The spring garden gets more lovely each day - I love this time of year! The daffodils are now in full bloom, and the blue grape hyacinths are starting to flower - these blues and yellows are echoed in my pansy flowers. Simply beautiful!
Thursday 14th September
I've had two days off from the garden and it feels like two weeks! So this morning I went out very sheepishly, looking for any obvious differences - blossom which had disappeared overnight (as it tends to do), new rhododendrons in flower, those sorts of things. But the garden casserole seems to be simmering nicely. I've spent the morning spreading bags and bags of newspaper in the Welcome Garden - nearly half of the area is now thus covered, mulch on top. Weeds, begone! Remember you need light to grow, and get used to it - however much you push and sprout, you are doomed to darkness.
Lamb and Chook Report
The chooks are settling in - what a beautiful rooster! Actually his crow is quite tonal. And the two of the hens, Harriet and Hilda, are - Plymouth Rocks? They're big, bustling, pure bred striped birds, with poultry-champion grannies - definitely the top-hens of the group. One slight problem - Rusty the dieting dog is rather partial to their layer pellets...
Haru Lamb has spent the last four nights 'outside' (which means her pen has been pulled out onto the grass). She is the prettiest lamb! And who says sheep aren't brainy? Haru runs along the driveway back to her pen and goes straight in, when she thinks it's time for a feed.
Gardener with Pet Lamb
Now I know it is not necessary (in a gardening journal) to describe what one actually does on days off, but I feel like crowing - in harmony with my beautiful new Moosey rooster, as yet unnamed. And no, lovely webmaster son, I do not want to run an on-line competition which awards his naming rights. I am fully capable of naming my own boy-bird. The hens have come pre-named - Harriet and Hilda are the big stripy ones, and the small black hens are called Daisy, Amelia, Donna, and Annie. But I digress...
A Cycling Day
On Tuesday my friend and I bicycled on a rail trail in the countryside, a total journey of 44 km, over causeways, past lakes with clouds of lake flies, paced by gently flapping white and blue herons - just magical. Then yesterday my walking group went scrambling and plodding on the Port Hills, down a slippery bush-track and along the hillside. A journey of contrasts - the lush native bush growing in the gully, followed by colonies of gorse on the grass-land. Pretty yellow flowers? Hmm... Gorse is the worst weed in the world, for the New Zealand world, that is!
Me on the Local Rail Trail
But back to my garden. Refreshed with lunch and coffee, I now plan to finish the Dog-Path Garden and therein plant my two new roses, Anniversary and Rhapsody in Blue. Then I need to do some web-corrections - a gardening friend tells me that gladioli have corms, not bulbs, and I know she's right! Oops. Then I will feed the hens their afternoon greens, collect the eggs, feed the lamb, take the dog for a sunny afternoon walk, and pick some fresh daffodils for the house. Lovely, lovely spring. I am so lucky. Unlike the remaining Iris confusa clumps in the Dog-Path Garden, which are about to be ripped out. Off I go.
I have had much gentle fun. Haru lamb's gardening days will soon be over, though - she is starting to nibble green things (grass - nice) and blue things (my pansy flowers - not nice). Again my chooks were pleased to see me. Ha! New friends to talk to! And I have decided to call the rooster Brewster - Bruce for short. Ouch!
Saturday 16th September
My spring garden continues to delight. The big flowering cherry tree in the driveway is still holding its blossom, and the daffodils are suddenly spectacular - I promise to take some photos. And the purple honesty which grows in the 'wilder' places is suddenly beautifully colourful.
Liberation Day for the New Chooks!
Today the new Moosey hens, with their esteemed leader Brewster the Rooster, are allowed out of the hen-house into their chook-run for the first time. I have been looking forward to this day all week - this does not mean I am boring.
- Striped Hen :
- I reckon that the two striped hens are quite a bit brainier than the others...
All the poultry tough-love instructions from super-chook-nanny Krystina (thank you so much) have been followed. I've seen the two top hens (grey stripy Harriet and Hilda) in action, pushing forward to see what's in the afternoon food scraps bowl. Old tomatoes! Gurgles of chooky delight. A few cooked potato peelings - yum! Cabbage! Yes!
And as for today's gardening? I don't think a list is required. I will trust myself to spend each and every moment wisely. I will remember to water the seeds and new plants in the glass-house - I might 'build' some more lupins. I will also check that there are no abandoned plants waiting to be put in the ground (a certain variegated Miscanthus springs to mind - oops, wonder if it is still alive).
- Ballerina Roses :
- Ballerina roses are easy-care in a country garden - and easy to propagate from cuttings.
And actually, if I really want to finish the day responsibly, I will have sown the new grass seed on the bare patches of lawn in the Pond Paddock. I look forward to the day when a name change is appropriate - the 'Pond Lawn' has such a better ring to it. And I've remembered one more thing - I must prune the Ballerina roses in the Pond Garden. Aargh! Now if that's not a small list in disguise I don't know what is!
Hmm... I have had such fun. Firstly, chook-watch. As the official chook chronicler I stood by and waited, and waited - and waited - for the first hen to launch herself into the great outdoors. Suddenly, after much peering and withdrawing, out came the two big stripies Hilda and Harriet, followed by the rest. I weeded nearby so I could share their enjoyment. Oh joy, oh bliss! There was mass dust bathing, scratching, with Brewster the rooster rolling in the dusty dirt, flicking his tail feathers, looking quite deranged. A Renoir reclining nude rooster? Hmm...
I cleaned out the hen-house, and put the old straw on the garden. Then I weeded some more, watered the glass-house plants (hello, seeds!), pruned the Ballerinas, returning to peep at the birds every hour or so. How were they doing? Just fine! Then I went inside and fell asleep on my green office chair trying to do some Mathematics. As one does... I'm feeling temporarily dozy and woolly-headed, but I have had the best day!
Deep Pink Camellia
Sunday 17th September
Another day in springtime paradise! There is so much to enjoy. For the first time in retirement I truly realise what I was missing by zooming out to work. I remember panicking that I'd 'miss' the flowering of the Aquilegias - one busy year I think I did! Yesterday I found my big pink rhododendron starting to bud - and the edging Stachys plants suddenly look fresh, green, and revived. Please, no nasty frosts to spoil the edges of the Gunnera leaves, and no nasty winds to blow off the blossom and blow over the daffodils. Weak stems - poor breeding - foolish gardener with too-small budget?
Stachys - Spring Growth
Now I'm off to feed Haru lamb (she gets her ear tag and her tail ring put on today - ouch!) and to see what my lovely chooks are up to. Beige Puss (my beautiful white cat) is squeaking at me - feed the cats, too! And get Rusty Dog up. A thought - perhaps a chook-cam, mounted on the hen-house roof, to capture all those exciting poultry moments? My friend has a goat-cam for reasons far less frivolous - her goats have just had kids, and she can check that all is well in the shelter without disturbing the babies.
Much Later, in a Sore Hand Sulk...
I blame the big flax that I decided in a fit of 'thinking big' to remove. It was another original Phormium tenax, a supposedly bronze beauty by the pond who has looked off-colour for years. There was much rough work - axing and ripping, and I ended up retiring in a huge sulk to apply my lotions and potions. Now that the ugly monster-flax has gone, my newest garden seat looks excellently positioned. In fact, it looks positively, successfully open-gardenish! Hee hee...
I already have tomorrow's list of things to do - a huge pile of rubbish to burn, more weed-mat to lay on the water's edge in the Dog-Path Garden, the back of the Pond Border to finish, the new tray of flowering pansies to plant... Hmm. I hope I wake up full of gardening energy!