Waiting for rain...
I am waiting patiently for rain, while claiming that I have turned into a less frenetic, more mellow gardener. Time will tell if this is the case!
Sunday 16th March
A short coffee break before I glide gracefully out into the garden to plant my hundred dollars worth of desperately needed plants. Is it better to organise their new places on paper, inside, or to do it directly from the wheelbarrow? I could have preplanned the whole purchase, knowing the exact destinations of my new plants... Ooops! It is certainly not a good idea to return to the bargain bin on the second day of the sale to check it out, is it? Just in case it has been restocked?
plantings over the water race
I did return to the sale, and bought another lime leaved hosta and two more rhododendrons. Since when did I become a crazed rhododendron fan? Anyway, I worked long in the garden with a gentle rest for lunchtime. Several of the new plants are planted, and a lot of weeds are now missing from the Willow Tree Garden. This area, only dug six months ago, has the creepy grass and sorrel weed problem, plus a large density of gorse and broom seedlings. I remember thinking in the more established borders over the water race that this situation would never end. But it certainly peters out, and the grass disappears altogether with vigilance (strictly non-chemical). Several large flaxes are installed in sensible places which can accommodate a 2m x 2m spread, and the large Nicotianas growing right in the middle of the Willow tree path are so beautifully upright (and big) that they have been reprieved. I did scrape and clear the rest of the path, though.
The Fire Ban
My biggest problem is the fire ban. There are piles of tree branches and gum tree rubbish waiting to be burnt, and the lower Wattle Woods Garden are covered with dry gum leaves and branches. I haven't yet raked and cleared anything because there's nowhere sensible to put it. We need rain - in nearby properties well established trees are dead or dying, and even our very front hedge has problems. The trouble with evergreens is that they have no defences against drought, and seem to succumb very suddenly. Lawns (like the Frisbee Lawn which looks dreadful) regrow easily when the rains come.
Saturday 22nd March
Today I did boring gardening - boring but absolutely necessary. I cleared the lower driveway of weeds and seedlings, cleared the Lychnises out of the Stables Border, and swept up piles of gum tree leaves. I found an old sink in which to plant several impatiens plants one of my friends has given me.
One of my pelargoniums in a house pot has become severely rusted. All the house pots look rather tired and thirsty - there has been no rain now for a month, and there are restrictions on irrigating. Help! Would I like a tussock and matagouri garden? With the odd scruffy cabbage tree thrown in for skyline relief? My gardening style is very reliant on water, and having the water race running through the property, plus a pond, makes this understandable.
Sunday 23rd March
I'm not sure what I should do first. I have the prospect of a whole day to timetable myself into the garden. I'm sitting here inside writing up my diary feeling incredibly vague about everything. Should I try to clear and weed some functional boring space, or perhaps check out the sale again and spend spend spend?
Close-Up of Mutabilis Blooms
What I should be doing is watering - I can run my little hoses - and moving the Hump rhododendrons. It is obvious that they can't survive in there, unless I'm prepared to do a lot of mid-summer work. I might make a list.
List of Things to Possibly Do
- Clear paths by the Hen House.
- Weed along the water race.
- Plant the two new rhododendrons.
- Where? Wander around intelligently deciding.
- Cut back in the Hen House Border.
- Organise lawn-mowing.
Medical report - sore arm is now functioning really well as a weed puller. Am being careful not to get scratched etc. (important not to get infected rose wounds, for example). Am a less frenetic, more mellow gardener - happy to stop for rest when tired. Am even happy to lie down for old-lady snooze mid-afternoon. Going well.
Later, apres snooze...
I have cleared the Hen House paths, and watered with the little hoses and been very very good. I planted the new rhododendrons by the Willow tree and also did a lot of weeding and clipping by the glass-house. Now I have watered all the pots, and have retired inside happy. Another great day in paradise, with a very slightly sore arm to show for my exertions. Good stuff.
Saturday 29th March
I have been bleating on about us needing rain - mentioning fire bans, irrigation restrictions, the Frisbee Lawn looking like a pale beige shag-pile carpet, etc. And finally, after 5 or 6 weeks of dry weather IT IS RAINING - but it's my gardening weekend! I have a list as long as my slightly sore arm, and the rain is beautiful, steady, windless. I am too much an old realist to be a mud gardener today, and the thought of clearing out the glass-house does not impress. I could visit the plant sale and glide around with a nursery umbrella, but there are not many spaces left in the garden for bargain rhododendrons to begin new lives. Humph... My Saturday plans are thwarted. And will this rain (much desired) last all weekend? Eek! I may have to become suddenly sociable and talk to someone (other than a cat or an old deaf dog).
- Aconitum :
- This late flowering perennial is also called wolfsbane.
This may be a good time for some gentle Autumnal observations. The first driveway tree is dropping golden leaves on the gravel beneath. The Toe Toe which last winter's snowfall trashed has two rather lonely plumes flowering from its middle. The Aconitums are very blue and sturdy, and the white rose Prosperity is in full second flowering. A great New Zealand gardener Barbara Lea Taylor says 'If I had my way I would replace our five million Iceberg florabundas (good rose though it is) with Prosperity.' A bit harsh? - my Icebergs do very well with virtually no care or attention, and the related Pink Iceberg is absolutely gorgeous. But I love reading Barbara's gardening wisdoms. I'd definitely give rockets to Bantry Bay and New Dawn, a pair of over-rated disease ridden scraggy old ladies, before bagging Iceberg.
hot pink dahlias
The dahlias are still flowering on, bravely. The colours of the flaxes seem warmer, as if there are subtle auras of light around each one. The big Nicotianas (Sylvestris) self-sown in virtually all the borders remind me that they are my all-time grand favourite flowering plant. I spend a lot of time peeping into the rhododendron branches trying to conjure up buds for next spring.
I start thinking about buying some sacks of mixed daffodils to finish the fence-line planting. I remind myself that tulips are selfish, giving only one year's flowering, and that I must purchase them in good faith, knowing this. And as I reflect the rain continues. Darn it!
I have checked out the local nursery sale without buying any further rhododendron rejects. It is still raining, though this is a good thing. It's not cold, and gardeners need to be able to adapt. The weather is our friend, not something to be fighting against and complaining about. Each time I look out a window I seem to see new colours - yellow dahlias I didn't know about, roses flowering again, the canna in the pot with a peachy-pink flower head.
It rained all day.
Sunday 30th March
It's not cold. It's not windy. It's not foggy or misty or frosty. But it is still raining slightly. I have so many plans, I think a bit of courage and fortitude is required. I have my oldest pants on and just a thermal top, plus my almost new and very impressive blue gumboots. Mud will not be a problem, as long as I stay out there for ages.
I did. I shifted slightly a rhododendron and planted another and did huge amounts of weeding. I cleared Middle Path and the wee path in under the Oak trees in the Hen House Border. The weather soon cleared, and the ambience was very nice - no wind, no rush, nothing too dramatic happening on my cricket radio. A lovely mild autumn afternoon spent getting dirt under my fingernails. It's the end of the month of March. Two more weeks of work before I am on official holiday. Two more weeks until the big Easter sales.