Wednesday Wash

4th August 2021.

In the new front garden I put an old birdbath that came from my mam’s garden, filled it with water as is customary and waited for the birds to arrive.

Because it’s in the front, I’m less likely to catch a glimpse of regular activity, but because Meabh’s art studio looks out onto it, she’s much more likely to be on the spot.

Such was the case yesterday as the blackbirds bathed. Click/tap to view.

It was their Tuesday wash, but Wednesday Wash rolls off the tongue more easily.

Pádraig.

GrowWriteRepeat | Social Links |

Wordless Wednesday Video

Daytime temperatures were down to 5-7°C with a skinning NE wind. I call it a lazy wind. It would go through you rather than go around.

7th April 2021.

It’s been a very cold week. There was a frost on Monday night, and a very light frost last night. We lit the stove to keep us extra warm, and I set the heater in the glasshouse on constant both nights.

Daytime temperatures were down to 5-7°C with a skinning NE wind. I call it a lazy wind. It would go through you rather than go around. Looking at the video below, you’d never think it!

Click link HERE

Tá video ghearr den gháirdín thuas ar an YouTube anseo.

Today is a bit warmer, perfect for some structural trellis work.

Pádraig.

GrowWriteRepeat | Social Links |

Six-on-Saturday – Hakuna Matata

Happy plants can survive the ups and downs of life. Not alone that, but they blossom most beautifully when the time is right.

3rd April 2021.

I put a bit of thought into my Saturday articles. Some weeks things fall into place easily, while at other times my six items are just that. Six separate items in my garden this week, and that’s perfectly OK too. But I do try to link things up if I can. Writing is an important way for me to make sense of the world. Very soon I’ll have it all figured out, and then it’ll be time to stop.

My thoughts this week relate to switching off the daily news bulletins about Covid, following a corrupt incident in Dublin last week, where surplus doses left over after vaccinations at a private hospital were given to staff of a local private school. Daddy, hospital boss, child, school. Down with that sort of thing.

I’m happier now that the decision is made. The greed and corruption of the upper echelons within society will no longer drag me downwards. I am reminded of the movie The Lion King and in particular the problem-free philosophy that allows us to develop as good humans. It’s called Hakuna Matata, and it means no worries for the rest of our days! That’s something to sing about on this first Saturday of April. Let’s see if I can link it to some garden stuff…

Broad Beans

Broad Bean Super Aquadulce

The Broad Beans are flowering but also being nibbled by something rud éigin. I’ve put up some climbing supports but that will not stop the nibbling. I also planted another row of seeds three weeks ago for a later harvest but nothing has appeared. It’s likely there’s underground nibbling afoot as well, so I’ve resorted to plan B, sowing a batch in modules in the glasshouse, and I’ll plant them out when they get to a about 5-10cm.

Happy Easter.

Much of society is being nibbled and devoured, day in day out. Nibbling is generally done by those higher up on the food chain. Getting even doesn’t work, but a plan of action for self-care does help.

Saxifrage Peter Pan

This little rockery plant has been in its little spot for five years le cúig bliain and seems very happy there. At the time I bought three of these, but the other two have not survived. A few days ago, I found out the likely reason. The plant needs sun and partial shade. In other words if it is in full sunshine all day it will struggle. Death by sunstroke! This one is sheltered for part of the day behind an Agapanthus that reaches about 40cm. The two that died had no sun protection.

Problem-free philosophy.

Who makes up plant variety names? If I produce a new variety can I call it whatever I want? As an aside, I am frequently amused by the names given to horses, for example Call The Beacon or There You Go Now. A further aside is my habit of naming a variety in memory of someone, but perhaps I should go one step further? Any variety whose name I don’t know, I could simply make one up! I’d never be accepted for mention in the horticultural journals, but I’d have a way of distinguishing one variety from another. For example, if I have another unknown Saxifrage I could call it Saxifrage Alum Rock. I have cousins living in the Alum Rock area of Birmingham, and I have a feeling that a name allocated by myself is less likely to be forgotten by myself.

Happy plants can survive the ups and downs of life. Not alone that, but they blossom most beautifully when the time is right! I’m more than happy to be noticing this small miracle than seeing examples of power battles on my news feed. Beauty amid the rubble.

Peas

Pea Onward 13/03/21

Similar to the Broad Beans, it appears that pea seeds go missing regularly. I’ve come across this little ditty, which seems accurate.

One for the mouse,
One for the crow,
One to rot,
One to grow.

Now I understand why there are enough peas in the packet to feed an army. By the time the select few grow to maturity, there’ll surely be enough for us. We are a small family! This variety is also known to me as Pea Legs 11.

Enough for everyone.

I’m happy to plant forty, in the knowledge that ten will be delicious. Everything else is of no consequence to me. No worries.

Dahlia

Dahlia Disco Dancer.

Apart from the large Dahlias planted in the ground and in pots, I chose to grow some lots from seed this year. I’ve got five varieties, and started them in late January. At the moment, they are really pushing on, and are at the point where I will carefully pinch out the central growing tip. This is done in order to get the plant to send out side shoots. Since mid-March, I’ve had a chance to put these outside on warm sunny afternoons but they return to the sheltered environment by night, as they are not frost-hardy. Very importantly also, I do remember to shut the door and window before dusk!

Mother and baby.

Dahlias remind me that this problem-free philosophy is the way to go. They bring forth the most stunning flowers, yet they are such tender plants, and they have their troubles in life. Problem-free does not mean that I have no work to do. It means I’m happy to care for the plant in order to get enormous satisfaction in return.

Tomatoes

Tomato Tumbler

Generally, I grow three tomato plants in the glasshouse every year and a few of the tumbling ones outdoors. This year, I’ve gone completely bonkers. There are seven different varieties, and thirty-something plants altogether. However, I’ll be giving most of them away to friends cairde at the end of April or early May. There are a small few plants still unclaimed, so if you’d like a change from the taste of supermarket tomatoes, let me know. Of course, I don’t want any smartasses. I nearly fell off my stool last week…

“Would you like a few tomato plants?”, I asked.

“Oh, no thank you. You just grow them and I’ll come over to collect the tomatoes when they’re ready.”

Joyeuses Pâques.

Now, if ever there’s a perfect example of a problem-free philosophy, this is it! Everything will be OK. Just wait and see. You know what, when these restrictions are lifted, I’ll be more than happy to have my friend over to share in the tomato harvest! One hundred percent! Be certain though, that overpaid CEO’s won’t get within an asses roar.

Mina Lobata

Unusual leaf shape.

This is the last of my Six this week, but in fact after I took this photograph on Wednesday and checked the name on the seed packet, the Lion King and the Hakuna Matata sprang to mind. Mina Lobata. Hakuna Matata. In effect, it was this little seedling that sparked a few neurons in my head. That’s where neurons do their best work.

Spectacular for months.

Mina Lobata is commonly known as Spanish Flag or Exotic Love Vine. It’s a climber and, by all accounts, can reach up to 5-6 metres. I got the seed free saor in aisce with Amateur Gardening magazine before all that kind of thing stopped. Akin to many of my selected items over the past few weeks, I’ve not grown it before. I sowed it early last month and it is still only at 2cm. Definitely a slow starter! I’ll also sow seeds outside in mid-April and see how both compare. Hopefully, I’ll need to put up a few trellises before long. I love the name Mina Lobata, and I just can’t get the tune from the Lion King out of my head.

Hakuna Matata!
What a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata!
Ain't no passing craze
It means no worries for the rest of your days.
It's our problem-free philosophy.
Hakuna Matata!
Best Belgian chocolate.

It’s a Wrap

That’s my six this week and to finish, here’s a short recap video of end-of-March goings-on in the glasshouse.

The video is up there on the YouTube cloud thingy. There’s a commentator error towards the end… They are in fact cucumber seedlings, not spinach. Contract renewal negotions may break down.

Getting Very Busy Now

  • Gladioli and most of the begonias are planted up.
  • Trellis delivered.
  • First muggy night and that meant slug patrol.
  • Propagator put back to the attic.
  • About half of the daffodils put away to their summer corner.
  • Lilies planted.
  • Some of the grasses divided and planted up.
  • Salad vegetables ready to harvest from now onwards.
  • Some of the Sweet Peas planted out.
  • Enjoying the scent of wild garlic and furze while cycling. Two very different aromas, both wonderful.

That’s my lot for this week, a cháirde. I’ll be back with more next Saturday an Satharn seo chugainn. In the meantime, please visit Mr. Propagator’s garden blog where you can find many more Six on Saturday articles from around the world, together with details of how to participate if that’s your thing. I hope you have a great week. Slán go fóill.

Happy Easter,

Pádraig.

Live In The Moment

31st March 2021.

Last day of March.

Coffee, the sound of running water and smashing sunshine. There’s colder days forecast later this week, so now’s time to savour the moment. The time is now.

Video is also up there on the YouTube cloud thingy.

Click to watch on YouTube

For more gardening video updates, subscribe to GrowWriteRepeat YouTube channel.

Pádraig.

GrowWriteRepeat | Social Links |

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.

GrowWriteRepeat | Social Links |

Dahlia Delight

February 1st 2021.

Generally regarded as the first day of spring here in Ireland, the 1st of February is the feast of Saint Brigid. I’m not much of a fella for saints, but by all accounts she was a kind helpful woman. Truth is that she lived in pre-Christian times and was regarded very highly as a goddess. Later, the church took her under its wing and elevated her to sainthood. Seems like they invented a few miracles along the way. Folklore became Christianised. As I pottered in the glasshouse this morning, I wondered if she had a garden or grew seeds.

Here’s the link to my YouTube channel.

Pádraig.

Cheering Up My Monday – Celebrations

30th November 2020.

I am going off on a sporting tangent today, because my county Waterford, otherwise known as the Déise (ancient tribe of warriors who wore blue & white) has qualified for the All-Ireland Hurling Final. The last time we won the cup was in 1959, so it’s a big deal. I was only 14 months old. The final will be played in mid-December. We face Limerick and I look forward to bridging a 61-year gap.

For my benefit to look back on, and for the benefit of anyone unfamiliar with hurling, our national game, reputed to be the fastest game in the world, I’m including a short video of the highlights. We are in blue & white, and looked to be heading for defeat again. However, the tables turned in the second half and we overpowered Kilkenny, our neighbouring rivals. Kilkenny has been the dominant team of the past 20 years. Again, for the benefit of anyone unfamiliar with hurling, a point is scored above the crossbar and a goal below. A goal is equivalent to three points.

Final score

Waterford 2-27 (33) Kilkenny 2-23 (29)

YouTube Highlights

Waterford Kilkenny 2020 All-Ireland Semi-Final (©GAA MAN)

I include links to newspaper coverage of the titanic semi-final battle.

End of November Garden

Padraig,

GrowWriteRepeat | Social Links |

Six on Saturday – Probably The Best Success

Bird nests are overpriced, similar to Irish house prices, and there are several almost-worn-out boots within striking distance.

14th November 2020.

It’s been a very dangerous year and November is the most dangerous month. Since last March I’ve spent a small pension on my little gáirdín, and in the past week I’ve needed to have a man-to-man chat with myself. In the aftermath of several nights watching the US election coverage on Fox CNN I   overcame three urges. Firstly, I didn’t buy the tempting subscription to Kitchen Garden magazine. (*See Note 1). Secondly, I didn’t buy the Mega Spring Bulb Collection and finally, when shopping locally, I put back one of the plants on my wishlist. You see, I attempted to rein myself in by shopping without a trolley and there’s only so many that I could safely carry in two hands and under my oxter. There was a time when plastic pots were sufficiently durable to carry a circle of three in each hand, but times have changed. My first of this week’s Six is a twin purchase carried delicately in my left hand i mo lámh chlé.

Queen of Carpets

Evergreen & berried

Cotoneaster Queen of Carpets will be just what it says on the tin, and I shall decide very soon where to put them. In line with my Winter Policy, I bought two, the first because it is evergreen and the second because it has beautiful red berries dearga. (Linguistic note: in many languages, unlike English, the adjective comes after the noun.) The fact that both are evergreen and berried need not be emphasised.

Sedum

I bought only one Sedum. It is evergreen but does not have winter berries. Again, I’ve yet to decide exactly where to put it. I know it will go on the Rockery Clé (see above, much further above) and I’ll give some further thought to its final position there.

Rosa Just Joey

Just Joey: the best success

Here’s the last flower for the year on my favourite scented rose. I’m including it to remind me of Joe’s election success. It will bloom again next year an bhliain seo chugainn. It’s a tremendous success. Tremendous. Probably the best success.

PiPCamera

The Bird Boot

© Unknown

This is not my boot, nor my nesting site. I came across it while distracting myself from overnight CNN customer messages last week. “Customer messages” is such a lovely catchphrase, as opposed to advertisements. I noted i mo cheann that timber bird nests are overpriced, similar to Irish house prices, and also that there are several almost-worn-out boots within striking distance. I may ask for permission to use one, fully understanding that I would need to provide an artist’s sketch of the final product in order to be allowed proceed. I’m doing it for the birds. I’m torn about whether left or right would suit best. I would also need to confirm that I am daft.

Lest boot. Perfect planning

On a Plate

Birds need food, particularly in November. At the moment, there’s still enough for all of them. Many of the tiny tiny apples on the large tree have fallen. They are not being nibbled yet so I sometimes tidy them up and put them on a plate. Some birds prefer to eat at ground level, some from raised feeders and others directly from the supplier. All the bases are covered.

Úlla beaga

Winter Windows

This year, I’ve had to play smart. I’ll be using these window boxes for my annuals next summer an samhradh seo chugainn, so I planted pots of daffodils and small evergreens inside them for spring.  I’ll simply remove the pots when the time comes. That’s cliste.

A picture tells a lot

Three things you’ve probably already noted:

  • Timber bits under front of boxes
  • Homemade coffee table
  • There’s probably more than three. A picture tells a lot.

Finally, my first extended garden video. Sometimes a video tells more than a photo.

92 seconds of November 2020

Alternately, you may view it on YouTube, together with added notes. You may also subscribe to be notified of future updates. Presently there’s just one subscriber. That’d be me!

All other updates from the Prop Club will provide me with interesting reading again this week. You’re invited to read along. The entire collection will be listed in the comments section of Jon’s six this week.

Here’s a thought…

“A balanced inner calmness radiates from a peaceful centre. It neither craves others’ approval nor rejects others’ presence. It neither pulls towards nor pushes away. It has a reverent attitude towards life and all its inhabitants.” – Donna Goddard

I’d like to think that my garden and my writing about it does bring inner calmness. I hope you all (gardeners & readers) have a great week. Slán go fóill.

Note 1: I have located a free online digital version via Borrow Box at my local library. As yet, the Mega Spring Bulb Collection eludes me.

Pádraig,

GrowWriteRepeat | Social Links |

This Week in the Garden

Monday, 1st June, shortly after 7am: I am shocked to witness the sheer brazenness of our resident blackbird, as she munched through the very first strawberry of the year. The early bird had no interest in worms. I watched the entire episode, mesmerised yet unwilling to interfere. Lesson learned though, and netting was put in place within hours. Weather: very hot 25C.

Tuesday, 2nd June: The weather continues to sizzle and my plants are thirsty. Unlike me, they cannot move into a cooler place when it gets too hot and they become reliant on me to take care of them. Thankfully, they respond very well to just one form of care: water. All living things need water, and if dehydration is not remedied there is only one outcome.

A few weeks ago I put a layer of bark mulch on several of my patio potted plants, including this one. The idea was to keep the soil cool and prevent the water from evaporating. Naturally, I did not realise that is would be scattered by the bird who knows that the worms are just beneath. Today is the second day that the bird seems to be in charge. Weather: very hot approx 25C again.

Wednesday, 3rd June: Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) It’s good to have a plant that finds the perfect spot and thrives there. Nothing to do with the gardener knowing where best to plant it. I had its parent planted in the rockery nearby two years ago, and it has since passed over to Compost Heaven. Last summer I was thrilled to see that it had seeded itself in several places, mostly in small cracks between the patio slabs. It flowered very freely last summer from its new home, and I liked it very much. This year, there are many more seedling plants among many more cracks, and they seem to be growing very happily. Weather: cooler 16C.

Thursday, 4th June: According to mother nature, Green is a primary color.
I do love a bowl of mixed lettuce leaves with lunch so I need to make sure there’s enough planted. A row of mixed seeds is usually enough for about three weeks. With a bit of luck, I get five or six different varieties. Today, I set my third crop and with such active growth at this time of year they will be ready to eat in about three weeks time, and the process continues again.

Don’t ask me why I love it, Cos I just don’t know, Endive tried lots of them. In truth, this is Rocket fuel.

Friday, 5th June: Clematis is great to cover a fence or an unsightly spot. This one is Clematis Cezanne.

Clematis is a symbol of motivation, intelligence, peaceful thoughts and mental beauty. Clematis will guide the inner self to purpose, meaning, interest and focus. It is a symbol of warmth and ingenuity. It forebodes safety for travelers.

What I’d like to know is who writes this stuff? There’s probably even a World Clematis Day.

Saturday, 5th June: My usual morning or evening walk on the Greenway brings me past a notable tree. It is a mature Copper Maple, and it is exactly 29 years old. I give it a nod and a Howya doin? The reason this tree is special is because we bought it shortly after we got married and it lived with us for a year. We then realised that this tree was unsuitable for our small garden so we gave it to our neighbour. But we can still admire its beauty.

Sunday, 7th June: There is some BINDWEED under one of the fuchsia shrubs. Last year, I was too late in noticing it, and it proved impossible to control. This time, I’m on top of it! It’ll not thrive again! I refuse to photograph bindweed, so there!

Weather this week: Shorts, suncream & salad early in the week. Jacket & hat on Friday and Saturday. Rain urgently needed.

This article is mostly a combination of my daily Instagram posts. I am hoping to make this an occasional feature here on GrowWriteRepeat. If you are an Instagram user you might like to have a look there too.

Fun to finish:

Man to florist: ‘I’d like a bunch of flowers, please.’
Florist: ‘Certainly, sir. What flowers would you like?’
Man: ‘Er.. I’m not sure…Ummm..’
Florist: ‘Let me help you, sir – what exactly have you done?’

Pádraig.