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October / November 2012

To see a sample of the current issue of Ireland's best-selling gardening magazine, click the image below.


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Seeds and film stars

Rachel Darlington on the ups and downs of seed-sowing

Many plants are known to seed freely about the garden andVerbena bonariensis is one of them. But if you want this lovely plant to germinate from seed, you may have a tough time of it. The little blighters took three months of alternate stints in the fridge and on heat trays before they deemed me worthy. And I can say the same thing for the Alstroemeria ligtu hybrids, which I bought after reading a recommendation for them as easy self-seeders.

Once established in a garden, both these plants will pop up unexpectedly in odd places. I suppose it just goes to show that Mother Nature still has a trick or two up her sleeve. Another verbena that caught my eye was the glamorous Verbena hastata. I saw it and I had to have it. So I bought and sowed seeds last autumn. But, unfortunately, I am still waiting for those seeds to show any signs of life!

 It was at this point in time that I became aware of the fact that ‘Astérix and Obélix: God Save Britannia' was filming in Listoke Gardens, Drogheda. I have always loved Astérix, the Gaul, and his fat friend, Obélix, but never dreamed that there could be any horticultural connection. But, it seems, sometimes films need plants. So for the Astérix and Obélix film, many large, top-quality, herbaceous plants had been bought from leading Irish nurseries. And, once filming had finished, an auction was set up to sell off the plants in aid of famine relief. I was so excited and itching to attend the auction. Imagine owning a plant from the film set of an Astérix movie. Think of the kudos it would earn me with my kids!

But, as bad luck would have it, I couldn't get to the auction. I was feeling pretty crestfallen until a friend, equally enamoured by the whole idea, kindly offered to pick me up something in the sale. Apparently, Listoke Gardens was packed on the day and, at three plants for a tenner, perennials were selling like hot cakes. Soon echinacea, helenium and grasses were piling up in the boot of my friend's car. It was probably best that I couldn't go. I would only have disgraced myself in my inability to resist bargains.

And, what did my friend buy for me? I was on tenterhooks to know, although trying my best to appear nonchalant. Finally I got to see it. It was a big pot, with many tall stems. Each stem held a proud, purple spire, top heavy and arranged like an upright fork. At last, it was the much sought-after Verbena hastata - isn't it funny how things work out in the end?

 

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