Keep calm and garden on…

Silence in the air this morning, not a breath of wind outside as first light peeks over the horizon, the hills in a smokey blue haze. Inside is quiet, too, with the random scramble of mice in the walls and the predictable sounds of scurrying across the floor in distant rooms. We are in the throws of a mouse plague ( hopefully towards the end). An experience like no other; worrisome, annoying, frustrating and exhausting. Last Easter, we were in quarantine in a Perth hotel, unable to see family and friends. This year, another form of lockdown at home this time where we are unable to leave for fear of being further inundated and cannot invite guests to stay as we would usually do, for obvious reasons.

Not only are we plagued by biblical proportions of mice in rural New South Wales across paddocks, new and old houses and sheds but after the heavy rain in recent weeks, mosquitoes are rampant as well. Yesterday I got far too many bites during just a ten-minute watering of the garden. Hence, the garden is suffering from a lack of attention but continues to bloom and grow despite my neglect. All my focus is on remedying the mouse situation and keeping a watchful gaze to make sure any idle corners are moved about daily to deter mice from making new homes.

Earth Angel

Fortunately, the weather is perfect for drying blankets, linens, and clothing in the sun, and then must be packed away into heavy-duty sealed tubs. It is constant work involving daily vacuuming, repeated washing of soft furnishings, packing, and moving things about. There is no time for gardening because if we have mice inside, we have many more outside eating the date seeds in the palm trees, hiding in huge numbers inside pots and holes in the soil. Life is frustrating as I’m very keen to get out into the beautiful Autumn weather and garden before winter arrives – so many projects I’m eagerly waiting to do.

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Lady of Shalott

Peppermint oil evidently is something mice hate, so I have sprinkled it everywhere in doorways, nooks and crannies in the old farmhouse. Vigilance is necessary in the kitchen and takes time and effort but so far we’ve managed to keep the mice away from kitchen benches and food storage. Thankfully they have stayed clear of my sewing area and all of upstairs unlike the garage where they love to get under the bonnet of car and ute!

Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy.

Delbard painters series

The end result of all this work is the house smells like a peppermint lolly. We appear to be moving house as everything is packed up or hanging up on hooks. We pull the couch apart every night and keep the bed in the centre of the room away from bedside tables. The rooms are minimalist for a change, and we feel like we are glamping yet still at home. Sounds like fun, it’s not at all. As the saying goes “I’d rather be sailing” or gardening.

Slow and steady wins the race


The upside is that the garden still has vibrant blooms that are always a treat in Autumn now that the scorching sun has dissipated and the true richness of colours can be seen. We have had rain, so no constant need for watering, and the temperature is consistently in the mid-twenties; beautiful days and warm nights, so a glorious season. We are fortunate not to be recovering from floods here, and if we can just get some cold weather, the mice will be gone, I’m told. Who would have thought any gardener would be waiting for the first frost with such hope!


Because you are alive, everything is possible.

Thich Nhat Hanh

This year In the garden the stand out rose would have to be Just Joey, as I’ve mentioned many times. Coming in second is Rosa Silver Jubilee. Another outstanding hybrid tea rose that has bloomed on and on all season since I planted it as a bare-root plant last August. This week alone, it has twenty buds and many apricot/pink blooms about to open. It was developed by rose breeder Alec Cocker before 1974 in Scotland and introduced into Australia in 1981. Silver Jubilee can be seen from the kitchen, and is such a joy because it’s so prolific plus a stunning colour.

Silver Jubilee

“Despite the gardener’s best intentions, Nature will improvise.”

Michael P Garofalo

More roses have provided a sense of triumph because of their success and glorious blooms, and others motivate a relentless drive to get it right. Although particular roses require extra care, something makes you want to go the extra mile and achieve beautiful plants and blooms simply because it does not always come easy. There will often be setbacks, and I’ve had more than I expected initially, but I’ll be patient for the right time to get into it again.

Autumn Joy Succulent

Autumn tasks I’m waiting patiently to do:

  • Work on soil improvement before winter and attempting to attract more worms by adding organic matter and cow or sheep manure.
  • Weeding around the stems of the roses, clearing away overgrown perennials and removing any damaged leaves and black spot infested leaves to clear up for winter.
  • Adding new shrubs, trees, bulbs and perennials to take advantage of moisture and the warmth of the soil (bulbs should be in the ground by Anzac day).
  • Preparing the area for my new Kitchen garden
  • Making choices on the moves for winter of roses that need more sunlight etc

“Plan a garden for the future, but expect it to evolve and need changing, despite your well laid-out plans. Such is the temperament of Mother Nature.”

Meredith Kirton

My hope is that by the time I write my next post, the mice and mosquitoes have gone, the washing finally finished, and I’m able to be back into the garden and onto my plans. I started my garden to keep active and warm during winter. Better in my mind to be out in the sun than cold indoors?

All content and images Di Baker 2021

Header image is Honey Perfume Rose from my garden

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