Right. No excuses about cold wind or wet rain. An intrepid four-seasons gardener simply puts on thermal underwear, shorts over the long-johns, hat and gloves - and then out he or she goes!
Last Rose of Autumn
Sunday 4th May
And rather than follow his or her nose (which is likely to run and drip in the cold) the four-seasons gardener needs a good strong list to follow. I understand that this is the last time this morning my hands will be warm, and my legs (thanks to ginger lap-cat Percy), and the core of me (hot coffee). To further define the season (autumn turning into winter) Non-Gardening Partner has escaped to check out a big ski sale.
Percy the Cat
I'm boiling hot in my ten thermal layers and hat as I sit here typing. I'll just quickly explain (for the millionth time) to Percy the cat how much I love him, and why. He needs to know!
I'll mention yet again his beautiful rich ginger colouring, his symmetric mathematical stripes, his purry nature, his dark amber eyes, and the 'M for Moosey' pattern in the fur on his forehead...
Back to the List
But back to today's list. It will include a lot of shovelling of stuff. I have a lot of organic matter to organise - a trailer-load of horse manure and sawdust, a medium-sized volcano of wet ash on my burning heap, ten bags of really fresh manure, and the indoors kitty-litter box - Mugsy my disabled cat will have to bravely venture outside.
Blast. I've finished my coffee. So where's that gardening list?
- Rake autumn oak leaves from Pond Paddock.
- Put leaves, manure and wet ash onto shrubbery.
- Get more river stones.
- Paint guttering.
That last one's rather radical and needs explanation. According to my latest (slightly precious) gardening book white spouting is a no-no, and one should use copper, or at least paint the offending guttering a subtle colour. They are talking about houses, but...
As well as having un-rustic plastic food containers as buckets, my waterwheel has white guttering which starts off the stream flow. This simply will not do! The rules of rustic style are compromised, and my waterwheel becomes a very confused focal point. It is also a very silent, stuck focal point, as I noticed on my walk to feed the chooks this morning. Aargh! I'll have to semi-immerse to clean the debris out from underneath and get it revolving again. How many layers of clothing am I actually wearing?
Brr... I spent the whole morning in the shrubbery, wheeling in leaves and other organic matter. I've planted a pink Escallonia, an Azalea, and more tulip bulbs. And some perennial Anthemis at the stone wall edge - I hope they will be OK to flop down and flower.
View of the Shrubbery
After lunch I trimmed absolutely all the dahlias in the house borders, dumped them on my compost area, scooped up a load of gum and old pine, and dumped that on the fire. Then I tried again to get that waterwheel going, this time leaving my thermal socks and top on. Unfortunately I still can't see what's making the waterwheel stick. The water was extremely cold, so I burnt my rubbish to get warmer. Now, inside, showered and freshly thermalled, I am warm. What a great day!
- Spring Daffodils :
- I like to buy bulbs from the local daffodil farm.
Good news. Feeling rather upbeat (with a new pair of super-snazzy skis) NGP has suggested we drive out to the daffodil farm - he will buy 'us' a big bag of mixed bulbs. They'll need to be planted almost immediately - lots of work, for lots of rewards. Perhaps I can finish planting the road frontage. Oops. I've just ordered one thousand over the phone. Oops again...
Monday 5th May
Almost a frost last night, but there's still time to scoop all daisies out of the ground and whisk them into their winter quarters. I also have Echevarias and Pelargoniums outdoors in pots. My Gunnera is still going strong - their huge green leaves completely dominate the edge of the water race.
Autumn Gunnera Leaves
Good morning to Percy my warm, ginger, smooching cat. He just sits on my knees and purrs, and understands not to walk all over the computer keyboard.
Daffodils and Sheds...
Hmm... I'm off to the gym and then to the daffodil farm with a cheque from NGP. He didn't mean 'us' to buy one thousand bulbs, and wonders where I'll put them all. Ha! How many fence-lines do I have? I can also put some in pots for the house, others in the new Glass-House Garden and in the Shrubbery (which has officially titled itself - it's got a big S). Since I am in a tiny bit of over-spending trouble, I am also going to look at sheds. There's an unsavoury phrase about sheep and lambs which pops into my mind.
I'm back with a car boot full of bulbs. No shed, though - I'm still not sure whether I want a closed-in shed or an open Samoan-style fale. It all depends on which seasons I intend to live in it, sleep out overnight, and so on. How winter-cosy does my shed need to be? And, just quietly, what on earth do I actually want a shed for? If I just feel like decorating there are oodles of spare rooms in the house which could so easily be 'shedded', with cute retro decor, etc...
Crepuscule Rose in Autumn
I think I've sorted four things out. My shed-retreat needs to be small, definitely out-of-doors, no TV, and close to the pond. Owners of sheds take their sheds very, very, very, very seriously, and I will be no exception.
Ha! My glass-house is tidied up, and lots of my half-hardy succulents and pelargoniums are safe inside. I've worked for two hours in reasonably cold conditions, and my hands are a bit achy. However, this is the start of my new, proper cold-weather gardening attitude. Every single day from now until the end of winter I can do some pottering in the glass-house, if nothing else. It will be character-building. Gardeners who desire sheds have to show fortitude and be strong in all weathers.
Tuesday 6th May
Fortitude in all weathers. But show good sense and wait until the sun has warmed up the frosty garden. Grass blades are destroyed by eager gardeners clumping and plodding over a frosted lawn. What's the rush?
Last night I came home late from my ladies choir practice, my head full of Sanctuses and Glorias. But where was my big cat Fluff-Fluff? He'd missed tea and the evening house warmth. We searched all the house rooms, we called into the frosty night - no luck. It reminded me of having a family of teenagers, where mother always thinks she knows where they all are.+10
Oops. It came to me in a flash! He'd been supervising my work in the glass-house earlier, voluptuously reclining and showing his scruffy, fluffy belly - a cat-nude in a seed tray on the work bench. Oops. I'd shut the door on him. So Fluff-Fluff was rescued, with cold fur and grubby face from - oops - digging, oh so grateful. What a relief! If I was one of those lazy winter gardeners who ignores her glass-house he'd have been stuck in there until spring. Phew!
Today I have serious plans. Due to excess enthusiasm for spending Non-Gardening Partner's money I have one thousand mixed daffodil bulbs to plant. More daisies and pelargoniums must shift into the glass-house. The trailer is half full of horse manure. It would be a good idea to clean out the remaining burnable rubbish from the back of the pond. And then burning it would warm me up on this late autumn day...
Koru and Smoke Bush
How's this for sensible gardening? I dig out a pelargonium, trim it and push it into a pot, thereby leaving a gap - into which I pop a dozen daffodils. Easy. I've also filled the basil and lettuce patio pots with bulbs. I reckon I've planted at least two hundred. I've burnt five barrowfuls of gum tree rubbish, and my last job was to get the waterwheel going again. It was jammed up with waterlogged willow branches - someone upstream is being a very messy 'cleaner-upper'.
Poor Rusty Dog
So it's been a great garden day, punctuated by a really long lunchtime cycle ride with Rusty the dog. He had to listen to my latest life theories and adventure plans (cycling up the Poulter River, cycling over Arthur's Pass to the West Coast, and so on). And my ideas about garden sheds. I've been thinking about getting (building?) a gardener's shed-retreat for the woody area behind the pond. Sheds require ambient locations. And they should know their purpose and function.