Six-on-Saturday – Front And Back

Much has been happening out back. The potatoes blighted, Sweet Peas just keeled over quietly and the begonias sulked for overwatering. On a positive note, everything else is doing really well, and I’m content to overlook the disappointments.

10th July 2021.

The wasp stung me. It was a deliberate act of thuggery self-defence and I learned to keep well away. Now fully recovered, I spent many an hour this week getting the new front garden in place, and I’m nearly finished.

Meanwhile much has been happening out back. The potatoes blighted, Sweet Peas just keeled over quietly and the begonias sulked for overwatering. On a positive note, everything else is doing really well, and I’m content to overlook the disappointments.

That said, please read along as I write about another revamp of my patio. The task rose to the top of my Do List, and was finished in a very short time. I’m now happy to present it to you as six paragraphs of the same story. Herein, as with any half-decent story, there’s excitement (yes I know… one man’s meat and all that.), learning and even an Ikea-like puzzle that rattled me. Let me start, as always, at Number 1 the start…

Thinking A Thought

There’s a time to pull, a time to drag, and a time for hoovering. On Wednesday it was time a time to tackle a little task I’ve come to like. I regard doing a re-jig here as embracing my creative side, a cool way to pass an hour or thereabouts and light exercise all rolled into one.

Humble Beginnings 2020

This is what it looked like in July last year. The photograph is taken pretty much from the same spot, at a time when the appeal of a clustered group of plants (my cycling mentor calls it a garden centre!) formed during the long first lockdown. I continued minor alterations and by the autumn it looked really well.

What do I notice when I compare this image with the first one? Three things jump out at me:

  • There was more colour.
  • There was a defined structure.
  • I like this one better.

With that in mind, a revamp was in order. For the past two weeks I’ve been doing a big job on the front garden. It’s almost finished. My left calf bears the telltale mark of a wasp sting. My knees are buckled and by Tuesday last, I’d broken the handle of the shovel. I was brought to my senses when the boss suggested a three-day rest. It wasn’t so much a suggestion as a pointed instruction.

“How on earth can you do the hoovering housework if you’re not able? Take a few days off, a stór!”

Simplify

Having both photographs above for comparison, I could not fail, and having many many more plants would surely give me more options. The fun started on Wednesday morning.

Deconstruction was the first step, and involved moving everything except the large central containers.

One Hour Later

I didn’t have the stopwatch going, nor did I check the Fitbit step count. But this I know… one hour later it was done, and I like the fresh new look. It’s like changing bedsheets.

Full Circle

Like an Ikea assembly, you know something’s messed up when there’s a pot left over!

The following day, having had sufficient thinking time, I removed some of the taller plants at the back and brought in gladioli and a little Salix Flamingo. It is finished.

That done, I can view the section beyond looking down the garden beyone the seat.

The Magic Of Five

Here’s a close-up of a large planter that sits at the front. I’ve hidden the planter as best I could so that only the plants are visible. Within this planter I’ve got five pots that are double-potted. Using this method I can interchange plants easily. I simply take out a pot, leaving an empty pot beneath and then put in a replacement. The reason for the pot within the pot is to prevent soil disturbance. I think I’ve explained that very badly.

In this way I can take away plants that are past their best, introduce plants that are coming into flower and balance colour and foliage items. In order to do this, I’ve realised how important it is to have all pots the same. I’ve got fifty, given to me by a kind Dublin lady. She was involved in a community project to plant roses around her locality and offered the pots in a great FB gardening group I’m in. (I’m shocked that I’ve mentioned FB and great in the same sentence. Twice consecutively even! )

One final thought: I like to learn something new every day week, so I used DuckDuckGo to answer this question: How many combinations of five plants can be had from a total of twenty-five? Answer: 53,130. Not that I’d ever think readers might not believe this result, go have a look. You’ll get same answer with other calculator sites, as I’m sure you’ll understand I’d not want to mislead myself! I also learned again the difference between combinations and permutations, long forgotten since first year college maths. Did you know? :

  1. There’s no such thing as a combination lock.
  2. My fruit salad is a combination of apples, grapes and bananas” We don’t care what order the fruits are in, they could also be “bananas, grapes and apples” or “grapes, apples and bananas”, it’s the same fruit salad.
  3. “The combination to the safe is 472”. Now we do care about the order. “724” won’t work, nor will “247”. It has to be exactly 4-7-2.

Back to the garden pot combinations, I’m thinking tá mé ag smaoineamh that a short gallery might give a better presentation of this of rotating display:

What’s it all about?

Sin a bhfuil uaimse don seachtain seo. I’ll be back again next week with my front garden Six-on-Saturday. Thank you for reading, and to Jon for getting us all together every week. Have a good week. Stay safe. Slán go fóill.


This Time Last Year

July 2020: It has been very dull for the past few weeks. In fact, my wife went so far as to suggest that it was boring. Bland, lacking a little je-ne-sais-quoi and indeed just very… dull.

The weather has also been dull, yet that’s outside even my wife’s control. On the other hand, the bare patio needed just a little something, and she requested that I draw up three plans for her consideration. I am so happy that she put the hosepipe to my head because the hard work is now done and the patio is not even the slightest bit boring!

Here’s the full article, a three minute read: Packed Patio Policy

The Week That Was

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

  • Tour de France: Incredibly, Mark Cavendish has equalled the record held by Eddie for the most career stages won. Both now have 34.
  • I’ll be vaccinated today and Marion tomorrow.
  • Four large sacks of moss have been gathered after the roofer finished the job. I’d like to turn them into loaves and fishes something useful rather than putting them in the bin.
  • I met a friend I hadn’t seen for nearly 10 years, seconded from County Louth to run the temporary local Covid Test Centre.
  • Our Garden Open Day is on the 24th.
  • I haven’t been on my bike for three weeks. It’s a long time, but we’ll be friends yet!

Pádraig

Six-on-Saturday – Murder Most Foul

Sunday might last, and on Thursday I was on slug patrol. It’s like trying to keep the tide out. If I was spotted, with torch in one hand and scissors in the other, many questions about my sanity and my extreme bad taste would arise.

29th May 2021.

There’s just no accounting for taste. That’s my overwhelming reaction when I look at a particularly barren garden not so far away from me. It is entirely bricked over, growing only moss. On the other hand, it’s likely that the lady who owns it might be saying the same about me! Why on earth does he grow all those yokes? Wouldn’t it be easier to just cover it with concrete and grow moss?

There are no slugs, snails or other unwantables. It’s a no-fly-zone for birds, whereas I’ve got territory wars aplenty.

Sunday might last, and on Thursday I was on slug patrol. It’s like trying to keep the tide out. If I were spotted, with torch in one hand and scissors in the other, many questions would arise about my sanity and my bad taste.

During the week, I read Eddie Cantwell’s article in the local paper about the extreme poverty in this area in the late 1800’s. Later, with torch and scissors in hand, the thought occurred to me that gardening was for the rich folk. The mighty estate gardens of the gentry were a poke in the eye to a starving peasant population. I continued my murder of defenceless creatures, but didn’t sleep well.

So, to lighten my mood, I’m picking six items from the garden. Off we go again this week, and I’m looking forward to catching up on garden activity from near and far timpeall an domhan. You can tap this link to visit The Propagator’s blog or check out @cavershamjj on Twitter. You’ll find plenty writers linking their Six on Saturday garden selection in the comments.

Roses

I have spent many years improving my little plot, but the Irish tenant farmers received no compensation or reduction in rent for their labours. In addition, I’m mindful of the housing crisis here in Ireland. So many people are unable to buy a house. In this regard, I consider myself rich. I can continue to grow roses and kill slugs without fear of consequences.

My favourite Rosa Just Joey has come through the unbearable hardships of a cold spring, and is ready to bring joy again. The forecast for this weekend is very good, and I expect the first blooms very soon.

Elephant’s Ear

I have a small Bergenia, known also as Elephant’s Ear, in a little corner of the rockery. I’ve seen this same plant, in large drifts, in larger gardens. Following my earlier disturbing thoughts, I’m thinking that so many plants from far-flung corners of the world were brought to Europe by explorers, mostly funded by rich benefactors. I suppose I’m grateful for the vast array of plants now available to me. In these times of cancel-culture, it’s a wonder there isn’t a clamour to have foreign plants removed, as there’s some liklihood they may have been taken from their habitat in an unsavoury manner.

Patio

I’m continuing to rearrange my selection of the vast array of available plants in my Patio Potpourri, and in an attempt to recreate the past, I found a photograph (below) taken last July. The area had been rejigged so often, and that’s what appeals to me about it. However, in between my nightly slug episodes, I moved everything as best I could so that it now resembles its former self. My neighbour would surely say that there’s no accounting for taste! I have bedding begonias at the ready to put into the large container. That will complete the picture.

Campanula

Most plants that are planted at the front of a rockery will tumble down, but Campanula seems to grow in both directions. This one is certainly moving quickly backwards and will meet the Saxifrage next year. There is a weed-suppressing membrane beneath the gravel, so it’s easy to keep the plant contained, and very easy also for me to separate sections of it for planting elsewhere.

Acer

Very soon, I’ll need to decide what to do with my favourite Acer. I allowed this to grow too big and there’s no growth low down. This was before I understood about pruning. I’m still unsure about how to prune this correctly, and would welcome expert opinion. It’s likely that cutting off too much would mean that it would take several years to return to its glory.

Bachelor’s Buttons

I located what I had written back in early June last year: Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is also known as Bachelor’s Buttons. It’s good to have a plant that finds the perfect spot and thrives there. Nothing to do with the gardener knowing where best to plant it. I had its parent planted in the rockery nearby two years ago, and I’m thrilled to see that it has seeded itself in several places, mostly in small cracks between the patio slabs. It flowered very freely last summer from its new home, and I liked it very much. This year, there are many more seedling plants among many more cracks, and they seem to be growing very happily.

Here’s a preview of what to expect in early July.

I’ve kept a Christmas basket and will pop a few annuals into it, and I’ll put a few other pots in place around these. I can visualise it, and will update here later in summer.

This completes one full year of Six on Saturday updates from my garden. I’ve loved every bit of it. Many thanks to everyone who reads or comments. I’ve learned so much from so many others. That’s it for this week, but the story continues. Slán go fóill.

Just before a very early cycle.

For anyone who’d have about seven hours to spare, here’s the entire list of Six on Saturdays, all 53 of them. Have I a particular favourite? Well, my first one is special, I think. There’s no accounting for taste!

Ups and Downs

  • Planting of annuals will be completed this weekend.
  • A delightful selection of plants arrived from Waterford. Thank you, Paddy! Free delivery too.
  • The sun is out and it’s warm!
  • The Sweet Peas look miserable.
  • Some bindweed has reappeared.
  • But, overall, the garden looks good, despite being several weeks behind schedule.

The Week That Was

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

  • Belarus forced down a flight over its airspace, in order to arrest a critic of the autocratic government.
  • Wednesday was the warmest day of the year thus far. It was a suncream day at the beach in Ballinard.
  • Columbian Egan Bernal seems to have won The Giro.
  • More importantly, my first TT of the year went much better than expected. When I’m on the bike, I think I’m thirty-two!

Pádraig.

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Throwback Thursday

25th March 2021

Here’s a look back to July 2020. I have a central area on the patio which changes in appearance regularly. In it I have some permanent containers, together with some annuals. The last step in the process is to pack my newly-bought plants tightly in and around the others until I decide in Autumn where to plant them.

By October, it had changed considerably, and has changed a bit again since then.

Here we are then in mid-January at the start of our most recent lockdown, as it was in the process of a major overhaul.

The area has been nicknamed Patio Potpourri. To be more precise, Pádraig’s Patio Potpourri.

The original post from July 2020 is here. Perhaps you’d like to take a look.

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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