A feast or a famine...

There's either a feast or a famine with respect to recycled garden gnomes. Weeks and weeks go by, gnomefree. And then suddenly I have three new chaps to name and put behind the pond, and three more in on-line auctions which I could bid on. Gnome frequency averages can be very misleading. Or, to put it another way, their distribution has an exceedingly large standard deviation...

Wednesday 18th May

Yippee! I've been hiking all day, up a scruffy valley at the side of the Rakaia River. A daytrip where my fitness is tested and my old legs get a challenge has been long overdue. It's been a grand day with grand views and I definitely have my hiking confidence back. This is partly the body (the getting up there and back down again) - and partly discovering that the tramping trousers still fit. Phew!

 A braided river.
The Rakaia River Valley

The upper Rakaia river is a big back country panorama, where I start thinking (over-romantically) about the early explorers finding routes up the braided river valleys and through to the mountains. I could be following in their tracks, wondering what's beyond the pass, knowing the time of day only by the level of the sun. And carrying mouldy flour in sacks, and heavy, damp canvas tents, and wearing a silly skirt? Oh dear - vision spoilt...

 Winter is nearly here!

The Shame!

And I didn't think about my garden once - shameful! I must have been due a proper day off...

Thursday 19th May

Right. Today I'm picking up my three new garden gnomes - as one does. Oh yes - yesterday was grand. Today is for rest and recovery. And so I'm off swimming. I also have another nursery gift voucher to spend, which I may 'donate' to son's garden, getting him some Pittosporums (Lemonwoods) to screen his neighbours.


And three solid gardening hours later! I've been clearing and trimming in the Appletree Garden - dead Phormium leaves, overgrown Pseudopanax branches, lilac phlox patches, old hosta leaves, and general weeds and mess. Five barrowfuls have been burnt on my bonfire, and there has been much raking in-between loads. The Moonlight roses are so annoying to trim - it seems that every branch built has end bits which are brown and dead. I'm still pleased with the plantings in here, though - that's something!

A rose which I think is called Claire, a David Austin, is about to bloom again. And an Abraham Darby is producing luscious late autumn flowers. Aren't some roses strong-willed? They have their own built-in calendars, and that's that!

 A much deeper colour at this time of the year.
Autumn Abraham Darby Rose

I finished the day trimming back lots and lots of Centaurea which self-seeds and grows by Pond Cottage. The pinky colour does not 'go' with the cottage walls, but I don't care. There's enough green foliage in this border to bridge the colour gap. Then Rusty the dog and I took our legs for a walk down the road, and reflected on yet another most satisfying late autumn gardening day.

Friday 20th May

It's been a slow start to the gardening day, but I do have plans for this afternoon. My dog is in disgrace - he reached up, pinched and ate a whole loaf of freshly baked bread - a delightful mix of ground linseed, organic rye, and stoneground wholemeal flours. I didn't care that it was soggy and slightly under-cooked, and nor did he. His digestive system, however, seems to be protesting.

Sifter :
Sifter was a large brown tabby male cat who lived with us for a while. When it suited him...

Now it's much later, and I've done no gardening today, sorry. But great cat news - the portrait of Sifter the cat is back from the framer. Sifter! You're back! Well, your arrogant feline face and form is, and your shifty who-cares character (a true sifter), and heaps of happy (if stern) memories, thanks to an artist's creative skill. What a cat!

'Every gardener needs to stretch their boundaries as well as their legs.'
-Moosey Words of Wisdom.

I need a new garden project. I've been thinking and wandering my way around the garden, seeing if anything pops up as a good idea. Every gardener needs to stretch their boundaries as well as their legs. One can't spend all ones days looking after what one's got and being content to keep within sensible bounds...

 Just one flower...
Penelope Rose

Saturday 21st May

No luck with ideas so far for my new garden project (except a second pond, and that would mean bulldozers and mechanical diggers), so today I am doomed to continue my garden maintenance work. OK - of course I can do this.

Dahlias and Bricks...

More dahlias need trimming, and the brick courtyard needs a tiny touch - there are just a few wobbly bricks (by one of Sod's Laws these are exactly where a normal striding gardener's feet land). A few tree roots could be better levelled - then I can start the sand-filling, and perhaps think about a curved, hugging hedge.

I've bought some round iron plant supports for next spring. Floppy peonies will be a thing of the past. And a Golden Queen peach tree to mark Stu lamb's memorial resting place in the orchard is ready for planting. So let's see if I can have a jolly hard-working afternoon.


Towards the end of the gardening day, before the light gets too gloomy, I grab my camera and take photographs of different late blooming roses. It's such a satisfying punctuation mark (maybe a semi-colon) before the last two phrases (maybe two more loads for the bonfire) and the apres-gardening full-stop. Checking those rose pictures. Awwwww - loooovely!

 Unknown peach and Paddy Stephens.
Late Hybrid Tea Roses

I've been pottering around happily for four hours - digging out clover from the Stables Garden, trimming chrysanthemums and my special Bishop Llandaff dahlias, trimming Phormiums, grabbing loads of fence-line rubbish, wheeling back and forth from the bonfire to the garden. I've found a rhododendron swamped behind a flax - he can come out tomorrow. I think I've been really good.