I'm ready for pre-winter apres-gardening. Good kindling, bags of pine cones, dry firewood for the log-burner. Merino layers, fluffy mohair jersey, and my Ugg boots - wonderful slippers. A super-comfy dog couch to share with the cats (oops) in front of the fire. And yet another library book about Queen Elizabeth 1st...

 Flowering now, really scruffy!
Mutabilis Roses

But this is all indoorsy house stuff. Outside, the pre-winter gardener becomes obsessed with collecting : weeds (as usual), plus leaves, and pine cones. This entails a lot of bending and bobbing. Aha! Suppleness! And then there's an awful lot of barrowing and plodding. Aha! Stamina! Then there's trimming, raking, and burning. Athletisicm! Aargh! Too many gardening verbs in one paragraph, too scary...

 Nearly three years old.
Winnie the Dog

A One-Dog Gardener...

I am a one dog gardener now, with just young Winnie (my black and white Border Collie) for company. That's my 'throw-the-ball, throw-the-ball, throw-the-ball' dog Winnie. Rusty was much less demanding (or less astute, possibly) - his ball only ever had to be thrown once, hee hee.

It's not fair to say his name now in front of Winnie. 'Where's Rusty?' was an often asked question, and she'd immediately find him for me. I don't want to puzzle her. Let her live in the dog-moment, I reckon. I miss Rusty a lot. I even miss looking after him!

Today my weeding friend and I worked in the garden by the washing line. This area has recently been opened up to the sunshine and light. So naturally the weeds are most impressed. Hmm... They seemed to be a 'black nightshade' type of weed.

Wednesday 10th May

Right. Back to these gardening verbs. There needs to be some burning and trimming, because the late perennials (Salvia uligosa, Scrophularia, Dahlias) have now finished. But there will also have to be some raking and plodding, to continue the gum-leaf clean-up, and get the bonfire layered like a lasagne and sizzling merrily.

 Purple seats underneath the Flowering Cherry tree.
Autumn Leaves

Thick fog!

But - and this need not be a problem - it is extremely foggy. I don't think burning is good in fog. Do I actually do 'fog-gardening'? I can't see why not. But I'll stick to barrowing and plodding, and hopefully reduce the need for bending and bobbing. I'm spreading thick mulch on the Welcome Garden, and this should suppress the weeds. That's the plan.

Three Hours Later...

Winnie lost two of her tennis balls, but found another by the boundary, where I've been dumping and spreading mulch. OK, only five loads - but I've had a bit of a circuit going, also shifting kindling wood and trimming the perennials. And I've pulled out the carpet of late flowering Nasturtiums from the Allotment Garden. A flock of little birds (sparrows, or some sort of finch?) is now busily poking and pecking at the soil. I've given them a wee present - that's so nice.

 Flowering again for autumn.
Choisya in the Driveway

I've completely cut back the Gunnera by the Car Bridge - folding over some of the leaves to frost-protect the crowns. The trick is to remember in spring that one has done this, and remover the old leaves appropriately. So that's one clump done. Eight more to go, some of which are huge. Time to get out my winter wading suit and get into the water, I reckon. 'Wading' could be tomorrow's Gardening Verb de Jour'.

Thursday 11th May

Right. To enjoy pre-winter apres-gardening, one needs to have done some proper pre-winter gardening. Today will be my sternest May test yet. I have huge plans. A list, or rather a set of tricky questions.

  1. Why couldn't I finish mulching the Welcome Garden?
  2. And also chop off all the Gunnera leaves and stalks?
  3. And put netting up so next-door's chooks stay next-door?

With regards to next-door's chooks - each day they pop through the fence and spend the day poking at my mulch piles. This should be rather cute. But Winnie (on a dog-diet) keeps popping over to - ahem - eat their poop. She is not silly. Hmm...


The answer to all three questions above : because it started raining. And then the rain got noisier, splattering down on the Gunnera leaves. And water started dripping off my fringe, and down my neck. Alas! I've come inside to regroup. Most of me was so snug in my froggy green neoprene wading suit, but I've swapped it for the Ugg boots, some dry merino, and the mohair.

 Check out the frog suit!
Me with Gunnera Leaf

I've reached Willow Bridge. Some of the Gunnera stems and leaves are absolutely huge - the biggest I can remember. A tiny thought. If I was really, really old, would I be strong enough to stand in the fast flowering water, swing giant Gunnera stems above my head, and propel them onto the bank?

Much Later...

Ha! The sun came out, and I went back into the water. Slow work, but I've now half-cleared the Gunnera clump by Middle Bridge. I worked for three more hours. Yeay!