Last Post 1333 days 6 hours ago
27 September 2009 20:42:07
My Ancient Buxus Hedge
I'm supposed to be doing an assignment on propagation but I keep getting distracted and reading peoples' journals when I should be studying. I never really thought about it but us gardeners are like scientists doing experiments on an on-going basis! For example, when we take cuttings we are actually cloning plants. I have whole hedges made of plant clones that came from a box tree in my Nana's garden, which has since disappeared but in reality it lives on in my hedge. And when we swap plants they are often the result of division or cuttings that are actually Clones as well. So in reality in many gardens you could say there is an Attack of the Clones going on out there!
26 September 2009 02:04:52
Speckled Wood butterfly on Leek flower
I wouldn't have won any prizes for my veg growing this year but I just might if there was a prize for vegetable flowers! The leeks that were too scrawny to harvest, I left them to flower and now I have some lovely 'Alliums'. One of them is over 4ft tall. I'll have to get one of the kids to stand next to it and take a photo. But for now the butterflies and hoverflies are enjoying them. Not much being done in the garden at the moment inspite of the good weather. One side of the garden is like a dustbowl its so dry, so all I've done is a bit of watering. I've been so busy inside, the garden has been neglected again!
19 September 2009 09:00:32
Had a brief but very enjoyable visit to Janette's garden yesterday and came away loaded up with aubergines, tomatoes, spinach and eggs. I had a couple of things I wanted to give her for her white garden and have been wanting to see her garden for a while, so I picked the kids up from school and headed up there - its just over half an hour from me, past the afore mentioned Fore Abbey, although it took a bit longer due to a wrong turn. The kids had great fun playing in the huge sandpit and Janettes's little boy Setanta was so good to share all his lovely toys. As Janette's photos show she has done a huge amount of work in her garden - the veg beds and recycled glass house are fantastic and she has a huge crop of veg coming on - carrots, parsnips, kale,cabbages and they will be eating brussels sprouts until they come out their ears. I know where I will be going to get my sprouts at christmas.
I saw the planned White border, and I really admire Janette's self control as she is holding off planting anything until she is sure of the overall desired effect. It will be great to see it as it evolves. There are lots of lovely trees coming on - a lovely swamp cypress, red oak and purple birch, and loads of fruit trees and shrubs too. I'm looking forward to my next visit already. Among the plants I brought were a little piece of Rachel's Persicaria and one of Liga's Husker red Penstemons that I was given at Belvedere so there will be a few members represented in the White border. I didn't have my camera but Janette has loads of photos up. Maybe I'll put up a photo of the Aubergine Lasagne I'm planning to try to make!
16 September 2009 18:14:51
It was a gorgeous day at Kilquade on Sunday and I was very impressed with the number of gardens on show there. I would definitely recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in gardening - particularly if you have a new area to develop, or an old area to redevelop as there are so many different styles you are bound to be inspired. Actually, come to think of it, I didn't see any gardens with fruit and veg areas, so maybe they have yet to embrace the trend for GYI, although there were pineapples growing in the Eco Dome! It was great to be able to stroll around the gardens with fellow gardeners Clara and Claire E. There are gardens by the winning designers at Bloom. I especially liked the 'Jurasic Park' style garden - I don't know the proper name for it - but it was all tree ferns and pink stone.
Over 1200 euro was raised for the Niall Mellon Trust, which is good, but more is needed. As Clara said, the kids had the chance to work on some mosaic tiles that will be included in the Community gardens in the areas of Capetown where the teams of builders will be working.
Normal admission to the gardens is 6 euro per adult so its well worth it for the amount of gardens you get to see. Some might need a little attention but on the whole the standard is very good and I loved the various sculptures dotted around. The kids loved all the water features(and would have had no problem going for a dip!), the hammock and pet shop. My kids now want a Chinchilla for christmas!
On the way home I picked up the Holly from Claire E - it is huge - I don't know how we got it in the car without having to cut the top off. All I'll say is it was an unusually quiet journey home as the kids were afraid of the slightly prickly leaves above their heads! Thank you Claire and Clara thanks for those two lovely Cannas and the whistlestop tour of your garden! I've never had a Canna before so will be looking for tips on the best way to look after them. A great day all round!
13 September 2009 09:13:38
Fore Nursery and view of Fore Abbey
How about this for a nursery location - overlooking the historic Fore Abbey which was founded in the year 630 by St. Feichan. Among the interesting things about Fore are the 7 Wonders of Fore which are :The monastery built on a bog, the mill without a race, the water that flows uphill, the tree that won't burn, the water that won't boil, the anchorite in a stone and the lintel-stone raised by St. Feichin's Prayers.
The nursery is a small operation and some of the older stock is missing lables but there are plenty of interesting plants and they grow fruit and veg to sell on fridays at the Square in Castlepollard and in Ashbourne on another day I think. I picked up a few heathers for window boxes - including some St Dabeoc's heath (with the urn shaped flowers much bigger than the normal heathers) in white and pink, an Eryngium umbelliferum which I am already picturing in my seaside garden! Also some dark leaved Dahlias - one a pink one I think is a Bishop- must be Rita's influence, and an orange Helenium for a nice bit of colour. There was also a purple Eucomis and pink Alstromeria I had to leave behind as I had to save some cash for Kilquade today. Speaking of which it's time to get a move on!
12 September 2009 08:42:53
The last of the apples on the trees have been taken over by wasps, so much so that it is dangerous to even attepmt picking any that are still intact. The Discovery ones don't keep very well once picked so it couldn't be helped. Next year I'll have to make a load of apple jelly. Its kind of funny seeing the wasps with their bottoms in the air as they demolish the apples, but obviously it wouldn't be funny to be stung. There were a couple of butterflies feeding on them too. I'm planning to head up to a little nursery at Fore today to get some heathers for some window boxes and go for a stoll around the lovely Fore Abbey.
11 September 2009 19:41:50
Red Admiral Flutterby
Its so great for the kids to be able to play in the garden without their Wellies on! What a beautiful day. There were moments of panic when we realised a mouse had drowned in the paddling pool, and when the two boys were stung by nettles at the same time. But with some 'doctor' leaves applied quickly all was well, and they were running around again. It was as if the sun gave them extra energy like the butterfly, or should I say Flutterby, pictured. Wish the same could be said for me but I did absolutely no gardening - too busy enjoying the sunshine!
08 September 2009 17:54:16
Fionn Tra, Skerries
While in Skerries a couple of weeks ago I visited the garden of Colm Keane. I've been meaning to write about it for ages but haven't had the time to do it justice, but now that the little people have settled back to school I have time to think!
Colm has a normal sized garden in a row of houses facing the sea on the outskirts of Skerries. The garden has the delightful name 'Fionn Tra'. For a small garden there is a lot going on. I had admired it for years from the upstairs window of the 33 bus, but one day I was passing on my way to the beach with the boys and Colm just happened to be out in his garden. I asked if I could take some pictures of his immaculately kept front garden. It was full of colour in a very controlled palete - mostly orange, reds, yellows and browns provided in part by Gazanias, Begonias, gorgeous dark leaved Dahlias, Phormiums in all the different colours available, Cannas and Geraniums . There is a lovely Phormium with coral pink tones that picks up the coral pink of the geraniums used as bedding around the edge of the velvet lawn. Foliage plants include Lonicera bag's gold which has a feathery air when not pruned, impressive Agaves in pots and placed as different heights, Astelias, ferns and the variegated red, cream and green Houttuynia. After I had photographed every possible angle he asked if I would like to see the back garden which he said was totally different to the front. And it certainly was.
In a corner of the front garden is a hint of what is to come in the back. No driveway here - plants get pride of place in this front garden. Two very healthy looking bonsai trees in their shallow ceramic pots flank the path. Visitors to the house must feel like giants with these miniature trees at their feet. And it must be difficult to keep them looking so good with the salty winds sucking the moisture from their tiny leaves. There is a small Japanese influenced sculpture garden to the right of the front door. In the front garden plants are crammed in – there is not a bare inch of soil to be seen. The gravel along the path echoes the shingle on the beach that is quite literally a stone’s throw away.
The back garden is more restrained and restful. A much more private space, the main feature of which is what you could call a Japanese picture garden, positioned to be viewed from the sitting room sliding door. Looking at it I was transported from a vibrant Irish seaside garden to a restful corner of Japan. It takes up about a quarter of the back garden and is a tranquil, meditative space. Since visiting the garden I’ve been reading about Japanese style and how Japanese gardeners aim to distil nature down to a garden scale using the elements of water, stone and plant-life. The beauty of Japanese style gardens is that they are almost unchanging throughout the year, except maybe for the leaves that colour and fall in autumn and the transient flowering of some trees in the spring. Japanese gardens do not depend on flowers for year-round impact, and give the gardener more of a feeling of being in control. Generally plants chosen are not particularly vigorous and do not outgrow their allotted space too quickly.
The circular stone which acts as the entrance step to the picture garden was retrieved from the beach. Interestingly a custom in Japanese gardens is to position stones and rocks in exactly the same orientation that they were found in nature. A practice that is difficult to honour today when most rocks would be bought at the garden centre!
I loved the little moss gardens in pots either side of the stone step – so simple and providing added interest. They would make a nice feature on a balcony and give an aura of restful meditation.
As my boys soon learned there is not a stone out of place in this garden! Around the garden are clues to Colm’s working life – a shed door adored with a map of Japan in red and black, a map of the Emerald Isle, an armillary sphere, a weather vane, not to mention plants from every corner of the globe point to the fact that he is a Geography teacher by profession.
Other features in the back garden were a gingerbread-house-like shed, a lovely lemon-painted metal table and chairs, a gazebo adorned with an imperial looking eagle, and birdcages that would make you think of the oriental story of the Nightingale. Tucked away in another corner are the practicalities like the greenhouse and washing line.
Colm has won a number of awards for his garden over the years but his motivation is definitely for his own enjoyment, and that of passers-by I might add.
Colm was not actually aware of Garden.ie so I told him about it in the hope that he would sign up. I’ve put lots of photos in the album ‘Fionn Tra’, Skerries.
07 September 2009 22:24:44
My Mam cut down a cordyline a while back and left the sections of trunk in a corner of the garden. To my surprise one of them started to sprout leaves and roots so I saved it from being dumped as I thought it deserved a second chance. Its about 2 feet tall and you'd be waiting a couple of years for one to grow to that height but I still haven't managed to plant it. The top of the stump is a little ugly maybe but once (if) the shoots keep growing I think it'll look all right. For now it is sitting in a bucket of water waiting patiently - but I know I can't leave it for too long or it will start to rot. I think I need to invest in a big pot. Cordyines always remind me of the seaside which you'd miss here in the midlands.
04 September 2009 17:08:42
Lobelia siphilitica also called Blue Cardinal flower
This Lobelia siphilitica is an american native with blue flowers that look a little like sage, although they are more showy. Apparently the name comes from the fact that is was used to cure syphilis. I prefer the name Blue Cardinal flower or Great Blue Lobelia.
02 September 2009 16:06:10
I found a bag of old spuds in the shed yesteday and was amazed to see that there were already dozens of little spuds growing from the sprouts. And not a leaf in site. It just goes to show how easy it is to grow them as they really want to grow and reproduce. I wonder if I left them would I have had some nice homegrown Kerr's Pinks for Christmas dinner!
01 September 2009 23:03:04
And he's off!
With a mixture of nerves and excitement Eoin started school today. We asked him what he learned and he said he learned how to sneeze into his elbow!
01 September 2009 10:35:43
Aster Twilight and Headgardener's Carex
Its hard to believe the summer is at an end. Its also hard not to feel cheated by the weather this summer but there's no point complaining. There is still a glimmer of hope for an Indian summer but already the leaves are turning - the liquidamber is showing lots of colour as are the beech trees across the road and there are already lots of bright red rosehips around, but its a little soon for me really. I've been away from home for the last 3 weeks and wasn't expecting to come home to autumn!
One thing I was delighted to see was the Aster 'Twilight' which is appropriately named for this time of year in the garden. I planted it with the brown grass I got from Headgardener at Belvedere, and I like the combination. I have crocosmia Lucifer nearby and the colour is fantastic.