Six-on-Saturday – She Walked Right In

Here’s Heucherella, related in some way to Heuchera, a bit like Cinders and Cinderella perhaps.

It’s been a busy week and I’m finally getting around to putting a few bits and pieces together on Sunday afternoon. Really, I should be napping after a very windy morning on the bike, but I’m keen to get this done first.

It’s been a great week here in Abbeyside, despite plenty winds from the wrong direction. The highlight was on Wednesday. As I sat reading in the conservatory the blackbird came right in, holding a few wriggling worms, casually looked around, looked at me, looked at the two dogs looking at her, stopped for about ten seconds and about turned again. I didn’t have time to grab the camera.

So, what’s on display here this week? Here we go…

A h-Aon:

It’s a very busy time of the year. All the seedlings that have been safely kept in the glasshouse are now out every day. It’s a bit of a chore, but I’m happy to get them outside. It’s beginning to get too warm in the glasshouse and it’ll only get warmer from now on. I’ll be aiming to start planting these after the middle of May. In the meantime, this out and in procedure will have to be kept up until then.

A Dó:

This small corner, mostly in shade, is a happy home to the Heather, Bluebells and the Hellebores. While the bluebells are now in their prime, hellebores are fading fast. There are three here, and if you look carefully there are dozens of small seedlings growing happily in the gravel. Even if you don’t look carefully, they’re happy where they are!

A Trí:

A closer look at the pretty Bluebell. Marion loves them and they bring happy memories of her childhood.

A Ceathar:

The Begonias are beginning to stir. I’m always amazed that these small corms can burst forth such beautiful foliage and flowers. They’ve been given a good feed and fresh new soil direct from last year’s compost heap. I’ll be sure to bring regular updates as they develop. I think there are twenty.

A Cúig:

On a recent visit to Ballinlough Garden Centre I came away with this fine specimen. It’s Osmanthus heterophyllus Tricolor, in lay-man’s language Holly Olive. Here’s what the RHS had to say about it. Click here. What I’ve got to say is this: I’m a sucker for evergreen variegated plants. What Marion has to say is that I need to be more selective about purchasing plants, i.e. operate at about 20%. In any case, I know exactly where I’m going to plant this. It’s not as if I bought it and don’t know where it’s going.

A Sé:

Finally, here’s Heucherella. I’m thinking that this is the same as Heuchera, just with a fancy ending. In Ireland, adding the suffix “-ín” denotes smaller. Buachaill is a boy, so buachaillín is a small boy. Teach is a house, whereas teachín is a cottage; bóthar is a road and botharín (aka boreen) is a narrow road. It’s the same with Heucherella I’m sure, similar to Cinders and Cinderella.


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

What’s this 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. You can find out more about it here.

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 – Altamont

I googled the phrase “hummed and hawed”, and was delighted to see that there’s a variation for American hummers & hawers. Yes, it seems that delaying tactics are slightly different over there.

The advice was very definite. Go to Altamont, they said. Paddy said it. Geraldine and Ann said it too. I hummed and hawed just a bit too much, until Marion said: “Oh, for God sake, just go!” So I did. I went to Altamont Gardens in County Carlow.

It’s not often that I’d choose to drive narrow country roads rather than good motorway, but on this occasion I did. It was a good idea. I’m glad that there was no humming or hawing involved. It’s a time of year when the countryside looks great, and I relished the chance to slow down a bit.

When I visited on Monday last, it was bitterly cold and I forgot my hat. I did have a hood on my jacket but it wasn’t satisfactory. I was like a blinkered horse, able to see only a narrow view of landscape directly ahead. There are times when a good thick head of hair would be an advantage.

The snowdrop season is almost finished, but there’s plenty else to be seen. The Hellebores caught my eye along with the Crocuses.

Recently, while planting up some pots, I was reminded of the three important plant types to include… a thriller, a filler and a spiller. Well, someone must have told the gardener about it. There’s a striking thriller Phormium, some filler Skimmias and Snowdrops, and finally some Ivy to finish it off over the edge. If planting pots were The Great Bake Off, this would definitely be into the next round.

I was stopped in my tracks by the scent of this Daphne. I don’t remember the variety, but no matter. I dallied for a few moments to take it all in. Really and truly, variety names are a lot of bother. A daphne is a daphne.

Apparently, the lake was dug out during the time of The Great Famine. That’s a sad thought when viewing something that’s now so beautiful.

Having rounded the lake, I returned to the oak pathway to enjoy once again the lovely Hellebores in reverse.

That was Monday, cold but dry. I’m reminded to be content with cold dry days, particularly because Tuesday and Wednesday were biblically wet, and not a kilometre was cycled until yesterday. Today, I’ll be playing catch up with my plants and seedlings.

The glasshouse is filling up. It’s not a problem at the moment, but in a few weeks these seedlings will need to be potted up. Perhaps I could take on an apprentice?

  • Carex buchananii Firefox 22-008
  • Stipa tenuissima (Mexican Feathergrass) 22-012
  • Uncinia rubra 22-013
  • Rudbeckia (Gloriosa Daisy) 22-033
  • Rudbeckia Cutting Mixed 22-052
  • Festuca glauca (Fescue) Blue Select 22-010
  • Foxglove Dalmation Peach F1 22-034
  • Gaura Sparkle White 22-040
  • Gaura lindheimeri The Bride 22-051
  • Lettuce Morton’s Mix 22-057
  • Spring Salad Mix 22-058
  • Chrysanthemum (Shasta Daisy) Silver Princess 22-037
  • Pennisetum macrourum 22-048
  • Aster Milady Mixed 22-054
  • Cosmos bipinnatus 22-004
  • Salvia nemoros (Meadow Sage 22-029
  • Cosmos Sensation 22-030

There are a further six in the propagator that haven’t germinated yet. Who said that being retired is easy?

On the other hand, there’s always time to learn something new. I’m familiar with the phrase “hummed and hawed”. That said, I googled it and was delighted to see that there’s a variation for American hummers & hawers. Yes, it seems that delaying tactics are slightly different over there.


What’s this Six-on-Saturday we keep writing about? We are a group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. You can find out more about it here. Thank you Jon.

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

Pádraig.

Six-on-Saturday – Ambigram

I’ve been very envious of gardeners who’ve been showing their Hellebores for the past four or five weeks, while mine lay dormant.

This week was memorable for several reasons. On Tuesday we had Twosday, when all the 2’s aligned to bring world peace, personal nirvana and lotto prizes galore. Of course, Vladimir didn’t read the script so he surely will win nothing. He was never on my Christmas list, but if he had been, he’d be scratched quickly.

Copyright @unknown.

I was moved to tears watching a short video clip from Ukraine. A mother and daughter were boarding a bus to safety but dad was required to stay to fight. He gave his daughter a cross to wear, not knowing if they would ever see one another again.

After the Stormy Trio, there were many days of wild wind this week. I chose to cycle three of them, and I was just so happy to get out. On the other hand, yesterday was a pet day and I pottered contentedly sa gháirdín. Here’s a short account of other activity this week…

Powerwashing

Before

At this time of the year the patio is mostly a no-man’s-land of pots everywhere, most of them looking very bedraggled. I had hoped to be powerwashing two weeks ago but it didn’t happen. I finally got it finished last week and I’m pleased with it. In the course of doing it, I needed to move every pot, bucket, trough and planter away. It’s no bad thing really, because when the job is finished, I start reassembling all the pots, buckets, troughs and planters differently. I discard anything that doesn’t bring joy, and I’ll shortly commence repotting. I’ll do a full SOS update next week.

After

Next week, I’ll make a start on the front driveway.

Another Job Done

Before

A few weeks ago I mentioned that there was a mound of loose stone that needed to be washed. This job is now finished and the clean stone has been added to the Gravel Bed. Above, it looks as if I’ve been invaded by moles. Below, having been raked level, it looks better. I scattered fertiliser around the roses before adding the new stone.

After

Franklin

Storms have been named here in Ireland since 2015. Last week, for the first time, we had three. I mentioned Dudley and Eunice last Saturday, and Franklin swept through on Sunday. Lots of wind and rain, but no damage. No cycling either. Eunice did leave its mark here as some rooftiles came loose, but nothing too serious. I had completed a quick check in the garden and hoped for the best. The following morning, my favourite coffee mug was nowhere to be seen. I searched high and low, anseo is ansiúd, and finally found it… outside! Washed clean as a whistle, and still upright.

Helllebores

I’ve been very envious of gardeners who’ve been showing their Hellebores for the past four or five weeks, while mine lay dormant. They are in a very sheltered corner of the garden and don’t get much sunlight. But nature will not be denied. They’re ready now.

Two other things. There are two ferns planted behind, but they’re barely alive. The spot just isn’t right for them. Also, when the tulips finished flowering last May, I hid them here, wondering would they come again for this year. At the moment they’re alive, and I’ll include an update in a few weeks. I’ll be interested to see if the flower quality will be as good as last year.

Vegetables

I’ve got plenty cabbages and kale that are strong and healthy. This corner will be eaten over the next few weeks to make way for lettuces, spinach and spring onions. I’ve planted everything here closer than would normally be recommended. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the space is very small and secondly, closer planting keeps weeds at bay. A closer inspection will show that there are a few lettuce plants among them. No danger of frost damage because they’re wrapped closely on all sides.

It Lasted Well

Out front, the Christmas Wreath has lasted well, but now it’s time to consign it to the compost heap. I’ll salvage the baubles and glittery bits and do a reverse Marie Kondo. The terracotta pot needs a blast of the powerwasher to bring up the lovely colour once again.

My thoughts are with the people of Ukraine. It’s all very well for me to be waffling on about nice things in the garden, but there’ll be bloodshed and turmoil for millions of families over the coming weeks and months. Did anyone spot The Trump’s comment? “Genius move”, he says when the Russians entered eastern Ukraine as peacekeepers. Still looking for headlines amid tragedy.


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

What’s this Six-on-Saturday thingy? We are a group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. I love reading about and seeing other gardens from as far away as New Zealand, Tasmania, USA, Canada, Belgium, France, Britain and Waterford City. Many more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram using the #sixonsaturday hashtag. You can find out more about it here.

Pádraig.

Six-on-Saturday – Two Will Do

Our winter has been mild, dry and almost storm-free. Then, Dudley and Eunice arrive within forty eight hours.

From my time in Dublin back in the seventies, I know what it’s like to wait for a bus. I’ve waited and waited, and then two arrive at the same time. You’d imagine that would be greeted with relief. But no. The appropriate response would be to complain about mismanaged scheduling.

Fast forward to the twenty-twenties. Our winter has been mild, dry and almost storm-free. Barra was a rough one in early January, whereas Corrie was much ado about nothing. Then, Dudley and Eunice arrive within forty eight hours. This climate lark is the pits. I feel like complaining. However, because my glass is half full, I remind myself that life is better whenever I find a way to turn a negative on its head. Let me think… two busses, two storms… yes, I’ve got it! Two garden centre visits!

Pieris

My first purchase was a Pieris japonica Little Frosty. It will grow to about 40cm if I take good care of it. I’ll do my best.

Foamflower

Next up is a little Tiarella. Someone within the Six-on-Saturday gang sang its praises very recently. I just can’t remember who to thank, so it’s a general thank you to whoever! Known also as Foamflower, this variety is Pink Skyrocket. It looks very much like a pink rocket. According to a few articles I’ve read, it shouldn’t be in flower until March or April. It’s a dainty little thing. Four things to bear in mind…

  • Protect from excessive winter wet.
  • Best in shade.
  • Divide in spring. Next spring, that is.
  • Put up a sign warning slugs to stay away.

In the likely event that we have a Foamflower expert among us (probably the unknown singer-of-praises), would that mean that I’d divide it next spring before flowering or wait until flowering has finished?

The weather forecast was that Eunice would be worse than Dudley, so I popped the delicate Tiarella into the glasshouse for protection. Interestingly, storms are named alphabetically and every second one is male/female. The female ones are the fiercest!

Rumohra

Better known as Leatherleaf Fern, I very much like the shades of green along the central vein of each stem. I’ve potted it up and will need to watch out whenever heavy frosts are forecast as it may not be fully hardy. It’s been awarded AGM status by the people who award such things.

At present, it’s just a little thing. But when mature it will get to about a metre. I also note that it grows best in a peat/sand mix. Too late now, but later in summer, I’ll be repotting it and at the same time hoping to make two plants of it.

Seedlings

The first few trays of seeds are now seedlings. There’s lettuce, Rudbeckia and Gaura. They germinated quickly at 18°C. Still in the heated propagator are Foxgloves, more salad and Pennisetum.

I’ve about four more to start before the end of the month and when March arrives, there’s going to be a traffic jam! Luckily, the propagator is about 40cm tall so I’ve turned it into a two-storey by making an internal floor on stilts. Altogether, I can fit eight standard trays and by the middle of March it’ll be like a conveyor belt. As soon as seeds are germinated, the tray gets moved to the glasshouse and another tray is prepared in its place. I just need to be attentive for any frost forecast. In that case, I’ll give the ones in glasshouse extra night protection. I lost a few trays last year so I know what needs to be done.

Another Pieris

It’s another Pieris japonica. This time the variety is Polar Passion. This one will grow slowly to about 80cm. Once again I’ve surprised myself, as I’ve never had Pieris in the garden before. Now I’ve got two.

Pieris is also known by other names… Andromeda and Lily of the Valley.

A Feast For Summer

I lost the run of myself. Having selected these four packs, I thought to myself… Why not lose the run of myself? It was a super thought so I acted upon it without hesitation. A few minutes later, I had six packets of the Begonias and three Dahlias. All in all, 18 Begonias and 3 Dahlias. I may have to extend the garden upwards. I’ll certainly want to buy large pots for the Dahlias.


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

What’s this Six-on-Saturday thingy? We are a group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. Sometimes we report on fierce female storms. I love reading about and seeing other gardens from as far away as New Zealand, Tasmania, USA, Canada, Belgium, France, Britain and Waterford City. Many more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram using the #sixonsaturday hashtag. You can find out more about it here.

Pádraig.

Turn A Blind Eye

I’m waiting for Storm Eunice to arrive. Dudley passed over yesterday but he was only a minor issue.

I’m putting some pots into the glasshouse for shelter, I’m taking down the window boxes and I’m charging up all my devices.

Apart from some gardening precautions, I’m cheating at Wordle. I did mention a few weeks ago that it’s a game that didn’t interest me. It does now. Anyway, to make a long story short, I’ve discovered a loophole. This loophole still necessitates getting the answer right, but today I came very close to my first unsuccessful day.

With just one remaining attempt, I realised the word might be SHAME or perhaps SHAKE. The successful outcome was 50-50. I tried closing my browser and opening it again, only to find that I still had only one remaining attempt. I debated going from my phone to the laptop but I’m not that pushed about cheating! Nevertheless, I left the puzzle hanging.

Tiarella Pink Skyrocket

A few hours later, using my phone to find out about a Tiarella plant that I bought, the browser that I used was a different one. This time it was Firefox and curiosity got the better of me. I opened Wordle, only to find a blank canvas! Of course, I had the information from my earlier attempt so, and this is what happened…

Got it in three! I’m now wondering if the millions of people who share their results are genuine or cheaters. If I get the answer in five or six attempts, I guess that’s just about OK, but imagine if I get the answer in one or two, that’s a different story! Sin scéal eile. Imagine if I were to be seen to get it in two attempts every single day! Eyes would pop! I’d be in danger of losing the run of myself.

Enjoy your Wordle if it’s your thing.

The game has been bought by the New York Times. Yesterday, I read that changes are being made to the list of allowed words. In an attempt to fix the world of past wrongs the words WENCH, SLAVE and SHOOT are no longer acceptable. I’ll need to figure a way around this issue. Of course, there’s a possibility that this is fake news. Ochón.

Out And About

Ireland has a great biodiversity of fungi but how have the Irish referred to puffballs, stinkhorns and the like over the centuries?

The Irish phrase for mushroom is fás-aon-oíche, meaning that it grows overnight. Interestingly the phrase is also used in relation to city suburbs springing up quickly. Have a listen. Plenty folklore here.

I came upon these growing under a small tree near the Dungarvan bypass, a few kilometres from me. It was a lovely day for a walk.

Six-on-Saturday – A Good Week

A few of my favourite things in the garden this week. Six in all.

How do you define a good week? What makes it so? As a gardener and cyclist I’d be very grateful for rain by night, together with no wind on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings between 9am and 1pm. If I were to be really picky, Crystal Palace would win at the weekend. Other than that, I’d not complain too much. On a more serious note, having my family safe and well around me, being in a position to get up each day, get out and about for fresh air, exercise and some properly controlled social interaction is very important. As Julie said many years ago…

It was a good week here on the South-east coast. There has been no rain worth mentioning and some worthwhile activities were undertaken. In other news, most Covid restrictions are being lifted. Life will return to a new normal.

A h-Aon:

Viburnum tinus

This Viburnum was planted in the Autumn of 2020 on the raised rockery under the apple tree. At the moment it’s still small, about 30-40cm but I can see good strong growth on it. It’s Viburnum tinus Eve Price, currently starting to flower.

A Dó:

We felled a large columnar beech tree a few years ago. It was growing between the glasshouse and the shed. In fact, it was planted there before the glasshouse or shed were put in place. We felled it ourselves, and it’s a miracle that no panes of glass were damaged. It’s a miracle also that neither of us sustained any injuries beyond a few scratches. However, we failed miserably to get the stump removed. It’s about 30cm diameter, roughly cut in several places to assist with decay. Now, it’s completely covered with this adorable fungus.

February 2018.

A Trí:

Last summer’s beauty is reduced to a skeleton, yet it is worthy of mention. I cannot remember what it was. Bidens perhaps. Likely, if I were to go back over my photos of that spot I’d nail it down. I tidied up this corner during the week, but I decided to leave this be. Wouldn’t surprise me if some clever bird makes use of it to build a nest. That’s what I’d call sensible recycling.

A Ceathar:

Gardening is all about trying something and seeing how things work out. I have dozens of poyanthuses in pots but they are not doing very well. The roots are very underdeveloped and that does not help the plant at all. I think the soil is too rich. Could anyone advise? Anyway, a marauding blackbird tossed them aside with ease in order to get at something tasty underneath.

A Cúig:

This is a Hydrangea. It’s not mine. I’ve ventured beyond the confines of mo gháirdín beag, to the front garden 30 metres across the road. Apparently, it’s good to leave the spent flowers on the plant through the winter.

It’s been so mild in these parts that this beautiful bloom has survived and thrived. Just one.

A Sé:

I love grasses of all kinds, but I forget the names of most of them. This will need a trim very soon. In the meantime, I’m enjoying how it looks in low winter sunshine.


As of today, after twenty-two months, almost all Covid restrictions have been lifted. A balance point is needed between being careful and being fearful. I understand that some people are very anxious. I take the other viewpoint. The glass of life is half full. Lockdown and restrictions have got us to this point, and now it’s time to live properly again. Apart from my immediate family, some others will need a hug or a handshake.


I write as a member of The Saturday Gang. We are a group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. I love reading about and seeing other gardens from as far away as New Zealand (Kia ora!), Tasmania, USA, Canada, Belgium, France, Britain and Waterford City. Many more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram using the #sixonsaturday hashtag. You can find out more about it here. Six things, in your garden. Simple as that.

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

22nd January2022.

Pádraig.

My Gardening Week – Spring Will Come

It’s been a very good week here, mostly dry, some sunshine and mild temperatures by day. It was worse last May!

I’ve been waiting such a long time. It feels like warm weather is never coming my way. This week we’ve had torrential rain, hailstones, cold northerly winds and some sunshine. The rain coincided with my first visit of the season to Lismore Castle Gardens, the hailstones arrived just as I was preparing to go cycling and the cold winds persisted every day.

Yes, it’s the middle of January, the slump month hated by millions worldwide. I can’t say I hate it but it’s not near the top of my list.  Anyway, what’s interesting is that the weather account above is early May of last year! This week has been very different. I spent most of Monday tidying up as the temperature was up to 13C. There was no rain, very little wind and good sunshine. Mild as May, I’d be tempted to say.

There’s a lot to be said for having lots of gravel and concrete paths in the garden. It means that there’s no danger of walking on wet compacted soil. I was able to prune the last fuchsia very severely and an acer very lightly without doing any damage.


Most satisfying of all, however, was moving the pelargoniums from this large pot to the glasshouse and replacing them with daffodils.  You see, underneath each plastic pot, there’s another one. I’m able to leave pots permanently in the soil within the larger pot. Then I take plants out and replace them with others. Time taken: five minutes. A bit of colour around the edge wouldn’t go astray. Pansies perhaps?

Each of the pelargoniums needed some work to remove damaged bits. Finally, a light prune  and they’re done. I’ll be hoping to get them back to the front garden in Early June. In the meantime, I’ll keep an eye on them and feed them well from about April onwards.


Bird-feeding is a regular activity here. Mostly we’ve got house sparrows, blackbirds and starlings. When we put out nyer seed the finches arrive. Recently, I’ve noticed that some birds love grapes. We love grapes too but sometimes they do not stay fresh long enough to finish. I’d been in the habit of putting them into the compost bucket near the back door but the birds simply toss everything out to get at them. So, this week I’ve started leaving them on the patio. They don’t last very long.

Slán go fóill,

Pádraig.