A garden centre visit was squeezed in at the very last moment, without advance planning.
If you’re as up-to-date with my goings-on as I am, you’ll know that I was in Clonmel yesterday. You’ll know about the car, The Food Hub and a little bit about Irish history.
I neglected to mention that a garden centre visit was squeezed in at the very last moment, without advance planning. I was operating on auto.
I also got some polyanthuses to add a bit of colour. For the moment, they’ll do nicely around the base of this pot.
And, faoi dheireadh, a beautiful Christmas wreath gift has been placed on the pot, together with a few grasses in the centre. Normally, we’d have this hanging on the door knob, but I like it here.
It was my first visit of the year to a garden centre. Eighty euro. Seventeen plants. Phormium, heather, cyclamen, pansy, Carex, Juncus (Pencil Grass) and polyanthus. Satisfaction levels jumped a notch or two above normal. It’s great to get outside for a bit. Juncus is a plant I’ve never had nor heard of. I’m glad I got a chance to get out.
My love of gardening came from mam, as she tended her small terraced garden. I can clearly remember her love of dahlias, roses, sweet peas and marigolds.
22nd May 2021.
My mam is 89 (and a half). In recent years she has been afflicted with dementia, and she is slowing down mentally and physically. Her children have been her full-time carers for the past eight years, and she never fails to thank us. Her gentle spirit of acceptance that things are not what they were is inspiring.
My love of gardening came from mam, as she tended her small terraced garden. I can clearly remember her love of dahlias, roses, sweet peas and marigolds, and she somehow found time to keep everything looking good in between rearing eight of us. I wrote about Mam’s garden back in 2018. It does me good to look back to it.
In recent years she liked an amble around my garden, but that too has stopped. To be sure, my gardening days will come to a halt, but not yet! There’ll be plenty more Saturdays to present my selection of Sixes, and so without further reminiscing, here we go. Best foot forward.
Last Autumn I got a lovely delivery of tiny polyanthus from Jersey. One hundred and sixty tiny plugs fitted into a tray no bigger than 15x20cm. They matured well over winter and gave such great colour from February onwards. Most have finished, yet there are still a few in shady corners blooming away.
The Brexit fiasco has put an end to buying plants and seeds from England, and more is the pity. I would have bought a similar pack of annual begonias to arrive ready for summer planting, but it’s not to be.
I have a few pots of sparaxis, and while this single flower looks good, it lasted only for a few days. The spiky leaves looked best back in February and March but now they are badly damaged. I suppose the cold spring didn’t suit them. As with many of my plants, these are in pots that were placed into window boxes as soon as the daffodils finished. Straight swap. Next week, I’ll be moving these away to a hidden corner and replacing them with Surfinias. To be honest, I can’t wait. Life moves on.
Our recent visit to Lismore Castle Gardens was a joy. I picked up my Season Pass and enjoyed a leisurely stroll around. So many plants caught my eye but this one stood out. Paddy or Andrew will very likely be able to enlighten me. Is it Lamprocampos? Bleeding Heart.
Lettuces and spinach
This year I decided not to grow my lettuces and spinach on the vegetable bed. Instead, I’m using window boxes and a Tesco container that are in the shade of the Acer. The reason I changed is that the little munchables tend to grow too quickly in the full sunshine of the vegetable bed and they go to seed. Now they are happier in the semi-shade and an added bonus is that they are much nearer to the back door. I’m happier too.
You might notice that they are at various stages of growth. One container is now half-empty while another is just getting started. I sow seeds every three weeks in modules in the glasshouse and try to ensure that while there’s plenty for my plate, there are more to come along when needed. It’s the only way to keep me nourished throughout the summer ahead. Mam would have had no time for growing vegetables.
The exception to this plan is scallions, otherwise known as spring onions. They need plenty sunshine so I’ll continue to grow these on the raised bed.
Here’s an aerial view of my two vegetable beds taken last week. I built these back in 2018 and almost came a cropper in the process. Each one is three blocks high. However when cementing one wall, it collapsed against me. I made the serious error of filling it with soil before the cement was fully dry. The entire wall fell as one piece, trapping me until I could remove the debris. Seriously, it could well have ruined my cycling season. Happily, it was rebuilt the next day and all was well apart from a bruised shin and ego.
This week the early spuds are growing well and should be ready to harvest by the middle of June. Main crop spuds are just peeping above ground. Apart from that, there’s not much else on this left section other than my cuttings and some rhubarb which is not doing well at all.
The bed on the right is filled with onions, peas, broad beans, scallions and leeks. The bare section towards the front had been set aside for lettuces and spinach but as you’ve just read above, I decided not to put them here. I’m using it to grow seeds of annuals and perennials instead.
This little ground cover plant is Ajuga, commonly known as Bugle. It’s growing under the shade of a fuchsia, but disappeared almost completely last year because the fuchsia grew too large. Last Autumn I pruned the fuchsia by about half and it’s made all the difference.
Many of these types of plant flower early to ensure seed production in advance of the heavy shade that arrives later in the summer from overhanging shrubs. Nature is amazing. This little thing is a great food source for bees right now.
Six on Saturday is a world-wide idea started by Jon The Propagator in England, and I am a proud participant. You can find out more about it by browsing the Participant Guide. Writing here every week, I value enormously the power to express myself through my garden.
I was combing Mam’s hair during the week, and making a dog’s dinner of it. When I mentioned I’m not very good at it she replied:
Ah shur, you can’t be good at everything!
The Week That Was
Not garden-related, this is merely to keep a record of events for future reminiscing.
Entire Irish Health Service hacked with ransomeware. I don’t want my taxes being handed over to Spider Wizards.
Nearly 50% of population have received vaccination #1
I’m calling my new bike High Nelly, or just Nelly for short.
Jenny and Daire married on Thursday.
More Covid restrictions have been lifted, but dining out still not allowed.
More scams have come my way. The Department of Social Protection want to put me in prison.
About the author: Pádraig is the author of Grow Write Repeat. He photographs and writes about his garden in Ireland. He loves small plants such as polyanthus and ajuga. He also likes spinach and lettuce, but not when grown in full sun.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Saturdayan 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.
It’s been a mixed-up week. There were several beautiful days of spring sunshine, perfect for spending time in the garden. On the other hand, we’ve had two days of high winds, torrential rain and flooding.
27th February 2021.
In normal circumstances at this time of the year, my friend Declan and I would have completed two long 200-kilometre cycling days out. We’d have had plenty coffee, laughs and lunch along the way. So far since the start of the year, I’ve barely covered 200 kilometres in the car, as I go round and round within my 5 kilometre zone. In all of this madness, I’m ever so happy to be able to move unhindered through the garden. There are no Garda checkpoints and I’m not required to wear a mask.
So, here we go again for this week’s end of February Six-on-Saturday. All you got to do is follow this link, read Jon’s update and then look at all the links from everyone in the comments. You’ll likely come across mine there, and simply by tapping on it, you’ll end up back here. By the way, tap is the new click for touchscreens. Tapping on an older screen is very therapeutic but gets you nowhere.
I had left the old seed heads of the Agapanthus rather than cut them for the compost heap. FinallyFaoi dheireadh, they got the snip during the week, but I couldn’t bring myself to dump them. For the time being, they’ll do just fine here. I’ll plant Sweet Peas and other annual climbers here in May, and even as they bring colour to this bare wall, the Agapanthus shall remain hidden behind.
Patience is a virtue. So goes the old saying. Well, I’m delighted that the polyanthus plugs I bought from Jersey Plants Direct back in September are beginning to flower. At present, they are all in pots and window boxes. Yes, there are 160 of them. Yes, they arrived by post as tiny babies and yes I grew them on carefully and planted them before Christmas. What I like about these ones is that the flowersbláthanna are held above the plants on a stem.
3. Potting On
In Nora’s Teach Gloine, the top shelves are almost full. In all, there are seventeen trays of seedlings. Now, it’s time to move to the next step of the process. The Dahlias, Sweet Peas and Osteospermums are ready to be potted on to three inch pots, while the five Tomato varieties will be ready in another week or two. I made a start during the week, and as a consequence, space will be at a premium from now until the end of April. Very soon I will need to store plants on the lower shelves, knowing that they will not get as much light there, so a rotation system will need to be started. I have four rows of shelving on each side, and plants will need to be moved up one shelf every four or five days. Plants on the top shelf will then be demoted to the bottom. I have a feeling that I’ll be moving seedlings in my sleep!
Three Peony roots arrived last November from China, because I ordered them. Logical, really. Having ignored the instructions which advised immediate planting, I got around to it in early January. Last week, my fellow Six-on-Saturday gardener Gill The Gymnist showed her’s peeping above ground. I spent a while walking around practicing swear words as Gaeilge because all I could see here was bare soil. Therefore, when I spotted this on Wednesday, I stopped walking around and put a few bob in the swear jar. (Don’t believe everything you read… I don’t have a few bob to put in the swear jar).
5. Vegetable Beds
There’s a lot going on here. In the foreground, the broad beans are beginning to stretch so I’ve added some bamboo canes and string to support them. There’s a second batch sown just to the right of them and I expect them to pop up any day now. On the extreme right the autumn-sown onions are doing well and I expect to harvest them in May or June.
The second bed at top of picture is emptyfolamh* at the moment except for cuttings and pelargoniums in the cold frame on the left. I have a half-door placed on top to heat up the section where the early potatoes will be planted very soon. There’s an old saying here that earlies would need to be in the ground by St. Patrick’s Day. Sounds about right to me. Half doors added in late February add flavour to the spuds.
*Note: In Irish, the combination of letters “mh” is sounded as “v”. There are only 18 letters in Irish alphabet. J, k, q, v, w, x, y and z are not used in native words. Thus endeth the lesson.
Last year, I grew Spinach for the first time. I enjoyed the harvest for many months and resolved to grow plenty again this year, and perhaps a few new varieties too. So, I’m starting with Spinach Perpetual. I’ll be sowing this outside in early April, and in the meantime, I’ll sow it in the heated propagator in the hope of having an earlier harvest. Fine big seeds, so there’s no problem sowing.
When it comes to planting these outside in April, I’m going to make sure they are shaded by larger plants because they are less likely to bolt in shade. The cucumbers will be sown beside them. It’s all planned out.
In Other News…
February’s full moon is known as the Snow Moon, and sometimes as the Hunger Moon. Every 29 years there is no full moon in February, known as a Black Moon. The next one is in 2033. I don’t understand how something that doesn’t happen can be named.
Ireland is experiencing the pain of extended Level 5 restrictions. We continue as we were until the first week of April. We are also experiencing extreme helplessness in bringing about change to Government policy of not giving an adequate damm about allowing contaminated inward flights. Quarantining is not effective because it is recommended rather than mandatory.
On the positive side, Mam got her vaccine yesterday, and the second dose is scheduled for next month. Not a bother, she says.
Six-on-Saturday: Who are we?
We are a group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. I’ve been doing this since last June and I enjoy nothing more than reading about and seeing other gardens from as far away as New Zealand, Tasmania, USA, Canada, Britain and Waterford City. Lest we forget, hundreds more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram. You can find out more about it here. Six things, in your garden. Could be anything, and frequently is. Do join in.
Sin a bhfuil uaimse don seachtain seo. I’ll be back again next week with another Six-on-Saturday. Thank you for reading. Have a good week. Stay safe. Slán go fóill.