Its now spring and we're heading into our third year with the garden. I've decided that this year we need to work on connecting the dots. I think we've gone about the idea of diversity the wrong way by trying to get as many different things into the garden as we can without really paying attention to the way things relate to each other. I have been trying to get a grip on companion planting and putting guilds together but have found that all to often you get told that it also depends on the local climate etc. which is abit off putting, not to mention reading that alot of the traditional companion plantings are said not actually do anything. To my mind things either work or they dont work, so this year we are going to try some of them out and see what happens. It actually feels like we have started again from scratch. Got a newly revitalised dome,with the broken bit on the bottom fixed, bracings tightened, windbreak instead of wire mesh. Got new chooks arriving probably either tomorrow or sunday from the neighbour of someone I work with. These will be a mixed bag of bantams and various types and colours of chooks but best of all most of them will be point of lay hens rather than the end of lays we have been rescuing from the battery farm. Paths are all freshly laid out with shredded tree mulch so we have a reprieve on getting a long term solution in place for this area. This year however, I have competition as my daughter, brother and mother have all decided to get serious in their gardens. I have got my own copy of a companion planting book called 'Carrots love Tomatoes' as well as copious notes from my net searches and am now the proud owner of a Modern version of the Yates garden guide book... I think hubby felt sorry for me 'having' to use a geriatric copy that touts the wonders of DDT of all things.(I just ignored those bits of it) And dads copy of the Nz gardening calendar, so lack of adequate info is no longer an issue. I feel quite nervous now and have all fingers and toes crossed for a good year. I have been working on getting the last of the privet hedge grubbed out from along the north bank. This was supposed to have been finished last year but.... not much more to go, although the bit with the plum tree on it will have to wait now til next mid winter. Below the bank needed alittle leveling and clearing out too. I noticed that the adjacent bed was still somewhat lumpy bumpy so the top soil went up to help make things more level and the rest is being used to fill in hollows elsewhere. One area we had trouble with was in front of the boundary hedge. I had made a walkway from soil left over from the driveway regrading which worked a treat in getting too all the hedge to trim it properly, but a pain trying to get the dome along it, so some of the bank soil has also gone to gently slope the three beds in front of this walkway. The violets along here have gone absolutely mad and have taken over the walkway which hopefully will means not so many unwanted types settling in here. With the part where the old steps up to the lawn used to be, the lavendar on each side of the steps had been taken over by the Japanese Anemone and pretty much succombed, so this was all cleared out and the swing seat put in there instead. I spent ages wandering around looking at different things trying to work out what to plant underneath this. It needed to be tough so it would stand up to being trod on,has to be able to look after itself and fend off unwanteds,low growing with leaf and flowers that were subtle and not in your face. And the winner was the one with the little flowers that remind me of little blue cats with green ears and milk on its chin. Apparently its a type of veronica persica from the net search I did on it. I dug these out of the garden in whole mats and after roughing over the soil sort of nestled them into place and then stood on them. After a week they are standing up all perky looking great. We are going onto broadband whenever the modem arrives and mum has said I can use her camara to take pictures with which is great cos hers has a rechargeable battery....so we'll re start the photoblog too.