Any excuse...

Nearly-Christmas greetings from a slack, semi-lapsed gardening women. What is it about December? My garden needs me more than ever, and yet is politely ignored. The piano, the Christmas jigsaw, swimming and sushi with my friends, talking to the cats, reading books - any excuse...

Wednesday 18th December

Each night this week I've been bed-trekking down the Andes with a mule and a mad Irishwoman (Dervla Murphy). Every time I stash the journey back on the window ledge and turn off the light I grin with happiness. I am NOT in their mountains, eating sardines and stale buns, falling about trying to find the old Inca trails.

 Past the hostas.
Trail to the Cottage

I am snug in my garden cottage with Minimus the cat, and the beautifully maintained trail from my house to my cottage is surrounded by wonderful green foliage. I love being in and around my garden. I'm allowed to be a bit dreamy and impractical.

 With Sonata in G minor by Schumann.
Pescy and the Piano

Beethoven Continues...

Aha! For the first time this month I've pulled out of the Advent Calendar a Beethoven Sonata that I already play (the Waldstein). It's perfect garden gnome music - it would inspire the chaps lazing around the pond to actually do some shovelling, fishing, or lawn-mowing. So I've opened all the house doors, and I've been thumping sensitively so they can hear it. Hmm?

Today is going to be nice. It's already nice. Clean hair, a new gardening shirt, great Beethoven, smoked salmon for breakfast, ginger Percy super-smoochy - and I've wrapped up the last of the presents. The sun is shining, Lilli-Puss came from the depths of the damaged forest next-door to be patted and fed. I am so lucky and thankful that I have such a wonderful garden.

Harmlessly Deviant?

It's not all about 'me' this morning, though - I'm off shopping with my dearest friend (we do a Charity shop circuit over the other side of town, hee hee). I love my friend, who has dressed her dolls' house for Christmas, even building little 'presents' to put underneath the tree. I like to think of both of us as 'harmlessly deviant'.

 A spectacular fruit-salad colour!
Pat Austin Roses

Apart from the lack of gardening oomph I have two small problems. One is what on earth to do with Beethoven's ghastly Sonata no. 29, whose first movement alone was enough for my sensitive musical soul. Put it 'on hold', maybe indefinitely, until next Christmas? Sneak its number back into the first pocket on the Advent Calendar? And the second involves my pond frog, who has completely stopped croaking. In fact, I can't find him anywhere around the water's edge (and my pond's circumference is large). Blast! I had such high hopes for our relationship...

 Hiding underneath the white cane table.

Frog Indicators

I read somewhere that the presence (or absence) of frogs is an indicator of the health and well-being of one's garden environment. So now that I've got one, it seems rather daft to be disappointed in him. I don't want to annoy him, I'd just like to know that all is well. Minimus my cottage cat keeps sniffing around by the miniature Arum lilies, which may or may not be a good sign.


Right. I'm back, the proud owner of a 4000 piece jigsaw of Scotney Castle, in Kent. Oops. I've got the hoses on, watering what I think is a Peace rose behind the pond. Now I'm off out again to spend my garden nursery voucher on well-fortified potting mix for the last of my tomato and lettuce seedlings. I forgot to take it this morning.

Even Later...

I've spread out six more bags of horse manure - just sixteen to go, and more down the road waiting for me.

Thursday 19th December

It rained steadily in the night, with no wind to mess up the garden. Early this morning I sat up in bed in the cottage with my cup of tea, the doors open, watching the little wave circles on the pond surface. The bellbirds, invigorated by the rain, were calling noisily to each other. 'Me!' 'You?' 'Me?' 'No, me!' It's the Phormium flowering season, and I see them all day swaying on the big flower stalks drinking nectar.

 Beautiful early morning refections.
Good Morning, Pond...

My birds all whistle the same angular melody, which ends in a rakish ascending major ninth. Luckily I have not corrupted their innate tonality playing Bartok's string quartets on the gardening Ipod. My pond frog, on the other hand, is conspicuous by his silence, which is so disappointing. I love listening to frog noises.

 Nectar for the bellbirds.
Phormium Flowering

Right. I'm off to swimming and sushi, and then to do some family gardening today (shifting soil with a wheelbarrow from the front to the back of son's garden). Better pack my messy clothes and my gardening boots, I reckon.

Much Later...

Back in my own garden, all I've done is pull horse manure off the trailer and spread it around. That's all I did yesterday, too. Oh well - it's a jolly good Christmas present for the soil. Now all I need to do is put in four gardening hours each day, as well as two piano-playing, one socialising, one watching cricket, one web-working, one talking to Non-Gardening Partner, one reading, one jig-sawing... It all adds up rather nicely, doesn't it!