The idyllic images of summer...
Summer, sun, hoses watering, birds gently twittering, wind gently rocking the gum trees, bees buzzing, roses everywhere... these are the idyllic images of summer at Mooseys. Seats in the shade, books to read, gardening shorts on pale legs with grubby knees...
a brand new path
Sunday 1st December
Not quite yet wearing gardening shorts, but rather three-quarter gardening pants, I am about to head out to attempt to find my favourite spade. Its whereabouts are a complete mystery to me, and I need it to slice and clear the dog-paths before my GARDEN VISITORS (eek!) arrive this Thursday.
Seats and Paths
Seats and paths are the priority, for then the visitors will be able to wander around happily without crashing through undergrowth or mistaking paths for weedy parts of the garden. Seats will subtly suggest that they stop and sit. I am off with wheelbarrow and rake now - in fact I should do a total walking with rake circuit, clearing as I go, and trying to see the paths from my visitors' eyes.
Should I try to put some bits of sculpture in places so that the VISITORS know that there is actually a path in there? Hee hee. Back soon. I suspect that from a walking and sitting person's point of view my garden is rather boring.
Later, apres gardening in white...
Things (i.e. edges) are getting well prepared for the VISITORS. I have raked the paths, some of which had virtually disappeared - this always happens by midsummer as swathes of e.g. pansies and californian poppies are allowed to spread out and spill into the middle. My guests may not be as confident as I am that there is a right-of-way, so I have tried to compromise. The roses are absolutely wonderful - and only one or two are showing signs of rust as yet. Must get out the nasty stuff and re-spray. All the pots are looking good - well watered and fed, and showing off their inhabitant's foliage etc. Even the canna lilies in the large pot under the gum tree are steadily growing.
Saturday 7th December
Yesterday I spent ages in the garden digging and subsequently sitting on the dirt to weed, listening to the sound of the water running by. The mower was busy again cutting the grass (rain midweek plus hot sun on Friday and it seems the grass has grown 3 or 4 inches since last being cut a week ago!)
My GARDEN VISITORS came and admired the roses (which were putting on a great show). They walked the Plank and looked into the sides of borders. Few were confident enough to venture off on any of the paths though. The various lavenders which have been plonked in to fill spaces are all beautifully flowering, and were commented on, as were the lupins (almost over). No-one mentioned those spiky foxgloves, half finished flowering - literally - the tops in flower, the bottoms ready to set seed. They are absolutely everywhere, an extreme statement to self-seeders and semi-weeds, nosy intruding neighbours to the more subtle hosta patches and the neat little flaxes.
- Too Many Roses? :
- Every summer I ask myself this question - and the answer is always NO!
The Renga Renga which normally lines my woodland paths so well is still looking bare and tatty after the frosts etc. of late spring. It did get a comment though, as it is a much-prized New Zealand native plant. The roses, though, took the prize - all fat and flowery and flouncing around. Aphids - yes - if one should peer too closely, and one Dublin Bay has got the dreaded rust and must be sprayed before it infects others. But it was a lovely relaxed afternoon.
Interestingly, though, I am still much more motivated to get my garden looking good for ME than for visitors - this is a good thing, and confirms my feelings that I could never really have a physical open garden. Yesterday I really enjoyed the unfolding of the digging process (I am enlarging the gardens further along the water race), and sitting in the dirt wearing my very new khaki gardening shorts was fun.
Today's Gardening Plans
Today I plan to create some sort of seat underneath the Willow tree, then perhaps some serious major path clearing, since my paths were too well hidden to invite visitors. I have a bag of holiday books to start reading. I have TWO more days at work to go. I have lots of gentle digging and pruning and clearing plans. I enjoy being out there by myself listening to my cricket radio, occasionally talking to cats and having the odd visit from the dog.
This morning it is raining heavily, the perfect time for expanding garden theories and making vague plans. I will return later when the weather clears (as it is expected to do).
Wednesday 11th December - THE FIRST OFFICIAL DAY OF MY SUMMER HOLIDAY
Ha! I am on holiday. I am about to go outside to wander around dead-heading. Then I don't really know what I'll do! I will let my garden inspire me...
Thursday 12th December
Well, I did a lot of pottering and digging, but obviously not very much writing! I have got out of the habit of starting my diary early in the morning when I get up. Today I have been in and out all day - it has been very hot, and there has been CRICKET... the first home cricket test of the summer, eagerly awaited. I have started ripping out the spent foxgloves, and so far have carted two barrowfuls over to the weed dump on the side fence. I am digging by the Willow tree, and have planted and laid newspaper and mulch as a weed suppressant. I have dead-headed a lot of roses (which are still very beautiful) and am now about to go out again to pick some for the house. It's only just getting cooler - 5.30pm, and probably the nicest time of the day to garden. I think I am very tired from my working year.
Friday 13th December
I am much more disciplined today. It is still quite early, but I am here checking in before I go outside. I'm not sure what to do first. There was a little rain overnight, but the garden by the Hen House gets really terribly dry, so the first thing I could do is to put the hoses on it. I may clear the paths in that garden, too. Later today there are TWO cricket matches to follow. I think I am working my way into my summer holiday slowly - I can't remember if this is usual. I seem to still be unwinding - so far there have been no lists! I will get better at writing the garden day up, though.
A Gardening Legend!
Once more I am a gardening legend! I have been clearing and watering near the Hen House in the shade - the perfect spot. Things look good, I feel good, and now I am clean and refreshed ready for a late lunch break. Unfortunately the cricket has been delayed, so perhaps a gentle session reading would be nice. I wish I had cleared the paths for the garden visitors - it may explain why some of them were fairly quick wandering around. Paths with clear surfaces are pleasing to the eye - of course the plants on each side can still fall gently over, and it's fun swishing past flaxes and zooming past bee-laden lavenders. I must try to keep all my path surfaces tidier - this would make a great New Year's gardening resolution. And I mustn't neglect the Hen House Gardens again - they are really a lovely spot to be in midsummer, impossible to find easily, far too far away from the house to even suspect the phone is ringing.
Spot the Path
Saturday 14th December
Again I am a legend, as are all members of the New Zealand cricket team. As I weeded and cleared in the shade by the Hen House NZ fairly walloped India, winning the first test match in three days. The results of my raking and scraping in the gardens look really beautiful - but are particularly enhanced by the clear dirt paths. This is a secret I have only just discovered, and I am ashamed that it has taken me years and years to realise it. No wonder my gardens look scruffy - it's because I let the paths get weedy. I am now a reformed path clearer, and am determined to maintain my path surfaces.
I got a trailer load of compost, knowing that the Hen House Border is well overdue for some soil enrichment, and tomorrow I will finish shovelling it on. I am also doing some sustained watering with two of the hoses over here. I love gardening in this corner - it is really secluded, and I find I lose track of time. I have had another great day in the garden.
Sunday 15th December
I will keep this simple. There is as yet no wind. That means BURN and SPRAY (sadly, for the rust on some of the roses). There is no time for long gushing paragraphs about the beauty of paths or the ambience of well watered rose gardens. I will be back soon.
I am back. Today has been the most beautiful weather - sunny, very little wind, about 22 degrees. I've been busy in a modular sense - you know, a barrowful here, a barrowful there. I have burnt quite a bit of rubbish, and the roses have been sprayed with nasty stuff. How annoying. The other Dublin Bay rose is rusting too. This coming winter I will cut off all their canes and force them to make some new growth. Then maybe their health will return. I spent a restful hour sitting in a chair under the Willow tree reading. I am enjoying being on holiday - there is no place I'd rather be. Not even at the cricket.
Monday 16th December
One doesn't feel the reality of being on holiday until a day like today where the others in the house have to leave and drive into the city to go to work. I am left here with the WHOLE DAY stretching out in front of me. What shall I do first? Hmmm...it might be nice to continue digging by the Willow tree. or I could water and shovel more compost onto the Hen House Gardens. I could dead-head. I could read my book, or play the piano (my practice is going really well, but alas I don't seem to get any better...) I will get a cup of coffee and probably do that digging before it gets too hot. Rain is forecast for this afternoon!
Later in the Afternoon...
Absolutely no rain, and temperatures getting hotter and hotter. Glorious day again. I have been quite productive, in a small-scale sort of way. I am enjoying my gardening hours immensely - there is no mad compulsion to finish, or to rush, and no guilt if I take a break and sit under a tree with a book. There is very little cat company, however, and I still miss Sifter. At least he would appear in odd places in his super-friendly moods from time to time. Jerome follows me around when she's in the mood, but today she is fast asleep inside the house.
Plans for Tomorrow
Tomorrow I will try to finish digging the bank of the water race. I am getting closer and closer to the very end - the car bridge. It's hard work, though, with my not-so-sharp spade. I have now reached an old gnarly tree lucerne. Then I will have new space for plantings, and will be allowed to buy a few things (hee hee). For example, we visited the local rhododendron nursery this weekend just past and I saw some beautiful specimens there with huge leaves. This area is pretty well sheltered from the big winds - hmmm... until tomorrow.
Tuesday 17th December
I dug two barrowfuls, then took shelter as the drizzle came down. I have mooched inside, feeling strangely lazy, and a little aimless. While it was raining I paced out the distance left to complete my water race digging - only six large strides. I have had what I think is a good idea regarding the dog-path further towards Middle Bridge. This is impossible to keep weeded without resorting to chemicals. The alternative method is spade-slicing, which keeps lowering the path (which will soon be underwater). My plan is to get large flat river stones and just plonk them on the path - they will naturally sink in a little, but should form a decent path surface.
Friday 20th December
I've been working hard all week - honestly. I'm very close to finishing the water race edge, have struck the small problem of bumble bees. Stephen thinks they may be native bees - anyway they seem to 'live' in a small hole in the ground, and I don't want to ruin their lifestyle. All seem to be medium sized, but of course they fly around and can't be ignored. There is now just a metre and a half to go. I've been doing a barrowful at a time, because this is darned hard work for a gardener on holiday.
Yellow Hypericum Shrub
The other things I've done can really only be classified as garden maintenance. This is a sunny time of year when it's easy to be lulled into thinking there's nothing to do in the garden. Then I'll do a dreamy walk to the Pump House and see loads of knee high weeds and scruffy spent plants everywhere. It's quite odd how that happens. There must be rogue moments in time when undesirable things grow fat and large while everything else stays still.
The best (or worst?) thing so far about my summer gardening holiday is that I haven't written a single list. Another odd thing is the lack of diary burble - is it possible that I've finally said all I want to say? That this diary is winding down? Have I run out of gardening words? I am reading lots, and playing the piano each day - can I blame Brahms, Bach and Harry Potter? I will return later.