I’ve not seen a week like it since I was a young whippersnapper. Temperatures by the seaside here reached about 28°C, and stayed there for most of the week. Too hot for gardening, too hot for the bike and definitely too hot for shovelling snow!
I’m writing this at 11pm on Friday night. The expected rain has arrived, and it’s forecast to continue until 9pm Saturday. There will be bucketloads. The garden will soak it all in and shine brilliantly. Looks like rain on Sunday too! There will be no cycling, but I’m actually tempted to dress for some light gardening. It will be super refreshing to potter around in the rain.
Here’s another gentle reminder that I’m moving over to The Three Hairs to continue my blogging. There will be gardening, biking and other general articles with a strong focus on getting some inspiration to write my first book.
You may be wondering. I’d not be at all surprised. To be honest, that’s good! Might I suggest that you satisfy your curiosity by finding out why the blog is called The Three Hair? When you know, then you know. Your day will be changed utterly.
I’ll continue to speedread/skim/scan your wonderful Six-on-Saturday posts. I learn so much and have loads of fun along the way.
This GrowWriteRepeat blog will now be put into a time capsule. Nothing will be added or taken away. It shall remain locked, yet available for reading at all times. Meanwhile, the show goes on at The Three Hairs.
Yes, it’s all sorted now. I knew it would. My garden blog(s), my bike blog and my write-a-book blog are now all together in one place.
I hope you’ll laugh with me… it’s called The Three Hairs. Many years ago, back as far as 1982, a wonderful class of 12-year-olds nicknamed me Baldylocks & The Three Hairs.
So, the long and short of it is…. I’ll now be blogging from The Three Hairs. In fact I’ve already started. The first piece I’ve added, called Memories of Glencree, delves deeper into the original Baldylocks story.
Many of you have liked my garden articles, so I just want to give you all a heads up. I’ve moved house from here to there.
Finally, as a gesture of appreciation, there will be some freebies for everyone who hops over there, follows or subscribes or elects to join my mailing list. As yet, I don’t know what’s on offer, but I’ll ponder deeply on the matter. I’ll be continuing to follow you all, and thus continue to have plenty enjoyment, fun, learning and appreciation of bloggers everywhere.
Have you ever in your right mind imagined that you’d even consider joining The Three Hairs Newsletter List? World is gone cracked!
The bike and left knee have been adjusted, so gardening this week moved from part-time to full-time. Not a single pedal was pedalled, not a headwind faced down, not even a hill.
We’ve had warm weather by day and mild nights, so it was a good opportunity to get all the annuals planted. I had started about two weeks ago and finished it off this week. Usually, I set myself a deadline to have the summer garden ready by the last day of May, so I get the bonus for early completion.
A quote from the late Bill Shankley seems like a good starting point…
Football is not a matter of life and death… it’s much more important than that.
So it is with rain. It’s easy to forget that rain is essential, but the past few weeks have been mostly dry. Despite this, the main sections of the garden have coped well. Plants have tapped into the unseen reservoir of water below soil level. On the other hand, my obsession with pots on the patio has had me busy keeping them alive, and the summer months have not yet arrived.
But one lives in hope. There was enough rain over the past week to make a big difference. I’m very grateful for it. I picked a good week to be off the bike.
New for 2022: Burnet
My love of gardening returned after I retired. In a way, it saved me! I’m not quite sure how I’d pass the days without it. It has kept me busy throughout the year. Of course, a garden and a gardener are ever-changing. There are plants I’ve loved in the past that are no longer in the garden, and equally, I’ve grown to like new ones. About five years ago, I made a big effort to grow from seed. The propagator has been filled to overflowing in February and March. In April the glasshouse is full and only in May does it get cleared out. Each year, I grow plenty annuals and just a few perennial varieties, but I like to grow one or two things that I’ve not tried before.
What’s new this year? Well, I’ve got several. This one above is Burnet (Sanguisorbia). Started in early March, I’d given up on it because it did not germinate for almost a month. Now, it’s well on its way. Apparently, it’s a prolific self-seeder so I’ll need to be careful.
I’ve a few other new plants that I’ve grown or bought this year. Watch out for more over the next few weeks.
The Busy Lizzies planted at the base of the rockery were very good here last year, so why not repeat the process? I’m unable to grow these from seed. The seed is expensive and it’s better value to buy just two six-packs.
Why on earth would anyone like grass? I suppose it’s the most prolific plant on earth. While I mentioned last week that we have no lawn, there are some grasses that are beautiful, especially when allowed to grow uncut. This is Festuca glauca, grown from seed back in March. The trick with grasses is to include about ten or twenty seedlings close together so that when they mature it looks like one plant.
To finish, I’ve selected another grassy plant. It’s easy to see why this little thing is called Bunny Tails. The packet states that it’s a cute and cuddly dwarf grass that flowers from June until September. These are from last year and are flowering a bit early. I’ve plenty more that I’ve grown this year.
Bike update: The bike is sorted and it’ll be hard to hold me back. I’ve a few big ones to tackle over the next few weeks. I’m well rested and raring to go. Up hill and down dale.
What’s this Six-on-Saturday thingy? We are a group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. Many more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram using the #sixonsaturday hashtag. You can find out more about it here.
It must be a very exciting time for housesparrows. The little ones are out of the nest, on the ground and plenty close supervision is needed. They’re chasing, hiding, diving and doing all sorts of everything to strengthen their little wings. The poor mothers are demented, while the oul fellas sit on the wall.
The starlings are busy too and the swallows are back. It’s a bit like O’Hare Airport in Chicago. I’ve not been there but I hear that it’s very busy. Watching the comings and goings, I got to wondering how come birds never meet in mid-air? There must be some unseen flight plan in place. If we could only decode what they’re saying, it might include lots of…
No, don’t go there! Don’t do it!
If I have to tell you again, I’ll tan your arse!
Those flowers are poison. Stay well clear.
If your father hears about this…
Of course, on the other hand, the fledglings surely have a bit of banter among themselves.
G’wan ya good thing! Let’s have fun!
Holy sparrow, you’re flyin’, buddy!
Crikey, I’m trying to get away from the mother! She’s a nutter.
There are times when everything falls into place as the little ones cling to the feather tails of their mothers, likely driving them to distraction as often as not. Perhaps it’s a case of two bird weeks being the equivalent of the terrible twos?
What would all these birds be noticing in the garden this week? Well, for starters they’d surely have admired the first rose…
The Rosa korresia is in bloom. Just one. It’s been well taken care of during the winter and now its time has come once again.
I can remember buying a selection of Christmas plants last year. Yes, the cyclamen and other little bits were a treat during wintertime, yet it was the container(s) that caught my eye. As soon as they were finished, the plants headed to the compost corner and the containers to the shed. Now I’ve planted them up with annual Begonias and they will enjoy a shady spot in the front garden between now and November. They will want very little attention apart from a dip in a water tray once in a while. I had one container last summer and was delighted that the Begonias made it through the winter. So, they’re not really annuals. I did bring them to a very sheltered spot in the back garden after Christmas, and now they’re ready to return to the front again.
Hard to believe there’s a gorgeous red container beneath! The four plants have multiplied. In fact, I may separate them… if only I had another container.
The stump of a fuchsia had been staring me in the face since last year, daring me to do my damnedest to move it. I balked on several occasions, because a job like that is like cycling a steep hill. The task must be respected. In any case, it’s done now, and I’m glad of it! I decided to remove some stone at the front of the rockery and this helped me to get under the root. Everything is now back in place (except the you-know-what) and I’ll add some summer colour here very soon..
Outwitting The Birds
I’ve sown some seeds here but despite my best efforts the birds have been picking faster than they can grow. Bamboo has been added but the feckers can get between them. This week I’ve strengthened the defences by adding some plastic that blows in the breeze.
This year I’m only growing scallions, lettuce and spinach. I’ve been sowing at intervals of about three weeks. This week the tipping point has arrived, meaning that they are growing faster than they are eaten. My plan last year fell away in July when I just got fed up of continuing to sow every few weeks.
I’ve just noticed that the birds have moved to the shaded section where the spinach is planted. They’re upsetting my lunch plans.
This little Alyssum was sown on the 18th of March. I’ve had it in the glasshouse until the last weekend of April and it’s been outside since then. There’s enough of it to fit around the edges of many a pot, and just to be sure, a second batch was sown in mid April.
Did I mention scallions, lettuce and spinach? Of course, there’s rhubarb too. There’s nothing we enjoy more than a good feed of rhubarb. The toxic leaves were added to the compost heap and custard was added to the cooked stalks. Delicious!
You noticed that this Six-on-Saturday just became seven, didn’t you? Naughty but nice. I do like to bend the rules now and then. The house sparrows made me do it.
That’s it for this week, a cháirde. Until next week, I hope that all will be well in your world. Slán go fóill.
We are a group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. I’ve been doing this since June of 2020 and I enjoy nothing more than reading about and seeing other gardens from near and far. Lest we forget, many more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram. You can find out more about it here. Six things, in your garden. Could be anything, and frequently is.
First off, I put away every long-sleeved shirt I could find, and it then seemed sensible to bring out the shorts and sandals. And all because there’s no R in the month. True to expectations, it’s been warm and sunny by day and mild at night. The glasshouse has remained open. The annual plants are outside and fingers are crossed that we don’t get stupid weather like we did last May.
This merry month is being pushed as No Mow May. Let the grass grow. Put the mower away. Indeed, I came across an interesting article urging us to get rid of our beautifully maintained lawns. Josh Sims hits hard. He reminds us that it’s time to rethink our fetish for a manicured lawn. On a cultural level, One Man Went To Mow is now very inappropriate, and should no longer feature on the school maths curriculum as a counting aid. In any case, there’s a bit of sexism there too. Yes, gnéasachas pure and simple.
You’ll find no lawn on my patch, just an occasional stray seed that appears among the patio cracks, carried on the wind or left behind by a passing bird. So, with nothing to mow, fertilise or weed, my footprint of carbon is lower. I’m definitely turning back the tide, lowering sea levels and reducing the ferocity of winter storms. Added to all that, I’ve got so much time on my hands that getting something ready for Six-on-Saturday is a doddle. That said, what has caught my eye sa gháirdín this week? Here we go after such a long-winded introduction…
This is Tanecetum, known also as Feverfew. It has several other names, one of which is Bachelor’s Buttons. It’ll flower in mid-June I’d imagine. I’ve featured it several times over the past two years. The foliage has an unusual smell, and can be used as an insect repellant. Some folks like it, some don’t. Insects don’t. Known as the aspirin of the 18th century, it was taken to alleviate migraine headaches. I can’t speak for insects, but I’d wager a tenner with Paddy Power that in a stressful season, they’d be subject to a headache or two now and again. It’s a jungle out there! For the life of me I can’t see the bachelor connection.
Using chemicals is frowned upon and getting rid of grass that grows among the cracks is like trying to keep the tide out. Want an instant fix? Use boiling water. Perfect for that spot where there’s no danger of killing nearby friendly plants. A word of warning though… if you’re wearing sandals, use an outstretched arm. Sandals do not react well to boiling water.
Geum is a perennial evergreen. It’s part of the Rose family, creid nó ná creid. It likes a sunny spot but now that it’s in flower, I’ve moved it to semi-shade because it dries out too quickly. The strange thing is that it shouldn’t be in flower until July!
Who’d have thought that the flower of lettuce would last so long? I can’t remember when this was sown, probably last Autumn. In any case there’s so much lettuce at various stages of growth that I let this one go full circle. It’s up to chin height, and sways gently. It’ll not grow any taller, as it puts all its energy into creating seeds.
Clematis Montana was planted in this corner last year. Normally such a vigorous variety, it’s constrained a bit by being in a pot. In fact, it’s not a very large pot. Anyways, it’s in flower this week. The corner is in shade until mid-afternoon, but summer sun would do damage so I boxed in the pot to keep the roots cool.
When this little plant comes into flower it’s time to get out the shorts and sandals. There’s lots of it on both rockeries, but it seems to do better on the one where there’s shade after midday. The other thing worth noting is that slugs and snails adore it. You’d find a large gathering most nights.
Finally, I’m returning a favour for my gardening friend Rosie. She’s been so kind as to add a link to her blog featuring my article from last week. Here’s her article from last Saturday, plus a few others too.
While Rosie has the swarm box at the ready, she needs help identifying the unidentified.
Fred is in France, where temperatures are high and rainfall is needed. Check out the Amaryllis.
It’s Autumn in Wellington, New Zealand, and Barbara presents Three Kings Vine. It’s a stunner!
It’s a good idea… I’ll add a few other Six-on-Saturday gardeners next week.
That’s it for this week, a cháirde. Until next week, I hope that all will be well in your world. Slán go fóill. На все добре! (na vse dobre).
What’s this Six-on-Saturday all about? We are a group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. Many more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram using the #sixonsaturday hashtag. You can find out more about it here.
This week Acers feature prominently. Now in full foliage, they weave their magic with such ease.
I took my eye off the ball, and Twitter is now beyond my reach. As I gardened to my heart’s content for the entire week, Elon beat me to the prize. All is not lost, however. The man has informed me that my account is good. There’ll be no talk of banishment, and I’ll be able to update my 142 followers without restrictions. Down but not out, I’ll reflect on the situation with as much grace as I can muster.
Hindsight is twenty-twenty vision. The good weather distracted me. I’ve been very busy gnóthach, because there’s lots happening in my small garden as May approaches. Strong growth all round has increased my workload. Content with my lot, I’m determined to view the loss of the big prize as no more than a missed opportunity. What’s for me won’t pass me by. There’ll be other Twitters. It may be the right time to remind myself that it’s a bit overvalued.
Here’s another thing… I’ll not let Saturday pass by without paying homage to the ritual Six-on-Saturday. This week Acers feature prominently. Now in full foliage, they weave their magic with such ease. But before reading headlong into my six this week, Thursday was National Poetry Day, so I decided to write something to mark the day.
Blackbird hops in the bucket, Something tasty for breakfast, A treat perhaps? Yesterday's grapes will do nicely.
Seedlings happy to escape From the glasshouse by day Scorching in there already, Returning at sunset.
I'll walk softly now, Have a long search For something new today, Never fails!
The summer's coming, We'll sit and laugh and chat, There'll be fun and flowers there, The miracle of life.
That little thing is six weeks old, It'll be gone by first frost, The tree beyond is wrinkled, It's a keeper.
Our two dogs are miniature Yorkies, so this is their view of my favourite Acer. They pass by several dozen times every day, either on their way to somewhere or on the way back, like Gilhaney in The Third Policeman. They don’t know it’s my favourite. On second thoughts, perhaps they do? I’m reasonably sure they don’t know its an Acer.
I’m very pleased that it’s slow-growing. I don’t remember when it was bought, but likely fifteen years ago or more. I did attempt cuttings of this but I’ve been unsuccessful. I’ve even tried air-layering. Nothing has worked for me.
Acer Orange Dream:
Next up is Acer Orange Dream. It’s been on my wish list for quite a while and I spotted it last week at Ballinlough Garden Centre. Now it’s happily in situ on Joe’s Rockery and I’m looking forward to watching it mature. These plants are not cheap. In fact, they’re not even reasonable. They’re bloody expensive. However, given that they are so beautiful, I’m happy to forego buying bike accessories every once in a while.
Here it is from further away with some context…
Last week, I mentioned the Holly Olive, Osmanthus heterophyllus Tricolor. It’s been put in beneath the Acer palmatum that has grown so tall that it now needs underplanting. I think this will fill the area quite well, but it’s a slow grower. An amount of patience will be needed.
Spiraea Magic Carpet has come into leaf recently. You’d imagine that a plant with carpet in its name would likely spread to cover ground. This one doesn’t look as if it has any intention of being a spreader. No matter, it’s pleasing to the eye and is earning its keep. It has lived happily in a smaller pot but was recently upgraded to a BP. If I manage to care for it well, it’ll likely stretch to a metre. Only last week I mulched it with coffee grounds. Bellaroom from Lidl.
Here it is again, flanked by a grass of some sort and a Hydrangea.
Bought last February, this little thing has been in flower ever since! It likes shade so I’ve given it some. Amelia reminded me that it’s native to Atlanta, Georgia and grows particularly well in creek banks. I think I’ll add another to my collection for next year, as well as dividing this one when the time is right. Easier than Acer, that’s for sure.
Can you spot it in among the rest of my potted plants?
The bins have been in this area for as long as I can remember, except for Tuesday nights when they get moved out front. The following morning they return to their usual spot. It all happens on autopilot.
During the week I tackled a little job that needed doing. The bins are generally sheltered by the Acer (except on Tuesday evenings). This shelter is important because bins do not like direct sunshine in high summer, particularly brown ones. However, as the Acer is too tall, it’s bare beneath and the bins are being blasted with vitamin D. So, I got my tools and timber to erect a sunscreen.
All is well in BinLand. Not alone that, but the bare area beneath the gangly Acer is now slightly camouflaged.
Here’s Heucherella, related in some way to Heuchera, a bit like Cinders and Cinderella perhaps.
It’s been a busy week and I’m finally getting around to putting a few bits and pieces together on Sunday afternoon. Really, I should be napping after a very windy morning on the bike, but I’m keen to get this done first.
It’s been a great week here in Abbeyside, despite plenty winds from the wrong direction. The highlight was on Wednesday. As I sat reading in the conservatory the blackbird came right in, holding a few wriggling worms, casually looked around, looked at me, looked at the two dogs looking at her, stopped for about ten seconds and about turned again. I didn’t have time to grab the camera.
So, what’s on display here this week? Here we go…
It’s a very busy time of the year. All the seedlings that have been safely kept in the glasshouse are now out every day. It’s a bit of a chore, but I’m happy to get them outside. It’s beginning to get too warm in the glasshouse and it’ll only get warmer from now on. I’ll be aiming to start planting these after the middle of May. In the meantime, this out and in procedure will have to be kept up until then.
This small corner, mostly in shade, is a happy home to the Heather, Bluebells and the Hellebores. While the bluebells are now in their prime, hellebores are fading fast. There are three here, and if you look carefully there are dozens of small seedlings growing happily in the gravel. Even if you don’t look carefully, they’re happy where they are!
A closer look at the pretty Bluebell. Marion loves them and they bring happy memories of her childhood.
The Begonias are beginning to stir. I’m always amazed that these small corms can burst forth such beautiful foliage and flowers. They’ve been given a good feed and fresh new soil direct from last year’s compost heap. I’ll be sure to bring regular updates as they develop. I think there are twenty.
On a recent visit to Ballinlough Garden Centre I came away with this fine specimen. It’s Osmanthus heterophyllus Tricolor, in lay-man’s language Holly Olive. Here’s what the RHS had to say about it. Click here. What I’ve got to say is this: I’m a sucker for evergreen variegated plants. What Marion has to say is that I need to be more selective about purchasing plants, i.e. operate at about 20%. In any case, I know exactly where I’m going to plant this. It’s not as if I bought it and don’t know where it’s going.
Finally, here’s Heucherella. I’m thinking that this is the same as Heuchera, just with a fancy ending. In Ireland, adding the suffix “-ín” denotes smaller. Buachaill is a boy, so buachaillín is a small boy. Teach is a house, whereas teachín is a cottage; bóthar is a road and botharín (aka boreen) is a narrow road. It’s the same with Heucherella I’m sure, similar to Cinders and Cinderella.
That’s it for this week, a cháirde. Until next week, I hope that all will be well in your world. Slán go fóill.
Make up cucumber hills in the evening. Get up early the next morning and sow the seeds before you speak, and you will have a good crop.
Wednesday was the best day of the year by a country kilometre mile. I spent some time doing small jobs and a lot of time sitting in warm sunshine, resting, admiring, reading and snoozing. I had intended cycling my usual Kilmolash and Glenshelane route, but rested instead. I’m told that improvement in fitness happens between sessions, so it’s a win-win situation. Of course, I made sure to wear my big ugly sun hat. I figured there’s no point in being rested, super fit and sunburned.
Last week you’ll remember I changed things around a bit. On Tuesday I continued, this time in the back garden. The square patio area was the focus of my attention.
However, before I show the progress made, I want to inform you of a shocking alert. It was a Facebook alert. Oh, I do love a shocking FB alert. If it weren’t for FB I’d be completely lost. You see, it’s full of rubbish that cannot be got from other sources. This one was about cucumbers…
I tried growing cucumbers last year and I gave up on them. They germinated but never really got going. I may not have adhered to correct procedures. This year I’ll know better.
My homework for this week brought me to read some of Frank C. Brown’s Collection of North Carolina Folklore. Here’s a short summary…
Plant cucumbers during the last quarter of a new moon, preferably on a twin day in April. I think a twin day is 11th or 22nd.
Get up early in the morning and sow the seeds before you speak.
If cucumbers are planted on a Saturday, they will be bitter.
It is bad luck to point your finger at a cucumber bloom, as it will cause it to fall off. It is unclear from the text what falls off. I’d imagine finger. Yes, I’m going with finger, and I’ll be sure not to point it anywhere.
If I’ve helped you in any way, please tell your friends.
Once again, I’ve changed things around. Normally, we get the table and chairs back outside for the May Bank Holiday weekend, but it’s been so dry this year that they’ve appeared a bit earlier. We also like to put them in a different spot from year to year. Once agreement was reached, I moved plants, pots and troughs around. This time, I’ve combined the two timber planters together as a central feature. I looked upon the fruits of my labour and grinned widely with satisfaction.
There’s much here that I like. At the rear, there’s an overpowering scent from the Skimmia, while the Forget-me-nots (myosotis) and Aubretia add an extra touch of colour. My thanks to Steve for the Aubretia. On the left, there’s a small clump of snowdrops given to me by Geraldine. I’m very grateful for any and all offers! There’s also the remains of a fuchsia that I cut out two years ago. It’d be good to find time to remove the stump completely, but my priority will be the cucumbers. Before dawn.
Polyanthus, Carex, Feverfew, Arabis and Vinca. Us gardeners sometimes forget that foliage can be very beautiful too!
The cauliflower and kale are finished. I’ve added a layer of fresh home-made compost along the bed and planted out the spring onions that I’d started in the glasshouse. I’ve also put two covers over the soil. These will help warm it up so that seeds will germinate faster. There’s a small space to the left of the spring onions. It’s just a foot wide. The spinach will go here, specifically because it prefers a shady spot. I’m buying shop spinach at the moment but not for much longer. There are a dozen seedlings grown inside that will be ready for their outside adventure very soon.
Here’s a look back to early September of last year. The white erect stems with starry flowers is Gaura that I grew from seed last year. I enjoyed it so much that it won the 2021 PdeB Growme Award.
For the record, the Gaura above is just one gaura! It’s a perennial and it’s growing very well again now. Altogether I have four. They got a hard prune back in November and I repotted them into larger pots a few weeks ago, giving them a rich soil with added vermiculite and perlite. Gaura is regarded as one of the longest flowering plants. I cannot wait, but know I must.
Anyway, the upshot of it all is that I’ve grown more this year. There are two different varieties here, and I’ve added several friends to the Gaura Giveaway list. Each will be given two or three. A bird never flew on one wing.
Just one other thing… yes, a short repeat of some cucumber information you may not have taken on board. This is very importanttamhachtach!
That’s it for this week, a cháirde. Happy Easter to you all. Until next week, take good care of yourself & others. Slán go fóill. If you’d like to read many other Six-on-Saturday updates, just head over to Jon The Propagator‘s blog.