We are raising funds for Down Syndrome, but the best bit is… we start and finish at a garden centre!
25th September 2021.
What’s a man to do? We’ve been away for a few days, and now, not long back, I’m off again! This time I’ll travel (alone) to the Kingdom of Kerry. All going well, there will be scenery to beat the band, good company, some challenging cycling terrain around Dingle and food at the finish. I am very much looking forward to the Tom Crean Unsung Heroes 112km cycle. We are raising funds for Down Syndrome, but the best bit is… we start and finish at a garden centre! I may just certainly will browse upon my return.
Thus, my efforts to get something decent ready for Six-on-Saturday deadline has been touch and go. It’s a lovely phrase… Touch and Go. Decent is a matter of interpretation!
Begonia Illumination is lasting well, helped by the fact that watering is not as critical as during midsummer.
The berries are ripening on the Skimmia. Marion gave me this as a Christmas present a few years ago. It’s certainly better than socks!
There are four Dahlias here, and they do a mighty job of almost covering the entire gable end of the shed.
Aconitum, delivered by Paddy earlier in the year, is in flower. I love the pureness of the colour.
Grown from seed, the Asters are delightful. I’ll be growing more of these next year. In previous years, I’d have neglected Autumn annuals, so I’m thrilled to have these. Very easy to grow.
Each of these six plants selected this week are Unsung Heroes. I have many many more too.
Update on Sunday: I didn’t browse at the garden centre! We got very wet on the Connor Pass. Although the last 40km section was dry, the soaking was in my socks! Thankfully, there was no cold whatsoever. So, I had a delicious chicken burger and headed home contentedly.
That’s it for this week. It’s my second week of making a half-hearted effort, but I’m OK with that. I’ll do a sort of Autumn wind down. The bike sportive season is finishing soon, so I’ll have more time. Really? Somehow, I don’t think so. Slán go fóill.
My wife says I’m a bit peculiar. If you’re a regular reader of Six-on-Saturday, you’re in for a mighty puzzle this week. If you’re not a regular, you’ll miss this mighty puzzle. You won’t even know you’ve missed it!
Here’s a clue for you to solve the puzzle. We all know about Eircodes. But What3Words takes it to a whole new level. 9 square metres to be exact. Check it out… before Saturday. Follow the link above to experience it in action.
In the meantime, in order to align myself with the matrix, here are three garden photos. See you on Saturday!
I cheated. This is not a garden photo. It’s a safety gate on the Waterford Greenway. In order to increase safety when going down the slope, the gate is set to open inwards. I’m a big fan of safety. And gardening, and Six-on-Saturday and coming up with quirky posts. Peculiar, says my wife!
My love of gardening came from mam, as she tended her small terraced garden. I can clearly remember her love of dahlias, roses, sweet peas and marigolds.
22nd May 2021.
My mam is 89 (and a half). In recent years she has been afflicted with dementia, and she is slowing down mentally and physically. Her children have been her full-time carers for the past eight years, and she never fails to thank us. Her gentle spirit of acceptance that things are not what they were is inspiring.
My love of gardening came from mam, as she tended her small terraced garden. I can clearly remember her love of dahlias, roses, sweet peas and marigolds, and she somehow found time to keep everything looking good in between rearing eight of us. I wrote about Mam’s garden back in 2018. It does me good to look back to it.
In recent years she liked an amble around my garden, but that too has stopped. To be sure, my gardening days will come to a halt, but not yet! There’ll be plenty more Saturdays to present my selection of Sixes, and so without further reminiscing, here we go. Best foot forward.
Last Autumn I got a lovely delivery of tiny polyanthus from Jersey. One hundred and sixty tiny plugs fitted into a tray no bigger than 15x20cm. They matured well over winter and gave such great colour from February onwards. Most have finished, yet there are still a few in shady corners blooming away.
The Brexit fiasco has put an end to buying plants and seeds from England, and more is the pity. I would have bought a similar pack of annual begonias to arrive ready for summer planting, but it’s not to be.
I have a few pots of sparaxis, and while this single flower looks good, it lasted only for a few days. The spiky leaves looked best back in February and March but now they are badly damaged. I suppose the cold spring didn’t suit them. As with many of my plants, these are in pots that were placed into window boxes as soon as the daffodils finished. Straight swap. Next week, I’ll be moving these away to a hidden corner and replacing them with Surfinias. To be honest, I can’t wait. Life moves on.
Our recent visit to Lismore Castle Gardens was a joy. I picked up my Season Pass and enjoyed a leisurely stroll around. So many plants caught my eye but this one stood out. Paddy or Andrew will very likely be able to enlighten me. Is it Lamprocampos? Bleeding Heart.
Lettuces and spinach
This year I decided not to grow my lettuces and spinach on the vegetable bed. Instead, I’m using window boxes and a Tesco container that are in the shade of the Acer. The reason I changed is that the little munchables tend to grow too quickly in the full sunshine of the vegetable bed and they go to seed. Now they are happier in the semi-shade and an added bonus is that they are much nearer to the back door. I’m happier too.
You might notice that they are at various stages of growth. One container is now half-empty while another is just getting started. I sow seeds every three weeks in modules in the glasshouse and try to ensure that while there’s plenty for my plate, there are more to come along when needed. It’s the only way to keep me nourished throughout the summer ahead. Mam would have had no time for growing vegetables.
The exception to this plan is scallions, otherwise known as spring onions. They need plenty sunshine so I’ll continue to grow these on the raised bed.
Here’s an aerial view of my two vegetable beds taken last week. I built these back in 2018 and almost came a cropper in the process. Each one is three blocks high. However when cementing one wall, it collapsed against me. I made the serious error of filling it with soil before the cement was fully dry. The entire wall fell as one piece, trapping me until I could remove the debris. Seriously, it could well have ruined my cycling season. Happily, it was rebuilt the next day and all was well apart from a bruised shin and ego.
This week the early spuds are growing well and should be ready to harvest by the middle of June. Main crop spuds are just peeping above ground. Apart from that, there’s not much else on this left section other than my cuttings and some rhubarb which is not doing well at all.
The bed on the right is filled with onions, peas, broad beans, scallions and leeks. The bare section towards the front had been set aside for lettuces and spinach but as you’ve just read above, I decided not to put them here. I’m using it to grow seeds of annuals and perennials instead.
This little ground cover plant is Ajuga, commonly known as Bugle. It’s growing under the shade of a fuchsia, but disappeared almost completely last year because the fuchsia grew too large. Last Autumn I pruned the fuchsia by about half and it’s made all the difference.
Many of these types of plant flower early to ensure seed production in advance of the heavy shade that arrives later in the summer from overhanging shrubs. Nature is amazing. This little thing is a great food source for bees right now.
Six on Saturday is a world-wide idea started by Jon The Propagator in England, and I am a proud participant. You can find out more about it by browsing the Participant Guide. Writing here every week, I value enormously the power to express myself through my garden.
I was combing Mam’s hair during the week, and making a dog’s dinner of it. When I mentioned I’m not very good at it she replied:
Ah shur, you can’t be good at everything!
The Week That Was
Not garden-related, this is merely to keep a record of events for future reminiscing.
Entire Irish Health Service hacked with ransomeware. I don’t want my taxes being handed over to Spider Wizards.
Nearly 50% of population have received vaccination #1
I’m calling my new bike High Nelly, or just Nelly for short.
Jenny and Daire married on Thursday.
More Covid restrictions have been lifted, but dining out still not allowed.
More scams have come my way. The Department of Social Protection want to put me in prison.
About the author: Pádraig is the author of Grow Write Repeat. He photographs and writes about his garden in Ireland. He loves small plants such as polyanthus and ajuga. He also likes spinach and lettuce, but not when grown in full sun.
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!