Six-on-Saturday – Life of Stones

As you can imagine, now that I’ve come to think of it, I never really thought about it like that.

19th June 2021.

Come to think of it, I’ve never really thought about it like that. Stones, rocks, big and small. Millions of years old, they’ve seen a hardy winter or two and many have been split by the scorching sun.

I’ve got a fair selection of them in the garden, brought in from Cappagh. Hundreds, if not thousands, were removed from ditches and brought here by the trailer-load. Before that, they came from further afield, along with the ice-sheets fifteen thousand years ago, when winters were real winters and moss was just a pipedream. Nowadays, they add structure to my garden. Want to read along to find out more? But first an Agatha Christie quote:

“I don’t think necessity is the mother of invention. Invention … arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble.” – Agatha Christie

Come to think of it, I’ve never really thought about it like that. I’m beginning to repeat myself, so I’ll skip briskly onwards…

1. Trial & Lots Of Errors

In 1985 the back garden was a flat patch of grass, and ever so slowly we changed it. It’s no longer grass and no longer flat. Because there are high walls on three sides, my architectural brain sought a solution. Stone was brought in, somewhat like the Egyptians building pyramids. The neighbours agreed that I was stone mad. Rockeries were imagined, planned, measured and built along most of the western side and shorter on the left.

This is the west-facing front of the Sunny Rockery. As yet, I’ve not fully mastered the selection of plants here but it’s not a problem. There is a long narrow section at the base for annuals, so the stone becomes a backdrop.

Three levels

2. Several Rebuilds Later

When the building of these rockeries was finished, they were completely bare. Stones are essentially bare, especially the ones that gather no moss. The task of planting began in earnest, and soon I realised how easy it is to put a wrong plant in the right place and vice versa. Over the years, both rockeries have been cleared to soil level twice, and one to ground level. Agatha was right. All that work was done to save myself some trouble, I think.

Hidden

Here, facing east again, the campanula and alchemilla are perfectly happy, while several fuchsias have thrived on top.

3. Planning Ahead

After I retired in 2013 I began to plan for reduced mobility. There was a time when I could lever myself up and jump down, but my prowess was fading by two percent each year. It got to the point that large perennial weeds grew at the most inaccessible back corners. Stone the crows, they seemed to have a brain that outwitted the poor oul ex-teacher íar-mhúinteoir.

Old as Methusaleh.

Further along, the Heuchera are perfectly happy. They get some sunshine until about midday and that’s enough.

4. Winning

Nowadays, I’m winning! Careful Accidental selection of plants has helped to kill two birds with one stone: 1. Shrubs have matured to fill the height required and 2. Ground cover plants stop most weeds. Yes, I did finish a minor remake of the rockery beyond the acer/apple tree. Both problems above will have been solved next year. In the meantime, I’ve an opportunity to move a few pots there as temporary guests.

Joe’s Rockery

A broken terracotta pot on top serves as home to many insects, while the limestone wall takes on gorgeous mosses and lichens. If I had a cat, it’s likely it would find shelter under the fuchsia when the sun starts splitting the stones. Perish the thought.

Shelter

5. Seaside Effect

Two years ago, I came across some driftwood at the beach, a mere 500 metre stone throw away. I took it home and found a nice spot for it. Since then, I watch out for stones that I feel would blend within with this Sea Scene, and only recently I’ve started to group potted grasses here. My record for skimming stones on lapping waves was seventeen, at a time when mobility and skill were at their peak, but I’ll not seek to rediscover the past here.

Seascape

We put in some solar lights a few years ago, but this one gave up the ghost. Really, we should just replace it, but it reminds me of an abandoned lighthouse. It never brought that to mind until right now, I suppose because I’m looking at the photograph and writing about the sea. As you can imagine, now that I’ve come to think of it, I never really thought about it like that.

6. Full Monty Suntrap

The sunny rockery has also had its two major revamps, and a third in March 2016. I (we) removed it, reduced it and rebuilt it on three levels. Membrane was laid, plants put in place and loose gravel added.

I have added more plants since then, but it’s a pain in the neck to clear the loose stone back, cut the membrane and get a decent hole dug. Thankfully it is now complete. I don’t think a further revamp will happen. If I’m tempted, I shall fight the urge as vigorously as my two percent downward momentum will allow! I’d end up stone dead!

Sunny Rockery

I’m very pleased with this area, and have only one small addition in mind. I’ll put trellis on the wall and get a selection of climbers. I’m thinking of clematis, jasmine and some rambling roses. I’m concerned about putting roses there, because I’d likely need to get back there regularly for dead-heading. I’m very open to specific rose suggestions.

Every Stone Has A Story

What’s it all about?

That’s six, so I’ll leave it at that. If you like this article, you’ll be able to find many many more by visiting The Propagator. For sure, you’ll find all the updates there, even if this Life of Stones isn’t your thing! I’ll be back again next 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 year doing this Six-on-Saturday thingy, I’m including a link at the end of this article which was written this time last year. I’ll not be in the least miffed if readers choose not to read it. Happy Saturday! Here goes, from June 2020…

Raindrops

Short excerpt: “The garden really did need some rain. It needed a bit more than some. So, naturally we were thrilled to get a decent drenching overnight last Saturday. To be clear, the garden got the decent drenching while I slept, dry in my bed. Management, known also as mo bhean chéile, informed me that there was accompanying thunder and lightning and I take this on trust despite having no evidence. On the other hand, there is very clear evidence that there was some rain.”

The Week That Was

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

  • Cornwall has been returning to normal after the G7. Normal means miles of caravan and campervan tailbacks.
  • Guinness, food & ráiméis in the garden until 9pm in good company.
  • Daytrip together to Dublin.
  • Dementia is a killer. It’s hard to watch an alert scholar fade so fast.
  • A real bummer that my electronic gears failed as battery was at zero. On the hottest day of the year I had to abandon our planned 100km spin after less than a kilometre. So just 70 this week and 150 today.
  • I think I’ll contract out watering the pots.
  • I’ve been learning Canva, and finally reduced my new logo down to two.
Logo #1
#2

Pádraig.

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Six-on-Saturday – Tulip Mania

By about 1610 tulip mania reached frenzied heights. A single bulb of a new variety was acceptable as dowry for a bride, and a flourishing brewery in France was exchanged for one bulb of the variety Tulipe Brasserie.

27th March 2021.

What’s a gardener’s worst nightmare? What is it that would have us wake in the middle of the night screaming, perhaps only to find it was a false alarm? Except, in my case on Tuesday, it was real. I left the glasshouse open! Can you believe it? An gcreidfeá é? Yes I did, but didn’t wake screaming. Wednesday was such a beautiful sunny morning… beautiful, except for two things. The glasshouse was open and I had a dental appointment. Have you ever had that feeling when a dental appointment is knocked back to second place on the oh-feck-ometer? Well, that was me. My challenge this week, quoted from my fellow SOSer in Belgium, is to focus on Six on Saturday as the perfect excuse to indulge in some gardening mindfulness. Thank you Sel.

Of course, because I live in the sunny South-East, I got away with blue murder. The temperature dipped to 5°C and plant life within continues. Screaming would have been an excessive reaction. Have you had anything worse than a dental appointment? On the other hand, here are six things in my garden better than a dental appointment.

Tulips

Tulips

I’ve never been a fan of Tulips, but can’t really figure out why. Anyways, in an effort to get right outside my comfort zone I bought a dozen. So far, I’m very happy. These ones are smaller than usual and they began flowering last week. Variety is Triumph Yokohama. Bright and cheerful.

In my efforts to like my new Tulips, I wanted to learn more. Introduced to Europe from Turkey in the 1500’s, tulips became an exchangeable item, similar to money airgead. The Tulip Mania of 1663-1667 is well documented.

Tulpenwindhandel was a speculative frenzy in 17th-century Holland over the sale of tulip bulbs.  The delicately formed, vividly coloured flowers became a popular, if costly, item. The demand for differently coloured varieties of tulips soon exceeded the supply, and prices for individual bulbs of rare types began to rise to unwarranted heights in northern Europe. By about 1610 a single bulb of a new variety was acceptable as dowry for a bride, and a flourishing brewery in France was exchanged for one bulb of the variety Tulipe Brasserie.

Britannica

All in all, it adds a strange twist to what we in Ireland would say about someone who acts foolishly:

You’re some tulip!

Fuchsia genii

Fuchsia genii

Genii is my favourite Fuchsia, as much for the leaf as the flower. It has wintered well. I had trimmed it shortly before Christmas, and it seems ready for the season ahead. As an added bonus the three cuttings have rooted and will be grown on. Elephants will remember that I tried air-layering with a transparent plastic ball last year. Well, my advice to anyone interested is not to bother. I had five in place and not a single root has rooted. Save your money. Invest in a few tulips.

Forget-me-not

Myosotis… Forget-me-not

The few flowers are insignificant as yet, but in another few weeks, there will be thousands of these tiny blue flowers. Myosotis, more commonly known as Forget-me-not, seeds freely and I’m happy to let it. It becomes a fine plant to fill blank spaces between the end-of-daffodil time and beginning of summer annuals. Last week I had difficulty identifying Iberis. I’ll not forget this one, but I’d be blue in the face getting some folk to remember Myosotis.

Peonies

I mentioned a few weeks ago that someone’s Peony plants were above ground, but there wasn’t a sign of anything happening with mine. I was beginning to wonder were mine a Monday morning version. I needn’t have concerned myself, because with the addition of canes for support and a Heineken bottle to support the canes, everything turned out hunky dory. It’s my first time growing Peonies, whereas Heineken has been a regular feature for many a year. It’s all part of being a good European. The top of the bottle (bottom actually) seems like an inviting place to sit an ornament. Teddy bear, leprechaun or maybe just a few blue & white balloons. Would it be a good display option for an expensive rare tulip?

Skimmia

If only you could be overwhelmed by the sweet scent of these beautiful flowers, you’d surely die happy. The bees are buzzing and in no time at all there’ll be a new set of berries to add to the current crop. Skimmia japonica is the bees knees right now. It’s got a good spot near the vegetable beds, but I’m thinking of moving it to my central Patio Potpourri. I reorganised it last week and will add a few more bits and take away a few more bits until I feel it looks sufficiently different than last year.

Narcissus

These double narcissi are adding some colour to my patio this week. Unfortunately, they tend to get blown over so I try to place the pots in a sheltered spot. A close inspection of this might lead you to believe that it’s riddled with greenfly, but that couldn’t be the case in March Márta. In fact, as I powerwashed the patio last week this and all other pots needed to be moved. It just so happened that I didn’t move this one far enough. I think it’s Paper White, but I’m open to suggestions.

Did You Know?

Linking back to today’s introduction, I wanted to learn more about blue murder and I came across this:

Using colours as metaphors for emotion is probably as old as human language, though they’re deeply determined by culture. In English we have phrases such as white with rage, green with jealousy, see red, yellow streak and tickled pink. The emotional associations of blue are more varied than those of most colours. It has among others indicated constancy (true blue), strained with effort or emotion (blue in the face), indecent or obscene (blue movie) and fear or depression (as in blue funk, which in the UK means to be in a state of fear but in the US to be depressed). WorldWideWords

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 participate if that’s your thing. I hope you have a great week. Slán go fóill.

Pádraig.

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Almost A Good Week

Thursday, 12th November 2020.

It has been a dry week, with the exception of one torrential downpour that passed our way on Tuesday night. The only trouble was that, as quoted by a cycling friend, it took nearly 24 hours to pass.

Saturday 7th

Bringing daffodils to my sister

Monday 9th

Dungarvan Bay

Tuesday 10th

Fuschia clear out on the rockery

Wednesday 11th

Indoor activities only

Thursday 12th

Geranium Vancouver in glasshouse

Pádraig.

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Six on Saturday – The Snip

It has been a wonderful week for gardening. Warm and dry. Ideal weather for a t-shirt, be it red or otherwise.

19th September 2020.

While tidying the shed a few weeks ago I came upon a New Garden Product. I had known it was in there somewhere but it eluded me for many years. Truth be told, I had come across it during the last recession but had no interest in using it so I dumped it at the bottom of a bosca. It is a Rooting Globe. However it can no longer be called a New Garden Product. My Six on Saturday this week features this Old Garden Product six times. There’s only a faint glimpse of plants, but for the record they are:

  • Rosa Just Joey
  • Acer x2
  • Fuchsia

Full instructions are included, together with website and even the bar code. I shall do an inspection in mid-November and report back.

The kit consists of five globes, three small ones, a medium and a large. Obviously, the small ones are for small branches, and the others for medium and large respectively. I just thought that was worth pointing out.

The First Step is to cut and peel off a short section of bark, as below. This is Step Two on instruction sheet above. Don’t worry about the lack of synchronisation.

This is the Acer, together with attached globe. Looks cool, I think. Nature will work its magic and hopefully there’ll be roots in eight weeks, at which point I will sever the branch, hide the globe at the bottom of a box in the shed and plant the new Acer in the Holding Area.

Rosa Just Joey also got the snip, and I await the results. Propagation of the species will continue despite methods that imply impossibility.

This is the large globe attached to a larger branch. Unfortunately, I selected a branch that was a bit too small and the globe was not secured tightly against the cut. Nevertheless, despite a ghastly appearance, some tape and a cable tie did the trick. Very close inspection of the reflection in some photographs will show that I’m wearing a red t-shirt but not in this one. I’m wearing one and it is red, but it just cannot be seen because the tape is not reflective.

Where To Find It

Cutting Globes are available from Amazon or your local garden centre. They may also be found hidden at bottom of a box in an untidy shed. If you’ve a box in an untidy shed, it might be worth your while checking before purchasing. Red t-shirts are ten a penny and can be got everywhere.

Request for advice: Have you used these? Have you any tips? Would non-transparent be better? I’ve a feeling that rooting would be easier in the dark.

Weather

It has been a wonderful week for gardening. Warm and dry. Ideal weather for a t-shirt, be it dearg or otherwise.

In Other News

Last Saturday’s epic 160km cycle was… epic. I did write a bit about it here. What else stood out for me during the week?

  • Sam Bennett is on the brink of finishing the TDF in the Green Jersey
  • I rearranged the glasshouse shelving, updating it from two to three-storey. That’s big!
  • My super-duper labelling machine has arrived and surely I’ll be writing about it just as soon as I figure out what’s what.
  • Covid-19 second wave is intensifying, as too many fools are endangering themselves and others.

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’ll be spending some time today, tomorrow (or perhaps even yesterday?) reading articles by so many others, and I’ll not be clock-watching ar chor ar bith. I hope you have a great week, be it in the garden, the potting shed or elsewhere. Slán go fóill.

Pádraig,

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Six on Saturday – Dibbers And Pringles

Which photograph takes first place in my garden competition this week? It was a private affair and I won easily. The prize is a two-night trip to West Cork.

12th Seprember 2020.

Summer weather has returned and I’ve been basking and cycling in warm sunshine (not at same time), but September is a working month so I’ve continued the daily garden tasks as needed. In the meantime, there will be lots to savour. Here are just six. In fact they comprise this week’s Six on Saturday from last Thursday.

1. Many of the Begonias have put out new flowers as they bask in the same warm sunshine. This is a blurred yellow one.

2. There’s a very small Fuchsia that I keep forgetting about. It’s a mere 30cm in height and it is almost hidden between a fern and Bergenia. Rest assured it will be reduced in height as I intend taking three cuttings. These cuttings bring my total to 102. By end of the month I estimate there will be 126. After that, a second Cold Frame 2.0 would be required.

3. Strawberries are in reverse mode. They looked spent a month ago and now there’s a flush of flowers and a few small fruits. I neglected feeding so they won’t taste great. Likely, with colder nights and slower growth, they may not fruit at all.

Bitter rhubarb made sunny-day strawberry face the realities of life- and taste all the better for it. (Judith Fertig) 

4. Feeding the Osteospermums also fell by the wayside, but they are surviving. There’s just a few flowers because I also neglected dead-heading. I normally do not like purple but this is go h-álainn. What’s in between purple and pink? I’m artistically colour-blind.

5. When I went shopping for pringles and pasta I added this variegated Hebe. It seemed a shame to leave it behind. It was in a sad, very over-watered state so I tidied it up and placed into the Holding Area until I make room for it somewhere. I’m tempted to pop it into a large patio pot, but will most likely wait until March. Three cuttings will be taken, but to give them a fighting chance, I’ll wait a few weeks as it settles into its temporary home.

6. Persicaria and Campanula are peeping through on the rockery under the tall fuchsia. This photograph took first place in my garden competition this week. It was a private affair and I won easily. The prize is a two-night trip to West Cork. Social distancing and hand-washing will be a top priority. Some Guinness will provide essential protein after cycling.

In Other News

We’ve jumped the gun already, as we are in Kerry for a few days. I’m cycling 160km with friends, while Marion is buying plants and dibbers, but not pasta. Likely, I may be on my rothar even as you’re reading this. Truth be told, if you’re reading on Saturday, I’ll be on it long after you’ve moved on. Naturally, I thought to grab some garden photos midweek, put a few words together in advance and set everything to auto-post. That way I don’t waste Guinness-time.

My wife and I have completed a list of six garden visits which we hope to make between now and the end of winter. Each has a nice café/restaurant for lunch nearby and each has some interesting local loop walks. If weather is good we may even bring the bikes. Drive to X, cycle for an hour or ninety minutes, have some lunch and browse for a plant or a new dibber. Home then to a cozy warm stove.

South Kerry Museum, Kenmare?

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, be it in the garden, the potting shed or elsewhere. Slán go fóill.

Pádraig.

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September 2016

Wednesday, 2nd September 2020.

Four years ago today, I was a bit obsessed with taking cuttings. It didn’t just develop overnight.

Here’s the proof. I originally had this on my previous blog, so here’s a reminder to my older 2050 self that it was there too. I’ll be 92. I did love PetalsByPáraig but I didn’t love Blogger. I did like it at the time, but it was not love. Links may be out of date. Bit like myself, I suppose.

Note: Páraig is the shortened version of Pádraig, aka Pat, Patrick, Patsy and Paddy. My wife loves Páraig.

Looking back…

Looking back, three things I notice now:

  • The shed was much tidier.
  • There’s a very professional-looking dibber.
  • I was using very posh terminology: Pelargonium rather than ordinary-Joe-soap Geranium.
  • Blogger was not my favourite piece of software.
  • I loved Marion back then too.

Pádraig.

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Six on Saturday – Cut and Change

I’m going to cut to the chase, without further ado. Pronto, as it were. There will be no dilly-dallying or beating about the bush. I shall abandon the preliminaries and get stuck in immediately, foregoing the unnecessary preambles, because I’m eager to cut corners in order to get to the nub of the matter. Simply put, it’s the last weekend of August. It’s time for me to start making baby plants from cuttings. I’m cutting corners (twice) and layers of red tape to bring you my Six this Saturday. There are thirty cuttings and five rooted seedlings below. That’s thirty-five. Triocha-cúig.

1 and 2: Lavender & Fuchsia

I was kindly asked to stop using peat-based compost recently, and I gave the matter some thought. Not much thought, but enough. I rummaged in the shed to find that I already have an organic peat-free bag hiding behind the other ones, so I used it, mixed with some sand, to pot up some fuchsia and lavender cuttings.

9 Lavender & 6 Fuchsia

There is a growing trend (yes, a growing trend) to move away from using peat. I had known about it from my work in the local garden centre last year, yet it sometimes takes a little kick up the ar backside to make change happen. Likely, it may be a bit too nutritious, so I’m wondering is there a peat-free product specifically for cuttings and/or seed-sowing? I’m sure there is. I love answering my own question! I’m sure others reading this may also love answering my question.  I am learning so much from other gardeners and I’m happy to be more enlightened.

3. Hebe ‘Rhubarb and Custard’

I wrote about this only a dew days ago, and I’m not in the habit of repeating myself so go check it out here. The comments section highlights the gentle kick up the backside mentioned above.

Nine Hebe Rhubarb & Custard

4. Skimmia ‘Temptation’

I notice that some of the leaves of this (gift from my daughter for Christmas 2018) are cut. It’s not unusual to cut large leaves when taking cuttings. There’s a very good reason for it.

3 Skimmia

5. Leucothoe ‘Red Lips’

The common name has me smiling! It’s called Dog Hobble. Smiling is good as it helps exercise many facial muscles that simply do not get moving while sulking. Dog Hobble Red Lips. Again, I decided to snip the leaves horizontally for the same very good reason as above.

3 Dog Hobble

6. Helleborus

This one is not a cutting, but rather a few small rooted seedlings that had grown beneath the parent plant. It’s a plant that I really like. There’s an interesting story I’d like to share about this parent plant.

5 Hellebores
In 2018 we noticed that it was  being ravaged by whitefly after flowering. I wanted to deal with the blighters privately and Marion wanted the plant snipped to ground level, but I objected strongly. I returned home one fine day to find that it had been given a haircut. Number one. Later, peace was restored when I discovered that there were little seedlings seeding beneath. My wife is always right. I must write that seventy times. 

Other News

  • Storm Francis brought lots more rain last Monday night and very blustery winds on Tuesday. Very strangely, there were a few hours of lovely gardening weather in between. No damage this time. Sadly though, I got word that our friends in Santa Cruz have had to evacuate their home because of the raging fires there.
  • America has had very severe problems. Ireland had Golfgate. Both are horrific.
  • Our new Budda is in situ and I rub his belly every few days. It seems that lots of rain follows.

Get involved…

Has anyone got tips or tricks about taking plant cuttings? Or perhaps advice about what has worked or failed? Do please share. I am more than happy to get as good as I give.

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, be it in the garden, the potting shed or elsewhere. Slán go fóill.

About the Author: Pádraig is the author of GrowWriteRepeat. He loves cutting plants, baby seedlings and Dog Hobble. He also loves the Buddha’s big belly, but not storms in August.

Pádraig,

29th August 2020.

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Six on Saturday – Fake Mexicans & Clever Italians

Saturday, 22nd August (Lúnasa) 2020.

There is a distinctly beginning-of-Autumn feel about my garden as the fourth Saturday of August rolls along. There’s also a distinctly scary feel as the Coronavirus pandemic continues, regardless of the approach of the changing season. I’ve been reading about the history of pandemics and it’s very grim. As a species we are vulnerable. This time around, we have the benefit of science, but many refuse to heed advice. It’s a sort of Superman Syndrome, I fear.

My Six this week features four of my top ten plants that regularly do well in my garden. Included also is some information about Storm Ellen, blue pollen, enlarged testicles and clever Italians. To be clear, all are unconnected.

1&2 Fuchsia

Discovered in Haiti, Fuchsias are named after a German botanist, while some originate from New Zealand. All have the particularity of having blue pollen. This pollen was used by young Maori people to adorn their face, probably well before the official discovery of the genus. The plant is not known to have any medicinal uses. It’s just there to brighten up our lives, especially during pandemic times. The Smallpox Pandemic ravaged Europe on and off for centuries, but when it was brought to the Americas it killed up to 90-95% of the population in just a century. Smallpox was the first Pandemic to be completely ended by a vaccine.

“We’ll have a vaccine. Very soon. Very soon”, the Mexican fella said.

Fake News: He wasn’t Mexican.

Here’s a lighter brighter one.

3. Heuchera Binoche

Native American people used some Heuchera (Alumroot) species medicinally. The Tlingit native Indians used Heuchera glabra as an herbal remedy for inflammation of the testicles caused by syphilis. To the Navajo, Heuchera novamexicana was a panacea and a pain reliever. The Smallpox Pandemic (see above) reduced the population of Mexico from eleven million people to one million.

4. Nasturtium Alaska

I may have included Nasturtiums before, and I’m delighted to do so once again. This is Alaska and I like the flowers and the leaves. During the lockdown months since March so many amateur gardeners started to grow their own food. We know that the flowers of these plants can be eaten, usually in summer salads, and the leaves are a firm favourite with little caterpillars. This was not the case during the Black Death 1347, because this native Central American plant didn’t arrive on the scene until nearly two hundred years later. The Black Death killed an estimated two hundred million people in four years. On a trivial note, its very likely that several ego-maniacal tribal leaders lost power, simply because they thought it would go away. Meanwhile, it was at this time in Venice that the clever Italians had a clever idea:

At first, sailors were held on their ships for 30 days, which became known in Venetian law as a trentino. As time went on, the Venetians increased the forced isolation to 40 days or a quarantino, the origin of the word quarantine and the start of its practice in the Western world.

https://www.history.com/news/pandemics-end-plague-cholera-black-death-smallpox

5&6 Dahlia

Native to Central America, the dahlia was first introduced into Great Britain from Spain in 1798. In Europe and America, prior to the discovery of insulin in 1923, diabetics, as well as consumptives, were often given a substance called Atlantic starch, extracted from dahlia tubers. This knowledge simply was not there during the Plague of Justinian in 521. An estimated half of the population of the known world died. Justinian lost power in a flash. Perhaps he thought it would just go away.

This is a smaller, yet equally beautiful dahlia, loved by the bees and I. It’s hardly worth highlighting that there’s no blue pollen here.

Unseasonal Weather

  • Monday was a washout. There was a passing shower here last Sunday night, but it took 24 hours to pass along to somewhere else.
  • Tuesday was the only decent day for cycling. When I checked on Tuesday morning the roses were a soggy mess, the gladioli were hanging horizontally and even the lettuces looked miserable.
  • On Wednesday night Storm Ellen arrived with severe level-orange winds that blew the entire soggy mess into tidy heaps in several nooks. There was severe damage to the dahlias in particular. The Café au Lait above was levelled.
  • Thursday was wet so we headed for a staycation to Glendalough, home of my friend Kevin, in County Wicklow, known also as the Garden County.
  • Friday was wet again. We visited the National Garden Exhibition to meet old friends. Such a visit needed to be marked with a gardening purchase or two, so we bought a small Acer and a big Budda.

We are an expanding group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. I’ve been doing this since June and I enjoy nothing more than reading about and seeing other gardens from as far away as Canada, New Zealand, Tasmania, USA and Britain. Lest we forget, hundreds more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram. We follow the leader Jon and Jon follows us. You can find out more about it here. You may read and follow, or like myself, you may choose to write and follow. Either way, it’s great fun!

I do sincerely hope that no misinformation is circulating as I type. Primarily, I have used History.com as my source. Full article here is worth an eight-minute read.

Pádraig.

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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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