Six-on-Saturday – Just Another Six

My question of the week is: Does the industry not sell seed of AGM plants with the deliberate intention of forcing me to buy the plants instead? Is it to maintain the genetic superiority of the plants? If so, it’s not cricket, ye oul lousers!

7th August 2021.

It’s easy to write when the rain is teeming down. The Irish phrase used for teeming rain is ag stealladh báistí, and it’s been stealladh-ing since Thursday. As a general rule and in the particular circumstances it’s easier to write inside. That said, it’s easier also to write in the height of summer, as there’s so much to delight in. I’ve left out many many garden things, simply because I’m confining myself to Just Six. Amid further raindrops, here’s number One…

1. Begonia Illumination

I do love Begonias despite all the work involved in loving them. This one is considerably better than most, quite simply because I bought it just last week. My loyalty card chopped the price in half to €10. It’s expensive for a begonia but otherwise I’d spend it on cycling accessories. It’s called Begonia Illumination and I’ll be doing my best to nurture it along. This will be a definite contender for Begonia Of The Year. I think I may not have my begonias in suitable soil as they are considerably smaller and with less blooms, as you’ll see clearly at number two further below.

Illumination

Now that I’ve reminded myself of cycling accessories, my list includes socks, mitts, new chain and Pegatin name stickers.

2. Central Patio Island

It’s a regular feature since last year. The Central Patio Island is central to the entire garden, and is continuously interesting. As with life, it remains continuously interesting because I change it around regularly. Marion smiles when I’d be contentedly sitting with coffee, only to up sticks and swap two plants around!

This month the Liatris Spicata is starting to flower and I’m loving the slow development of what will be beautiful red spikes on the Lobelia Cardinalis.

3. Agapanthus

I do not know the variety of this Agapanthus so I’m going to call it Agapanthus Shiner. My wife’s name was Shine before she agreed to take mine. I took some seed from a much larger Agapanthus last summer from the garden of my sister-in-law Joan. I set the seed but they failed to germinate. This one will remind me of the wonderful evening we had.

It is a 60cm ball of abundant blue, and there are several small clumps of red/orange Crocosomia (Cock’s Comb) surrounding it. The combination pleases me. Crocosomia used to be called montbretia.

Last year I left the Agapanthus spikes on the plant until late winter and used them to make a small skeleton bouquet which still enjoys pride of place on a bare trellis.

4. Dahlia Delight

The large dahlias are delightful! There are five scattered about, three in the ground and two in pots. Mam never lifted dahlias for overwintering. Her simple answer, she says, is to plant them deep enough. I’ve come to realise she’s right!

5. Mesembyanthemum

Known as Livingstone Daisy, memembyanthumemums provide a riot of short-lived colour. The flowers last only a few days, but by feeding it as regularly as myself, there are plenty replacement flowers. The spent ones need clipping (bit like myself i ndáiríre), a task Marion has agreed to do because it’s a plant that she wanted me to grow. It reminds her of her Shine days.

6. Protein & Iron

Agapanthus Shiner in background.

We opened our garden to the public last Saturday week, and in the process we helped raise €1659 for Samaritans Waterford & South East. Apart from funds collected, the day was a huge success. We both took an enormous amount of satisfaction from the event, and breathed an enormous sigh of relief when the last visitor departed. Several Guinness were consumed with gusto. Cycling was planned for the following day but it didn’t happen for me. Today, two weeks later, I’m still smiling inside. Guinness replenishes the parts that other beers can’t reach.

Help Needed

I’ve spent some quality rain-time planning for next year. The theme is Simplify Everything. I’ve selected just six vegetables, four annuals and six perennials from seed. A further four annual varieties will be bought as needed, and I’m leaving the door open to get additional perennials once I’ve moved beyond the 2021 and 2022 Bike Accessory Wish List. The perennials I’d like to grow from seed are all for Autumn. I chose them from an RHS article recommendation. All have been awarded AGM status. The trouble arose when I searched online for the seeds. They are nowhere to be got. So, my question of the week is: Does the industry not sell seed of AGM plants with the deliberate intention of forcing me to buy the plants instead? Is it to maintain the genetic superiority of the plants? If so, it’s not cricket, ye oul lousers! Here’s the list:

  • Agastache Blue Fortune
  • Aster x Fricarti Mönch
  • Sedum Red Cauli
  • Salvia Anistad
  • Chrysanthemum Mei-kyo
  • Ceragostima plumboginoides

Advice wanted from the horse’s mouth. Please, someone offer me a glimmer of light. This constant rain is beginning to get me down. That’s not actually true, but I’ll play the sympathy card to get the information I want.

What’s it all about?

Sin a bhfuil uaimse don seachtain seo. I’ll be back again next week with another Six-on-Saturday. Thank you for reading, and to Jon for getting us all together every week. I shall be spending some time hoovering inside (where else?) and reading other SOS updates when I can. Wherever you are, have a great week. Slán go fóill.


This Time Last Year

Excerpt from August 2020:

“I’m going just a bit off-piste, as I include a plug for my daughter. One of her very many talents is animal sketching. Her Instagram account is HERE, so feel free to take a look.”

Here’s the full Six-on-Saturday article, a three minute read: Moments of Joy

The Week That Was

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

  • We had hoped to visit Kenmare for four days, but the weather forecast was horrific, so we took a rain-check.
  • A date night in Richmond House helped make up for the disappointment.
  • Bike: 112 with plenty climbing  and 50km, despite several missing accessories.
  • Last year I was nearing peak draw-by-numbers interest. Now I’m loving Canva.
  • Applying for a Driver Disability Permit is a pain in the bøłłix. Not for me, and I wasn’t doing the application but the process would put me off when my time comes.
  • I was reminded of What3Words during the week. Check out the Play Store/App Store. I dare you to see what happens when you put in “normality.schedule.continually”. They must know me very well, because these three little words are so closely related to my blog title: GrowWriteRepeat.

Pádraig

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Six-on-Saturday – Snow Moon

It’s been a mixed-up week. There were several beautiful days of spring sunshine, perfect for spending time in the garden. On the other hand, we’ve had two days of high winds, torrential rain and flooding.

27th February 2021.

In normal circumstances at this time of the year, my friend Declan and I would have completed two long 200-kilometre cycling days out. We’d have had plenty coffee, laughs and lunch along the way. So far since the start of the year, I’ve barely covered 200 kilometres in the car, as I go round and round within my 5 kilometre zone. In all of this madness, I’m ever so happy to be able to move unhindered through the garden. There are no Garda checkpoints and I’m not required to wear a mask.

So, here we go again for this week’s end of February Six-on-Saturday. All you got to do is follow this link, read Jon’s update and then look at all the links from everyone in the comments. You’ll likely come across mine there, and simply by tapping on it, you’ll end up back here. By the way, tap is the new click for touchscreens. Tapping on an older screen is very therapeutic but gets you nowhere.

1. Agapanthus

I had left the old seed heads of the Agapanthus rather than cut them for the compost heap. Finally Faoi dheireadh, they got the snip during the week, but I couldn’t bring myself to dump them. For the time being, they’ll do just fine here. I’ll plant Sweet Peas and other annual climbers here in May, and even as they bring colour to this bare wall, the Agapanthus shall remain hidden behind.

2. Polyanthus

Patience is a virtue. So goes the old saying. Well, I’m delighted that the polyanthus plugs I bought from Jersey Plants Direct back in September are beginning to flower. At present, they are all in pots and window boxes. Yes, there are 160 of them. Yes, they arrived by post as tiny babies and yes I grew them on carefully and planted them before Christmas. What I like about these ones is that the flowers bláthanna are held above the plants on a stem.

3. Potting On

In Nora’s Teach Gloine, the top shelves are almost full. In all, there are seventeen trays of seedlings. Now, it’s time to move to the next step of the process. The Dahlias, Sweet Peas and Osteospermums are ready to be potted on to three inch pots, while the five Tomato varieties will be ready in another week or two. I made a start during the week, and as a consequence, space will be at a premium from now until the end of April. Very soon I will need to store plants on the lower shelves, knowing that they will not get as much light there, so a rotation system will need to be started. I have four rows of shelving on each side, and plants will need to be moved up one shelf every four or five days. Plants on the top shelf will then be demoted to the bottom. I have a feeling that I’ll be moving seedlings in my sleep!

4. Paeony

Three Peony roots arrived last November from China, because I ordered them. Logical, really. Having ignored the instructions which advised immediate planting, I got around to it in early January. Last week, my fellow Six-on-Saturday gardener Gill The Gymnist showed her’s peeping above ground. I spent a while walking around practicing swear words as Gaeilge because all I could see here was bare soil. Therefore, when I spotted this on Wednesday, I stopped walking around and put a few bob in the swear jar. (Don’t believe everything you read… I don’t have a few bob to put in the swear jar).

5. Vegetable Beds

There’s a lot going on here. In the foreground, the broad beans are beginning to stretch so I’ve added some bamboo canes and string to support them. There’s a second batch sown just to the right of them and I expect them to pop up any day now. On the extreme right the autumn-sown onions are doing well and I expect to harvest them in May or June.

The second bed at top of picture is empty folamh* at the moment except for cuttings and pelargoniums in the cold frame on the left. I have a half-door placed on top to heat up the section where the early potatoes will be planted very soon. There’s an old saying here that earlies would need to be in the ground by St. Patrick’s Day. Sounds about right to me. Half doors added in late February add flavour to the spuds.

*Note: In Irish, the combination of letters “mh” is sounded as “v”. There are only 18 letters in Irish alphabet. J, k, q, v, w, x, y and z are not used in native words. Thus endeth the lesson.

6. Spinach

Last year, I grew Spinach for the first time. I enjoyed the harvest for many months and resolved to grow plenty again this year, and perhaps a few new varieties too. So, I’m starting with Spinach Perpetual. I’ll be sowing this outside in early April, and in the meantime, I’ll sow it in the heated propagator in the hope of having an earlier harvest. Fine big seeds, so there’s no problem sowing.

Sowing Spinach YouTube link

When it comes to planting these outside in April, I’m going to make sure they are shaded by larger plants because they are less likely to bolt in shade. The cucumbers will be sown beside them. It’s all planned out.

In Other News…

February’s full moon is known as the Snow Moon, and sometimes as the Hunger Moon. Every 29 years there is no full moon in February, known as a Black Moon. The next one is in 2033. I don’t understand how something that doesn’t happen can be named.

Ireland is experiencing the pain of extended Level 5 restrictions. We continue as we were until the first week of April. We are also experiencing extreme helplessness in bringing about change to Government policy of not giving an adequate damm about allowing contaminated inward flights. Quarantining is not effective because it is recommended rather than mandatory.

On the positive side, Mam got her vaccine yesterday, and the second dose is scheduled for next month. Not a bother, she says.

Six-on-Saturday: Who are we?

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 last June and I enjoy nothing more than reading about and seeing other gardens from as far away as New Zealand, Tasmania, USA, Canada, Britain and Waterford City. Lest we forget, hundreds 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. Do join in.

Sin a bhfuil uaimse don seachtain seo. I’ll be back again next week with another Six-on-Saturday. Thank you for reading. Have a good week. Stay safe. Slán go fóill.

Pádraig.

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Six on Saturday – Guinness, Whiskey, Steak & Onions

The ugly wall was built badly by my great neighbour and his friend. Lots of Guinness and whiskey went into the building of it.

There was birthday cake on Monday as I celebrated the beginning of my sixty-third trip around the sun. Steak and onions too, with a glass of red wine. The celebrations continued unexpectedly for most of the week, as I met up with friends for coffee (and cake), and had lunch and dinner out with family on Wednesday and Friday. Prior to all this I had been just skin and bone, and now there’s a bit of flesh on me! I’m told it suits me. Unfortunately, there was little time to think about my six this week, and so it is somewhat factual without the added extra bits. Anseo, mo chuid Sé ar an Satharn:

Ground Ivy is a handy hardy annual for a tub of summer colour, as the plant is primarily a variegated leafy one. I bought a few in 2018 and this year’s plants are their descendents. I will simply leave these in place over winter and get literally dozens again next year. They root freely and give a balanced look to several areas of annual colour.

Persicaria is a wonderful ground-cover plant that looks very uninteresting until the flowers emerge. I’ve got them tucked away under several of the shrubs on Joe’s raised bed, and it peeks through to surprise me. A native Himalayan plant, it is sometimes known as mountain fleece, smartweed or knotweed but not the dodgy dangerous one.

I was given this Astilbe as a gift last year, and it is nestled between two larger shrubs. I was unsure if it was in a suitable place, so rather than plant it, I left it in its pot just in case it would need to be moved elsewhere. Apart from having to drown it twice during the drought in May and early June, it is definitely happy where it is.

Lobelia cardinalis is one of my top ten plants. It will flower very shortly, and as soon as it does, you’ll know all about it! Once again, these remain in pots rather than in the ground. In that way I can move them wherever I want and move them away when they no longer look great. I have three, and they will be very suitable for dividing in early spring. Next year there will likely be nine, and at that point I will plant some in a pernanent position.

I rarely take photographs of the Agapanthus, and I know why. It just doesn’t present itself well for the camera. Indeed it is a beautiful plant to look at and is a definite addition to the rockery. It will remain in flower for a long period, and in addition to that, I leave the dead spikes in place through the winter. Perhaps that will be worth photographing.

This clinging Hydrangea was bought in an attempt to hide the ugly wall, which was built badly by my great neighbour and his friend. Lots of Guinness and whiskey went into the building of this ugly wall, so we decided to attach a wooden camouflage recently. The hydrangea doesn’t mind whether it clings to an ugly wall or a wooden fence attached to an ugly wall. In 2022 this will be a magnificent backdrop to the area, and in the meantime I will take some cuttings to multiply the stock.

That’s my lot for this week. I do hope you have a great week ahead, whether there be gardening or not. If you’ve a mind to, pop over to Mr. Propagator to read about many more gardeners writing their Six on Saturday. There may even be one or two who celebrated a birthday this week with cake, steak & onions.

Eating cáca milis and extending a birthday beyond a one-day event is very rewarding. I’m reminded that if weddings are becoming three-day events, why not go all out when one reaches the age of sixty-two? I did manage to write my daily garden challenge this week, which cut into my time. I’m glad I did so, though. Overall, it has been a very very good week. Here’s to more next week, but without the cake!

Instagram @growwriterepeat and personal account @padraigdeb58.

Pádraig,

Saturday, 18th July  2020

Mad Hatter And The Lunar Eclipse

It was a cold week but not as cold as was predicted. In the garden, I finally got around to putting a fleece layer in place, and I finished pruning the roses and fuchsias. The Blood Red Moon failed to work its magic but the geraniums rooted perfectly! Here’s what caught my eye last week…

Monday, 21st of January:

It’s Blue Monday and there’s a Blood Red Moon, otherwise known as a Wolf Moon. There’s a thing called Gardening by the Moon. According to this, certain plants do better when planted during the waxing moon, and others while the moon is waning. Apparently, also there is some scientific evidence to support this.
Whether or not there are benefits to gardening at lunar eclipse times is unclear. Early this morning there was a total lunar eclipse, and I rose from my bed to view it, but all I could see was cloud. I wanted to wait to see if the cloud would clear, and spent a while finding out about moon gardening. I did get a hazy glimpse of the eclipse as the moon came out of the earth’s shadow after 6am. The next total lunar eclipse will be 2029.
I know the Blood Red image is not mine. As far as I remember I screenshotted it from a live-stream online, but as far as I’m concerned it’s my moon. Credit for the image goes to an unknown source.

Tuesday, January 22nd:

The miniature daffodils are in full bloom, and they brighten up a cold January day. This variety is called narcissus topolino.

Fair daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attained his noon.
Stay, stay,
Until the hasting day
Has run
But to the evensong;
And, having prayed together, we
Will go with you along.
We have short time to stay as you,
We have as short a spring;
As quick a growth to meet decay,
As you or anything.
We die
As your hours do, and dry away
Like to the summer’s rain;
Or as the pearls of morning’s dew,
Ne’er to be found again.
~ Robert Herrick

Life is short, and death comes to all. Death came suddenly last Sunday night to a wonderful local man, Michael Wright. Known far and wide as the Mad Hatter, he was a wonderfully gifted entertainer. In recent times too, he had developed very thought-provoking insights into the people and community via his very humorous Facebook stories. He was always interested in people and he spoke only positively about everyone. I had a grand chat with him just before Christmas but little did I know it would be my last. As with many influencers, he taught me much.

Wednesday, 23rd January:

This is my latest addition to the array of bird-feeding bobs in the garden. It attaches to the window via suction but does not seem to be too secure. I imagine that it will withstand smaller birds but when the eagles and buzzards alight it will go tumbling down. Interestingly, I watched a recording of a good garden advice programme only last night, mentioning that it might be a better idea to grow more plants with berries that birds like. Less birdseed was being encouraged. With this in mind, I shall commence a Survey Monkey poll asking the little birdies which berries they like best. I think it only fair to keep them well fed until the results are back. After all, it IS much colder this week.

Thursday, 24th January:

Once again I am outside the comfort zone of my suburban garden and viewing the bigger picture of West Waterford. The river is the Blackwater. The history of this river is very interesting. It is black for two reasons. Firstly, it flows through the peat bogs of Slieve Lougher, and secondly on account of the Duhallow coal district through which it flows. As Gaeilge, it was never called the Blackwater, rather An Abhainn Mór (bastardised to Avonmore) meaning the Great River. At one time it was known as Broadwater, which would seem to be a more acceptable translation from the Irish. I cycled in very mucky road conditions today and proceeded to take a selfie at a special viewing point of the Blackwater looking down on Villierstown. It looks down also on many of the English gentry estates still occupied to this day. Finally, the rainbow completes the picture. We found no gold but in fact, the real gold is in being able to see and appreciate these spectacular areas. Later, we had biscuits with our coffee in Ardmore. That counts for a lot!

Friday, 25th January:

There is very little by way of plant colour this month. It’s not that things are not happening. Things are indeed happening, and new life is on the way. The longer evenings and longer daylight hours are beginning to have an effect. The tipping point is approaching.
This week I am noticing things other than plants. Today, it’s a miniature ornamental thatched cottage that was given to me by my brother Ber. I nestled it among some plants and it looks as if it’s been there forever.

As I photographed it from front, side, back and above, a poem I learned in school came to mind. It’s called “Ar Chúl an Tí” (Back of the House) by Sean Ó Riordán. It was voted among the top 100 Irish poems back in 1999. Here, I quote the first and last verses, and then the translation to English by Tony Dermody. Always a difficult task to translate poetry while keeping the form and beauty of language.
Tá Tír na nÓg ar chúl an tí,
Tír álainn trína chéile,
Lucht cheithre chos ag súil na slí,
Gan bróga orthu ná léine,
Gan Béarla acu ná Gaeilge.

Ba mhaith liom bheith ar chúl a’ tí
Sa doircheacht go déanach
Go bhfeicinn ann ar cuairt gealaí
An t-ollaimhín sin Aesop
Is é in phúca léannta.

At the back of the house is a land of youth,
A jumbled beautiful space among
The farmyard beasts unclothed, unshod,
Nor knowing the Irish or English tongue,
Walking the way.
Yet each one grows an ample cloak,
Where chaos is the heart of rule,
And in that land the language spoke
Was taught of old in Aesop’s school,
Long passed away.
Some hens are here, a chicken clutch,
A simple duck, though fixed of mind,
A big black dog with wicked looks
Barking loud like a good watch-hound,
A cat sun-baking;
There, a heap of bric-a-brac,
The cast-off treasure stuff of life,
A candlestick, buckles, an old straw hat,
A bugle quiet, and a kettle white
Like a goose waking.
Here the tinkers come uncouth,
Blessing generously all they see,
Feeling at home in the land of youth,
Seeking cast-off things for free,
All over Ireland.
I would go back in the dead of night,
The treasure gilded in the moonbeams’ reach,
Perhaps to see in the eerie light
The child-wise Aesop’s phantom teach
His ghostly learning.

Saturday, 26th January:

There’s beauty in the skeleton of last summer’s Agapanthus flower. The delicate blue flowers adorned the rockery and later they remained hidden under the spreading fuchsia bush. As the autumn moved along and most of the garden was manicured, I decided to leave the remains of these 20 (or thereabouts) flowers standing erect. The seeds are long gone, having been cast off in the hope of continuing this Agapanthus species. All that is left is the dead stalk and umbrella.
I pulled them easily and proceeded to put them into the refuse bin (as I do not have a compost bin/heap), but I saved this one at the very last moment. I then placed it in my winter area of interest just outside the patio doors.
Strong gale force north-western winds are forecast tonight, but I feel that this dead relic will survive any buffeting that comes its way.
Most Agapanthus plants are quite big, but this is a miniature variety. It reaches a height of just 30-40cm. I must try to find out the variety name. Otherwise, ’tis a bit like having a dog and just calling it dog.

Sunday, 27th January:

Plants are amazing! They reproduce in several different ways. One of these is by cuttings. Simply cut a piece of a plant, put it in soil, say the magic words and wait for a few weeks. That’s what happened with this geranium. I potted it back in the middle of November and now it’s ready for the big garden. It has a strong root system already, so I am putting it into a bigger pot. I will defer planting it outside for another while because any frost would undo all my efforts. These plants will stay in the glasshouse for another few months and I will keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t get attacked.
Frighteningly, the day may be approaching when humans can be cloned. I wonder why it’s a good idea for plants and I am abhorred that it may happen for us humans? There are too many answers to that.
Anyone had success with these or other cuttings? Isn’t it a great way to clone the plants we like? “A small bird sat on an ivy bunch
And the song he sang was the jug of punch.” (Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem)

Páraig (also known as Pat) is the author of Petals by Paraig garden articles. He loves an occasional clear sky for lunar eclipses, the poetry of Sean O Riordán and special viewing points along the river Blackwater . He also likes the music of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, but not separately.