Genteel gardening...

Do I miss Escher the bouncing brown puppy, forever ferreting out the gross and the rotten from my garden borders? Gardening has become very genteel and fragrance-free, and nobody is eating the horse manure.

 I hope this is the correct name!
Summer Strawberry Ice Roses

Monday 27th February

I've had an absolutely brilliant non-gardening day, a very rare thing in my life. I've been writing up my 'interviews' with Daughter of Moosey, conducted while she was making gourmet pizzas in my kitchen.

You'll find the introduction to her Loop Trip here in my New Zealand Journeys section.

She told me all about her big 23 day Loop Trip (hike, tramp, trek) in the mountains of North West Nelson. When I wasn't typing and editing I was mentally doing the virtual trip (hike, tramp, trek). And sort of missing her (she's now in Kathmandu in much bigger mountains). I could well become one of those people who can happily spend ages reading a topographical map for fun...

In the garden I did some minimal maintenance tasks, accompanied by Little Mac the kitten and Rusty the dog (no bouncing brown puppy to help eat hazelnuts). We went right out in the middle of the orchard, a million kitten-miles from the house, and did some nasty chemical weed-killing (shush, mustn't spoil my image).

 So cute!
The Little Incinerator

And then I raked gum leaves and burnt them in my dinky little incinerator. It puffs away in the middle of the driveway, looking so sweet!

Tuesday 28th February

What I should be doing this afternoon is burning my rubbish on the big bonfire - the wind direction is OK not to bug any of my neighbours. But it's a bit too gusty. Blast! There goes my big gardening idea for today.

OK - I can find other things to do, like spread the latest bags of horse manure on the Frisbee Border. Escher the bouncing brown puppy is no longer staying, so the manure will be safe from that superb brown puppy-nose. I also have some mulch lurking underneath the Leyland Hedge - how about wheeling some loads of that over to cover up the yucky stuff? Good idea. Look at that - all sorted in a flash. Sometimes gardening journals can be so useful...

Over Three Hours Later...

I love having a large country garden in which to be random. This afternoon I wandered off and immediately saw something I'd been meaning to do for ages. In the Dog-Path Garden a clump of variegated Scrophularia grows happily, surrounded by pretty but tenacious Oreganum. And thriving clumps of clover, and creeping weeds, and nasty running grasses, and sorrel, and...

So I dug the whole border properly, trimmed and replanted strong, healthy divisions of the Scrophularia, and ditched the spreading herb. I tried (as one does) to weed out the running grasses and I pulled out some Iris confusa. It's one of the joys of having a rather large garden - there's always somewhere new, something new to do.

Korean Angelica :
Korean Angelica is a dramatic bee plant.

All the while I was hoping that the bees weren't human-aware and wouldn't realise that some of their favourite flowers were disappearing onto the rubbish heap underneath the hedge. I actually felt rather guilty. Sorry bees - please visit the giant Korean Angelica (it's flowering) and the Buddleias instead. I grow them especially for you, honestly...

Many of the roses in this sunny area are flowering again, and I appreciate them all. I took lots of pictures of Gertrude Jekyll (so fragrant), Strawberry Ice (just the prettiest), and Honorine de Brabant, classic striped rose.

 They smell beautiful.
Gertrude Jekyll Roses

Then I checked my possible Margaret Merrill, took a photograph, and will send it to my friend for a stamen ID. She certainly smells like Margaret Merrill!

 The clleared garden area.
Room for More Roses!


Interesting - my Rhapsody in Blue shrub rose (just one) is so much healthier than the standard versions. Wonder why? A rootstock difference? Or wind weakening the root systems of the standards? They are in the same garden, and the standard Rhapsody in Blues even get more sun. Hmm...

My final piece of February news concerns Little Mac the black and white kitten. Discretely tickling the white, glossy, furry tummy, I made a rather basic discovery. I'm sure Little Mac is a girlie. He/she goes to the vet in a week's time, where I expect my amateur gender diagnosis will be professionally confirmed.

Obviously one treats a kitten exactly the same, whether a boy or a girl. But how exciting this is! And he/she is such an outgoing, friendly kitten. Even Minimus (keeping me company today, and not leaping out to scare the kitten) semi-agrees, I'm sure.

 The courtyard in the Dog-Path Garden.
Nearly Autumn?

So is it goodbye to February? Aargh! I forgot the leap year. I have one more day to go before what some consider the beginning of autumn. Eek! So much to do. Love the doing thereof, though.

Wednesday February 29th

I just heard today called 'Leap Day'. I'd never heard that before. Must go and leap madly around the garden, methinks... But first, evaluation of the needs of the day, choose appropriate clothing and change, feed the Moosey cats, maybe sweep up gum leaves from the morning decking... Do all those inconsequential things that start the thinking woman gardener's morning. Oops - the cats would not consider their appetites inconsequential.

Later, Lunchtime...

+10+10Good gardeners deserve a good lunch - that's me, Little Mac the kitten, and Rusty the dog. We've been tidying in the Stumpy (AKA Willow Tree) Garden, but I've been completely dithering. You see, the Stumpy Garden paths are covered in weeds, plus lots of self-sown foxglove and pansy seedlings. On the flat section right by the water there's an even thicker carpet of weeds, again with lots of foxglove seedlings. This would look absolutely gorgeous next summer covered in flowery foxglove spires.

So why the dithering? I am naughty - I have a puffy bottle of nasty chemical weed-killer (eek) in my wheelbarrow. It is so tempting to shut my eyes and spray everything. Can I be bothered to dig up all the seedlings I want first? And will I remember to replant them when 'it' is all over?