Oh dear. It feels too hot to garden, and we need rain. Most of the paddocks are pale blonde in colour, while the relatively lucky Moosey garden has to be irrigated every third night.
Tuesday 22nd January
There's a cycle of night-time watering - one night the Hazelnut trees, then the trees further down the back, then the gardens house-side of the water race, and finally the gardens over the water race. No restrictions as yet are in place. My gardening style is so silly - I am completely exposed as a foolish fraud when the summers are dry.
- 'There's no fool like an old fool, gardenwise.'
- -Moosey Words of Wisdom.
But will I give in, donate all my rhododendrons to a wetter garden and bring in tussock grasses? Nope! There's no fool like an old fool, gardenwise!
All is not dry gloom and droughty doom. My legs aren't too tired (yet) to wander around shifting the hoses, the irrigation pond is full of cool clear water (ask Rusty the swimming dog), the water race burbles on, with - the most striking new feature - a functioning waterwheel! All this and the gardener isn't completely satisfied. Oh dear!
Perennials and Drought
I seem to delight in growing drought-indicating perennials rather than drought-tolerant ones. Examples are the bronze foliaged Lysimachia and the variegated Scrophularia, both of which I found in the marginals section of a water gardening nursery recently visited. In my garden they suffer!
A Hot Month
But it's been a hot, hot month, never-the-less, and I'm not so good at being a red-cheeked, dripping-faced gardener - I tend to retreat inside with an overwhelming urge to drink a cold beer. Then I fall asleep. Like yesterday, mooching away the whole afternoon inside with the air conditioning on.
Today is different. Already I've done two hours compulsory weeding, trimming, and Lychnis-pulling-out. I've planted a new flax by the birdbath in the Birthday Rose Garden. Birds - feel free to use this bath, but please be wary of furry predators.
The big red rose Kronenberg is one of the few big roses blooming at the moment - it is the most vibrant colour! Over the water race most roses are dead-headed ready for their second big flush of colour. The smaller Flower Carpet and Fairy roses are blooming nicely.
Kronenberg Hybrid Tea Rose
Weeding towards the water's edge I noticed some new Gunnera plants - little cuties, so fresh and healthy, seedlings from upstream. Gunnera always tempts me - if I can't think of a better idea, shouldn't I leave it where it is? Sheer lunacy, since I counted over fifty seedlings last autumn, when I was in a pro-active Ban-All-Gunnera-Unless-Invited mood.
The cats all find the weather too hot, and are inclined to escape into the garden. This morning while dead-heading some roses I almost trod on Fluff-Fluff, lurking under a lavender bush, and dropped my secateurs on ginger Percy, stretched out underneath a hebe.
I have the drippers watering the orchard roses and the memorial trees in cat row. Dear Smoocher, and B-Puss - may your trees grow well! Rooster and the hens usually get quite excited with the little dribbles of water, waiting and watching for unfortunate bugs and worms.
Rooster in the Orchard
Now it's important that I return for another two hours gentle gardening. So after my morning tea break I'll stand in the race and do some watery weeding. Rain, rain - feel free to visit. You are most welcome - as long as you are warm, and wind-free. See - I'm not asking for much!
I worked for another two hours with Rusty the dog in the water race with me. I finished up at the Willow Tree Garden, delightfully full of big Nicotianas, where there is much need of serious weeding and cleaning up. Put it this way - some things are definitely getting enough water to grow tall and strong! This will be tomorrow's two-hour morning project.
I almost ripped out the Stella D'Oro daylilies which have spent all summer looking like grass clumps. No flowers - simply not good enough! Perhaps one more year, and yet another shift of position?
I didn't need a cold beer to fall asleep after lunch. But I woke up slowly, hearing tennis noises from the TV mixed up with gentle trickling on the roof and decking. It was raining outside! Brilliant, excellent, and so helpful for the fire risk. No-one in Canterbury can have those lovely long grass meadows with mown walking strips which are seen in English garden books. In fact, summer mowing is in itself a fire hazard.
Now I think I will have that beer. Everything looks very flowery, and I have had a brilliant day. But no wonder my Lysimachia patch sulks in summer. It is, apparently, an ideal plant for drains and pond outlet areas or for the front of bog gardens. Oops. oops. And another oops.
Wednesday 23rd January
Firstly, a quick visit to the local country library. I have some gardening books to return - one of my quiet New Year's Resolutions is to be more informed. Though wading through a book on Hidcote late last night didn't quite hit the spot. Nor, oddly, did the book about restoring the Lost Gardens of Heligan - please understand that it was rather late, and of course I'd love to visit both gardens in person!
- The Willow Tree Garden :
- The Willow Tree Garden keeps changing - or maybe the word 'expanding' is a better descriptor! Pity about the weeds, though...
The Moosey gardens and lawns seem to be damp, well watered by yesterday's rain. I know exactly where to start my gardening work - in the Willow Tree Garden, with the sharp shovel - this sounds like gardener's Cleudo! Actually I've been putting this off, knowing that the pink Campion seedlings have absolutely taken over. Aargh!
I've been weeding for three hours - and not exactly with the sharp shovel, after striking pockets of spring bulbs. I've filled up six wheelbarrowfuls with weeds - mainly clover, campion, and broom seedlings - dead-headed roses, and pulled out Pyrethrum daisies and Iris confusa. Actually planting and encouraging the campion was silly. For the first three springs I enjoyed the prettiest pink flowers. That was before the seedlings reached critical mass - it would have been far better to use weed-suppressing mulch. Ah, how much wiser I am now!
Stumpy (AKA Willow Tree) Garden
Sounds of the Waterwheel
I have never heard such a beautifully soothing sound as that made by the new Moosey waterwheel. The best 'view' is from Rooster Bridge, and even the crowing (or shrieking) of rooster in the nearby hen house can't spoil the gentle beauty of the moment. I pass by at least twice a day - feeding the hens, or ridiculously checking to see that the wheel is still turning around. And of course it is!
I'd like a definite destination spot with a seat to enjoy watching and listening. Three large Toe Toes (Argentinean Pampas grasses) grow opposite the waterwheel, and they have very cutty edges - should a seat be placed here, these grasses would all have to be removed. So I'll wait until the water buckets are attached and the little stream is flowing, and then think again.
Right. One more hour of non-messy gardening work, suitable for semi-apres-gardening clothes, is required - then I can play my piano in triumph. I've got a new library book of Gertrude Jekyll's writings for later. I am trying hard to be a serious gardener on and off the field, so to speak.