I have come in from my sunny garden to say hello, am not sure how long I will persevere this morning as my desk is in our bedroom which varies from below 0 to 5° at this time of year. No matter how much I rug up, my fingers will still refuse to cooperate on the keyboard. Miss Boodle’s and our rooms are the worst in the house, we live a sort of glorified camping existence in the winter, without the campfire in the morning to take the chill off.
Mr. Moble has finally wrangled the large window shut in our room, always a contentious move as I feel it makes no difference except to make the room stuffy; his argument that having three sets of French doors and a large window in one room negates stuffiness bears no brook with me. So, he wears a beanie to bed all winter and I have been known to sleep in a fur coat and gloves. Miss Boodles, now twenty-four, can still be found sleeping in her next day clothes and a coat through a Moble winter though obviously no boots in the bed darling. It has been her way of coping with winter from a small child.
Winter means many things to all of us, but a few solid weeks of winter morphs me into a pruning machine. Any day now, I shall casually walk outside to empty the teapot and three days later I will emerge from my pruning frenzy, dazed and with so much plant material sticking out from my hair I could compete with the scarecrow. There will be trailer loads of garden to cart away and the teapot will be found, abandoned, teetering on the edge of the verandah with just a spout appearing from under a pruning pile.
Generally, it takes a few frosts to kick off this transformation but thus far, a proper frost has alluded us this winter. The lawns are still tinged green and the tomatoes are still with me. Looking out through the window, I see the Claret Ash is turning redder every day, but the Ornamental Grape has dropped and now carpets the paving and lawns. Is there anything more satisfying than walking along and kicking through autumn leaves?
The grasses will be the first for the chop, I usually attack them with the hedge trimmer, I have tried a chainsaw in years past however the stalks become stuck in the chain and that takes some sorting out, all done whilst crouching amongst the nearby roses and Plumbago which leads to the scarecrow look. Chop them off about knee high and if you want to lift them and divide, now is the hour. I am going to spread some of my Dee Crotty Miscanthus transmorrisonensis along the creek bank where the ducks have their stomping ground, there will be a lovely curving swathe of them which will be so pleasing when their silvery seed heads are waving to me in the afternoon sun. They need a little water to kick them off but are a very obliging friend to have in the garden and so undemanding once established; duck proof too.
The Ornamental Grape will have a good cut back this year as well. I haven’t pruned it for a few years, and it failed to romp away this last summer. Whilst none of us felt very rompish then, I hope a good prune and feed in the spring will encourage a better attitude for next summer: satisfactory is such an uninspiring verdict when you are hoping for outstanding. We rely on them so much for summer protection on our north facing verandahs and decks, to look out under their green canopy is to imagine cooler days in a softer climate. The little blue wrens spend their summer days there as well, we watch their busy days through the big windows as they chit chat away.
Roses of course will be dealt with, the last of the Icebergs are flowering on, braving the cold (no irony there dear reader), tinged with pink, not blue as you would think. Through the summer I will often cut them back with the hedge trimmer, confessions of a lazy gardener, but the winter prune is textbook always and a good opportunity to get in and cut out any problems. The Dogwood Rose, Senica alba, needs a clean out too which fills me with dread. If I am not here next week I will possibly still be entangled in the Dogwood, in need of brandy and a chainsaw.
The Catmint needs a chop back, and I will pop some bits into pots to have some coming on in the spring. Pruning is a great time for taking cuttings; roses, perennials and Mulberries will all go into pots here in the next few weeks. I will leave pruning the less hardy treasures until it warms a little, so they have some protection from the frosts, just as I do in summer for the heat.
So secateurs in the back pocket, my trusty loppers, sturdy gloves and my cordless hedge trimmer will be my must-have accessories for the next few weeks; the old pruning saw circa 1936 will be on standby and the cordless chainsaw too (change your life, buy an electric chainsaw, it takes the bad language out of starting). Don’t worry about your hair, the garden will sort that out for you as you go.
Stay warm, keep pruning,
The Moble Gardener.