Are there enough days left?

Oops. July has 31 days - it hasn't ended just yet. Are there enough days left for me to finish all the rose pruning, and cast my critical eye on all the garden areas? I have plans for some big winter spending - at more than one specialist nursery. Details to follow...

 Shiny green foliage to enjoy in winter.
Aralia by the Willow Tree

Thursday 26th July

Today I've weeded and trimmed the Birthday Rose Garden, and worked a little way along the water race bank. I have the perfect spot for the new Monet-style bridge - by the Yellow Wave flax. But will I be allowed to have one on an angle? Or will it look silly? A slight curve would be nice... Anyway, I have spent four hours working - I shifted some daylily clumps from underneath a Pittosporum to prime sunny position in the front. I moved the foxgloves back. I've also trimmed all the Lavenders over the grass path - this may not be the best time, as we will get more frosts, but they'll live. Well, they'd better!

I Need to Buy Some Plants

It's high time I bought some plants. I want, at the very least, some whipcord hebes and some rusogas (probably Scabrosa, or whichever will make a good hedge).

 Welcome to the Hen House Garden, chooks!
Hens and Rooster

One slight problem - I don't think I like the standard Olive trees in the rose garden. Their foliage is a drab colour, and thanks to overcrowding, when the Willow tree was allowed to spread, they've grown crooked. My random style of underplanting does not, I fear, suit their nature. In fact, I don't think they go with roses at all. Oh dear...

Hen House Gardens

Tomorrow I will make a start on remodelling the Hen House Gardens. The Oak trees are big enough now to have changed the feeling of this garden area, and perennials originally planted to fill up the space are no longer suitable. Here's the list so far for removal: Achillea, Daylilies, Dahlias, and Kniphofias. They'd all be better off somewhere else in the sun. Several modern roses can also come out - this is no place for fusspots.

My big sprawling, spreading roses are OK - Fruhlinsmorgen, and Doctor Someone - and the rugosas too. There's a beautiful big yellow flowering Agnes by the water which I so look forward to - she leans nonchalantly against an old concrete fence post, then springs into bloom quite early in October.

Sprouting Daffodils and Budding Camellias

Spring - aargh! I would like to record that I have been terribly careful not to squash and break too many sprouting daffodils. And there are lots of buds on my Camellias. Soon there will be proper flowers again, to help out the coloured flax hybrids. But I really don't like those Olives...

Friday 27th July

Today I worked for three solid, focused hours in the Hen House Garden, just as I'd planned. I shifted out seedling Lavenders and ill-placed roses, and barrowed in some wet ash and compost. I've also re-curved the main path - now there is actually room for a human body to swish past the big green flax.

Rethinking My Paths

My paths have been ridiculous. I have been creating narrow little cat-and-dog-sized routes, thinking they look 'romantic' and 'atmospheric'. They don't - and the only surprises they hold are mean and nasty, like trailing flax leaves to trip over and abandoned garden tools to stub the toe on. From now on all paths are to be at least the size of a rake. Maybe tomorrow all newly widened, inviting and accessible paths will be rewarded with a spreading of wood shavings.

 My very best gardening cat.
Fluff-Fluff and Pot

Overall I'm pleased with my return this July to the world of real gardening. There are still moments when I go into silent reverie, reliving travel memories as a visitor to summer gardens in the north. It's mainly the colour I miss. But I'm being sensible, and I'm trying to follow through and finish all gardening sessions properly. There are many examples of this. Today's shifted roses have been pruned and potted rather than abandoned by the fence-line. All my transplanted Lavenders have been watered, my tools are collected and undercover, rose prunings are ready to be burnt, and other rubbish is piled up for the shredder. Excellent work!

 In their fireside cat basket.
My Three New Kittens

Saturday 28th July - Nine Cats

I've got used to having nine cats. I must pay a special tribute to my beautiful big white cat, B-Puss. B-Puss, super-cat-nanny, is rarely without the three new kittens. They drape themselves all over him when sleepy, and crawl all over him, vigorously washing his body bits, when awake.+10

They follow him around the garden, where he doesn't get a moment's privacy (back off, you youngsters! I'm - ahem - trying to have a nature stop). Nanny B, Uncle B, Big Brother B - the kittens love you to bits. Thank you! I will try and take some catty photographs today.

 I miss the colour pink in winter!
John Clare Rose in Winter

Rose Day

Right. Today is the day I spend money on rugosa roses. I plant the shifted roses in the Island Bed - why not? I water the Lavender garden, and expand it. I reorganise the plants in the Welcome garden, and buy it some whipcord hebes and maybe (this one's out of left field) some clumps of Agapanthus. A nice, honest country welcome, with plants that the sheep aren't supposed to eat!

But first I will gently organise my lovely NGP (non-gardening partner). Then, as soon as I hear the chain-saw starting up I will jump up and run to his side, smiling. As soon as the shredder is wheeled out, likewise. I will bring him squishy morning teas, and chocolate, and hug him lots. When we go to get the wood shavings I will admire his ability to back the trailer.

Much, Much Later...

A brilliant day! I raced around pointing out Pittosporums for the chainsaw. All the mess has been shredded. But far, far better is my first proper new path, with brown wood shavings over weed mat, looking just like a real path, such as I may have wandered along during my Scotland garden visits. Middle Path - I am so proud of you.

Now prepare for a list of new roses, purchased from the rose nursery.

Climbers: Summer Wine and Golden Showers
The flowers look nice, both are fragrant according to the label, and both have cheerful names.
Old Fashioned: Reine des Violettes
She, along with a transplanted sister, is going to try out a rose arch in the orchard.
Modern: Oranges and Lemons and two Burgundy ground cover roses.
Oranges and Lemons is a Sam McGredy rose, which I thought I had, but didn't.
Standards: Blackberry Nip, Dancing Pink, and Muddy Dream
That last rose has a pretty down-to-earth gardening name! All three are going into the Island Bed. Ouch - standards are expensive.
 Quite a bright lolly pink.
PInk Grootendorst Roses

A couple of existing standard roses are shifting into the Island Bed, too. One has been marking the spot where my very first ginger cat, Ginger Puss, was buried many years ago. He was incredibly old, almost pre-journal, and I hope he will understand - the Philadelphus has overgrown his rose. I have bought eight proper green coated plastic stakes, standard size, for correct installation.

Pink Grootendorst Rugosa Roses

I should now mention the roses that I actually went to buy - some rugosas for a hedge, the exact location of which has not quite been decided. I ended up buying some pink Grootendorst rugosas, and my hedge will be in memory of Inverewe Garden in Scotland, whose walled garden had two such hedges. None of the roses are yet planted - that's tomorrow's work, before the forecasted rain arrives.

Sunday 29th July

After singing with my ladies' choir at a morning mass, I've been racing the weather, planting and staking my new standard roses in the Island Bed. I've repaired the archway which the lovely Buff Beauty leans on, and chopped out several more seedling Pittosporums. The skies have been getting darker, and darker, and I am so tired! I have seventeen hebes squashed into my car, and seven more roses sitting, waiting. Oh dear. Can I go back outside? I'm taking the shortest of coffee breaks, hoping that the rain will come, five minutes maximum to twitter and recharge.

Concerning the Olive Trees

Luckily, in a politically correct mood, I warned - no, asked - daughter about the removal of the standard Olive trees in her Birthday Rose Garden. Phew! She writes:

I have just read about the likely demise of the Olive Trees in MY BIRTHDAY garden. I do like the fact that I am being consulted with... Do they actually have olives? Can they be transplanted? If the answers are no followed by yes then absolutely fine.

I take this to mean that she requires the trees to be saved. Blast! I wonder if their roots go very far down. Hmm... Still, it serves me right for using her birthday as an excuse to go on a rose and olive tree spending spree.

Right. It's dark grey outside, as if a cartoon storm has coloured the sky. My new roses and hebes would love to be rained on after planting, but I need time to choose the best positions. I'll clean up my tools and burn today's heap of rose prunings instead.