Six-on-Saturday – Acers

This week Acers feature prominently. Now in full foliage, they weave their magic with such ease.

I took my eye off the ball, and Twitter is now beyond my reach. As I gardened to my heart’s content for the entire week, Elon beat me to the prize. All is not lost, however. The man has informed me that my account is good. There’ll be no talk of banishment, and I’ll be able to update my 142 followers without restrictions. Down but not out, I’ll reflect on the situation with as much grace as I can muster.

Hindsight is twenty-twenty vision. The good weather distracted me. I’ve been very busy gnóthach, because there’s lots happening in my small garden as May approaches. Strong growth all round has increased my workload. Content with my lot, I’m determined to view the loss of the big prize as no more than a missed opportunity. What’s for me won’t pass me by. There’ll be other Twitters. It may be the right time to remind myself that it’s a bit overvalued.

Here’s another thing… I’ll not let Saturday pass by without paying homage to the ritual Six-on-Saturday. This week Acers feature prominently. Now in full foliage, they weave their magic with such ease. But before reading headlong into my six this week, Thursday was National Poetry Day, so I decided to write something to mark the day.


Blackbird hops in the bucket,
Something tasty for breakfast,
A treat perhaps?
Yesterday's grapes will do nicely.

Seedlings happy to escape
From the glasshouse by day
Scorching in there already,
Returning at sunset.

I'll walk softly now,
Have a long search
For something new today,
Never fails!

The summer's coming,
We'll sit and laugh and chat,
There'll be fun and flowers there,
The miracle of life.

That little thing is six weeks old,
It'll be gone by first frost,
The tree beyond is wrinkled,
It's a keeper.

Acer:

Our two dogs are miniature Yorkies, so this is their view of my favourite Acer. They pass by several dozen times every day, either on their way to somewhere or on the way back, like Gilhaney in The Third Policeman. They don’t know it’s my favourite. On second thoughts, perhaps they do? I’m reasonably sure they don’t know its an Acer.

I’m very pleased that it’s slow-growing. I don’t remember when it was bought, but likely fifteen years ago or more. I did attempt cuttings of this but I’ve been unsuccessful. I’ve even tried air-layering. Nothing has worked for me.

Acer Orange Dream:

Next up is Acer Orange Dream. It’s been on my wish list for quite a while and I spotted it last week at Ballinlough Garden Centre. Now it’s happily in situ on Joe’s Rockery and I’m looking forward to watching it mature. These plants are not cheap. In fact, they’re not even reasonable. They’re bloody expensive. However, given that they are so beautiful, I’m happy to forego buying bike accessories every once in a while.

Here it is from further away with some context…

Osmanthus:

Last week, I mentioned the Holly Olive, Osmanthus heterophyllus Tricolor. It’s been put in beneath the Acer palmatum that has grown so tall that it now needs underplanting. I think this will fill the area quite well, but it’s a slow grower. An amount of patience will be needed.

Spirea:

Spiraea Magic Carpet has come into leaf recently. You’d imagine that a plant with carpet in its name would likely spread to cover ground. This one doesn’t look as if it has any intention of being a spreader. No matter, it’s pleasing to the eye and is earning its keep. It has lived happily in a smaller pot but was recently upgraded to a BP. If I manage to care for it well, it’ll likely stretch to a metre. Only last week I mulched it with coffee grounds. Bellaroom from Lidl.

Here it is again, flanked by a grass of some sort and a Hydrangea.

Tiarella:

Bought last February, this little thing has been in flower ever since! It likes shade so I’ve given it some. Amelia reminded me that it’s native to Atlanta, Georgia and grows particularly well in creek banks. I think I’ll add another to my collection for next year, as well as dividing this one when the time is right. Easier than Acer, that’s for sure.

Can you spot it in among the rest of my potted plants?

Finally…

The bins have been in this area for as long as I can remember, except for Tuesday nights when they get moved out front. The following morning they return to their usual spot. It all happens on autopilot.

During the week I tackled a little job that needed doing. The bins are generally sheltered by the Acer (except on Tuesday evenings). This shelter is important because bins do not like direct sunshine in high summer, particularly brown ones. However, as the Acer is too tall, it’s bare beneath and the bins are being blasted with vitamin D. So, I got my tools and timber to erect a sunscreen.

All is well in BinLand. Not alone that, but the bare area beneath the gangly Acer is now slightly camouflaged.


What’s a blog for if I can’t look back? Here’s a few bits from April of last year… Click/tap to go there.

April 2021

What’s this Six-on-Saturday thing all about? 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.

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

Pádraig.

Six-on-Saturday – Going Potty

When you think about it logically, it isn’t an impulse purchase if you think about it.

Before I knew it, I’d pressed the button. Pots ordered. Planters ordered. Grit, perlite and vermiculite too. I sat back and tried to remember if I’d intended buying all that stuff. Like, when I woke that morning, had I really intended to buy these things at all? Was it a purchase that sneaked up on me during the day? Or was it an impulse buy?

In any event, ar aon nós, everything arrived on Wednesday. In fact, two large boxes were sitting outside the front door when Marion and I returned after a windy morning cycling. I could sense eyes being rolled even though they didn’t.

1. Perlite

The second part of the delivery arrived a few hours later, the 100 litre bag of perlite. Same van, same driver. I guess he just underestimated how many buttons I’d pressed! Looking at it, to be sure it will last me for a few years!

My plan is to replace the soil in many of my patio pots bit by bit over the coming weeks. It’s a tall order. There are more than a hundred. This will help with aeration and water retention, especially in warm weather. Top tip: anything that helps to remind me of warm weather is to be welcomed. Perhaps I’ll think about a few more impulse purchases.

Now that I see that on my screen, it’s all wrong. When you think about it logically, it isn’t an impulse purchase if you think about it.

2. Recipe

Included in the order was this 20kg bag of grit.

I’ll be using this as a final topping on some pots. I think it will look great, but apart from that it’ll act as a weed suppressant and will also help to keep soil moist underneath.

Here’s a rough guide to my potting mix…

  • Soil from the 2021 compost heap
  • Peat-free compost
  • A fistful of perlite
  • A fistful of grit above
  • Half a fistful of fertiliser
  • A wing and a prayer

The final steps will be to….

  • Insert plant or tuber.
  • Cover lightly.
  • Water well.
  • When plant is 5-10cm above ground, add a layer of grit.
  • Sit back & relax.

3. Begonias

There were eighteen Begonias tucked away safely in the glasshouse since late last October. I made sure not to water them for about three weeks before bringing them inside, and they’ve dried out completely since then. This week, I made a start at getting them ready once again. As they are very hungry feeders, the soil in the pots needed replacing. I made a start during the week and was pleasantly surprised to find that they all survived except one. Again, I used the recipe above to give them a good start. Everything will now start happening underground, and there’ll come a point where there’ll be activity above ground as well.

4. All Together Now

The summer Geraniums had been removed from here back in January and they’re being cared for in the glasshouse. They were promptly replaced with these Tete-a-tete daffodils, using my familiar pot-in-a-pot trick. These will stay until they are finished flowering and then it’s all change again.

It’s literally a five minute job to change things around. Out and in.

5. Standard Pots

Thankfully, garden centres use standard pots for many plants. I think these are one litre pots and I’ve got a few dozen of them. I’ll be planting them with something that will provide some colour between end of March and early summer. I’ve a few options to think about. In June, the Geraniums will return to complete the seasonal cycle.

6. Pieris

This Pieris Polar Passion got a mention three weeks ago and here it is again, potted up for the season ahead. It should be very happy with the upgrade. Following the recipe above, there’s fresh home made compost with added peat-free, together with grit, perlite and fertiliser. The plant came with a thin covering of matted fibre, placed on the soil to keep weeds from growing. I was able to put it back in place when I was finished. Anyone know what it’s made of?


That’s it for this week, a cháirde. Until next week, I hope that all will be well in your world. Slán go fóill. Sincere thanks to Jon The Propagator who continues to host this Six-on-Saturday meme. You can find out more about it here.


Karma caught up with me. Following on from my very satisfied horticultural grin, I cycled long on Tuesday. For three hours this noticeable grin could not be displaced. But with 30km remaining on my homeward journey, my rear derailleur locked into just one available gear. Nothing for it but to keep going, hobbled by failed engineering. Pressing buttons had no effect. I tried using some French but that didn’t help at all.

Pádraig.

My Gardening Week – Spring Will Come

It’s been a very good week here, mostly dry, some sunshine and mild temperatures by day. It was worse last May!

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.

Yes, it’s the middle of January, the slump month hated by millions worldwide. I can’t say I hate it but it’s not near the top of my list.  Anyway, what’s interesting is that the weather account above is early May of last year! This week has been very different. I spent most of Monday tidying up as the temperature was up to 13C. There was no rain, very little wind and good sunshine. Mild as May, I’d be tempted to say.

There’s a lot to be said for having lots of gravel and concrete paths in the garden. It means that there’s no danger of walking on wet compacted soil. I was able to prune the last fuchsia very severely and an acer very lightly without doing any damage.


Most satisfying of all, however, was moving the pelargoniums from this large pot to the glasshouse and replacing them with daffodils.  You see, underneath each plastic pot, there’s another one. I’m able to leave pots permanently in the soil within the larger pot. Then I take plants out and replace them with others. Time taken: five minutes. A bit of colour around the edge wouldn’t go astray. Pansies perhaps?

Each of the pelargoniums needed some work to remove damaged bits. Finally, a light prune  and they’re done. I’ll be hoping to get them back to the front garden in Early June. In the meantime, I’ll keep an eye on them and feed them well from about April onwards.


Bird-feeding is a regular activity here. Mostly we’ve got house sparrows, blackbirds and starlings. When we put out nyer seed the finches arrive. Recently, I’ve noticed that some birds love grapes. We love grapes too but sometimes they do not stay fresh long enough to finish. I’d been in the habit of putting them into the compost bucket near the back door but the birds simply toss everything out to get at them. So, this week I’ve started leaving them on the patio. They don’t last very long.

Slán go fóill,

Pádraig.

Out And About

I’m thrilled to be able to finalise what I’m going to do, but as yet I’ve no real intention of doing much, except in my head.

Sunday, 9th January 2022.

One of these days, very shortly now, I’ll layer up and do a little bit in the garden. Later, when the one remaining fuchsia has been pruned, I’ll drag its remains to the compost heap. Shredding will be a job for another day.

I’m thrilled to be able to finalise what I’m going to do, but as yet I’ve no real intention of doing much, except in my head. Planning is an important part of gardening so I’ll mull over these little tasks in order to be sure that I’m covering all angles. Further adjustments may be made, all without ever opening the back door!

Blue sky & matching jacket.

We did get outdoors last Monday (3rd). It was a mild day once again so we ventured to Lismore, and finally walked the loop from Lismore Castle Gardens to the back of Hornibrooks. A decent walk in nature is a real tonic. At a time when Covid Omicron is rampant everywhere, getting outdoors safely is good for mind and body.

Lismore street art.

Walking back down through the town, we came upon this very unique natural art in New Street. Basically, it’s moss that has been grown to form an image. I did read the information plaque, but I think I’ll return to find out more. The technique involves using eggs as a binder to get the process started.


Note the tree, leaning slightly southwards.

Next on my list is my reminder to myself that Meabh & Jimmy got engaged. In a few years time Marion, Meabh and Jimmy will recall clearly that Christmas 2021 was the date. I’ll be able to confirm that they are correct by showing them this picture. I know they will be amazed at my accurate recall of events!

And finally…

I’m a believer that whenever we look for the positive in life, we are more likely to find it. On that note, while Omicron is now the word-of-the-month, there are only nine remaining letters in the Greek alphabet.

Newsflash!

Yesterday (Saturday 8th) was cold but dry, so I did layer up and I did get out. It was great to finally give the new front patch a little tidy up. I trimmed the grasses, planted a few recently purchased polyanthuses and got rid of an overgrown ivy in a damaged terracotta pot. The pot will now come in handy as crockery for the base of other pots.

Yes, it was time to get back out to the garden! My head can only take so much of Jigsaws and Kindle.

Today was another good out-and-about day. This time I was on the bike for a very enjoyable group spin with Dungarvan Cycling Club. Weather was cold, roads were very mucky after overnight rain but wind was light. We were quite literally a Dirty Dozen. Checking in the mirror after finishing was discouraged. Route: Lismore, Tallow, Camphire Bridge, Lismore again and home via Kilmolash.

Padraig

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,

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