An almost-frost...

 Trees in the Island Bed - Cornus and Prunus.
Autumn View

Two nights ago we had the first almost-frost, desperately close to the magic zero (Celsius). It was nose-nippy walking the dogs, and I tried to imagine long-distance running across Siberia in winter. I'm reading one of my extreme travel books - it's a seasonal thing, hee hee.

The Nasturtiums are hanging on, grimly, but many of the big Gunnera leaves are browning off. I've done my first symbolic almost-frost Gunnera leaf trim - the clutch growing by the car bridge. It's wobbly work, though, and the water rushing beneath looks jolly cold.

I don't mind the blue-greys of winter. The green and red Phormiums will still shine for me, and (hopefully) there'll be only the faintest touches of white. Please, dear, kind winter, no snow! And there's nothing bluer than a blue winter sky. But I'm getting ahead of myself (long distance running and camping out in Siberia at -60 degrees has charged up my winter imagination). The flame colours of autumn are still there. And the Nasturtiums are still flowering - only just!

 The most beautiful colour.

Yesterday a friend came and helped me weed (yeay!) in the Driveway Garden. We dug out clumps of Anemanthele seedling grasses and replanted them in little bunches. Today I've been weeding and spreading mulch on the Welcome Garden. So far I've only dumped and spread five loads - but five is better than none. I've scraped and pulled out colonies of puff-ball fungi, all of which I've thrown next-door. No, Winnie, they are not tennis balls! They're the ones that split open and form what looks like a duo-decahedron.

A gardening blank!

All this garden maintenance, dull and completely functional, does not inspire creative thinking. The mind is a gardening blank - is this possible? Yes! But, peeping out from the semi-gloom underneath my fringe, I can see how well the shrubs in this rough garden are growing. Seedling Tagasastes (tree lucernes), deliberately encouraged, have morphed into junior trees, and fill the sloping site rather nicely. Phormiums roughly dug into planting holes have not only survived with no watering but are starting to bulk out. Lots of perennial Agastache seedlings are all ready, waiting to flower for next spring's bees.

 My dogs.
Winnie and Rusty

But this is seriously tough, non-pampered territory. I planted some newly gifted Pittosporums in a gap, surrounded them with loose stones, and gave them a somewhat perfunctory blessing. Grow well, dear treelets, or die. You choose!

Thursday 4th May

Time for an update on Rusty the dog. There's not much new to say. He's slow and sleepy, and doesn't want to come to the dog park any more. It's a day by day thing, keeping him comfortable and watching out for signs of pain. Still the tail wags, maybe just three or four times, when I check in and say hello. Dogs are allowed to get old. I know this.


Well, well, well. I spoke (or 'wrote') too soon. Rusty followed us to the car and wanted to come to the dog park. He plodded up his dog ramp quite cheerfully. At the park he wandered around carrying his moon ball in his mouth. I think he rather enjoyed himself. Wow.

 Cat memorial trees and Hazelnuts.
Autumn in the Orchard

I've been busy barrowing more mulch on the Welcome Garden. After dumping and spreading six loads I made the fatal mistake of visualising the whole slope covered, the task completed. It looked so good that I puffed out my chest with pride and came inside for a self-congratulatory cup of tea.


And I have decided that my cross-Siberia running woman is a little obsessed. Not only with running, but running in silly places in the wrong season, last seen updating her 'Adventure CV' after running across America. But wait! She's raising money for jolly worthy causes. Stay-at-home non-adventurous gardeners (who are equally obsessed) should pull their heads in. And plant the pots of penstemons they've just acquired.

OK. I haven't planted the penstemons, but I have dumped two more mulch loads, and I've got the bonfire crackling with flames. I've watched Histeria the tabby 'lose' a mouse, and next-door's hens come perilously close to being chased off the property by Winnie. That's enough excitement for today.