An optimistic cup of tea...

 On the grass, the bridge, and the gunnera leaf.

Yippee! A proper winter's day with no forecast snow, and no 'rain events'. There's winter-blue sky, sun, and morning frost, to keep the gardener (me) on her toes, working hard to keep warm.

At dawn (only minus three degrees Celsius, a drop in the frost-ocean) I enjoyed an optimistic cup of tea in the cottage - the first such for days. I even opened the door, shouting a cheery 'helloooooo' to the garden gnomes around the pond. My garden is back, its gardener is back, and it's past the winter solstice.

Sunday 23rd June

Last night was the first rainless night for over a week, with no noisy roof rattling, or howling of the big overhead trees. For my entertainment Minimus the cottage cat and friend ginger Percy staged an athletic all-night window-leaping competition. In and out, in and out - ooh, this is such fun!

+10 +8Oh - don't forget mid-flight to chirp (Percy) or squeak (Minimus) at the Mother-Puss (me). After all, this performance needs an audience. And remember - any thump you can make, I can make louder. Aargh! Not fair - I was expecting a calm, sleepy night - not a catty one. So today young Minimus is shut outside, to work off her cat-energy in an approved way.

 Hey! Back off! This is my pot...
Percy the Ginger Cat

I have exciting news - plant news! Firstly, Non-Gardening Partner and I now are off to Ashburton (just an hour's drive) to dig up some unwanted roses from a garden there. Secondly, I have three Camellias (the variety 'Takanini') to plant in a row near the path to the Koru courtyard.

Thirty-One Recycled Roses


Aha! A gardening journal page that is not a weather report makes such a refreshing change. The roses are amazing, and we had a lovely trip down and back in the car. It was the perfect chance for me to chat to NGP (a car driver is a captive audience) and point out how lucky he is. Other partners would be demanding luxury cruises down the Rhine in their gardening off-seasons. All I ask is that he takes me to Ashburton, helps dig out roses, and then buys me a takeaway coffee. I'm so cheap to run...

Where Can They All Go?

Well, some of the roses are too big to put in pots, so tomorrow I start finding them some sensible garden spots. A tiny voice is squeaking inside my head - where on earth they are all going to go? The answer is simple. In sunny places, and when I run out of those, the left-overs can go in the Guerrilla Garden.

 The first piece of the Driveway Garden is done.

I've worked for three hours putting more pea-straw and compost on the Driveway Garden, carefully tucking it around the base of the Astelias, deciduous Azaleas, and Rhododendrons (the main shrubs in here). I haven't trodden on any daffodil clumps. It's only been about five degrees (Celsius) - my hands have been cold, but my gardening heart has been toasty-warm. This no-rain day has been wonderful.

Monday 24th June

Oops. So how many new recycled roses do I actually have to find garden space for? Another oops. Thirty-one, and some are huge. Anyway, they are temporarily organised. Seven are soaking in the bath behind the garage, five are planted properly in the garden on the back lawn, two are soaking their roots in the water race, and the rest are in potting mix in pots.

 And well named!
Brilliant Pink Iceberg

What a selection! I've found just two rose labels, unattached - Brilliant Pink Iceberg and Emperor (a pale lemon McGredy rose). Emperor got a New Zealand Rose Society award in 1999 for fragrance!

Tuesday 25th June

 Her scratching post is a little cane what-not.
Lilli-Puss in her Cat Lounge

Right. Today there is glorious blue sky, and I have twenty-six more roses to plant. The first plan is to completely 'redo' the sunny edge of the Stables Garden. There will be casualties - I'll look out for the big bearded irises, but I'm afraid that the seeded Euphorbia polychroma will go without a blink or a tear. Added excitement - I can then cover this newly modelled garden in pea-straw, and it will look oh so winter-professional.


Oh boy! What a wonderful winter gardening day! Five huge roses are planted, and I've dug out - fifty? of the bulbs I call 'Naked Ladies', modestly in leaf. Where to put them? And pots of rescued irises and divisions of a cherry red Penstemon. Where to replant?


My dog and my bonfire have both been sulking all afternoon. My bonfire has an excuse - its contents are rather wet. But what's up with my dog? Rusty, slumped in his armchair, couldn't be bothered coming gardening. But when I got Lilli-Puss's evening meal out the fridge he appeared, super-attentive. Now, back in the house, he's 'kicking' his food bowl around the kitchen floor. You fed the cat - so feed meeeeeee!

 A refugee...
Black Cat

There has to be more to our relationship than this. Ha ha, Rusty - I see that Tiger the cat is cosily curled up on your armchair. Take that! Lie down in front of the fridge and sulk some more...

Black Cat Needing Fostering...

Actually, there's some cat news - a beautiful black cat, displaced by the earthquake, may need fostering here. He's been living suburban-rough, surviving on his rather cheeky, friendly wits, but the recent cold storm has seen him sheltering in my friend's laundry, a bit sick and very hungry.

The vet made a house call - health-wise the cat is OK, just needing a course of antibiotics. He purred all through the vet's examination, too. I wonder what will happen? I've never met a purrier puss...