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See a sample issue of The Irish Garden!

May 2007

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Billowing crambe, new potting shed and colonising columbines

 My most intense plant enthusiasms seem to vary between the tiny alpine plants of the high mountains and the most dramatic of the border plants.  On the seashore of county Wicklow the large glaucous leaves of the seakale, Crambe maritima, make a startling impact. Although Gertrude Jekyll recommended it for the flower garden I cannot recall seeing it growing in an Irish border. The green leaves of Crambe cordifolia may not have the same impact but in June the huge billowing inflorescences of tiny white flowers make the similar, but more often grown, Gypsophila paniculata look puny indeed. All you need is a bit of space. My biggest plant is almost two metres high and equally as wide - a spectacular start to the herbaceous season. On one of my raised beds I grow the miniature Gunnera hamiltonii. If I had the right wet and watery conditions, the giant gunnera would definitely feature.

On the seashore of county Wicklow the large glaucous leaves of the seakale, Crambe maritima, make a startling impact.

I finally got rid of my very individually styled old potting shed and replaced it with a smaller more conventional one. I couldn't believe the amount of unused sometime-might-be-useful items and downright rubbish that had accumulated. I breathed a happy sigh of relief as the skip disappeared out the front gate. An extra bonus arising from the whole operation is that there is a nice piece of additional space beside the boundary wall. This will soon be filled with a new climber. I have been forced to severely curtail my mania for plant propagation. Even though I now have more room in the propagation area, I have restricted my seed-sowing this year. June however is a very good time to take cuttings and I already have a nice row of pots standing in shade with the makings of new plants.

The big winner this month for most exuberant plant is undoubtedly the climbing rose ‘Félicité Perpétue' which arches over my sun-facing raised bed. Countless creamy-white fully double flowers create a most striking effect and even though countless flowers lead to even more countless petals to be gathered as they wilt and turn brown, it's well worth the effort.

It's hard to get the balance right with self-seeders. Without some control they can all too easily dominate. A most charming array of columbines had colonised one of my front garden beds. So much so that I vigorously cut off the seed heads and rooted out without mercy. My over-enthusiasm was a mistake. This year's display was disappointing on their original site but they have changed tactics and are now in the process of taking over one of my raised beds!



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