some watering. I feel better, because I've planted some things - daisies and penstemons in the Stables Garden - and organised some more cuttings in the glass-house.

 In the Stables Garden - not Windrush, by the way!
Honey Yellow Roses

And I've noticed lots of garden loveliness - more big bearded irises than I initially thought are flowering. Crepuscule (the best climbing apricot rose in the world) is just starting to flower on the pergola, and Windrush is in full golden flush by the Stables, resting elegantly above a striped Phormium. And - surprise, surprise - all my foxgloves are magenta coloured. Such is nature's drive back to basics.

Now to prove to myself that I am not boring with a one-track mind, I am going to cook a roast chicken and play the piano. Hello, Senor Albeniz, Wonderful Spanish Composer - our arm-wrestle (well, more like our finger-wrestle) continues.

Good morning, Wednesday 10th November.

I am not going hiking in the mountains today - one day a week seems acceptable at this busy gardening time. I am going to work slowly all day in the garden, with attention to cosmetic detail as well as some big-arms dragging of mulch onto the Welcome Garden. I'm going to rake paths and sweep patios and even pick the gum leaves out of the pots.

 So pretty in the rain.
Bantry Bay Climbing Rose

And I am shutting up the house, with Tiger the tortoiseshell cat OUTSIDE. It's time she did some cat-gardening, and anyway she had raw fish for breakfast and I do not trust her.

My big climbing roses amaze me. One morning they have random splodges of uneven colour, then the next they seem to be completely covered. I don't think I take proper notice, or look up enough. My eyes are too often down, searching for ground-level weeds.

 A rather chubby sprite...
Stu Lamb Drinking

Seven Hour Later...

How good am I? Not one tiny moan or groan, not even inside my head. I've tidied the house gardens (it really is time to pull out the forget-me-nots), laid more mulch, fed Stu the upsized lamb and taken photographs of him, weeded the little Agapanthus garden (along the fence-line) and tidied the back of the Birthday Rose Garden. A warm welcome to the coral peonies and several multi-coloured irises - how nice to see you all flowering in this charming, secluded garden. You will soon be joined by some of my variegated Pelargoniums.

I finished with two sessions standing in the water race getting rather wet and weeding furiously. I haven't actually cleaned up the sloppy weed piles, though - I can do that tomorrow. Now Dvorak's piano quintet (I've played it on viola) is surging away on the gardening iPod, inspiring me to lush, smiley thoughts. I've had a brilliant day.

Chanticleer Gardens :
Visit Chanticleer, an amazing Pennsylvania garden in the USA, with me.

And great excitement - my new purple Alliums are flowering. They are not as spectacularly placed as those I fell in love with at Chanticleer, though. Mine get a bit lost surrounded by pink and purple Aquilegias, whereas the Chanticleer ones were (from memory) bobbing in a sea of yellow Euphorbia. Ha! That's the power of colour wheel opposites for you...