I'm going to get tough about my roses. By now I can see if they are measuring up to their label promises or not. Shape up or ship out - something like that. Merry Christmas!
wine red daylily in flower
Monday 24th December
I love this pre-Christmas holiday feeling. No-one rings me, no-one seems to want anything from me, there is no worry of work. This morning I have been seriously thinking about digging. I'd like to start a new development over the water race, and can't decide whether to completely dig up the grass area and have a mixed planting, or to wait and choose trees in Autumn and plant them in the grass. At the moment it is a wilderness of long weedy grasses, too rough to mow. The end of the Dog-Path Garden doesn't please me either, filled as it is with reject roses and free daylilies which have all ended up being the species orange ones.
It is important to record vague plans, even if they come to nothing. So much of a garden can happen by accident, or by default. Often ideas build from something that is already in place - an old tree, a fence, etc. It's heart warming (and often embarrassing) to read of past ideas for expansion. I must make sure that I write more of these ideas down. One of my greatest annoyances is that I didn't take enough initial photos of things like the bare Pond Paddock or the bare driveway when we first came to live here. I can look at trees and shrubs planted seven years ago in these initial garden projects and hardly remember how it was before they were plonked in place, often thoughtlessly. Writing vague plans down also may create the illusion and self-deception that a PROPER GARDEN PLAN actually exists (which it doesn't, hee hee).
Well, I am back. I sat with Jerome on the park bench and thought and thought. I am still in the preliminary vague planning stage. Interesting, too, that I can see the expanse of lawn which might possibly get bordered from the upstairs bathroom, and it looks rather beautiful. Hmm... Anyway, I decided (profoundly) that it is easier to not dig up grass than to dig it up and then have to sow it again. So I spent two hours weeding and edging the garden at the back of the house, to keep me out of trouble.
Tuesday 25th December - Christmas Day
Merry Christmas. So far today I have done no gardening, but I'm about to wander around and seek inspirational advice from Stephen.
Wednesday 26th December
Still no gardening being done! Unless I count the ripping out of two sickly roses and the time spent sitting in the early morning sunshine thinking about new designs. One rose which really pleases me is the Kordes brilliant Pink Iceberg rose. I think I want more of this one, and may try to strike cuttings this Autumn. It's a strange pink painted look, but beautiful. Other roses are about to get the chop. It's time to keep the healthy ones and remove the uglies.
- New Dawn Rose :
- New Dawn is one of the roses I brought from my very first garden.
I am also thinking very seriously about scrapping the huge New Dawns which cover the patio pergola, and start again with perhaps a wisteria. New Dawn is busy displaying its unhealthy leaves, and I am unimpressed.
Another rose which is desperately scruffy in form (but has the most fragrant flowers imaginable) is Reine Des Violettes. She is going to be removed to a more discrete setting where scruff doesn't matter and where she can be smelt. My tough new rose policy is well overdue.
Thursday 27th December
Rain overnight, and the early morning is still and fresh. I am about to go on a rose evaluation wander. Selection criteria are formalised below. In order for a rose to have earned the right to stay at Moosey's all of the following must be true :
- The rose leaves are healthy.
- The rose flowers are healthy.
- The form of the rose is pleasing.
- I like the rose.
This probably means that several of the smaller and miniature roses will be removed from borders and placed in pots. There is no place in the real garden here for these silly little specimens.
Oops... driven inside by rain. Pulled out a white rose whose flowers ball badly, and a pink hybrid tea which has gracelessly only ever grown one or two stalks. Also started a wee bit of digging near the Plank, and have started to think about bringing the dog-path formally to a close and winding it up and under the Cercis tree. Have nearly finished snacking on the peas in the vege garden. Yum.
Friday 28th December
My Most Valuable Cat Competition is almost as hopeless as the cricket. Very few cats are doing anything to get points, and the dog is too deaf and old to be bothered. The cricket is hopeless because it has been raining. Today I have decided that I must achieve. I am off to continue digging, removing the silly wiggle of grass by the Cercis tree where the park bench was dumped a year ago, before the sun gets too hot.
Toe Toe and pink floral carpet rose
Saturday 29th December
I worked hard yesterday - honestly! I've dug a wee Island Bed following the contour of the wiggle. The curved grass path still exists, for now. The plan is to continue the Iris confusa planting into the island and then see if I like it. If not, more digging. The park bench remains for now, but its position is ridiculous - dumped there off the trailer, no thought given, and now incorporated into its own planting scheme. How silly is that? Garden design by default - hmm...
Today will be another lovely day. Late yesterday afternoon we had thunderstorms. Taj-dog barked back at every thunder rumble, but Mugsy got very frightened and started howling. She usually has no cat voice at all (she just squeaks) so this was a worry. I do love being on holiday in my garden. I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be. Cricket, cats and Taj-dog, gardening, writing about the garden, reading about other gardens... with the odd distraction (like family) thrown in ... what more?
Throw in some more thunder and lightning, and a very lazy gardener. Hopeless! The cricket finished early, and I'm inside feeling guilty because I've done absolutely nothing. How can I go apres gardening?
Sunday 30th December
I'm still feeling lazy. It wouldn't be strictly correct to call it bored, but it's possible that I need something to get my teeth into. This dribbly pottering for an hour each day is dissatisfying. Mind you, the weather hasn't allowed much else - dead-heading in thunderstorms is not very relaxing, and again the rain has started up. Perhaps a change of scenery would be best, and we could visit another garden somewhere. I will go and check with Stephen.
Monday 31st December
This is the last gardening day of the year 2001. In typical new year's eve tradition I will attempt to review the past year's high points and low points.
Gardening Highlights of 2001
- The fabulous growth of the trees planted over the water race.
- My new irises with their deliciously dark, smokey colours.
- Resisting doing the border edges with chemicals (which so many other big gardens do).
Gardening Lows of 2001
- Again, the disease riddled leaves of the rose New Dawn covering the house patio pergola.
- Bowles Golden Grass, which has just been a weedy mess with all the rain.
- Too many indiscriminately planted roses.
- The big frosts mid-winter which knocked my confidence as an all-seasons gardener.
Golly, these items are not very inspiring! Today looks like a settled sunny day, so I'll zoom outside now while it's early and finish doing the edges I started last night.
I'm finding that there is serious overcrowding this summer. Plants that I love, like the Scrophularia, have spread and smothered their neighbours. Flaxes are showing their muscles and several tussocks are badly squashed together. Needless to say, quite a few paths are blocked and tree branches in the Wattle Woods Garden are hanging very low over the gardens there, blocking much of the sun and affecting the plantings beneath. For every burnable barrowful (rose clippings, etc.) there is a barrowful of excess plant material. Guess I'll get it right some time! I'd hate to go all minimalist, though.
I have done quite a bit of fearless clearing near the glass-house. I've pulled out some scrawny roses and also quite a few old aquilegias and other perennials which have lost their vigour (goodbye Bowles Golden Grass, goodbye geranium Mourning Widow, goodbye lilac phloxes). I will mulch the new gaps in the border before I am tempted to squash anything new in there. Small hybrid flaxes only are allowed.
Now I am in, apres-gardening in blue, and my latest Fine Gardening magazine has arrived in the post. What a lovely last day of 2001.