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.
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.
It’s Monday and I’m cheering myself up again. Cheering Up my Monday is self-explanatory. Simply put, it’s three things I’ve noticed today and three things that need doing.
I’m delighted with my forward planning project which is almost complete. At present I have about 60 seed packets, many of which will be started in the heated propagator in the New Year and then transferred to the glasshouse to grow on. Last year I simply did not have enough space. With this in mind, I made a start last week to put in more shelving and the job is almost complete. Three shelves are finished and the final one will be finished when the extra timber arrives. I’m very happy with the outcome, so much so that I have decided to put an extra shelf on the other side too.
I sat down on the bockety glasshouse chair to admire my work, only to find that my extra weight damaged the fabric. I did try to effect emergency repairs by tightening the screws but they did not hold. Plan B, therefore, and the seat is now comfortable and safe. Cable ties are great for tying stuff, but it’s a first for me to use them in such a situation.
It’s raining outside and the wind is whipping up. Tá gaoth láidir amuigh. So I’m sheltering inside and admiring my handiwork.
That’s enough work for the moment. What three things (just three) did I notice today, and what else did I see that needs doing?
Three Things I Noticed
The rotary clothes line is leaning because of prevailing wind.
The Avocado stone that rooted in the compost heap is nearly 30cm tall!
Several of the Begonias are still in flower. I’ve dumped the ones I don’t like.
Three Things To Be Prioritised
Finish the top shelf.
Sow the next batch of organic winter lettuce.
Put my feet up, on the new shelving. I shall upgrade this to top priority.
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!
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.
It has been a wonderful week for gardening. Warm and dry. Ideal weather for a t-shirt, be it red or otherwise.
19th September 2020.
While tidying the shed a few weeks ago I came upon a New Garden Product. I had known it was in there somewhere but it eluded me for many years. Truth be told, I had come across it during the last recession but had no interest in using it so I dumped it at the bottom of a bosca. It is a Rooting Globe. However it can no longer be called a New Garden Product. My Six on Saturday this week features this Old Garden Product six times. There’s only a faint glimpse of plants, but for the record they are:
Rosa Just Joey
Full instructions are included, together with website and even the bar code. I shall do an inspection in mid-November and report back.
The kit consists of five globes, three small ones, a medium and a large. Obviously, the small ones are for small branches, and the others for medium and large respectively. I just thought that was worth pointing out.
The First Step is to cut and peel off a short section of bark, as below. This is Step Two on instruction sheet above. Don’t worry about the lack of synchronisation.
This is the Acer, together with attached globe. Looks cool, I think. Nature will work its magic and hopefully there’ll be roots in eight weeks, at which point I will sever the branch, hide the globe at the bottom of a box in the shed and plant the new Acer in the Holding Area.
Rosa Just Joey also got the snip, and I await the results. Propagation of the species will continue despite methods that imply impossibility.
This is the large globe attached to a larger branch. Unfortunately, I selected a branch that was a bit too small and the globe was not secured tightly against the cut. Nevertheless, despite a ghastly appearance, some tape and a cable tie did the trick. Very close inspection of the reflection in some photographs will show that I’m wearing a red t-shirt but not in this one. I’m wearing one and it is red, but it just cannot be seen because the tape is not reflective.
Where To Find It
Cutting Globes are available from Amazon or your local garden centre. They may also be found hidden at bottom of a box in an untidy shed. If you’ve a box in an untidy shed, it might be worth your while checking before purchasing. Red t-shirts are ten a penny and can be got everywhere.
Request for advice: Have you used these? Have you any tips? Would non-transparent be better? I’ve a feeling that rooting would be easier in the dark.
It has been a wonderful week for gardening. Warm and dry. Ideal weather for a t-shirt, be it dearg or otherwise.
In Other News
Last Saturday’s epic 160km cycle was… epic. I did write a bit about it here. What else stood out for me during the week?
Sam Bennett is on the brink of finishing the TDF in the Green Jersey
I rearranged the glasshouse shelving, updating it from two to three-storey. That’s big!
My super-duper labelling machine has arrived and surely I’ll be writing about it just as soon as I figure out what’s what.
Covid-19 second wave is intensifying, as too many fools are endangering themselves and others.
That’s my lot for this week, a cháirde. I’ll be back with more an Satharn seo chugainn. In the meantime, please visit Mr. Propagator’s garden blog where you can find many more Six on Saturday offerings from around the world, together with details of how to participate if that’s your thing. I’ll be spending some time today, tomorrow (or perhaps even yesterday?) reading articles by so many others, and I’ll not be clock-watching ar chor ar bith. I hope you have a great week, be it in the garden, the potting shed or elsewhere. Slán go fóill.
Date: September 2014. written on Wednesday,16th September 2020.
The timber shed was demolished, to be replaced by a steel one. We’d had it for nearly twenty years and it was beginning to crumble. As I look at this photograph, Meabh’s tree is on the right, planted when she was born in 1994. It too is gone, as it grew too big and cast too much shade.
Clearly, there was grass, but truthfully, it was never a lawn.
The previous week we had spent some time in Kerry and took a boat trip to the famous Skellig Michael. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it did not disappoint. The monks lived in isolation there in the 6th century.
I was reminded of this as I cycled the Beara Peninsula last Saturday (13th September 2020). Both islands (Mór & Beag) can be seen from the road between Allihies and Eyeries. Monks residing there were made of tough stuff. No Amazon Prime free deliveries back then.
Sit with yourself: Do nothing, breathe and watch yourself.
After a while, you will feel a positive change inside.
Monday, 14th September 2020.
I hate having to repot the twenty-two pots of daffodils, but I’m glad I made a start. The new compost is magnificent, and these lovely daffs will thrive. I placed a can of Guinness just for effect, and will enjoy it with another when half the job is done. Will finish tomorrow and place them in sheltered corner until November. The daffodils, that is… The Guinness cans will be recycled promptly.
I started a proper compost heap last year and constructed it so that there is plenty air circulating. Today, I uncovered it to find that it truly is Black Gold. It is light, crumbly and with a great balance of materials. A few bucketfuls spread on an unused section of the raised vegetable bed allowed me to proceed with the repotting very easily. Ill be able to spread the rest of the heap along both beds later in the autumn.
Guinness is good for you me… Sláinte.
I Have A Plan
The plan is to move one third of them (yes, daffodils) to the patio area in early November, and the rest over the following few weeks. By doing that, I hope to stagger the blooms over a longer time in late winter and through the spring. Let’s see how it works out…
This is my garden blog, but because I own it, I can bend the rules. I’m bending rule 27a right now by including a rewiew of last Saturday’s 160km cycling in Kerry/Cork. I reiterate my primary motivation for writing is to enable me to look back on stuff in 2050. Gardeners may opt to read it or otherwise. Gardener cyclists may be a bit more keen.
Tour de Beara 160km
Tour de Beara from Kenmare. Mighty weather and great cycling for 165km. Kenmare is renowned for quality restaurants and it did not disappoint. @no35kenmare. Great accommodation with luxurious breakfast at The Twelve Oaks. @the_twelve_oaks_kenmare. Thank you Ann Marie.
Report from the captain: Nine cyclists from Group 4 took on the challenge of the Tour De Beara. Even though the event itself was cancelled we had a great welcome from the people of west Cork and Kerry. The weather conditions were perfect as we set off from Kenmare on a calm Saturday morning at a steady pace. Up and over the Healy Pass and onto Castletownbere for the first coffee stop. We then headed to Allihies and followed the very steep and challenging coast road to Eyeries.
Once completed all were ready for the lunch stop in Ardgroom. Harrington’s the local shop, post office and resturant provided a fine spread of soup and sambos which were very welcome at this point. Reenergised after the break we headed for Lauragh to take on the Healy Pass for the second time, a bit more difficult due to a headwind. All safely over, we headed to Glengarriff and after a slow drag some record speeds were recorded with the wind on our back on the descent to Glengarriff. A brief stop to refuel for the last climb over the Caha pass and back to Kenmare. 160Km done, a first for the some in the group with 2,200m climbing. Well done to all a great achievement and teamwork on the day.
As a bald man, I’ve skinned my head badly on a regular basis when entering the glasshouse. The sharp lintel is just a wee bit too low and there’s a very slight lip at ground level so I’ve had a tendency to look down to avoid tripping. I’ve cut my head so many times down through the blianta.
Furthermore, the overhead glass triangle broke a few years ago. I had patched it with hardboard but it became warped and weather-damaged. De facto, in reverse: weather-damaged and warped. Yesterday, I killed two birds with one drill.
Firstly, I replaced the hardboard. Easy peasy. Secondly, I drilled a few holes and inserted three drop down alarms using plastic string, and knotted them for effect. Environmentalists will cringe.
Problems solved. After breakfast, I’m off to the safe glasshouse zone to check on new seeds sown last weekend. I’ve got pot marigold, lettuce and Sweet Pea. Clearly, the tomatoes are unwilling to ripen and I may remove them. It’s really sad, but sin mar atá.
I’ve been saying it for many years and I’d been thinking it for a few years prior to saying it. Now is the time to do it, and hey presto, it’s done in two days. It’s my Cold Frame 2020 v. 2.0. Timber bought, measured, cut and varnished yesterday. Assembled early this morning and now my many cuttings have a sheltered warmer home for the winter. I intend growing winter salad as well, and it will be a mighty advantage in getting vegetable seeds started much earlier in Spring. In April next year it will be used as a half-way-house between the glasshouse and the garden for delicate seedlings because I’ll be able to leave it wide open during the day and closed at night.
It’s a deluxe Cold Frame, with two separate WiFi-controlled hinged vents and stylish teak knobs. I decided to place it directly on the concrete walls of my raised bed but it can easily be moved to the next bed or even further along the bed. It will not be needed between May and August and the area will be needed for vegetables, so I may just move it away to a quiet corner. Why on earth did I not get this sorted years ago? Note: it’s not WiFi-controlled!
I did have a Cold Frame back in the last century, but now I’m bang up-to-date again. However, I am looking for advice. This frame is west-facing and gets sunlight most of the day, and importantly from midday to 4pm it’s direct sunlight. Will I need to shade it? Will cuttings survive inside? If it were WiFi-controlled I’d be able to pull a blind remotely.
As I mentioned up top, this was in my mind and on the tip of my tongue for ages, yet it was only when I saw a friend of mine showing his gorgeous updates on Instagram that I was prodded into action. Bit of maths, trip to Topline, gloves and paint, wine & sleep, and finished the job before breakfast. I might toast my efforts with a further glass or two of Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva. Would that be good advice?
It is highly likely that this super-duper high-tech project (and the contents within) will feature over and over again in future articles. I am excited, and in a strange way, looking forward to some cold weather! Having said as much, I sat in the gáirdín this afternoon in warm sunshine. Felt like about twenty. The thermostat in the Cold Frame measured 28.3C just before 4pm.
“Why isn’t it called a Warm Frame?”, my daughter asks.
Míle buíochas to my brother Ray for his willingness to donate two teak windows to the project. There will be a half dozen plants winging his way in 2022.
The gable end of the new shed is just crying out for some climbing plants. I’ll somehow need to attach something to it that will enable plants to climb. Of course, additionally, I’ll need to plant a plant or two, preferably climbers.
1st August 2020.
My Six on Saturday this Saturday features six tasks that need doing. All were in my garden yesterday, they’re there today too, and all will need doing soon. There’s too much for just one day. Matter of fact, chun an fhírinne a rá, some have been there as ugly eyesores for the past thirty-something years. I now create this numerically ordered alphabetical to-do list and will revisit it shortly to prioritise the six items, most likely non-alphabetically.
Alphabetical Ugly Eyesores:
Climbers to be secured to the unvarnished fence (different from 4 below).
Gable end to be planted up.
Fence behind glasshouse to be completed as soon as I get myself into size 38 trousers.
Oiltank to be camouflaged.
Tree-stump to be removed, once certification is in place.
Wall behind rhubarb to be upgraded to “less annoying”.
Here are my six this week, in no particular order:
Hiding the ugly plastic oil tank will be my number one priority if it rises to the top of the prioritisation process, as I feel it will. I know exactly the way I intend to do it and when it’s finished, the ugly plastic oiltank will be hidden from view. That’s the whole point. It’s on the way to being a top priority.
The gable end of the shed is just crying out for some climbing plants. I’ll somehow need to attach something to it that will enable plants to climb. Of course, additionally, I’ll need to plant a plant or two, preferably climbers. Instructions will be added to their DNA to stop growing as soon as they reach shed height. It’s an unusual form of genetic modification which is purely cosmetic, called SWSHIR. (As Gaeilge: SNASBAB).
We completed 20 metres of new fencing last month to hide the ugly wall, and there now remains but a very short ugly section behind the glasshouse. The plan is for me to lose lots of inches from my waist in order to get at it. This project is urgent, yet it may be put on the long finger until completion of all other projects has depleted me sufficiently.
The rhubarb is growing wildly, but the bare wall is beyond annoying. Both are unconnected. After thirty-two years, it’s time to put the wall on a project list. I’m hoping this little job beag will be completed along with hide-the-oil-tank, at which point I intend to move the rhubarb back to its base.
The stump of Meabh’s beech tree remains. Recently, I thought of trying to make a little seat of it, but I’m doing an online lumberjack certification course, so I hope to demolish it completely, right down to ground level. Items required, according to my online tutor: sledgehammer, metal wedge and some Saxa salt.
This unvarnished fence gives us great privacy and there are a few climbers on it. However, they hang precariously on thin wire. A more secure method of securing them would bring me great relief. I would welcome suggestions. This item may sink to the bottom of the list until such time as sufficient suggestions are received and evaluated. I ndáiríre, it might never happen.
“It’s in Latin.” “So? What does it say?” “I don’t read Latin!” “You’re kidding. I thought all geniuses read Latin. Isn’t that the international language for smart people?
Rachel Caine, Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires)
It’s a Bank Holiday weekend here in Ireland. This article was pre- prepared and scheduled to auto-post, because I figured that I’d have a small bank-holiday hangover be on my annual retreat. After many months of lockdown, we had hoped to have friends over for some wine and a chinwag, together with liberal lashings of hand-sanitiser. Instead, Thursday’s events meant that plans got knocked on the head! Anyways, ar aon nós, wherever you are I do hope you have a joyful and fulfilling weekend, and to bring you more joy, here among my Six Ugly Eyesores, is my lovely sister’s mallow.
If you are hesitant to comment on any of the above ugly eyesores or the pretty mallow, here are some prompts you may find helpful:
What’s your favourite holiday weekend?
Have you completed your lumberjack course? No? What about other practical ones?
I’d be honoured to attempt a reply to a non-English-language comment. Oui, certainment! No Latin please.
This Six on Saturday was largely composed in hospital after a heavy bang to the head yesterday. Apparently, no kitchen tiles were damaged and, although I was tempted to show my consultant a final draft of this as some proof that upstairs was still functioning, I waited for official discharge on purely medical grounds. I’m back gardening today, and spending some time reading other lovely garden Sixes.