There are plenty gaps appearing. This particular spot looked very bare so I bought these two small chrysanthemums.
9th October 2021.
It’s not unusual. The hand trowel is missing, but it usually turns up after a short while. I simply retrace my gardening steps and… voilà, there it is just where I left it. This time, it’s been missing for more than 72 hours. Marion reminds me regularly not to leave tools outside overnight. The thought of wanting to do the right thing but being unable to is devastating. The nights are cold, and the morning sun takes longer to get going. I do hope that my hand trowel will be found unharmed.
While searching in vain, I took a few photographs to reflect what’s happening this week. Here’s my selection…
There are plenty gaps appearing. This particular spot looked very bare so I bought these two small chrysanthemums. Likely they’ll flower away until the first frost, at which time I’ll cut them hard and plant them in the ground until it’s time for them to shine front-centre once again next year.
I should have bought a hand trowel while I was there.
I returned on Friday to buy two Skimmias for my sister. I’ll be planting them for her next week, but in the meantime, why not add them behind the chrysanthemums for contrast? I think they look good. The variety is called Temptation. Yes, wouldn’t you know? Hard to resist.
It’s beyond redemption! Growing strongly, but in all the wrong directions, I’m between two minds what to do. On the one hand, it’s too gorgeous to remove, yet it’s beginning to outgrow it’s space. There’s only one thing for it… Think long and hard. Yes, that’s the answer! I’ll do that.
By my reckoning Spring was about three weeks late this year. Now, it’s Autumn’s turn to be late for the party.
Some Begonias are more trouble than they’re worth. Some droop too much while others grow very spindly or flowers fall regularly. This one has no such problems. I’ll be keeping it! Others will be discarded. Definitely no hand trowel hidden here.
Yarrow is one of my favourite plants. Loved by insects, the fading flower-head is lasting a long time. It’s spreads quickly, and therefore I’ll likely cut out some of it to give away. I’ve got two other varieties to plant nearby. Not sure yet how or when to get it done, because I cannot find the you-know-what.
Having mentioned bare spots earlier, this is an example of the opposite. I’ve had three pots of Nerines tucked away carefully among the rockery plants. They’ve been shaded from the sun during the warm weeks of summer and now there’s a bit of colour appearing. These are originally from mam’s garden.
Alyssum Gold Ball is a small perennial, and reliable too. It flowered in April and I gave it a hard cutting immediately afterwards. Now, it’s back for a second flush. Loved by slugs and snails, it seems to flourish despite being nibbled regularly.
That’s it for this week, a cháirde. Until next week, I hope that all will be well in your world. Slán go fóill.
This little conifer doesn’t look right. I’ve a feeling there’s something wrong. In fact, I’d say there’s something happening underground that’s not helping matters.
2nd October 2021.
I can’t get my head around it. “Dry spots” doesn’t mean what it used to.
This week, the phrase is used to denote areas of the United Kingdom where there’s no petrol! Here in Ireland, there’s plenty petrol but not enough wind. Reports suggest that there may be blackouts over the coming winters because coal-powered generating stations are due to be shut down.
I’m just thankful that gardening continues regardless. Mostly, it’s been a really lovely week, with plenty dry spots and very little wind. Here’s my selection…
1. There’s no shortage of salad greens. Lettuce, spinach and scallions grow better in cool autumn conditions, I think. I’ve sown another batch this week. When it comes to November, it’ll likely be glasshouse lettuces, not as tasty but acceptable.
2. The bindweed is back, so I’ll need to move quickly. Thankfully, it hasn’t flowered. I do not photograph bindweed. That’s just way it is.
3. This little conifer doesn’t look right. I’ve a feeling there’s something wrong. In fact, I’d say there’s something happening underground that’s not helping matters. This has been one of the loveliest plants in my garden, in my mother-in-law’s stone pot. It’s no time to die. I’ll check the roots to see if it can be salvaged.
4. Begonias again! I’ve moved them closer together and put them on two levels. I’m smirking with satisfaction.
5. Autumn is fuchsia time. I did not prune them hard enough last year and therefore they’ve grown a bit beyond their space. However, what’s not to love?
6. A garden is not all about colour. This fern brings no flower yet the plant is a valuable addition to the rockery.
7. I’m including another because bindweed doesn’t really count. I bought a small shredder. It’s ideal for my little garden. Presently, it’s in the shed and it may just stay there permanently. The basket underneath is removeable and the shredded contents can be emptied easily to the nearby compost heaps. I may bring it with me around the garden when the fuchsias need to be pruned in November.
The Begonias are delightful. I spent some time eyeing them up in order to decide which ones to keep and which ones must go.
Sunday, August 29th 2021.
Lazing about this week! Warm, sunny, light breezes. It’s just typical return-to-school weather. This is my ninth end-of-August with that wonderful not-going-back-to-school feeling. It’s a perfect time for feeling lazy!
I’ve purchased a few perennials to extend the Summer colour into Autumn and I’ll feature them next Saturday.
Meanwhile the Begonias are delightful. I spent some time eyeing them up in order to decide which ones to keep and which ones must go.
Watering before dusk several times this week has kept the vegetables growing well. Other than that, very little work was done. It’s as it should be! Next week I’ll begin the Autumn tidy-up. Very slowly most days through September, I’ll start clearing. It’s my way of ensuring that I’m not faced with a mountain of work in October and November. But this week is for enjoying, relaxing and basking in the heat.
I know it doesn’t make sense. Of course it doesn’t! But it’s happining nevertheless.
I’m bringing a further (regular?) feature to my garden blog. Inspired by Paddy, An Irish Gardener, I’ll be attempting to record some of the goings-on over the past week. Very likely, my summary may vary from brief to boringly long depending on factors such as cycling, other commitments and seasonality.
I’ve mentioned several times that I write to record my gardening efforts so that I’ll be able to look back whenever I want. I do like looking back with just one proviso… I want to stay busy now and into the future in order to have something satisfactory to look back on.
Will I be able to find the time to write regularly? The answer is… I’ll make time! Let’s see how things worked out last week…
August 2021 Week 1
It was a wek of very mixed weather, but there was time enough to keep myself busy.
I made light work of emptying the compost heap. The soil is magnificent and I spread it mostly on the empty sections of the vegetable beds. I did store lots of it in black bins in the shed for potting purposes later in Autumn.
The second compost heap is almost filled, but I added a further three feet in height by doing a small bit of carpentry. I’d imagine this will be sufficient for the Autumn garden waste. I’ll have a think about putting a decent cover on it shortly.
On Thursday, I started clearing out sections of the vegetable beds. The Cold Frame was resurrected from its summer out-of-sight corner, and behind it I made a start on preparing space for lettuce, spinach and Spring Onions just to the left of the Blue Doodle. This small space will be enough to get sowing now.
I’ll be tackling the Blue Doodle section very soon. It has my Autumn 2020 cuttings and some plants grown from seed last spring. I’ll be doing a tidy-up but that’s an update for another time.
Again, I’ve sown more lettuce, scallions and spinach in modules in glasshouse. Likely, I’ve sown much too much.
During heavy rain, I made a start on putting on paper my vegetable garden plans for next year and I finished the job later one evening by getting it all online using my GrowVeg subscription.
It may change somewhat, but a plan is an important start. For example, because Spring Onions need to be sown between now and October, I know exactly where to put them.
Other gardening bits this week included:
Ruthless discarding of weak or unloved Begonias. I’ve too many and I mostly don’t like the red single trailing ones.
Big shed clean-up. This will take several attempts.
Coffee & relaxation time every day. It’s hard to stop wanting to be constantly doing, but regular time-outs are exciting!
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.
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.
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!
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 indáiríre), 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
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.
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
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.
Motivation Monday: Consider planting something today. A vegetable or flower, an idea, resolution or even a smile.
Monday 2nd August, 2021.
After a long interval, here we go again with Just Three Things. In case you’re unfamiliar with this, I write about my short early morning wander down the garden, noticing three things of interest and three jobs that need to be tackled. Usually takes me about five minutes. Simple as that, followed by breakfast.
The lilies started in early July and most have now finished, but this one is about to bloom, thus extending the season by another two weeks. I think it’s either Lilium Baferrari or Isadora. I’ll likely know better when they bloom fully.
My favourite Begonia last year. It looks a bit leggy, yet the two-tone orange/red gets me every time.
The Clematis Montana is growing well, considering its been there only since May and it’s in a pot. While the plant gets sun from mid-afternoon, the pot is in shade. Two boxes ticked.
Just three things to be done:
Braid the onions for storing. (Marion).
Tidy up after harvesting broadbeans. (Me).
Prune the crabapple tree. (Me).
Monday Motivation: Consider planting something today. A vegetable or flower, an idea, resolution or even a smile!
It started with a few Guinness last weekend. Offers were made and accepted. A table and chairs set would change ownership and be delivered without delay. And so that’s exactly what happened. Thus begins the tale of my first of Six on Saturday.
1. The Throne
Regular readers will know that the oil-tank was in this corner until last Autumn. It had spent thirty uneventful years there. Now, the transformation is almost complete. Bit by bit, I’ve added trellis and planters, a fountain and climbers. Recently, when plied with drink, I agreed to accept a generous gift of this chair, together with another and matching table. I painted it duck-egg blue, and used Hazard Yellow for the comrade. My sister loves the yellow, but it’s more like mustard. This Duckegg will be my throne, as it is positioned to view the garden from a height, but being mindful of keeping myself well-grounded, I repeat this quote daily:
On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.
Michel de Montaigne
To add to the scent of sweet peas and Jasmine, I have the sound of running water, but I’m thinking a bit of red carpet on the ground would give me something to be looking at!
2. Sweet Pea
Finally! I’d noticed recently that the Sweet Peas were beginning to make up lost ground. Many of them were damaged by frost in early May, but they survived. The first of the flowers are bottled in the kitchen. Oh happy day!
When sitting on my throne, I am unable to see these beautiful flowers bacause they are bottled in the kitchen. Prior to that, they had been behind the seat. I could only see them with difficulty, but the scent reminded me that they were there!
3. Home Guard Earlies
Oh happy day! The early potatoes are in my belly and I am satisfied. Planted on 11th of March, they are now being harvested regularly and they taste great with a bit of butter.
There’s a downside, however. I have only nine plants, so I’ll savour every last potato right to the very end. My main crop potatoes are coming along well and they’ll be ready for buttering in mid-August.
4. Broad Beans
Aquadulce Broad Beans were sown in four batches, the first last October and again on 1st of February, then on 12th and 29th of March. The reason I’m able to rattle off the dates is because all my records are on my phone and online. We have harvested a few meals since mid-June. Twenty pods is about right to accompany the potatoes as a meal for two. The Autumn ones ripened first, and I’ll be waiting a short while for the rest of them. Apparently, the tips can be prone to blackfly attack, particularly on the more tender Spring plants, but I’ve figured out how to starve them. Quite simply, a clean secateurs cut near the top prevents an infestation. Oh happy day for me!
As an aside, it’s not every garden that has the clothes line in among the vegetables or rather above the vegetables to be more accurate, but I spent sleepless nights worrying about the eventual height of the broad beans.
My eureka bean-snip moment has had a second benefit. We can now hang towels, t-shirts and thongs on the clothes line without they touching the tall bean plants. Shirts, shorts and smalls can swing freely. Oh happy days indeed!
Query: Could anyone advise me? Most of the pods are upright and some have turned down. Is it a case that the downward ones are ripe, or can I harvest all the large ones?
The berries of the ash tree are very interesting. Many of the smaller branches are weighed down, yet the flower head faces upwards for ripening.
I’ve got lots of begonias again this year. This one is a Blurred Begonia, a variety unknown to me. Most were over-wintered and will provide me with colour and satisfaction next month, but as a measure of my impatience, I bought these last week. I’m wondering are they peach or salmon? Whatever the colour, I just love it!
I’ve noticed that annual flowers look a bit wretched until they start to fill the space. Likely, in a few weeks these will look better, they will grow together to become one, and watering will be easier when they begin to keep the heat of the sun from the soil beneath.
As per usual, I am joining in with The Propagator and his “troupe of horticultural devotees” to show six things in our gardens this weekend. The quote is from Ciar at Carrots and Calendula. Sin a bhfuil uaimse don seachtain seo. I’ll be back again next week with another Six-on-Saturday. In the short meantime, I shall be spending some time continuing the Summer watering and reading other SOS updates when I can. Wherever you are, have a great week. Slán go fóill.
This Time Last Year
At the risk of repeating myself, my writing is for myself. My aim is to record my garden and some little thoughts about stuff from time to time. I want this record in order to look back on things when I’m older and unable to remember. As I’m now into my second year doing this Six-on-Saturday thingy, I’m including a link at the end of this article which was written this time last year. I’ll not be in the least miffed if readers choose not to read it. Happy Saturday! Here goes…
Written in June 2020, here’s a short excerpt:
On June 20-21st 2019 I cycled 400km with my friend Declan, along with support from the local cycling community for sections of the journey. We cycled for 16 and a half hours, 3pm on Friday until 3pm on Saturday with a dinner break, a chipper/pizza delivery at 2am, a breakfast break, a lunch break (in that order), and a two hour snooze, through The Longest Day, helping raise funds for Waterford Samaritans.
The Longest Day is our symbol of constant struggle. The new day does not always bring comfort. Keep a close eye on your struggling plants. Value them as you would the scented rose. Keep a close watch on friends or acquaintances and be there for them with a listening ear. Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine.
I’m delighted that I was able to grow so many plants since the last week of January. Now it’s time to set them free.
15th May 2021.
The great water tap in the sky was turned on last Sunday, and someone forgot to turn it off. Yes, it has been warmer and there has been plenty sunshine, but overall it has been a week of very heavy showers. The sunshine, warmth and all the heavy showers were badly needed, and I am thankful for the bounty. The combination of all three are nature’s magic miracle and everything is renewed.
With that, let’s move to the happy task of selecting six bits & bobs from the garden. It’s been a topsy-turvy week for me and that’s reflected, as there’s in and out, up and down activity. Effectively, I’m over the place.
The glasshouse is EMPTYfolamh with the exception of three flourishing tomato plants, a languishing cucumber and three hanging baskets of strawberries. The baskets are not hanging, so I’ll just call them baskets. Each one sits comfortably on an upturned pot on the shelf, and they will have it all to themselves through the summer. The begonias went out, as did the annuals. Most of the marigolds, petunias and nasturtiums have been planted, while some smaller seedlings of aster and zinnia are outside but not yet planted. In the event of harsh nights, it’ll be no trouble to shelter them inside. I am well on top of things.
The daytime temperatures inside were just too hot, and it was proving very difficultdeacair to keep pots and plants watered properly. I’m delighted that I was able to grow so many plants since the last week of January. Now it’s time to set them free. Amid several days of planting out, I sat in the warmth of the glasshouse and admired the emptiness. There was some nodding off and reportedly some very light snoring. I also took time to sit outside. It’s what a garden is for.
In & Out
The begonias are a lot of workobair I’m not sure am I watering them too much or not enough. These two are well on their way but many more are barely sprouted. I suppose I could remind myself that each small corm contains so much stored energy that when they get going there’s no stopping them.
Any keen observer will notice that these begonias are inside. For clarification, they were inside and now they’re not. They’ve been set free. I don’t rememberNí cuimhin liom when they went out last year. It’s very unusual for me not to remember important things such as wedding dates, vaccine appointments or when the begonias went out last year.
I’ve selected this Silver Queen today to commemorate the wedding of my niece Jenny to Daire next Thursday. We wish you health, happiness and the contentment of old age together. May your Begonias thrive and your cuttings multiply!
Euonymus Silver Queen is fast becoming one of my favourite plants. It is interesting all year round and takes pride of place in my Packed Patio arrangement, so much so that I’m at a loss that it hasn’t been featured before. As Victor frequently said so emphatically: “I don’t believe it!”
I have taken six cuttings from this and all are growing, albeit still only small. I think this parent plant or one of the cuttings would look well on the sunny rockery, so perhaps it’ll happen in the autumn.
I moved into selective-deaf mode as Marion pleaded with me.
“Come down, before you fall down”, she says,
but I was too high up to hear clearly.
Really, it’s a small garden: 80 feet long by 30 wide. However, there’s a lot happining. This picture, taken from upstairsthuas staighre, following Twister-like contortions to get myself out a window smaller than myself, clearly shows that I’d be well within my rights to demolish The Craft Room on the left, but allowances must be made. We call this The Seomra, and Marion spends as much time there as I do in the garden. Having different hobbies is a wonderful thing, so on that basis, I wouldn’t dare interfere.
This week’s holiday voucher for a weekend away in Aglish is very attractive. You’ll just need to answer one simple question. Did I climb wriggle out the upstairs window before the emptying of the glasshouse? In the event of multiple correct answers please guess the time.
Ground Ivy isn’t really an ivy at all. At least, I don’t think so. It’s in the same category as hanging baskets that aren’t hanging. It dies back during the winter but returns every year, and looks good hanging over the edge of pots. It’s also nice planted in among annuals. The official name is Nepata hederacea glechoma. I wouldn’t grow this in the ground as it is known to become invasive.
Near & Far
I really must do something about that bare wall. I’d be very tempted to hide it behind a wooden fence similar to the other side, but I’ve a feeling that it would make the garden feel narrower than it already is. Perhaps an open trellis with some suitable climbing plants? Perhaps a painted mural or a large mirror? I’ll let it be for the moment, but if anyone has any ideas, please pop a note in the suggestion box. No vouchers or prizes.
Other than that, I’m pleasedsásta with what’s going on here. The lovely Aurinia Saxitalis is still very striking and I’ve plans to put another one towards the far end. The Iberis, so beautiful a month ago, is fading. In fact, a close inspection shows something interesting. In line with a former tactic of mine when I was a teacher, I’ll say no more.
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. Have a good week. Stay safe. Slán go fóill.
About the author: Pádraig is the author of Grow Write Repeat. He photographs and writes about his garden in Ireland. He loves Twister, aerial photography and begonias. He also likes a long weekend away, but not in Aglish.
Aurinia was formerly known as Alyssum. Taxonomists recently moved it to a new family. I don’t know what it is they know that prompted the poor thing to be expelled and re-classified, but when I discovered this trickery on Tuesday, I was moved to investigate further.
24th April, 2021.
It’s been a week of two halves. Initially, the first half lasted two days, while the second was longer. That’s the way with halves. Never the same. Dull and foggy, followed by bright sunshine and fresh easterly breezes. I made great headway in emptying out the glasshouse, got my spuds and tomatoes planted and enjoyed more cycling in one week than the entire month of March. Nights are still cool, so I’m ever watchful of the many tender plants outside, but I’m moving safely towards last frost date.
Here we go again for the last Saturday of April. Read along for a bit of fun, a small amount of useless information, some nostalgia and preparations for an upcoming world event.
1. Aurinia Gold Ball
This week one of my two Aurinia Gold Ball rockery plants is in bloom. Notice how I phrased that very carefully. Interestingly, there’s a second one that is way behind and not likely to get to this stage for another month or so. It would be very unusual, but not unheard of, to encounter one of the two Gold Ball rockery plants way behind. I wonder why is this? I wrote about this five years ago, explaining how the process of flowering and setting seed works. I think I should put a disclaimer with it, stating that all opinions are my own. I may be talking through my hat.
I’ll do two things as soon as flowering has finished. Firstly, I’ll trim the plant back very carefully with my sharp new secateurs, all the while adhering to the new Safe Thumb Positioning Policy. Secondly, to contradict above, I’ll leave one corner untouched in order to allow seeds to ripen. It’ll be somewhat like a number two haircut with a bobble. The seeds will be collected, dried and grown in the Autumn. I believe it’s also possible to propagate Aurinia from softwood cuttings taken in May. Therefore, I’ll use some of the trimmings to make more. Double-jobbing.
Aurinia was formerly known as Alyssum. Taxonomists recently moved it to a new family. I don’t know what it is they know that prompted the poor thing to be expelled and re-classified, so when I discovered this trickery on Tuesday, I was moved to investigate further. I read lots of information that is quite useless to me, but I’m happy to note that the plant is not liked by deer. I can now safely take down garden walls on all sides.
2. Gone To Pot
Fifty plastic pots arrived from Dublin last week. Each one had contained a rose, and the pots were offered free of charge. My friend collected them for me and now they are filled with Dahlias and Begonias. I have removed the top shelf to fit these bigger containers. I’ll be planting some of my tomatoes inside as soon as I’ve got a chance to remove all the shelving from the other side.
Hey presto, voilà! I’ve managed to move seed trays and plants to the other side and the shelves have been removed. The shelving will be used on the patio. To improve drainage I’ll put all the summer pots on them, rather than directly on the ground. The tomatoes and cucumber are in their final summer position, and I await an early crop this year. I have some tumbling tomatoes that will go in pots outside, but that will wait for a further week or two.
Someone mentioned recently that it’s like musical chairs, all this moving things around from month to month. That’s exactly what is necessary in a very small space.
3. Not Very Interesting At All
Here’s a close up of a pot containing a dahlia. Of course, the dahlia cannot be seen so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Not very interesting, you say? I agree, not very interesting.
I inserted a few twigs of fuchsia to deter birds from enjoying a dust bath. The twigs were cut last Autumn and kept for this purpose, but guess what happened? When inserted in soil, the twig that was cut almost six months ago has sprouted! Surely, you’ll agree that’s interesting? This was not meant to happen!
This photograph does not do justice to the beauty of the bluebells. They were not my choice for planting back in 2016, but they’re growing on me. They are definitely worth a short paragraph.
5. Crab Apple Blossom
About ten years ago I gave a budding cyclist my second bike for a few months. She had joined our local cycling club and was studying for her Leaving Certificate exams if I am not mistaken. Towards the end of that summer she returned the bike, together with a gift of this apple tree. I wonder how did she know that I was into gardening, and I wonder did she know that I might be writing about the episode a decade later? Therefore, continuing my policy of renaming plants whose real name is unknown to me, I hereby christen this lovely tree Malus April Dolan. Dolan was the make of the bike, red and much loved. Many years later, as I moved along up the bike ladder to a much-more-loved bike, I gave Dolan to my cousin, and it continued to ride the roads of West Waterford until very recently. During my time in the saddle, its career highlight was the ascent of Alpe d’Huez in July 2006. We did not set any time records, Dolan and I. Later the same day I crashed and broke my little fingerlúidín, caused by an over-zealous Frenchman. Right hand, same as last week. I could do up an injury CV, so I could.
The tree has matured to give me much pleasure and summer shade. I did think that the night frosts of the last two weeks would damage the emerging blossom, but it seems to have come through the hardship with flying colours. A bit of hardship is character-building.
I’ve decorated it betimes with Christmas baubles, and resolved to broaden my decorating skills this year. The broken belt buckle is significant in this regard. I’m informed that next Saturday is World Naked Gardening Day and I’ll be putting my best foot forward. I shall not name my two informants.
6. Broad Beans Again
There are over two dozen broad bean plants growing well on the vegetable bed at the back of the garden. Some were sown last autumn, while others are spring babies. As you’ve probably guessed, this one is from Autumn and I’ve potted it and put it among my patio plants. You could say that it’s a put-pot-patio-plant. I keep thinking that the flowers are eyes looking at me. I’m thinking it would be best to throw a blanket over them next weekend!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Saturdayan 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.