Moosey the Winter Gardening Legend...

 Jerome isn't sure what sort of feeling this is...
Cat in the Snow

I try very hard to be Moosey the Winter Gardening Legend, struggling with morning frosts and frozen ground - just exactly where I want to be digging!

Friday 11th July

Great news - all the important snow has melted. Not so great news - it is raining. Blast this winter holiday! Now my head is crammed full of amazingly good gardening intentions, and a host of things-to-do that in my mind are already done - neat rows of LABELED perennial divisions in the glass-house, newly sculptured borders, ridiculously straggly hebes chopped back (if they regrow so be it).

Today a friend from Maine described her year as '4 months gardening, 8 months dreaming'. What a big softie I am, cowering inside just because there's a bit of rain, grumbling because there's been snow on the ground for SIX whole days!!!

Well it's now nearly 4pm and I'm still cowering inside, and that rain outside is rather cold. It's mind-gardening only today - I have a ridiculously expensive British gardening magazine to read (very slowly, since I must get my money's worth), and lots of wood to burn. I have seed packets too, but am thinking that tomorrow might be a good time to start them off. And the laundry might be a good place.

 What a funny look!
Water Race and Snow

Saturday 12th July

Celebrate the return of the gardening legend! Today (no rain, no snow, mind you) I worked in the garden continuously for FIVE HOURS, without even stopping for coffee or lunch. I finished planting the daffodils, divided up more perennials (penstemons and asters), sowed seeds AND labeled every pottle. I pruned some roses near the glass-house. I dug out a tussock, weeded and rerouted the path behind the glass-house round an over-expanding flax. What a great day! I cleaned up after everything too.

I also thought and thought about two things. One - getting better after being sick. Two - retirement at the end of the year. I'm certain that these two things are interlinked, and that my job is too randomly stressful for my continuing positive good health. Maybe this is cheating and finding excuses, but I don't care.

I also thought about all the more menial gardening tasks I could do if I didn't work. The maintenance on the garden would be rather more enjoyable if it were less scrambled and rushed. There are things I've always wanted to do, like make hypertufa pots, and make my own wine. Then I have ideas for a rather large new pond. Even simple things like restocking annuals and replanting perennials are usually squashed into far too little time.

 The pondside gunnera even looks dramatic in mid-winter.
frozen pond

I know I am happiest when I'm outside in the garden. I am next happiest late afternoon, apres gardening, when I've had a busy garden day. It's pretty simple really. Hmm...

Sunday 13th July

With my new found gardening faith I am up early, ready for anything. Except that there is the heaviest frost we've had all winter outside, and Stephen is muttering about the merits of double glazing (there are strips of frost on the inside window frames). He thinks that it is about 10 degrees. Hmm...

 Poor thing!
Frosty Tussock

Warming Up?

What shall I do first today? I wish the sun would keep to its job description and warm up the land. I've finished reading my terribly expensive gardening magazine (I made it last four days). I've had a hot cup of coffee. I am totally ready to launch myself as an obsessive energetic gardener.

Humph, it's 11 o'clock...

I've just come back inside after taking photos of the frost. There's very little else I can do - everything is frozen solid, it's just a little too cold - I need to be patient. It might be a good time to visit some northern hemisphere gardens and drool over warm summer borders. How ridiculous to get up keen and early on such a frosty day. I have a horrible feeling that some of my normal winter pot survivors have died.

Right, I've just spent an hour visiting sunnier warmer gardens on the internet. It's time to get out into my own. It must be warmer out there by now! Back soon (actually, hopefully not too soon).

Wattle Flowering :
The big Wattle trees are starting to flower. I love seeing the colour yellow in the middle of winter

Finally, I can report in with pride. I did stay outside, choosing to work in the Wattle Woods where the ground was unfrozen. I cleared and raked and weeded. Then I burnt the rose prunings and assorted gum tree rubbish. The winter sun shone brightly and with great optimism. I forget how difficult frosty mornings are. Tomorrow I will be better prepared.

Monday 14th July

It's 10.30, time I investigated outside. I'm not going to plan to do anything today - I'll just take a wander (with wheelbarrow, secateurs and digger) and see where the mood takes me. No frost last night, though parts of the garden will still be frozen. It's a good excuse not to weed, mind you. Hopefully when I return I will be triumphant.

 This is a Senecio, with yellow flowers in summer.
frosted leaves


It was touch and go for a while! I came inside about 1 o'clock feeling tired, sat down and promptly fell asleep on my chair. I woke up and was about to sneak upstairs to snooze properly when the sun came out. Feeling suitably guilty I trudged back outside to chop and clear some more, then had a huge fire (I'm pruning gradually this winter, burning as I go). Now I feel really virtuous. I've courageously dug out shrubs which have been annoying me, and an evergreen tree which had grown fat in the car-park garden and was taking up a lot of airspace. There's an early deep pink Camellia in there which I'd rather was rewarded by light and space.

 Looks very cold...
Willow Tree Garden Frost

I'm not very good with shrubs. I seem to be so desperately grateful that they want to grow for me at all that I totally ignore their outgrowing, if you know what I mean. Then I end up with all these oversized teenagers hanging out in my garden - taking up far too much space, and just looking scruffy. If I was a retired gardener than I would have time for ongoing garden maintenance, for example keeping my shrubs neatly pruned as befits their place. Hee hee...

Wednesday 16th July

Yesterday I had another successful day in the winter garden. It started with a visit to the Hen House with rake in hand. I cleared the small shrub garden in here (all the natives are doing well alongside their serious Wattle and Gum neighbours). This is a peaceful, tranquil place - with borrowed views across the next-door farm paddocks. The water race burbles through the Moosey plantings then broadens out next door. There are also batches of ducks to watch (unfortunately Taj-dog escorts them off the Moosey property).

Bergenia Flower :
My favourite Bergenias have a deep pink flower - they're a hybrid from Bressinghams Nursery.

After raking up loads of rubbish I divided up some Bergenias nearby, poking the off-cuts back into the ground. Then I poked around in the Rugosa border, pruning and clipping. A delightfully serene fire burnt the evidence.

I will continue clearing by the Hen House. I have never totally finished work in this area. It's magical, though, and deserves some permanent seating. It's quite a secret place, impossible to hear the phone or be found by visitors. The morning is once more frost free - this makes a huge difference to what can be achieved.

 This photo was taken just weeks after planting the Hazelnut orchard.
the hazel trees

The Hazelnut trees need to be rabbit proofed today as well. Already there are small signs of nibbling. We have some protective sleeves to try out, also some paste to protect the bark. I tend to forget the rabbit problem - the rabbits on our property rarely come into the developed gardens. The Hazelnut trees lie in a paddock much further away from the house and the cats hardly ever visit it. It's a warning for my proposed plantings of fruit trees and my rose avenue. Usually my only rule is - don't plant if you can't mulch. I'm off to investigate.


Stephen bought some wood to mend the fences around the house gardens. So I did a lot of clipping and pruning in the Jelly Bean Border, as well as holding the end of a tape measure. It's a shambles in there - it's high time that some of the filler Pittosporums and Viburnums were cut down. The nice thing about Pittosporums is that they will sprout from being leveled to the ground, and do provide beautiful foliage when treated like this.

I carted out four barrowfuls of prunings from the Hypericum and Choisya shrubs, as well as the fence-line roses (one of which, Dublin Bay, has started getting rust midsummer). There were some strange mini trees which must have been suckers from the main elms - well anyway I've chopped them out. Then I burnt all the rubbish in a very satisfying late fire, happily raking it as night fell.

As I write this diary it's raining quite hard outside, so tomorrow's gardening may be back in the glass-house. I enjoyed being ruthless in that Jelly Bean Border today though. Moosey the Merciless is back in control.