Mr Cool and Mr Fidget were not in when I got up this morning. I wasn't too fussed at first. They are country cats and like to go outside. I called for them, which had the effect of bringing Mr Fluffy rushing out of the front door. By the time I'd put a straw bale down in the chicken run to stop them churning the ground to mud when the rain arrived and had my breakfast, Mr Fidget had turned up, squeaking loudly, but not Mr Cool. He must be busy, I told myself, but I was starting to feel vaguely plaintive by mid morning and went and called for him again all along the side of the wood. Eventually I found him rabbiting along the ditch. The rabbit seemed to have got away when Mr Cool made the mistake of putting it down, and Mr Cool was trying hard to look casual as if he hadn't really wanted a rabbit anyway. He consented to come and sit on my lap for a minute, then I left all three of the artists formerly known as kittens in search of Mr Cool's lost prey.
Mr Cool didn't put in another appearance until early afternoon when the first, very heavy shower finally arrived, followed by Mr Cool shimmying in through the cat flap, wet and squeaking quite loudly, for him. He is normally a silent creature, just making a single, small, high pitched cry to announce his return, or appearing behind you so that he is suddenly there when you turn round. He ate some lunch, followed by some more lunch, then spent the afternoon asleep on the sofa before taking up position on the doormat by the cat flap to keep an eye on the rain. The Systems Administrator's theory is that Mr Cool thinks it might stop raining if he stares at it hard enough. It is still not raining properly, but the forecast is for twelve solid hours from nineteen hundred hours tonight until seven tomorrow morning. I hope so. Mr Cool can jolly well spend the night inside.
Working in the back garden until the rain arrived I chopped down an elderly Cistus that kept flopping over the grass in spite of all my efforts to tie it up. I don't mind a certain amount of overflow from the borders. It makes the garden look more relaxed and is infinitely more attractive than a razor sharp edge and deep gully over which no tendril of vegetation is ever permitted to cross. It also makes mowing the lawn more complicated and cutting the edges takes longer. It is one of the strange facts of gardening that it often takes a lot of work to appear delightfully informal. I didn't bother starting to dig out the stump because it didn't seem worth getting the pick axe out when rain was imminent, but I began to think what I could do with the gap.
I have three pots of an unnamed, very good tall bearded iris from the garden of a friend who in turn found it dumped in a ditch in Sussex about forty years ago. Also a tall growing and vigorous form of Diascia grown from a cutting taken at last year's garden society plant propagation evening. They both seemed likely candidates for the space. The Cistus must have sown itself, since I wouldn't have planted it only a foot from the edge of the lawn, and with age it was getting ever more sprawling, and it has never been cooperative about my efforts to tie it to a stake so that it wouldn't be so much in the way of mowing the grass. As the rain still hadn't arrived I switched to weeding at the top of the slope where the sea buckthorns mysteriously died, and began to think that perhaps I could plant more Cistus in the newly opened gap. They would be happy on the stony substrate of what used to be the track to the garage, and wouldn't mind the wind.
It is sad when plants die while you still liked them, doubly so if they played a structural role in the garden, but it is fun to get a new bit of empty ground to play with. Planning what to do, poring over books and nursery websites and considering and rejecting possible schemes, can provide hours of amusement before you ever buy a single plant. So far in my head the gap at the top of the slope has contained a Buddleia alternifolia, a Contoneaster 'Cornubia' and a tamarisk, and I still haven't decided.