Six-on-Saturday – Just Another Six

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

7th August 2021.

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

1. Begonia Illumination

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

Illumination

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

2. Central Patio Island

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

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

3. Agapanthus

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

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

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

4. Dahlia Delight

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

5. Mesembyanthemum

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

6. Protein & Iron

Agapanthus Shiner in background.

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

Help Needed

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

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

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

What’s it all about?

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


This Time Last Year

Excerpt from August 2020:

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

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

The Week That Was

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

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

Pádraig

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Just Three Things – Cheering Up My Monday

Motivation Monday: Consider planting something today. A vegetable or flower, an idea, resolution or even a smile.

Monday 2nd August, 2021.

After a long interval, here we go again with Just Three Things. In case you’re unfamiliar with this, I write about my short early morning wander down the garden, noticing three things of interest and three jobs that need to be tackled. Usually takes me about five minutes. Simple as that, followed by breakfast.

One

The lilies started in early July and most have now finished, but this one is about to bloom, thus extending the season by another two weeks. I think it’s either Lilium Baferrari or Isadora. I’ll likely know better when they bloom fully.

Two

My favourite Begonia last year. It looks a bit leggy, yet the two-tone orange/red gets me every time.

Three

The Clematis Montana is growing well, considering its been there only since May and it’s in a pot. While the plant gets sun from mid-afternoon, the pot is in shade. Two boxes ticked.

Just three things to be done:

  1. Braid the onions for storing. (Marion).
  2. Tidy up after harvesting broadbeans. (Me).
  3. Prune the crabapple tree. (Me).

Final Thought

Monday Motivation: Consider planting something today. A vegetable or flower, an idea, resolution or even a smile!

Pádraig.

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Six-on-Saturday – Conveyor Belt Required

It would be good to add vibrant red to the new Raised Seating Corner. But I’ll save that for later. I don’t want to be seen to accept suggestions too quickly.

17th April 2021.

I’ll tell you one thing, and one thing only. It would kill a saint. I’m not really much into saints, but I’d imagine that a saint would take a serious amount of killing.

Here’s the thing… I’ve got five large planters with three begonias in each. They do not fit anywhere in the glasshouse because they’re too heavy for the shelving. I have them in the shed by night, and they need to be brought out every morning. I cannot even leave them in the cold-frame because it has been removed to make way for the planting of my maincrop spuds. I think this daily pilgrimage will need to continue until the end of this month, particularly if night temperatures don’t pick up a bit. A conveyor belt would lighten my daily load.

Rather than dwell on this demanding daily ritual, it would be better to highlight some things in the garden that are sparkling, things that bring joy and comfort. How many things, I wonder? Why, of course… it’s Saturday, so six should do it! Let us begin.

Unfurling

My Lovely Fern is unfurling. It’s a bit blurred, but no matter. I had left last year’s growth in place until the middle of last month. It’s a way of providing shelter to the core of the plant during the coldest months. In this case, the plant is in a very sheltered spot and only some of the outer sections were frost-damaged.

As soon as I cut back the old growth, I admired the formation at the centre. As in previous years, I would check progress almost daily as I pass by, waiting for The Unfurling. When it happens, it’s just stunning. Unbe-ferny-lievable! I wish I could put a camera on it for a few days and do a bit of advanced time-lapse trickery.

Note: My Lovely Fern is a variation of My Lovely Horse, taken from the very successful BBC comedy Father Ted. The only difference is that My Lovely Horse is a song, and the other one is… not a song. Would you like to sing along? You can do so here. Much laughing is encouraged, but doing both together takes from the beauty of the music.

Building Castles

Last year I worked part-time at my local garden centre. For the most part, I enjoyed it very much. Of course, it became very clear to me that I wanted to spend most of my wages on plants and accessories! One other bright spot in this experience was that I had an almost unlimited access to used plastic pots. However, since last year, I’ve undertaken an enormous growing project. Presently, there are over a hundred little plants in the glasshouse, and that’s after the giving-to-friends that started last week. Pots need to be washed and sterilised in order to keep Abbeyside infection free, but it’s a job I do not like. I had been given lots of pots by friends but I had left them in water for three weeks. Finally, on Wednesday last, I got round to finishing the job.

Female Royalty

On Monday I visited the garden centre to buy spray for potato blight and came home with a few extras. These seeds will provide great colour over the summer, and into next year in the case of the Penstemon. What caught my eye at home, as I added them to My Seed List, was that there’s an inbuilt Royalty Theme, as all are given female titles… Queen, Duchess and Empress. Does an Empress outrank a queen? I may return next week to search for some male equivalents.

I wonder is it a marketing ploy? Do plants with female names sell better than Bishop’s Children, Sweet William, Bachelor’s Buttons, Rosa Just Joey or Cotoneaster Tom Thumb? I can’t imagine Tom being up to much in the company of the distinguished ladies.

Home Sweet Home

I was doing a clean-up in the shed on Monday and I spotted this hanging from the ceiling. I think it’s a wasp’s next. Can anyone confirm or inform me otherwise? Unfortunately, in my efforts to see if there was anything inside, I knocked it. It is incredibly fragile and the interior is a marvel. As it turns out, I wouldn’t have been happy having this nest within the shed.

Update: yes it has been confirmed as as wasp nest,and some advice too…

It would get to be twice the size of a football with maybe 5000 wasps in it. It is started at this time of the year, by a queen wasp, just after coming out of hibernation. And grows exponentially,  as the number of worker wasps increases. I would flatten it now with the back of a spade if I were you.

D. H.

I’ll be very busy between now and the end of May. That’s the date I have in my head to get all the big work done, and after that, it’s time to relax and enjoy the summer garden. With the exception of tending vegetables and watering plants, June, July and August are mostly for sitting and relaxing, eating and socialising. Oh, please let there be some socialising!

Lily Gurt Mór

I had been reading back through my article about Lily Gurt Mór, written last July. Here’s the state of play right now. There are four that are about 10cm above ground. I had been waiting for them, wondering had they survived the winter, dejected when I thought they hadn’t, and overjoyed to finally see them pop through. It’s time now to add some fresh topsoil and start feeding them.

Lily Gurt Mór is the name I’ve given to these trumpet Lilies. Gurt is South West England vernacular, meaning very large, used semi-frequently by Devon bloggers of note. I like it, and have added “mór”, our Irish equivalent, to emphasise just how tall these Lilies will climb.

Vibrant Red

This brightly-coloured pot, with polyanthus and cyclamen is on the opposite end of the Gurt Mór ladder. Bought just before Christmas, there was also a type of frosted conifer that soon died. Now, the remaining combination is having a second flush. I’ve moved it around a bit, and it looks great just under the budding fuchsia. Having said that, I’m tempted to follow Nora’s advice. It would be good to add vibrant red to the new Raised Seating Corner. But I’ll save that for later. I don’t want to be seen to accept suggestions too quickly!

I’m regularly skinning my head going in and out of the glasshouse because the lintel is too low. But this week, I’ve done further damage. While pruning my little Hebe Rhubarb & Custard with the very sharp new secateurs, I snipped a little piece of something other than the plant. Just happened that the top of my thumb was in the wrong place. There was perfect calm as I was bandaged up, but plenty screaming and doubling over the following day when I hit it off a bedside locker while assisting with the changing of sheets. I really will have to stop doing bedsheets. Interestingly, tieing shirt buttons, shoelaces and washing face with one hand are wonderful experiences that are teaching me lessons.

The unfortunate event has added a whole new meaning to the Covid catchphrase Stay Safe! That’s my lot for this week, a cháirde. Thumbs up! 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.

Flying Ants Day & Birthday Celebrations

13th-17th July 2020.

I have started into my sixty-third orbit of the sun, and to mark the occasion I include here excerpts from my Instagram write-about-my-garden every day challenge. Each day’s entry is written to a given theme. Luckily, there was plenty of cake to inspire me. Here’s my garden week:

Monday: Birthday Blooms

It’s my breithlá and I relaxed in the garden on Monday morning.
The beautiful blooms, assembled using YouCollage, are… Lily Trumpeter, Rosa Just Joey, Cornflower, Geranium Johnson Blue, Strawberry Red, Begonia, and mixed grasses. Although last one is technically not a beautiful bloomer, I’m taking liberty of adding it, coz it’s my birthday.

Tuesday: Three Little Things

I’ve completed a separate article because I had wine. It’s a bit long, and it’s “deadly”. You don’t know what deadly really means? Have a read and pay particular attention to the comments!

Wednesday : The Scent of Summer

I’m half way through the month and actually enjoying this challenge to write something about my garden (mostly my garden) every day.
My good friend Tricia shares a birthday with me, and we celebrated it for a few hours together with her lovely children on Monday, and I was given a brand new mug to start off my 63rd year. Today, as I sit at the breakfast corner, with my toast, double-yolk egg and coffee, I get the scent of Lily Trumpeter from a distance of ten metres. The coffee smells good too.

Thursday: Mismatched

I’m the gardener and OH is the crafter. Therefore, there is a craft room and a garden operating side by side, in aice a gcéile. It’s a mismatch, but one that actually helps us be together. A mismatch made in heaven? I wouldn’t go that far, but we have toiled here for thirty-two sun orbits. Neither puts in on the other, despite varying interests.

7pm update: The seagulls are circling as the flying ants leave their nests to find a new home. It’s a feeding frenzy, but I suspect that enough of the little girls will survive. Surely, they know that they’ve been through a battlezone, and will settle into their new homes, grateful that the natural urge to run the gauntlet has been successful. On the other hand, surely the seagulls are taking it easy now that they’ve had a feed of protein other than fish. Bit like Christmas Day for them.

Friday – To Shop Or Not To Shop

If it’s a choice between the two, I now choose NOT TO SHOP. My garden is in good shape, probably the best it’s been for quite a long while. Also, given everything that has happened this year, many folk have come to the conclusion that we can live gratefully without spending.

Most summers I draw a line somewhere in June. After that, the garden is there to enjoy & relax in. The summer annuals are in. The bulk of the work is done and only small maintenance jobs are on the agenda, such as watering and some weeding. No further purchases are needed until tree & shrub planting in November. That’s also the beginning of seed catalogue browsing, which will lead to shopping. There’s a commonly used phrase “Shop till you drop” and I now amend it to “Drop the Shopping”.

Pádraig,

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Galway Lilies and Fields of Athenry

I have watched the long buds form slowly, and I’ve waited and waited for the first one to open. The Gaway Lily made me wait until yesterday.

We bought three lily bulbs two years ago and now there are four. Last year they were disappointing. This year they are amazing!  The tallest is 2m20cm, followed closely by two more, but the baby one snapped when it was just 50cm. I’m not sure was it the wind or did something eat straight through it. I think it was something.
They were bought in Clonmel Garden Centre but the maroon is definitely a Galway colour!

Lily Gurt Mór

They are not staked, but are supported somewhat by being planted deep within a large pot. Since early April they have shot skywards on a perfectly vertical plane. Then, because of a nearby overhanging apple tree (Apple Tree Duff) the stems arched gently away as soon as the tree came into leaf. Nature is amazing. Come to think of it, if I were a Galway Lily I’d probably do the same.

Our love was on the wing
We had dreams and songs to sing

I have watched the long buds form slowly, and I’ve waited and waited for the first one to open. The Gaway Lily made me wait until yesterday and the others will likely follow very soon.
I will go back over my hand-written notes to find the variety name, and in the meantime I’ll enjoy these beautiful flowers. I’ll enjoy the scent, the colour and the slow pace of maturity on show today and over the next few weeks.

* Any further information or special tips from other Lily lovers would be very much appreciated.

Camouflaged Raindrops

I include here a famous Galway folk ballad written in 1979, remembering the savagery of The Famine in 1847. In recent years it has been adopted by many as a symbol of Irishness, a symbol of struggle against oppression. For anyone interested in the history of England in Ireland, the Wikipedia article about this ballad is very interesting.

Fields of Athenry

By the lonely prison wall
I heard a young girl calling
Michael, they are taking you away
For you stole Trevelyn’s corn
So the young might see the morn
Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay.

Chorus
Low lie the fields of Athenry
Where once we watched the small free birds fly
Our love was on the wing
We had dreams and songs to sing
It’s so lonely ’round the fields of Athenry.

By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young man calling
Nothing matters Mary when you’re free
Against the famine and the crown
I rebelled, they ran me down
Now you must raise our child with dignity.

Chorus

By a lonely harbour wall
She watched the last star falling
As the prison ship sailed out against the sky
She’ll wait and hope and pray
For her love in Botany Bay
It’s so lonely round the fields of Athenry.

Chorus
Damaged by Circumstances

Up the Déise!

Pádraig,

Wednesday, 8th July 2020.