Out And About

I’m thrilled to be able to finalise what I’m going to do, but as yet I’ve no real intention of doing much, except in my head.

Sunday, 9th January 2022.

One of these days, very shortly now, I’ll layer up and do a little bit in the garden. Later, when the one remaining fuchsia has been pruned, I’ll drag its remains to the compost heap. Shredding will be a job for another day.

I’m thrilled to be able to finalise what I’m going to do, but as yet I’ve no real intention of doing much, except in my head. Planning is an important part of gardening so I’ll mull over these little tasks in order to be sure that I’m covering all angles. Further adjustments may be made, all without ever opening the back door!

Blue sky & matching jacket.

We did get outdoors last Monday (3rd). It was a mild day once again so we ventured to Lismore, and finally walked the loop from Lismore Castle Gardens to the back of Hornibrooks. A decent walk in nature is a real tonic. At a time when Covid Omicron is rampant everywhere, getting outdoors safely is good for mind and body.

Lismore street art.

Walking back down through the town, we came upon this very unique natural art in New Street. Basically, it’s moss that has been grown to form an image. I did read the information plaque, but I think I’ll return to find out more. The technique involves using eggs as a binder to get the process started.


Note the tree, leaning slightly southwards.

Next on my list is my reminder to myself that Meabh & Jimmy got engaged. In a few years time Marion, Meabh and Jimmy will recall clearly that Christmas 2021 was the date. I’ll be able to confirm that they are correct by showing them this picture. I know they will be amazed at my accurate recall of events!

And finally…

I’m a believer that whenever we look for the positive in life, we are more likely to find it. On that note, while Omicron is now the word-of-the-month, there are only nine remaining letters in the Greek alphabet.

Newsflash!

Yesterday (Saturday 8th) was cold but dry, so I did layer up and I did get out. It was great to finally give the new front patch a little tidy up. I trimmed the grasses, planted a few recently purchased polyanthuses and got rid of an overgrown ivy in a damaged terracotta pot. The pot will now come in handy as crockery for the base of other pots.

Yes, it was time to get back out to the garden! My head can only take so much of Jigsaws and Kindle.

Today was another good out-and-about day. This time I was on the bike for a very enjoyable group spin with Dungarvan Cycling Club. Weather was cold, roads were very mucky after overnight rain but wind was light. We were quite literally a Dirty Dozen. Checking in the mirror after finishing was discouraged. Route: Lismore, Tallow, Camphire Bridge, Lismore again and home via Kilmolash.

Padraig

Six-on-Saturday – Here Comes Summer

While checking my three weather apps, I noticed that sunrise would be at 5:16am, so I got up just a bit earlier to get a photograph for the start of summer.

5th June 2021.

In a former life, I regarded the 1st of September as the start of the year, but since 2013 I’ve reverted to normal. Today is the start of a different New Year for me. That’s because I am starting on a second year of Six-on-Saturday. I’ve been so taken with the concept that I haven’t missed a deadline since the first week of June last year. Why wasn’t I told about it earlier?

Warm weather has arrived and my mood has lifted further. So too has my attempt to mix gardening, writing and a bit of quirky wit. Herein, you’ll read about The Long Tale, a school memory, a troubling conundrum and banana stickers. Yes, there are six garden items featured but there’s a bit of extra padding this week.

Here we go again around the Saturday Mulberry Bush…

1. The “Seomra”

Velo coffee in sunshine.

“Seomra” is the Irish word for a room. I think we built this in 2009 as a  separated addition to the house. For a short while, we had armchairs and other home comforts. Then, gradually, it changed. I moved the treadmill from the house. I even got myself a Turbo as I attempted to secure a part-time professional cycling contract in my early fifties. Marion expanded her crafting to include quilting and bit by bit my fitness section became an intrusion. My ambition to cycle for a living in France was over. In gentlemanly fashion, I evicted myself as I could see the writing was on the wall. The Seomra is now affectionately known as Marion’s Seomra. Many happy hours are spent there, and I visit regularly to admire projects in motion. There is WiFi, Roberts Internet radio and a large stock of everything, from a needle to an anchor. It’s a little slice of paradise and I’m happy that Marion has her away-from-it-all space.

Strangely, we have no photographs of it being built, but I think it was 2009. The gallery below starts with two photographs, the first in 2008 when the glasshouse was where the Seomra now stands, the second in the very bad winter of 2010. Click and swipe.

2. Splendid

I had arranged an early morning cycle last Tuesday and as I prepared my kit the night before I wanted to confirm that the weather would be dry. While checking my three weather apps, I noticed that sunrise would be at 5:16am. The following morning I got up just a bit earlier to get a photograph for the start of summer.

One minute after sunrise.

Splendid is a word not used in Ireland. We’d have a hundred similar alternatives. We’d say mighty, or grand or even “fair good”. I do notice that the word splendid is used more frequently in England, and it’s used regularly by some in our comments.

Anyway, the point I’m making brings me back to my teaching days. It had been my habit to give a weekly spelling test, and “splendid” was one of the words on a particular Friday. One little girl announced that it was silly to be learning words that we’d never use. Fair pointless, as we would say.

I’ve a feeling that she may have been echoing her mammy, but in fact she did have a very good point. Several years later, I taught special needs pupils and it would have been good general practice to omit words like splendid in favour of words such as farm, tractor or silage.

I’m aware also of the phrase “splendid isolation”, used as British foreign policy in the 19th century. Honestly, I very much enjoyed the splendid isolation of my garden during this past lockdown year, but its now time to have friends over. I hope it will indeed be a splendid summer.

3. It’s A Long Story

I have two composting sections behind the glasshouse at the far end of the garden. I only use plant materials together with uncooked kitchen waste. Most regularly, I use vegetable peels, teabags, fruit and clean kitchen paper. Some teabags contain tiny amounts of plastic to seal the bag, but I purchase only plastic-free bags.

Blackbird has been foraging.

Anyway, to make a long story boring, I do not venture all the way to the faraway composting area with just a teabag or a banana peel. Sensibly, I have a bucket near the back door, and I half-fill it over several days before the long trek. I have a piece of timber that almost covers the bucket, and I’ve developed a perfect aim while dumping a crinkled apple, a few mouldy carrots or a banana peel. However, our blackbirds check the contents every day. They duck into the bucket via the small open space. Yesterday, we had strawberries and the tops were put in, together with kitchen tissues. As can be seen, the birds are experts at flinging out anything that hinders the search for nutritious nibbles. Literally, they do fling things out through the small opening! They know that I tolerate their mess, and they continue to rummage for juicy bits. An apple is a feast that can last all day. They are wary of the two little Yorkies, but everyone exists in harmony. They scoot out of the bucket when I open the door to go out, yet they know well that I’m either just passing by or else replenishing supplies. They perch on the fence and return almost immediately.

This long bird-in-the-bucket tale is not finished yet. On occasion, I add to their workload. If there are bits of paper or banana peels strewn on the ground, I put them back inside, knowing full well that they’ll repeat the fling-out once more. It’s a game we’re happy to play. I get to smirk smugly, and they get to perfect their fling-skills.

In case there are social media advisory comments from the just-my-experience-of-bananas-brigade, yes I do know that they are slow to degrade, (the banana peels, that is!) and yes I do remove the circular banana-identifier sticker. All will be well. Even the blackbirds know that they are bananas, so why a sticker is put on them is beyond me! Fair pointless.

4. Old Lavender And New

Three-year-old lavender

I’ve managed to learn about the correct time to prune Lavender. If left unpruned, it becomes scraggy and weak. I’ve also learned about taking Lavender cuttings. As you can clearly count (of course you can count…) there are seven babies below, taken from the parent above.

Seven babies.

Both pots are directly beside the step of Marion’s Seomra. It’s her favourite place to sit when the sun shines, and the scent of Lavender is overwhelming.

5. Conundrum

The bench may need to be moved, and that may be a problem. You see, I’ve planted two Surfinias in the window box behind using my swapping technique. The Sparaxis were there two weeks ago, in pots within the planter. Last week I replaced them with Petunias, but then realised that they are an upright variety, so I swapped again. To clarify, Surfinias are a variety of Petunia that are trailers. Trailers are plants that trail downwards. (Note: gardeners know that trailers trail downwards, so please understand that I’m writing inclusively for quilters, cyclists and banana-sticker operatatives etc). Happy with all my swapping, I enjoyed some Velo coffee while sitting here, but a thought happened! It went like this: Later in the summer, those Surfinias are going to get big and will trail down behind me while I’m having more Velo coffee and I will be unable to sit back into the seat without the back of my head being accidentally pollenated.

I glanced back to look at them both and confirmed to myself that the thought was troubling, but I resolved to continue with a coffee-cup-half-full-attitude. The answer will emerge over time. Note: Conundrum is another word best left off general spelling lists!

6. Garden Tour

As you know, it’s the first Saturday of June. However, this video was shot last Monday, the last day of May. It was a harsh, cold month, but finished beautifully. Things are several weeks behind, yet even in since last weekend I can see that the catching up process is underway. Here’s hoping for a June that breaks all the right records!

This Time Last Year

At the risk of repeating myself, my writing is for me. 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. As I’m now into my second trip around the sun 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 2020! Here goes…

Why Stand If You Can Sit?

June 2020.

Short excerpt: 6th June 2020.

I discovered only last week that Six on Saturday is a thing. There’s even a #hashtag. There’s some lingo to be learned. I mean, whatever will my sister think when she hears that I am SOSing? Ar eagla na h-eagla (Irish phrase: Just to be on the safe side…) I’ve brought the subject up with my wife, who says that SOSing is ok.

Will it be every week?, she wanted to know.

All depends, I say.

I think you’ll like this SOSing thing. In fact, you’ll be a grand SOSer, says she.

Marion

The Week That Was

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

  • The cease-fire in Israel/Gaza is holding firm. Fatalities are incredibly multiplied on one side of the conflict. I know where I stand on the matter.
  • Coronavirus is mutating faster than a Sam Bennett sprint. We could be in for a sharp late-summer shock!
  • Mam was here for dinner on Sunday. She picked out a quote from a little book: I’m not old. I’m suffering from Youth Deficiency Syndrome.
  • As per tradition, shorts, t-shirt and sandals have been donned.
  • Perfect weather for the bike. 180km is decent. Recovery week upcoming.

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.

Six-on-Saturday – Nikes and Wellingtons

The lettuces and spinach have been moved to the shadier side of the garden. They will get good sunshine until lunchtime, but for that to happen the sun must shine.

1st May 2021.

We live in a mad world. Did you know that? Back in 1979 the beginnings of madness emerged. Trevor Francis became the first footballer to be valued at one million pounds. This week a pair of Nike sports shoes worn by Kanye West sold for 1.8 million dollars. That’s nine hundred thousand for each one.

But we also live in a world of hope. Ireland has endured four months of severe restrictions, and now is the time to get moving again. I’ve bought my season ticket for Lismore Castle Gardens and I’ll be there on Monday. I’ll also be returning to Mount Usher, Kilmacurragh and other beautiful places very soon. I need to escape from my four garden walls. I need to see more of this mad world.

In a change to normal procedure this week, I’ve decided to include a snippet from each day. All days are of equal length, but snippets can vary.

Sunday

Two items of note here. First, the lettuces and spinach in the foreground have been moved to the shadier side of the garden. They will get good sunshine until lunchtime, but for that to happen the sun must shine. After that, even if the said sun shines (try saying that at 78rpm), it won’t shine here. Obviously, growth will slow down somewhat but that’s OK. The plants are less likely to bolt. My thanks to Michael for the large basket.

Secondly, just beyond the bikestand, I’ve put out a dipping tray. This is one of three such trays that will be filled with water through the summer. They are essential for proper watering of my potted patio plants. I’ve had to put these in place earlier than last year because April has been so dry. A close look shows that there are some pots being dipped. Usually, I leave them in water for a few hours or overnight. The tray remains permanently filled with water, and I’ll replace with fresh water once a week. Probably not on Sunday. An added bonus is that the birds drink from and bathe in these trays.

Monday

RacingLifeCreations

The roses are coming along well, but won’t flower for another five or six weeks. In the meantime, Meabh got the easel in place to take a few shots of her latest work. At present, she is completing a collection for children’s bedrooms.

Tuesday

It’s as good as a small win on the lotto.   Truthfully, I do not like being asked to hang out the clothes, but I do it for the sake of harmony. I was therefore delighted to see that they were out drying ahead of me today. Trouble was that several showers meant that they were not drying. I awaited the dreaded text to take them in, but it never came. Then, the icing on the cake… I was inspecting the peas and came across a discarded note. I know which pocket it fell from.

It set off some discussion among several wise Facebookers. That actually seems like a contradiction, but I’ll ignore it for the moment.

Have you been using 10:10:20?
asks Caroline.
Keep sowing the 20c coins,
says Tony.
Mind the p's and the pounds will take care of themselves,
says Rachel
Nora mentions Pádraig & the Peastalk.

Speaking of which, and entirely unrelated, I’m reminded of one of the nicknames given to me when I was a teacher. I was doubled over with laughter.

Pupil: (being egged on by others) Sir, we’ve got a nickname for you.
Me: OK, let’s have it.
Pupil: Will you be cross?
Me: I don’t know. Let’s have it.
Pupil: Baldilocks and the three hairs.

Children are just so creative!

Wednesday

Today is the beginning of apple blossom blowing in the wind. We have petals everywhere, somewhat like snow. Over the next few days the little light brown husks will tumble down and mix with the white. April showers will ensure that the soggy mess will be brought into the house on shoes. It only happens on my shoes. I do not understand why other householders are exempt from such carrying. If I were to offer these shoes for sale, they would surely attract much interest by virtue of this miracle alone.

Thursday

These are Aquilegia Petticoat Pink. I grew them last summer and kept them in the nursery until recently. Now is the time to put them where I’ll see them when they flower. I guess that will be towards the end of May. Fortunately, I found a suitable spot, as the daffodils are now finished. Both pots are same size so I simply changed one for another. The pots are planted within the larger planter. Works perfectly!

Friday

The bamboo is in trouble, I fear. The leaves are dying and I some drastic action will be required. One possibility is that the early spring frosts are responsible, but nothing else got damaged so I may be typing through my hat again. Are there any experienced bamboo experts out there? I’m wondering if I cut it back to the base might it recover? I feel I have nothing to lose.

In the meantime I’ll get everything ready here in Abbeyside for an Open Day in late July, but I may need to restrict attendance. Perhaps I’ll offer my 2013 wellingtons for online auction? All bidders in excess of eight euros would be added to my list of enthusiasts. In that sense, it’s not an Open Day. Successful bidders will not mind.

That’s my lot for this week. Everything was prepared in advance, ready for presentation today. 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 hope you’ve had a good gardening week and that the week ahead brings more of the same. Slán go fóill.

Pádraig.

Six-on-Saturday – Second Thoughts

This week there’s beer and changed plans (not connected), frost and fun. Grab a coffee, put on your glasses and be open to a bit of mild garden fun.

13th March 2021.

It’s been mostly an indoor week again, and I’ve been reduced to, among other ridiculous stuff, reading about the difference between the two words normality/normalcy. Both are valid, but anyone using normalcy in conversation does not fit into my version of normality. Anorher example of human normality can be seen in how we react to news items. Despite the appaling prevalence of disease and death, I am flabbergasted that Gordon Elliot was headline news all of last week and this week it’s the turn of the British royal family. You might like to read my thoughts on these matters. Actually, on second thoughts, it’s probably more appropriate for me to stick to my gardening, The world is divided in two by issues of the day, and it’s not my wish to play one side off against the other. Plants and gardening may be the unifying force so badly needed.

With that in mind, I offer another Six-on-Saturday selection from my garden mó gháirdín this week. There’s a mix of things: beer and changed plans (not connected), frost and fun. Grab a coffee, put on your glasses and be open to a bit of mild garden fun.

1. Beertrap

Temptation

Last year, I used saucers and small glass jars of beer to kill slugs. The jars seemed to work better níos fearr. I sank them into the soil and filled them with beer. Seven of them on the vegetable bed. Every few weeks I emptied the beer and ordered more. Hundreds of slugs died a happy death. My choice of beer is Guinness, but slugs aren’t particular. They’d drink anything. This year I’ve upgraded the traps, in an attempt to keep the alcohol pure by keeping rain away. You might think that early March is too early to start drinking beer? Well, start ’em young, I say, before they get a chance to breed. No DrinkAware notices will be posted.

Slugs love these sheebeens located in shady corners, out of sight of predators. I myself wouldn’t mind a visit to a sheebeen, for some illegal consumption, but I’d fear the consequences.

2. Timber, Me Hearties

The timber has arrived, but my plan has changed. Last autumn, we removed the oil-tank from the garden. It was ugly, and no longer functional. I ordered timber to build a pergola in that corner, but now I realise the space available just would not suit. I’ll place a seat there temporarily, and perhaps put some timber behind it for effect. There will be timber left over, so I’ll need to come up with another project.

Summer 2020

3. Well, Hello There

Smile!

On one of our local walks during the week, we came upon this shrub, decorated with furry toys and ornaments, likely put there to amuse children páistí. I must admit to smiling a lot. In these times, when so many people are clinging by a slender thread, anything which brings a smile is most welcome. I may add a few similar items to my garden to accompany the eternal Christmas baubles.

4. Reliable Donors

Every Little Helps

I put out a request on BookFace looking for baskets. Specifically, I wanted six. It’s not related in any way to Six-on-Saturday but it has sneaked in at number four ceathrar. Delighted I was to have four delivered to my front door within 48 hours, and I collected a fifth later. The Amazon man was a bit surprised when he delivered the beertraps. Thus far, the Tesco ones seem to be of a superior quality, and in the end, Every Little Helps. People are very good.

I will use these for growing lettuces, annuals and a few small herbs. In return, I have offered some tomato plants and broad beans. The beans have deen delivered and are being reared by a foster-mother, while the toms are not yet ready to move out.

5. Viburnum

Seeing as it’s Spring, and Mother’s Day is tomorrow, I’d better include something by way of colour. Flowering, preferably. Let me have a look around…

Viburnum tinus

Viburnum tinus featured here a few weeks ago, yet here it is again. This time, it’s in full bloom. The shrub is small, having been planted only six months ago. It’s clear that it has settled in very well.

Coming Soon

Do watch out for my April request. You could be the proud owner of three Dahlias. By then, they can no longer be called seedlings. Teenagers, more like. Unfortunately, I can only export as far as Kilbrien or Kilmacthomas. I use DPD. Drop Plants Directly.

6. Heavy Frost

Monday night was very cold here, and the temperature inside the glasshouse dipped to 1.4°C. Everything survived, however, because I had used fleece to protect the little seedlings. Not willing to put my plants at future risk, I put an electric heater on a timer inside the following day, and I’ll turn it on whenever the weather forecaster tells me to. The film/movie Clear And Present Danger comes to mind.

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

In Other News

Alpe d’Huez July 2006.
  • My friend passed away last Sunday. We had great times, on and off the bike during our campaigns together. The 600km trip from Mizen to Malin in 1999 was memorable for many reasons, while our trip to the Alpe d’Huez in 2006 was cut short on the first day. I broke a finger and Justin his shoulder, so we had to drink beer for two days waiting for our colleagues to return to base. Back here the garden, Justin roofed the “Seomra”, the name given to Marion’s craft-room. Rest easy, my friend. No more hills.
  • On our local walks this week, we came across three people who admired my garden. To be exact, they’ve never seen my garden, except here. Each explained that they read regularly, but do not comment. That’s 100% OK, for sure. ‘Tis better than a kick up the arse.

Pádraig.

Just Three Things – Cheering Up My Sunday

Sunday, 7th February 2021.

Here we go again with my formerly-regular Just Three Things. In case you’re unfamiliar with this, I write regularly about my short early morning wander down the garden, noticing three things of interest and three jobs that need to be tackled. Simple as that, followed by breakfast.

One

The polyanthus-type primroses are less prone to mould because flowers are held on a longer stem. They are also easier to dead-head without damaging foliage. This one is the first of my one hundred and seventy Autumn plug purchases to bloom. Plug plants are tiny, approximately half a centimetre. The package arrived from Jersey, via Northern Ireland. Long story.

Two

I like the moss that has gathered, because the stone certainly has not rolled. I also like the rough beside the smoothness of the pot. And finally I like the blend of colouring. Plants, pot and stone are just perfect together.

Three

In the glasshouse, the top shelves are now filled with seedlings, cuttings and other accessories. The sweet peas are on the next shelf down, and now they need to be supported as they are beginning to trail.

Just three things to be done:

  1. Support the sweet peas with a few sticks or dead fuchsia twigs.
  2. Fill the bird-feeders because there’s very cold weather on the way.
  3. I need to buy a new head for the hosepipe. This can be got at my local hardware store, but it is also in stock at the garden centre. I know where I’ll get it, and while I’m there I’m sure other things will be needed. Priority: urgent.

As per usual I returned indoors for shelter and sustenance. As is my habit, I write with gratitude for the benefits my garden brings me. As is also my habit, the three small jobs to be done are added to my short mental list. There was a time when these jobs were put on the long finger, but with time on my hands these days, I try to tackle them promptly. Wisely, I make a note not to notice glaringly obvious difficult jobs that are staring me in the face. That could lead to missed deadlines, leading to an unwillingness to repeat the process.

Three things I notice and three tasks to be done. Simple as pie, followed by breakfast.

Weather:

Cold 5°C and light rain at 8.20am. Due to turn much colder this evening. Snow and sub-zero temperatures likely ofer the coming days. Spring, my ar*e!

Pádraig.

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Six-on-Saturday – A Grand Oul Stretch

I’m noticing the grand oul stretch in the evening. There’s an extra one hour and forty minutes of daylight since the start of January, forty in the morning and a full hour at the other end. That’s why you don’t hear anyone saying there’s a grand oul stretch in the morning
.

6th February 2021.

Unofficially, it’s spring. The purists will be flabbergasted. They will troll me saying I am a conspiracy theorist.

It’s been a mixed week here. Tuesday was wet, Wednesday summery, yesterday was supposed to be Baltic, and all through these changing days I’m noticing The Grand Oul Stretch In The Evening. There’s an extra one hour and forty minutes of daylight since the start of January Eanair, forty in the morning and a full hour at the other end. That’s why you don’t hear anyone saying there’s a grand oul stretch in the morning.

All this extra daylight brings new life to the garden and gives me plenty time to select the customary Saturday Six. Be warned though, I’m not in any mood to be taking complaints afterwards!

Patio

Regular readers will be familiar with my Patio Potpourri. It’s been in place since early last year. The important thing about it is that I like to adjust it slightly every few weeks, but since the beginning of winter, there hasn’t been much. Therefore Dá bhrí sin, I felt that a major makeover was needed. I started by moving all pots to give me space to see what effect I wanted.

Several plants were cut back to ground level and put away out of sight. I’ve got two such corners near the vegetable beds. I am pleased sásta with the final reshaping, and I’ll have daffodils and some other spring pots to add in shortly.

I particularly like the old boiler flue, now moved to a more prominent position.

Delivery

Clarenbridge Garden Centre are closed to the public but open for online orders. Here’s the delivery of two bags of potatoes, early and maincrop, together with another Camellia to accompany my recent purchase. Very cleverly, the packer used an oversized plastic pot to pack the potatoes, but the Camellia is upstanding. It shall feature very shortly, but first I’d better unwrap it and get it planted. I really do like the packing arrangement, so much so that I felt the package was worth photographing rather than the contents.

Chitting Early Potatoes

The Chitting Season has started.  Chitting allows me to plant potatoes earlier, and it appears that a stronger crop is assured. So, why wait? Start your chitting speedily, for stronger spud success.

Chitting is a personal affair. I use empty egg-cartons and I’m pleased to report that everything is ship-shape. But should chitters reveal their secrets? My friend Seán tells me his friend Jacques chits much later. Third week of February. Can you believe it? Sacre bleu! H-anam an diabhail!

Delivery Number Two

I ordered good-quality topsoil last week and ended up with several aches and multiple muscle pains after wheelbarrowing it through the garage to its place of rest on the vegetable beds.

By the way, anyone who has gone to Specsavers will clearly see the heated propagator in the background. It was was relocated, by kind permission, to the utility room, and featured prominently last week but was there a photograph? There is now. Snap two birds with one flash.

Powerhose Take One

Earlier in the week I powerhosed and wrote about powerhosing. Writing about it is just as interesting, but when I’m able to look back on this next year or further beyond, I shall do so with satisfaction. Here’s a previous version from 2019.

Finally, I want to include a short video featuring Bobby Blackbird. He joined with me while I rearranged the Patio Potpourri. Here’s the link to my YouTube channel.

Google says chitting means…

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.

Six-on-Saturday – Failure Is Part Of Success

We bought this about fifteen years ago, but never connected an electricity supply. A few years later it became more difficult when our dog Jessie chewed through the cables.

During this prolonged lockdown, it’s very easy to see the glass half empty. Things are pretty difficult for so many people. I am aware of some for whom life is unbearable. In my case, no matter how difficult things become, I feel that looking at the glass half full will help me through. There have been times when I have been unable to think this way, but I’ve I’ve got a good handle on what I now allow myself to think. That’s a lot of thinking!

In a very small sense, my gardening during the week brought setback and success side by side. It was a week that allowed me to celebrate the successes and be philosophical about occasional setbacks.

With that said, here we go once again. It’s Saturday and that means Six-on-Saturday. Six things, in my garden, on this fourth January Saturday, hosted by Jon Propagator across the Irish Sea, active also on Twitter @cavershamjj if you still have an account in good standing.

A success

Most of the cuttings taken last year have rooted and I am very pleased. I had put three in each pot. In about half of them, all three have rooted, others have two and some have one. I have moved them from the cold frame to the glasshouse, where they will stay until I run out of shelving space. A few pots failed to produce even one cutting. I shook my head several times but refused to let it become more than a minor issue. No use crying over a half empty glass of milk. Shaking my head didn’t help at all.

Birdbath

We bought this about fifteen years ago, but never connected an electricity supply. A few years later it became impossible more difficult when our dog Jessie chewed through the cables. Now it’s just a three-storey bird-bath. I think I will move it between idir the Skimmia and the Camellia, and plant a shrub in its place. I will likely report on the situation on a future Saturday.

Setback

I wrote about a Sudden Shocking Seedling Setback during the week. I suppose it should hot have come as a shock because the Snow Lady warned of very severe sub-zero temperatures. But guess what? There’s a silver lining. My significant other bean chéile has granted me temporary use of the utility room to keep my next batch of seedlings alive. The contract runs until Valentine’s Day, at which point an extension may be granted. Terms and conditions apply. What have I learned from this sad setback? Never mind the milk. I’ve learned that the half-full glass has a silver lining.

Compost

Here’s another success. It’s a work in progress, but definitely well on the way. I took the lid off the compost heap yesterday to see what’s going on, and was thrilled with what I saw. There’s very active decomposition. As it were, from death comes new life. I allowed the heap to breathe for a few hours, gave the top a gentle mix with a hand hoe, and proceeded to add a layer of Amazon cardboard for insulation. It does its second job well, provided the bits of sellotape and gluey labels are removed.

Question for curious honours level students: Where are the glasshouse bits kept?

Begonias

Box of sand

It may look like a box of sand, and in fact it is a box of sand. However, underneath the sand are the Begonias I stored last autumn. Here they are, with sand removed…

All looking good.

I checked them to be sure that there’s no mould and there wasn’t. If there were, it could possibly spread to others nearby because there’s no plant distancing. Happy with my investigation, I replaced the sand and sealed the box again. This will remain sealed until mid March, whereupon the process of starting them into growth will commence. I shall report on this in a future Saturday update.

Favourites

As soon as the cold frame was emptied of 2020 cuttings, I put the pelargoniums in there to make more space in the glasshouse. They will remain there until my main crop potatoes need to be planted. The cold frame will be removed and stored somewhere out of sight until October, having done its job. You’ll notice that I cut a length of fleece and it remains at the ready for cold nights ahead. Very sensibly, if I may say so, I used the utility room to do the cutting. If the glass is half full, might as well fill it right up to the brim!

Sin a bhfuil uaimse don seachtain seo. I’ll be back again next week with another Six-on-Saturday. Thank you for reading; I hope you have a good week ahead and that your glass may be at the very least half full. Slán go fóill.

Pádraig

Six-on-Saturday – Once More Into The Potting Shed

The propagator is set at 18°C and an old horse numna helps keep things warm. Also of importance in the process is the Brother labelling machine and Milbona Greek style yoghurt containers. Creamy natural low-fat.

23rd January 2021.

Here we go once again. It’s Saturday and that means Six-on-Saturday. Six things, in my garden, on this fourth January Saturday, hosted by The Running Propagator across the pond.

But first, let me lead you astray. Last Monday was Blue Monday. The phrase was coined back in 2004 by a holiday company in order to boost sales. It was trending on Twitter all day, despite being a pile of horsecrap. In terms of minding our mental health, it seems to me that any Monday could be blue, or any Thursday for that matter.

I was so annoyed with myself for not cycling last Sunday. Was it a case of just not feeling up to it? Whatever the reason, the early part of the week brought constant rain and I was unable to get out. No cycling, no gardening, not even a decent walk, just a few short trips to the potting shed and the glasshouse. Then, the universe dumped words of wisdom in my lap. There’s no advantage in feeling that I should have to. Thank you Abi & Sally.

On a lighter note, yippee!… I say glasshouse, everyone else says greenhouse. What’s the world coming to?

1. Hellebore

The hellebores will come into flower very soon. I noticed the buds during the week seachtain and got a blurry photograph. I will return to the task very shortly. I had allowed last year’s flowers to set seed among the gravel and I’ve got several young plants being nurtured in the cold frame. Times are exciting.

2. Camellia

I’ve gardened here for 33 years bliain and never planted a Camellia. I don’t understand my reasoning, so I finally bought one. It’s a little beauty. There are many buds ready to burst, and no doubt I’ll get the camera out when that happens. I do have a rather tedious task ahead of me over the coming months. You’ll notice the remains of the fuchsia that dominated this area. I’ll need to kill it as it sprouts, as getting the entire root out would have been a tricky task.

3. Skimmia

To complete the winter evergreen section on this raised bed I chose Skimmia japonica Rubella. This will remain compact, I understand. I am thinking of dividing a low-growing geranium from the other side of the garden to provide ground cover here. I am open to suggestions, so please más é do thoil é let me know what you think. The area is east-facing and semi-shaded.

4. Very Pleased

This is the bigger picture of the raised bed. I will plant some annuals at the front and at the base of it for the summer. I’ve also included a small fern, polystichum setiferum. Undoubtedly, I will need to be very vigilant to ensure that no small roots of the dreaded bindweed are allowed to ruin this corner. Regular patrols will be undertaken with gusto.

5. Seeds to Sow

Last week I had sown leeks and Dahlias. But with just a short while remaining in January, I realised that I’d thirteen packets remaining. Quick as a flash, in went the remaining Dahlias, Osteospermum, Gaura and the first of the tomatoes trátaí. I’ve still a few more ready to roll when these have germinated. The propagator is set at 18°C and an old horse numna helps keep things warm. Also of importance in the process is the Brother labelling machine and Milbona Greek style yoghurt containers. Creamy natural low-fat.

6. On A Sad Note

Last August I wrote about cuttings and compost, and received this interesting comment from Dorris. Truth be told, I did reply, saying that I would consider the request and shortly afterwards I decided to take up the challenge for environmental reasons. Dorris and I got to know each other’s garden pretty well and we exchanged advice, banter and encouragement, here and on Twitter. However, unknown to me, behind the scenes, Dorris (real name Rebecca) was unwell, and passed away in December.

May your dust travel far, my friend. I am privelaged to have known you, even if for just a short while.

That’s my lot for this fourth Saturday in January. I do miss going to the pub for a few pints of Guinness. It’s been six months now, and by the look of things, it could be another six before it happens again. I do miss cycling with the club, and most of all I do miss a day away. On a positive note, the garden is calling! Slán go fóill.

Pádraig,

Six on Saturday – Remembering

Thinking cap on to look for an angle… Now where did I put that cap? If I could just find my glasses, I’d see it clearly.

13th June, 2020.

I spent some time wandering in the garden, seeking an angle for another article. I try to write other than descriptive, and if I’m able to link my garden, my head and something going on in the world then maith-go-leor, (also known as fine-and-dandy or Bob’s-your-uncle) .
Each of my six plants this week is dedicated to a very special person. I have a very poor memory for plant names, especially the variety of a known plant, so I name some plants after people. For example, Penstemon Propagator would definitely remind me of Jon, the originator of this Six on Saturday idea. My family would say thay my poor memory extends beyond plant names, to things like misplacing my phone right beside me, constantly looking for my glasses (right beside me/out of eyesight) and missing appointments unless I send myself two phone reminders, on my misplaced right-beside-me phone.

Here’s my Six on Saturday:

1. The Sorbus Rafina is dedicated to the young Iranian 14-year-old recently beheaded by her father. The girl ran away from home with her boyfriend, but was returned by police officials, despite she warning them her life was in danger. Her death is recorded as an honour killing. The legal punishment is very light. Not a good country to be a young girl in love with the wrong person. I will care for this tree in her honour.

2. Fuchsia George Floyd was being choked to death by bindweed. I needed to take away all the ground cover plants beneath it and eradicate the evil that was killing it. It’s a work in progress.

3. Heuchera Mike reminds me of a gentle, chatty garden-centre owner who passed away in 2018. I have several of his plants in my garden. A very keen eye may notice that it is a petal-trapper. Last weekend was very windy and the roses lost many a bloom, only to find a cozy nesting place beneath.

4. Geranium Maureen. My mother-in-law loved geraniums. At her graveside, the funeral director placed one of her plants in this pot. At present, all my geranium plants are too big for this pot, so it remains symbolically empty. It is moved around the garden regularly.

5. 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. Cherish the love you have; cherish the life you live.

6. Hebe M&M. This one is different in two ways. Primarily, it reminds me of two people, Martin & Miriam. They are very good friends of ours and, of course, very much alive! We gave them a Thuja shortly after they married and they called it the Pat-and-Mar tree. This hebe is my way of having them here with us, and is especially important to us right now. I bought them at Lidl during the height of lockdown in early April. This hebe is also different from the above five because I can remember it’s name very clearly. It’s called Hebe Rhubarb & Custard. How could I forget a name like that? But while it lives with us, I shall always call it M&M.

That’s my six this week. There are many things I forget, such as appointments and where my phone is. But I do not forget people. Rafina, George, Mike, Maureen, Gary, Martin & Miriam are remembered in my garden.

I joined this Six on Saturday last week, having read all about it here . New garden writers might like the idea. Old writers like myself too! Certainly, I received a very warm welcome and I want to express my thanks to everyone who read my article, commented here or on Twitter, encouraged me beforehand or just sent me a welcome message. It gave me the encouragement to continue. Thank you very much.
I am now following lots of similar Six on Saturday gardeners and virtually meeting some really nice people.

Finally, I’ve offered myself a suggestion which is undoubtedly sensible. I am a native speaker of the Irish language, sadly in severe decline (the language, that is, not me!). In an attempt to spread awareness, I’d like to use a simple Irish phrase in my articles ó am go h-am. Linguists will likely guess the meaning from the context, or may use An Foclóir for assistance. Others might like to use Mrs. Google, or perhaps not. As my life-motto would remind me: No worries, mate.

So onwards to next week… Thinking cap on to look for an angle… Now where did I put that cap? If I could just find my glasses, I’d see it clearly.

“I am intrigued by writers who garden and gardeners who write. The pen and the trowel are not interchangeable, but seem often linked.” ― Marta McDowell

Pádraig

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