A mid-winter winner - the first proper Camellia, the original baby pink shrub at the side of the house, is just starting to flower. I use the word 'proper' because Weeping Maiden was trying to flower weeks ago. I reckon she was just confused by the mildness of autumn.
So I pick two of these precious pink blooms for the house, and Tiger the tortoiseshell decides that the water in the vase is much, much tastier than her cat bowl. The flowers get in the way of her lapping, so she flings them out with her paw. Each time I check they are on the floor.
Tuesday 5th July
I am continuing my clean-up of the water race. A very fine clean-up it is, and long overdue. I've had a busy social morning, followed by three solid hours in the water - and of course I've been wearing my froggy suit. I've now reached the hardest bit, down near the glass-house, where the ferns are really overpowering everything. It's also the major Phormium tenax area, where the huge species flaxes grow, produce huge leaf fans, and flop all over the water.
Looking Down the Water Race
I've made my decision as to what stays and what goes. And I've chosen the spot for those irises. So tomorrow could be a particularly tedious gardening day. Axing one large fern clump out feels pretty much the same as axing another. I estimate there are eight such which need to be removed. And barrowing out twenty loads of mess, to dump underneath the hedge, will be equally boring.
Wednesday 6th July
OK. I can finish this. Correction. I can try and finish this. We are back from the (frosty) dog park, I've been to coffee with my friends, and the sun is now at its highest. We have had 'lunch for dogs' and my frog suit awaits, along with my gardening shorts.
Three Hours Later...
Amazing. Thanks to my new serrated kitchen steak knife, and the spade, no to mention THE SUIT, I've moved on down the race. I am now level with the middle of the glasshouse, and there is such a visual improvement. I am so pleased. I am not removing all the ferns, though - this would be silly. And I am not silly!
Thursday 7th July
So here's the plan. We go to the dog park. I go out to a short musical meeting. Then I put on my gardening shorts (remember I'm tough) and clean up the rubbish that I've been heaving out of the water. Hopefully I will uncover the axe (which is semi-lost). Then I put my froggy suit on and work for another three hours. Hopefully I can reach Rooster Bridge. Wouldn't that be groovy?
Greenery by Rooster Bridge
Oh boy. Gardeners shouldn't get the blues on a Thursday. It's just that I've had THE most difficult water session yet, doing battle with a gnarly old fern clump (which had no intention of going peacefully). I rammed it with the spade, I jumped on it to weaken the roots, I swung the axe... Three times I sloshed away in a bit of a sulk to do something easier. But finally, as I always knew I would, I got the darned thing out (in a million pieces). Then the arthritic toes started complaining, so that was that.
I should have stayed outside longer to clean up, even lit the bonfire, but hey! I've got clean hair, the log-burner is warming me up, and the dogs are fed and snoozing on their couch. I'm allowed to have a slow end to the week. By the way, I have reached Rooster Bridge, but there are still a couple of large ferns on the Hen House Garden side of the water to be removed. These, however, can be dug out from dry land. And I still love my froggy suit. I couldn't do any of this water clean-up without it.
Nancy Steen Rosebud
No more frog suit selfies...
Selfies of the froggy suit have been a little over-used in the latest journal pages, hee hee. But here's another mid-winter treat - the rose Nancy Steen, building new buds, determined to keep on flowering.
Friday 8th July
Can I do this? It's mid-winter bleak, about ten degrees Celsius, and drizzly. Can I clean up the mess I've created this last week, and dig out the remaining ferns? I won't need my froggy suit, just a covering of merino, and the log burner gurgling merrily in the house.
Just think how good I will feel when it's finished. Basking in the warm glow of gardening success, I can catch up with my TV couch-cycling in France. OK. I'll take the dogs to the dog park first. They don't even notice mid-winter bleak. Then we'll see.
Yes! I've worked for four hours. A lot of the mess has been moved underneath the hedge. The pesky ferns are out, and I've even levelled the old dog-path (a waterside path near the Oak trees) - it may be able to be recommissioned. I've also burnt a lot of dry stuff on the bonfire.
My week has been a mid-winter success. The gardens by the water will look so good next summer without all the fern bullies taking up space and light. For example, the rugosa roses (I love rugosas) in the Hen House Garden will be visible. Ooh goodie. Love the roses. Right. The Pyrenees, here I come. Cycling blokes - wait for meeeeeeeee!