No complaints...

Shape-Up-For-Life gardeners do NOT complain in their gardening journals how hungry they are. They simply pat their middle bits (discretely) inside the gardening shorts (not the favourite ones, which are too tight) and sigh wistfully. And then they go gardening. The day will come when a sideways preen in the mirror will again be a pleasant experience.

Wednesday 1st February

For first-time readers and casual drop-ins, Shape Up For Life 2012 is not a diet. Oh no - it is a personal pledge to sensibly eat healthy, tasty food. Weighing the gardener is not an option - a comfortable fit of the favourite gardening shorts is the goal. Fair enough? And it's compulsory for the Non-Gardening Partner, too. Bad luck!

 Beautiful pinks and oranges.
Dahlias and Lavateras

I'm off outside to shift shrubs into the Hen House Garden - that's this morning's plan. The hoses are on, and already I've done an hour's pre-breakfast tidying. And I must say that breakfast (soft-boiled egg, half a slice of yummy home-made bread, hot coffee) was delicious. I have a nectarine and half a banana ready for morning tea. No, I'm not becoming obsessed with food...

 This path has been shifted a lot of times.
Hen House Path

Much Later...

Well, a gutless (in other words rainless) southerly blew through the garden, but I kept on working as the temperature dropped and the wind roared over my head. The Hen House Gardens are nicely finished. A path has been shifted, other paths raked, and lots of mulch spread around. I ended up just planting two recycled roses (I'm sure one is Dublin Bay), and shifting in a yellow Agnes rugosa. She will grow really big, so she's in the middle of the border. I hope she likes this new spot! A Phormium Cream Delight will fill out the corner.

And those daffodils - they are taking forever to plant, but I put as many clumps as I could fit in by the path. It is extremely difficult planting bulbs with a kitten, though. The planting holes are just the right size to be leapt in, and the bulbs are the perfect size and weight to be dug out with a small paw. But we had much fun.

 He still has his 'Mad Mac' eyes!
Little Mac the Kitten

Thursday 2nd February

First I'm off swimming and then I hope to pick up lots more bags of horse manure. It's less of a worry filling the car on an overcast summer's day, hee hee. Love that aroma!

Much Later...

I've been trimming and weeding, firstly in the Stables Garden and then over the grass path in the Birthday Rose Garden. I've planted fifty daffodils along the back of the Stables by the Camellias. I found some struggling big bearded irises in the Stables Garden, hidden away out of the sun. They're now in a pot, ready to replant somewhere out in the open. They'll be (memory, memory) midnight purple, if there is such a colour.

Four more barrowfuls of garden mess have been dumped on the fence line. I've used up most of my smoky-summer-bonfire 'cred' with the neighbour. It's the fence line by his driveway, though - oh well! Gum bark continues to blow down, and of course there are roses to dead-head and dried up Lychnis to pull out. It has to go somewhere, she said, feeling slightly naughty...

 YIppee! They haven't flopped down yet.
New Pink Dahlias

I'd like to take this opportunity to remind myself that a rose called The Garland is supposed to be climbing up the variegated Elm Tree in the middle of the Stables Garden. Its label came off with a dead-wood pruning. Go on - climb up, you darling old rambler - the tree will get you onto the Stables roof, and then the sky's the limit. Let me just check your measurements - aha! Approximately 4.5 meters by 3 meters, or 15ft by 10 ft... Eek! A fat rose! But how about this? 'Not very attractive to bees and wildlife'... Oh dear.

 In the Stables Garden
Unknown Flowering Roses

Some rather interesting roses are flowering now in the Stables Garden. And, typically, the most beautiful are the anonymous recycled ones. I love that!

Red Dahlia :
Bishop of Llandaff is a wonderful dahlia with dark foliage.

Oh - before I forget. There's definitely a reason to grow dahlias, even if they're a bit - old-fashioned? Suburban? I love them, and my bees love them. Two good reasons, in my book. I only grow one 'special' one, the red Bishop of Llandaff. He's seeded a lot, but his offspring dahlias are inferior in foliage colour.

Right. I've had a cup of coffee, and now it's time to go apres gardening and peep at the Downton Abbey Christmas special, recorded last night. This is the perfect gardener's reward.