Six-on-Saturday – You’re Flyin’, Buddy!

It must be a very exciting time for housesparrows. The little ones are out of the nest, on the ground and plenty close supervision is needed. They’re chasing, hiding, diving and doing all sorts of everything to strengthen their little wings. The poor mothers are demented, while the oul fellas sit on the wall.

The starlings are busy too and the swallows are back. It’s a bit like O’Hare Airport in Chicago. I’ve not been there but I hear that it’s very busy. Watching the comings and goings, I got to wondering how come birds never meet in mid-air? There must be some unseen flight plan in place. If we could only decode what they’re saying, it might include lots of…

  • No, don’t go there! Don’t do it!
  • If I have to tell you again, I’ll tan your arse!
  • Those flowers are poison. Stay well clear.
  • If your father hears about this…

Of course, on the other hand, the fledglings surely have a bit of banter among themselves.

  • G’wan ya good thing! Let’s have fun!
  • Holy sparrow, you’re flyin’, buddy!
  • Crikey, I’m trying to get away from the mother! She’s a nutter.

There are times when everything falls into place as the little ones cling to the feather tails of their mothers, likely driving them to distraction as often as not. Perhaps it’s a case of two bird weeks being the equivalent of the terrible twos?

What would all these birds be noticing in the garden this week? Well, for starters they’d surely have admired the first rose…

First Rose

The Rosa korresia is in bloom. Just one. It’s been well taken care of during the winter and now its time has come once again.

Summer Begonias

I can remember buying a selection of Christmas plants last year. Yes, the cyclamen and other little bits were a treat during wintertime, yet it was the container(s) that caught my eye. As soon as they were finished, the plants headed to the compost corner and the containers to the shed. Now I’ve planted them up with annual Begonias and they will enjoy a shady spot in the front garden between now and November. They will want very little attention apart from a dip in a water tray once in a while. I had one container last summer and was delighted that the Begonias made it through the winter. So, they’re not really annuals. I did bring them to a very sheltered spot in the back garden after Christmas, and now they’re ready to return to the front again.

Hard to believe there’s a gorgeous red container beneath! The four plants have multiplied. In fact, I may separate them… if only I had another container.

Rooted Out

The stump of a fuchsia had been staring me in the face since last year, daring me to do my damnedest to move it. I balked on several occasions, because a job like that is like cycling a steep hill. The task must be respected. In any case, it’s done now, and I’m glad of it! I decided to remove some stone at the front of the rockery and this helped me to get under the root. Everything is now back in place (except the you-know-what) and I’ll add some summer colour here very soon..

Outwitting The Birds

I’ve sown some seeds here but despite my best efforts the birds have been picking faster than they can grow. Bamboo has been added but the feckers can get between them. This week I’ve strengthened the defences by adding some plastic that blows in the breeze.

Tipping Point

This year I’m only growing scallions, lettuce and spinach. I’ve been sowing at intervals of about three weeks. This week the tipping point has arrived, meaning that they are growing faster than they are eaten. My plan last year fell away in July when I just got fed up of continuing to sow every few weeks.

I’ve just noticed that the birds have moved to the shaded section where the spinach is planted. They’re upsetting my lunch plans.

Annuals

This little Alyssum was sown on the 18th of March. I’ve had it in the glasshouse until the last weekend of April and it’s been outside since then. There’s enough of it to fit around the edges of many a pot, and just to be sure, a second batch was sown in mid April.

Rhurbarb

Did I mention scallions, lettuce and spinach? Of course, there’s rhubarb too. There’s nothing we enjoy more than a good feed of rhubarb. The toxic leaves were added to the compost heap and custard was added to the cooked stalks. Delicious!


You noticed that this Six-on-Saturday just became seven, didn’t you? Naughty but nice. I do like to bend the rules now and then. The house sparrows made me do it.


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

About Six-on-Saturday

We are a group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. I’ve been doing this since June of 2020 and I enjoy nothing more than reading about and seeing other gardens from near and far. Lest we forget, many more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram. You can find out more about it here. Six things, in your garden. Could be anything, and frequently is.

Pádraig.

Robin Redbreast

As I potter away at various tasks, I regularly see her perched on the ridge of the glasshouse, watching me from a distance.

Recently, I’ve been watching the comings and goings. There’s a robin nesting in the shed. She 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.

Tá nead spideóige sa sead. Le déanaí, choimeád mé súil ar gach uile chor dár chuir sí di. Ní bheadh sí in ann tosú murab fhéidir léi dul isteach agus amach fad is atá an doras dúnta, ach ar an dea-uair tá bearna beag ós cionn.

I have met her several times. I’d be getting a shovel or perhaps some compost and there she’d be, flitting in or out past me. For a few weeks, I was unable to locate the nest, but I saw her fly in last week and I stood watch from a distance. She’s settled in between two plastic crates on a middle shelf. The gap is quite small, yet all materials have been installed diligently. At least B2 rating, I’d imagine.

As I potter away at various tasks, I regularly see her perched on the ridge of the glasshouse, watching me from a distance. Two can play that game! We greet one another with our trademark calls.

At this point, she knows I am not a threat. I sat inside drinking coffee on Monday. The chair is about a two feet to the right of the nest entrance. She moved quickly from glasshouse outside to a pot inside, waited a few seconds there and darted in home close by.

Having a robin follow me around is nothing unusual, particularly if digging is involved. It’s part and parcel of gardening here.

So, I have some questions… six, actually.

  • Do the male and female robin nest together? That would be nice.
  • When will eggs be laid?
  • How many eggs?
  • When can I expect them to hatch?
  • Rather than keeping the door closed at all times, how could I keep a local cat away?
  • Is there anything I should be doing to help? More importantly, is there anything I shouldn’t be doing?

Photographs above are not mine. These are freelance robins, supplied by WordPress.

Below are a few of my own photographs…

The Irish word for a Robin is spideóg.

Here’s one painted by my daughter…


In other news, I see that the US Senate as voted to do away with Winter Time. If approved by the House of Representatives, the clocks will no longer go back and forward from next year. Only a matter of time (fun intended!) before Ireland follows. I think it’d be good. On t’other hand, lord save us and guard us, there’s bigger things that need to be sorted.

For clarification, clocks will go forward. It’s the way clocks always go. Every hour of every day, unless, of course you’ve got a retirement clock like mine. Mind you, I’d not want to go backwards either!


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.

Six-on-Saturday – Demolition

“Flying it” is a compliment given to a cyclist who is clearly very fit. Another phrase used is “going well”. Sounds understated, but equally complimentary. Both phrases are never used to describe oneself.

3rd July 2021.

It’s been a very warm week here in Dungarvan. Not exactly the type of weather to demolish the overgrown front garden, but that’s what we started. I’m so lucky that Marion is not afraid of hard heavy work! We spent three hours cutting shrubs, prising roots out and removing a 5cm layer of loose stone. Loose stone is a misnomer, and the result was aches and pains from toe to top. On Wednesday I took a break to rest and recover and we will set our sights on finishing the job next week. Such was my excitement, after an extended nap, that I wrote a POEM: Old Age Garden.

Matching t-shirts!

But heavy work and perspiration won’t get the Six-on-Saturday deed done. Indeed no. I’d have been tempted to subcontract an RHS magazine writer, yet even at a time of deadlines and blisters, I’ve set my mind on the usual six updates. To be truthful, finding six items is very easy as we move to the beginning of the second half of the year, but as I tap on my phone using only my left index finger, I’m aware of an overall body tiredness. That said, it’s time to get on with it, and what better way than to relax into it. But first… my favourite flowery quote from this month’s RHS magazine:

Spiky blue flower heads of Eryngium phlanum create a wash of blue throughout the meadow, punctuated by frothy pink and cream Achillea Summer Pastels Group. Towering Stipa gigantea form shimmering golden clouds above.

Bunny Guinness, page 69. (see featured image)

1. And Relax…

Popular corner

The Duck-Egg seat is very popular. It has been admired, checked for any missed bits of paint, handled lovingly, droned from above (you guessed right… from above!) and tested for load-bearing. Then Méabh sat there awhile and it seemed that Goldilocks had found true comfort at last!

I’ve noticed that whenever I take a photograph here, the water fountain  is off. It’s set on a fifteen-minute timer between 9am and 6pm. I’ll put it on my list next week to catch the flowing water.

2. Cape Daisy

Osteospermum ecklonis

I have several Cape Daisies (Osteospermum) in the garden and they’re not there just to take up space! In sunny weather there’s nothing nicer than seeing the flower open. With that in mind I sowed a packet of Lidl seeds back in early February. In fact, from eighteen seeds I now have ten plants. Most are this almost-white with a tiny hint of mauve.

3. Starting Over #3

After 17 years.

Until 2004, this was green grass. I did not like it, and I did not like mowing it. So, we put in some kerbing, shrubs and heathers. The entire area was membraned and stone was added. For many years it was tidy and needed no work. In recent years, I discovered three things. Firstly, the no-maintenance garden is a myth. I should have attended to simple pruning, but I didn’t do so because of the second reason, namely a prolonged lack of interest in the front garden. Honestly, you could count on the front left toe of a doe the number of times I’ve selected anything from here for my Six-on-Saturday. The last problem, in third place with just one point, is that moss has been falling from the roof on the lovely stone. I mean a lot of moss, and we delayed doing anything until that got sorted. This third excuse reason contributed largely to the second.

The Socks!

And so began makeover number three, following a year of dithering. Marion wanted it done more than I did, and she’s a professional prodder! So, on Monday and Tuesday, in record-breaking heat, we removed most of the shrubs and about half of the stone. The roofer worked on Thursday and Friday to clean and treat the tiles while I continued the preparation work for what will be our Old Age Garden. There’s lots to do, but my plan is to feature the finished article next week. There will be sweat and many aches. There will be some swearing, no doubt, and it’s likely that the entire operation will be conducted in record temperatures. If anyone comes along afterwards and says “That’s nice.” I may not be responsible for my actions. At the minute, there’s fat chance of such a delicate compliment! Watch this empty space.

Butchered.

4. Covid Dining

Dining outside

We have two very old stone troughs in the garden, brought from Marion’s home at Cappagh. I’ve got a small conifer of some sort growing happily in this one. Last summer, it became our practice to stick lollipop sticks around the edge. It’s a strange thing to do, but we enjoyed every single Magnum, and it’s a bit like a prisoner marking the passing of time on a wall.

This year I’ve upgraded from lollipops to cutlery, symbol of Covid dining take-aways. Anyway, who’s counting?

I had asked for FB feedback, and it arrived in spades! I’m not going to make a meal of it, but it has to be said this is cutting edge gardening at its finest. The grave of the unknown gourmet.

5. Brunch

YouTube Video

I buy apples, yet I don’t eat most of them. They end up in the compost bucket. This apple has been put on a raised saucer and the blackbirds is enjoying it. I am enjoying watching and capturing the moment so that you might it enjoy too. An apple is a feast that can last all day.

6. Banana fight

YouTube video

On the other hand an over-ripe banana is a different matter. The starlings are jostling for position and the pecking order seems to be organised on the basis of pure aggression. The entire episode continued for about thirty minutes, at which point they sought out food elsewhere. Bananas are a great source of carbohydrate and minerals for cyclists, so I’m thinking these starlings will be flying it for days to come. “Flying it” is a compliment given to a cyclist who is clearly very fit. Another phrase used is “going well”. Sounds understated, but equally complimentary. Both phrases are never used to describe oneself.

I’ve been watching professional cyclists going well on the roads of Brittany this week. I’m reminded of the starlings jostling for position. Many cyclists have crashed hard and have severe road rash as a result. Bananas are of absolutely no use in this situation.

What’s it all about?


We are a group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. I’ve been doing this since June last year and I enjoy nothing more than reading about and seeing other gardens from as far away. Lest we forget, many more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram. You can find out more about it here. Six things, in your garden. Could be anything, and frequently is. Do join in. Hashtag #sixonsaturday.

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 in the nursing home. 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…

Celebrations

Short excerpt, written for the first Saturday of July 2020:

July 2020.

Here’s a shot of Begonia Corner. I went completely over the top with these for the last two years, having forty-two altogether. I mismanaged them last winter and now there are sixteen. They are not at their best yet, but I will enjoy them right up to the end of November.

The Week That Was

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

  • 18-34 year olds have inundated pharmacies for vaccination
  • Marion and I made a good start at the complete revamp of the overgrown front garden.
  • I made a return visit to Kilmacurragh Botanic Gardens with my brother.
  • Day-trips are the in thing this summer. Spike Island was the largest prison in the world, a legacy of British rule in Ireland. Brutality at its worst.
  • Marion and I are having our very first Garden Open Day. We are excited. Details next week.
  • I’ve been watching the Tour de France. Who’d be a bike racer? It’s pure carnage.

Pádraig

Six on Saturday – Probably The Best Success

Bird nests are overpriced, similar to Irish house prices, and there are several almost-worn-out boots within striking distance.

14th November 2020.

It’s been a very dangerous year and November is the most dangerous month. Since last March I’ve spent a small pension on my little gáirdín, and in the past week I’ve needed to have a man-to-man chat with myself. In the aftermath of several nights watching the US election coverage on Fox CNN I   overcame three urges. Firstly, I didn’t buy the tempting subscription to Kitchen Garden magazine. (*See Note 1). Secondly, I didn’t buy the Mega Spring Bulb Collection and finally, when shopping locally, I put back one of the plants on my wishlist. You see, I attempted to rein myself in by shopping without a trolley and there’s only so many that I could safely carry in two hands and under my oxter. There was a time when plastic pots were sufficiently durable to carry a circle of three in each hand, but times have changed. My first of this week’s Six is a twin purchase carried delicately in my left hand i mo lámh chlé.

Queen of Carpets

Evergreen & berried

Cotoneaster Queen of Carpets will be just what it says on the tin, and I shall decide very soon where to put them. In line with my Winter Policy, I bought two, the first because it is evergreen and the second because it has beautiful red berries dearga. (Linguistic note: in many languages, unlike English, the adjective comes after the noun.) The fact that both are evergreen and berried need not be emphasised.

Sedum

I bought only one Sedum. It is evergreen but does not have winter berries. Again, I’ve yet to decide exactly where to put it. I know it will go on the Rockery Clé (see above, much further above) and I’ll give some further thought to its final position there.

Rosa Just Joey

Just Joey: the best success

Here’s the last flower for the year on my favourite scented rose. I’m including it to remind me of Joe’s election success. It will bloom again next year an bhliain seo chugainn. It’s a tremendous success. Tremendous. Probably the best success.

PiPCamera

The Bird Boot

© Unknown

This is not my boot, nor my nesting site. I came across it while distracting myself from overnight CNN customer messages last week. “Customer messages” is such a lovely catchphrase, as opposed to advertisements. I noted i mo cheann that timber bird nests are overpriced, similar to Irish house prices, and also that there are several almost-worn-out boots within striking distance. I may ask for permission to use one, fully understanding that I would need to provide an artist’s sketch of the final product in order to be allowed proceed. I’m doing it for the birds. I’m torn about whether left or right would suit best. I would also need to confirm that I am daft.

Lest boot. Perfect planning

On a Plate

Birds need food, particularly in November. At the moment, there’s still enough for all of them. Many of the tiny tiny apples on the large tree have fallen. They are not being nibbled yet so I sometimes tidy them up and put them on a plate. Some birds prefer to eat at ground level, some from raised feeders and others directly from the supplier. All the bases are covered.

Úlla beaga

Winter Windows

This year, I’ve had to play smart. I’ll be using these window boxes for my annuals next summer an samhradh seo chugainn, so I planted pots of daffodils and small evergreens inside them for spring.  I’ll simply remove the pots when the time comes. That’s cliste.

A picture tells a lot

Three things you’ve probably already noted:

  • Timber bits under front of boxes
  • Homemade coffee table
  • There’s probably more than three. A picture tells a lot.

Finally, my first extended garden video. Sometimes a video tells more than a photo.

92 seconds of November 2020

Alternately, you may view it on YouTube, together with added notes. You may also subscribe to be notified of future updates. Presently there’s just one subscriber. That’d be me!

All other updates from the Prop Club will provide me with interesting reading again this week. You’re invited to read along. The entire collection will be listed in the comments section of Jon’s six this week.

Here’s a thought…

“A balanced inner calmness radiates from a peaceful centre. It neither craves others’ approval nor rejects others’ presence. It neither pulls towards nor pushes away. It has a reverent attitude towards life and all its inhabitants.” – Donna Goddard

I’d like to think that my garden and my writing about it does bring inner calmness. I hope you all (gardeners & readers) have a great week. Slán go fóill.

Note 1: I have located a free online digital version via Borrow Box at my local library. As yet, the Mega Spring Bulb Collection eludes me.

Pádraig,

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This Week in the Garden

Monday, 1st June, shortly after 7am: I am shocked to witness the sheer brazenness of our resident blackbird, as she munched through the very first strawberry of the year. The early bird had no interest in worms. I watched the entire episode, mesmerised yet unwilling to interfere. Lesson learned though, and netting was put in place within hours. Weather: very hot 25C.

Tuesday, 2nd June: The weather continues to sizzle and my plants are thirsty. Unlike me, they cannot move into a cooler place when it gets too hot and they become reliant on me to take care of them. Thankfully, they respond very well to just one form of care: water. All living things need water, and if dehydration is not remedied there is only one outcome.

A few weeks ago I put a layer of bark mulch on several of my patio potted plants, including this one. The idea was to keep the soil cool and prevent the water from evaporating. Naturally, I did not realise that is would be scattered by the bird who knows that the worms are just beneath. Today is the second day that the bird seems to be in charge. Weather: very hot approx 25C again.

Wednesday, 3rd June: Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) It’s good to have a plant that finds the perfect spot and thrives there. Nothing to do with the gardener knowing where best to plant it. I had its parent planted in the rockery nearby two years ago, and it has since passed over to Compost Heaven. Last summer I was thrilled to see that it had seeded itself in several places, mostly in small cracks between the patio slabs. It flowered very freely last summer from its new home, and I liked it very much. This year, there are many more seedling plants among many more cracks, and they seem to be growing very happily. Weather: cooler 16C.

Thursday, 4th June: According to mother nature, Green is a primary color.
I do love a bowl of mixed lettuce leaves with lunch so I need to make sure there’s enough planted. A row of mixed seeds is usually enough for about three weeks. With a bit of luck, I get five or six different varieties. Today, I set my third crop and with such active growth at this time of year they will be ready to eat in about three weeks time, and the process continues again.

Don’t ask me why I love it, Cos I just don’t know, Endive tried lots of them. In truth, this is Rocket fuel.

Friday, 5th June: Clematis is great to cover a fence or an unsightly spot. This one is Clematis Cezanne.

Clematis is a symbol of motivation, intelligence, peaceful thoughts and mental beauty. Clematis will guide the inner self to purpose, meaning, interest and focus. It is a symbol of warmth and ingenuity. It forebodes safety for travelers.

What I’d like to know is who writes this stuff? There’s probably even a World Clematis Day.

Saturday, 5th June: My usual morning or evening walk on the Greenway brings me past a notable tree. It is a mature Copper Maple, and it is exactly 29 years old. I give it a nod and a Howya doin? The reason this tree is special is because we bought it shortly after we got married and it lived with us for a year. We then realised that this tree was unsuitable for our small garden so we gave it to our neighbour. But we can still admire its beauty.

Sunday, 7th June: There is some BINDWEED under one of the fuchsia shrubs. Last year, I was too late in noticing it, and it proved impossible to control. This time, I’m on top of it! It’ll not thrive again! I refuse to photograph bindweed, so there!

Weather this week: Shorts, suncream & salad early in the week. Jacket & hat on Friday and Saturday. Rain urgently needed.

This article is mostly a combination of my daily Instagram posts. I am hoping to make this an occasional feature here on GrowWriteRepeat. If you are an Instagram user you might like to have a look there too.

Fun to finish:

Man to florist: ‘I’d like a bunch of flowers, please.’
Florist: ‘Certainly, sir. What flowers would you like?’
Man: ‘Er.. I’m not sure…Ummm..’
Florist: ‘Let me help you, sir – what exactly have you done?’

Pádraig.

Tuesday’s Three Things

I took a short stroll around the dying garden yesterday before breakfast. This is something I like to do regularly and I bring a small notepad and camera with me. I have found great joy in doing this. There was a time that I would scan through my online Irish Times while waiting for my 11-minute boiled egg, but not any more. The breaking news stories and opinion pieces are not conducive to starting the day as I would like, but a few minutes in the garden gets me in a great frame of mind. It’s not that everything is always rosy, akin to the daily news, but I like to notice small things and I have other small things that need attending to thrust in my face. Here’s this week’s Three Things:

Three Things I Noticed: 

  1. The Christmas baubles on the acer and the apple tree since 2016 are to the fore once again. I put them there just before Christmas in 2016 (yes, that’s right!) and decided to leave them as permanent fixtures. In fact there are times when I forget they are there because they become almost invisible when the leaves appear.
    Slight discolouration after two years
  2. I planted Forget-Me-Not along the base of the rockery a few years ago. Perhaps it was 2016, once again. They flower in late spring and the profusion of light-blue is stunning. Furthermore, they self-seed freely, and they have appeared every year, mostly in the same area. At times some seed gets scattered to other nearby areas and I am surprised in late autumn to find a thriving new plant. This year, because my patio slabs have plenty cracks between, the Forget-Me-Not has found a new home. They look very shook at this time of the year, but I am determined to overlook that because the late-spring will bring such a lovely show of colour. The beauty of this plant really is the fact that nature does all the work and I get all the satisfaction. There are other benefits to leaving this plant where it seeded. It becomes a safe hiding place for insects, as falling leaves get trapped around the base, providing more shelter. It is always checked out by the birds for food. My wife scatters birdseed regularly and they gobble it up quickly. When is all seems gone, they start looking carefully for hidden leftovers in hidden places such as this.
    Myosotis (Forget-Me-Not) and house sparrow
  3. I planted Wallflower Winter Passion at the base of the same rockery in 2016. Generally, they come into flower in January, but this year they have started early.
    Wallflower Winter Passion

    Three Jobs To Be Done

  1.  I bought a water feature several years ago. It was definitely before 2016, but I have not yet connected the electrics. I like the sound of running water, particularly when it’s not raining! This task is now added to my to-do list.
  2. My to-do list generally  gets sorted. If there are essential jobs they get prioritised and sorted earlier. Well, one of the tasks added to my list this time last year (not 2016, you understand) was to replace a pane of broken glass in the glasshouse. It’s the place where broken glass usually breaks! It remains on my list to this day, so as I opened the glasshouse door and vent, I was reminded to undertake the task. Otherwise, there’s not much point in having a to-do list. I will prioritise this one, simply because the few small plants directly inside must be shivering in a severe draught.
    On my list since last year!
  3. There are two fuchsias on the other rockery, planted approximately two metres apart, but are quickly growing towards one another at an alarming rate. That will be ideal, but unfortunately, there are two very small shrubs in between. They are Nandina Heavenly Bamboo, currently at a height of approximately 30cm. Therefore, these will have to be moved, because they will not remain heavenly if they get smothered by the native fuchsias. They are really beautiful at this time of the year, and in fact, I highlighted this particular shrub recently.
    Heavenly Bamboo

Three Favourite Plants

Finally, as I wrap up my five-minute pre-breakfast ramble, it’s time for my current three favourite plants:

  1. Alchemilla Mollis (Lady’s Mantle)
  2. Skimmia Temptation, highlighted only last week
  3. Dahlia Cafe au Lait, which is still flowering 

Páraig (also known as Pat) is the author of Petals by Paraig. He loves breakfast, draught-free glasshouses and has very good memories of 2016. He also likes watching the birds and providing safe places for them, but he prefers not to read the morning newspapers before a short garden ramble.