I love December...
I love December. It's the month when all the summer promises I made myself should come true. My vegetable garden should be brilliant. My roses should bloom on and on. And nothing should fall over (especially not the Head Gardener, lurching around in the heat).
Roses, Roses, Roses
Wednesday 1st December
Unfortunately I am starting my December gardening month firmly inside - the Moosey face and hands have had THE liquid nitrogen treatment from the doctor, who merrily says I should be looking beautiful again by Christmas. Ouch... Not that there is any today, but I'm staying out of the sun for a couple of days, letting the face breathe and heal before I smother it again with sunblock.
- Graham Thomas Rose :
- Surely this rose is the very best yellow rose in the whole gardening universe...
Meanwhile my roses out there are really stunning - even the rose petals strewn around on the soil and the grass beneath the bushes look delightful. The white Icebergs look great, as does the peachy-pink Compassion on the house pergola. Sally Holmes and Graham Thomas are at the beginning of their blooming, while Masquerade, Othello and his pink friends are half-way through.
Then the Shrubbery (back corner, front house lawn) is dotted with little splodges of pink. There's Madame Leonie Viennot (and she is a bit of a madame) on the back wire fence, Abraham Darby, Corylus, the pink-white Blush Noisettes, and several new rugosas. There's even a white Grootendoorst (I think). Some of the once flowering old fashioned roses are starting, too - many seem to be crimson red, and hopefully I've left their labels on for identification purposes. Further behind in the back of the Shrubbery are several recycled roses, colours and varieties as yet unknown.
Rusty the Dog
Hmm... All I've done in the garden is put the irrigation on the orchard roses. I've been semi-sulking inside, covered in blisters (a bit of an exaggeration).
It's 'Sort out the pictures for the Christmas calendars' time, and I desperately need more pictures of more cats in the garden. Fluff-Fluff had tended to monopolise my camera! But he's the one that's always there... And as for Rusty the dog - that same goofy look and that same over-exposed white nose - Rusty only has one facial expression. Goofy!
Thursday 2nd December
And what a goofy day I've had today. I've only gardened for about two hours - trimming back Pittosporums and Daphne and weeding by the Laundry path, planting lettuces and thinning out carrots in my vegetable garden, and organising the drippers onto the orchard roses. It's all been pretty moochy really.
Messy Rosy Garden
The garden is starting to look summer-messy after the first amazing rose flushes. All the foxgloves and lupins are three-quarters finished flowering now, and they look rather seedy (literally). But I love the colours (even the magentas), so I don't cut the flowers off - not quite yet.
On the Tops To Mount Thomas
Friday 3rd December
Hee hee. Fridays have turned into hiking days, and my friend and I are off to the foothills again. Nothing quite as challenging as The Big Scree this week - there will only be the two of us, pottering gently up Mount Thomas and down the dreaded 'Number One Track'. Aargh! The Nasty Number One Nightmare Track - I hate it!
And all that's required is a good set of legs (plus socks and boots), a sensible friend, a car to drive for maybe an hour and a half, a super-old-chook attitude - and, sadly, just a few tiny prescription inflammatories (taken carefully with food and water, of course). Ha! The good older-age-life is simple. Sometimes...
Much, Much, Much Later...
Another day, another Munro bagged, another wee 'bastard knocked off'. When I was a girl (ah me) Munros were terribly serious mountains, the likes of which Sir Edmund Hillary (famous mountaineer of the bastard quote) would scramble up before breakfast. My friend and I, two sedate lady hikers, can certainly scramble up them in three hours - with good conversation en route. Anyway, Munros (mountains over 3000 ft) are only talked up so much because Britain (Scotland in particular) is so 'low' on mountains...
Wooded Gully Path
Magical Gully Track
To balance the rather mannish and boastful tone of the above paragraph, let me say that the track up Wooded Gully is absolutely magical. Gully tracks wiggle and wander up through wet forest, and they're softer in spirit than tracks up ridgelines or spurs. I call the forest glades near the saddle 'The Lost World' - not surprisingly, my friend and I had a great discussion there about hobbits (and blowflies). And the track across the tops to Mount Thomas's trig had some remarkably delicate pretty flowers to see - white flowering Hebes and little yellow Bulbinellas in the middle of the rugged scrub and tussock.
The two photographs above were taken by my friend Ivor on a previous visit to Mount Thomas. Thanks very much to him for letting me use them. I should have, should have, should have taken my camera today!
Saturday 4th December
Today I must, must, must have a well-organised and enjoyable day in the garden. No mooching allowed. But I'm allowed to have a slow cup of coffee first (have just returned from swimming). And I am also allowed some rest and recovery after yesterday's hiking trip. Here's a modest, light list of things to do.
- Varnish the interior of Pond Cottage.
- Put remaining lettuce seedlings into large pot on patio.
- Puff the Beat-A-Bug spray on the rose aphids.
As I work I can relive those momentous moments of yesterday's jaunt up Mount Thomas - which my topographical map rudely calls 'Thomas Hill'. The older I get the more thankful I am about living here and now - in such a beautiful land, at a time where hiking boots are light and strong and trekking poles have shock absorbers. If we were pioneer women in silly Victorian skirts and our flour had gone mouldy etc. it would be very different. We wouldn't be up there walking for pleasure, that's for certain...
Hmm... I've done the varnishing - horrible job, and it took ages (two hours). And I've bugged the bugs, so to speak. I'm allowed to spend the rest of the afternoon writing (lucky you) and reading (lucky me). The lawns have been mown, and so immediately the garden borders stop demanding my attention. They really do look less messy. Less messy is wonderful.