I've spent all morning racing the approaching southerly cold front, doing circuits with my green wheelbarrow. And I've been thinking - am I really ready for winter in the garden?
Thursday 22nd May
Paths and lawns everywhere are covered in the last of the fallen autumn leaves. I raked underneath the Driveway Lawn's flowering cherry this morning - eight golden barrowfuls, tipped out into the new Shrubbery.
I collected six loads of firewood, and stacked them at the back of the house under shelter. Then I started to clean up the narrow border at the end of the driveway - trimming flaxes, cutting back dahlias and phlox, and pruning a pushy weeping silver birch tree which has confused its branch angles. Serious tree action is required when a weeper starts to transform into a vase shape.
I was going so well. But the temperature dropped to eight degrees (Celsius) and the rain started, so I retired inside to think about winter garden preparations. I rather wish I was thinking about a trip to some summery gardens in the northern hemisphere! It's time to give bouquets to all gardeners who are seriously forced inside for months during winter. I'd struggle, and it doesn't bear thinking about how gloomy my journals would get! Aargh!
Rusty Dog Asleep
And now I've dried off and warmed up, all I can really think of are the physical maintenance jobs my garden needs - like raking leaves and collecting firewood. And so I might go back outside in thermals and tidy underneath another tree. Aargh! Winter!
There are some exciting things on the Moosey horizon, though. I'm getting a new bridge over the water race. I've found a whole opus of Brahms piano pieces which I've never ever played before. And garden-wise my flax hybrids are starting to dominate with their beautiful colours and forms. And my lovely London web-master son is doing something really, really exciting today. Yippee! Wish I was there...
Cats, Dogs, and Hens
My animals are always really nice to me when winter approaches. My cats love me, my dog loves me, and my hens love me. That's my interpretation of their increased responses, anyway, and I'm sticking to it! It's nothing to do with the sneaky mid-day snacks that get put out for my three old cats - Mugsy, Jerome, and Stumpy - or the extra meals of cooked potato and pumpkin my chooks get at the moment.
Oops - Tiger the cat, AKA the current house bully, is stuck outside, looking wet and miserable. Ha! Tiger - how about we two negotiate your return to the warmth? You need to promise me you'll stop lurking underneath chairs, then jumping out and scaring little Lilli-Puss.
Friday 23rd May
There may not be much gardening done today, either, with cold intermittent rain and 'snow flurries' possible. If I have to have any 'flurrying' I'd rather it was done just by autumn leaves.
Yesterday I did some good pre-winter thinking, focused on the reality of this wonderful season. The frosts are killing off all the fungal spores and sucking insects. My roses and peonies are having a well-deserved rest. My shrubs are hunkering down, ready to surprise me with beautiful new growth next spring. All my new daffodil bulbs are growing madly.
Old Photographs of Summer - Oh Dear!
Then I made the mistake of looking through old summery photographs to find a good picture of the rose Sharifa Asma. So much colour! So many beautiful flowers! And so many pictures of B-Puss my eccentric white cat, who is no longer with us. Oh dear - how easily the mature pre-elderly can reminisce, and how quickly the mood can change!
More Leaves - the Pond Paddock
Typically I found every other fluffy pink David Austin rose except Sharifa Asma, and then became nicely distracted with some really funny-cute kitten pictures. There was Tiger looking so pretty, and Fluff-Fluff sitting (and fitting) on my foot. My goodness he was a tiny kitten!
Today I promise to pick up more horse manure, spread it somewhere, and then rake more leaves. I have a fat-leafed Cordyline which replaces a pot casualty, one Choisya Sundance, one wine red flax, and three Pittosporums to plant in the back of the Shrubbery. Yippee! Who needs warm, summery flower colours? I have my beautiful shrubs with interesting leaf tones and my thermal underwear.