Eek! It's so scary for a relaxed, pottering gardener to realise that the month of May is half-finished. But then the Moosey garden is always half-finished. And what about my May outdoors adventure?
Copper Beech in the Autumn Sun
Thursday 15th May
Autumn is three-quarters finished. My Dogwoods are almost bare now, and the Copper Beech has started turning a bilious 'safety orange' colour. There's a lot of bright yellow leaf-raking to do in the Pond Paddock under the flowering cherries.
And still several of my late roses bloom their hearts out - what stamina! Ditto the last of the Canna lilies, sheltered by the house. And perennials which I cut back in time are flowering again - catmint, blue convolvulus ground cover, and a clump of blue delphiniums.
I didn't do any gardening yesterday - I went into the Craigieburn Range with my walking group. Conditions above and underfoot were glorious (no wind, perfect visibility, blue sky, no snow) and for once I didn't think one gardenish thought. Today I'm going to finish spreading the trailer load of manure onto the Willow Tree Garden. This is where my new path network is, and its surface and curves need further refining, as I make sure the paths are sensible and stable.
Cat Fight - Percy and Histeria
Good Cat Company
The Willow Tree Garden area gets decent, attentive cat company, too. Percy and Histeria chase each other around the paths, and Fluff-Fluff, all 7 kgs of him, leaps back and forth across the water race (while I plod around the long way). He may not require the new bridge, but I am so looking forward to it!
Good morning to Percy the ginger cat, who has that fluid, comfortable cat-way of fitting on the lap and underneath the table. My morning ritual - I drink my cup of tea and check my mail, Rusty the dog moans and groans, Percy purrs, and Fluff-Fluff, squashed into the smallest cardboard box behind the computer, listens for any hint of action. The ginger gardening cats are ready!
I only did two hours gardening, but I like what I did! I'm building up the small strip of garden in front of the Willow Tree Garden's blue garden chairs, by creating a knee-high stone retaining wall. Yet again I've run out of stones (story of my life) though Rusty and I spent half a happy hour at the river filling up the back seat of my little car. Tomorrow - maybe tomorrow I'll clean out that trailer. And I must clean out the hen house. Tomorrow...
Three Blue Garden Chairs
Friday 16th May
I've been checking last May's journal details for frosts, autumn leaf colours, etc. - as one does, to compare the years. My words seem to bubble and fizz with silliness and happiness, and this May I seem terribly serious and composed in comparison. But then I remembered the reason - last May I was preparing for a big world trip. I spent the whole of June, our first winter month, zooming around summer gardens, having older-lady adventures in Scotland, enjoying trains, visiting friends.
- Hello Big Ben :
- I can always read my world trip pages if I get too house-bound.
I'm staying home this winter. Even though we intrepid gardeners aren't forced to stay inside there's a feeling of impending hibernation - coldness, long night-times, garden-gloom. My Play-More-Brahms-Piano-Music plan for this winter is definitely more serious and composed (ahem) than my list of Scotland's finest West Coast gardens, with wiggling road maps and tourist B'n'B registers!
However, my adventure consultant reckons we will cycle up the Poulter River to stay overnight (brr...) in a back-country hut next weekend. And I absolutely love my garden. I am having the grandest, happiest time in it - between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., nearly every day. Ha! My winter opening hours!
Later, Apres Gardening...
Aargh! I'm wet and cold from standing in the water race in my underwear, pushing and prodding at the waterwheel and scooping debris out from underneath it. The water temperature was horribly cold, and the waterwheel still stubbornly refuses to rotate.
Before my voluntary immersion, I spent three hours in the warm autumn sun, further building my small stone wall - I've filled in the resulting garden border with dirt and lashings of horse manure. The wall is fairly straight, and fits in snugly behind a rhododendron, a large Miscanthus and a New Zealand Myrtle. The next rhododendron belongs to the raised, upper garden. And here the little stone wall stops - for now!
I'm really happy with my new look Willow Tree Garden paths and borders. And the wood for the new bridge has been 'ordered'. The bridge will be reasonably high off the ground, and will look down on plantings of Gunnera and flaxes. I'm allowed to have 'handrails' if I want to - that might be a nice touch.
The Proposed New Bridge Site
Right. Time to warm up the core with hot tea. My hands are still chilled from poking around in the water. I've finished for the day. As the sun goes down, so does the outdoors temperature, and it is 3:30, which I decided was my official closing time. Brr...
Oops - huge apologies to my hens that I forgot to clean out your rather stinky hen house. I have fresh barley straw all ready, and I really will do this first thing tomorrow. Honestly, hens, I will.
The Moosey Shredder
Saturday 17th May
Oh me, oh my! The gardening year is zooming past. The mornings are colder. I've been further reminiscing about my great travel adventures of last year, when I turned winter into summer with a flash of a wallet and a plane ticket or two. It was one huge reward, from me to me, for gardening so hard.
Somehow the lure of the landscaping yard - my reward for shredding the tree trimmings is to buy a trailer load of path mulch - doesn't quite measure up. But I absolutely adore staying home, pottering in my house and garden, in late autumn and winter.
House-wise I've 'found' some Brahms piano pieces that I've never played, my house is warm, filled with great company and good books... My cooking skills are improving, and I've found a happy-pigs and happy-hens butcher whose beef and lamb is also grass-fed and organic...
And the garden is magical - shapes of borders are better defined now, with no summery flower-fluff. I love my new paths, and my stone walls, and all the views. And I love the fact that I haven't finished yet! Now, if only that blasted waterwheel would 'turn, turn, turn'...
Today I'll definitely...
- Clean out the hen house.
- Spread the last manure from the trailer.
- Burn the rubbish.
- Shred the Escallonia and willow trimmings.
- Get a load of river stones.
- Cart firewood, and help with chain-sawing.
- Take up-to-date photographs of late autumn garden.
Right. I'm off outside, in warm gloves and beanie.
I did most of everything. Non-Gardening Partner chain-sawed down a dead tree lucerne which obliged by falling 'kerthump' exactly between two rhododendrons. He's levelled the top of the stump so I can use it as a plinth for a pot or some garden sculpture. I kept my fire burning for most of the day, raking heaps of gum leaves out of Henworld, and clearing dry rubbish from along the Leyland hedge.
My goodness that hen house needed cleaning out! My poultry made a dreadful racket on discovering their fresh new barley straw. This must be one of those exciting bird-moments...
Rooster Checks In
I have a new bellbird, too - his song is quite different from the others. An interloper! I've had another great day. I'm really tired, and am about settle in a chair and read one of my adventure books.