Six-on-Saturday – No Man Went To Mow

First off, I put away every long-sleeved shirt I could find, and it then seemed sensible to bring out the shorts and sandals. And all because there’s no R in the month. True to expectations, it’s been warm and sunny by day and mild at night. The glasshouse has remained open. The annual plants are outside and fingers are crossed that we don’t get stupid weather like we did last May.

This merry month is being pushed as No Mow May. Let the grass grow. Put the mower away. Indeed, I came across an interesting article urging us to get rid of our beautifully maintained lawns. Josh Sims hits hard. He reminds us that it’s time to rethink our fetish for a manicured lawn. On a cultural level, One Man Went To Mow is now very inappropriate, and should no longer feature on the school maths curriculum as a counting aid. In any case, there’s a bit of sexism there too. Yes, gnéasachas pure and simple.

You’ll find no lawn on my patch, just an occasional stray seed that appears among the patio cracks, carried on the wind or left behind by a passing bird. So, with nothing to mow, fertilise or weed, my footprint of carbon is lower. I’m definitely turning back the tide, lowering sea levels and reducing the ferocity of winter storms. Added to all that, I’ve got so much time on my hands that getting something ready for Six-on-Saturday is a doddle. That said, what has caught my eye sa gháirdín this week? Here we go after such a long-winded introduction…

Bachelor’s Buttons

This is Tanecetum, known also as Feverfew. It has several other names, one of which is Bachelor’s Buttons. It’ll flower in mid-June I’d imagine. I’ve featured it several times over the past two years. The foliage has an unusual smell, and can be used as an insect repellant. Some folks like it, some don’t. Insects don’t. Known as the aspirin of the 18th century, it was taken to alleviate migraine headaches. I can’t speak for insects, but I’d wager a tenner with Paddy Power that in a stressful season, they’d be subject to a headache or two now and again. It’s a jungle out there! For the life of me I can’t see the bachelor connection.

Grass

Using chemicals is frowned upon and getting rid of grass that grows among the cracks is like trying to keep the tide out. Want an instant fix? Use boiling water. Perfect for that spot where there’s no danger of killing nearby friendly plants. A word of warning though… if you’re wearing sandals, use an outstretched arm. Sandals do not react well to boiling water.

Geum

Geum is a perennial evergreen. It’s part of the Rose family, creid nó ná creid. It likes a sunny spot but now that it’s in flower, I’ve moved it to semi-shade because it dries out too quickly.  The strange thing is that it shouldn’t be in flower until July!

Lettuce

Who’d have thought that the flower of lettuce would last so long? I can’t remember when this was sown, probably last Autumn. In any case there’s so much lettuce at various stages of growth that I let this one go full circle. It’s up to chin height, and sways gently. It’ll not grow any taller, as it puts all its energy into creating seeds.

Clematis

Clematis Montana was planted in this corner last year. Normally such a vigorous variety, it’s constrained a bit by being in a pot. In fact, it’s not a very large pot. Anyways, it’s in flower this week. The corner is in shade until mid-afternoon, but summer sun would do damage so I boxed in the pot to keep the roots cool.

Click/tap & zoom

Campanula

When this little plant comes into flower it’s time to get out the shorts and sandals. There’s lots of it on both rockeries, but it seems to do better on the one where there’s shade after midday. The other thing worth noting is that slugs and snails adore it. You’d find a large gathering most nights.


Links

Finally, I’m returning a favour for my gardening friend Rosie. She’s been so kind as to add a link to her blog featuring my article from last week. Here’s her article from last Saturday, plus a few others too.

  • While Rosie has the swarm box at the ready, she needs help identifying the unidentified.
  • Fred is in France, where temperatures are high and rainfall is needed. Check out the Amaryllis.
  • It’s Autumn in Wellington, New Zealand, and Barbara presents Three Kings Vine. It’s a stunner!
  • It’s a good idea… I’ll add a few other Six-on-Saturday gardeners next week.

That’s it for this week, a cháirde. Until next week, I hope that all will be well in your world. Slán go fóill. На все добре! (na vse dobre).

What’s this Six-on-Saturday all about? We are a group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. Many more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram using the #sixonsaturday hashtag. You can find out more about it here.

Pádraig.

Six-on-Saturday – Acers

This week Acers feature prominently. Now in full foliage, they weave their magic with such ease.

I took my eye off the ball, and Twitter is now beyond my reach. As I gardened to my heart’s content for the entire week, Elon beat me to the prize. All is not lost, however. The man has informed me that my account is good. There’ll be no talk of banishment, and I’ll be able to update my 142 followers without restrictions. Down but not out, I’ll reflect on the situation with as much grace as I can muster.

Hindsight is twenty-twenty vision. The good weather distracted me. I’ve been very busy gnóthach, because there’s lots happening in my small garden as May approaches. Strong growth all round has increased my workload. Content with my lot, I’m determined to view the loss of the big prize as no more than a missed opportunity. What’s for me won’t pass me by. There’ll be other Twitters. It may be the right time to remind myself that it’s a bit overvalued.

Here’s another thing… I’ll not let Saturday pass by without paying homage to the ritual Six-on-Saturday. This week Acers feature prominently. Now in full foliage, they weave their magic with such ease. But before reading headlong into my six this week, Thursday was National Poetry Day, so I decided to write something to mark the day.


Blackbird hops in the bucket,
Something tasty for breakfast,
A treat perhaps?
Yesterday's grapes will do nicely.

Seedlings happy to escape
From the glasshouse by day
Scorching in there already,
Returning at sunset.

I'll walk softly now,
Have a long search
For something new today,
Never fails!

The summer's coming,
We'll sit and laugh and chat,
There'll be fun and flowers there,
The miracle of life.

That little thing is six weeks old,
It'll be gone by first frost,
The tree beyond is wrinkled,
It's a keeper.

Acer:

Our two dogs are miniature Yorkies, so this is their view of my favourite Acer. They pass by several dozen times every day, either on their way to somewhere or on the way back, like Gilhaney in The Third Policeman. They don’t know it’s my favourite. On second thoughts, perhaps they do? I’m reasonably sure they don’t know its an Acer.

I’m very pleased that it’s slow-growing. I don’t remember when it was bought, but likely fifteen years ago or more. I did attempt cuttings of this but I’ve been unsuccessful. I’ve even tried air-layering. Nothing has worked for me.

Acer Orange Dream:

Next up is Acer Orange Dream. It’s been on my wish list for quite a while and I spotted it last week at Ballinlough Garden Centre. Now it’s happily in situ on Joe’s Rockery and I’m looking forward to watching it mature. These plants are not cheap. In fact, they’re not even reasonable. They’re bloody expensive. However, given that they are so beautiful, I’m happy to forego buying bike accessories every once in a while.

Here it is from further away with some context…

Osmanthus:

Last week, I mentioned the Holly Olive, Osmanthus heterophyllus Tricolor. It’s been put in beneath the Acer palmatum that has grown so tall that it now needs underplanting. I think this will fill the area quite well, but it’s a slow grower. An amount of patience will be needed.

Spirea:

Spiraea Magic Carpet has come into leaf recently. You’d imagine that a plant with carpet in its name would likely spread to cover ground. This one doesn’t look as if it has any intention of being a spreader. No matter, it’s pleasing to the eye and is earning its keep. It has lived happily in a smaller pot but was recently upgraded to a BP. If I manage to care for it well, it’ll likely stretch to a metre. Only last week I mulched it with coffee grounds. Bellaroom from Lidl.

Here it is again, flanked by a grass of some sort and a Hydrangea.

Tiarella:

Bought last February, this little thing has been in flower ever since! It likes shade so I’ve given it some. Amelia reminded me that it’s native to Atlanta, Georgia and grows particularly well in creek banks. I think I’ll add another to my collection for next year, as well as dividing this one when the time is right. Easier than Acer, that’s for sure.

Can you spot it in among the rest of my potted plants?

Finally…

The bins have been in this area for as long as I can remember, except for Tuesday nights when they get moved out front. The following morning they return to their usual spot. It all happens on autopilot.

During the week I tackled a little job that needed doing. The bins are generally sheltered by the Acer (except on Tuesday evenings). This shelter is important because bins do not like direct sunshine in high summer, particularly brown ones. However, as the Acer is too tall, it’s bare beneath and the bins are being blasted with vitamin D. So, I got my tools and timber to erect a sunscreen.

All is well in BinLand. Not alone that, but the bare area beneath the gangly Acer is now slightly camouflaged.


What’s a blog for if I can’t look back? Here’s a few bits from April of last year… Click/tap to go there.

April 2021

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

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

Pádraig.

Six-on-Saturday – Don’t Look, Ethel.

Make up cucumber hills in the evening. Get up early the next morning and sow the seeds before you speak, and you will have a good crop.

Wednesday was the best day of the year by a country kilometre mile. I spent some time doing small jobs and a lot of time sitting in warm sunshine, resting, admiring, reading and snoozing. I had intended cycling my usual Kilmolash and Glenshelane route, but rested instead. I’m told that improvement in fitness happens between sessions, so it’s a win-win situation. Of course, I made sure to wear my big ugly sun hat. I figured there’s no point in being rested, super fit and sunburned.

Last week you’ll remember I changed things around a bit. On Tuesday I continued, this time in the back garden. The square patio area was the focus of my attention.

However, before I show the progress made, I want to inform you of a shocking alert. It was a Facebook alert. Oh, I do love a shocking FB alert. If it weren’t for FB I’d be completely lost. You see, it’s full of rubbish that cannot be got from other sources. This one was about cucumbers…

Cucumber

I tried growing cucumbers last year and I gave up on them. They germinated but never really got going. I may not have adhered to correct procedures. This year I’ll know better.

My homework for this week brought me to read some of Frank C. Brown’s Collection of North Carolina Folklore. Here’s a short summary…

  • Plant cucumbers during the last quarter of a new moon, preferably on a twin day in April. I think a twin day is 11th or 22nd.
  • Get up early in the morning and sow the seeds before you speak.
  • If cucumbers are planted on a Saturday, they will be bitter.
  • It is bad luck to point your finger at a cucumber bloom, as it will cause it to fall off. It is unclear from the text what falls off. I’d imagine finger. Yes, I’m going with finger, and I’ll be sure not to point it anywhere.

If I’ve helped you in any way, please tell your friends.


Patio

Once again, I’ve changed things around. Normally, we get the table and chairs back outside for the May Bank Holiday weekend, but it’s been so dry this year that they’ve appeared a bit earlier. We also like to put them in a different spot from year to year. Once agreement was reached, I moved plants, pots and troughs around. This time, I’ve combined the two timber planters together as a central feature. I looked upon the fruits of my labour and grinned widely with satisfaction.

Next up…

There’s much here that I like. At the rear, there’s an overpowering scent from the Skimmia, while the Forget-me-nots (myosotis) and Aubretia add an extra touch of colour. My thanks to Steve for the Aubretia. On the left, there’s a small clump of snowdrops given to me by Geraldine. I’m very grateful for any and all offers! There’s also the remains of a fuchsia that I cut out two years ago. It’d be good to find time to remove the stump completely, but my priority will be the cucumbers. Before dawn.

Foliage

Polyanthus, Carex, Feverfew, Arabis and Vinca. Us gardeners sometimes forget that foliage can be very beautiful too!

Vegetables

The cauliflower and kale are finished. I’ve added a layer of fresh home-made compost along the bed and planted out the spring onions that I’d started in the glasshouse. I’ve also put two covers over the soil. These will help warm it up so that seeds will germinate faster. There’s a small space to the left of the spring onions. It’s just a foot wide. The spinach will go here, specifically because it prefers a shady spot. I’m buying shop spinach at the moment but not for much longer. There are a dozen seedlings grown inside that will be ready for their outside adventure very soon.

Gaura

Here’s a look back to early September of last year. The white erect stems with starry flowers is Gaura that I grew from seed last year. I enjoyed it so much that it won the 2021 PdeB Growme Award.

For the record, the Gaura above is just one gaura! It’s a perennial and it’s growing very well again now. Altogether I have four. They got a hard prune back in November and I repotted them into larger pots a few weeks ago, giving them a rich soil with added vermiculite and perlite. Gaura is regarded as one of the longest flowering plants. I cannot wait, but know I must.

Anyway, the upshot of it all is that I’ve grown more this year. There are two different varieties here, and I’ve added several friends to the Gaura Giveaway list. Each will be given two or three. A bird never flew on one wing.


Just one other thing… yes, a short repeat of some cucumber information you may not have taken on board. This is very important tamhachtach!


That’s it for this week, a cháirde. Happy Easter to you all. Until next week, take good care of yourself & others. Slán go fóill. If you’d like to read many other Six-on-Saturday updates, just head over to Jon The Propagator‘s blog.

Pádraig.

In The Garden – August Week 4

The Begonias are delightful. I spent some time eyeing them up in order to decide which ones to keep and which ones must go.

Sunday, August 29th 2021.

Lazing about this week! Warm, sunny, light breezes. It’s just typical return-to-school weather. This is my ninth end-of-August with that wonderful not-going-back-to-school feeling. It’s a perfect time for feeling lazy!

I’ve purchased a few perennials to extend the Summer colour into Autumn and I’ll feature them next Saturday.

Meanwhile the Begonias are delightful. I spent some time eyeing them up in order to decide which ones to keep and which ones must go.

Watering before dusk several times this week has kept the vegetables growing well. Other than that, very little work was done. It’s as it should be! Next week I’ll begin the Autumn tidy-up. Very slowly most days through September, I’ll start clearing. It’s my way of ensuring that I’m not faced with a mountain of work in October and November. But this week is for enjoying, relaxing and basking in the heat.

Until next week,

Pádraig.

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In The Garden – August Week 3

What is catching my eye at the moment? Well, for sure, the dahlias and begonias stand out, but my plant of the week is Rudbeckia.

Sunday, 22nd August 2021.

Monday: nada. Just a quick look around but not a finger was lifted. Plants arrived by courier and I left them in the shed.

Tuesday: I had planted vegetables in fresh loose compost and the blackbirds went digging for dinner. I had to put a stop to it by putting bamboo canes and other temporary obstacles in the way. That was as much as I was willing to do.

Wednesday: a busy day with my mam, and a date night so there wasn’t much time in between. Several walks down and up, over and across. I did notice two tiny mushrooms and a flower that wouldn’t give up! It’s rooted in a pot behind this pot.

Thursday: again, a big nothing, not even time to admire. That’s sad, but normal service will resume soon.

Friday: heavy rain all day. Very heavy.

Saturday: I was cycling all day, pretty much. After a long bath I sat in the glasshouse for an hour drinking my recovery electrolytes and surveying my patch.

Sunday: again, there was no time for gardening. However, the entire week brought home to me that August is not a time for gardening. I did get some time to sit, relax and recover from my bike exertions. 814km in 11 days. Tomorrow there will be more sitting and relaxing.

What is catching my eye at the moment? Well, for sure, the dahlias and begonias stand out, but my plant of the week is Rudbeckia. There are several that just bring a smile to my face.

How was it for you?

Until next week,

Pádraig.

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In The Garden – August Week 2

Lots and lots of cycling this week. 310km to be precise. This does mean less time in the garden, but things are generally under control.

Sunday, 15th August 2021.

It was another week of good weather except for Wednesday morning and Saturday. I’ve been in the garden but I’ve done very little apart from two little jobs that have been a long time on the long finger.

The clothes line is on the raised vegetable bed, but the base has not been securely bedded in. I did have it screwed to the brickwork but gravity moved it loose.

On Tuesday I mixed some cement and finished the job in an hour. Left to set for a few days with a propagator cover for protection, the swaying clothes line should be a thing of the past.

Beaming with satisfaction, I continued by finishing last week’s leftover task. The first compost heap is now state-of-the-art, with rain-prevention measures in place. The cover is removable piece by piece, as will be necessary. To be clear, it does not prevent rain.

New Arrivals

My winter vegetable plugs package arrived from Little Green Growers in County Galway on Wednesday, and the here’s what happened next…

I dipped all plugs in water for a few hours. That was the easy bit. Clearing a space for them didn’t take long and everything was in the ground by 9pm.

After dusk, I popped over to my online plant spreadsheet to work on the process of logging these arrivals. It’s not something I like doing, but life’s like that. In fairness, I’ve refined the system so that I have the information I need at my phone fingertips for future reference. Completed update is here (and accessible from the Website Menu), together with photographs and labels. It’s a work in progress.

Other gardening bits this week included:

  • Eating outside, coffee outside and just sitting. Guinness outside on Friday. Small treasured pleasures.
  • Lots and lots of cycling this week. 310km to be precise. This does mean less time in the garden, but things are generally under control.
  • There’s a delay with my next plant delivery because of a missing Eircode. In one way I’m pleased. It’s good to have jobs staggered.

Pádraig.

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Six on Saturday – Probably The Best Success

Bird nests are overpriced, similar to Irish house prices, and there are several almost-worn-out boots within striking distance.

14th November 2020.

It’s been a very dangerous year and November is the most dangerous month. Since last March I’ve spent a small pension on my little gáirdín, and in the past week I’ve needed to have a man-to-man chat with myself. In the aftermath of several nights watching the US election coverage on Fox CNN I   overcame three urges. Firstly, I didn’t buy the tempting subscription to Kitchen Garden magazine. (*See Note 1). Secondly, I didn’t buy the Mega Spring Bulb Collection and finally, when shopping locally, I put back one of the plants on my wishlist. You see, I attempted to rein myself in by shopping without a trolley and there’s only so many that I could safely carry in two hands and under my oxter. There was a time when plastic pots were sufficiently durable to carry a circle of three in each hand, but times have changed. My first of this week’s Six is a twin purchase carried delicately in my left hand i mo lámh chlé.

Queen of Carpets

Evergreen & berried

Cotoneaster Queen of Carpets will be just what it says on the tin, and I shall decide very soon where to put them. In line with my Winter Policy, I bought two, the first because it is evergreen and the second because it has beautiful red berries dearga. (Linguistic note: in many languages, unlike English, the adjective comes after the noun.) The fact that both are evergreen and berried need not be emphasised.

Sedum

I bought only one Sedum. It is evergreen but does not have winter berries. Again, I’ve yet to decide exactly where to put it. I know it will go on the Rockery Clé (see above, much further above) and I’ll give some further thought to its final position there.

Rosa Just Joey

Just Joey: the best success

Here’s the last flower for the year on my favourite scented rose. I’m including it to remind me of Joe’s election success. It will bloom again next year an bhliain seo chugainn. It’s a tremendous success. Tremendous. Probably the best success.

PiPCamera

The Bird Boot

© Unknown

This is not my boot, nor my nesting site. I came across it while distracting myself from overnight CNN customer messages last week. “Customer messages” is such a lovely catchphrase, as opposed to advertisements. I noted i mo cheann that timber bird nests are overpriced, similar to Irish house prices, and also that there are several almost-worn-out boots within striking distance. I may ask for permission to use one, fully understanding that I would need to provide an artist’s sketch of the final product in order to be allowed proceed. I’m doing it for the birds. I’m torn about whether left or right would suit best. I would also need to confirm that I am daft.

Lest boot. Perfect planning

On a Plate

Birds need food, particularly in November. At the moment, there’s still enough for all of them. Many of the tiny tiny apples on the large tree have fallen. They are not being nibbled yet so I sometimes tidy them up and put them on a plate. Some birds prefer to eat at ground level, some from raised feeders and others directly from the supplier. All the bases are covered.

Úlla beaga

Winter Windows

This year, I’ve had to play smart. I’ll be using these window boxes for my annuals next summer an samhradh seo chugainn, so I planted pots of daffodils and small evergreens inside them for spring.  I’ll simply remove the pots when the time comes. That’s cliste.

A picture tells a lot

Three things you’ve probably already noted:

  • Timber bits under front of boxes
  • Homemade coffee table
  • There’s probably more than three. A picture tells a lot.

Finally, my first extended garden video. Sometimes a video tells more than a photo.

92 seconds of November 2020

Alternately, you may view it on YouTube, together with added notes. You may also subscribe to be notified of future updates. Presently there’s just one subscriber. That’d be me!

All other updates from the Prop Club will provide me with interesting reading again this week. You’re invited to read along. The entire collection will be listed in the comments section of Jon’s six this week.

Here’s a thought…

“A balanced inner calmness radiates from a peaceful centre. It neither craves others’ approval nor rejects others’ presence. It neither pulls towards nor pushes away. It has a reverent attitude towards life and all its inhabitants.” – Donna Goddard

I’d like to think that my garden and my writing about it does bring inner calmness. I hope you all (gardeners & readers) have a great week. Slán go fóill.

Note 1: I have located a free online digital version via Borrow Box at my local library. As yet, the Mega Spring Bulb Collection eludes me.

Pádraig,

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Happy Wife Policy

Thursday, 8th October 2020

Until I retired in 2013 I had lost interest in my garden. The love of gardening that was there 30 years ago vanished amid the stress of work.
Now, I’m back in full flow and loving the time I get to spend a few hours pottering. Some days I’ve got a plan in my head but most days it’s a case of seamlessly moving on to what I notice needs doing. Of course, there’s also a helluva lot more time to relax, have a coffee or take a nap.

In all this, my good (best) wife Marion leaves me to my own devices. She sees the satisfaction it brings me and likes what she sees. She did have two long-term requests: a water fountain and a Budda. So, in line with my Happy Wife Policy (Rule 1.1.2b), we added both during Covid-19 lockdown. We are happy together.

Link to the YouTube video.

Pádraig.

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A is for Alterations

Tuesday, 6th October 2020

The patio pots brightened my heart all summer. I loved making almost weekly changes, adding pots here and there and moving things around just for fun. I also moved pots away when flowering was finished. The exception to this were the spent lilies, because the upright stems added height.
Yesterday I started the transition to Autumn. Many pots were taken out and nearly everything that was left was rearranged. Many more were added in order to get a good sense of Autumn close to the house. It’s not quite finished yet, but I’m very happy with how it’s shaping up. Now that I see that in writing, it’s never actually finishes because as the autumn/winter progresses changes and additions will be made.


I highly recommend this form of musical-chairs gardening. It is time-consuming in the height of summer as constant watering is needed. Also worth considering is keeping the smaller pots on the most shaded side. I’m lucky that the garden is south-facing and so the smaller stuff is facing me and also helps to graduate the entire structure gently. By the way, the Fairy Door is still there! It has moved once more. They’ve been so careful to stay out of sight that I doubt you’ll see it.

Many plants that I had purchased during the summer when garden centres reopened after lockdown had been minded in their pots in the Holding Area, and several are suitable for this Autumn patio project. Likely, some of these will be permanently planted in the ground at some stage. But now it’s time for to relax.

Here’s a link to my article about musical-chairs gardening back in July. Note that there’s detailed account of the problems caused by them fairies.

Click first picture to commence step-by step gallery.

Have you tried something like this? I’d love to hear of your efforts.

Pádraig.

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Tomato Workaround

Thursday, 1st October 2020.

It’s October already. Seize the moment, my friends. Yesterday I figured out that because of all the seed packets I ordered, I’d need more shelving. Without further ado I ordered blocks and timber, and both were delivered a few hours later.

The tomatoes are still producing, so I needed to build around them, and I’m almost finished. There’s another shelf to be constructed tomorrow. Seven tomatoes needed to be eaten during the construction process. All the seeds to be grown here between now and spring will be very cozy!

Here’s the video from YouTube

Never Enough Shelving

I’m participating in an Instagram challenge called My Garden This Month. The idea is to post something each day according to a given prompt. The link is here. If you’re an IG user, do consider joining in using the hashtag #mygardenthismonth

Storm Alex is arriving from France over the weekend. I am reminded of my reaction in October 2018. The scouts taught me to “Bí Ullamh”. In the case of this one, it may not be severe as Met Éireann have issued no weather warnings. That could change.

Pádraig.

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