Friday, March 18, 2011

Shorn times three and other gardening trivia

In my last post I showed my beautiful Arwen, curled up in a too small bed, with the news that she was going to the vets to be shaved on Wednesday. So here she is now! Yes it was a bit drastic, but I think it was the only solution to sort out her fur problem. It looks a bit odd I know, and vaguely reminiscent of a newly clipped toy poodle, but I think she looks rather cute. I expected her skin to feel dry and a bit prickly but it is soft and smooth like a new piece of suede. She still has a furry face, and boots and a huge tail. She had wide triangles of fur on either side of her face like you see very exaggerated in cartoon cats, and that has been trimmed so she has a smaller, rounder face that is quite endearing. The strangest thing is that she seems to really like the feel of it. She is like a different cat. Normally she rarely leaves my craft room, but she has spent the last two mornings lying along the back of the settee in Chris' office, and this afternoon she sat on my lap and purred! I've never heard her purr before. She keeps coming back to me for a stroke; it's quite amazing. She has a few sore patches, a couple of which may have been caused by the razor, but mostly they are where she scratched at the knots to get rid of them, and she is now allowing me to put some cream on them and they are healing fast. So it is my aim to now keep her free of tangles, but if I can't I wouldn't hesitate to have her shaved again.

This morning I decided to keep Arwen company so I called in at my hairdressers and had my hair cut. I have been growing it all winter because I am a bit unusual in that I hate having anything done to it. I know it is a treat for most women, but not for me, so I let it just grow while it was cooler, but it was getting very hard to keep tidy, and now that it is getting warmer I thought I'd better have it off again.

The third shearing took place in the garden. When we moved in there was a tall palm tree in the corner of the yard. It was looking a bit sad, as the previous owner was quite poorly for his last winter here, and was unable to give his plants much attention. But we tidied it up and watered it and it flourished. Then this year the crown divided into three parts so we had three lots of leaves growing from it. One day I rescued one of the large grasshoppers from Luna and to get it out of her reach, I put it on a leaf of the tree, assuming it would hop away as soon as it was recovered. Several weeks later I noticed that lots of the leaves were being eaten, so I peered around, and sure enough, there was my hopper, happily munching his way through the tree! Then in the recent storms the tree blew over. It is in a large pot with big stones all around the base, and was tethered to the wall on either side, but we do get very strong winds out here, and sometimes they catch the plants however much we have tried to make them safe. We stood it up again, but ever since then it has been dying and it now looks very sad. So this morning, Chris took off all the brown leaves, and one of the crowns that had rotted, and it now just has two tiny crowns with a couple of leaves on each. We will give it a few months to see whether it recovers. It may well do. Plants are fairly resilient out here.

The first autumn we were here we bought a tiny mandarin tree for the little garden at the front. but for no reason that we could find, the next spring its flowers all dropped off and then the leaves went yellow and dropped and we were left with a bare twig apparently devoid of life. We said we would give it one year and here we are one year later with a little tree showing definite signs of rebirth. It has quite a few new leaves and even a few tiny flower buds. So I am feeding it and this week I am going to cut back all the plants that are trying to overwhelm it, and hopefully it will do better than last year.

Last February my friend Sylvia moved house, and she invited me to take cuttings from her garden which I did. Those lovely canna lillies that bloomed for weeks were hers, and I have just divided them up so I could give some back to her for her new garden. She also had a large shrub that I really liked. It was very big and covered with white flowers in the spring. So I took a couple of soft-wood cuttings but I didn't really expect them to take. However they both did and they are now quite big plants. Probably because they are in pots, they have grown a bit spindley but they are now covered in flowers, so I am going to plant one in our tiny area of soil to see whether it will bush up a bit. Sylvia did not know what it is called and so far I have been unable to find out. I haven't seen it in any other gardens so it is not all that common.

This week another friend, Jasmine, had one of her coffee mornings to raise funds for our church. She sells cuttings from her plants and I bought a very leggy succulent which has a lovely head of flowers on it, and a honeysuckle cutting to train up the front of the house. My friend Jane also brought me several cuttings from her garden. For now I have put them in a pot with my cannas so that they don't dry out. I need to buy a few more large pots so I can plant them all out properly. This week our neighbour came over from Murcia for a few days, and she told me off for having so many plastic tubs. She took me round to her patio to show me that all her plants are in terracotta or stone tubs and I must say, she has a magnificent show of geraniums, so we are going to invest in a few terracotta ones for our patio.

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