Six-on-Saturday – Reminiscing

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.

Polyanthus

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.

Sparaxis

Sparaxis

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.

Bleeding Hearts?

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

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.

Vegetables

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.

Ajuga

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.

Pádraig

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.

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Six-on-Saturday – Snow Moon

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.

1. Agapanthus

I had left the old seed heads of the Agapanthus rather than cut them for the compost heap. Finally Faoi 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.

2. Polyanthus

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 flowers bláthanna 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!

4. Paeony

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 empty folamh* 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.

6. Spinach

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.

Sowing Spinach YouTube link

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.

Pádraig.

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