Spoiler Alert

Tuesday, 10th August 2021.

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!

Canva is da bomb!

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!

Pádraig.

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Six-on-Saturday – Just Another Six

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

7th August 2021.

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

1. Begonia Illumination

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

Illumination

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

2. Central Patio Island

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

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

3. Agapanthus

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

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

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

4. Dahlia Delight

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

5. Mesembyanthemum

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

6. Protein & Iron

Agapanthus Shiner in background.

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

Help Needed

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

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

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

What’s it all about?

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


This Time Last Year

Excerpt from August 2020:

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

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

The Week That Was

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

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

Pádraig

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Six-on-Saturday – Seed To Flower

31st July 2021.

I’ve repeated to myself that July and August are for enjoying the garden; time to relax and do very little work. This year, I’m busier than expected because I grew so many plants from seed. I’m noticing that, although I’m delighted with my new plants, I am spending more time dead-heading than is good for me. If dead-heading were an Olympic event, I’d be on the podium for sure!

Here’s a selection of six that really please me, even though some are a bit needy… I’ll call them Six Seeds on Saturday. Each one is given a rating out of 10. A teacher of mine once advised that everyone should include the phrase “Up hill and down dale I sped rapidly.” when writing an essay, no matter what the topic! So, follow along as best you can. You’re with me? Ar aghaidh linn up and down, over and back, as this is the last Six-on-Saturday for July…

A h-aon: Rudbeckia

Rudbeckia is not needy at all! Known also as Black-eyed Susan, the flowers are about 6-8cm and easy to care for. This one is Rudbeckia Toto. Please don’t anyone tell me it isn’t, because that would mean I’ve got my labels mixed up. Anyway, I like Toto as a name. It reminds me of Japan and the Olympics. The plant has been awarded AGM status (Award of Garden Merit) and it’s easy to see why.

I adore the two-tone colour combination. I’m thinking also that my favourite begonia last year is quite similar. I still have that Begonia but I’ll not show it this week, because today is all about seeds I’ve sown this year. Score: 9

A Dó: Gaura

Gaura lindheimeri ‘The Bride’

Another perennial, the catalogue says that Gaura is a plant whose flower has a very long season. In fairness, I cannot vouch for that yet, but it’s another one that takes care of itself. It grows beautifully among other plants and pleases me greatly. Heavy rain can knock it sideways but it seems to recover well. I may support it with a bamboo stick or two. Score: too soon to tell.

A Trí: Dahlias

Oh lordy! I’ve got about ten or twelve dahlias flowering from seed. Some look like gangly pre-teenagers, all foliage but very few flowers. And yet, I like them! They will strengthen over the winter and emerge from puberty to excite the senses next year! They are perennials, but will need to be protected from frost between November and April mid-May.

I love the doubles because the flower stays for much longer. The singles are a bit of a pain, needing dead-heading every few days, and for the life of me, I regularly confuse flowers that are finished with new flowers that are on the way. I remind myself of the barber who ignores a customer’s instructions! Snip, snip. Oh, sorry! Score: 6. Maybe 8 next year?

A Ceathar: Nasturtium

I’ve sown three varieties and all are doing very well. I will say one thing, though. I’ve used these to fill any gaps that I noticed after all other plants were put in position. At times, they look a bit lonely here and there, but in my experience, they really shine in September. Fingers crossed. Next year, I may do an entire window box with one variety, en masse as it were. Better still, the seeds will drop and germinate in position next year giving a much more natural effect. Score: 8

Peach Melba

This one is just getting going. Let’s see how it looks in a month. Peachy!

Empress of India

The Empress of India is a reliable plant, erect and proud. It seems to be one of the very few reds that I’m able to photograph well. For that alone, I give it 10/10 as befits royal status.

Tom Thumb looks shook because I moved it from vegetable bed to this pot only last week. Again, I’ll be hoping it will fill out enormously in September. Bit like myself!

A Cüig: Asters

I’ve never grown Asters before. I’m assured they will come into their own when summer annuals begin to fade. Watch this space. I’ve got a variety called Mixed. Yes, that’ll be interesting. Score: 5 perhaps. Maybe 4. I hope I’m wrong.

A Sé: Echinacea

Dreamcoat

I planted ten seeds of Echinacea Dreamcoat, seven germinated, three died for lack of care, three are missing, and this is the only one left. The jury is out, but I’ll be rooting for the underdog. Score: 10/10 simply for the fact that I’ve succeeded in breeding it. The bees will agree it’s a top class addition.

That’s my Six Seeds on Saturday. I do have many many more, and consequently I’ve brought extra work upon myself. Hang on, it’s not really work when I enjoy it. But wait… The flowers are stunning but I’m not sure I enjoy tending to the needy ones. I’m all confused.

That’s it for this week, a cháirde. Get yourselves over to The Propagator to find many many more weekly gardening stories, and until next week, I hope that all will be well in your world. Slán go fóill.


This Time Last Year

Excerpt from this weekend last year:

“Hiding the ugly plastic oil tank will be my number one priority … I know exactly the way I intend to do it, and when it’s finished the ugly plastic oiltank will be hidden from view. That’s the whole point. It’s on the way to being a top priority.”

[Observation: I’ve managed to change this corner entirely, that’s for sure. It now has a Budda, a water feature, a duck-egg-blue seat and an unique micro-atmosphere.]

Here’s the full article, a three minute read: Six Urgent Tasks

The Week That Was

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

  • The heatwave is over.
  • Indoor dining opened up, but we will dine outside while summer allows.
  • My report about our first Garden Open Day is in both local newspapers. Worth the effort to finish a great event by recording it.
  • We used lots of petrol this week: Johnstown Castle on Wednesday and Kilmacurragh on Friday.
  • The ladies Olympic road race was amazing. Amateur Austrian cyclist & college maths teacher, Anna Kiesenhofer, beat all the professionals.
  • Táim ag léamh An Béal Bocht le Myles na gCopaleen. Irish language satire. Oh, how I’m enjoying that rare combination!

Pádraig

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Six-on-Saturday – Colour My World

It’s easy to overlook a plant in decline. I’ll photograph this once a month, to savour the importance of seeing beauty after the first flush of youth and maturity.

12th June 2021.

Is it true that dogs are colour-blind? The answer is no. Dogs can see colours, but not in the same way that I can. Their perception of colour is different. Reds and greens are missing almost entirely. “Yellow and blue are dominant colors in dog color vision. Blue, blue-green, and violet look like varying shades of blue. Shades of red and green probably look more like browns and grayscale to a dog.” (PetMD).

This blue-green colour-blindness is also present in approximately 7% of men, but not in women at all. That’s the reason a dog is man’s best friend! Likely, there are experts in the field reading this, so please add to the conversation. If I’m talking through my hat, please say so sensitively!

There is plenty colour in the garden this week, and it will only get better. Read along for a sneak peek of what’s on the spectrum… Miraculously, I’ve succeeded in linking all six items with doggy references. Walkies? Let’s go…

1. Dahlias

I’ll start on the wrong foot. These photographs are from last week, but I’m invoking the Occasional Blip Policy. It’s all about six things in my garden this week, on a Saturday, but the top dog is kind-hearted and doesn’t expel a pupil who lives in the past every now and then!

These flowers are tiny, perhaps just 3cm in diameter, and each plant has just one bloom. The plants are small, yet I’m expecting much of them. Here’s a C&P of my Instagram update:

I was almost ready to give up on the dahlias I grew from seed! They progressed well in the glasshouse until early April but did not like being thrust out to the big bad world. Late frosts meant that I was like a yo-yo bringing them in and out. In early May, I gave up and left them sink or swim, but late frosts came. They shivered and cursed some mighty curses.

Finally, last week the warm sunshine arrived and they have moved very quickly into flowering. I don’t think I’ve ever had dahlias flowering in early June!

I also think this sudden move into very early flowering is in the DNA. The little plants are fearful of more frost, and they do what they are meant to do, bloom and set seed to ensure survival. This might be complete and utter bull*&#t, and if you think it is, please enlighten me gently!

2. Marigold

I’ve noticed that red flowers are very difficult to photograph properly. Actually, I’ll correct that… I have difficulty with red flowers. (Note: dogs cannot photograph red flowers at all at all. It’s just doesn’t work for them.) On the other hand marigolds put on a very good show for me. The first few have bloomed and bring great colour. I don’t have much else of this splendid orange, so I do like to keep them going from year to year. Even when it rains cats and dogs, the marigolds keep going, brightening my days.

Have I a favourite? Well, thanks for asking; yes, I do! The photograph below was taken in 2007. I’d have entered it in the Merry Marigold Of The Year competition, and who knows how things would have gone for me after that?

3. Alliums

Three weeks ago these beauties were at their best. Everything moves so quickly. So many other plants have come into flower that it’s sometimes easy to overlook a plant on the decline. I think I may use this as a personal case study. I’ll do my best to photograph it once a month, to savour the importance of seeing beauty after the first flush of youth and maturity. I’ll call it the old dog for the long road.

4. Dappled Willow

A bird never flew on one wing! These are Salix integra Flamingo, commonly known as Dappled Willow. We paid our first visit to Ballinlough Garden Centre last Sunday, having had it on our list for a long time. I can recommend it highly.

These are fast-growing shrubs that will grow to almost 2 metres, but what’s very unusual is that they need pruning several times each year. It seems a shame to chop off the beautiful foliage, especially as it’s got those lovely pink tips. Once again, if anyone has any advice for me about this, I’d be very grateful. I’ve read about it in several places, and for sure I’ll get to the bottom of it. There’s nothing to beat personal experience, though. This time next year, I’d hope to be the Salix Man. That’s the wonderful thing about growing plants. There’s always more to learn. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but for sure, I’ll be hopeful that this old dog can learn a few new tricks.

5. Another First

It’s the first rose of the year, and my favourite one too! The scent is overwhelming, like last week’s lavender. This first flower is very low, but I’m happy to do my downward-dog yoga pose to take it all in.

6. You Scratch My Back And…

While walking the garden during the week, I noticed that the Lilies are in bud. To the best of my recollection, they are slow to open, perhaps because of the complexity of the flower inside. I looked closely and noticed a few ants searching in circles. Likely there are some aphids nearby. If so, the ants have breakfast. They do not kill the aphids, rather they drink their honeydew waste. In some cases, aphids lose the ability to excrete waste, and the ants come along to assist. They massage the aphids, doggy-style, until the natural process is complete. It’s a win-win relationship, known in nature as symbiotic. Ants will sometimes attack enemies of aphids. They will even relocate aphids to new food sources when necessary. Most amazing of all is that ants will bring aphid eggs underground in winter for protection.

On closer inspection there were a small number of aphids feeding on the most tender parts of the plant, and I sprayed them away with water later that evening. The ants will climb the 1.5 metre stems tomorrow, but will need to descend carefully again, because the food source in not there.

What’s it all about?

“Six on Saturday” is a blogging theme started by Ultra Jon in England. Within this interesting structure, I value enormously the power to express myself through my garden. Sin a bhfuil uaimse don seachtain seo. I’ll be back again next week with another Six-on-Saturday. Thank you for reading. Have a good week. 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 in the nursing home. As I’m now into my second trip around the sun an tarna bhliain 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…

Remembering

Short extract: Grassius Leeds United. I just love grasses. They are wild and hardy, carefree and free-flowing. My brother died at the age of 28. He died on the football field, playing the sport he loved. He was a mighty Leeds United fan. I am a Crystal Palace supporter so we had deep philosophical differences, yet he was Best Man at my wedding! Gary was best man to many many people. While I have this plant, his memory is ever-present in my back garden sa gháirdín cúil. Cherish the love you have; cherish the life you live.

The Week That Was

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

  • Have you ever been to a double-egg-yolk fundraiser? Another bucket list box ticked.
  • My brother Mícheál brought mam to her childhood home in Tipperary.
  • My brother Mo bhráthair Ray and I visited Lismore Castle Gardens.
  • I always lock the back door when I go shopping. Just as well I was quick, because Marion was in her Seomra!
  • Boris is meeting Joe in Cornwall for some happy photographs. Behind the scenes one of them is giving the other an absolute rollicking! Watch for the climbdown. Naturally, it will be choreographed as a victory. Let’s just wait and see.
  • Another great bike week: 92, 14, 20 and 50km. Just as well the garden is all set up for summer!
The Far Side, © Gary Larson

I wrote an article last year about the alternative lyrics of My Favourite Things. Very funny!

First verse:

Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favourite things

Pádraig

About the author: Pádraig is the author of Grow Write Repeat. He photographs and writes about his garden in Ireland in Éirinn. He loves marigolds and Dappled Willow. He also likes The Far Side Gallery, Anne’s Porridge Bread and singing along to Julie, but not while eating.

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Six-on-Saturday – Malus April Dolan

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!

4. Bluebells

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 finger lúidín, 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!

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. Slán go fóill.

Pádraig.

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Six-on-Saturday – Hakuna Matata

Happy plants can survive the ups and downs of life. Not alone that, but they blossom most beautifully when the time is right.

3rd April 2021.

I put a bit of thought into my Saturday articles. Some weeks things fall into place easily, while at other times my six items are just that. Six separate items in my garden this week, and that’s perfectly OK too. But I do try to link things up if I can. Writing is an important way for me to make sense of the world. Very soon I’ll have it all figured out, and then it’ll be time to stop.

My thoughts this week relate to switching off the daily news bulletins about Covid, following a corrupt incident in Dublin last week, where surplus doses left over after vaccinations at a private hospital were given to staff of a local private school. Daddy, hospital boss, child, school. Down with that sort of thing.

I’m happier now that the decision is made. The greed and corruption of the upper echelons within society will no longer drag me downwards. I am reminded of the movie The Lion King and in particular the problem-free philosophy that allows us to develop as good humans. It’s called Hakuna Matata, and it means no worries for the rest of our days! That’s something to sing about on this first Saturday of April. Let’s see if I can link it to some garden stuff…

Broad Beans

Broad Bean Super Aquadulce

The Broad Beans are flowering but also being nibbled by something rud éigin. I’ve put up some climbing supports but that will not stop the nibbling. I also planted another row of seeds three weeks ago for a later harvest but nothing has appeared. It’s likely there’s underground nibbling afoot as well, so I’ve resorted to plan B, sowing a batch in modules in the glasshouse, and I’ll plant them out when they get to a about 5-10cm.

Happy Easter.

Much of society is being nibbled and devoured, day in day out. Nibbling is generally done by those higher up on the food chain. Getting even doesn’t work, but a plan of action for self-care does help.

Saxifrage Peter Pan

This little rockery plant has been in its little spot for five years le cúig bliain and seems very happy there. At the time I bought three of these, but the other two have not survived. A few days ago, I found out the likely reason. The plant needs sun and partial shade. In other words if it is in full sunshine all day it will struggle. Death by sunstroke! This one is sheltered for part of the day behind an Agapanthus that reaches about 40cm. The two that died had no sun protection.

Problem-free philosophy.

Who makes up plant variety names? If I produce a new variety can I call it whatever I want? As an aside, I am frequently amused by the names given to horses, for example Call The Beacon or There You Go Now. A further aside is my habit of naming a variety in memory of someone, but perhaps I should go one step further? Any variety whose name I don’t know, I could simply make one up! I’d never be accepted for mention in the horticultural journals, but I’d have a way of distinguishing one variety from another. For example, if I have another unknown Saxifrage I could call it Saxifrage Alum Rock. I have cousins living in the Alum Rock area of Birmingham, and I have a feeling that a name allocated by myself is less likely to be forgotten by myself.

Happy plants can survive the ups and downs of life. Not alone that, but they blossom most beautifully when the time is right! I’m more than happy to be noticing this small miracle than seeing examples of power battles on my news feed. Beauty amid the rubble.

Peas

Pea Onward 13/03/21

Similar to the Broad Beans, it appears that pea seeds go missing regularly. I’ve come across this little ditty, which seems accurate.

One for the mouse,
One for the crow,
One to rot,
One to grow.

Now I understand why there are enough peas in the packet to feed an army. By the time the select few grow to maturity, there’ll surely be enough for us. We are a small family! This variety is also known to me as Pea Legs 11.

Enough for everyone.

I’m happy to plant forty, in the knowledge that ten will be delicious. Everything else is of no consequence to me. No worries.

Dahlia

Dahlia Disco Dancer.

Apart from the large Dahlias planted in the ground and in pots, I chose to grow some lots from seed this year. I’ve got five varieties, and started them in late January. At the moment, they are really pushing on, and are at the point where I will carefully pinch out the central growing tip. This is done in order to get the plant to send out side shoots. Since mid-March, I’ve had a chance to put these outside on warm sunny afternoons but they return to the sheltered environment by night, as they are not frost-hardy. Very importantly also, I do remember to shut the door and window before dusk!

Mother and baby.

Dahlias remind me that this problem-free philosophy is the way to go. They bring forth the most stunning flowers, yet they are such tender plants, and they have their troubles in life. Problem-free does not mean that I have no work to do. It means I’m happy to care for the plant in order to get enormous satisfaction in return.

Tomatoes

Tomato Tumbler

Generally, I grow three tomato plants in the glasshouse every year and a few of the tumbling ones outdoors. This year, I’ve gone completely bonkers. There are seven different varieties, and thirty-something plants altogether. However, I’ll be giving most of them away to friends cairde at the end of April or early May. There are a small few plants still unclaimed, so if you’d like a change from the taste of supermarket tomatoes, let me know. Of course, I don’t want any smartasses. I nearly fell off my stool last week…

“Would you like a few tomato plants?”, I asked.

“Oh, no thank you. You just grow them and I’ll come over to collect the tomatoes when they’re ready.”

Joyeuses Pâques.

Now, if ever there’s a perfect example of a problem-free philosophy, this is it! Everything will be OK. Just wait and see. You know what, when these restrictions are lifted, I’ll be more than happy to have my friend over to share in the tomato harvest! One hundred percent! Be certain though, that overpaid CEO’s won’t get within an asses roar.

Mina Lobata

Unusual leaf shape.

This is the last of my Six this week, but in fact after I took this photograph on Wednesday and checked the name on the seed packet, the Lion King and the Hakuna Matata sprang to mind. Mina Lobata. Hakuna Matata. In effect, it was this little seedling that sparked a few neurons in my head. That’s where neurons do their best work.

Spectacular for months.

Mina Lobata is commonly known as Spanish Flag or Exotic Love Vine. It’s a climber and, by all accounts, can reach up to 5-6 metres. I got the seed free saor in aisce with Amateur Gardening magazine before all that kind of thing stopped. Akin to many of my selected items over the past few weeks, I’ve not grown it before. I sowed it early last month and it is still only at 2cm. Definitely a slow starter! I’ll also sow seeds outside in mid-April and see how both compare. Hopefully, I’ll need to put up a few trellises before long. I love the name Mina Lobata, and I just can’t get the tune from the Lion King out of my head.

Hakuna Matata!
What a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata!
Ain't no passing craze
It means no worries for the rest of your days.
It's our problem-free philosophy.
Hakuna Matata!
Best Belgian chocolate.

It’s a Wrap

That’s my six this week and to finish, here’s a short recap video of end-of-March goings-on in the glasshouse.

Lots happening now.

The video is up there on the YouTube cloud thingy as well. There’s a commentator error towards the end… They are in fact cucumber seedlings, not spinach. Contract renewal negotions may break down.

Getting Very Busy Now

  • Gladioli and most of the begonias are planted up.
  • Trellis delivered.
  • First muggy night and that meant slug patrol.
  • Propagator put back to the attic. No not that Propagator!
  • About half of the daffodils put away to their summer corner
  • Lilies planted.
  • Some of the grasses divided and planted up.
  • Salad vegetables ready to harvest from now onwards.
  • Some of the Sweet Peas planted out.
  • Enjoying the scent of wild garlic and furze while cycling. Two very different aromas, both wonderful.

That’s my lot for this week, a cháirde. I’ll be back with more next Saturday an Satharn seo chugainn. In the meantime, please visit Mr. Propagator’s garden blog where you can find many more Six on Saturday articles from around the world, together with details of how to participante if that’s your thing. I hope you have a great week. Slán go fóill.

Happy Easter,

Pádraig.

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Six-on-Saturday – Snow Moon

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

27th February 2021.

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

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

1. Agapanthus

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

2. Polyanthus

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

3. Potting On

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

4. Paeony

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

5. Vegetable Beds

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

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

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

6. Spinach

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

Sowing Spinach YouTube link

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

In Other News…

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

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

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

Six-on-Saturday: Who are we?

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

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

Pádraig.

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Look Back #2 to August 2020

Thursday, 18th February 2021.

Last week was bitterly cold, but temperatures this week are above normal. The wind is bringing mild air and rain from the Atlantic. Hoorah for the mild air, but I’ve got enough rain for the time being, thank you very much.

Tap or click.

In an attempt to project forward to a bright summer rather than be looking out at the rain, I took a look back to what I wrote six months ago. The Dahlias were in full bloom. The article is about pandemics throughout history. I’m glad to have a chance to read back through it.

I’m reminded also that we are merely cosmic specks. We live. We die. In between, there’s every sort of joy and sadness. It’s as certain as Irish rain.

Pádraig.

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Dahlia Delight

February 1st 2021.

Generally regarded as the first day of spring here in Ireland, the 1st of February is the feast of Saint Brigid. I’m not much of a fella for saints, but by all accounts she was a kind helpful woman. As I pottered in the glasshouse this morning, I wondered if she had a garden or grew seeds.

Here’s the link to my YouTube channel.

Pádraig.

January Inspiration – A Dynasty of Dahlias

Wednesday, 6th January 2021.

I buy a packet of Dahlia seeds most years, and I’m thinking that by now I really should have a dynasty. In fact, I’ve got about eight, but the fun of growing this plant from seed is exactly what’s needed for my January Inspiration, whether or not I keep the plants beyond the growing season.

This year I’ve got five packets, three ordered before Christmas from D.T.Brown, one from Suttons and a final one from Mr. Fothergill’s. These last two were bought in 2019 and not sown. It strikes me as I write that I could consider saving seeds from the ones I like for next year. Perhaps I will, but I don’t think it will stop me from buying some new improved varieties next year.

There’s a certain magic when seeds arrive by post, and the steps between then and sowing are an extension of the excitement.

The old teacher in me wonders why there’s an apostrophe in Mr. Fothergill’s but not in Suttons? Shop names are equally different… Penneys, McDonald’s, Waterstones. This is not in any way associated with inspiration, excitement or anything such like.

Follow me along during the month of January as I write a very short account of things that inspire me, at a time when inspiration is like water to a Sahara marathon runner.

What inspires you? Gardening or otherwise.

Pádraig.