Conversations with my Cat...
Cats are such good company in the garden. Not only are they subtle conversationalists, but also great listeners, and they're really, really helpful when there are interesting decisions to make. My cats give me confidence as a gardener.
Saturday 16th February
Today I gardened all day with Little Mac my smallest and Fluff-Fluff my biggest cat in attendance. It was a hot day, so they both flopped in the garden, sensibly staying by the wheelbarrow when I wandered off on random little trips - to find the shovel, put on the hoses, get a cup of coffee, and so on.
Then - the most brilliant idea. The interior of the Stumpy (AKA Willow Tree) Garden is an uncontrolled space where lupins self-seed and a cherry red penstemon spreads out, layering itself, fluffy with greenery. It does everything but provide any flowers.
Summer is shady here, and the few roses I've planted are unspectacular. What to do? The soil is pretty good, the irrigation reaches everything...
Me and My Cat
I called to my cats. Little Mac (a bit of an air-head) wasn't all that interested - she's a young cat, easily distracted by bumble bees, flies, and assorted country noises. Big Fluff-Fluff takes his role as senior gardening cat very seriously. He is a deep thinker, always ready to concentrate and contribute.
Conversation with my Cat...
Fluff-Fluff? Are you busy? Come and sit on the blue chairs with me. I've had an idea...
My big cat duly plods over and sits on the arm of the chair, purring.
Fluff-Fluff, it's mid-summer, right? It's not when you're supposed to shift things around the garden, right?
Fluff-Fluff slithers onto my lap, rolls onto his back, and gives me 'that' look. I'd like to interpret it as incredulous.
But see this garden interior here. It's the perfect place for some shrubs. And, as you know, there are some sad rhododendrons barely surviving in the beginning of the Driveway Garden. Do you think I could dig them out and shift them? In mid-summer?
Fluff-Fluff stretches out a large, languid paw and brushes my cheek. At his gentle touch my gardening confidence soars. Then he dribbles and bites my finger - his way of advising caution. OK, then. We will hurry slowly, as they say. Let's go and have a look. If we really, really, really think those rhododendrons are happy where they are, then we'll simply walk away.
There's always the nursery, whispers a wee non-feline voice inside my head, easy to ignore when the wallet is non-functional. Fluff-Fluff suggests we should leave the wheelbarrow and shovel where they are, to stop any impetuous digging. Wise cat. So we wandered slowly down the fence-line and inspected the potential 'shiftees'. Poor things! Barely surviving, they'd never flowered or increased in size. They weren't going anywhere. Correction! They were going somewhere, on a mid-summer garden cruise.
We had no trouble digging two of the saddest rhododendrons up (the root balls were small and dry). An hour later and they were planted properly and well-watered (possibly for the first time in their struggling lives). Fluff-Fluff and I lay back on the blue chairs to relax. A job well done, no mucking about, using our combined common sense, proof that two heads are better than one...
Bee on a Geranium
Careful, Little Mac!
While Little Mac, completely oblivious to the garden drama, hid underneath a tussock grass, ready do battle with yet another bumble bee.
Then something else really exciting and confidence-building happened. Non-Gardening Partner mowed all the lawns, many of whose edges I'd already trimmed. And suddenly, out of nowhere, the whole of my garden looked neat, beautiful, nurtured, and mid-summer magnificent. I know it's visual trickery, but the results are so enjoyable! So huge thanks to NGP and the cats for a great gardening day. I couldn't have done it without you!
Sunday 17th February
OK. What gardening will I do today? Yesterday was sublime (I love it when I get new ideas). I know! Today I'll tidy the Birthday Rose Garden, where my self-seeding flower policy has back-fired on me. There are far too many weeds in the interior, while the cornflowers and pansies seem to have disappeared. So I'll weed fiercely, and then chop up some flowering annuals as mulch. Maybe they'll re-seed for me. My new white peony can be planted in here, and some spring bulbs, too.
Danae - Hybrid Musk Rose
Sitting in the cottage armchair I have already visualised the results. My gardening jeans are covered in dirt and the Birthday Rose Garden looks simply stunning! Hmm...
Little Mac, my junior gardening cat - hopeless! I struck several 'gardening brick walls' today, and needed a cat to bounce my ideas off. And what were you doing? Stalking a sweet little black beetle, and not taking any notice of me. And where were you, Fluff-Fluff? Hidden in the greenery, from which you emerged sheepishly (?) at the very end of the gardening day. Was yesterday's rhododendron decision just too much responsibility for one cat to take on?
Old Lychnis in the Wheelbarrow
Anyway, no thanks to my cats I decided to remove all the yellow Euphorbia seedlings. But then, a bigger question. I don't totally like ground-covers. So should I remove all the purple-leafed Ajuga, which is spreading everywhere, but still allows charming green weeds to pop through it - should I? Shouldn't I? Why would I? And where would all the resulting plants be recycled to? I tried asking Non-Gardening Partner, but he proved to be just as hopeless as you, Little Mac. Mind you, at least NGP stares for ages at the Sunday newspaper, rather than a beetle.
+10+10And what about the roses in here? Several need shifting out from underneath the ornamental grasses. Others are rather spindly. They all need a jolly good dose of fertiliser, compost, and the like. That's what I reckon. What do you think, cats? Miaow? What do you mean, 'miaow'?