I was planning to be THE most amazing super-gardener this month. May the gardening force be with me absolutely each and every day! Starting with today, which is - oops - the second day of the month. OK. We won't count yesterday. No problem.
Friday 2nd May
This morning's plan is simple. I've just raked all the oak tree leaves from the Pond Paddock, but I've left the fifteen bags lying around (so I can count them and feel good). Today they get pierced with holes, stashed by the Pump House, and all last year's left-overs (which have leaf-mulched themselves) get spread onto the garden by the pink rhododendron.
After I've done this I'll start cleaning up all the borders around the Pond Paddock. I might even plant the potted Maples - I have a wonderful collection of specimens given to me by my plant breeder friend.
Then I'll come inside and tell you all about it. All about what? Late autumn garden maintenance isn't the most colourful and exciting thing to be doing, but I love the mellow feeling and the soft daylight.
Six Hours Later...
Here's what a super-gardener should say if he or she finishes the gardening day feeling a little disheartened:
The Last of the White Dahlias
'It doesn't have to be all done at once. Think of the great mediaeval cathedrals that took hundreds of workmen hundreds of years to build. So it might take you, one gardener, more than one day to clean up, for example, the Jelly Bean Border.'
Serious garden maintenance is like this. Six hours' hard work, yet nothing looks any different. Dozens of barrowfuls of rubbish can come out of the middle of a shrubby border with seemingly nothing to show for it.
Then the best thing to do is to take the dog for a walk, and tell him about all the little things that did get done. Concentrate on plants rather than tasks. Talk about the Choisya that's been trimmed, the Aconitums that have been pulled out and plopped into a bucket, the branches of the Liquidambar that have been sawn down and burnt, the green Phormium which has been trimmed and is ready for dividing.
If there's enough daylight, finish the day off by going for a garden wander with the camera, and look really carefully into the middle of the Jelly Bean Border. Yes. It is definitely better. Smile. Then go and find some colourful things to take photographs of. These will definitely cheer you up. And then you can look forward to being a super-gardener tomorrow. Yippee?
Saturday 3rd May
Oops. I don't really know what to say. I've been swimming. I've had a groovy music rehearsal. I've been for a walk with Rusty the dog. The sun has been shining, and it's been a beautiful, benign late-autumn day. So what happened to Madame Super-Gardener? Oops again. So that's two days taken off out of three...
Sunday 4th May
I reckon I've jinxed the first week of May by my super-gardener statements. My efforts so far have not been so wondrous.
Sharifa Asma Rose
I've only worked for two hours today. I carted firewood logs over to the house, then I did some hands-and-knees weeding along the water race. And finally, at the end of the day, I went in the water race to cut back the giant Gunnera stalks and leaves.
My Favourite Secateurs...
Darcey Bussell Rose
Blast! I dropped my favourite red secateurs, felt around under the water for ages but just couldn't find them. It was quite cold, too. Those secateurs have nearly been mulched, composted, and bonfired so many times - it's harsh to think that their fate is a watery one, even if (hopefully) temporarily. Can their (and my) luck finally have run out?
All around the garden there are solitary rose blooms here and there, and splodges of colour from other flowers. I've gratefully taken pictures of them all. Dear flowers! They are so beautiful.
Right. Here's the plan for tomorrow. Ditch the wonder-woman super-gardener alter-ego. Just be plain old Moosey, fallible, vulnerable, short-sighted, and vague. Dither around that garden and see what happens...