Hello, March. I think I'm ready for you - but not any of your madness, just the mellow bits of you, that is. Autumnal light, calm days, the garden cooling down, the roses flowering again, the slow demise of the dahlias...
I'm also ready to start my big autumn clean-ups, after the wind and heat of February. Gum leaves, perennial trimmings and shrub prunings, errant tree branches, flax leaves... I've packed chunks of gum bark and cordyline leaves in huge piles, ready for the bonfire. Ahem. Yes, the bonfire. The first of the autumn bonfires...
The Fire Trucks
How lucky was I the other day? I had a garden helper for the afternoon, primed and ready to go. There was no wind, the temperature was fair to middling. The plan was to start barrowing all the dry rubbish I've collected over to my little bonfire by the water race. And burn, burn, burn. I had my lighter ready. I'd shut the house windows. Let the bonfire commence!
OK. Just a quick check on the council website. Oops! Photographs of bright yellow fire trucks on the home page. A large banner - Fire Restrictions! Lighting my modest little bonfire would have been illegal. I would have been so embarrassed. Non-Gardening Partner's friends in the fire truck would have trundled down my drive and told me off. Then they would have teased him for weeks and weeks. He is a senior volunteer fireman. Oops.
Doll with Gnomes
But the ground has dried out again, and we've had a few more thirty degree day temperatures, like February. In fact it's been the hottest late summer in my gardening memory, judging by the need for constant watering and the sadness of plants out of reach of the irrigation. It's not the lushest of looks...
So I mooched around all week shifting hoses (making sure to water the roses) and pulling out weeds. No point in raking and clearing up mess - for that would have meant double handling. Double handling! Possibly the rudest words in a one-woman-with-small-wheelbarrow country garden.
By today I'd had enough. OK, I can ignore some things, but the leaf fall all over the house lawns and gardens was just too annoying. And so noisy - walking to and from the cottage with pieces of bark crackling underfoot So I took action. I filled the wheelbarrow ten times, dumping the mess behind the pond. Double handing be damned!
Monday 7th March
Well, at least I'm not as random and flibberty-gibberty as my neighbour. Last week he scoured out a trench right along my boundary near the road with a medium-sized digger. I had spent ages building up the soil here, using the 'one woman with wheelbarrow and shovel' technique. And NGP had then planted a row of Deodars for a hedge, each with its own irrigation dripper.
OK. After this show of scooping strength the neighbour wandered off, leaving behind a metre deep vertical soil cut. Only seven days later and the soil on my side is starting to erode. Humph. 'One woman with wheelbarrow and shovel' is slightly peeved.
New Pile of Dirt
Yesterday, more random action - neighbour, looking professional wearing high-viz vest, driving a huge scooper-digger-dozer. My hopes started flexing their wings, ready to fly. Perhaps - finally, after years of neglect - he was going to clean up his paddock with the head-high weeds, all gone to seed - seed that happily blows over the driveway and onto my Allotment Garden. I lurked in the greenery and watched the enormous thing clatter and trundle hither and yonder near my garden.
Aargh! It was shifting piles of soil around. Move a pile from here - make a new pile over here. This is fun! And today - more piles of dirt being shifted and re-piled, big scoopy bucket swinging wildly from side to side, neighbour emulating small boy in sandpit. Dogs rather alarmed, Escher man-barking, Winnie doing her frightened high-pitched girlie yapping. Buster the black cat fascinated by noisy orange monster, ready to investigate closer. So we all went inside, keeping ourselves out of trouble, and I arranged some music (Nature Boy) for my jazz choir. Now here's a thought...
'The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return'.