Six-on-Saturday – Dioecious

Featured plants this week include Dog Hobble, Bamboo, Wintergreen, Camellia and Agapanthus.

It’s a mouthful, isn’t it? Dioecious. Nine letters, six of which are vowels. More about that later.

January is almost over, and there’s a grand oul stretch in the evenings. At this stage there’s almost a full extra hour of daylight. Here’s Friday’s update (Location Dublin), although locally, Dungarvan has an extra 7 minutes.

We’ve had an unprecedented second dry week here. So without further complaining, here’s my selection from the garden this week…

Dog Hobble

Leuconthoe Red Lips

I’ve mentioned this plant before. The common name is Dog Hobble. I’d really love to know how it came to be called that. It’s one of my favourite plants, particularly in winter. It’s evergreen with a generous red tint, and it’s doing very well in a container. I scattered a small handful of fertiliser on the surface this week and then proceeded to add a layer of coffee grounds. Lidl Bellaroom.

Thinking Outside The Tub

My daughter gave me this gorgeous tub as a Christmas present. It’s unusual that there’s no drainage underneath. I got the drill and was about to start when an alternative idea struck me. Rather than poke holes in the base, I’ve chosen to allow excess water to drain out through the sides. I spent a while trying to figure out how low would be best, and in the end I opted to drill just above the lower copper ring. It’s about 10 cm from the ground, so the container will hold a decent reservoir of water. It’s an experiment, and it remains to be seen how the main shrub, Camellia japonica Lady Campbell, will cope with wet conditions at the bottom. I’d not be too concerned about the other plants because the roots will not be deep and they will be replaced seasonally. What’s in there?

  • Polyanthus
  • Daffodils
  • Heucherella Catching Fire
  • Galanthus procumbens (Wintergreen)

I feel a return visit to the garden centre coming on, becausee I think there’ll be room for some snowdrops and crocuses. I’ll keep a close eye on this tub during the course of the year and re-drill if necessary.

The small plant below is Galanthus procumbens, known as Wintergreen.

Wintergreen

Here’s what I found out about it last year…

Wintergreen is dioecious, meaning that the male reproductive organs are on one plant, and female on another. I get that, yet it is not normally the way of doing things in the plant world. It has too many vowels for my liking. In addition to that-way-of-doing-things, extract from the plant is used to soothe sore muscles (especially after doing things), and for mouthwash, toothpaste, chewing gum and American root beer.

Six-on-Saturday – December 2020

That’s one of the things I love about writing this blog… if I’ve previously written about something, there’s no need to write it again. I just need to be able to find what I’m looking for quickly. I’ve a few tricks up my sleeve for that. Couldn’t be wasting gardening/cycling time searching for needles in haystacks.

Heucherella

I must find out if Heucherella and Heuchera are one and the same. I’d imagine so. Names seem to change just to add confusion to the horticultural world. I wonder would it be akin to Cinders and Cinderella? Or perhaps similar to the Irish usage of the extension “-ín”. Bláthín is a small flower, teachín is a small house and Jimín is Jim-of-small-stature. I have fond memories of a book called Jimín Mháire Thaidhg in primary school. He was a bit of a rascal.

I understand this Heucherella Catching Fire should grow well in a container, provided it does not become too wet. There will be late spring and summer updates.

I learned something new today…. I learned that I’m sometimes wrong…

Heucherella is a cross between two closely related plants – Heuchera, commonly known as coral bells, and Tiarellia cordifolia, also known as foamflower. As you might expect, heucherella offers many of the benefits of its two parent plants.

GardeningKnowHow.com

An Apple A Day

It’s a very bad photograph of half an apple. More precisely, it’s a bad photograph of the remains of half an apple. The starlings and blackbirds are very picky. They love apples (or half apples) but they leave the skin. It’s a delicate process to get the fruit and leave the rest, particularly for birds with reasonably sharp beaks. I popped up a short video during the week. It was a feeding frenzy. Over the past few weeks I’ve also left grapes and bananas.

Other birds will not touch these fruits at all. The sparrows love peanuts, while the beautifully-coloured finches go for the sunflower and nyer (nyger) seeds. I could stay watching them for hours. On Monday last I sat near one of the feeders with the camera. After a few minutes they returned, ignoring me completely. However, the few photographs I snapped are nothing to write home about. I’ll do a short video one of these days.

Agapanthus

Agapanthus stems are now fully dead, and it’s time to remove them. Last year, once removed, I kept them and tied them together as a kind of bouquet. Not exactly a suitable gift for upcoming Valentine’s Day, but it looks good on the bare wall trellis. I’ll do the same this year and present the completed item SSS. Some Saturday Soon. Similar to ASAP.

Bamboo

I got a bit of a shock last April when this beauty started to wilt. At the time I was delighted with the advice I was given here to cut it back to the base. Recently I’ve put fertiliser and coffee grounds on it. I guess I should chop it back, but I don’t want to, because it looks so good right now.


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 thingy? 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.

29th January2022.

Pádraig.

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.

Pádraig.

Life Balance

I can’t be gardening whenever I want. There’s chores to be done and bikes to be cycled!

Job done! I returned to Clonmel Garden Centre on Wednesday to buy a matching planter for the front garden. Last week, I had bought one that was already planted up. This time I needed to select the plants myself. Turned out to be a bit more expensive, but that was because I added some extra ones for somewhere else. As yet, I don’t know exactly where.

Everything was at a standstill yesterday. There was no time for gardening, as I needed to get new car tyres, paint a ceiling and head off on my bike for a few hours. Another easy ramble on quiet backroads was a tonic.

Earlier today, I got stuck in to the task. Similar to the other one, I’ve included a small Phormium, ivy, Hellebore and a Primrose. The remaining spots have been filled out with Crocuses and Snowdrops. I’ve even been able to squeeze in one of my double-potted daffodils to bloom next month. In my thirty-something years of gardening here, it’s my debut into the world of snowdrops.

This time last year I had no interest whatsoever in the front garden. That’s all changed. I’ve a plan for one small section before summer. I might have to buy plants.

Frosty One

A bit of light gardening to warm up on a frosty morning. Just the tonic.

After heavy overnight frost, today turned out to be a lovely day. There was bright sunshine all morning and no wind worth talking about, but very cold for gardening.

I ventured outside just after nine, but only to take a photograph, before quickly retreating inside again. Much later, I did return to finish a bit of pruning and tidy up the last of the leaves. I’m sure insects were cursing me!

This raised rockery was replanted in Autumn of 2020, consisting of…

  • Skimmia rubella
  • Camellia japonica Spring Festival and
  • Viburnum tinus Eve Price.

Likely, it’ll be another year or two before they begin to fill the space. There’s a second Camellia (Lady Campbell) behind the Viburnum, but it’s not in the ground. This will be planted in a large tub later this week.

What are you up to in the garden?

Monday, January 17th 2022.

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.

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…

1.

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.

2.

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.

3.

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!

4

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.

5.

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.

6.

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.

Pádraig.

Six-on-Saturday – Failure Is Part Of Success

We bought this about fifteen years ago, but never connected an electricity supply. A few years later it became more difficult when our dog Jessie chewed through the cables.

During this prolonged lockdown, it’s very easy to see the glass half empty. Things are pretty difficult for so many people. I am aware of some for whom life is unbearable. In my case, no matter how difficult things become, I feel that looking at the glass half full will help me through. There have been times when I have been unable to think this way, but I’ve I’ve got a good handle on what I now allow myself to think. That’s a lot of thinking!

In a very small sense, my gardening during the week brought setback and success side by side. It was a week that allowed me to celebrate the successes and be philosophical about occasional setbacks.

With that said, here we go once again. It’s Saturday and that means Six-on-Saturday. Six things, in my garden, on this fourth January Saturday, hosted by Jon Propagator across the Irish Sea, active also on Twitter @cavershamjj if you still have an account in good standing.

A success

Most of the cuttings taken last year have rooted and I am very pleased. I had put three in each pot. In about half of them, all three have rooted, others have two and some have one. I have moved them from the cold frame to the glasshouse, where they will stay until I run out of shelving space. A few pots failed to produce even one cutting. I shook my head several times but refused to let it become more than a minor issue. No use crying over a half empty glass of milk. Shaking my head didn’t help at all.

Birdbath

We bought this about fifteen years ago, but never connected an electricity supply. A few years later it became impossible more difficult when our dog Jessie chewed through the cables. Now it’s just a three-storey bird-bath. I think I will move it between idir the Skimmia and the Camellia, and plant a shrub in its place. I will likely report on the situation on a future Saturday.

Setback

I wrote about a Sudden Shocking Seedling Setback during the week. I suppose it should hot have come as a shock because the Snow Lady warned of very severe sub-zero temperatures. But guess what? There’s a silver lining. My significant other bean chéile has granted me temporary use of the utility room to keep my next batch of seedlings alive. The contract runs until Valentine’s Day, at which point an extension may be granted. Terms and conditions apply. What have I learned from this sad setback? Never mind the milk. I’ve learned that the half-full glass has a silver lining.

Compost

Here’s another success. It’s a work in progress, but definitely well on the way. I took the lid off the compost heap yesterday to see what’s going on, and was thrilled with what I saw. There’s very active decomposition. As it were, from death comes new life. I allowed the heap to breathe for a few hours, gave the top a gentle mix with a hand hoe, and proceeded to add a layer of Amazon cardboard for insulation. It does its second job well, provided the bits of sellotape and gluey labels are removed.

Question for curious honours level students: Where are the glasshouse bits kept?

Begonias

Box of sand

It may look like a box of sand, and in fact it is a box of sand. However, underneath the sand are the Begonias I stored last autumn. Here they are, with sand removed…

All looking good.

I checked them to be sure that there’s no mould and there wasn’t. If there were, it could possibly spread to others nearby because there’s no plant distancing. Happy with my investigation, I replaced the sand and sealed the box again. This will remain sealed until mid March, whereupon the process of starting them into growth will commence. I shall report on this in a future Saturday update.

Favourites

As soon as the cold frame was emptied of 2020 cuttings, I put the pelargoniums in there to make more space in the glasshouse. They will remain there until my main crop potatoes need to be planted. The cold frame will be removed and stored somewhere out of sight until October, having done its job. You’ll notice that I cut a length of fleece and it remains at the ready for cold nights ahead. Very sensibly, if I may say so, I used the utility room to do the cutting. If the glass is half full, might as well fill it right up to the brim!

Sin a bhfuil uaimse don seachtain seo. I’ll be back again next week with another Six-on-Saturday. Thank you for reading; I hope you have a good week ahead and that your glass may be at the very least half full. Slán go fóill.

Pádraig

A Death In The Family

25th January 2021.

With heavy heart, I write of a death in the family. Fifty-eight small seedlings froze to death in the glasshouse last night. When I heard the weather forecast I had intended wrapping them in fleece, but I forgot. Yes, I FOR… GOT. I happens.

Such is the life of a gardener who decides to start in January! I’ve started again with two Dahlia varieties and I’ll get around to the others over the next few days. I have been given temporary permission to keep the new seedlings in the utility room as soon as they get out of the propagator.

Truth be told, seedlings generally flower/fruit in or about the same time of the year even if sown a few weeks earlier or later, so I’m not too worried. Interestingly, I’ve had three lovely requests for some plants. I’m becoming very aware that lots of people are reading my garden updates. I always knew about those who commented from time to time. However, there’s a silent majority out there who follow along in the shadows. I’m OK with that too. I’m more than happy to give seedlings and plants to friends and outlaws. My garden is small, and I know how many of a certain plant that would look good in the garden.

Anyway, there will be a short delay in handing over plants. In the meantime, stay warm folks.

Pádraig.

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Six-on-Saturday – Once More Into The Potting Shed

The propagator is set at 18°C and an old horse numna helps keep things warm. Also of importance in the process is the Brother labelling machine and Milbona Greek style yoghurt containers. Creamy natural low-fat.

23rd January 2021.

Here we go once again. It’s Saturday and that means Six-on-Saturday. Six things, in my garden, on this fourth January Saturday, hosted by The Running Propagator across the pond.

But first, let me lead you astray. Last Monday was Blue Monday. The phrase was coined back in 2004 by a holiday company in order to boost sales. It was trending on Twitter all day, despite being a pile of horsecrap. In terms of minding our mental health, it seems to me that any Monday could be blue, or any Thursday for that matter.

I was so annoyed with myself for not cycling last Sunday. Was it a case of just not feeling up to it? Whatever the reason, the early part of the week brought constant rain and I was unable to get out. No cycling, no gardening, not even a decent walk, just a few short trips to the potting shed and the glasshouse. Then, the universe dumped words of wisdom in my lap. There’s no advantage in feeling that I should have to. Thank you Abi & Sally.

On a lighter note, yippee!… I say glasshouse, everyone else says greenhouse. What’s the world coming to?

1. Hellebore

The hellebores will come into flower very soon. I noticed the buds during the week seachtain and got a blurry photograph. I will return to the task very shortly. I had allowed last year’s flowers to set seed among the gravel and I’ve got several young plants being nurtured in the cold frame. Times are exciting.

2. Camellia

I’ve gardened here for 33 years bliain and never planted a Camellia. I don’t understand my reasoning, so I finally bought one. It’s a little beauty. There are many buds ready to burst, and no doubt I’ll get the camera out when that happens. I do have a rather tedious task ahead of me over the coming months. You’ll notice the remains of the fuchsia that dominated this area. I’ll need to kill it as it sprouts, as getting the entire root out would have been a tricky task.

3. Skimmia

To complete the winter evergreen section on this raised bed I chose Skimmia japonica Rubella. This will remain compact, I understand. I am thinking of dividing a low-growing geranium from the other side of the garden to provide ground cover here. I am open to suggestions, so please más é do thoil é let me know what you think. The area is east-facing and semi-shaded.

4. Very Pleased

This is the bigger picture of the raised bed. I will plant some annuals at the front and at the base of it for the summer. I’ve also included a small fern, polystichum setiferum. Undoubtedly, I will need to be very vigilant to ensure that no small roots of the dreaded bindweed are allowed to ruin this corner. Regular patrols will be undertaken with gusto.

5. Seeds to Sow

Last week I had sown leeks and Dahlias. But with just a short while remaining in January, I realised that I’d thirteen packets remaining. Quick as a flash, in went the remaining Dahlias, Osteospermum, Gaura and the first of the tomatoes trátaí. I’ve still a few more ready to roll when these have germinated. The propagator is set at 18°C and an old horse numna helps keep things warm. Also of importance in the process is the Brother labelling machine and Milbona Greek style yoghurt containers. Creamy natural low-fat.

6. On A Sad Note

Last August I wrote about cuttings and compost, and received this interesting comment from Dorris. Truth be told, I did reply, saying that I would consider the request and shortly afterwards I decided to take up the challenge for environmental reasons. Dorris and I got to know each other’s garden pretty well and we exchanged advice, banter and encouragement, here and on Twitter. However, unknown to me, behind the scenes, Dorris (real name Rebecca) was unwell, and passed away in December.

May your dust travel far, my friend. I am privelaged to have known you, even if for just a short while.

That’s my lot for this fourth Saturday in January. I do miss going to the pub for a few pints of Guinness. It’s been six months now, and by the look of things, it could be another six before it happens again. I do miss cycling with the club, and most of all I do miss a day away. On a positive note, the garden is calling! Slán go fóill.

Pádraig,