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Oct / Nov issue of The Irish Garden

Elizabeth7's Journal

Elizabeth7's Journal October 2011

Last Post 1148 days 6 hours ago

A few things done and a question.

31 October 2011 15:10:12

Raining hard this morning but dried up after lunch. The ground is so wet it is good for  tracing  the roots of ivy and nettles so did a bit of that. Then planted  Hosta's Aruncus and Bruno's Verbascum and Tinantia pringlii  oh and Hosta's  Crinums. Mary Walsh's Phlox also went in. What would I do without such kind and generous friends , there would be lots of gaps.

Then thought of a conversation I had with two friends recently re placing plants. I am a divil for putting plants in the ground quite soon after getting them;  I do of course put some thought into it! If the planting is really bad when Summer comes they get moved in the Autumn. But these friends, tend to keep plants in pots and do much walking around before returning the pots to whence they came. This leads to a big accumulation of said pots! I think my attitude will be very much a minority  but the question is , do you hoard pots until the perfect place reveals itself  or plonk them into what seems a reasonable spot. AND how many plants have you waiting for 'the right place'?

I am keeping my blue plants in pots until their bed is ready in the Spring.


Worm's eye view

29 October 2011 18:56:41
Lovely afternoon here following a horrid morning. I planted Myrtle's sanguisorbia and then headed  to the new hope to be hot/red bed. I have mentioned the number of worms living here , just incredible. So I got to thinking how they feel when their environment is disrupted by the arrival of a trowel blade. I mean some of them could have been going for a quiet Saturday afternoon squirm, others watching worm tv or even at the worm market choosing a lovely piece of earth for dinner. Then there are baby worms to be seen , maybe they had been having a nap. Makes me feel right guilty disturbing their daily routine.:)

Desirable plants

28 October 2011 18:48:55

I was at our Alpine and Hardy plants meeting last night. The talk  was given by Julian Sutton of Desirable Plants  and called ‘Adventures with Fancy Foliage' . I must say I enjoyed it very much and will be taking a much closer look at leaves!

I had ordered plants in advance and also bought another three, it was so tempting to see such an array of interesting plants.



The plants I bought were/are;


Pulmonaria ‘ Benediction'

Corydalis    ‘ Tory MP'  so called because it is a true blue and goes on for ever!!

Actea atropurpurea

Athyrium filix-femina  ‘Victoriae'

Bidens aurea ‘ Hannah's lemon drop'

Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Taurus'

Salvia  cliniopodiodes  Michoacan blue

Impatiens omeiana


I had also ordered an interesting hardy Geranium Elsie Lacey but she either never made it into the box or was eaten by a certain Red Gurkha~J


I am so pleased that three of the plants I got are lovely shades of blue, and this was before I had decided on a Blue bed, yippee


In addition to the above Bruno brought me plants  Myrtle had sent me. I was not even expecting these but Myrtle had noticed that I liked them, how kind and thoughtful is that. Again very many thanks Myrtle.

I got a big clump of Sanguisorba Red thunder,  cuttings of that gorgeous Hydrangea Vanilla fraise, a pink Salvia and Crocosmia.


Aquilegia skinneri

25 October 2011 20:25:21
I noticed that Deborah offered seeds of this last year . I wonder what those of you who grew it think of it?  I have lots of seedlings which I sowed this Summer , got free seeds with an order, and don't know whether to hang on to them or not. The pictures look lovely and if Deborah grows it I am sure it is a very good plant but tending so many is difficult. Would it be good in a mass planting?  Or will I pot them on for anybody?

Go ahead on Red

25 October 2011 20:03:53

On a few occasions I  have been telling of my new Red bed that is presently tilled covered with horse poop and then covered with membrane. Despite temptation there was no way  this was going to be planted before Spring.  Meanwhile up in the other new bed about 18ft by  12ft where the Hawthorn , Ivy and Brambles lived tilling was also done and it was being used to put plants about whose location I was undecided . But the more I worked on the latter bed the more I grew to love it roots, stones and all.  The soil is wonderful and I never knew so many worms could be found , big fat juicy ones. I think that this area or part of it had been used  for crops  so there is probably years and years of good stuff gone into it. Also it is the only bed that faces south. So plans changed today and guess where the red/hot bed is going to be??? Another advantage is that now I can put  some of my red/yellow/ orange plants in it and don't have to wait.  

The bed that is waiting until Spring will now become a.................Blue themed bed and I can start collecting suitable plants for it.  Jacinta you will be able to make  suggestions for this pleaseJ

I am addicted to......

24 October 2011 20:39:32

taking cuttings of everything that does not hide. For example today for some reason I decided to take Dahlias, Begonias and Lilies out of pots and keep them under cover for the  Winter. Now  why I made this decision is a mystery because  for the past bad Winters I found that placing the pots/containers on their sides to prevent rain/snow falling on them , they tended to dry out and  the plants  survived very well. 

But no , here I was knocking the plants out and taking cuttings of Dahlias and Begonias  , at this time of the year , quite daft, wonder if there is a cure.

Ground cover survey

21 October 2011 18:24:35


 I thought it might be interesting to hear what iers think are the best plants for ground cover.  Perhaps we should not consider shade, sun, wet or dry and just go for the best all rounders.? Also maybe we should stick to three and make a comment on the good, bad features of each. I would like to learn from the experience of others and hope you will too.

My three best to date are;

Persicaria, seems good for all areas .

Lamium , I have found this really good and it is so easy to propagate. I grow the green/white one.

Vinca ,  excellent when it gets going but in my experience is quite slow to take off.


It is hard not to mention others but these are the three I rate best.

Making hypertufa troughs as requested.

20 October 2011 19:36:39

 I copied and pasted this from my  website but all the information is there. ignore the reference to the picture!

IHypertufa troughs from old bathroom basins;

In the background of the above picture is an old bathroom basin that I covered with hyper tufa to make a trough. It has got more seasoned looking now as the photograph was taken in June.
To make these troughs I was lucky to get hold of two slightly cracked bathroom basins (sinks). I removed the taps and gave the sink a good wash down. Then I coated the surface with Polybond and allowed it to dry. This provided a better surface for applying hypertufa. I mixed Portland cement, sand and sieved peat in proportions of 1--2--1/2 until it was quite moist but not *runny*. Then ,wearing gloves all the time, I pressed handfuls of the mixture on to the basin until the top part was covered; there is no need to do the bowl as this will be filled with compost. This dried enough in a few days to allow me gently turn the basin over and repeat the process on the underside. I left it about a week and brushed it hard with a wire brush. If big pieces of the hypertufa fell off I re-applied a fresh mixture to those places. When it was covered and well dried I made a small quantity of 1 to 1, sand and cement mixture and fixed small plastic plant pots to the region under the holes left by removing the taps. This was most useful for additional planting using the tap holes. I painted the whole surface with live yogurt to encourage the growth of lichen and moss. As the plug hole provided a good means of drainage I just put some small stones over it prior to adding compost. There is much discussion about the best proportions of sand , cement and peat to use so I am sticking to what worked for me! Remember that this is not a job to do if there is frost around as it affects the hardening process; I would suggest doing it in the summer.

Hypertufa troughs from polystyrene boxes;

While the porcelain sinks make good troughs they are very heavy when it comes to moving them around. There is also the problem of actually finding them. However you can also use polystyrene boxes. These have the advantage of being very light and easy to manipulate while applying the hypertufa. I have made a very nice trough from a fish box; it measures about 2 1/2 feet long and 14inches wide with a depth of 10 inches. For this I used a strong wood adhesive called Evo Stick which works well on the polystyrene. It was easier to work on this but remember that when the compost is added it will be rather heavy; the best idea is to site the trough prior to filling it. Also if you put a sheet of fine gauge netting at the bottom it prevents unwanted visitors like slugs and snails gaining entry.

Here is one I did earlier!!

20 October 2011 18:07:15
Here is one I did earlier!!

Here is one I did earlier!!

This one I made about 12 years ago and has moss growing on it. It has survived very well even in the mover's van when I came to live here. I have two others made around the same time which also survive though a little patching has been needed over the years, nothing serious though.

Trough making

20 October 2011 18:04:09
Trough making

Trough making

Damo wrote recently about making a trough and this reminded me that I had two fish boxes waiting for transformation so over the past couple of days I went to work. The boxes I have this time have a very awkard rim in that it sort of pointed and hard to cover. Howver the job is done and now it waits for a week or so to harden.Then I will see if the hypertufa stays stuck on firmly. The box of course does not need to be covered completely on the inside where the compost will be. I did not take as much care as I should have with this one so hopes it works out ok. Thanks for getting me going on it Damo.

A Roundup day

16 October 2011 22:01:37

Yes pleasant day here in east Cork good day for muuurder!!

So out with the Roundup; I wish I did not have to use it but it is a necessity in my garden. First victims were numerous seedlings of Valerian, I love the plant but the seedlings are all over the gravel . I kept some plants which are actually flowering happily, about 4 months early. Then the nettles well some of them too many for one outing. Then the best , what a lovely sight to see the glistening drops of Roundup on the leaves of Alchemilla mollis!!

I made my way to Sanguisorba Pink rat's tails,sorry. Brushes but chickened. The picture of Rachel's face at the very idea made the notion impossible. So instead I  had a chat with it and then re-planted it in a lovely place to give it every chance to become as desirable as Rachel's.

That finished the murder so on to the giving of life. Took more cuttings of Antirrhinums

and tried some tuberous Begonias. Sowed yet more seeds  , so many now.

Proposed site for Oakbird ,attn Scrubber.

14 October 2011 21:25:13
Proposed site for Oakbird ,attn Scrubber.

Proposed site for Oakbird ,attn Scrubber.

Peter this is the area to which OB is being moved. If you note the white Hydrangea to the right of the picture, his present position is sort of to the left of that where you can't see him!

Now if you can see the back of my car , pretend you are standing there walking down the light coloured path ; before you reach the grass turn to the right and  you might spot a little clump of blue grass and his new position was going to be there. It sort of faces the gate and the cottage so I can see him most of the time.

There are lot of places he would fit in  better but I would not be able to see him from the cottage.

The only other possibility is in the raised bed to the left of that white Hydrangea where you might spot a stone.

The so and so cropping at it again will put picture in album


14 October 2011 20:25:20

RE Euonymus alata perhaps this is the answer to the no cork specimen. There is one

Euonymus alatus var. apterus  which has no cork and apparently turns more pink than red in the Autumn. Don't think you would meet this lad very often but I found it interesting that it exists.

Falling in love.

13 October 2011 22:34:50


I fell in love with Oakbird about 6 years ago. I met him at the site of a West of Ireland wood sculptor called Ronnie Graham. I had fairly recently moved here had not loads of cash but had to have him no matter what it took  and it took!

So one day I contacted Ronnie and so it came to pass that he and a friend travelled from the West bringing Oakbird  to Cobh. That day I was hurting bad with an abcess on my tooth so having met my new friend in the wood and agreed with Ronnie the best place to site him off to the Dentist. On my return dear OB was in situ firmly fixed in concrete , well not directly but via long screws.  This handsome bird composed of 4000  years old bog oak reigned supreme for 5 years. Then due to growth in the garden he  was overcome by foliage and  became  difficult  to enjoy so the time came to consider a move. A start was made to day when a friend started to chisel off the stone surrounding him to reach the concrete. I am so happy about this and hopefully following some more excavation and  when we recruit another 2 strong persons he can be moved to a new position.  I hope you like him.

Falling in love.

13 October 2011 22:34:47


I fell in love with Oakbird about 6 years ago. I met him at the site of a West of Ireland wood sculptor called Ronnie Graham. I had fairly recently moved here had not loads of cash but had to have him no matter what it took  and it took!

So one day I contacted Ronnie and so it came to pass that he and a friend travelled from the West bringing Oakbird  to Cobh. That day I was hurting bad with an abcess on my tooth so having met my new friend in the wood and agreed with Ronnie the best place to site him off to the Dentist. On my return dear OB was in situ firmly fixed in concrete , well not directly but via long screws.  This handsome bird composed of 4000  years old bog oak reigned supreme for 5 years. Then due to growth in the garden he  was overcome by foliage and  became  difficult  to enjoy so the time came to consider a move. A start was made to day when a friend started to chisel off the stone surrounding him to reach the concrete. I am so happy about this and hopefully following some more excavation and  when we recruit another 2 strong persons he can be moved to a new position.  I hope you like him.

Interesting day.

13 October 2011 20:00:53

What funny peculiar weather today.

About midday the sun appeared and it was so good to feel a bit of warmth. I was painting the platform and stopped for lunch, well a banana and a coke. The cat , dog and  I  sat/lay in the sun for a while. The countryside looked great and I got fascinated watching the leaves flutter from the trees all taking different routes to the ground. got the painting done and started another painting job until the paint ran out. By then, 3-30 you could see the sea fog rolling in and within 30 minutes we were enveloped in a thick fog. Driving to the other side of the Island required lights!!

But no complaints as it was so good to feel sun for a while.

What I noticed today

11 October 2011 16:41:35

Yesterday and today were two good gardening days. Overcast but warm and a little windy, but anything other than that mist............shudder.

I noticed more Ladybirds and Butterflies than any other time of the Summer. Also there seems to be loads and loads of Earthworms which is great..

I think I have a soil addiction, when I hit an area where it is good and just need to dig out stones I could spend hours there dig dig , out with stone, dig dig and so on.  And planting in good soil or weeding in same. But then it is time to head towards a claggy stony area and that is not so much fun.

Came in for a cuppa but must attack the giant water lily now.

What I learned today

10 October 2011 16:06:16
You can take cuttings from antirrhinums. Now I can never ever spell that plant so had to copy and paste. Anyway I have bought numerous packets of these to get the colours I want and today I decided to try cuttings, then came in to Google and find that it is possible. Probably no news to most of you !!  I love the white and have a lovely red too. Why not  collect  seeds you ask well  I have never managed to get seeds from the white one and anyway love taking cuttings.

My very informal pond.

09 October 2011 16:35:09
I tried to put it up here but the blooming cropping was a problem so it is going in an album.

SOS Water lily

09 October 2011 16:31:01
SOS    Water lily

SOS Water lily

I have a humongous water lily. Today I hauled some of it to the edge of the pond but it is so heavy I was sensible and stopped. Now in the photo ,if it is not cropped, you will see a big lump whitish looking due to the sun. Closest in the photo are two 'arms' one going to left  and one sort of straight ahead. The big lump extends under water . So what I need to know is can I saw off the two arms as they have new growth ? Then I may be able to drag the lump and the rest of it to the edge and dispose of the lump. Now that is all clear , no?  no way will I be able to get it all out.

Arising from Jacinta's journal

09 October 2011 10:49:20

For many years I have been interested in how gardens tell about the owner's personality , well at least some aspects of same. If I know nothing about an owner and just visit their garden I have a good idea of the person. I suppose this makes  sense because we create outside what we feel inside;) As with everything there are bound to be exceptions . My garden reflects the way I live my life so when you see it you will know a lot about me!!  Agree disagree?

Shredding and sundry stories

08 October 2011 23:38:53

Well today I confessed to Bruno the saga of the Shredder; briefly I jammed it the first time it was used!!!;this was a jam to beat all jams. But with the help of Hazel and Brendan who so kindly sent me instructions on how to remove the front panel , followed by a friend having to spend about 20 minutes prising out the lump of wood it is now working really well. Therefore a big outbreak of cutting down is taking place; piles of stuff waiting to be shredded , this machine and I are learning about what it likes and dislikes are but I have plenty of acceptable stuff to feed it. My garden is now looking rather grim with bits and pieces of cut down stuff littered all over the place. I had the day off today due to the rising at dawn for the match and needing to catch up with some sleep. Then the pleasure of Bruno coming for a visit and confessing my shredder misdeeds to him!!

I thought my plans for the new wall needed to be deferred as my JCB friend was in Hospital , doing well thankfully, but now it seems if I go ahead with the wall his machine can reach over and do the uproooting required.

So lots of work going on but good to be able to get out. Still bulbs to plant , maybe tomorrow  and hopefully my seeds will come on Monday. I will do an experiment with multipurpose and seed compost and see the results.


06 October 2011 19:02:06
Lovely photos of your garden and  Kilmacurragh. The latter has improved so much since I was there some time ago. The white Anemone in your garden appears double? If so I would love to hear the name.

Clematis campaniflora

06 October 2011 18:28:47
Clematis campaniflora

Clematis campaniflora

This is a lovely species clematis. The flowers are small, white with a blue tinge. The tips of the petals are reflexed and they look well 'cute'!  It makes massive growth and flowers around  August /Sept.  I tried to take pictures of the flower but can't get a sharp image. However the seed pods I find fascinating they look like stars, octopuses, space invaders, well whatever you like. I am showing a photo of these again not as sharp as I would like. The odd looking  'bars' in the background are corrugated plastic sheets. I took the pic inside where it had penetrated a gap at the top of the sheeting.It has set loads of seeds and 'they' say it grows easily from seed so I am giving it a try.

Seeds quickie

05 October 2011 16:34:13

Does anybody actually use seed compost for their seeds?

I usually use general purpose and a little sand but invested in seed compost today as many  seeds are about to arrive and the compost I have is very lumpy .

Oh the relief!

03 October 2011 20:55:52

No need to reply to this just doing a bit of sharing.

My shoulder had been very painful for the past week so today I gave in and called to my Doctor. He suggested he inject steroids into my shoulder and I cringed. The last time I had steroid for a frozen shoulder I writhed on the floor in agony for the night and it was hell for several days. So I was vewy  vewy scared. However good man that he is he gave me some magic tablets to take and so far not a sign of the dreadful pain. Bliss.

Hope it cures the shoulder now or maybe I should give my pick axe a rest!!

I know you will be please there is no writhing so don't wear out your fingers:)


03 October 2011 18:33:03

This is on the list of seeds I ordered , must have pressed the wrong button because  when I read about it the drug squad are likely to call!!

Postman cometh

03 October 2011 18:11:46

And beareth a parcel. I love when this happens as it is bound to be something I ordered and forgot!! Today it was Tulip tarda and Erythronium  pagoda.  Next to come should be seeds which include












Another project planned

01 October 2011 14:02:21
Parking area

Parking area

There is one outstanding area in my place that still needs attention. This is where I park my car as seen in the picture, it is , in reality, more grotty looking than the picture.

The area is slightly raised as a lot of rubble from some demolition was put there.

Now I have no obvious entry to my garden so the plan is as follows. From the point on the left where I had faced a red brick raised bed with stone a block wall about 3 feet high will form a semi circle around leaving a 4 foot gap to the right of the yellow tree where the main entrance will be. I hope to have two shallow steps down into the tree/shrub part of the garden which is still developing but is a peaceful sort of place. From there you will reach the rest of the garden. The blocks will be plastered unevenely to suit the walls of the cottage and painted the same yellow as the cottage. It means my stone cladding will have to come down but not to worry. It would be too expensive to have a dry stone wall built and I think the block idea will work well. At a few points behind the wall there will be mini raised beds just the width of a block in which I can put some plants to fall over the wall and soften it. I would hope at some stage to have an arch at the entrance .

I have done a deal with a block person so it should be done within a month or so.

The photo is cropped so the stone clad part on the left is not shown.


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