Plans to build a shrubbery...
I suddenly have huge plans to 'build' a shrubbery behind the pond. This may sound impressive, but actually means clear the ground, add organic matter to the soil, mulch, water, and shift in some very small plants...
Friday 21st January
Reality struck yesterday afternoon as I was scratching around (lonely and chookless) in the long dry grass behind the pond. Shrubberies are not actually 'built' at all, and definitely not in one day. My vision, naturally, is of the finished area, lush and green, with mulch and pathways. There are some existing trees and a few plain green-leafed hebe shrubs already planted in here, totally surrounded by mess (which I was quickly going to clear, ha ha). And I have some surplus variegated hebes waiting in a plastic bucket to be planted.
Variegated Hebe with Pyrethrum Daisies
Today, calmly sipping my first cup of tea, I realise the enormity of my Shrubbery project - or (more to the point) the need for a progression of tasks, and truckloads of organic material. It's easily done, as long as the gardener maintains an aura of logical patience (and is happy to fill the car with free and smelly bags of horse-poos every day).
- Horse Manure :
- Trouble is that the weeds are as free as the horse manure! Oops...
The ground/soil in the Hump was just as messy, before I started working in there. How many truckload equivalents of hand-carried bags of manure - and wheelbarrowfuls of home-made compost - have been dumped in there? The rejuvenation of the Hump soil has taken some years (and still continues).
So the Shrubbery plan is as follows:
- Don't get disheartened.
- Drive down the road and pick up some manure.
- Lay some newspaper.
- Wheel in some compost.
- Bucket in some water.
For every barrow-ful of mess wheeled out, wheel in a barrow-ful of good stuff. Repeat five times a day for twenty days. No Rhododendrons allowed!
I will go outside as soon as I have finished making my black-currant jam. I am a jam novice, and my very old recipe book tells me to boil the fruit for at least 45 minutes before adding the sugar... This seems rather excessive, but I will do it. I could have jam sandwiches in the completed Shrubbery for lunch...
Saturday 22nd January
My jam making was more successful than my Shrubbery making - but I have made a sensible start to its soil enrichment programme. Now I have a slight gardening foot injury (muscular, from vigorously digging with spade), so today I am going to relax more. Perhaps if I shut my eyes and do some visualisation exercises truckloads of compost and manure will appear behind the pond. And a willing wheelbarrow-person...
Yesterday I did some focused sneaky watering down the fence-line of the Frisbee Garden. I checked the gardens over the water race - they were fine, having been irrigated overnight. They are absolutely full of flowering daylilies (reds and oranges) at the moment. The daylilies take over between rose flushes - hmmm, this is valuable gardening knowledge...
In the Shrubbery I was a logical and sensible gardener. I let the land create the design of the garden. I first defined a path with edges of wood, and my scratchings radiated out from this. I hand-weeded (with chook company!) and planted the few spare plants nearby.
Garden Plans - To Draw or Not to Draw?
My naturally-designed Shrubbery will jolly well work! I refuse to draw a garden plan - budget gardeners who have run out of money to buy plants cannot drool and dribble over a paper plan. I can see it now - scribbly pencil clouds, crosses and circles in blue and red pen - representing swathes of instant Renga Renga ($250), mature hybrid flaxes (at least 12 @ $18), woman-sized Pittosporums ($35 each), budget Hebes (5 for $30)... Humph...
Today is the final day of my Most Valuable Cat Competition, and the likely result is almost too close to call. I am tempted to take points off the two grey cats, though, for each caught a bird yesterday. And Rusty the puppy seriously chased the henlet (who soared majestically sky-wards over the lavender by the laundry). The side lawn is now covered in feathers (which the kittens spend hours fighting).
Rusty the Puppy Checks Out The Plank
The ultimate test for all Moosey animal contestants will be this afternoon when the cricket starts. There are lots of opportunities for lap-sitting, which I guess disadvantages the poultry...
No cats or kittens in sight! Rooster is miles away, crowing pianissimo, and puppy is sound asleep in his dog-motel by the garage. So much for 'cat'-company! On a gardening note, I have worked hard all morning by the Hen House, with the big winds making the tree branches swirl noisily overhead. It wasn't very relaxing at all (was wondering if I needed to wear a hard-hat). I've stacked all the dry rubbush on the fence-line - I suspect my days of summer rubbish fires might be over. My sore foot is impressively bandaged - a gardening injury which is hard for others to ignore!
Plants by the Water Race
Sunday 23rd January
I always feel much more hopeful about the garden first thing in the (holiday) morning than in the late afternoons. That might be because I've never ever watched morning television...
Last night the big irrigation was on again - as a small scale waterer and shifting of hoses it is heartening to lie in bed listening to the zooming sprinklers. My remaining hollyhocks lose their verticality, though (as do the stakeless dahlias, oops). Good news on the country lifestyle front - the wooden patio chairs which go with Stephen's groovy patio table are almost finished.
What shall I do first today? It won't be quite as hot. I think I'll keep on with my good work in the Shrubbery - maybe I can find some surplus plants in another garden to transplant. A bold move, in the middle of summer! There's always dead-heading. There's always the water race - the willow stumps by Middle bridge need removing. And possibly I should tidy up the Verbascums - maybe?
Results of the Cat Competition
My Most Valuable Cat Competition ground to a controversial halt yesterday, with my adult relative demanding disqualification of the grey cats for bird-killing. Mugsy was the only cat who took advantage of a long spell of cricket-watching, which ironically helped the eventual winner. The final points were:
- Most Valuable Cat Competition 2004/2005
- 4 - Mugsy the Cat
- 23 - The Poultry
- 38 - Stumpy the Cat
- 42 - Rusty the Puppy
- 43 - Jerome the Cat
- 44 - Smoocher the Ginger Kitten
- And the winner was, with 47 points, Tiger the Kitten!!!
Sometime After a Late Lunch, Tired, with Sore Hands and a Sore Foot...
I have decided that I need four of me - today we would all have been very handy. One of me would have been pulling the past-its-best Lychnis out of all the house gardens - nothing else. Another of me would have been slowly and unspectacularly pottering in The Shrubbery. The third me would have been in the gardens over the water race - weeding, deadheading, that sort of thing. And the fourth one of me (the one with the sore foot) would have been drinking cups of tea (and glasses of iced water) on a garden seat, enjoying the ambience created by the other three. Humph...