Out in the garden again + decluttering

19 August 2013
The August decluttering challenge continues with three items going today. I am finally giving away my red dress. I kept it for years, even after I stopped wearing it, because I thought I might like it again. Then I decided that wouldn't happen but because the side of the dress has a lot of buttons right down the side as a design feature, I decided to keep it so I could remove the buttons, then it would go. Well, it's been waiting to have those buttons removed for about five years. The buttons are still there, so is the dress. It goes today. Also going are two pairs of shoes. The challenge is still going strong over at the forum. If you want to join in for the last two weeks, you can write your own blog post about it and leave the link to your blog in the comments here, or you can join in the forum thread here.

We had a slow and relaxed weekend. The weather is changing from the cool of late winter to warmer days and nights. It's been a short winter this year and not as cold as it usually is here. I have the feeling it will be a long hot summer.

One of the joys of living where we do is that the weather is often perfect for six months of the year. Spring and Autumn are ideal, summer is too humid and winter, although nothing by European and North American standards, is cold. Spring is almost here. Hanno worked out in the garden most of the weekend. He dug a huge hole to plant the new lemon tree and unfortunately hit a lot of clay. He added gypsum to break it up a bit, filled the hole with compost, chicken manure, garden soil a good sprinkling of organic fertiliser and then built a fence around it so the chickens can't scratch at the root ball. It's in a sunny part of the chick run so when it's fully grown there'll have more shade in there. It's growing alongside a native fig, a pecan tree and another Eureka lemon. Now we have to keep the water up to it over summer and make sure it gets away to a good start. You can never have too many lemons.

Summer Memories

Those chooks are so entertaining. I went out very early to let them out and, as usual, Fiona was first out of the coop into the run, followed by all the others, with Lucy last. It's always in that order. Hanno had dropped one of his gardening gloves in the run and it was laying there, just one glove - natural coloured linen and canvas, nothing too drastic. Yet those chickens carried on like they had a 15 foot python in the backyard. They cackled and squawked and ran in and out wanting a better look at the glove. None of them touched it. Only Lucy, the mother hen, stood back and watched the carryings on with me. They only settled down when I picked the glove up and removed it. They know every inch of their territory and just one thing out of place sends them into a flap - literally.

In the front garden, Hanno pruned back a lot of the ornamental plants and trees. I'm growing old roses now, I have two bushes in, and have just picked the first flower for my desk. It's a very pale pinky-white - a shrub rose called Summer Memories. The other one is a David Austin rose called Claire Rose. They're growing beautifully at the moment but we'll have to help it through summer with extra water this year and hopefully they'll grow well after that. We also have a rose climber called Cecile Brunner which is a tiny pink rose. My mother grew it in her garden and it really loves the weather here. It's on the arbour out the front twinning itself through the wisteria. I'm also trying to cultivate hydrangeas this year. I bought them about 12 years ago, have not been successful in my plantings, but have kept them going as cuttings in the bush house. Now they're in a space just off the front verandah that gets morning sun and remains in shade the rest of the day. I hope it works. I have a feeling they like it there.

Hanno and I both see the garden - front and back - as an important part of our home. The trees provide shade and habitat for wildlife and birds, and although the garden is not grand, it suits our house well. And of course, the back yard provides us with fruit, vegetables and eggs, as well as ample space for grandsons to run around like crazy clowns or build roads in the sand pit.

I go out into the garden early now the weather is warmer. Just after sunrise, when the birds are calling out for the first time that day, I wander around, looking and thinking, watering this and that, clipping, moving and imaging what will come next. I understand now why gardening is such a popular pastime for retired folk. Not only is there a lot of gentle and robust work to be done, there is life and the potential for growth and change and as you grow older, it's wonderful being a part of that.

What's happening in your garden?