Interviewing a famous gardener...

 My interview room...
The Bonfire

I've got into a silly gardening habit. While burning the autumn bonfire I conduct long, in-depth interviews with myself. I pretend I'm a famous gardener, poke at the flames with my rake, ask myself all sorts of daft questions, and then answer them out loud. A little light madness?

Tuesday 23rd April

OK, it's the first blue-skies day after nearly a week of rain. A slightly grey morning has turned into a balmy and beautiful autumn afternoon. Saving today's rather self-indulgent bonfire for later, I've found all sorts of insignificant things to do.

My dog and I have gone for a walk down the road. I've read my mail (as usual there are lots of miracle garden hoses for me to buy). I've hung out some washing, I've even sewn some buttons on a knitted jacket. Anything and everything to put off the moment of autumn gardening truth.

 Bright yellow Mums...
Autumn Garden Chrysanthemums

I know! I can tell you about waking up this morning. I opened my eyes, nodded appreciatively at the red colouring Maple framed by the cottage side window, and then turned my head. Aargh! A wet brown mouse lay on the pillow beside me.

 This is a very odd look for her.
MInimus with Big Cat-Eyes

Thank You, Minimus

Gingerly extricating myself from the bed, I peeped back at the pillow. Phew! The 'mouse' was two dimensional. Oh my goodness, how silly! It was just a wet, inert, brown autumn leaf, mouse-sized, with a stem for a tail. Thank you so much, Minimus. My trickster cottage cat purred and innocently stretched out a paw. Hmm...

I'm going outside to wheel four barrowfuls of gum tree rubbish to the bonfire. I will not light it yet. In fact, when I'm done I'm off to the rose nursery. Why ever not? Back soon.


Hee hee. I've bought two roses for the cottage - one, The Corsair, is going to climb up the verandah post. The second, Intrigue, is a low shrub which promises amazing numbers of flowers. Both are a rich black-red. I've also brought home two bags of potting mix for the new tulips and daffodils. The sun is only just going down behind the trees. Bonfire ETA - in half an hour?

 A red Prunus on the left in the garden border.
Maple by Cottage

Apres Bonfire...

I raked and prodded at my bonfire and again interviewed myself while flames gurgled and smoke billowed all around. Again my dog lay on the nearby grass, an audience of one, listening intently. Oh yes? It's not all one way, honestly! I mentioned the word 'dog biscuit' and he immediately licked his dog-lips.

 One of my gnomes.

'And what books do you like reading, Moosey?'

'Well, it depends on my mood. When I feel nerdy I read pure mathematics books - topology, functional analysis, those kinds of things. I've got a large collection of Enid Blytons for when I feel a bit sillier...'

'And then I go on bed-adventures with intrepid cyclists, climbers, explorers, rafters, and so on. I've just wintered-over in a boat in the Arctic, somewhere near Baffin Island...'

At this stage my interviewer (me) stops to wonder if she is indeed interviewing a gardener. Surely you at least read books about composting and growing vegetables and roses?

Wednesday 14th April

This is one of those magical mornings. The sun is low, but it's there. The garden is there, too, calm and beautiful, patiently waiting for me to finish breakfast and the superficial kitchen chores, and slurp the first cup of coffee. I don't have to go anywhere, or do anything. There's absolutely nothing burbling in my head - I am a blank page of manuscript, waiting for some - elegantly flowing crochets? Frenetic quavers? Matronly minims?

 Dark green Phormiums, tall gum tree trunks...
Behind the Cottage


I've been flitting around like a good garden fairy, fixing path edges and raking the paths in the Pittosporum Forest in the Hump. This has always been a lightly magical area, with secret paths and lots of leafy trees in which real fairies could easily hide.

The down-to-earth me has taken barrowfuls of compost over to the garden behind the cottage. It seems genteel to cover the clumps of horse manure dumped there with something less traditionally offensive. I've also trimmed an overgrown Viburnum and cut down a dead Cordyline - trivial things that never make my gardening to-do list. And I've planted the new cottage roses. May they grow and prosper.

+5 +5+5It's been a very sociable day, too. Rusty the dog has been concentrating and following me around everywhere. I've been down to Cat Lounge to have morning coffee with Lilli-Puss. I've had lunch with Rachmaninov (so to speak). Minimus has supervised my afternoon work behind her cottage. And I finished with a quick burning session. Just think - this autumn bonfire will be in action for at least one month. That's a lot of questions...

 Of course he listens to me...
Rusty the Dog

'Do you have any bad habits in the garden, Moosey?'

'Hmm.... I shout a lot at the bellbirds high in the trees, when they're whistling their birdsongs. Always nice things, like how beautiful they are, and now each one is 'the best bird'. This could be annoying if I had any near neighbours. I know it annoys my dog, because he barks... I wear my gardening boots inside on the carpet. Oops, that's strictly a bad house habit, I guess. And I interview myself whenever I'm burning the autumn bonfire. Weird, eh?'