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.


That’s A First

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.



I’m tucked cosily inside, my chores for the day are done and I think it’d be a good time to break open the Kindle.

Oh the weather outside is frightful!
But the fire is so delightful.

I’m humming that to myself to the tune of “Oh the weather outside is frightful.” Meanwhile, I’m tucked cosily inside, my chores for the day are done and I think it’d be a good time to break open the Kindle.

It’s a new year and I’m looking forward to it. This beautiful splash of colour is helping me to stay positive. When all around is cold and miserable, the little cyclamen stands tall against everything that winter throws at it.

Despite the frost last night, this fern is carrying on regardless. It’s very sheltered and hasn’t died back fully as yet. I think there were only two or three frost nights in November/December.

Would you look at that? The daffodils are peeping up, but what caught my eye is the pot that is lopsided. It’s tilted noticeably but the emerging stems are upright. Time to get these pots out from their hiding corner. That’s a job for Saturday. The heating is on, the stove is lit and I’ve an hour to read before dinner.

I’m reading “We Don’t Know Ourselves” written by journalist Fintan O’Toole. It’s a personal history of Ireland since 1958. Fintan was born just a few months ahead of me that year. Since then, he’s been ahead of me in the writing game too.

Regular readers here will have noticed my absence since October. I’d had my annual downturn and my motivation to write was gone. That said, I’m back on track, helped in no small way by regular slow winter cycling.

What will 2022 bring? Whatever, I’m ready for the off! Bring it on!

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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Six on Saturday – Remembering

Thinking cap on to look for an angle… Now where did I put that cap? If I could just find my glasses, I’d see it clearly.

13th June, 2020.

I spent some time wandering in the garden, seeking an angle for another article. I try to write other than descriptive, and if I’m able to link my garden, my head and something going on in the world then maith-go-leor, (also known as fine-and-dandy or Bob’s-your-uncle) .
Each of my six plants this week is dedicated to a very special person. I have a very poor memory for plant names, especially the variety of a known plant, so I name some plants after people. For example, Penstemon Propagator would definitely remind me of Jon, the originator of this Six on Saturday idea. My family would say thay my poor memory extends beyond plant names, to things like misplacing my phone right beside me, constantly looking for my glasses (right beside me/out of eyesight) and missing appointments unless I send myself two phone reminders, on my misplaced right-beside-me phone.

Here’s my Six on Saturday:

1. The Sorbus Rafina is dedicated to the young Iranian 14-year-old recently beheaded by her father. The girl ran away from home with her boyfriend, but was returned by police officials, despite she warning them her life was in danger. Her death is recorded as an honour killing. The legal punishment is very light. Not a good country to be a young girl in love with the wrong person. I will care for this tree in her honour.

2. Fuchsia George Floyd was being choked to death by bindweed. I needed to take away all the ground cover plants beneath it and eradicate the evil that was killing it. It’s a work in progress.

3. Heuchera Mike reminds me of a gentle, chatty garden-centre owner who passed away in 2018. I have several of his plants in my garden. A very keen eye may notice that it is a petal-trapper. Last weekend was very windy and the roses lost many a bloom, only to find a cozy nesting place beneath.

4. Geranium Maureen. My mother-in-law loved geraniums. At her graveside, the funeral director placed one of her plants in this pot. At present, all my geranium plants are too big for this pot, so it remains symbolically empty. It is moved around the garden regularly.

5. Grassius Leeds United. I just love grasses. They are wild and hardy, carefree and free-flowing. My brother died at the age of 28. He died on the football field, playing the sport he loved. He was a mighty Leeds United fan. I am a Crystal Palace supporter so we had deep philosophical differences, yet he was Best Man at my wedding! Gary was best man to many many people. While I have this plant, his memory is ever-present in my back garden. Cherish the love you have; cherish the life you live.

6. Hebe M&M. This one is different in two ways. Primarily, it reminds me of two people, Martin & Miriam. They are very good friends of ours and, of course, very much alive! We gave them a Thuja shortly after they married and they called it the Pat-and-Mar tree. This hebe is my way of having them here with us, and is especially important to us right now. I bought them at Lidl during the height of lockdown in early April. This hebe is also different from the above five because I can remember it’s name very clearly. It’s called Hebe Rhubarb & Custard. How could I forget a name like that? But while it lives with us, I shall always call it M&M.

That’s my six this week. There are many things I forget, such as appointments and where my phone is. But I do not forget people. Rafina, George, Mike, Maureen, Gary, Martin & Miriam are remembered in my garden.

I joined this Six on Saturday last week, having read all about it here . New garden writers might like the idea. Old writers like myself too! Certainly, I received a very warm welcome and I want to express my thanks to everyone who read my article, commented here or on Twitter, encouraged me beforehand or just sent me a welcome message. It gave me the encouragement to continue. Thank you very much.
I am now following lots of similar Six on Saturday gardeners and virtually meeting some really nice people.

Finally, I’ve offered myself a suggestion which is undoubtedly sensible. I am a native speaker of the Irish language, sadly in severe decline (the language, that is, not me!). In an attempt to spread awareness, I’d like to use a simple Irish phrase in my articles ó am go h-am. Linguists will likely guess the meaning from the context, or may use An Foclóir for assistance. Others might like to use Mrs. Google, or perhaps not. As my life-motto would remind me: No worries, mate.

So onwards to next week… Thinking cap on to look for an angle… Now where did I put that cap? If I could just find my glasses, I’d see it clearly.

“I am intrigued by writers who garden and gardeners who write. The pen and the trowel are not interchangeable, but seem often linked.” ― Marta McDowell


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Six on Saturday – Why Stand If You Can Sit?

6th June 2020.

Being my first Six on Saturday effort, my homework for the past few days consisted of making myself familiar with some scattered guidelines offered (not prescribed) by The Propagator. I did realise there’s a possibility of me making a dog’s dinner of it, in which case I will rely the very best of all homework excuses offered to me during my 35 years as a teacher. Furthermore and fittingly, I will redeem myself by promising to do better next week. Always works!

I discovered only last week that Six on Saturday is a thing. There’s even a #hashtag. There’s some lingo to be learned. I mean, whatever will my sister think when she hears that I am SOSing? Ar eagla na h-eagla (Irish phrase: Just to be on the safe side…) I’ve brought the subject up with my wife, who says that SOSing is ok.

Will it be every week?, she wanted to know.

All depends, I say.

I think you’ll like this SOsing thing. In fact, you’ll be a grand SOSer, says she.

A garden needs somewhere to sit, relax, read, plan, think and snooze. Here’s my six this week:

1. I start my day at the Breakfast Seat during warm weather spells, and scan the garden. Scanning can be done while eating boiled egg and toast.

Boiled egg. Which are you? One or two?

2. I got the Bockety Supervalu Seat using coupons at grocery store in 2002. It is now unsafe to take heavy loads, but I will not discard it.

3. The Long Chairs are my favourite. They are comfortable and in a suntrap, although this can be a dangerous combination. As you will notice, they are matching black.

4. The Winter Seat is in the glasshouse. It has been demoted from the suntrap because one leg is shorter. Ideal for a frosty morning, reading the paper or kindle. No boiled eggs here.

The Ugly Wall Behind : By spending time sitting in winter, I can plan a project.

5. There’s a raised area that cannot be seen from the house. Here, the Secret Seats are best for late evening sun. Excellent also for Summer dinner together. Apart from this, I go there to escape hoovering. These Secret Seats are a match with number 3 above. They can be moved towards the house when friends arrive for Socially Distanced coffee (SDC). In such a situation, they lose Secret Seats status.

Hoovering-free zone

6. In order to complete this Six on Saturday, we purchased the brand new 2020 Shiny Black Seat. They are a good match with the two Long Chairs, but incredibly more shiny. The good lady who wants the hoovering done intends to make soft cushions, so I may have to pull my weight.

That’s it for this week, friends. Have a good one, and if in any doubt, why stand if you can sit?


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About the author: Pádraig is the author of Grow Write Repeat. He photographs and writes about his garden in Ireland. He loves garden seats, Instagram and this Six On Saturday thingy. He also likes breakfast outside, but not at the bockety old Supervalu Seat.