A dedicated grower?

Armed with my Christmas present (not the Manly Garden Help, rather my scary book on Pruning), I am staring at the new Moosey Wisteria on the house pergola. Am I possibly a 'dedicated grower'? If so, then a supreme gardening challenge awaits.

Friday 13th January

Pruning Wisteria looks easy and sensible in the book. If I decide I am a 'dedicated grower' then I should prune the bits which look like 'rapid extension growths' back every two weeks during summer. Two weeks! If I flip back a page, though, I can see what I should have done in the first and second summer and winter prunings. Eek! My Wisterias were replacements for two climbing cascades of rose rust, better known as New Dawn. Now when exactly did I plant them? I need to think about laterals and spurs, and as long as I know the winter-summer seasonal difference I should be OK.

 Be very impressed! And cross your green fingers that the new hand tools don't get lost.
New Garden Tools

I have more plans for today in the garden. Yesterday (good gardeners always do feed-back and feed-forward - like teachers! Aargh!) I was surprised by the amount of dead-heading and minor trimming I found to do in the house gardens. As I am now the proud owner of a jolly decent bucketful of new hand tools, this should be easy to remedy. My puffy-grip secateurs are rather nice, and I also like my new scratcher (not sure what it should be called - like a little hand rake) for weeding and removing clusters of gum leaves.

Much, Much Later...

I have worked SO VERY hard! The Hump is now fully organised, and I've re-routed the main path - yet again. Now it seems totally sensible, and I will plant a screen of Pittosporums to stabilise its position. I have raked and dumped loads and loads of mess. I have shovelled and dumped loads and loads of compost. I have watered and weeded, getting pinker and pinker in the face. It's been warm, but I've been in the shade all day. A wise, exhausted woman!

My new hand gardening tools are impressive. I have two of each, just in case (loss by mulching is the biggest risk). Mid-morning Fred the bleating lamb barged through his fence, and in redirecting him back to the front paddock I almost had a mulching-of-the-puffy-grip-secateurs disaster. Phew! That would have been embarrassing. Anyway, I've followed the coloured diagrams in my Wisteria pruning book (I reckon roses are so much easier to prune).

 Off we go down the drive, over the car bridge...
The Sheep Family

Actually Fred the lamb has been totally hopeless today. He has no concept that the flock in his front paddock (nineteen happily munching Merinos) is his family. Dear lamb! Today he has guzzled his last watery bottle of milk - tonight he goes down the back with the others. The new kittens spent all morning playing near me as I gardened - Fluff-Fluff the Fearless (still so very small) standing his ground when the annoying, bleating lamb arrived.

Inspired by the Manly Garden Help...

Now I am inside, clean, tired, proud that I've actually finished something (the Hump). The Manly Garden Help (he who can spread a trailer-load of compost in half an hour) has inspired me. He has also inspired several of my lady friends, who now quite fancy having a strong manly garden helper of their own. Personally I reckon they've all read too much DH Lawrence.

 Jerome provides brilliant cat-company - as long as I am gardening near the water race.
Jerome the Grey Cat Tests the Compost

Saturday 14th January... Early Morning Animal Thoughts

One shouldn't have to creep around dodging all windows that face Fred the lamb bleating in his paddock. It's not relaxing - the hand holding the morning's first hot cup of tea can easily wobble in anticipation! This morning, right now in fact, that lamb is going off down the back, way past the hay barn and the Hazelnut Orchard, to the deep distant depths of the Moosey Farmlet. He can bleat at the horses and the goat tethered next-door (who might be coming to visit anyway to eat the thistles). He will have his nineteen-strong sheep family for company.

Goodbye, Fred the Pet Lamb

So be it. This is how it must end for the luckiest of lambs, possibly a Romney, rescued and hand-reared, saved from the fate of leg, sirloin, rack, roast and chop. A lamb who is now bigger and heavier than Rusty the collie dog. A lamb who is definitely old enough to be permanently weaned.

Rusty the dog :
How embarrassing to have an obese young dog in the family!

That same dog who is unhappily on his first dog-weight-watchers diet! No treats that are not measured. No pinching the birds' bread, or drooling over human toast crusts. Poor puppy-dog! And going for the longest bicycle ride doesn't get a dog any bonus points!

Today in the garden - what should I do first? Since the garden helper impressed me with his compost handling speed I have put in a succession of heavy-duty days. I should continue yesterday's pruning and trimming. The favourite Moosey daylilies continue to flower, and the red dahlias are starting. Soon there will be little redheads everywhere!

 This daylily flowers late in my garden, combining with the red rose Dublin Bay's second flowering flush.
Blood-Red Daylily

Actually, the first thing I should do is to check the stakes on the tomatoes (that's a blatant fib - I know they are virtually stakeless!). I have also asked for the lawns to be mown. Visitors wandered around late yesterday and the gardens over the water race didn't look their best. I found myself starting to apologise for their roughness. My visitor asked (politely, I'm sure) how difficult it would be to sow 'proper lawn'. Hmm... Gardening in paddocks...

Much Later...

Another five hour gardening day! I have sorted out the end of the Hump area with a boundary line. This will be the limit of cultivated tinkering, watering, and clearing, and will be planted with a screen of Pittosporums. It's really nice in there now - I will definitely install a garden table and chairs!

The nor-west wind has blown all day, and the harsh summer sun has beamed down from a glaringly blue sky, but I have been steadfast in the shade. I've shifted a little row of Camellias which were stagnating (that is, never flowered or shown any growth) in the end of the Driveway Border. Now they hug the edge of the Pittosporum forest, in moister soil, and they look much cuter (which is important). Hopefully they may also flower!

Fat Lamb Fred :
How embarrassing to have an obese young pet lamb in the family!

Fred the lamb is banished to the very back paddock. The wind is so noisy I can't hear him bleating. Out of hearing, out of mind? It is nice to be able to have loud conversations with the new kittens (I am encouraging Fluff-Fluff and Beige Puss to explore the Hump) without him crashing through his fence baa-ing for a bottle.

Looking After the New Garden Tools

And I would like to formally report that all my new hand tools - diggers, scratchers, forks, secateurs - are safely packed away in their yellow plastic bucket together with my gardening gloves, the spade and two rakes. Ha! My Christmas gardeners' hand cream is 'soothing and helping protect' my extremely 'work-roughened hands'. I feel so tired - am drinking coffee madly (it is unseemly to go to bed before 7:30 pm) and trying to find enough bounce to finish off the day. Food might help!