Moosey Journal Pages
Reading back over my journal the other day, I was nodding and clucking as I relived all those lost but rather repetitive gardening days. There were a few meaningful moments (the day I found my lost edge trimmers, the time I though I'd successfully weeded out the nasty creeping grass), but most of the journal was rather repetitive. Jolly repetitive, actually!
The living scoreboard of repeated cricket defeats accompanied by national cricketing despair certainly was. My writing was full of gardening lists, but on closer inspection they all seemed to be the same.
It's to be expected in a gardening hjournal. All gardeners live with the natural repetition of the seasons, half knowing what to expect, and half wondering what will change. We remember the last summer drought, wise after the event, and the problems with the wind last spring. Each winter we wait for the first frost, each spring we look for the first spring bulbs to flower.
And so my journal is full of repeated seasonal promises. I always make my autumn promise to stake the dahlias, just when they've turned into a total 'flop'. So sorry about that!
Each mid summer I promise to keep the pots tidier, as they get scruffy, weedy, and covered in gum tree leaves. In spring I promise not to stomp all over emerging daffodils. When I'm clearing in winter I promise to be more organised.
Edges, Weeding, Digging...
The gardening tasks I talk about in the journal are by nature repetitive, too. But three stand out. I'm always talking about edges, weeding, and digging. A reader who skims the surface would wonder why I bother to talk at great length about such boring activities, and so often, too. Perhaps these three great gardening activities need further explanation.
Head Gardener Weeding
Weeding is a gardening activity which is pretty basic. Everyone knows what their local weeds are, and that cute phrase 'a weed is merely a plant in the wrong place' has little credibility with real gardeners.
Some plants that others consider weeds are nurtured - like my favourite variegated shrubby mallows which I insist on growing from seed. Other, less welcome weeds are either tolerated, controlled, or (very occasionally) exterminated. Two classic weeds here in my garden are gorse and broom, resulting respectively from a 120 year old gorse hedge and some equally ancient nursery plantings of wild broom. These plants were brought to New Zealand by the first settlers, back in the day. Thanks a bunch! Now gorse blankets many of the local hillsides, out of control.
I have two main methods of weed control - fingers, and covering with mulch. If I can't winkle that weed out between index finger and thumb, then I fall back on suffocation. I don't hoe, either - I like to get down and dirty. I am a quasi-organic gardener - for me, chemical spraying is rarely an option (if the situation is desperate I delegate). I hate the laziness implied in spraying to get rid of mere weeds.
Weeding goes hand in hand with digging in my garden developments. I am proud to announce that all the borders here have been hand dug and cleared of weeds by hand. I've read about spraying (twice!) the shape of a new border, then covering the area with newspaper and pea-straw and digging little planting holes. Instant gardening - not for me.
Digging For Days
My digs have stretched out over many days, with much dirt getting on my clothes and under my fingernails. My borders have minds and shapes of their own, often changing direction to gobble up a tree.
My favourite digging tool is a spade. If the ground is too hard I leap on it with both feet at the same time - rather energetic for a mature gardener. I rather like the smaller so-called 'Ladies' Spade' which a friend has kindly donated to me.
Sharp Edging Shears
There are a lot of sweeping lawns here in my garden. This brings up the topic of the 'edges'. I'm always having to do the 'edges', or I'm proudly boasting that I've done the 'edges' and that they look great. All gardeners know instinctively why 'edges' have to be 'done'. It's purely cosmetic!
The Edge of Obsession
But to the non-gardener this edgy obsession must be a real puzzle. I use stones to define my borders. So curves of smooth river stones curve and loop around all the lawns. The lawn mower man has clear instructions to cut as close to the stones as possible.
The trouble is that the edging plants now camouflage the stones too well, and the lawn mower man, rightly not wanting to mow any stones, leaves a strip of grass unmown. This results in failure - the edges are 'not done'.
Enough of this endless repetition. It's time I got out there in the real garden. I could do some weeding, or digging, or do the edges...