Tougher than a stewed pukeko?

 Blue sky! But that pond water is really cold.
Pond Cottage Reflection

How tough am I? Tougher than a stewed pukeko? Three degrees Celsius outside, a chill wind blowing from Antarctica, and I am about to test myself. My tree-men are here, dealing to a dead pine tree. If they can be out there, then so can I. My digital dexterity might be interesting. That annoying blister on my weeding finger might freeze-dry rather nicely, though...

Monday 26th May

Brrr! There are snow flurries outside - interesting! Maybe I'll just plant the Gunnera. Meanwhile my tree-men, tougher than ten stewed pukekos, work on, and the chain-saws roar. I've done some TV couch-cycling through Genoa (Italy) while bouncing the grandbaby. Nice - For me, very lovely old buildings. I've started web-weeding the Wattle Woods Tour pages. And I've drunk far too many cups of coffee. But it is a rather 'indoorsy' day.


The sun is back, but the wind is biting cold. I've wheeled three barrowfuls of pine-cone logs from the back of the pond garden for the wood-burner. I've rolled about ten huge rounds of freshly-cut pine down the hill into the front paddock. And I've planted the Gunnera. Now the plan is to go back into the wind with camera in hand and take photographs of the Elegia by the pond and the Miscanthus zebrinus.

Hmm... Elegia is fairly difficult to 'see' in the wind. And my Miscanthus has hardly any stripes left, since it's late autumn. OK. I did my best.

 A winter photograph, in which the Elegia has fallen sideways.
Elegia capensis

Tuesday 27th May

Welcome to the world of blue-skies winter gardening. The first real frost last night - maybe minus three Celsius, not too crunchy. Gardening is only pleasant after morning-tea time. So I've already been TV couch-cycling through Italy, covering about 80km in the north while munching breakfast, Percy the ginger cat wriggling ecstatically on my lap. It's a delightful way to start the day.

 Flowering now.
Compassion Rose

Regarding Bonfires...

I know what I'm doing outside today, too - the bonfire. Blast! The tree-men have organised the big stuff, and my job is to deal with the small. There are messy piles of pine and gum to burn, plus heaps and heaps of Carex grasses. Bonfires do not require finesse, or creativity. They are functional, environmentally dodgy, smoky, annoying things. Anyone who gets all gooey and sentimental about the autumn bonfire doesn't get out enough...


Brilliant (if non-gooey and definitely unsentimental) me. Two hours of burning, a mixture of totally dry gum rubbish, the Carex grasses, and dried giant Gunnera leaves. To get the heap burning efficiently I have to keep wandering off to get gum bark etc. from behind the pond. It all feels a little unfocused, but the mess is diminishing.

I've also found another root and crown piece of Gunnera for my pond replenishment. Must remember to plant it. I really want the pond garden to shine with foliage plants next summer. And I'd love the Elegia to clump out more.

 Losing its stripes.
Miscanthus zebrinus in Autumn

Right. The day temperature is crisp (about ten degrees) but the sun is doing really well, and the sky is beautifully blue. Where's my dog? It's time for the afternoon session. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could get all the rubbish burnt in one day? I know I won't, because there will always be more, won't there? But if I work really, really hard...

Wednesday 28th May

+5 +10Brr... Another almost frosty early morning, perfect for TV couch cycling in Italy, this time with two rather hefty ginger cats squashed on my lap. And I'm thinking about my gardening day. I'm going to start the bonfire, but also do some small-scale weeding and tidying.

 The first little wax-eye.
Time to Feed the Birds

When (and if) I find my secateurs I'll trim down some more dahlias. So it will be business as usual. At the moment it's four degrees - it's five degrees on top of the Italian mountain I'm climbing, hee hee.

Much Later...

Just the bonfire, I'm sorry to say, with little respite. I've been collecting rubbish from all over the place and wheeling it over. Plod, plod, plod. I've also found more innocent little Carex grasses to dig out (actually they are alarmingly big). And I've had a good idea. Instead of concentrating on one task (e.g. the bonfire) and being totally boring, I concentrate on one garden area by the water - much more interesting. Take the Hen House Garden.

Yesterday I saw things needing my attention. Spotty Ligularias need to be dug out, and Arum lilies can be planted on the water's edge where the grasses were. There's some purple - loosestrife? which needs to be in a sunnier position. All the Phormiums need to be tidied up. A white flowering Cistus shrub has a dead middle. And so on and so on. I'll make a start on this tomorrow.

Pukeko :
Thanks to annienz where I found this pukeko image.

By golly I'm tough! And to explain the reference to the pukeko, which is a brilliant blue New Zealand swamp bird. There's this joke about how to cook a pukeko. You simmer it slowly for days and days with a pair of old boots, then eat the boots. Oops...