An Open Invitation

I closed my Facebook account last year on ethical grounds, and enjoyed lots of extra screen-free time. I was genuinely happy with my decision. I had deleted the account rather than hibernate it.

Now, I’m back once more, specifically to focus on my garden and my writing, while attempting to allow the negativity and the FB ethical horrors to dip over my shoulder. I am áthasach to be back.

With this in mind, I extend an invitation to my regular followers here to connect with me there too. My Smart Bio has the links to my personal FB, my GrowWriteRepeat page, along with Instagram & Twitter. (Will someone please give me a Twitter for Dummies crash-course?).

Please note that as I am in the muddle (!) of moving website, the image links below the Smart Bio contact details may not be pointed correctly for a few days yet. I wrote about being Caught Between Two Minds here earlier, in order to clarify my conumdrum.

Perhaps I’ll see you here and there?

More About Me

You can check out the About Page on my website as a form of extra homework for the curious-by-nature.

Finally, because this is a gardening blog-thingy, I feel it (necessary) appropriate to add this image again. Tá na duilleoga ag titim. Ochón, ochón.


27th October 2020.

Caught Between Two Minds

Having to negotiate the ups and downs of my mind is regularly problematic. Now that my website is living as two separate entities, I’m caught between TWO minds. Do I continue here until such time as the NEW location is as I want it, and do I stay here afterwards?

I have some teething issues, one of which had been pointed out to me only today. It is this: What happens to the 124 subscribers to my website here? Does a subscription follow across to the transferred domain? How sensible would it be to keep both websites alive? I am torn, but the answer is… get out to the garden!

The Vegetable Bed and the Holding Bed are ready for winter. On the left, all my cuttings are safely tucked in under glass. On the right, I’ve got onions coming up slowly, plenty lettuce & scallions, and space to get the peas in very soon.

Both beds are cat-proofed.

For the record my original website is GrowWriteRepeat and is now downgraded to (which is where you are now). The former is nearly ready, and when it is I’m assured that the original content will transfer over. However, a little bird mentioned that the 712 comments left by my 124 followers & others may not transfer. I know my sister will be very confused by all of this! I may have to go to the garden once again.


27th October 2020.

Six on Saturday – Last of the Summer Time

With my writing, I can still play inside an enchanted castle or live inside an old fort. I can run from ghosts or ride dolphins any day of the week.

We are back into a severe lockdown here in Ireland. I can cycle only within 5km of home, but that won’t bother me this time because I’m on my annual six-week break. Plenty time for gardening and writing scriobhneoireacht, I says to myself.

My Six this week features several grasses whose names I forget entirely. I just call them grasses. Lovely they are too, in my opinion. I’m linking them with a few thoughtful words from authors, therapists, prime ministers and the like. I’m also introducing my Domestic Dump corner and a new Smart Bio. I’ll say no more about that, and warn you not to follow the link, lest you learn more about me. Heaven forbid! But do read along please for this last October Six…

1. Aon

“Most people find the grass to be greener on the other side of the fence, without knowing that possibly the person on the other side of the fence is looking at them, and the grass on their side, with the same feelings.” – Awdesh Singh – 31 Ways To Happiness.

2. Dó

“I grew up in a family of peasants, and it was there that I saw the way that, for example, our wheat fields suffered as a result of dust storms, water erosion and wind erosion; I saw the effect of that on life – on human life.” – Mikhail Gorbachev.

3. Trí

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, ‘You’re tearing up the grass’; ‘We’re not raising grass,’ Dad would reply. ‘We’re raising boys.’ – Harmon Killebrew.

4. Ceathar

“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.” – Eleonora Duse.

5. Cúig

If someone is as green as grass, they have little experience or knowledge of something and trust what other people tell them too easily. It is much more common just to say that someone is green. Bamboo belongs to the grass family. Some bamboos can grow to 104 metres tall. You do believe me? I n-dáiríre? Really?

6. Sé

As some regular readers will know, I’ve put names to areas of my garden. There’s Patio Potpourri, Breakfast View, Secret Spot, Joe’s Rockery and a few more. Below is the Domestic Dump. I like to think I’ve created a pleasant feature surrounding the six bins. For the record, they are, from back row, right to left:

  • recycling (blue) ,
  • domestic waste (green)
  • food waste (brown)
  • spare domestic waste (grey, for times of extreme decluttering),
  • uncooked kitchen waste for compost heap
  • and dog(s) droppings.

The kitchen waste bucket is almost covered to deter blackbirds from chucking potato peelings out, whereas the dog bucket is sealed. So, ar aon nós, the Acer and a mixture of grasses whose names I forget entirely, together with the new 2020 timber fence help to detract from functionality by adding a detractor or two. This area is my first glimpse of the garden every time I go outside, and now that it has been upgraded to Acceptable Lookin’ Good, I’ll just leave it at that.

A Personal Six

Here we go with six unwanted items hat snuck in here by sneaky means:

  • The clocks go back tonight.
  • Its my 22nd consecutive week writing this Six-on-Saturday thingy.
  • Old TV comedy favourite 1973-2010: Last of the Summer Wine. 295 episodes to choose from.
  • Sam Bennett was back to winning ways during the week in Spain.
  • No extreme decluttering took place recently. I feel a grey emptiness within.
  • My Smart Bio is the one-stop-shop to bring all my Internet places together. I think it’s pretty smart cliste!

Would you like to visit many other majestic gardens around the World? England, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are well represented on the Six-on-Saturday thingymebob created by The Propagator. Read all about it and follow gardeners’ gardens. You may join in free gratis (free of charge), saor in aisce. Ireland has several keen enthusiasts, and I’m proud to be among them.

To finish, a quote from Mary Pope Osborne:

With my writing, I can still play inside an enchanted castle or live inside an old fort. I can run from ghosts or ride dolphins any day of the week.

That’s it for this week. Stay safe, enjoy your garden and garden reading. I’ll be back next week. Slán go fóill.


24th October 2020.

Six on Saturday – Lismore Castle Gardens

It has passed through several noble hands. Walter (of the Raleigh), Richard (of chemistry laws fame) and Fred the Dancer’s brother-in-law all had the deeds and seeds.

There’s been some Autumnal giddiness this week along with serious work in the garden and homework in my head. I am in the process of moving my website from WordPress to Hosting Ireland, but I asked the team leader to allow me time to get my Six-on-Saturday up and out. No problem, she said. Amid all this ticking of boxes and following my nose, I had some John Cleese moments in the aftermath of my visit to Lismore Castle Gardens last Sunday. More of that later níos déanaí. My six (plus one) this week comes from the lovely garden in Lismore, twenty kilometres away.

1. Aon

The original castle was started in 1170 and I’m pretty sure they grew a few beans and bushes, along with thorns and truffles from time to time, but the first real attempt to add a garden befitting the castle caisleán commenced in the 1605. My meander through the present gardens, upper and lower, was the highlight of my year. That’s really saying something! I lost myself moving from one section to another through narrow maze-like alleys, eyes ahead in anticipation, moving from one century to the next.

2. Dó

I came upon this erect grass everywhere and I really do want it. Can anyone help me out?

3. Trí

This is the Avenue of Trees na gCrann. one of several throughout, most likely added by some new owner. Speaking of owners, it has passed through several noble hands. Walter (of the Raleigh), Richard (of chemistry laws fame) and Fred the Dancer’s brother-in-law all had the deeds and seeds. Since the 1600’s this has been just one the very many large estates owned by the Duke of Devonshire. The current Duke is Peregrine Cavendish, but I was unable to meet him because of my other Sunday commitments.

4. Ceathar

As I neared the castle walls I sat to enjoy a Hamlet moment, I was joined momentarily by a hedgehog. It crept slowly out of view as I admired the bigger picture.

5. Cúig

Very impressed I was by the many secluded nooks. This one would be ideal for a picnic or romantic moments. I had neither of these but I did sit to take stock of life.

6. Sé

Voila! Here’s the back entrance, the coffee-and-apple-pie café and the newly-established art exhibition gallery. The café was very tempting but the gallery was closed. I saw someone looking down on me from a window, so I assumed an interested gaze at a tree down to my right and pointed the camera away. Later, my thoughts turned to Rapunzel.

One for the road…

The back lawn is spirit-level level, but as I photographed part of the castle from the approaching bank, I needed to shift my weight to my right foot cos. Accordingly, the building is leaning. The builders of banks and castles could not have known at the time that this would cause first-world issues. An image of the Rapunzel in Pisa lingered with me.

That’s my short account of my first visit to these majestic gardens. I enjoyed it so much that I will save up for a season ticket. The gardens will open again in March next year, all being well with the world, so I will have some time to save slowly.

Further Study & Giddinesss

I did mention giddiness at the outset. In fact, it persisted until Wednesday, by which time I had produced a few fun items… photo edits, a tongue-in-cheek article and seven tweets. I’m told I’d do Twitter a great service by not bothering.

Just shocking! Read about it HERE.

Wouldn’t you just love to visit many other majestic gardens or castles from around the World? England, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are well represented on the Six-on-Saturday thingymebob created by The Propagator.

SOS World Tour

Read all about it and follow this week’s gardeners’ gardens. You may join in free gratis, saor in aisce. Ireland has several keen enthusiasts, and my County Waterford is headed up by An Irish Gardener and myself. That’s it for this week. Stay safe, enjoy your garden and garden reading, keep your distance and wash your hands. I’ll be back next week so until then, slán go fóill.


17th October 2020.

Hyssop and Cavendish

Agastache is also known as Hyssop and has many medicinal, herbal and culinary uses.

Marion’s cycling group are known as G5. I’m going to suggest some hyssup oil for them. In the coffee! Hyssop is known also as Ysup, Herbe de Joseph, and Herbe Sacré. Great for cyclists in appropriate doses.

Lismore Castle is owned by the Duke of Devonshire. No connection to the Hyssop family. Due to other commitments, I was unable to meet him. The current 12th Duke is Peregrine Cavendish. The family seat is at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, and the heir is Lord Burlington (William Cavendish), who is regularly in Lismore. According to regulations the heir must be male. There’s also the important matter of legitimacy.

Keep an eye out for the Hyssop…

Music © Back home by  Winter Foe


14th October 2020.

Six on Saturday – Fading Light & Black Gold

Today is World Mental Health Day. I received a notification on my phone during the week reminding me of a short piece I wrote four years ago today. I thought and thought (while planting peas and composting compost) about how I might link WMHD to things going on sa gháirdín ar chúl an tí. The 100 Word Challenge linked above is also added as text at the end of this article. This may sound very confusing, but I do hope you’ll be able to get past the fog.


Days are shortening and that means nights are longer. Yin and yang. It’s a time of the year when people’s mental health may be affected by lower levels of light. Studies suggest getting outside more often. Today, I did get out and I started the Patio Pot makeover. By 2:25pm it was time for me to have a late lunch. My recommendation today is to do your best to get things in balance.


Getting outside is one important part of self-care. But the trick is to do it over and over again. With this in mind, I added a few finishing touches. The bird-feeder will bring me great joy over the months ahead. Close comparison between this photograph and yesterday’s shows that there are four minutes less daylight. What words of advice would I give to anyone struggling today? Watch the birds!


I got out again on Wednesday just to top up my vitamin D levels. Apparently, this vitamin is important in regulating mood. To be sure, by 3:02pm my mood was upbeat as the Patio Pot feature is almost finished. In reality though, chun an fhírinne a rá, I’ll keep adjusting it every few weeks. Speaking of adjustments, there’s an extra four minutes of darkness since yesterday. In the Northern Hemisphere we are slowly tilting away from the sun. Mantra for today: get out there, even if you do have to wrap up more.


Just after midday, I fortified myself with coffee and sugar. I’m advised that coffee is not ideal to regulate My Mental Mood, but hey… life is for living! I had spent several hours finishing the glasshouse shelving, planting peas outside and shredding apple tree branches for the compost heap. My advice today is to do what makes you happy.


There’s a side we present publicly and another we present only to ourselves. In light of that, here’s my messy composting corner, being outed publicly. I accept also the messy corners of my mind. Look on the bright side… this heap of rubbish will transform to “black gold”.  The World Health Organisation has solid advice about self-care. Small things make a big difference. Here’s my tip for today: Limit screen time.  There is an off button. Doing this may allow time for reflection and acceptance of your private thoughts.


I’m late uploading my garden thoughts as I wanted to get a photograph watermarked with today’s details. Today is the day. It’s World Mental Health Day. I do hope it’s a good day for you. In the past I’ve been affected with seasonal depression, yet strangely mine appears in April. We are all different. I have good coping strategies in place and I know that they work. Gardening and writing work well for me. Then, I like cycling, reading, cooking one new meal each month (sometimes very successfully, I’m told!), meeting friends for coffee & sugar, meeting friends for no coffee, and lots of other little pleasures. For me, life is very good and while I’m grateful, my thoughts go out today to those who are struggling. Would I have some words of comfort today?

  1. People who lift you up are a blessing. Stick close to them, particularly when you just feel like being alone.
  2. Don’t get caught up in small details such as noticing that since last Monday there is less daylight here in South East Ireland amounting to 18 minutes.
  3. Get your hands into the earth.
7:49, 10-10-20

100 Word Challenge October 2016

Could I impart even a very small amount of my enthusiasm for gardening in 100 words? (20 used thus far).

World Mental Health day is on October 10th. Can gardening help with mental health? I say a resounding YES. Here’s my top 3 thoughts:

  • A good garden MAY have some weeds. Akin to ill-health, weeds remind me of life’s struggles. The trick is to ensure that the flowers dominate.
  • I frequently see one small job that needs doing, but after an hour of pottering about I have lost myself in harmony with the earth.
  • Gardening is my therapy of choice.

End of 100-word challenge.

“I am intrigued by writers who garden and gardeners who write. The
pen and the trowel are not interchangeable, but seem often linked.”
Marta McDowell (and adopted by GrowWriteRepeat).

100 Word Challenge 2016

Why not take a look at what my gardening friends are showing this Saturday by visiting Jon The Propagator? “Six on Saturday. Six things, in the garden, on a Saturday. Could be anything, you decide.” You’ll find details about how to participate there too. And now it’s goodbye from me, but the story continues next week. Slán go fóill.


10th October 2020. WMHD.

Happy Wife Policy

Until I retired in 2013 I had lost interest in my garden. The love of gardening that was there 30 years ago vanished amid the stress of work.
Now, I’m back in full flow and loving the time I get to spend a few hours pottering. Some days I’ve got a plan in my head but most days it’s a case of seamlessly moving on to what I notice needs doing. Of course, there’s also a helluva lot more time to relax, have a coffee or take a nap.

In all this, my good (best) wife Marion leaves me to my own devices. She sees the satisfaction it brings me and likes what she sees. She did have two long-term requests: a water fountain and a Budda. So, in line with my Happy Wife Policy (Rule 1.1.2b), we added both during Covid-19 lockdown. We are happy together.

Better than a dripping tap.

Link to the YouTube version.


8th October 2020