Paths and mulch...

 Covered in grass stalks.
The Fairy Rose

To honour the new gardening week, I'm going to try being a responsible large country garden owner. I have paths to sort out and mulch to lay.

Tuesday 15th February

There's nothing sillier than a huge bale of pea straw mulch just sitting underneath the trees, keeping relatively dry, while rain pours down on a mulchless garden with THE sandiest soil that isn't at a beach. I'm sure the Shrubbery garden near the ram paddock with its old fashioned roses agrees...

Well, that's one of today's tasks. But I'm also going to take a rational look right along the Hump. There are paths in the Hump which I never, ever use - I need plants, not paths. My rather simple tough-stuff design goes like this - more Agapanthus for the edges and Pittosporums in the middle. The Hump is at worst cheerless and dry, underneath an original shelter belt of towering pines and gums, though there's a magical spring month when the air is moist and the purple Honesty is flowering.

 Evidence of gardening work being done!
Adirondack Chairs and Wheelbarrow

Oh - have I mentioned yet (this year) that February is a scruffy month? All that wind and sun results in tired lawns and scruffy gardens, with shrub roses better ignored than admired. And I have suddenly become obsessed with indoor crafts - crocheting a rag rug, battling another 3000 piece jigsaw, and sewing patchwork couch covers. Not daft, but surely these would make better winter activities, when the garden isn't so demanding? Honestly, I haven't really acquired any new plants this year - only herb and lettuce seedlings.

 This path looks inviting... and safe...
Path Into the Hump

Three Hours Later...

Now how easy was that? I've cleared all the paths I want to keep in the Hump (which is a long, long piece of land, by the way) and I've retired those that are no use. Now everything makes total sense - famous last gardening words, maybe, but I can't think why I didn't do this earlier. A garden visitor, for example, can flow through the Hump without petering out or thinking they've arrived at a monster rubbish heap.

Then I checked on the new gnomes - they really like their tall tree stump and have expressed a desire (telepathically) not to be shifted. And Fluff-Fluff the cat popped out of the bushes immediately - perhaps he keeps them company? Or maybe he just wanted to push his furry face into my photographs...

And how's this for timing? I've just come inside for a well-earned break, it is lunchtime, and my bread maker has just beeped at me - fresh rye and bran bread for lunch. Yum! Well done me.

 Whose name I always forget...
Sunny Yellow Daisies

Wednesday 16th February - 9am

Blast! I am all kitted out to go for a day hike behind Lake Coleridge. But I didn't read the trip list - it was an early (8am) start. Blast! I am not silly enough to go into the mountains on my own, so I'm jolly well going to turn this day around into the fullest and busiest, jam-packed with achievements. Ha! So first I'm off swimming and shopping...


I rescued a garden gnome from a charity shop! He is only a lightweight (like my garden efforts today), but has the sweetest face, an apricot coloured hat (odd) and is holding a large orange carrot. Then I found lots of non-gardening busy things to do (like watching Time Team, a British archaeology TV programme, dig up a Roman villa). No Roman villas lurk in the Moosey Garden, and no digging was done either...

Thursday 17th February

Ah - I slept the sweetest sleep last night in Pond Cottage, like the proverbial well-preserved country log. The reason - no cats (I sneaked out). I had a short visit from the groaning possum as darkness fell, and then blissfully nothing until the rubbish truck trundled past on the road at seven in the morning. So I am refreshed and ready for a gardening list.

  1. Mulch the Shrubbery old roses with pea straw.
  2. Harvest the purple 'Maori' potatoes.
  3. Organise the tomatoes in the vegetable garden.

There are a couple of euphemisms there. 'Harvest' implies I planted them purposefully (I didn't) and 'organise' actually means put stakes in and tie them up, at least two months late. What a disgrace! But exactly what is to be expected from a gardener who allows all her dahlias to flop...

Three Hours Later...

Oh boy, have I been dong some serious vegetable gardening, accompanied by the terribly serious Art of Fugue (Bach's ghastly organ masterpiece) which has been gurgling away in ever increasing spirals of organic (hee hee) sound. And I've been stung through my gloves by a tiddly little bumble bee.

Bumble Bees :
My garden is full of different types of bumble bees.

Dear thing - I am just not worth giving your life for (if indeed you die after you sting something). In fact I should be one of the 'unstingables'. I'm the kind gardener who planted the little Lavender edging hedge around the vegetable garden in the first place, to give you flowers to forage on. Humph...

So my tomatoes are sort of fixed up, I've dug out weeds, and I'm feeling rather smug. Again it seems really easy to get a garden tidy in a matter of a few hours. Really all it takes is a gardener who's prepared to bother...

 They are a cherry sized tomato, but the plant is tall.
Golden Heirloom Tomatoes

Two More Hours Even Later...

That makes a gardening day of five hours, so finally I am taking proper responsibility for this oversized one-woman country garden. I've just been trimming - a big Senecio shrub which has flowered, Shasta daisies cut back, yellow Oenethera pulled out (leaving behind lots of new seedlings for next summer, hee hee). And I've spread three barrowfuls of mulch all around the Shrubbery.

Assorted Trivia

Now the hoses are on and I am clean and tired. Ha! Time for some assorted trivia. Perhaps I could make a start on the latest 3000 piece jigsaw (a thatched English cottage with a romantic garden) - or watch some more English archaeology. Imagine ploughing a field and turning up Roman floor tiles from a bath house. New Zealand is so very person-young - there's nothing in the soil (except old bird bones...)

 Two shrubs which I use a lot in my garden borders.
Berberis and Phormium

Friday 18th February

Again I have worked extremely hard (and smart) in the garden. First I wandered around the paths behind the pond, casting a super-critical eye and writing down ideas for improvement. Then I just got on with making everything work better! So I've widened paths, realigned curves, trimmed Phormiums, shifted Agapanthus from here (too close) to there (just right), shifted a rose called Water Music which wasn't making any noise (or any growth, let alone flowering), put down edging logs, trimmed Lavender (without getting stung this time).... Oh, the list just goes on, and on, and then on some more.

 A green striped Canna, and another plant, name unknown to me.
Cannas in Reflection Pool

I've also rescued some Canna lilies. Oops... In a seasonally short-sighted moment (of which I have far too many) I planted some Canna clumps along the far edge of the ram paddock, moist and green in spring and autumn, but a dry, hot oven-baking place in summer - I forgot this bit. So now these plants are jammed in a large pot which I've placed half in the pond - from the ridiculous to the sublime. I remember seeing Canna clumps growing submerged in an ornamental pond in Canada (see the photograph above), and very happy they were, too. Hopefully mine will be so amazed by their change of fortune that they'll even get to form flowers. Wonder what colour they'll be?

Fluff-Fluff :
Here's Fluff-Fluff posing with my newest garden gnomes.

Honestly, that's quite enough gardening. But the results are just brilliant. I'm particularly fond of the garden areas behind the pond, now that I've semi-moved into Pond Cottage. And I am never alone at night. Fluff-Fluff (my huge pale ginger cat) hides in the Wattle Woods at dusk and waits until I sneak across the pond paddock in my dressing gown. Of course he then pops out, squeaking sadly, and so I have to invite him in. Hmm... My best friend is a large fluffy cat...