Six-on-Saturday – No Man Went To Mow

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…

Bachelor’s Buttons

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.

Grass

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

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!

Lettuce

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

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.

Click/tap & zoom

Campanula

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.


Links

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.

Pádraig.

Six-on-Saturday – Don’t Look, Ethel.

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…

Cucumber

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.


Patio

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.

Next up…

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.

Foliage

Polyanthus, Carex, Feverfew, Arabis and Vinca. Us gardeners sometimes forget that foliage can be very beautiful too!

Vegetables

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.

Gaura

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 important tamhachtach!


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.

Pádraig.

Six-on-Saturday – Changeover

Out of nowhere, some nursery rhymes came flashing back to me. I’m temporarily returning to my childhood. Come sing along with me…

The daffodils are finished. While we waited patiently for their arrival, they haste away so soon, for such is life. As I took them out during the week I thought to myself of how different the world was back in February. Will the world be fixed by the time they’re back next year?

I’ve taken out the pots and replaced them with a selection of Vinca, Saxifrage and Arabis. These will continue to add some colour until mid-May when it’ll be time once again to change things around. I’ve got Pelargoniums budding already and I’ll add some annuals that I’ve got growing in the glasshouse. For sure, nothing stays the same. The wheel keeps turning.

Having put the daffodils away to their sheltered summer corner at the gable end of the shed, I’m moving ahead towards late spring with an eye ahead to high summer. While in this visionary state, out of nowhere, some nursery rhymes came flashing back to me. I’m temporarily returning to my childhood. Come sing along with me…

To the tune of “Once I Caught A Fish Alive”

One, two, three, four, five,
Now I've potted Vinca beag,
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten,
Now it's set to grow again.

Why did I let it grow?
Because it pleases me much so,
Where's it planted? What a sight!
Out front garden on the right.

To the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”.

I'm a little Saxifrage
Small with power,
Here's my foliage
And here's my flower
Yes, when I get planted up,
Hear me shout,
I'm a happy Saxifrage.
Over and out!

Last week, I featured Saxifrage Peter Pan. This one is quite similar but has no name. I suppose it has a name, but I don’t know it!


To the tune of “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush”.

Here for you pleasure is Arabis yellow,
Arabis yellow,
Arabis yellow,
Here for you pleasure is Arabis yellow,
On a frosty April morning.

Finally, here’s a combination of everything, to the tune of “Mary Had A Little Lamb”.

Pádraig had a little pot,
Little pot, little pot.
Pádraig had a little pot,
T'was given t'him by Joe.

Into this pot he put some plants,
put some plants, put some plants,
Arabis and Saxifrage
And Vinca minor too.

It makes the gardener laugh and smile,
laugh and smile, laugh and smile,
It makes the gardener laugh and smile,
To see Joe's pot in flower.

Right, as Gill would say, that’s your lot. Enough singing for one day. The dogs are looking at me funny. They know that something is amiss. I’m sure you’d be happy to continue, but I’m exhausted. Instead, here’s a Fern.

I bought this Tassel Fern last week. Known also as Lace Fern, the official name is Polystichum polyblepharum. It’s a bit of a mouthful, for sure. It will grow to about 70cm and I intend to put it into a large pot and keep in in semi-shade. I’ll sing some nursery rhymes until it’s established itself and after that, I’ll be redirecting my singing to somewhere else.


This rockery area has been in place since 2016. Prior to that there was a raised bed but it was flat on top. It had no covering of stone and it became difficult to maintain. This, on the other hand, is very low maintenance. A weed is a rare thing and for that I’m grateful. It allows me spend my gardening time at other jobs. Admittedly, there’s not a lot of colour, even in summer, so I add some annuals in pots, placed here and there on the stone. Anyway, I digress.

The photograph is of Cotoneaster Queen of Carpets, added in 2019. It’s a real ground-hugger and is spreading nicely. I also notice that it’s beginning to climb the wall behind. I’ve been able to grow some cuttings of this plant in the nursery bed at the back of the garden. I’ve got three, so I’ll be giving two of them to friends shortly.


That’s it for this week, a cháirde. Until next week, I hope that all will be well in your world. Slán go fóill. If you’d like to read many other Six-on-Saturday updates, just head over to Jon The Propagator‘s blog. You’ll find links in the comments section beneath the Saturday updates.

Pádraig.

The Gardener

We were rightly chuffed when Rosie mentioned us on her lovely blog. We’ve never been mentioned on a blog before. Perhaps we’ll be famous little robins?

Recently, we’ve been watching the comings and goings. There’s a gardener near our nest in the shed. We wouldn’t have started the nest if it were not possible to get in and out when the door is closed, but fortunately there’s a small gap above. Perhaps he put it there deliberately for us? In that case, thank you kind gardener!

We have met him several times. We’d be off getting a bit of moss or perhaps some light twigs and there he’d be, walking in or out, usually head down. For a few weeks, we were able to keep the location the nest from him, but we saw him zoom in last week as we watched from a distance. He knows that we’ve settled in between two plastic crates on a middle shelf. The gap is quite small, yet we’ve been diligent to have all materials installed. He seems content just knowing the exact Eircode. As far as we know, he has not told the cat. Mr. Robin says he can be trusted.

As we potter away at various tasks, we regularly see him in the glasshouse or potting up in the shed, watching us from a distance. Two can play that game! We greet one another with our trademark calls.

At this point, we know he’s not a threat. He sat inside drinking coffee on Monday. The chair is about a two feet to the right of our nest entrance. We moved quickly from glasshouse outside to a pot inside, waited a few seconds there and darted in home close by. He saw us, but seemed more nterested in the coffee.

Having a gardener to follow around is very exciting, particularly if digging is involved. It’s part and parcel of life here.

So, we have some questions… six, actually.

  • Do the male and female gardeners nest together? That would be nice.
  • When will baby gardeners arrive?
  • How many?
  • Why does he seem to tolerate these thuggish local cats?
  • Is there anything we should be doing to get him to change? We heard the lady gardener mentioning this too.
  • He digs the soil but doesn’t like worms or other grubs. We don’t understand. Can anyone explain? And another thing… we fail to see why coffee is so important.

Below are a few selfies…

The Irish word is spideóg. We like it.

Here’s one painted by the gardener’s baby. Last week, we noted that Eileen and The Shrub Queen had high praise for the work of the artist. We are inclined to agree. Also, we were rightly chuffed when Rosie mentioned us on her lovely blog. We’ve never been mentioned on a blog before (well, just once actually)… perhaps we’ll be famous little robins? We’ll be sure to tell the whole story to the little ones when they arrive.


That’s it for this week, a cháirde. Until next week, we hope that all will be well in your world. Slán go fóill. If you’d like to read many other Six-on-Saturday updates, just head over to Jon The Propagator‘s blog. You’ll find links in the comments section beneath the Saturday updates.

The Robins in the Shed.

Six-on-Saturday – Going Potty

When you think about it logically, it isn’t an impulse purchase if you think about it.

Before I knew it, I’d pressed the button. Pots ordered. Planters ordered. Grit, perlite and vermiculite too. I sat back and tried to remember if I’d intended buying all that stuff. Like, when I woke that morning, had I really intended to buy these things at all? Was it a purchase that sneaked up on me during the day? Or was it an impulse buy?

In any event, ar aon nós, everything arrived on Wednesday. In fact, two large boxes were sitting outside the front door when Marion and I returned after a windy morning cycling. I could sense eyes being rolled even though they didn’t.

1. Perlite

The second part of the delivery arrived a few hours later, the 100 litre bag of perlite. Same van, same driver. I guess he just underestimated how many buttons I’d pressed! Looking at it, to be sure it will last me for a few years!

My plan is to replace the soil in many of my patio pots bit by bit over the coming weeks. It’s a tall order. There are more than a hundred. This will help with aeration and water retention, especially in warm weather. Top tip: anything that helps to remind me of warm weather is to be welcomed. Perhaps I’ll think about a few more impulse purchases.

Now that I see that on my screen, it’s all wrong. When you think about it logically, it isn’t an impulse purchase if you think about it.

2. Recipe

Included in the order was this 20kg bag of grit.

I’ll be using this as a final topping on some pots. I think it will look great, but apart from that it’ll act as a weed suppressant and will also help to keep soil moist underneath.

Here’s a rough guide to my potting mix…

  • Soil from the 2021 compost heap
  • Peat-free compost
  • A fistful of perlite
  • A fistful of grit above
  • Half a fistful of fertiliser
  • A wing and a prayer

The final steps will be to….

  • Insert plant or tuber.
  • Cover lightly.
  • Water well.
  • When plant is 5-10cm above ground, add a layer of grit.
  • Sit back & relax.

3. Begonias

There were eighteen Begonias tucked away safely in the glasshouse since late last October. I made sure not to water them for about three weeks before bringing them inside, and they’ve dried out completely since then. This week, I made a start at getting them ready once again. As they are very hungry feeders, the soil in the pots needed replacing. I made a start during the week and was pleasantly surprised to find that they all survived except one. Again, I used the recipe above to give them a good start. Everything will now start happening underground, and there’ll come a point where there’ll be activity above ground as well.

4. All Together Now

The summer Geraniums had been removed from here back in January and they’re being cared for in the glasshouse. They were promptly replaced with these Tete-a-tete daffodils, using my familiar pot-in-a-pot trick. These will stay until they are finished flowering and then it’s all change again.

It’s literally a five minute job to change things around. Out and in.

5. Standard Pots

Thankfully, garden centres use standard pots for many plants. I think these are one litre pots and I’ve got a few dozen of them. I’ll be planting them with something that will provide some colour between end of March and early summer. I’ve a few options to think about. In June, the Geraniums will return to complete the seasonal cycle.

6. Pieris

This Pieris Polar Passion got a mention three weeks ago and here it is again, potted up for the season ahead. It should be very happy with the upgrade. Following the recipe above, there’s fresh home made compost with added peat-free, together with grit, perlite and fertiliser. The plant came with a thin covering of matted fibre, placed on the soil to keep weeds from growing. I was able to put it back in place when I was finished. Anyone know what it’s made of?


That’s it for this week, a cháirde. Until next week, I hope that all will be well in your world. Slán go fóill. Sincere thanks to Jon The Propagator who continues to host this Six-on-Saturday meme. You can find out more about it here.


Karma caught up with me. Following on from my very satisfied horticultural grin, I cycled long on Tuesday. For three hours this noticeable grin could not be displaced. But with 30km remaining on my homeward journey, my rear derailleur locked into just one available gear. Nothing for it but to keep going, hobbled by failed engineering. Pressing buttons had no effect. I tried using some French but that didn’t help at all.

Pádraig.

Six-on-Saturday – Ambigram

I’ve been very envious of gardeners who’ve been showing their Hellebores for the past four or five weeks, while mine lay dormant.

This week was memorable for several reasons. On Tuesday we had Twosday, when all the 2’s aligned to bring world peace, personal nirvana and lotto prizes galore. Of course, Vladimir didn’t read the script so he surely will win nothing. He was never on my Christmas list, but if he had been, he’d be scratched quickly.

Copyright @unknown.

I was moved to tears watching a short video clip from Ukraine. A mother and daughter were boarding a bus to safety but dad was required to stay to fight. He gave his daughter a cross to wear, not knowing if they would ever see one another again.

After the Stormy Trio, there were many days of wild wind this week. I chose to cycle three of them, and I was just so happy to get out. On the other hand, yesterday was a pet day and I pottered contentedly sa gháirdín. Here’s a short account of other activity this week…

Powerwashing

Before

At this time of the year the patio is mostly a no-man’s-land of pots everywhere, most of them looking very bedraggled. I had hoped to be powerwashing two weeks ago but it didn’t happen. I finally got it finished last week and I’m pleased with it. In the course of doing it, I needed to move every pot, bucket, trough and planter away. It’s no bad thing really, because when the job is finished, I start reassembling all the pots, buckets, troughs and planters differently. I discard anything that doesn’t bring joy, and I’ll shortly commence repotting. I’ll do a full SOS update next week.

After

Next week, I’ll make a start on the front driveway.

Another Job Done

Before

A few weeks ago I mentioned that there was a mound of loose stone that needed to be washed. This job is now finished and the clean stone has been added to the Gravel Bed. Above, it looks as if I’ve been invaded by moles. Below, having been raked level, it looks better. I scattered fertiliser around the roses before adding the new stone.

After

Franklin

Storms have been named here in Ireland since 2015. Last week, for the first time, we had three. I mentioned Dudley and Eunice last Saturday, and Franklin swept through on Sunday. Lots of wind and rain, but no damage. No cycling either. Eunice did leave its mark here as some rooftiles came loose, but nothing too serious. I had completed a quick check in the garden and hoped for the best. The following morning, my favourite coffee mug was nowhere to be seen. I searched high and low, anseo is ansiúd, and finally found it… outside! Washed clean as a whistle, and still upright.

Helllebores

I’ve been very envious of gardeners who’ve been showing their Hellebores for the past four or five weeks, while mine lay dormant. They are in a very sheltered corner of the garden and don’t get much sunlight. But nature will not be denied. They’re ready now.

Two other things. There are two ferns planted behind, but they’re barely alive. The spot just isn’t right for them. Also, when the tulips finished flowering last May, I hid them here, wondering would they come again for this year. At the moment they’re alive, and I’ll include an update in a few weeks. I’ll be interested to see if the flower quality will be as good as last year.

Vegetables

I’ve got plenty cabbages and kale that are strong and healthy. This corner will be eaten over the next few weeks to make way for lettuces, spinach and spring onions. I’ve planted everything here closer than would normally be recommended. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the space is very small and secondly, closer planting keeps weeds at bay. A closer inspection will show that there are a few lettuce plants among them. No danger of frost damage because they’re wrapped closely on all sides.

It Lasted Well

Out front, the Christmas Wreath has lasted well, but now it’s time to consign it to the compost heap. I’ll salvage the baubles and glittery bits and do a reverse Marie Kondo. The terracotta pot needs a blast of the powerwasher to bring up the lovely colour once again.

My thoughts are with the people of Ukraine. It’s all very well for me to be waffling on about nice things in the garden, but there’ll be bloodshed and turmoil for millions of families over the coming weeks and months. Did anyone spot The Trump’s comment? “Genius move”, he says when the Russians entered eastern Ukraine as peacekeepers. Still looking for headlines amid tragedy.


That’s it for this week, a cháirde. Until next week, I hope that all will be well in your world. Slán go fóill.

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. I love reading about and seeing other gardens from as far away as New Zealand, Tasmania, USA, Canada, Belgium, France, Britain and Waterford City. Many more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram using the #sixonsaturday hashtag. You can find out more about it here.

Pádraig.

My Gardening Week – Spring Will Come

It’s been a very good week here, mostly dry, some sunshine and mild temperatures by day. It was worse last May!

I’ve been waiting such a long time. It feels like warm weather is never coming my way. This week we’ve had torrential rain, hailstones, cold northerly winds and some sunshine. The rain coincided with my first visit of the season to Lismore Castle Gardens, the hailstones arrived just as I was preparing to go cycling and the cold winds persisted every day.

Yes, it’s the middle of January, the slump month hated by millions worldwide. I can’t say I hate it but it’s not near the top of my list.  Anyway, what’s interesting is that the weather account above is early May of last year! This week has been very different. I spent most of Monday tidying up as the temperature was up to 13C. There was no rain, very little wind and good sunshine. Mild as May, I’d be tempted to say.

There’s a lot to be said for having lots of gravel and concrete paths in the garden. It means that there’s no danger of walking on wet compacted soil. I was able to prune the last fuchsia very severely and an acer very lightly without doing any damage.


Most satisfying of all, however, was moving the pelargoniums from this large pot to the glasshouse and replacing them with daffodils.  You see, underneath each plastic pot, there’s another one. I’m able to leave pots permanently in the soil within the larger pot. Then I take plants out and replace them with others. Time taken: five minutes. A bit of colour around the edge wouldn’t go astray. Pansies perhaps?

Each of the pelargoniums needed some work to remove damaged bits. Finally, a light prune  and they’re done. I’ll be hoping to get them back to the front garden in Early June. In the meantime, I’ll keep an eye on them and feed them well from about April onwards.


Bird-feeding is a regular activity here. Mostly we’ve got house sparrows, blackbirds and starlings. When we put out nyer seed the finches arrive. Recently, I’ve noticed that some birds love grapes. We love grapes too but sometimes they do not stay fresh long enough to finish. I’d been in the habit of putting them into the compost bucket near the back door but the birds simply toss everything out to get at them. So, this week I’ve started leaving them on the patio. They don’t last very long.

Slán go fóill,

Pádraig.

Out And About

I’m thrilled to be able to finalise what I’m going to do, but as yet I’ve no real intention of doing much, except in my head.

Sunday, 9th January 2022.

One of these days, very shortly now, I’ll layer up and do a little bit in the garden. Later, when the one remaining fuchsia has been pruned, I’ll drag its remains to the compost heap. Shredding will be a job for another day.

I’m thrilled to be able to finalise what I’m going to do, but as yet I’ve no real intention of doing much, except in my head. Planning is an important part of gardening so I’ll mull over these little tasks in order to be sure that I’m covering all angles. Further adjustments may be made, all without ever opening the back door!

Blue sky & matching jacket.

We did get outdoors last Monday (3rd). It was a mild day once again so we ventured to Lismore, and finally walked the loop from Lismore Castle Gardens to the back of Hornibrooks. A decent walk in nature is a real tonic. At a time when Covid Omicron is rampant everywhere, getting outdoors safely is good for mind and body.

Lismore street art.

Walking back down through the town, we came upon this very unique natural art in New Street. Basically, it’s moss that has been grown to form an image. I did read the information plaque, but I think I’ll return to find out more. The technique involves using eggs as a binder to get the process started.


Note the tree, leaning slightly southwards.

Next on my list is my reminder to myself that Meabh & Jimmy got engaged. In a few years time Marion, Meabh and Jimmy will recall clearly that Christmas 2021 was the date. I’ll be able to confirm that they are correct by showing them this picture. I know they will be amazed at my accurate recall of events!

And finally…

I’m a believer that whenever we look for the positive in life, we are more likely to find it. On that note, while Omicron is now the word-of-the-month, there are only nine remaining letters in the Greek alphabet.

Newsflash!

Yesterday (Saturday 8th) was cold but dry, so I did layer up and I did get out. It was great to finally give the new front patch a little tidy up. I trimmed the grasses, planted a few recently purchased polyanthuses and got rid of an overgrown ivy in a damaged terracotta pot. The pot will now come in handy as crockery for the base of other pots.

Yes, it was time to get back out to the garden! My head can only take so much of Jigsaws and Kindle.

Today was another good out-and-about day. This time I was on the bike for a very enjoyable group spin with Dungarvan Cycling Club. Weather was cold, roads were very mucky after overnight rain but wind was light. We were quite literally a Dirty Dozen. Checking in the mirror after finishing was discouraged. Route: Lismore, Tallow, Camphire Bridge, Lismore again and home via Kilmolash.

Padraig

Six-on-Saturday – Conveyor Belt Required

It would be good to add vibrant red to the new Raised Seating Corner. But I’ll save that for later. I don’t want to be seen to accept suggestions too quickly.

17th April 2021.

I’ll tell you one thing, and one thing only. It would kill a saint. I’m not really much into saints, but I’d imagine that a saint would take a serious amount of killing.

Here’s the thing… I’ve got five large planters with three begonias in each. They do not fit anywhere in the glasshouse because they’re too heavy for the shelving. I have them in the shed by night, and they need to be brought out every morning. I cannot even leave them in the cold-frame because it has been removed to make way for the planting of my maincrop spuds. I think this daily pilgrimage will need to continue until the end of this month, particularly if night temperatures don’t pick up a bit. A conveyor belt would lighten my daily load.

Rather than dwell on this demanding daily ritual, it would be better to highlight some things in the garden that are sparkling, things that bring joy and comfort. How many things, I wonder? Why, of course… it’s Saturday, so six should do it! Let us begin.

Unfurling

My Lovely Fern is unfurling. It’s a bit blurred, but no matter. I had left last year’s growth in place until the middle of last month. It’s a way of providing shelter to the core of the plant during the coldest months. In this case, the plant is in a very sheltered spot and only some of the outer sections were frost-damaged.

As soon as I cut back the old growth, I admired the formation at the centre. As in previous years, I would check progress almost daily as I pass by, waiting for The Unfurling. When it happens, it’s just stunning. Unbe-ferny-lievable! I wish I could put a camera on it for a few days and do a bit of advanced time-lapse trickery.

Note: My Lovely Fern is a variation of My Lovely Horse, taken from the very successful BBC comedy Father Ted. The only difference is that My Lovely Horse is a song, and the other one is… not a song. Would you like to sing along? You can do so here. Much laughing is encouraged, but doing both together takes from the beauty of the music.

Building Castles

Last year I worked part-time at my local garden centre. For the most part, I enjoyed it very much. Of course, it became very clear to me that I wanted to spend most of my wages on plants and accessories! One other bright spot in this experience was that I had an almost unlimited access to used plastic pots. However, since last year, I’ve undertaken an enormous growing project. Presently, there are over a hundred little plants in the glasshouse, and that’s after the giving-to-friends that started last week. Pots need to be washed and sterilised in order to keep Abbeyside infection free, but it’s a job I do not like. I had been given lots of pots by friends but I had left them in water for three weeks. Finally, on Wednesday last, I got round to finishing the job.

Female Royalty

On Monday I visited the garden centre to buy spray for potato blight and came home with a few extras. These seeds will provide great colour over the summer, and into next year in the case of the Penstemon. What caught my eye at home, as I added them to My Seed List, was that there’s an inbuilt Royalty Theme, as all are given female titles… Queen, Duchess and Empress. Does an Empress outrank a queen? I may return next week to search for some male equivalents.

I wonder is it a marketing ploy? Do plants with female names sell better than Bishop’s Children, Sweet William, Bachelor’s Buttons, Rosa Just Joey or Cotoneaster Tom Thumb? I can’t imagine Tom being up to much in the company of the distinguished ladies.

Home Sweet Home

I was doing a clean-up in the shed on Monday and I spotted this hanging from the ceiling. I think it’s a wasp’s next. Can anyone confirm or inform me otherwise? Unfortunately, in my efforts to see if there was anything inside, I knocked it. It is incredibly fragile and the interior is a marvel. As it turns out, I wouldn’t have been happy having this nest within the shed.

Update: yes it has been confirmed as as wasp nest,and some advice too…

It would get to be twice the size of a football with maybe 5000 wasps in it. It is started at this time of the year, by a queen wasp, just after coming out of hibernation. And grows exponentially,  as the number of worker wasps increases. I would flatten it now with the back of a spade if I were you.

D. H.

I’ll be very busy between now and the end of May. That’s the date I have in my head to get all the big work done, and after that, it’s time to relax and enjoy the summer garden. With the exception of tending vegetables and watering plants, June, July and August are mostly for sitting and relaxing, eating and socialising. Oh, please let there be some socialising!

Lily Gurt Mór

I had been reading back through my article about Lily Gurt Mór, written last July. Here’s the state of play right now. There are four that are about 10cm above ground. I had been waiting for them, wondering had they survived the winter, dejected when I thought they hadn’t, and overjoyed to finally see them pop through. It’s time now to add some fresh topsoil and start feeding them.

Lily Gurt Mór is the name I’ve given to these trumpet Lilies. Gurt is South West England vernacular, meaning very large, used semi-frequently by Devon bloggers of note. I like it, and have added “mór”, our Irish equivalent, to emphasise just how tall these Lilies will climb.

Vibrant Red

This brightly-coloured pot, with polyanthus and cyclamen is on the opposite end of the Gurt Mór ladder. Bought just before Christmas, there was also a type of frosted conifer that soon died. Now, the remaining combination is having a second flush. I’ve moved it around a bit, and it looks great just under the budding fuchsia. Having said that, I’m tempted to follow Nora’s advice. It would be good to add vibrant red to the new Raised Seating Corner. But I’ll save that for later. I don’t want to be seen to accept suggestions too quickly!

I’m regularly skinning my head going in and out of the glasshouse because the lintel is too low. But this week, I’ve done further damage. While pruning my little Hebe Rhubarb & Custard with the very sharp new secateurs, I snipped a little piece of something other than the plant. Just happened that the top of my thumb was in the wrong place. There was perfect calm as I was bandaged up, but plenty screaming and doubling over the following day when I hit it off a bedside locker while assisting with the changing of sheets. I really will have to stop doing bedsheets. Interestingly, tieing shirt buttons, shoelaces and washing face with one hand are wonderful experiences that are teaching me lessons.

The unfortunate event has added a whole new meaning to the Covid catchphrase Stay Safe! That’s my lot for this week, a cháirde. Thumbs up! I’ll be back with more next Saturday an Satharn seo chugainn. In the meantime, please visit Mr. Propagator’s garden blog where you can find many more Six on Saturday articles from around the world, together with details of how to participate if that’s your thing. I hope you have a great week. Slán go fóill.

Pádraig.