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 – She Walked Right In

Here’s Heucherella, related in some way to Heuchera, a bit like Cinders and Cinderella perhaps.

It’s been a busy week and I’m finally getting around to putting a few bits and pieces together on Sunday afternoon. Really, I should be napping after a very windy morning on the bike, but I’m keen to get this done first.

It’s been a great week here in Abbeyside, despite plenty winds from the wrong direction. The highlight was on Wednesday. As I sat reading in the conservatory the blackbird came right in, holding a few wriggling worms, casually looked around, looked at me, looked at the two dogs looking at her, stopped for about ten seconds and about turned again. I didn’t have time to grab the camera.

So, what’s on display here this week? Here we go…

A h-Aon:

It’s a very busy time of the year. All the seedlings that have been safely kept in the glasshouse are now out every day. It’s a bit of a chore, but I’m happy to get them outside. It’s beginning to get too warm in the glasshouse and it’ll only get warmer from now on. I’ll be aiming to start planting these after the middle of May. In the meantime, this out and in procedure will have to be kept up until then.

A Dó:

This small corner, mostly in shade, is a happy home to the Heather, Bluebells and the Hellebores. While the bluebells are now in their prime, hellebores are fading fast. There are three here, and if you look carefully there are dozens of small seedlings growing happily in the gravel. Even if you don’t look carefully, they’re happy where they are!

A Trí:

A closer look at the pretty Bluebell. Marion loves them and they bring happy memories of her childhood.

A Ceathar:

The Begonias are beginning to stir. I’m always amazed that these small corms can burst forth such beautiful foliage and flowers. They’ve been given a good feed and fresh new soil direct from last year’s compost heap. I’ll be sure to bring regular updates as they develop. I think there are twenty.

A Cúig:

On a recent visit to Ballinlough Garden Centre I came away with this fine specimen. It’s Osmanthus heterophyllus Tricolor, in lay-man’s language Holly Olive. Here’s what the RHS had to say about it. Click here. What I’ve got to say is this: I’m a sucker for evergreen variegated plants. What Marion has to say is that I need to be more selective about purchasing plants, i.e. operate at about 20%. In any case, I know exactly where I’m going to plant this. It’s not as if I bought it and don’t know where it’s going.

A Sé:

Finally, here’s Heucherella. I’m thinking that this is the same as Heuchera, just with a fancy ending. In Ireland, adding the suffix “-ín” denotes smaller. Buachaill is a boy, so buachaillín is a small boy. Teach is a house, whereas teachín is a cottage; bóthar is a road and botharín (aka boreen) is a narrow road. It’s the same with Heucherella I’m sure, similar to Cinders and Cinderella.


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

What’s this Six-on-Saturday? 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.

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.

Robin Redbreast

As I potter away at various tasks, I regularly see her perched on the ridge of the glasshouse, watching me from a distance.

Recently, I’ve been watching the comings and goings. There’s a robin nesting in the shed. She wouldn’t have started the nest if it were not possible to get in and out when the door is closed, but fortunately there’s a small gap above.

Tá nead spideóige sa sead. Le déanaí, choimeád mé súil ar gach uile chor dár chuir sí di. Ní bheadh sí in ann tosú murab fhéidir léi dul isteach agus amach fad is atá an doras dúnta, ach ar an dea-uair tá bearna beag ós cionn.

I have met her several times. I’d be getting a shovel or perhaps some compost and there she’d be, flitting in or out past me. For a few weeks, I was unable to locate the nest, but I saw her fly in last week and I stood watch from a distance. She’s settled in between two plastic crates on a middle shelf. The gap is quite small, yet all materials have been installed diligently. At least B2 rating, I’d imagine.

As I potter away at various tasks, I regularly see her perched on the ridge of the glasshouse, watching me from a distance. Two can play that game! We greet one another with our trademark calls.

At this point, she knows I am not a threat. I sat inside drinking coffee on Monday. The chair is about a two feet to the right of the nest entrance. She moved quickly from glasshouse outside to a pot inside, waited a few seconds there and darted in home close by.

Having a robin follow me around is nothing unusual, particularly if digging is involved. It’s part and parcel of gardening here.

So, I have some questions… six, actually.

  • Do the male and female robin nest together? That would be nice.
  • When will eggs be laid?
  • How many eggs?
  • When can I expect them to hatch?
  • Rather than keeping the door closed at all times, how could I keep a local cat away?
  • Is there anything I should be doing to help? More importantly, is there anything I shouldn’t be doing?

Photographs above are not mine. These are freelance robins, supplied by WordPress.

Below are a few of my own photographs…

The Irish word for a Robin is spideóg.

Here’s one painted by my daughter…


In other news, I see that the US Senate as voted to do away with Winter Time. If approved by the House of Representatives, the clocks will no longer go back and forward from next year. Only a matter of time (fun intended!) before Ireland follows. I think it’d be good. On t’other hand, lord save us and guard us, there’s bigger things that need to be sorted.

For clarification, clocks will go forward. It’s the way clocks always go. Every hour of every day, unless, of course you’ve got a retirement clock like mine. Mind you, I’d not want to go backwards either!


That’s it for this week, a cháirde. Until next week, I hope that all will be well in your world. Slán go fóill. If you’d like to read many other Six-on-Saturday updates, just head over to Jon The Propagator‘s blog. You’ll find links in the comments section beneath the Saturday updates.

Pádraig.

Six-on-Saturday – Altamont

I googled the phrase “hummed and hawed”, and was delighted to see that there’s a variation for American hummers & hawers. Yes, it seems that delaying tactics are slightly different over there.

The advice was very definite. Go to Altamont, they said. Paddy said it. Geraldine and Ann said it too. I hummed and hawed just a bit too much, until Marion said: “Oh, for God sake, just go!” So I did. I went to Altamont Gardens in County Carlow.

It’s not often that I’d choose to drive narrow country roads rather than good motorway, but on this occasion I did. It was a good idea. I’m glad that there was no humming or hawing involved. It’s a time of year when the countryside looks great, and I relished the chance to slow down a bit.

When I visited on Monday last, it was bitterly cold and I forgot my hat. I did have a hood on my jacket but it wasn’t satisfactory. I was like a blinkered horse, able to see only a narrow view of landscape directly ahead. There are times when a good thick head of hair would be an advantage.

The snowdrop season is almost finished, but there’s plenty else to be seen. The Hellebores caught my eye along with the Crocuses.

Recently, while planting up some pots, I was reminded of the three important plant types to include… a thriller, a filler and a spiller. Well, someone must have told the gardener about it. There’s a striking thriller Phormium, some filler Skimmias and Snowdrops, and finally some Ivy to finish it off over the edge. If planting pots were The Great Bake Off, this would definitely be into the next round.

I was stopped in my tracks by the scent of this Daphne. I don’t remember the variety, but no matter. I dallied for a few moments to take it all in. Really and truly, variety names are a lot of bother. A daphne is a daphne.

Apparently, the lake was dug out during the time of The Great Famine. That’s a sad thought when viewing something that’s now so beautiful.

Having rounded the lake, I returned to the oak pathway to enjoy once again the lovely Hellebores in reverse.

That was Monday, cold but dry. I’m reminded to be content with cold dry days, particularly because Tuesday and Wednesday were biblically wet, and not a kilometre was cycled until yesterday. Today, I’ll be playing catch up with my plants and seedlings.

The glasshouse is filling up. It’s not a problem at the moment, but in a few weeks these seedlings will need to be potted up. Perhaps I could take on an apprentice?

  • Carex buchananii Firefox 22-008
  • Stipa tenuissima (Mexican Feathergrass) 22-012
  • Uncinia rubra 22-013
  • Rudbeckia (Gloriosa Daisy) 22-033
  • Rudbeckia Cutting Mixed 22-052
  • Festuca glauca (Fescue) Blue Select 22-010
  • Foxglove Dalmation Peach F1 22-034
  • Gaura Sparkle White 22-040
  • Gaura lindheimeri The Bride 22-051
  • Lettuce Morton’s Mix 22-057
  • Spring Salad Mix 22-058
  • Chrysanthemum (Shasta Daisy) Silver Princess 22-037
  • Pennisetum macrourum 22-048
  • Aster Milady Mixed 22-054
  • Cosmos bipinnatus 22-004
  • Salvia nemoros (Meadow Sage 22-029
  • Cosmos Sensation 22-030

There are a further six in the propagator that haven’t germinated yet. Who said that being retired is easy?

On the other hand, there’s always time to learn something new. I’m familiar with the phrase “hummed and hawed”. That said, I googled it and was delighted to see that there’s a variation for American hummers & hawers. Yes, it seems that delaying tactics are slightly different over there.


What’s this Six-on-Saturday we keep writing 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. Thank you Jon.

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.