Garden make-over time...

May, a somewhat mature autumn month, should be my busiest garden make-over time. It's still warm enough to thoughtfully sort out all my garden messes and mistakes. Wait a minute. Where are these messes? What mistakes? Oops. Inappropriate plantings, for one.

Tuesday 1st May

I will give but one example - the silly swathes of species daylilies in the back of the Jelly Bean Border which never bloom, because they just don't get enough sun. Well, tomorrow they are coming out, and going under a fence somewhere. No doubt, coddled with neglect, they will apply the gardening version of Sod's Law and put on the fiercest summer flower show ever. And another 'mistake' - the clump of red hot pokers which always fail to ignite. They too are moving out.

 Such a beautiful autumn tree.
Autumn Dogwood in the Afternoon Sun

Tomorrow I am also spreading mulch in the Shrubbery. I've already found my source - Pittosporum shreddings, waiting in a heap underneath a hedge. My Shrubbery soil needs enriching desperately.

 With a dark purple Phormium underneath.
Copper Beech Tree


Confession - on this the first day of May, May Day, I actually haven't really done any gardening. I am, however, wearing my 'brand new' (from the Red Cross Charity Shop) country classic navy woollen gardening jersey. And anyone who travels in my car tomorrow will be relieved that I've removed eight bags of fresh horse manure from the boot.

I've also wandered around the garden, Rusty the bored dog in tow, taking photographs of autumn dogwood leaves and roses. This is the time when the tall white Iceberg roses glow in the low afternoon sun. The earlier deciduous trees are leafless, but the Copper Beech is aflame with copper fire, while the variegated Dogwoods are just red - but magnificently red.

May Decisions

And I've made some serious May decisions. One - I will walk my dog every May day. Properly - not just around the garden. Two - I will practice my piano pieces (Albeniz and Schumann) every May day. At the end of the month I can decide if they are too hard for me. Three - except for today, I will do jolly decent gardening every May day. I can clean up my glass-house if it's raining. And four - I will strive to be witty and interesting in this gardening journal. Ha!

 Still flowering.
Othello Rose

Much Later...

Today, if there was only one rose I was allowed to know and grow - just one - that rose would be Othello. I love Othello. His name, with its dark, brooding associations, is part of the appeal. There could even be a wee element of fanciful if mature lust (?) involved. Oh dear. Time to retreat and cook the pizza for the evening meal, I think.


Right. Time for some serious shovelling. I know where the daylilies are going... And I know what's going with them.... The spare Shasta daisies and the Red Not-So-Hot Pokers. All my rough toughies can spend next summer together, up in the sun near the ram paddock.

Later, Dusk...

I've been good! I planted everything, I cleared weeds from the path by the ram paddock, I spread horse manure and oak leaf sludge on the Jelly Bean Border, and then I carted all the dry rubbish accumulated over this last week over to the bonfire. It all burnt pretty quickly. Last of all I slithered womanfully into the water race to clear debris from the two river pumps. Oh boy, that water was cold!

 Graham Thomas the rose, and a chrysanthemum.
Different Autumn Yellows

I always feel so proud when I've done a good chunk of gardening, like today. It would have been so easy to mooch around drinking coffee, looking at the garden through the house windows.

Thursday 3rd May

Ooooh! A nearly-frost! So I'm still inside doing a bit of early morning garden-surfing. I've discovered a squat, striped, and beautiful rose called 'Purple Tiger' - apart from purpleness, this describes my senior cat Tiger perfectly. It isn't sold in New Zealand, but - prepare for financial disaster! The local rose nursery's website announces that its big yearly sale is on. Oh dear. Perhaps a quick car-trip after coffee, while waiting for the morning to warm up...

Cat News for the Non-Squeamish

+40Little Mac, the black and white kitten, is proving to be an amazing mouse-dispatcher. Last night she spent hours 'organising' a 'second-paw' mouse, while big, benign Percy, who had brought it into the house, blocked off one end of the hall and watched. This is Little Mac's third mouse, and, unlike the older cats, she never loses interest and wanders off. Good news for the Moosey house, not such good news for field mice...

 Flowering it its pot.
Bloomfield Courage Rose

Later, Lunchtime...

Well, well, well. I've been thrifty - I bought a Bloomfield Courage rambler (a replacement for a poor-health one which grows against an archway by the house), and a Claude Monet bush rose (beautifully striped cream and pink, like strawberries and custard). I arrived home in time to see the neighbour's hedge on fire, smoking merrily, with the fire brigade in attendance. Just a paddock away from my pond garden! Eek!

Anyway, I'm off outside with my dog to do some good gardening. I probably won't fire up my little bonfire right now - it might not be diplomatic.

Much Later...

I've tidied up the side house garden, cutting down and shifting the dahlias to form a big a clump away from the little path, and removing some rather dull-leaved Canna lilies. The lawn edge is trimmed, and all the gum leaves are raked up. I decided to plant Claude Monet in the new gap. It's a sunny spot, so cross fingers he will enjoy it. Tiger the cat has been scooting here, there, and everywhere, as if she has the feline equivalent of ants in her pants. Just quietly, I think she thinks she's been helping with the gardening! Hmm...

 Looking after the wheelbarrow.
Tiger the Gardening Cat

The nicest thing about autumn gardening is that there's always something different to do. Some tasks are creative, others purely maintenance. I do rather enjoy the garden make-overs, even if I'm only rationalising and shifting self-sown dahlias around. I feel that I'm addressing garden errors, putting them to right, and this makes me feel super-virtuous!

The Fire Brigade Has left Next-Door...

After checking that the fire brigade had left next door I sheepishly burnt my modest little bonfire of gum leaves and bark from behind the pond, plus my house garden mess (the dry stuff). Now all the pond paths are clear, and the surrounding gardens looks instantly better.

 Renowned for flowering late into the season.
John Clare Roses

I notice that a silly shrubby Azalea behind the cottage is trying to flower already. Oops - wrong season! And I notice darling John Clare, my late, late season rose, starting up again. A beautiful pink chap. Right season!