No large scale plans...
The Big Gum
Three days of summer rain (over three inches in the gauge). So I haven't been able to make the most of Non-Gardening Partner's holiday. He's spent three days lolling on the dog couch reading flying magazines. Luckily I had no large scale plans for him... That's 'large scale', by the way.
But now he's sprung a bit of a surprise - he goes back to work next week. And guess what? As soon as he motors off down the drive the weather will clear, the sun will shine madly, and the lawns and garden weeds will respond accordingly. The wind will roar back over the big hedges to send my perennial flowers into a flop, drop a few rogue tree branches, and scatter loads of gum tree bark over everything.
Aargh! My resident non-gardening under-gardener will escape the dull, annoying, back-bending garden tidying work. Blast. He usually has one more week off.
In normal times I'm on my own and I just get on with 'it'. But a summer holiday spent at home with NGP means only one thing - garden help! Someone to organise! Chain-sawing this dead tree down, digging out that rhododendron and replanting it, raking up the gum tree mess, mowing the lawns, helping me shift heavy bags of horse manure...
Back to the old reality...
So it's back to the old reality, the one-woman with puny-upper-arm strength reality, where every garden maintenance task takes forever to finish, where digging a decent planting hole takes up to half an hour, trying to re-pot an overgrown Astelia ends up in failure (breaking the pot with a hammer). It's still drizzling, but I have lightweight, cosmetic plans, for which NGP's man-muscle is not needed. Though a bit of his man-money would be helpful.
- Buy potting mix.
- Buy cheap annuals and maybe some lavenders.
- Fill empty terracotta pots with floral and shrubby displays.
- Re-pot the succulents on the patio.
Above all, try not to get too wet, and try to regain that independent fighting one-woman one-garden spirit which has made me a legend (well, at least in my own eyes). Maybe have a go at releasing the pot bound Astelias. Ask NGP, playfully, if he wants to play 'tug-of-war'?
I've bought Pelargoniums (them that used to be called Geraniums), lettuces and parsley, blue Petunias and pink Ageratum, and a purple flowering plant (Osteospernum) which says it will flower at night. Yeay! But it's raining again. I don't mind getting wet but I don't feel like getting muddy. This will not do. I am supposed to be a gardener. I will dress suitably, and stay out there for as long as I can. Then I will sweep up all the mess, strip off, and have a shower.
Pots for the Patio
Two drizzly hours later...
Success! I've planted all my purchases. I've pulled out one of my first ever red onions (grown experimentally in a pot). It looks and smells like an onion. I have a mixture of House Merlot, nectarine juice, and flat cider to drink. I am very happy, and not too muddy.
Saturday 13th January
Lavenders are sneaky. They arrive from the nursery compact and bushy, oh so cute. But one (that is, me) needs to be attentive and remember to trim them carefully after flowering. This morning, super early, clearing gum bark from around the dog kennels, I remembered. The light magenta row of lavenders by Winnie's kennel was OK, and very receptive - because I've trimmed it before, at least twice. The traditional indigo-blue on the other kennel was scruffy and sprawling. Blast. Well, now it's chopped down by half and looks dreadful. That'll teach it to avoid my nippers.
But I've had an amazing day! First of all, blue skies for the first time all week. Secondly, NGP did something for me. He put the river pump back into the water race, and so my little wriggling stream is wriggling again and the little pond behind the cottage is full of water.
A new rooster!
And thirdly, I bought a rooster. Alas, not a real one, but a tall and colourful substitute. I was in a big franchise garden centre buying potting mix. I walked past him, he gave a desperate crow, so I squashed him into my trolley next to the basil seedlings, a cute little curly-leaf Phormium called Blondie, and a yellow perennial daisy. OK - that's more than just potting mix. And this is why I should stay well clear of such places.
Then I spent a happy three hours cleaning up the Hen House Gardens, specifically a wee circular area filled with Agapanthus and native evergreens which I call Henworld. My older hen inhabitants were smashed up in our 2010 earthquake, and I have been slowly restocking. I now have seven in my poultry flock. All fake, I'm afraid.
The River Pump
After a hamburger and a glass of House Merlot, the Head Gardener could be hear muttering over her (too difficult) latest summer jigsaw : 'I love my new rooster, and I love my river pump, and I love my cottage and Minimus my cottage cat, and I love my new rooster, and I love my river pump, and...' Childlike, really, like Christopher Robin saying his prayers. And God bless nanny, and...