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March 2008

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Second drive, chamaerops, sundial and dividing hostas

By the end of the month I hope to have the garden more or less weed free. This may sound very optimistic but worth striving for.  On the 1st of February I start cleaning section by section. I put weed sealer on the paths and areas of the garden that will tolerate it and this makes me feel a bit more confident that I will be able to control my weeds for the coming year. Now that the lawns have been removed, there is considerably more gravel to keep clean and doing this by hoeing would be an endless task.

When the front lawn was removed to make way for the second drive, (which was required in order to get planning permission for the new house), I was worried that it would spoil the garden, even though I knew that it would be a benefit from the maintenance point of view. However, I am pleased with the results on both counts. Since a second drive is not required at the moment I am disguising its original purpose and making it into a gravel garden, which can revert to a drive when necessary.

March is an excellent month for dividing hostas

During the summer I brought a chamaerops, which I thought would make a good focal point for the new area. This is a dwarf fan palm from the West Mediterranean region with greyish green sculptural leaves. It is not fully hardy and I doubt it will enjoy the climate of the west of Ireland. After the endless gales during the winter I now realise that the palm is unlikely to thrive in the intended position, as it is too exposed to the south west wind. Luckily, it is still in its pot in the greenhouse.

Instead I will try it in the lower area of the front garden, which has a good deal of protection from the surrounding conifers. It will replace the informal style sundial that has been there for the last thirty years and will be near a trachycarpus, the hardy Chusan palm from subtropical Asia, which has been growing there for a long time. The sundial will be relocated to become the new focal point of the gravel garden on the higher level and, unlike the fan palm, will not be affected by the more exposed position.

March is an excellent month for dividing hostas. These grow very well in my moist and shaded conditions. Over the years I have acquired over sixty varieties and I still cannot resist new ones. I try to have over 130 hosta plants for sale on the garden open days and most of the potting is done in March and April, when the growing tips are emerging, allowing them to be cut up giving 4 or 5 shoots per pot. This is quite a lengthy process, but is of benefit to both the hostas and the fund-raising!




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