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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.


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 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!


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 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


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.


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.



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.


Six-on-Saturday – Changeover

Out of nowhere, some nursery rhymes came flashing back to me. I’m temporarily returning to my childhood. Come sing along with me…

The daffodils are finished. While we waited patiently for their arrival, they haste away so soon, for such is life. As I took them out during the week I thought to myself of how different the world was back in February. Will the world be fixed by the time they’re back next year?

I’ve taken out the pots and replaced them with a selection of Vinca, Saxifrage and Arabis. These will continue to add some colour until mid-May when it’ll be time once again to change things around. I’ve got Pelargoniums budding already and I’ll add some annuals that I’ve got growing in the glasshouse. For sure, nothing stays the same. The wheel keeps turning.

Having put the daffodils away to their sheltered summer corner at the gable end of the shed, I’m moving ahead towards late spring with an eye ahead to high summer. While in this visionary state, out of nowhere, some nursery rhymes came flashing back to me. I’m temporarily returning to my childhood. Come sing along with me…

To the tune of “Once I Caught A Fish Alive”

One, two, three, four, five,
Now I've potted Vinca beag,
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten,
Now it's set to grow again.

Why did I let it grow?
Because it pleases me much so,
Where's it planted? What a sight!
Out front garden on the right.

To the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”.

I'm a little Saxifrage
Small with power,
Here's my foliage
And here's my flower
Yes, when I get planted up,
Hear me shout,
I'm a happy Saxifrage.
Over and out!

Last week, I featured Saxifrage Peter Pan. This one is quite similar but has no name. I suppose it has a name, but I don’t know it!

To the tune of “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush”.

Here for you pleasure is Arabis yellow,
Arabis yellow,
Arabis yellow,
Here for you pleasure is Arabis yellow,
On a frosty April morning.

Finally, here’s a combination of everything, to the tune of “Mary Had A Little Lamb”.

Pádraig had a little pot,
Little pot, little pot.
Pádraig had a little pot,
T'was given t'him by Joe.

Into this pot he put some plants,
put some plants, put some plants,
Arabis and Saxifrage
And Vinca minor too.

It makes the gardener laugh and smile,
laugh and smile, laugh and smile,
It makes the gardener laugh and smile,
To see Joe's pot in flower.

Right, as Gill would say, that’s your lot. Enough singing for one day. The dogs are looking at me funny. They know that something is amiss. I’m sure you’d be happy to continue, but I’m exhausted. Instead, here’s a Fern.

I bought this Tassel Fern last week. Known also as Lace Fern, the official name is Polystichum polyblepharum. It’s a bit of a mouthful, for sure. It will grow to about 70cm and I intend to put it into a large pot and keep in in semi-shade. I’ll sing some nursery rhymes until it’s established itself and after that, I’ll be redirecting my singing to somewhere else.

This rockery area has been in place since 2016. Prior to that there was a raised bed but it was flat on top. It had no covering of stone and it became difficult to maintain. This, on the other hand, is very low maintenance. A weed is a rare thing and for that I’m grateful. It allows me spend my gardening time at other jobs. Admittedly, there’s not a lot of colour, even in summer, so I add some annuals in pots, placed here and there on the stone. Anyway, I digress.

The photograph is of Cotoneaster Queen of Carpets, added in 2019. It’s a real ground-hugger and is spreading nicely. I also notice that it’s beginning to climb the wall behind. I’ve been able to grow some cuttings of this plant in the nursery bed at the back of the garden. I’ve got three, so I’ll be giving two of them to friends shortly.

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.


Six-on-Saturday – A Good Week

A few of my favourite things in the garden this week. Six in all.

How do you define a good week? What makes it so? As a gardener and cyclist I’d be very grateful for rain by night, together with no wind on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings between 9am and 1pm. If I were to be really picky, Crystal Palace would win at the weekend. Other than that, I’d not complain too much. On a more serious note, having my family safe and well around me, being in a position to get up each day, get out and about for fresh air, exercise and some properly controlled social interaction is very important. As Julie said many years ago…

It was a good week here on the South-east coast. There has been no rain worth mentioning and some worthwhile activities were undertaken. In other news, most Covid restrictions are being lifted. Life will return to a new normal.

A h-Aon:

Viburnum tinus

This Viburnum was planted in the Autumn of 2020 on the raised rockery under the apple tree. At the moment it’s still small, about 30-40cm but I can see good strong growth on it. It’s Viburnum tinus Eve Price, currently starting to flower.

A Dó:

We felled a large columnar beech tree a few years ago. It was growing between the glasshouse and the shed. In fact, it was planted there before the glasshouse or shed were put in place. We felled it ourselves, and it’s a miracle that no panes of glass were damaged. It’s a miracle also that neither of us sustained any injuries beyond a few scratches. However, we failed miserably to get the stump removed. It’s about 30cm diameter, roughly cut in several places to assist with decay. Now, it’s completely covered with this adorable fungus.

February 2018.

A Trí:

Last summer’s beauty is reduced to a skeleton, yet it is worthy of mention. I cannot remember what it was. Bidens perhaps. Likely, if I were to go back over my photos of that spot I’d nail it down. I tidied up this corner during the week, but I decided to leave this be. Wouldn’t surprise me if some clever bird makes use of it to build a nest. That’s what I’d call sensible recycling.

A Ceathar:

Gardening is all about trying something and seeing how things work out. I have dozens of poyanthuses in pots but they are not doing very well. The roots are very underdeveloped and that does not help the plant at all. I think the soil is too rich. Could anyone advise? Anyway, a marauding blackbird tossed them aside with ease in order to get at something tasty underneath.

A Cúig:

This is a Hydrangea. It’s not mine. I’ve ventured beyond the confines of mo gháirdín beag, to the front garden 30 metres across the road. Apparently, it’s good to leave the spent flowers on the plant through the winter.

It’s been so mild in these parts that this beautiful bloom has survived and thrived. Just one.

A Sé:

I love grasses of all kinds, but I forget the names of most of them. This will need a trim very soon. In the meantime, I’m enjoying how it looks in low winter sunshine.

As of today, after twenty-two months, almost all Covid restrictions have been lifted. A balance point is needed between being careful and being fearful. I understand that some people are very anxious. I take the other viewpoint. The glass of life is half full. Lockdown and restrictions have got us to this point, and now it’s time to live properly again. Apart from my immediate family, some others will need a hug or a handshake.

I write as a member of The Saturday Gang. We are a group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. I love reading about and seeing other gardens from as far away as New Zealand (Kia ora!), Tasmania, USA, Canada, Belgium, France, Britain and Waterford City. Many more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram using the #sixonsaturday hashtag. You can find out more about it here. Six things, in your garden. Simple as that.

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

22nd January2022.


Six on Saturday – I Remember It Well

On Thursday I got away for an hour and a bit on the Waterford Greenway. I’ve come to regard this majestic off-road track as my Country Garden!

Yes, I’ve a vague recollection of doing the Six-on-Saturday thing, but it’s been almost three months since I’ve been there. I found it increasingly difficult to keep at it!

I’ve now accumulated a decent head of steam, fresh new steam, not just a recycled hash of old steam, so I’m ready to rock-n-roll. I’m thinking that I’ll see how it goes… I may take a little break now and then, but I’ll not be too far away.

Here’s six things from the garden this week…


I’d like to have some space indoors to keep geraniums in flower through the winter. Alas, they are in the cold glasshouse. So far, I’m remembering to close it each night and let some air circulate by day. This is the only flower, and thus is to be treasured.


Bought last week, this is Juncus grass, together with a few polyanthuses to add a wee bit of colour. Níl morán sa gháirdín mí Eanair. There isn’t much in January so this is a real tonic. Not sure of the proper name of the Juncus, but it’s commonly known as Rushes. Needs very wet soil, and if in a pot best to have no drainage holes. Too late now! I’ll sort it later.


The little hellebore is cheering me up this week. My only other one is not in flower yet, and when it does it’s got a very drooping habit. This one is staring right at me!


Not my garden. Not my muscari. This is from my neighbour’s beautiful garden. I love it! Here’s the original from Twitter.

Thank you, Brigid.


I’m holding off. Last year I started my seeds on the third week of January. This time, I’ll wait until late February or early March. I learned a lot from last year. I’ll be repeating several successes, for example asters, rudbeckia and especially gaura. I’ll not be sowing tomatoes, sweet peas or dahlias. I’d happily grow dahlias forever but I just don’t have room for them.

I’m a bit more organised this year. I’ve taken a photo of the front and back of each packet. I’ve uploaded the details on my Plant List and tagged each image with name and label number. In this way, I can get at the information whenever needed. Helluva lot better than keeping track on paper that gets damp or lost! This plant list is a Google Sheet that can be added to whenever I buy new plants or seeds.


My other garden!

On Thursday I got away for an hour and a bit on the Waterford Greenway. I’ve come to regard this majestic off-road track as my Country Garden! It’s quiet at this time of the year. Growth is beginning to shine through. Below is one of the lovely wild flowers abundant in patches on sunny banks. Paddy updated me this time last year. It’s called Winter Heliotrope, Petasites pyrenaicus, an invasive alien. It’s far enough away from my garden, so I’ll classify it as friendly.

Winter Heliotrope

I write as a member of The Saturday Gang. We are a group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. I love reading about and seeing other gardens from as far away as New Zealand, Tasmania, USA, Canada, Belgium, France, Britain and Waterford City. Many more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram using the #sixonsaturday hashtag. You can find out more about it here. Six things, in your garden. Simple as that.

Confession: I do love seeing other Six-on-Saturday contributions. However, I had driven myself to distraction trying to do the impossible… reading everyone’s post and taking some time to comment was proving to be a mammoth weekly task. Therefore, I’m going to be selective…. I’ll pick a few each week.

That’s it. All sorted. I’ll likely be back with more next week. Of course, life lessons are happening all the time. There’ll be no pressure. If it happens, great. If not, fret not.


Six-on-Saturday – Waiting

Last week I was waiting for the opening of  travel restrictions and visiting beautiful gardens. This week, I’m realising that beauty is on my doorstep.

I’ve been waiting such a long time. It feels like warm weather is never coming my way. This week we’ve had torrential rain, hailstones, cold northerly winds and some sunshine. The rain coincided with my first visit of the season to Lismore Castle Gardens, the hailstones arrived just as I was preparing to go cycling and the cold winds persisted every day.

I’ve been waiting to plant out dahlias, petunias, begonias and other annuals. I’ve also been waiting to collect my new bike, for club spins to resume next week and most importantly, I’ve been waiting for the magic shot in the arm.

That’s a lot of waiting, and it is not good. It’s a form of living in the future, so it’s time to let it go. The flowers will get planted, the winds will shift to bring warmer weather, and the cycling adventures will commence shortly. The vaccine is scheduled for Wednesday next.

In the meantime, I’ll focus on six items from the garden this week. It’s a live-in-the-now strategy.

1. Osteospermum

Commonly known as African Daisies, osteospermums love a sunny position. They generally have a white daisy-like flower. This variety is called Blackthorn Seedling, but it’s unclear why black is mentioned. I’ve got this growing well close to a sunny wall. The petals will not open on dull days. This little plant knows all about waiting.

Osteospermum Blackthorn Seedling

It has been in place since 2016 and I’ve successfully taken some cuttings from it. Also, this year I’ve grown a mix of Osteospermums from seed. In total I’ve got ten plants that are now about 10cm high, and are ready to be planted. I’m ready, the plants are ready, but I’ll wait until the time is right. Come to think of it, I’ll decide to be content while waiting.

2. Forget-me-nots

Myosotis, commonly known as Forget-me-not, is still blooming away. In fact, it is probably now looking its best, and will last for another few weeks before being removed. Of course, I’ll be sure to scatter the seed widely before composting. I’ll be planting a selection of annuals in this spot before the end of the month. That’s a lot of thinking ahead, so I’ll stop awhile to look at the beauty right before my eyes. It’s lovely right now just as it is. Everything else is irrelevant, except to note that among the blue you’ll notice the purple of the baby osteospermum.

I’m coming to the realisation that so much gardening is a form of living in the future. There’s lots of planning, hoping, expecting and wishing. Added to that, this last year and a bit has me wishing for a time when everything will be normal. Again, I’ve been waiting. Last week I was waiting for the opening of  travel restrictions and visiting beautiful gardens. This week, I’m realising that beauty is on my doorstep.

3. Allium

I’ve got three of these Alliums. Related  to onions, they produce one large flower head. A closer look will show that this one large head is, in fact, hundreds of tiny flowers. The waiting is over. They are in flower now.

4. Bluebells

I selected bluebells about three weeks ago as they began flowering. Right now they are at their best.

5. Lismore Castle Gardens

I visited Lismore Castle Gardens last Monday. Heavy rain cleared about midday, so I decided to head north-west. Unfortunately, heavy rain returned as soon as I entered, so my visit was very short. Long quick steps were in order and I was unable to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. In any case, I collected my season ticket and returned to base. There will be better days. I’m happy to wait for blue skies and sunshine, knowing that this beautiful place is only thirty minutes away. I’ll go when the time is right. It’s been there for more than three hundred years.

6. Starling Feast

Heres a link to YouTube feasting. There’s something within! These starlings seem to have found a tasty meal, and they are determined to find more. Strange that I’ve never noticed them foraging like this before.

About 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. I’ve been doing this since last June and I enjoy nothing more than reading about and seeing other gardens from near and far. Lest we forget, many 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.

Sin a bhfuil uaimse don seachtain seo. I’ll be back again next week with another 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.


Six on Saturday – Last of the Summer Time

With my writing, I can still play inside an enchanted castle or live inside an old fort. I can run from ghosts or ride dolphins any day of the week.

24th October 2020.

We are back into a severe lockdown here in Ireland. I can cycle only within 5km of home, but that won’t bother me this time because I’m on my annual six-week break. Plenty time for gardening and writing scriobhneoireacht, I says to myself.

My Six this week features several grasses whose names I forget entirely. I just call them grasses. Lovely they are too, in my opinion. I’m linking them with a few thoughtful words from authors, therapists, prime ministers and the like. I’m also introducing my Domestic Dump corner and a new Smart Bio. I’ll say no more about that, and warn you not to follow the link, lest you learn more about me. Heaven forbid! But do read along please for this last October Six…

1. Aon

“Most people find the grass to be greener on the other side of the fence, without knowing that possibly the person on the other side of the fence is looking at them, and the grass on their side, with the same feelings.” – Awdesh Singh – 31 Ways To Happiness.

2. Dó

“I grew up in a family of peasants, and it was there that I saw the way that, for example, our wheat fields suffered as a result of dust storms, water erosion and wind erosion; I saw the effect of that on life – on human life.” – Mikhail Gorbachev.

3. Trí

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, ‘You’re tearing up the grass’; ‘We’re not raising grass,’ Dad would reply. ‘We’re raising boys.’ – Harmon Killebrew.

4. Ceathar

“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.” – Eleonora Duse.

5. Cúig

If someone is as green as grass, they have little experience or knowledge of something and trust what other people tell them too easily. It is much more common just to say that someone is green. Bamboo belongs to the grass family. Some bamboos can grow to 104 metres tall. You do believe me? I n-dáiríre? Really?

6. Sé

As some regular readers will know, I’ve put names to areas of my garden. There’s Patio Potpourri, Breakfast View, Secret Spot, Joe’s Rockery and a few more. Below is the Domestic Dump. I like to think I’ve created a pleasant feature surrounding the six bins. For the record, they are, from back row, right to left:

  • recycling (blue) ,
  • domestic waste (green)
  • food waste (brown)
  • spare domestic waste (grey, for times of extreme decluttering),
  • uncooked kitchen waste for compost heap
  • and dog(s) droppings.

The kitchen waste bucket is almost covered to deter blackbirds from chucking potato peelings out, whereas the dog bucket is sealed. So, ar aon nós, the Acer and a mixture of grasses whose names I forget entirely, together with the new 2020 timber fence help to detract from functionality by adding a detractor or two. This area is my first glimpse of the garden every time I go outside, and now that it has been upgraded to Acceptable Lookin’ Good, I’ll just leave it at that.

A Personal Six

Here we go with six unwanted items hat snuck in here by sneaky means:

  • The clocks go back tonight.
  • Its my 22nd consecutive week writing this Six-on-Saturday thingy.
  • Old TV comedy favourite 1973-2010: Last of the Summer Wine. 295 episodes to choose from.
  • Sam Bennett was back to winning ways during the week in Spain.
  • No extreme decluttering took place recently. I feel a grey emptiness within.
  • My Smart Bio is the one-stop-shop to bring all my Internet places together. I think it’s pretty smart cliste!

Would you like to visit many other majestic gardens around the World? England, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are well represented on the Six-on-Saturday thingymebob created by The Propagator. Read all about it and follow gardeners’ gardens. You may join in free gratis (free of charge), saor in aisce. Ireland has several keen enthusiasts, and I’m proud to be among them.

To finish, a quote from Mary Pope Osborne:

With my writing, I can still play inside an enchanted castle or live inside an old fort. I can run from ghosts or ride dolphins any day of the week.

That’s it for this week. Stay safe, enjoy your garden and garden reading. I’ll be back next week. Slán go fóill.


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Six on Saturday – Lismore Castle Gardens

It has passed through several noble hands. Walter (of the Raleigh), Richard (of chemistry laws fame) and Fred the Dancer’s brother-in-law all had the deeds and seeds.

17th October 2020.

There’s been some Autumnal giddiness this week along with serious work in the garden and homework in my head. I am in the process of moving my website from WordPress to Hosting Ireland, but I asked the team leader to allow me time to get my Six-on-Saturday up and out. No problem, she said. Amid all this ticking of boxes and following my nose, I had some John Cleese moments in the aftermath of my visit to Lismore Castle Gardens last Sunday. More of that later níos déanaí. My six (plus one) this week comes from the lovely garden in Lismore, twenty kilometres away.

1. Aon

The original castle was started in 1170 and I’m pretty sure they grew a few beans and bushes, along with thorns and truffles from time to time, but the first real attempt to add a garden befitting the castle caisleán commenced in the 1605. My meander through the present gardens, upper and lower, was the highlight of my year. That’s really saying something! I lost myself moving from one section to another through narrow maze-like alleys, eyes ahead in anticipation, moving from one century to the next.

2. Dó

I came upon this erect grass everywhere and I really do want it. Can anyone help me out?

3. Trí

This is the Avenue of Trees na gCrann. one of several throughout, most likely added by some new owner. Speaking of owners, it has passed through several noble hands. Walter (of the Raleigh), Richard (of chemistry laws fame) and Fred the Dancer’s brother-in-law all had the deeds and seeds. Since the 1600’s this has been just one the very many large estates owned by the Duke of Devonshire. The current Duke is Peregrine Cavendish, but I was unable to meet him because of my other Sunday commitments.

4. Ceathar

As I neared the castle walls I sat to enjoy a Hamlet moment, I was joined momentarily by a hedgehog. It crept slowly out of view as I admired the bigger picture.

5. Cúig

Very impressed I was by the many secluded nooks. This one would be ideal for a picnic or romantic moments. I had neither of these but I did sit to take stock of life.

6. Sé

Voila! Here’s the back entrance, the coffee-and-apple-pie café and the newly-established art exhibition gallery. The café was very tempting but the gallery was closed. I saw someone looking down on me from a window, so I assumed an interested gaze at a tree down to my right and pointed the camera away. Later, my thoughts turned to Rapunzel.

One for the road…

The back lawn is spirit-level level, but as I photographed part of the castle from the approaching bank, I needed to shift my weight to my right foot cos. Accordingly, the building is leaning. The builders of banks and castles could not have known at the time that this would cause first-world issues. An image of the Rapunzel in Pisa lingered with me.

That’s my short account of my first visit to these majestic gardens. I enjoyed it so much that I will save up for a season ticket. The gardens will open again in March next year, all being well with the world, so I will have some time to save slowly.

Further Study & Giddinesss

I did mention giddiness at the outset. In fact, it persisted until Wednesday, by which time I had produced a few fun items… photo edits, a tongue-in-cheek article and seven tweets. I’m told I’d do Twitter a great service by not bothering.

Just shocking! Read about it HERE.

Wouldn’t you just love to visit many other majestic gardens or castles from around the World? England, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are well represented on the Six-on-Saturday thingymebob created by The Propagator.

SOS World Tour

Read all about it and follow this week’s gardeners’ gardens. You may join in free gratis, saor in aisce. Ireland has several keen enthusiasts, and my County Waterford is headed up by An Irish Gardener and myself. That’s it for this week. Stay safe, enjoy your garden and garden reading, keep your distance and wash your hands. I’ll be back next week so until then, slán go fóill.


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Six on Saturday – Plants That Struggle

Keep a close eye on your struggling plants. Value them as you would the scented rose.

Saturday, 27th June, 2020.

Reading time: 4 mins approx.

Last Saturday, at 5.44pm the gong marked the Summer Solstice. Every TD&H knows this was the longest day of the year, and now it’s downhill until late December. It’s a time of year for celebration as our Northern gardens are in tip-top shape. Not really a time associated with feeling depressed. I choose to highlight this aspect of The Longest Day and make some sort of a link to my garden. I worked as a volunteer with my local Samaritans’ Centre for three years after I retired. In light of this, my six this week will highlight plants that do not thrive. They struggle along, despite my best attention to them. They are definitely not the star of the show, not the top dog in the border nor the scented rose. Their struggle becomes almost invisible to those of us who do not look beyond the joy of pleasing plants.

Here’s my six this week:

1. This Vinca is in the wrong place, in deep shade under a large Acer. It was previously in another wrong place in full sunshine, so I don’t know what’s best. Perhaps the soil is not right? Anyhow, ar aon nós, it continues to hang in there. I resolve to give it more attention through the coming weeks and months.

2. Flowers of the stunningly large Dahlia Café au Lait can be up to 15cm in diameter. Not this one, I fear. It is struggling this year because I moved it into a pot, and either I’m watering too much or too little. I moved it in order to have more space to grow vegetables. If this Dahlia could talk, it would ask severe questions of my  motive for dislodging it. Some people have very good lives, suddenly thrown into chaos by a life event. Some have coping skills whereas others sink deeper into a constant struggle for survival.

3. Weeds are plants too. I have been moaning about bindweed these past few weeks, because it is doing damage to other plants. It is causing plants to struggle so I need to get rid of it. No photograph, as I abide strictly to my Bindweed Photography Policy. However, many weeds are harmless and can be left in situ.

4. I have planted French marigolds in several areas of the vegetable patch. They give off some sort of vibes that deter insects from chewing through what’s going to be my lunch. The lettuces & spinach would struggle without this intervention. This is actually a win win situation, because the vegetable patch will have a bit of colour other than shades of green.

5. The taxus baccata Fastigata is in serious trouble. I bought this only last year, to add some delight to my garden in winter. It is an evergreen, but something is seriously wrong. I do not want it to die. Be that as it may, plants do die after a long or short struggle. I’ve lost several real favourites and some that I liked less. The only difference with these plants is that they do not choose to die. Humans who choose to die are no less human. Suicide was a crime here in Ireland until 1993. That’s why the term “He committed suicide” was popularly used rather than the now preferred “He died by suicide”. I hope my taxus will survive.

6. Old age is a bitch. The struggle before death can be very difficult and particularly difficult to watch. These conifers are old. They will not be there in five years time. They are beginning to suffer and the beauty is fading year by year. Incidentally, this is from my front garden, an gáirdín ós comhair an tí. At present, I have very little interest in this part of the garden, but that’s not the reason for the decline of these once lovely conifers.


On June 20-21st 2019 I cycled 400km with my friend Declan, along with support from the local cycling community for sections of the journey. We cycled for 16 and a half hours, 3pm on Friday until 3pm on Saturday with a dinner break, a chipper/pizza delivery at 2am, a breakfast break, a lunch break (in that order), and a two hour snooze codladh sámh, through The Longest Day, helping raise funds for Waterford Samaritans.

The Longest Day is our symbol of constant struggle. The new day does not always bring comfort. Keep a close eye on your struggling plants. Value them as you would the scented rose. Keep a close watch on friends or acquaintances and be there for them with a listening ear. Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine.

Ah shur, trying to keep the good side out. (Man quote)


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Six on Saturday – Raindrops

20th June 2020.

The garden really did need some rain. It needed a bit more than some. So, naturally we were thrilled to get a decent drenching overnight last Saturday. To be clear, the garden got the decent drenching while I slept, dry in my bed. Management, known also as mo bhean chéile, informed me that there was accompanying thunder and lightning and I take this on trust despite having no evidence. On the other hand, there is very clear evidence below that there was some rain.

Here’s my six this week…

1. Alchemilla mollis is a prolific self-seeder on Joe’s rockery. Dainty flowers right now, but it’s the way  raindrops stay on the curled leaves that I like best. Joe was my right-hand-neighbour and the rockery is named after him.

Alchemilla mollis, Lady’s Mantle

2. I’m not sure what’s the variety of this Geranium. Again, it’s a prolific seeder and I love it. The rain left many of the flowers in a sad state. Some were wet, soggy & droopy, while others escaped the deluge. Seems the one on top may have sheltered the lower one. All the while, I remained dry i mo leaba.

Geranium love

3. Leaf from Rosa Just Joey holds a few raindrops. I’m noticing that there is some munching going on. Likely the offender is beneath, sheltered from decent drenchings and downpours.

Rosa Just Joey

4. I return a once again to my friend Sorbus aucuparia Rafina, commonly known as Rowan or Mountain Ash. The slightly curled leaves capture and hold the drops tenderly.

Rowan (Mountain Ash)

5. This is one of my three lilies, about to burst into flower. I’d need to go to IcyBetter (my preferred alternative to Specsavers) in order to see the drops clearly. Obviously, I did go and I did see them. The camera did the rest.

Lily about to flower

6. Acer palmatum somethingelseius is in a patio container. Rain was more necessary for this small plant, as is the case with many that are potted, rather than planted. Scorch and drought damage can be seen along the edges.

Japanese Maple

That’s six, so I’ll leave it at that. If you like this article, you’ll be able to find many many more by visiting The Propagator. He is the instigator. I am a fan, together with the aforementioned many many more. Truth be told, you’ll be able to find them using the aforementioned link even if you don’t like my article.


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