Ha! A winter weekend, and the weather is quite warm. I am performing miracles in the Hump, a sandy, messy stretch of potential garden between the house lawns and the front paddock.
Winter Flax Foliage
Saturday 14th June
Today I have another 'Y' shaped path to construct in the Hump. These paths are being built to last, so I'm digging the wooden edging into the ground. The new rule of Hump gardening maintenance is to rake all rubbish below the line of pine trees, and not get sidetracked trying to cart it out by the wheelbarrowful.
Then I have my final shrubs to plant in the Shrubbery - some Olearias with quite large, jagged leaves. I hope, hope, hope that they are the same 'tree daisies' which I enjoyed seeing in Scotland's West Coast gardens.
Yesterday at nightfall - chook consternation! I heard the oddest gurgling noises by the hen-house, as I was taking the junior cats for an evening stroll. The chooks had got themselves stuck outside their hen-house. On opening their gate, all hens popped straight in, desperate for bed, but not my rooster. Oh no - he was in full fighting mode, and had to be pushed in slowly, at the end of a stout stick.
'Herding' a belligerent rooster in the nearly-dark is quite difficult. Contrary to current poultry opinion, rogue roosters develop excellent night vision when they wish to attack their feeder and provider. It's important to somehow retain gardener-to-bird eye contact in the fast fading light, and to employ a sound stick technique. For example, if the angle of the stick strays to the horizontal, the rooster will leap upon it, and easily dance his way along to attack the stick-holding hands. Ouch! Ungrateful, eggless bird! Coq au Vin, here you come!
Apart from mishandling the fortissimos in Brahms's Ballade in G minor, the Moosey hands (arthritis in the finger joints) are going OK. Patting my cats (and Rusty the dog) has become the greatest therapy. Good morning to Percy, supreme ginger gardening cat and chief contributor to my morning arthritis management plan!
Tomorrow we might, might, might be cycling up the Poulter River all day, depending on weather and wind. So today I have to garden like a woman obsessed - which naturally comes quite naturally! Unfortunately Non-Gardening Partner is strictly off-limits - he has to prune the Hazelnut tree suckers in the orchard.
Winter by the Glasshouse
Much, Much Later...
Aargh! I worked until it was too dark to see anything. I built another path, and started spreading another trailer-load of manure, while NGP did the suckers on 100 Hazelnut trees.
In one week's time it will be mid-winter, the shortest day - that's so close! I must try and finish the Hump and Shrubbery by then.
Sunday 15th June
Good morning to purring Percy, to whom I have explained (for the million-and-oneth time this week) exactly how much I love him. Today has changed! We (that's NGP the Orchardist and HG the Master Path-Maker) are not going cycling in the mountains - Daughter of Moosey is doing a 'reccie' and will report back on the suitability of the Poulter River valley. Instead, NGP will do pruning while HG does paths for three hours.
Then we'll go on a massive cycle ride with Rusty (lucky dog) down to the local river, the Waimakariri, along the rough tracks and stop-bank roads. We'll take lunch, drinks, and a tennis ball (dog-owners will understand).
I'm doing a head-countdown to the shortest day. Six days to go! The sun now sets at one minute past five. That's far too early for an intrepid path-maker! The Hump, where I've been working, is a naturally gloomy place anyway - after four thirty the risk of tripping over bits and pieces is severe.
One of my John Clare roses (A David Austin, named after an English poet) is in full pink-petalled flower by the glass-house - I remember this rose being a winter wonder in previous years. I also start to notice the rather long canes of Teasing Georgia nearby, and am reminded that she needs a tripod.
Much Later, Five Minutes before Sunset...
Another brilliant day! I finished the second 'Y' shaped path into the Hump, which curves either side of a massive pine tree. Then we went for our cycle trip along the Waimakariri River with the dog - lots of gravel, stones, and boulders. There was much pushing of the bicycle up and over the stop banks, and bouncing along potholed trails through the pine plantations. This is trail bike territory, so there were no cosmetic cycling surfaces.
- 'Natural gardeners use their natural resources.'
- -Moosey Words of Wisdom.
After our return, I spread six wheelbarrowfuls of rotted manure and sawdust on the Shrubbery. And in here I had yet another brilliant idea, involving yet another little path which will lead to - Ha! Wait for it - a totally rustic stump-seat, the shape sawn into a monster pine tree stump. Natural gardeners love to use their natural resources.
I'll only need to shift a couple of newly planted fat-leaved Cordylines, which are sadly right in the middle of the latest path route. But they won't mind - New Zealand plants are pretty easy going. Now I need to grab NGP. Not only does he have to answer my Shrubbery irrigation question (namely, can I have more?) but he needs to transform a stump into a seat. Brilliant!