Summer reading...

 A pretty pair.
Agapanthus and Lavatera

Reading a chapter of the Booker prize-winning novel The Luminaries before breakfast has me feeling pleasantly bewildered and thoughtful. I ask myself 'What shall I do first?' and for once I don't immediately sense an answer. I just don't feel the need to be busy. Yet. Books have that power, sometimes...

Monday 13th January

Non-Gardening Partner finally made a Christmas cake last night, and the morning kitchen is rather crumby - a cat has been munching along the cake's edge. I'm having my coffee in my Remembrance of Little Mac the Cat cup. It's nearly a year since she disappeared, but there's always time for quiet reflection, and I've promised (again) to plant a memorial tree for her. Its time I grounded my sadness.

Checking the morning e-mail : 'Dear Marketing Manager of, Let us turn your dreams into reality.' Sorry, too late! My dreams are a reality - well, ninety-five percent of them are. And that's really good. Schumann melodies are swirling quietly in my head, and I've started a new, attainable jig-saw (2000 pieces this one, dwellings with windows, rather than a large leafy tree).

 Shasta daisies, and the new obelisk.
Behind the Pond

OK. I've been for a quiet walk to take photographs of the pond, accompanied by three cats - Minimus, and the two ginger boys Percy and Fluff-Fluff. Light drizzle has been gently tapping at my forehead, while the Schumann underneath has become decidedly noisier. Time to deflect him through the fingers, I think!

Much Later, Apres Schumann...

Now I've been stacking firewood for nearly three hours. Details? Oooh yes, please! Well, my pile leans against the side of the stables, just head high, and it's five rows deep. The longest bits go right up the very back. There's not very much more I can say. I could describe the stringy textures, the knots, the rakish pine cones still attached - but I won't! It's all from one pine tree, and I find it rather difficult make this connection, spatially.

 Ornamental tobacco.
Nicotiana Sylvestris

Mid-afternoon my plantsman friend arrived bearing a large tree as a gift for splitting and carting away some of his firewood logs. Dear man - I almost cried on his shoulder - a live tree for dead wood.

Litle Mac :
You can read Little Mac's story in my cats and dogs section.

All afternoon I've been quietly thinking about Little Mac the black and white cat, and how I miss her. So this 'Autumn Prunus' will be planted for her later this afternoon. Oh well. Better finish stacking that pile. And here's a thought - if it's worth talking about, it's worth a photograph! Hmm...

Much Later...

No it's not! It's just a large stacked wood pile, fairly robustly structured to survive earthquake aftershocks or scampering cats, and I've got sore arms.

 Five rows deep, stacked up against the side of the Stables.
My Wood Pile

I'm off to bed early, and I'm going to smile, read my other book (Enid Blyton's 'Good Work Secret Seven'), and enjoy thinking about my hard-working day.

Tuesday 14th January

Now I've read another pre-breakfast chapter of the Booker prize book, whose male characters are so absorbingly self-analytical they leave me feeling two-dimensional, like a leaf. OK, I've got shape, and edges, and veins. But as to self-image and self-purpose? Thankfully at such times nobody asks me why I garden!

 Sharpen those claws!
Minimus the Cat

Earlier that Morning...

Earlier in the cottage, between slowly unfolding paragraphs of The Luminaries, I thought about organising the Shrubbery, in particular the little courtyard area. A later plan is to remove a couple of old-fashioned, and replant them behind the pond. For now organise probably means weed, and trim the trailing Rosemary.

There's a Pittosporum which I'd like removed (this means the chain-saw), and Madame Leonie de Viennot's rose arch needs securing properly. As does the sprawling Madame herself. She's been unappreciated this summer because of serious shrub growth from her neighbours, and has reacted in a rather petulant way.

Right. Here's an idea. I take absolutely all my garden tools over to the courtyard - nippers, shears, loppers, diggers, scrapers, what-ever-elsers... Then I can do everything that I see needs doing, and thus perform a jolly decent tidying job.

Much, Much Later...

I've worked hard all day, pruning shrubs that have flowered, making more room for the roses. I've dug out a scrambling rose which I didn't like, and for now I've merely trimmed those pushy Pittosporums. The main problem has been this garden's desperate need for water. So my little hoses have been moving around all day, and I've dug out all the red dahlias (it's too dry). Mindful that summer is not the season to shift dahlias I've just trimmed the tops, and I'll dump-plant them somewhere tomorrow.

 You can see the watering hose.
Cats in the Courtyard

Shrubberies need their shrubs pruning, I've realised, preferably every year. Now I'm sure that I knew that. But knowing is one thing - doing is another! It was nice having lunch in the courtyard, looking around, knowing that there was more light and more room. The pink roses in here are so pretty in late spring. The hips on the pale pink Scabrosas have already formed.

 The perfect time for some blues.
Agapanthus Flower

Blue Flowers

I love the pale blue miniature Agapanthus, busy flowering now. This is the in-between month for rose displays, and so the charming little blue flowers and clean green leaves are a lovely sight. So restful on the eye! I love blue flowers, buy no - I'd never, ever want a blue rose. I'm also happy with the large Nicotiana sylvestris plants, which are flowering in the house patio garden. They've self-sown, so just imagine if I'd weeded in here properly...

To celebrate such a good gardening day I'm listening to the tennis (the Australian Open has started) and I might read another chapter of 'that' book. Second thoughts - after a glass of Larry's home-made Enid Blyton might be a better choice. Good work, Secret Seven!