I need a decent winter garden project...

I need a decent winter garden project. Spreading compost (I'm onto my third trailer load) doesn't have the zing and pizzazz I require. Welcome to my gardening journal, where you can read about Moosey the Mundane shovelling, wheeling, tipping, raking, and yawning...

Thursday 11th August

Aha! I could buy some new roses, for a bit of garden spice and zest. Or maybe it's just one of those days where the reality of winter gardening is far less colourful than crocheting my ripple striped afghan and TV couch-cycling in the Alps.

 Must be nearly spring...
Yippee! Pink Azalea Flowers

The Alps! I am nearly there, and they have summer snow on their tops. Eek! From the helicopter I strain my eyes to see pathways and tracks. It's virtual heaven for someone who is not going hiking herself this week, because there is so much compost to spread. Aargh! I've gone round in a circle.

 Hee hee...
Plastic Patio Flowers

Much Later...

OK - prepare for many gardening details, accomplishments so miniscule that give joy beyond their substance. I have shifted my ailing Cordyline Albertii into the sun, and put it in a black plastic pot. I have also moved my one palm tree into the sun, with new potting mix in its large terracotta pot. Duh! Palm trees like to be in the sun...

I've removed half the red Phormium from the side house garden, planted a random rose (it's red and a bit spindly), dug out Phlomis and replanted it back in the border where a rose was getting squashed, and replanted that rose (which has the name English Something, I think, and it's not Elegance!) in the front of the border.

Making sure that my sentences are not too long, I've also spread compost over everything in the side house border, and put the red Phormium pieces into the huge pot in which the striped Cordyline was. Ha! Another circle...

Tiger :
Tiger! This is not a good look. I suggest a profile portrait next time?

Rusty the dog and I have been for a walk and now I have some old-lady lilac fluffy wool to start the latest stripe on my crochet blanket. So that's my day, and it's been great.

Tiger the fat tortoiseshell cat even came gardening outside with me and played around in the Calamagrostis grass clump. Very perky she was, though I suspect her purpose was to show off to the little birds on the nearby bird feeder. Tiger! Naughty cat!

 Proof - an outdoor photograph!
Tiger the Gardening Cat

Friday 12th August

It's drizzling, and this is so good for my garden - especially for those rather large plants I repotted yesterday. And for the roses I planted, new ones of which I do NOT need to buy, thank you very much. All I'm planning to do today is to crochet my woolly blanket.

Percy the ginger cat absolutely loves this new Moosey in-house activity. He insists on sitting on my lap and testing the blanket - and then goes all gooey. Percy is often over-alert, worrying in case a shadow morphs into a strange person who is not his mother, so these relaxed moods of his are totally endearing, and I try hard not to wriggle or fidget.

Ah well - so I don't garden today. There's always tomorrow. And then the next tomorrow, which has snow to sea level forecast - again. And again I don't believe it.

Saturday 13th August

I shouldn't ever listen to the radio? Of course I should. This weather forecast is dreadful. There will be no hiking in the mountains, probably not much gardening. OK - so I took yesterday off, but hey! I do not require a second snow storm in three weeks. Blow away somewhere else, over some other island, you nasty Antarctic winds.

 So pretty.
Pink and White Hellebore

At least when I get back from swimming I should have plenty of time to spread the compost. And then, if I do get stuck inside with snow tomorrow, I can symbolically crochet my woolly blanket between hot drinks and trips to the woodshed. And, of course, check on the sheep and feed out hay if required.


Oh, my tired legs! You've done sooooo well today! I've worked for nearly five hours, spreading compost and organising the edges of the house gardens. I've found more roses to prune - there are always more roses to prune - and I've made a deeply personal discovery.

Viburnum rhytidophyllum :
Here are some very early pictures of this Viburnum.

The tall Viburnum rhytidophyllum has given me a super-sniffy, runny nose with much dramatic sneezing. Its leaves are covered with a fine powder, and I've been trimming large pieces down and carting them to the bonfire, hugging them rather close.

As an allergy-free gardener who refuses to believe in hay-fever (apologies to all genuine sufferers) I've found this reaction rather alarming. Ha! Finally, my first physical imperfection, garden-wise...

 Super shy, but a really lovely cat.
Ginger Percy

Sunday Morning, August 14th

Well, I'm as snow-ready as I can be. I've got some cricket books to read, my firewood is sorted, and I've even lit the log-burner. I've taken Rusty the dog for a walk down the road. But the sun is still shining up there, and it's delightfully calm-before-the-storm, so I'm going to grab a coffee and finish spreading my compost.

But first, I need to dress appropriately. I am not allowed to wear my new blue merino long-johns and heavy-weight hiking socks in the garden. They are for snug inside-legs-and-feet (actually, they are for winter hiking, but I'm allowed to test them out). And Rusty the dog is obviously desperate to do some gardening - he is moaning and squeaking at me. Poor dog - guess I should take the hint. Back soon, but hopefully not too soon.

Late Lunchtime...

Hee hee. It's like I've been playing 'chicken' with a ghost storm, running out to the back paddock (which is to the south), taking a photograph of the clouds, yelling 'Boo! You can't catch me!', and then zooming back to my gardening duties. After four hours the skies towards the coast are dark, dark grey, but still the sun shines on me.

A Serious Dog-Dilemma

But - aha! A biting cold southerly wind has arrived, which has stirred up my birds. The bellbird boys are whistling madly at each other (hold on tight, chaps?), while the silly male pheasant in the front paddock has certainly had his tail feathers tickled - he's been running back and forth, continuously honking. Rusty has a serious dog-dilemma. Which birds to bark at? Males! Honestly!

 The noisy ones really torment him.
Rusty Dog Watching the Birds

As a thoughtful cat-mother I've opened the window of Pond Cottage for young Minimus to get to shelter. My new merino long-johns have passed the ultimate cat-consumer test - big Fluff-Fluff has found them on the table and is curled up thereon, snug and smug. Cats innately know these things.

Ballerina Rose :
Ballerina is a pretty hybrid musk rose with small pink flowers.

Oh - this morning's gardening. I've almost completely used up the trailer load of compost. I've been putting it on the Driveway Garden, which I've also weeded. I've also trimmed a shrubby Lavatera and some Ballerina roses. New Ballerinas grown from cuttings were some of my early successes, and the resulting rose bushes have been strong and healthy.

OK, snow, let's see what you can do. Stop mucking me around. Show yourself!

Even Later...

The snow is late - or maybe it has blown off course into the sea. So I've done another hour's work, weeding and planting roses Paul Gauguin and Troilus by the house decking, plus a little purple Prostrantha mint bush and some Bergenias. I can see tomorrow's garden work - the house garden behind the Graham Thomas roses needs a scrape and a rake. But Graham is pruned. And still the sun shines and the icy wind roars. Silly winter weather - full of sound and fury, signifying nothing (thanks, Macbeth).

And Just Ten Minutes Later Still...

Oops. I spoke too soon. White stuff (Soft hail? Not sure) is falling. Well, well, well...