The season of shrub supremacy...
It's the season of shrub supremacy. New Zealand natives, hardy Australians, and all other tough shrubs from other countries - welcome to the winter Moosey Garden makeover. Rhododendrons need not apply...
Wednesday 11th June
Warning - I estimate I have about an hour and a half before the apres-frost temperature outside is clement (?) enough for my day's gardening to begin. So what should I do?
- 1. Write in the Moosey Journal?
- Aargh! Twittering for an hour an a half - about everything, something, and nothing, simultaneously...
- 2. Make a list?
- Well, hello! I'm doing just that...
- 3. Go early to the nursery?
- Good idea. I need a few New Zealand natives for the Shrubbery. The nursery is also selling organic pumpkins...
- 4. Play the piano?
- Another excellent idea. Pre-gardening Brahms would be a really bright start to the day. Clean fingernails, major keys only...
Well, that seems to be settled. I'll write until 9 a.m., feed the hens, then into my new cheerful-colours (yellow, blue and red check) gardening shirt for a bite of Brahms, before... It's all in the list.
Yesterday I was splitting wood deep in the Hump, thinking about this perennially messy area. Whenever I garden in here I spend half the day carting the rubbish out. Then I lose energy, and retire semi-defeated. The Hump remains in gardening limbo, a quasi-wilderness. A better plan would be to rake all rubbish down to the line of pine trees, and barricade it in behind them. The cultivated area is clearly identified, paths and plants can be organised, and the messy area is properly designated, as befits a working country garden.
My friend came yesterday to look at my Shrubbery, and she thought the local garden club should come and visit! I've bashfully declined, but underneath I'm - ahem - quite proud. I am also a Path Expert - she wants my advice on places for paths in her garden. Seriously, it's good when outsiders enjoy what a lone gardener has self-indulgently created. I draw the line at wedding chapels, though.
I've had a wonderful time, both scratching and clearing in the garden and buying new plants. It's sunny but really chilly outside, and 2:30 p.m. is an OK winter time to finish. And now, for the accomplishments of the day.
I've re-laid one path into the 'other end' of the Hump (as opposed to the Shrubbery end, by the house). This time the edging wood has been dug in, the path surface flattened, and rough plantings of Fountain grass placed along one edge. I've moved firewood heaps from the middle of the garden, and raked and weeded. There are some self-sown Ake Ake seedlings - nice work! But...
A Carload of New Shrubs
I haven't rushed into planting any of my carload of new shrubs. I have an eclectic collection of two dollar specials - Genistas, Hebes, Olearias with jagged-toothed leaves, Pittosporums, and a pair of lemon-yellow flowering Grevillias. Then some five dollar Pittosporums, Hebes and rusty orange Carexes, and three ten dollar green Astelias. I am extremely pleased with my shrubby bounty. Hurray and yippee for shrub-gardening! Textural plantings, feasts of foliage...
Thursday 12th June
Here's my Hump plan. The pine trees must be a clear barrier between the cultivated and the mess. To encourage people into the Hump to explore, paths need to start from the Driveway Lawn edge. Views from this lawn must include the shrub plantings.
Question: Why would anyone want to go in there?
Answer: If they see something vaguely interesting. Ooh - look at that shrub with tooth-marks on its leaves...
No Rhododendrons Allowed
An extra-wide, clear access path needs to run along the pines at the bottom of the Hump - this is for dumping rubbish, stacking firewood, and so on. Pittosporums will survive the dry shade, and must be used as screens. Nothing else should be planted close to the pine trees. Remember the irrigation (or lack of it) in summer! Once upon a time there was a naive, blonde Head Gardener who tried to grow rhododendrons in this very soil. Ouch!
Big Red Rhododendron
Right. My gardening day is fully rationalised. I'm off to the gym, and then - action! Someone else (aargh!) has been swiping the free bags of horse-poos on the roadside, so if I pass any on the way to the gym I'll stash them in the boot. Good gardeners can easily drive in a fragrant cloud of fresh manure. Pity the other gym patrons...
Memories of the Cape Campbell Walkway
That reminds me. A few months ago we enjoyed a four day trekking trip on the Cape Campbell Walkway, a route through two working sheep and cattle farms. I've just read a feature in the paper written by a walker-journalist. He seemed to miss much of the scenery, and all the quirky huts and shelters, but noticed the manure on his boots. I wanted to scoop up all the cowpats and send them home. Each to his (or her) own?
Much Later, Actually Getting Dark...
I've spent ages just in one small area of the Hump, setting down more proper paths with log edges dug in. I have some garden shapes - a cute little triangle, and a large round oval. I've built up the soil, and laid out several of my new shrubs. I like the look very much - and I've kept to plan. No rhododendrons!
- Tiger :
- Tiger the Cat - you are a disgrace!
Tiger the cat is a disgrace to the spirit of Moosey feline friendship and house-and-garden sharing. Lilli-Puss, my shy young grey cat, had just popped into the back door. Tiger the bully ran at her, howling horribly with all cat-guns blazing, and chased her up the stairs. I knew that all the doors were shut. I'd only just put on my slightly muddy gardening boots...
Charging after them to rescue little Lilli, I didn't think about the carpet. Oops - the mud will dry. But this nasty behaviour of Tiger's is perplexing. She's never been a bully before.
Friday 13th June
I've had a brilliant day. Progress is good in the Hump makeover - I am a Master Path-Maker (excuse the manly title). Each time a path enters the Hump from the Driveway Lawn it forks, making a 'Y' shape, and the top bits of the 'Y' connect with the wide thoroughfare underneath the pines. So I get smaller triangular garden areas to plant, and walkers have to decide which way to go, creating a sense of adventure and excitement.
- 'Path shapes create garden shapes.'
- -Moosey Words of Wisdom.
I've planted the Astelias, the Pittosporums, and the Grevillias. But there's more! I've also redug the lawn edge, which now wiggles more like a sine curve, and planted tussock grasses and conifer-like Hebes (which are good in dry soil, apparently) along the edge. But back to the paths. They are brilliant, and make the garden design work. It has a lot to do with positive and negative space. Path shapes create garden shapes, as well as paths needing a purpose. This is a revelation, after years of failure, pathwise. Oh joy!