Much to do...

Today the fog is lifting fast, and soon I will be out there gardening in cool winter sunshine. There is much to do, particularly in the area garden maintenance. If I just get one small garden area finished each day...

Tuesday 17th August

You see, spring is about to burst through the gloom, and already the first Azalea, a few first daffodils, and the prettiest little deep purple violets are flowering. The days will start racing by (well, they're doing that already) and if I don't get the rose pruning done really soon...

Anyway, it's a grand day and I'm off to make a difference, even if it's a little difference. And my dog loves being busy outside - he can bark at distant dogs and birds that have the nerve to fly overhead, and follow me and my wheelbarrow around. Back soon.

 A common variety, I
Cyclamen Leaves

Hmm... Too soon, only three hours later. You can't trust the weather these days. I stop work, leaving all my tools scattered down the driveway (I've been weeding, trimming hebes and pruning fence-climbing roses) to get a cup of coffee and lunch. Rusty the dog knows the word 'lunch' well - there's always a dog biscuit on the lunch tray for him. And when my back is turned it starts to seriously rain!

Pond Cottage :
Welcome to Pond Cottage - come and visit whenever you can!

Anyway, we sat on the verandah of Pond Cottage watching the raindrop circles in the pond, and I thought about how lovely it is to have this special new place to sit, with shelter. I tried to tell Rusty how much I love, love, love sitting outside underneath a verandah. This has been missing from all the houses in my life - until now.

Two Thoughts about that Serious, Blobby Rain.

  1. Blast! My work was going so well...
  2. Yippee! My newly planted Phormiums, and newly spread pea straw...

Ah - the yin yang of gardening life!

 With Rusty the dog.
Tussocks in Winter

Wednesday 18th August

Today it is raining, raining, raining. I am tidying up the Moosey Garden Tour pages - discovering hopeless inaccuracies and long-winded stories of plants which have long disappeared. For example, where did those maroon leafed Cannas in the Apple Tree Garden - my very first Cannas - ever get to? Hmm...

I am also writing a list of things to dig, shift, and do. That is, in between slurping hot cups of tea or coffee, feeding the log burner, and opening the sliding doors to check the outside conditions. I guess that on days like this I'm really lucky to be able to do some virtual gardening. Except I'm having that normal problem - in photographs the garden looked better four or five years ago than it does now. Too much over-crowding? Not enough pruning? Hmm...


Dig Out of the Elm Tree Garden...
The roses Reine des Violettes and the Alexander Rose. It's too shady in summer.
Plant More Nicotiana Sylvestris...
In places that I want to see them! Remember - they are also called the woodland Nicotiana...

A pretty minimal list, considering I've had all day inside. No, wait - I did take my dog for a wet walk down the road. And I went to choir, when it would have been so much nicer to stay home and listen to the rain.

 A pretty, large shrub.
Azalea in the Island Bed

Thursday 19th August

Crouch, pause, engage! I am off in the early morning damp (it's drizzling) to clear up the Island Bed. Within there's a beautiful flowering Azalea which I cannot see properly from the house, and an ornamental gooseberry (?) which I hold grave fears for, potentially swamped by last summer's dahlias.

This garden border needs work, and I am the woman to do it. As the Head Gardener of Mooseys I get all the plum jobs...

Later, Just about Lunchtime...

The Island Bed is cleared, nearly finished in fact. All is well in the middle, but I've shifted two sulking roses which I think are Queen Elizabeths. She has always sulked in my garden (which does have republican tendencies, after all).

But a huge booming 'aargh', never-the-less. Just before lunch I wandered over the water race to check the sheep, and strolled past the Dog-Path Garden. What a disgraceful mess! Aargh! Aargh! Aargh! So this is where I'll be working after lunch. I'm now thoroughly disheartened and do not deserve the title (even if self-bestowed) Head Gardener of anything.

 That's my house!.
Phormiums in the Island Bed

And here's a radical thought - how about looking after the gardens I've got, before launching off into new Shrubberies? Hopeless. And here's another thought. How about a complete embargo on buying any more new plants until all the gardens are tidied up for spring? And yet another item for my to-do list. The Wintersweet is planted in the silliest position. This poor shrub needs to be shifted before it tries to put down roots, let alone flower. But where to? Aargh!

Three Hours Later...

I feel better and have redeemed myself (slightly). I've trimmed and pruned three barrowfuls out of the junction of the Dog-Path Garden and the Stumpy (AKA Willow Tree) Gardens. I've been weeding too, pulling out Lychnis as well as the more undesirables. The large Miscanthus - such a nuisance to trim - is done, and I've dug out a coarse Carex. Why do I plant these grasses in my gardens? Because they are free, that's why, and I have to stop doing this.

 Red and green - nice!
Phormium and Coprosma

My Reward

Tonight I am singing Faure's Requiem in a scratch SATB choir. This is my reward for good positive gardening.

Friday 20th August

Hee hee. I gave myself a choice this afternoon - gardening or vacuuming the house. Guess what won? And apart from not being able to get my bonfire going, my gardening has been very, very successful. I've been continuing the winter trim and rose prune, working my way through the Stumpy Garden. And I've dug out about twenty huge Carexes, those grasses that I insist on planting in new borders to fill up space. Five years later they are huge ugly clumps - and difficult to dig out (though the roots are shallow).

All my rhododendrons will thank me and I've started by the Willow stump hostas. No wonder I didn't see much of these last spring - the grasses were packed in, over waist-high. If I feel the urge to have any spiky foliage plants in here I can buy some cute little green Phormiums from the nursery. I'm afraid I might also have to slice out all the ones I planted along the water race, too.

Saturday 21st August

I am continuing my grass blitz, though I do remember a Garden Club visitor liking their stalky hanging seedheads. Maybe she was just trying out an artistic response...

Carex trifida :
I think these grasses are the plain species green version of Carex trifida. The variegated variety is beautiful.

So, Stumpy Garden, prepare to be totally rid of them, carefully planted (such pretty seedlings) by an innocent, dewy eyed ME. They self-seeded, and then others settled in next-door, and next door, and so on. I've just been outside to peep at the half-cleared garden. It looks soooooooo much better - some positive self-affirmation before I go swimming.

Much, Much Later...

Hee hee. These strong woman-arms must have dug out another thirty grasses, including some on the edge of the water race. All the roses in the Stumpy Garden are pruned, and I have to say it - it really doesn't take too long to do a garden's winter clean-up. I was really silly to panic... There's a space in the Stumpy Garden for one compact, well-behaved rhododendron - I've found one being squashed by a Phormium, so that's a nice positive first job for tomorrow. I will move some Bergenias in, too - a great foliage ground-cover. And would the Wintersweet like it in here, alongside the path? Hmm...

Purple Violets

Path to the Woodshed

I've had a brilliant and sensible idea, which Non-Gardening Partner agrees with, regarding the path around the vegetable garden to the woodshed. Pavers are too expensive - so I'm going to dig out the grass, put in an edging, and cover the path with soft bark mulch. It gets frosty in winter, so this surface will be safe. I just might start this job tomorrow.

The last thing I did today was to try and get my bonfire going, with a little help from Mr Diesel. Only an engineer (NGP) would appear with his leaf-blower to pump extra oxygen into the fire. It will probably gurgle away all evening. And from the highbrow sublime to the lowbrow ridiculous - Thursday's reward was singing in Faure's Requiem. Today's reward is watching two TV episodes of 'The Bachelor', finger on the fast-forward button...