Six-on-Saturday – Reminiscing

My mam is 89 (and a half). In recent years she has been afflicted with dementia, and she is slowing down mentally and physically. Her children have been her full-time carers for the past eight years, and she never fails to thank us. Her gentle spirit of acceptance that things are not what they were is inspiring.

My love of gardening came from mam, as she tended her small terraced garden. I can clearly remember her love of dahlias, roses, sweet peas and marigolds, and she somehow found time to keep everything looking good in between rearing eight of us. I wrote about Mam’s garden back in 2018. It does me good to look back to it.

In recent years she liked an amble around my garden, but that too has stopped. To be sure, my gardening days will come to a halt, but not yet! There’ll be plenty more Saturdays to present my selection of Sixes, and so without further reminiscing, here we go. Best foot forward.

Polyanthus

Last Autumn I got a lovely delivery of tiny polyanthus from Jersey. One hundred and sixty tiny plugs fitted into a tray no bigger than 15x20cm. They matured well over winter and gave such great colour from February onwards. Most have finished, yet there are still a few in shady corners blooming away.

The Brexit fiasco has put an end to buying plants and seeds from England, and more is the pity. I would have bought a similar pack of annual begonias to arrive ready for summer planting, but it’s not to be.

Sparaxis

Sparaxis

I have a few pots of sparaxis, and while this single flower looks good, it lasted only for a few days. The spiky leaves looked best back in February and March but now they are badly damaged. I suppose the cold spring didn’t suit them. As with many of my plants, these are in pots that were placed into window boxes as soon as the daffodils finished. Straight swap. Next week, I’ll be moving these away to a hidden corner and replacing them with Surfinias. To be honest, I can’t wait. Life moves on.

Bleeding Hearts?

Our recent visit to Lismore Castle Gardens was a joy. I picked up my Season Pass and enjoyed a leisurely stroll around. So many plants caught my eye but this one stood out. Paddy or Andrew will very likely be able to enlighten me. Is it Lamprocampos? Bleeding Heart.

Lettuces and spinach

Lettuces and spinach

This year I decided not to grow my lettuces and spinach on the vegetable bed. Instead, I’m using window boxes and a Tesco container that are in the shade of the Acer. The reason I changed is that the little munchables tend to grow too quickly in the full sunshine of the vegetable bed and they go to seed. Now they are happier in the semi-shade and an added bonus is that they are much nearer to the back door. I’m happier too.

You might notice that they are at various stages of growth. One container is now half-empty while another is just getting started. I sow seeds every three weeks in modules in the glasshouse and try to ensure that while there’s plenty for my plate, there are more to come along when needed. It’s the only way to keep me nourished throughout the summer ahead. Mam would have had no time for growing vegetables.

The exception to this plan is scallions, otherwise known as spring onions. They need plenty sunshine so I’ll continue to grow these on the raised bed.

Vegetables

Here’s an aerial view of my two vegetable beds taken last week. I built these back in 2018 and almost came a cropper in the process. Each one is three blocks high. However when cementing one wall, it collapsed against me. I made the serious error of filling it with soil before the cement was fully dry. The entire wall fell as one piece, trapping me until I could remove the debris. Seriously, it could well have ruined my cycling season. Happily, it was rebuilt the next day and all was well apart from a bruised shin and ego.

This week the early spuds are growing well and should be ready to harvest by the middle of June. Main crop spuds are just peeping above ground. Apart from that, there’s not much else on this left section other than my cuttings and some rhubarb which is not doing well at all.

The bed on the right is filled with onions, peas, broad beans, scallions and leeks. The bare section towards the front had been set aside for lettuces and spinach but as you’ve just read above, I decided not to put them here. I’m using it to grow seeds of annuals and perennials instead.

Ajuga

This little ground cover plant is Ajuga, commonly known as Bugle. It’s growing under the shade of a fuchsia, but disappeared almost completely last year because the fuchsia grew too large. Last Autumn I pruned the fuchsia by about half and it’s made all the difference.

Many of these types of plant flower early to ensure seed production in advance of the heavy shade that arrives later in the summer from overhanging shrubs. Nature is amazing. This little thing is a great food source for bees right now.

Six on Saturday is a world-wide idea started by Jon The Propagator in England, and I am a proud participant. You can find out more about it by browsing the Participant Guide. Writing here every week, I value enormously the power to express myself through my garden.

I was combing Mam’s hair during the week, and making a dog’s dinner of it. When I mentioned I’m not very good at it she replied:

Ah shur, you can’t be good at everything!

The Week That Was

Not garden-related, this is merely to keep a record of events for future reminiscing.

  • Entire Irish Health Service hacked with ransomeware. I don’t want my taxes being handed over to Spider Wizards.
  • Nearly 50% of population have received vaccination #1
  • I’m calling my new bike High Nelly, or just Nelly for short.
  • Jenny and Daire married on Thursday.
  • More Covid restrictions have been lifted, but dining out still not allowed.
  • More scams have come my way. The Department of Social Protection want to put me in prison.

Pádraig

About the author: Pádraig is the author of Grow Write Repeat. He photographs and writes about his garden in Ireland. He loves small plants such as polyanthus and ajuga. He also likes spinach and lettuce, but not when grown in full sun.

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25 comments

  1. All the best to your mum – it’s nice to hear a bit about how she’s inspired you and influenced your life.

    The mystery plant is Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum), and a very nice clump of it too!

    You’re right about growing salads in a bit of shade – whenever I try and do a few pots on our (South-facing) patio, they tend to go to flower fairly quickly.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Solomon Seal is blooming right now over here as well! So gorgeous, although I’ve heard that in England there is something called Solomon Seal Sawfly – maybe Brexit will keep it from reaching your shores! Thanks to your mam for this perfect quote:
    “Ah shur, you can’t be good at everything!”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Give your mother my best wishes – though coming from the other side of the bridge they might not be so welcome! Does that old rivalry still persist?

    Solomon’s Seal, as mentioned above and I have it by the acre – well, not quite, but in plenty. I also have you name, mentally, on a piece of aconitum. I’m sure I’ll be making a run to Lismore Castle Gardens in coming weeks and might try to drop them off to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aconitum will find a good home, Paddy! Many thanks.
      I played a bit of football with the Old Boro and was told I was a traitor when I bought house in Abbeyside.
      Rivalry there but not as intense. Folks can get all their tribalism out of system on FB. 😁😁

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Crossing the bridge was like entering a foreign country when I was a child. Same here in Waterford – Ferrybank across the bridge was Apache territory as far as the townies were concerned.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The way I look at the Brexit problemo without getting too upset is it’s given me the chance to discover local Belgian suppliers in more depth, plus French and Dutch ones. I got my Begonias from Farmer Gracey who are happily based in the Netherlands and ship to me at no extra charge and no need for the blasted phytosanitary certificates. And maybe this is a chance for you to set up business as an Irish seed supplier?!
    Love the Soloman’s Seal and Ajuga.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed my begonias arrived from FG also, but importing plants is a problem.
      I feel in a year or so that many UK suppliers will have to establish a European base. Interesting times.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have also been saddened by the poor performance of my rhubarb, which has failed to rally after being attacked by insects/mollusks. Good observation regarding the tendency of groundcovers to bloom early, taking advantage of the light they get before trees and shrubs come into full leaf. Hadn’t thought of that. I like your creativity with the lettuces and spinach. Bolting is definitely a problem this time of year, and part-shade in tubs an excellent solution.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Based upon your “record of events,” you have had quite the eventful week. Great name for your bike. I so loved reading about your mam’s garden–so nice that you have inherited the green thumb. I also love your staged approach to planting garden greens in pots. My Solomon’s Seal has struggled for the first few years since I gave it a shady spot in my landscape, but I now have quite a nice little patch of it in bloom.
    Have a great week, my friend.
    ~ Cindie

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The dry weather in April may be responsible for the poor growth of your rhubarb, even though I gave mine an occasional watering it’s growth is very slow at the moment. I was also told that of it gets a check in April it will not grow again until June. I don’t know the science behind that but it came from someone who grows a couple of acres of early rhubarb.

    Liked by 1 person

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