Bring on the Bus-Loads!

 Another Christmas flower.
White Iceberg Roses

Good morning to my dogs, the new kittens Buster and Tiddles, the big cats, and a reasonably tidy summer garden, which I'm slowly getting ready for Christmas. So what exactly does this mean? Here's my 'ready-for-Christmas test. Hypothetical bus-loads of old ladies turn up at my gate and I felt nothing but pride and excitement at their arrival.

Sunday 21st December

Eek! That means there's still rather a lot to do. Big things, like barrowing all the mulch. Little things like dead-heading more roses and pulling out random weeds. Doing edges and trimming old things down - and throw in a bit of tree sawing. How many bus-loads, exactly? Eek!

And guess what I think I'm getting for Christmas? A sore throat, a cough, with a head cold thrown - the icing on the Christmas cake. Things are moving very slowly - each day (and night) I feel a little more afflicted. Poor me!

The big irrigation has been running on and off for weeks now. Suddenly the day temperatures are (for us) hot and dry. The lettuces are all simultaneously bolting, the lupins and foxgloves suddenly look old and messy. Some roses (like the tall Westerlands and beautiful Compassion on the house pergola) are flowerless after my expert dead-heading, and already others are looking tired.

Christmas Traditions...

Family traditions come out to play at Christmas, and my garden has its own traditions which never vary. Like the vibrant yellow mid-summer shrubs - Hypericum and Senecio. Yes, they've started flowering. I grow several varieties of Iceberg rose (brilliant pink, blushing pink, and burgundy, as well as the normal white). Their first flush of flowers will last, only just, until Christmas Day, when they'll look lovely - at a distance!

 Flowering for Christmas.
Sunny Hypericum Shrub

The biggest Christmas week chore is watering. The wisdom of having so many plants in patio pots comes into question, as does growing the vegetables in the Allotment Garden down the far driveway, out of reach of the big whooshy irrigation. Oh well - better go outside, crank up my little pump (actually, I only have to turn it on), and position the hoses just so.

Kittens' and Puppy's First Christmas

This is the first Christmas for Winnie the puppy (my delightful destructo doglet) and the two new kittens Buster the black and Tiddles the tabby. Their presents have been wrapped up and placed underneath the Christmas tree. These littlies are easy to please - they get toys, while Rusty the slightly boring old-man dog gets tennis balls. A Border Collie dog cannot ever have too many tennis balls.

 A lovely natured kitten.
Buster the Black Kitten

OK, so this morning I have a music rehearsal, and when I get back I'm planting lots of white Cosmos seedlings in the Cottage's little garden. Oops. I found them all hiding behind the glass-house, looking rather forlorn. Help! Get us out of these small plastic containers, quickly!

Monday 22nd December

My head-cold is progressing almost as slowly as my garden improvements. Yesterday I retired to bed at 6pm in a bit of a sulk, nothing too serious. Today I'm sure I have enough in reserve to fight through the day without sulking. A lot of head-cold distress is mental, after all. Except my old joints tend to get more achy than usual, and I catch myself scowling at the middle distance. The middle distance definitely does not deserve such treatment!

 Winnie can be good, too...
Winnie the Puppy

Regarding Winnie the Puppy

I'd like to redress the balance regarding the 'naughtiness' of Winnie the puppy. For the last half an hour she's been on the dog-couch, playing 'properly' with 'her' toys. She picks one out of 'her' toy box, and goes to work on it. Winnie's toys are recycled baby toys, so they are sturdily made and make unexpected squeaking sounds. She is totally engrossed. This is how puppies are supposed to behave.

So my patio pot plants are for once unmolested, the kitten's litter tray is untouched (phew), and the kittens are free to scamper around the lounge without a bounding doglet wanting to 'play' too. Right. I'm taking the dogs to the dog-park this morning, before meeting my friends for lunch and coffee. And I have a short piano duetting rehearsal. The garden can wait.

Later, Mid-Afternoon...

Rusty the dog has a bone on the front lawn, but he keeps on losing interest and wandering nonchalantly off. This bone is obviously boring, and not smelly enough. Enter Winnie the puppy, junior dog, who naturally thinks the rejected bone is available for her to sample. Wrong! Back zooms Rusty, roaring and growling. His bone is suddenly beautiful and desirable, and he guards it ferociously with both paws until she slinks away. It's a comic act.

I Forget...

So many things I forget from year to year. Like how hot and debilitating mid-summer gardening can be. I've just spent an hour in the Welcome Garden trimming the rough edges of the lawn, tidying the (equally rough) edge of the garden, and pulling out the weeds growing around the Deodar hedge plants. Non-Gardening Partner has some trickle irrigation on them, which he runs weekly at night. Ooh, thanks for that! says the flourishing fat hen and assorted weed-friends.

 In the garden.
Tiddles the Tabby Kitten

Anyway, I've come in very red-faced to cool off and take a break. I think I'll stay inside for at least an hour to let the sun sink a bit in the sky. But good news on the personal front - not a sniff of a sulk has been detected. Phew!

Christmas Carols...

Now I have to get ready for a carol singing outing. My cold is getting slowly worse, though you will notice that I haven't been complaining. But I fear that my energy levels for Christmas gardening are a bit low. Apart from tidying and watering Pond Cottage's garden, all I can think of are things that Non-Gardening Partner needs to do. Things like Christmas lawn-mowing, Christmas weed trimming, Christmas irrigation-laying for the Deodar hedge. Oh well.

 Wirh Gunnera and Ballerina roses.
Pond Cottage Through the Trees

A sniffing, coughing, spluttering gardener would not make a pleasant hostess, either. Perhaps the bus-loads of old lady garden visitors could pop back next week?