It's sheep shearing time...

Aha! The second weekend in October - spring is in full swing now. It's sheep shearing time. I must make time to stop and enjoy all the new flowers, new rhododendrons, azaleas, irises, blossom...

 What a big beauty.
PInk Rhododendron

Saturday 11th October

Finally my Wisteria is starting to flower, filling the patio air with fragrance. I must take some photographs of the big spring show-offs like the Pond Paddock's flowering cherries. So many things are happening, and all so quickly. It's a wonderful time of year.

 Smoocher's memorial tree.
Mount Fuji Blossom

Smoocher the cat's Mount Fuji in the orchard, and B-Puss's Eddies White Wonder dogwood are blossoming. The weeping Silver Pear, in the orchard by the raspberry row, is all too easily out of sight, out of mind, with (thankfully?) no accompanying decomposing cat to emotionally draw me in.

 One of my favourite garden features.
Tulips by the Wall

Spring Mornings

When gardeners sit dreaming at their computer on a spring morning, and they can see blaring red tulips through the far window of the house, it's easy to forget about the other spring delights. And when gardeners are busy clearing huge tracts of scrubby land (well, reasonably huge) it's easy to forget to enjoy the littlest treasures - like tiny violets, and the purple Arabis in flower (grown personally from seed).

Problems with Scale...

I'm always having problems with scale. My scale of weed noticing, for example, is completely determined by whether or not I am wearing my spectacles. Better not to! And when I 'think big' I feel super-satisfied with my gardening day. Hmm... But isn't it better in the long run to remove ten thousand small weeds from a small vegetable garden than to reclaim the ram paddock?

Today is going to be a little fragmented, so I'm going to make two lists.

General Maintenance Issues

  1. Get potting mix.
  2. Collect and spread more horse manure - and welcome the weeds therein.
  3. Mulch the new Driveway Garden.

And now some specific garden areas to work in:

Second List

1. The Wilderness
Keep on clearing. The Wilderness will end, won't it?
2. The Dog-Kennel Garden
Weed. Feed tadpoles.

All work to be done efficiently and thoroughly, with a pleasant expression (and loads of sunblock) on face. The gardener is to help with the sheep when required (it's shearing day). Morning coffee will be taken on the white cafe table, and lunch on the rustic garden benches. The gardener must spread her 'favours' around.

 Name unknown - but a beautiful colour.
Australian Shrub - a Grevillea?

Later, Afternoon Tea...

I've come inside to cool down (have been burning the wilderness rubbish under the mid-day sun) and to contemplate my next gardening move. I've finished everything on my second list. The eagle-eyed will see that it only comprised of two items, so this is nothing to sing about...

All the house lawns are mown, and now Non-Gardening Partner is on the tractor mowing the grass in the Hazelnut Orchard. The sheep are all down the road at the shearing sheds, waiting. Fred, my ex-pet lamb, is absolutely huge - lovers of sheeplore may have heard of Shrek, a woolly monster who missed more than one muster and whose resulting fleece was enormous. Fred, after just one season of wool-growing, seems just as big.

 Waiting to be shorn.
Merino Ewes

There seems no end to the Wilderness area - but today I've stretched out sideways to the boundary fence-line. A couple of spruces in here have died and need the chain-saw treatment, and I keep 'uncovering' interesting shrubs - Escallonias, Pseudopanax, and healthy young Pittosporums. I've cleared out six barrowfuls of mess.

+5This afternoon Tiger the tortoiseshell cat honoured me with a surprise visit in the wilderness - this is unheard of. Tiger is usually a hopeless gardening cat. Unfortunately my ever faithful Fluff-Fluff, the Head Gardening Cat, chased her away.

Right. The best way to really cool down at the end of a gardening day is to stand in the water race and weed the banks. Clothes can get wet (or come off entirely), in anticipation of hot showering. Then perhaps the couch, with TV cricket to enjoy (or not - we lost the game two days ago).

 Silly chap - he's attracted to water.
Gnome in the Gunnera

A few more things to record before I return for the final session. It's apple-blossom time. And the very first self-sown Aquilegias have washed-out pink flowers at the top of their stalks. The Chestnut tree newly discovered in the Wilderness has cream flowers. The waterside Gunnera is opening its huge leaves.

Fred Sheep - Before

Before Shearing

And all the best to Fred the sheep - it must amazingly liberating to be newly shorn, half the size you were five minutes ago. Sort of easier than dieting...

Sunday 12th October

It's a beautifully calm, crisp spring morning. I've already been to feed the chooks - the Darmera by the water is flowering (the pink flower globes appear from nowhere, well before the leaves). Welcome to the Banksia Lutea rose flowering on the washing line.

Hint to NGP

Hint to Non-Gardening Partner - the waterwheel looks sadly forlorn, stuck in the water race. Blast! But the house lawns, freshly mown by hard-working NGP, make my garden borders look beautiful (without spectacles on).

Free Weeds

Late yesterday I did some speed weeding around the Koru sculpture - how quickly garden distress can turn to pleasure. I remind myself that horse manure contains free weeds. I can truck in forty dollars worth of weedy soil conditioner, if I really want to. And I could buy in pea straw mulch, so I'd get lots of rogue pea plants growing...

First thing today we are off to bring the slim-line sheep home. Then I plan to do three things. And since three is pretty much the minimum number for a good list, a good list is exactly what I'll now present.

  1. Work some more in the Wilderness, clearing and burning.
  2. Trim absolutely all my lawn edges.
  3. Willingly do some weeding somewhere.

I have a sneaky plan regarding the ram paddock, now enclosed by my ever expanding gardens. I keep asking NPG if he could keep it mowed, for reasons of ambience. He will get brassed off by this, and the thought of donating some more of it to me will have laziness-appeal. Hee hee. Right. If today is half as good and half as long as yesterday (when we actually won the cricket) I will be the happiest gardener in the world.

Late Afternoon...

I am! I keep seeing new flowering things - now there's a whole row of purple dwarf irises running along the grass path through the Birthday Rose Garden. In here my peonies are looking very buddy. Over the water the fruit-salad coloured rhododendrons are ready to flower. Patches of Iris confusa are covered in bright blue-white flowers. Colour in my garden is increasing rather beautifully.

 Still quite fat!
Fred Sheep - After

After Shearing

The sheep are back in their paddocks. Fred, being a cross-bred and not having the merino skin-wrinkles, has had a very close, even shear, and is looking rather pink.

I did everything on my list - that's pretty good for me. I've found yet another Pseudopanax and more Olearias in the Wilderness. I've cleared up to the top of the hump - it's an old sand-hill, created hundreds of years ago when the river wandered through here. NGP has been cagey about helping me with chain-sawing, though. 'Why do you need to finish the Wilderness?' he asks. 'You've got all summer to do it". Hmm... That's not the point...

Summer Jobs

One of his must-do summer jobs is to build a 'new' Pump House by the pond, something else he is being cagey about. In fact, he's in quite a pickle, because I figure he could easily build my rustic shed at the same time. Today the flowering cherries were reflecting in the pond water - a wonderful sight - and site (hee hee) for my proposed garden shed-retreat