A damp and soggy garden...

 Just starting to bloom.
Pink Winter Camellias

The days are getting longer! Well, maybe by a few seconds a time, in this the first week after the winter solstice. But oh my, the garden is so damp and soggy to work in. That's why sensible winter gardeners wear gumboots - naturally, I don't.

Thursday 23rd June

Yesterday I went hiking, up to Scott's Saddle in the foothills, to enjoy the calmest of sunny mid-winter days amidst the most beautiful New Zealand bush. We passed huge patches of umbrella ferns on the track. Our trip leader calls them 'Parasolium brollius' (think about it). I'd very much like to believe him! They are gorgeous. He also says, shyly, that they don't transplant well. Hmm... A hand digger in the rucksack?

Poor Rusty Dog

Now to today. My goodness it's dark! Non-Gardening Partner is away for a few days, and so I'm up really early with Rusty the dog. He misses NGP dreadfully, and has been wandering around the outside of the house intensely sniffing the air, trying to smell where his best friend is. By the way, this is not a comment on the state of NGP's personal hygiene...

It's a sombre day for my city. Allow me to pompously quote my twitter-self. 'Sad day today. Some Christchurch houses and gardens will be officially disestablished. Press conference at 1:30. Minutes wiping out years.'

Would I Leave My Garden?

The earthquake and subsequent aftershocks have totally destabilised huge tracts of ground (and the dwellings thereon). It's not my place, it's not Son of Moosey's place, but it so easily could have been. There are government payouts now being offered, but people need energy and imagination to start again in a completely new suburb, new street, new house and so on. How happily would I leave my garden if the earth had messed it up, I wonder?

 Overlooking the house gardens.
Take a Seat - Two Adirondacks

Right. I'm back from swimming and I need to clear up something before I go gardening. Oops. Rusty the dog isn't sniffing the air for dear NGP at all. He's smelling the bird feeder I've hung off the patio pergola, which is, I might add, completely covered in tiny birds - wax eyes, sparrows and the like. Dear things - they do need this winter fuel to keep their little bodies going.

 Blooming on the shortest day!
Othello Rose


Oh dear. I lasted only one gardening hour, during which I pulled out iris confusa from the semi-circular border at the end of the Stumpy (AKA Willow Tree) Garden, leaving just three round clumps. It's a great look, and creates garden room for new roses - why didn't I think of this before? Yet again I've let my garden go off willy-nilly in its own direction, like a distracted parent. Oh, by the way, I've found three new Othello rose flowers by the patio. And still dozens of little birds are dancing and swinging on my bird feeder.

It's raining, so I've retreated inside to wash my hair. I have a huge decision to make - my plait (in honour of Bob Flowerdew, English gardener and writer) keeps getting far too knotty. I am almost at the stage of cutting it off. Hmm... I could also promise faithfully to brush it properly and replait it every day...

Friday 24th June

Well, well, well. It's the fifth day of my Great Wait for the Painters. They do exist - a painter rang me up late yesterday, and he is arriving (in theory) first thing this morning. So, possibly unwisely, I have zoomed through the rooms putting last minute things away out of sight. According to the laws of fate I should probably be in my dressing gown pee-ing in the garden...

 He is watching a tennis ball...
Alert Dog Rusty

And I have a confession to make. Yesterday I was lazy, and I wore my latest favourite non-gardening shoes in the garden. This became very obvious last night at choir. Oops. What a disgrace. Today's plan is to wear my designated gardening shoes (an old pair of Merrils) and finish the Stumpy Garden. Hmm...

 By the water race behind the stables.
Winter Garden

Much, Much Later...

Yes! I've been gardening for over four hours while one painter has been doing serious things in the house. Tiger the cat has been supervising, while I notice Rusty the dog's muddy paw prints all over the floor drop sheets.

In the garden I have been so busy. More iris confusa has been ripped out from a number of garden borders over the water race - it just spreads and spreads. So now more of the Koru courtyard's edge garden is available for planting, and the beautiful red and green Cordyline has no visual competition.

I've tipped loads of compost over the freshly cleared bits, and shifted a rhododendron called Irene Bain into a space in the Stumpy Garden. I finished my day with the bonfire, and the painter (there's only one) promises to come back on Monday. Yippee!

Saturday 25th June

Another great gardening day - I am enjoying wonderful winter day-weather. Zero degrees Celsius overnight is no problem, snug in Pond Cottage with the Famous Five (I'm up to book twelve). I've done further work around the Koru courtyard, directing Non-Gardening Partner with his long handled saw (more air space for the Cercis Forest Pansy). The Golden Celebration roses are planted, and I've wheeled in even more compost.

 Oh wondrous day!
Tiger Cat is Outside

No Rest!

Without stopping even for a quick rest I moved on down to the Hen House Gardens. I limbed up one of the variegated Lemonwoods and trimmed another to waist-height. Old woody Hebes got the mid-calf chop - if they resprout, then good. My last task was to plant an arc of Renga Renga (rock lilies) around the curve of the Dog-Path Garden.

Cat Company

At one stage I had the four main house cats for company - even Tiger had waddled over the bridge on her short furry legs. We had minimal equilibrium - first ginger Percy decided that Rusty's dog-barking was scary, and then big Fluff-Fluff decided to escort (that is, chase) Tiger back to the house. A race between the two fatties...

But dear Histeria, my happy, bouncy tabby, stayed with me. She pranced around my legs and ran back and forth along the Hen House Garden paths. My cats have always used the garden paths - I take that as a compliment, implying that there's physical sense in the path routes, hee hee.