May is a strange month...
Hybrid flax and bergenias
May is a strange month. It starts off balmy and mild, with sleeves of gardening shirts rolled up, and finishes with thermal layers, warm hat and gloves. It's the big rip-out and re-design month.
Saturday 4th May
A pair of native bell-birds have arrived and are 'living' in the trees in the Hump. They have very musical, tonal song phrases. I hope they stay, as this is the first time ever I have heard the songs of bell-birds since living here. Usually the magpies seem to take over and discourage other bird visitors. The temperature (as recorded on the TV weather channel) is 25 degrees. That's hot for May! There is a blustery nor-west wind blowing - I've spent a forceful hour clearing tomatoes and marrows out of the vege garden and have retired inside for refreshment (cup of tea). I had a very late night last night at a school function, and I'm afraid that I feel more like sleeping on the grass outside than briskly clipping the lawn edges.
It's unfair - Stephen can sit on his mower for an hour, cruise around in dreamy circles, and have the lawns completed. My feeble mission to do all the edges seems to take twice as long, and frankly today I just don't feel like it (though when edges are actually freshly done the effect is stunning). If I ever employed an under-gardener I would definitely get them to do edges... My cup of tea is drunk - think I might have an old lady's lie down and read. The edges can wait.
Sunday 5th May
The edges are still waiting - but I am off out there as soon as I have stopped writing. Also we will take the dog to the river and get some stones for the Hump path. I just can't help it - I am a compulsive path-edger.
Today the weather again is kind and mild. Perhaps my lack of good garden design could be the result of an over-abundance of Autumn and Winter gardening opportunities? If we had really rotten weather, like snow on the ground for months, then I would be forced to channel gardening energy into planning. I really need to rethink some of the older borders - my tastes have changed, and I do need to start thinking more expansively. I will load up my trusty wheelbarrow with shovel, rake and secateurs, and see what glaring mistakes are obvious.
Buddha under the cherry tree
I am inside after four hours of pottering and stone laying. There is now a circle of stones around the flowering cherry under which the Buddha sits, and more of the Hump path is edged and organised. I've done the edges around the small back lawn and pulled lots of weeds, and I've half cleared the Elm Tree Garden, scattering white cosmos seed heads everywhere like the good garden fairy. I am well pleased with my work and attitude today, and to be honest I didn't see too many glaring planting mistakes either. Now I am off to soak and clean my fingernails.
Saturday 11th May
Again my school work has taken over the first day of my weekend. This is terrible! My garden experience for today consisted entirely of a pathetic wander around with a cup of tea (which wasn't hot enough), and a quiet sit on the park bench over the water race (where I planned a drastic shift of a path - this is top of tomorrow's list).
I'm noticing more and more changes of colour in shrubs and trees. The Berberis in the house border has turned a shocking flame red colour. Each year at this time I try to capture this shrub I call my 'burning bush' in a photograph. It never quite works. Other trees, like the Cercis, have dropped their leaves entirely. I notice the colours of the flax leaves much more now that much of the flowering around them is over. Evergreen leaf patterns become much more noticeable and interesting, too. I never get tired of green.
It may not be long until the first frost, and I should get the half-hardy in pots organised for their winter in the glass-house. Tomorrow I will do much better.
Sunday 12th May
It's early, just after sunrise and I'm up and ready to go. I have even washed my hair (and brushed out the tangles!). Alas - it is drizzling. From the house I can see so many of my favourite deciduous trees. The elms in the Jelly Bean Border are yellowing, but the flowering cherries in the nearby lawn have yet to change. Looking towards the Frisbee Lawn the driveway trees are all sorts of shades of gold and red. And, as if by design (hee hee), most of the still-flowering roses are warm pinks.
I often wonder if garden books are written backwards, so to speak. How would I have known that in May these particular roses will be echoing and enhancing the changing leaf colours, thus bringing a quiet harmony and sense of peace to the Autumn garden planting?
This is also the time of year when I unconditionally love the Mexican Orange Blossom and the Toe Toe in the ex-Island Bed. These strong and emotional feelings need to be recorded for the safety and long life of these two plants, who both suffer annual death threats (probably each summer, if I remember rightly).
Toe Toe in an autumn border
So what can I do this morning? Hmmm... Since it is still raining, I will do a MOTHERS DAY children resume. On this date (more-or-less) three years ago my elder lovely son produced the first Mooseys Country Garden website. Now he is established in London, theoretically with a fat British wallet, but more likely with a fat Kiwi belly from drinking beers at the local Twickenham pubs. Today my lovely daughter is in outback Western Australia (in the Pilbara) bathed in winter heat, surrounded by that beautiful red dusty earth and gum trees. By next Mothers Day she will most likely be on Davis Station in Antarctica, living the life of a cold-climate research geologist (with an oddly extreme change of temperature). And my lovely younger son (who has possibly forgotten Mothers Day, but has permanently loaned me one of his best guitars) is in the city with my car...
- Sifter the Cat :
- Sifter is a large tabby cat with some very independent habits.
Sifter is howling at me through the glass doors - he has caught a Mothers Day rabbit (which I now see he has stashed behind the big brown flax). Mugsy is sitting beside him, puzzled by his noise (Mugsy is not a very analytical cat), as she waits to come inside. Stumpy is already on the kitchen bench, overflowing the sides of a box theoretically full of papers. Jerome and Taj-dog are curled up together on their favourite dark blue and extremely hairy sofa (such a bad choice of colour). I am wearing my new Mothers Day Slippers - I haven't owned any for at least 20 years, so this is pretty exciting stuff. Unfortunately yesterday I totally forgot the rules of slippers, and wore them OUTSIDE when I went to pick some roses.
- And now, a Mothers Day List...
- Cut back Golden Hop (Moosey the Merciless)
- Realign path by Cercis (Moosey the Country Garden Designer)
- Venture further into the Hump (Conquistador Moosey)
- Get more stones from river (Moosey the Gatherer)
- Take photo of the 'Burning Bush' (Mooseypix)
This is so much fun! I have wiggled and wound the Hump path through the self-sown purple honesty plants, past a line of three tall skinny pines and out onto the grass near the flowering cherry. The first part of the path is stone-edged until it arrives at a gum tree on the far Hump side. Here the front paddock is clearly visible, and I've just raked up the rubbish and thus built a dividing wall. Then, stone-less, the path turns back in and wanders through the Honesty. This is quite open and airy, and should look amazing when it all turns purple in Spring. There are a few bare spaces where I intend to dump (I mean plant quickly) some bags of bulbs - at the moment they are languishing in plastic rubbish bags behind the glass-house. Unfortunately this is all I did today in the garden, but I have had a very happy Mothers Day.