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June 2013

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Weather patterns, moss garden and late flowers

 



‘Rain spreading from the west' is one of the phrases most frequently used by the weather forecasters. Rain-laden clouds sweep in from the Atlantic Ocean and, as a result, the West of Ireland has an annual rainfall almost three times higher than the east coast. Here, we learn to accept the wind and rain, and plan our gardening activities around the weather. However, this year saw a dramatic change in weather patterns.



For once, the west fared best during the winter months. We avoided the snow and sleet that affected most of the country and had the longest dry period on record. The unusually dry March and April were also exceptionally cold . This meant that plant growth was considerably curtailed. The farmers lost out from the late start, but the weather was great from a gardening point of view. It was possible to get control of all the weeds and brambles early in the year. Slug and snail activity was minimal. It was possible for me to re-gravel the paths throughout the garden, which is a job that normally has to be left till June or July as it needs to be done in reasonably dry conditions.

 

 

Usually the last area to be cleaned up each year is the bog garden, as the water channels tend to be overflowing and the ground disastrously waterlogged. This year it was possible to tackle this section in March and the water table was low enough to enable me to clear the debris and algae from the pools. Even the burning of all the wood from the trees and shrubs that were cut back in the autumn and winter was done much earlier than usual - with the necessary permission granted!


The only area that did not benefit from the prolonged dry period was the moss garden. In January it was enlarged by the removal of two mature trees. More bamboos were added and some unusual ferns acquired at a plant sale in early March. The long spell without rain meant that it lost the lush green appearance at a time when it should have been at its best. Luckily the moss recovered quickly when the weather broke. Unfortunately most of the frog spawn was destroyed when the ponds froze in March and April. The frog population is invaluable for keeping slugs under control, so my hostas may suffer as a result.


Because of the long cold dry period, the garden has peaked later than usual and the azaleas and candelabra primulas are now at their most colourful. This year the bluebells were still flowering for my charity Open Days in May, which seldom happens. June is one of my favourite months - there is so much of interest and the promise of more to come. With the garden maintenance under control, I can relax and really enjoy the garden and have time to visit other gardens for new inspiration!



 

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