Life's lessons.

 A bumble.
Bee on a Calendula

This morning I sat on the verandah of Pond Cottage with my cottage cat Minimus for over half an hour, quiet and still, just watching the wildlife. Many of life's lessons can be learnt from the natural behaviour of the creatures that share the garden.

1. If at first you don't succeed...

The blue aquilegia flowers droops downwards, an extremely non-bee-friendly design. I watched a bee bumbling around trying to make sense of this. Where was the pollen? My bee poked and pushed around the top, then the sides of the petals. After two or three minutes (a long time for a bee) it tried hovering underneath. Success!

... don't give up.

Just look at things from a different angle. This way, that way... Turn yourself upside-down, if necessary!

 One of my summer flowering bulbs.
Purple Allium

2. You can easily turn a negative...

The wind was whooshing through the trees overhead. Wind in my garden can be intimidating, and often the noise really annoys me.

But this morning I heard it with optimistic ears. It was a string orchestra, with rich vibrato, long, smooth bowing, subtle crescendos and whirling harmonics. The flute-birds added their layer of chirpy motifs. This noise was beautiful!

... into a positive.

It's all to do with listening to and seeing things differently. Black becomes white, and vice versa.

There's a great song (Accentuate the Positive) for the musically minded. Don't mess with Mister In-Between! And for the mathematically minded it just takes one pen stroke.

 A wonderul colour.
Blue Iris

3. Gardens grow well above...

I was watching a pair of mallard ducks on the pond. Their smooth gliding seems effortless, yet underneath the water those little duck-legs are whirring and pumping like pistons. Aha! It's the same with a garden.

... because of what's underneath.

Look to the earth. Forget the flowers for a moment and improve your soil. Compost, mulch, soil-food - the underground things that you'll never take photographs of! Some gardeners call it the 'Iceberg Theory'. Nine-tenths of your effort should go into the ground beneath.

Except there are certain plants (like irises) that don't respond well to too much soil-attention. And others, like rhododendrons, which don't like lashings of cold ash from the bonfire. Oops.

 Official portrait!
Minimus the Kitten

4. You're never too busy to...

And finally, a truth of life which I've always known about, and which in my house it's impossible to forget. Though dear Minimus, furiously fighting the leaf monster, did get a bit confused with my tickling hands. Ouch!

... pat the cat.

There are, after all, six Moosey cats to choose from. Some (like Percy) will allow the full-monty pat : tummies, back legs, the tail, and all. Others (like Minimus) prefer the chin and head. Her tummy is definitely off-limits!

But just look at this picture of her, taken when she was a kitten. Awwww, Minimus, what a life you've had! Starting life alone, wild and hungry, I called you the 'woodshed kitten'. Now you're a chunky and contented cat, you live in the prettiest cottage, and your cat-mother loves you to bits.


Having a good mental start to the gardening day really helps! Even though my work was tedious at times, my mood was buoyant. I started clearing out burnable rubbish from behind the pond - this won't take long. I do this every year just before summer, and then let the shrubs and trees get back to their rather secluded life.

 Hiding underneath a lime-leafed Philadelphus.
Percy the Cat

Of course I did some camera clicking. There are many beautiful flowers now, and I'm trying hard to meet and greet every single rose. And every double rose, and every cabbage rose.... Just joking! Constance Spry and Complicata are beautiful once-flowering shrubs - big and sprawly. Madame Leonnie de Viennot is so robust she's knocked her new archway sideways. Oops. Love those pink roses!

I pulled more forget-me-nots out and used them to cover up more manure, which I'd spread on the side driveway garden. Daffodils which had been dying off in there were removed and semi-sorted - Jacq's ones went into this bucket, mine rescued from the roadside fence in another. I've spread pea-straw and tomorrow I'm shifting in a pot full of Nasturtiums.

Saturday 16th November

It's super-sunny and nicely noisy with birds chirping. So far today I've done small but important things - but aren't all small things important anyway? Like replace Polyanthus plants in pots with Petunias (my own seed-grown ones), plant a Senecio in the garden behind the pond, dismantle a large terracotta pot (the Hakonechloa in it has all but died), put on the hoses, choose the Cordylines to plant in the Frisbee Corner Garden.

Pittosporums :
Brilliant for texture - their leaves can be small, big, variegated, plain, blue-green, yellow-green... A shrub for all seasons!

When it gets cooler I'm transplanting, very carefully, some fairly sturdy seedling Pittosporums found on the edge of the Hump. This will leave the Moosey wallet intact to buy next week's groceries. They will be my screening shrubs for the Frisbee Lawn Corner Garden, if they survive.

Much Later...

The first barbecue of summer! Yippee for my friends who arrived to share it, and Rusty the dog who chased all the aeroplanes away and 'rinsed' (that is, licked) all the plates. I drank two small beers and didn't even fall asleep.

+10At bedtime, just as the daylight was fading, young Minimus and I sat on the cottage verandah and watched some blackbirds. Their flight paths from one tree to another were most efficient - they swoop low and straight. Had Minimus ever wanted to be able to fly? No, she liked being on four legs. Why didn't I have the proper number of legs? Not so easy to justify that to a cat.

 The verandah where I do my thinking.
Pond Cottage

And then the birds went to bed, the big irrigation came on, we watched the water parabolas wetting the lawn and the gardens, and we were both super-happy.