Slow down, speed up...
A is for April - A is for Autumn. The garden slows down, but the gardener has to speed up - leaf raking marathons, garden rubbish fires, pruning and clipping to clear paths, stones to collect, firewood to organise. And all those sale plants to plant!
Saturday 2nd April
Right! The morning is mild and dry, and I have some serious gardening to do. I have a motley collection of sale price plants which must be put properly into the garden. I must do some serious weeding in the gardens over the water race. I must do some serious raking and clearing of paths in the Wattle Woods. I must also clear the Hump. Then I must burn everything. My wheel-barrow must clock up at least five kilometres of wheeling.
The Dog Kennel Garden is Weeded!
Big plans - and later today I am off to visit my hosta friend for more hostas - so I will get going. This first April gardening day will be a day of strictly practical accomplishments.
Five Hours Later, Apres Gardening...
Make that five hours of burning rubbish, the burning heap layered like a garden lasagne - gum leaves, freshly cut Pittosporum, dry Wattle Woods debris, large wet weeds (mainly old Nicotiana Sylvestris plants), followed by a new layer of gum leaves, and so on, over and over again...
The Upper Wattle Woods are clear - garden surfaces and paths, and Middle garden has its little dog-path reclaimed - flaxes and ferns are trimmed, and a Pittosporum by the water's edge is limbed-up. It feels like a dose of reality gardening after the digging and planting sessions of the Easter gardening weekend.
Portrait of a Gardener...
Great news - the Moosey house guest (who is a real photographer) has been taking head-gardener portrait photographs in the garden. Scary stuff! I decided on the full-of-character dishevelled, natural look, and spent a few minutes grinning inanely, leaning on my rake. The trouble is that I will probably end up looking like Willie Nelson (minus the bandanna), and my fragile fifty-something female ego will be shattered!
- Fungus :
- The autumn fungus colours seem to fit really well with the season. More photographs would be much appreciated!
The house guest has asked if there is anything in the garden I'd like real photographs of - I have asked for pictures of fungus (there are fat, thin, white, brown, grey, lilac, and red spotted fungi popping up everywhere - it's that time of the year). Be prepared for an avalanche of assorted fungal photographs in these pages.
Right. We are off to get the hostas. Perhaps I could just stop for a quick peep at the nursery. Hmm...
Official Opening Ceremony - The Birthday Rose Garden
Change of plan. We will go hosta-gathering tomorrow. I will plant them just over the water from the new Birthday Garden (which is now officially declared open).
Sunday 3rd April
We are off at 9 am to get the hostas. Before we leave I will have done four things:
- Written some interesting, thoughtful words in this diary.
- Planted three South Island Toe Toe.
- Placed the irises for planting in Stables garden on our return.
- Burnt at least four wheelbarrowfuls of garden rubbish.
I am having a mild garden panic attack. My levels of maintenance are just not good enough - in fact the words 'out of control' spring to mind. And we are currently losing two or three minutes of daylight per day! Aargh! Soon there will be autumn leaf colour everywhere and I'll still be catching up. I need garden help - perhaps an hour of rubbish burning for a roast dinner? Hmm...
Later, Without Hostas...
Oops! The new plants my friend has given me are not hostas - they are roses, hellebores, peonies, miniature irises, and nerines - a whole trailerful! I have been planting for hours, with Tiger the kitten for company. The Stables Garden extension is now completely organised, planted and mulched.
The peonies, which have huge numbers of shoots on their rubbery roots, are in the Birthday Garden. All my glass-house irises are finally in the ground. And the far curve of the Stables garden has been extended by a meter, thanks to some more frenetic digging!
The Moosey house guest has been busy splitting wood. The head-gardener photographs he took are already developed and printed - I look really nice and smiley! Ha! And everything on the list I wrote above has been done. A most successful Sunday.
Monday 4th April
I have done three hours work this afternoon in the gustiest, noisiest nor-west wind. I've been getting stones from the water race for the edges of the new Birthday Garden, as well as weeding and enlarging the Eggy Garden opposite.
Rusty the Puppy
Puppy has been bouncing up and down the water race helping - or so he thinks. Occasionally a water bubble will catch his eye and he will zoom along the garden edge, then jump with a huge splash upon his 'target'. He has been caught twice today digging inappropriate holes - didn't I read somewhere that a gardener should never let a puppy see her digging?
- Ruby Bergenias :
- Bergenias are brilliant year-round foliage plants - and their flowers star in the springtime.
The new Bergenias (grabbed in the Easter nursery sale) are planted. This may not seem memorable, but I love these perennial foliage beauties very much. They deserve mention - particularly the Bressingham Ruby variety, since I've actually been to the Bressingham nursery in Norfolk (what a show-off!)...
Good (domestic) news - as well as splitting firewood, the Moosey house guest cooks!
Tuesday 5th April - The Power of Mulch
Yesterday I certainly had proof of the value of a goodish mulching system! My weeding in the Eggy Garden was extremely easy and fast, and the soil seemed very organic and moist - possibly the word 'friable' could be used. Yippee! Mulching works! - I always knew that!
Today I have plans for more planting, as more of the Easter sale bargains huddled together on the Stables seat find permanent garden homes. I have to go to work twice, and will burn some gum and flax rubbish in between visits - hopefully my smoky aura won't annoy too many people. Then I might peep into the nursery sale - just a quick, visa-less peep - and hopefully pick up some bags of horse-poos on the way home.