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.


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.


Six-on-Saturday – Here And There

4th September 2021.

I see me here. I see me there.

The first three items below were purchased, photographed, catalogued and planted last week. The second trio have been in permanent place for over one hundred and fifty years, yet it has taken me until now to grab some photos. I call it the tortoise effect.

1. Coreopsis Golden Sphere

Coreopsis Golden Sphere (Tickseed)

My sister and I brought mam to Mount Congreve Gardens and while we were having tea, I spotted this from a distance. I abandoned my station to take a closer look, and having taken said closer look, I bought it together with two other plants that had escaped my notice at first glance.

When I got back home, I was thrilled to notice that the pot (yellow, but that’s not important now) is the same as the seven pots-within-a-pot in Joe’s front garden pot. As the summer geraniums are beginning to fade, I swapped one out and popped in the Coreopsis, known also as Tickseed.

2: Leucanthemum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum (Shasta Daisy)

I can’t believe that the Leucanthemum (Shasta Daisy) escaped my first glance. I’ve placed it within my Central Patio, again swapping it for one of the fading summer annuals. My hope is that it will add colour there for several weeks to come.

3: Pennisetum (Fountain Grass)

Pennisetum Rubrum (Fountain Grass)

The Pennisetum (Fountain Grass) has also been added to Joe’s pot, but I’m not sure that it’s the right place for it. I’ll leave it be for the moment. Later, I’ll repot it to a larger container.

All three new plants have been catalogued. I’m repeating myself. It’s a tactic used by teachers and I’ve been unable to shake it off. Regarding this catalogue, I’ll spend some time during the winter filling out the details. I’ll want information at my fingertips about propagating them. Do I take cuttings? If so, when? Do I propagate them by division? Again, if so, when?

One of the loveliest little apps I use regularly is called Garden Tags. I enter the name of the plant, confirm that I have it in my garden, and hey presto… I get reminders from month to month about how to care for it. I pay a very modest fee for this information.

Yes, I understand that, as with everything in life, there are two sides to the coin. Realistically, I do adhere to the theory that the best way to check the weather is by looking out the window. However, in this case, a helping hand from technology will be much appreciated.

4: Lady Louisa’s Walk

This is the scene along the banks of the Blackwater, just a few hundred metres south of Lismore Castle. Downstream, it could be said. Lady Louisa Cavendish became the person in charge upon the death of her father in the 1850’s. Being a lady and liking her ladylike walks, she supervised the creation of this peaceful 3km loop walk from the castle. We recreated her morning ritual at midday last Monday.

5: Overused?

The backless timber seat is a later addition that hasn’t stood the test of time.

6: The Long Road

Having followed along by the river, the walk veers into shade and back to the town. This stile marks the separation point where a long walk called Saint Declan’s Way continues. It is a pilgrim way stretching from Cashel to Ardmore. For those not familiar with the geography, that’s about 100km. Declan and Lady Louisa part company here. They would have walked the section common to both routes approximately thirteen hundred years apart. Both have left a permanent mark on the local landscape.

This Time Last Year

Excerpt from September 2020:

“I’ve heard it said that men don’t do retirement very comfortably, and there have been times I’ve felt a bit lost, but by and large, I’m very happy not to be clock-watching.”

Here’s the full article, a three minute read: National Garden Exhibition Centre

The Week That Was

  • A road map for abolition of Covid restrictions is announced, emphasising personal responsibility. What’s that?, says lots of people whose apple fell very far from the tree.
  • Crystal Palace have signed several decent players. Now the task is to get them working together to earn their shillings.
  • Mam is returning to Dungarvan after a long summer in Waterford.
  • I return to jeans this week, but will keep my shorts at hand. The Indian summer may stretch on a bit.
  • I’m shocked. I’d even go so far as to say flabbergasted. Enough said, I’ll say no more. Is binn béal ina thost.
  • Cycling: just one 40k spin. Fast and slightly furious, I’m recovering from the shocked state.

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


Six on Saturday – Lismore Castle Gardens

It has passed through several noble hands. Walter (of the Raleigh), Richard (of chemistry laws fame) and Fred the Dancer’s brother-in-law all had the deeds and seeds.

17th October 2020.

There’s been some Autumnal giddiness this week along with serious work in the garden and homework in my head. I am in the process of moving my website from WordPress to Hosting Ireland, but I asked the team leader to allow me time to get my Six-on-Saturday up and out. No problem, she said. Amid all this ticking of boxes and following my nose, I had some John Cleese moments in the aftermath of my visit to Lismore Castle Gardens last Sunday. More of that later níos déanaí. My six (plus one) this week comes from the lovely garden in Lismore, twenty kilometres away.

1. Aon

The original castle was started in 1170 and I’m pretty sure they grew a few beans and bushes, along with thorns and truffles from time to time, but the first real attempt to add a garden befitting the castle caisleán commenced in the 1605. My meander through the present gardens, upper and lower, was the highlight of my year. That’s really saying something! I lost myself moving from one section to another through narrow maze-like alleys, eyes ahead in anticipation, moving from one century to the next.

2. Dó

I came upon this erect grass everywhere and I really do want it. Can anyone help me out?

3. Trí

This is the Avenue of Trees na gCrann. one of several throughout, most likely added by some new owner. Speaking of owners, it has passed through several noble hands. Walter (of the Raleigh), Richard (of chemistry laws fame) and Fred the Dancer’s brother-in-law all had the deeds and seeds. Since the 1600’s this has been just one the very many large estates owned by the Duke of Devonshire. The current Duke is Peregrine Cavendish, but I was unable to meet him because of my other Sunday commitments.

4. Ceathar

As I neared the castle walls I sat to enjoy a Hamlet moment, I was joined momentarily by a hedgehog. It crept slowly out of view as I admired the bigger picture.

5. Cúig

Very impressed I was by the many secluded nooks. This one would be ideal for a picnic or romantic moments. I had neither of these but I did sit to take stock of life.

6. Sé

Voila! Here’s the back entrance, the coffee-and-apple-pie café and the newly-established art exhibition gallery. The café was very tempting but the gallery was closed. I saw someone looking down on me from a window, so I assumed an interested gaze at a tree down to my right and pointed the camera away. Later, my thoughts turned to Rapunzel.

One for the road…

The back lawn is spirit-level level, but as I photographed part of the castle from the approaching bank, I needed to shift my weight to my right foot cos. Accordingly, the building is leaning. The builders of banks and castles could not have known at the time that this would cause first-world issues. An image of the Rapunzel in Pisa lingered with me.

That’s my short account of my first visit to these majestic gardens. I enjoyed it so much that I will save up for a season ticket. The gardens will open again in March next year, all being well with the world, so I will have some time to save slowly.

Further Study & Giddinesss

I did mention giddiness at the outset. In fact, it persisted until Wednesday, by which time I had produced a few fun items… photo edits, a tongue-in-cheek article and seven tweets. I’m told I’d do Twitter a great service by not bothering.

Just shocking! Read about it HERE.

Wouldn’t you just love to visit many other majestic gardens or castles from around the World? England, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are well represented on the Six-on-Saturday thingymebob created by The Propagator.

SOS World Tour

Read all about it and follow this week’s gardeners’ gardens. You may join in free gratis, saor in aisce. Ireland has several keen enthusiasts, and my County Waterford is headed up by An Irish Gardener and myself. That’s it for this week. Stay safe, enjoy your garden and garden reading, keep your distance and wash your hands. I’ll be back next week so until then, slán go fóill.


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Hyssop and Cavendish

Wednesday, 14th October 2020.

Agastache is also known as Hyssop and has many medicinal, herbal and culinary uses.

Marion’s cycling group are known as G5. I’m going to suggest some hyssup oil for them. In the coffee! Hyssop is known also as Ysup, Herbe de Joseph, and Herbe Sacré. Great for cyclists in appropriate doses.

Lismore Castle is owned by the Duke of Devonshire. No connection to the Hyssop family. Due to other commitments, I was unable to meet him. The current 12th Duke is Peregrine Cavendish. The family seat is at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, and the heir is Lord Burlington (William Cavendish), who is regularly in Lismore. According to regulations the heir must be male. There’s also the important matter of legitimacy.


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Late Breakfast

There’s not much to do in my garden so we visited the beautiful town of Lismore. In the Vault Café, I was thrilled that they were happy to serve me a fried breakfast. Nothing very surprising there, you might think. However, as it was after 3pm, they might easily have said no. The served up a great breakfast (including yummy spinach) and I loved it!
Afterwards, we took a short ramble around the Millennium Park to inspect the Bug Hotel and other environmental initiatives. These hotels are becoming a real fashion. Perhaps I’ll work on a miniature version. Another project for the list.
As we drove home, I listened to an inspiring radio interview on the Ray Darcy Show. Ray spoke to “Mr Ireland”, a young Galway man who combines hurling, modelling and Mr Ireland competition. His story about seeking help for mental health issues resonated beautifully with me. This is also becoming fashionable. Men have tended to be like the ostrich until recently. Now, things are changing. As Bertie used to say: A lot done; more to do.
In my case, I have a few strands to my bow: cycling (both leisurely and intense), gardening and writing. Each helps me in various ways whenever life circumstances become difficult.
The cycling today was leisurely for 55km and moved to the intense side for the final thirty minutes. Just as the lovely downhill return from Old Parish began, somebody lit the fuse, to such an extent that I recorded my max HR as we approached the foot of the descent.
Time for coffee. The Vault comes highly recommended.


12th February, 2019.

A Lazy Wind

Saturday, 9th February:

We cycled to Lismore into a dirty headwind this morning. A dirty headwind is defined by cyclists as a lazy wind because it goes right through you rather than around you. We were ever so glad to reach the warm comfort of the Summerhouse in Lismore. Later, on our return to Dungarvan, I decided to stop in to the small public garden beside the canal. I have cycled past this spot hundreds of times so it was good to have a closer look. I think it will be a great place during the summer for a longer stop. Perhaps a book and a little picnic too.