The winter solstice

I love the winter solstice. Now the days lengthen incredibly slowly at first, but never-the-less they do, inexorably (great word, that). And so the garden peeps shyly towards spring. And I have blossom news. The first Prunus is flowering - a sprinkling of pale pink prettiness. Awwww.

 A prunus tree.
Early Fluffy Blossom

It's a time for smiling, regaining any lost confidence, and becoming more garden hopeful. Yes. I can make this large rambling garden of mine look absolutely beautiful. Of course I can! At the moment I am seriously cleaning up Middle Garden, after years of the 'laissez faire' management style. In other words, absolutely no management whatsoever!

 Trying to get the brown dog to pose with me for the camera.
Come On Escher!

Tuesday 21st June

This morning I had a packed timetable of social obligations (fun ones). And would you believe it - the water race was shut down to an ankle-deep trickle. The perfect time to get in there, feet cosy and dry in gumboots, and clean up all the waterside garden banks. I raced home after lunch, leapt into my gardening clothes and zoomed outside. And I watched in disbelief - before my very eyes the water trickle became a flow, which five minutes later was burbling merrily along, knee-high. Impeccable timing! Humph.

Stay on task!

I guess it helped me stay on task - namely the cleaning up of Middle Garden. So I worked my way further downstream from Middle Bridge, clearing out the last branches of the Pittosporum that Non-Gardening Partner sawed down for me, trimming the next batch of Gunnera, and chopping out two hefty waterside fern clumps. The rain became blobbier and noisier, and the day darker.

But I'm so tough! Might as well get properly wet, I thought, so I rolled up my gardening shorts (yes, shorts on mid-winter's day, check out the photograph) and got into the water with the shovel. I sliced and dug to widen the race, and scooped out rubbish from the bottom. Level now with the rhododendron (possibly Percy Wiseman), I started removing the biggest clump of Carex grass.

 And the Gunnera in full leaf!
Spring Picture of Duck Lawn Rhododendron

+5+5+5+5By now I was very muddy, totally wet, and getting cold. Looking up, three soaked dogs (Escher, Winnie and Rusty) plus a drenched ginger cat (Fluff-Fluff) were staring at me from the path, waiting, looking quite concerned. They must think I'm daft. So we all went inside. Yippee for a hot shower, a dry towel, yummy food, and the log burner, we all say!

 Golden Tribute.
Gold Mid-Winter Rose

Wednesday 22nd June

Another busy non-gardening day - book group, then a dog walk in the forest (collies only, sorry Escher) followed by a routine visit to the vet. Winnie is still a little overweight - do I blame Non-Gardening Partner, or is she just an expert at secretly cleaning up the cat bowls? Anyway, I'm changing her dog food to the expensive 'restricted calorie' one that Rusty has. Ouch!

I did manage to work for an hour and a half by the water race, until it got too dark. Most of my time was spent demolishing that pesky grass clump with the axe. I dumped more rubbish underneath the hedge - Gunnera leaves in one pile, stalks in another, ferns in another. Golly I'm organised! Ended the day again in the cold water trimming Phormiums and ferns along the other side of the race - mud all over me, and mud all over the dogs. They love sploshing in the water and snuffling along the banks. This is what dog-gardening should always be like - enjoyable, adventurous, and grubby.

Shivery, hungry, and proud...

It's warm inside, but I still feel a bit shivery. And hungry. And proud that finally, after years of neglect and passiveness, I am transforming Middle Garden into a charming feature garden. Best not to think about that rogue Golden Hop wreaking ground-cover havoc in Middle Garden's interior. That's for another day. Tomorrow, perhaps? Hmm...

Thursday 23rd June

We went to the dog park. It's a lovely way to start the day, having a bark in the park. Then we zoomed into Middle Garden and Escher, dragon-dog on a mission, snorted his way through the Astelias and Phormiums on the edge of Duck Lawn. I was trying to avoid his nose and trim off their dead leaves. I also pruned the Viburnum archway and re-aligned Middle Path.

 With Fluff-Fluff on Middle Bridge.
Under the Viburnums

At the end of the day I managed to get some of the rubbish burning, while I had a good think about the Golden Hop. The phrase 'making work for myself' popped up. And so, with a shrug and a sigh, I decided to ignore it for another year. I mean - how badly can one creepy little plant behave? Maybe I could move the pale green wooden obelisk into Middle Garden's middle, so the hop can climb up and over, that sort of thing. And I'll make sure it leaves the pretty lemon rhododendron alone, and doesn't jump the path.