Last Post 1236 days 21 hours ago
31 December 2009 19:20:28
What ails my Guzmania?
This morning I noticed that my Guzmania wasn't looking too healthy. The leaves are turning brown. I brought it downstairs for closer inspection. The flower was rotten and came off in my hand when I touched it. It wall all gooey and slimey. I thought that the bathroom would be the ideal place for this. Obviously I was wrong. Yeuch. It was disgusting. I only have it since the beginning of September. However, I cut off the flower down quite low. I really don't know what else to do with it. All advice would be most welcome.
31 December 2009 17:52:44
Very cold here all day. Nice blue skies now and then, in between very frequent showers of hail and sleet. Spent the whole morning outside trying locate pots for plants under the benches. The place looks a mess. All the leaves from the neighbouring trees had blown into the garden centre. And lids of bins were everywhere. Oh what a nightmare!
But on the positive side, you will never guess what I saw in the warehouse yard? It was a fox. I don't know how long he has been there, and he looks quite young. As soon as he saw me, he scurried underneath a pile of empty pallets. Luckily the lads who work in the warehouse were off today so their 'toing and froing' didn't scare him. I left him in peace. On Monday, I will have to give him some pet food, if he is still there. Has anybody any idea whether dogfood or catfood would be best? And Murphys Law, I didnt have a camera with me. I have to buy one tomorrow. This is the best news. This is very odd not having a photo for my journal.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY!
31 December 2009 08:33:56
Broken nyjer feeder :(
I have just been outside to inspect the garden before I head off to work. The bird feeder was knocked onto the ground, together with my nyjer feeder for the finches, which seems to be broken. The lid won't stay on. Hopefully Steve can work some magic on it when he gets home. My Jasminum nudiflorum has been blown to bits. So far, that's the only damage I can find.
My camera is definitely on the blink. It wouldn't switch on yesterday morning, but worked when I got home from work. Now it isn't working again. It must be only 6months old and of course the guarantee is nowhere to be found. So this picture was taken with my old camera. This is on the blink too, god knows how long it will work for. I think I will be getting a new camera at the weekend, when I get my new alarm clock. Maybe Santa should pay just ONE more visit to me before the year is out!!!!!!!!!!!
30 December 2009 20:08:55
Great tits in the Garden Centre
I have fat balls hung out in the garden centre. And I hung a nesting box outside too. I bought a bag of birdseed that attracts things like robins, wrens, tits and woodpeckers. Ok no woodpeckers yet, but yesterday and today there were plenty of tits devouring the fat balls, the wrens are a bit shyer. We also get a lot of blackbirds. They eat all the berries from the Solanums. I have to tidy them up all the time.
And you wouldn't believe this, but during October, I think the Wrens had a nest in a bag of compost. They were flying in and out of it all the time. But it couldn't be sold for full price because of all the holes, so the Manager sold it for half price. He did this on one of my days off. I could have killed him.
30 December 2009 17:32:27
More seeds for next Year
Pat remarked on my early journal this morning. In answer to his question, yes I posted it at 05.17. My alarm clock exploded before Christmas so I have the one on my phone set. It's set for 6.00am. It's a long time since I heard an alarm, as I am usually up well before it is due to go off. However, the digits on my phone are very difficult to see when you are half asleep. I thought it was 5.30am this morning so I decided to get up anyway. Just out of the shower and went downstairs to discover it was actually only 4.30am. No point in going back to bed. I really have to get a new clock at the weekend.
What a day it was today. Torrential rain and storm force winds. This was one occasion when I actually didn't mind tending to the indoor plants. And the weather seems to be getting worse. I have put 2 more types of seeds on my list for next year, Malope and Pyrethrum.
Pyrethrum belongs to the Asteracaea family. This is a hardy perennial. It's sown in May, transplanted to final position in autumn for flowers the following spring.The flowers are more DOUBLE from the 2nd year onwards. So they should be worth the wait.
Malope 'Strawberries and Cream' is a vigorous plant. It is a hardy annual and comes in shades of crimson, rose and white, which are supposed to be easy to grow. I have never grown either of these before, so I am looking forward to the results.
30 December 2009 05:17:32
Turnip 'Purple Top Milan'
Last night I posted a journal listing all the crops I intend to sow for next year. But I think maybe I have bitten off more than I can chew (literally) in my enthusiasm to get going. Realistically speaking, I would NOT be able to devote the space required for all of that. So I have decided to condense that list somewhat and hold over a lot of the seeds that I have already bought. I think they should be ok for next year.
My new list is now as follows. Basil, Hungarian Hot Wax (peppers), Turnip, Tumbling Tom tomatoes, Crystal Apple cucumber, runner beans 'Painted Lady' and only one type of melon. I also intend to sow my own corn. Far more realistic list.
It looks like I am going to have to root out my Gondola from the garage to get to work today. It has been lashing here in Dublin since yesterday morning and the wind is howling around the house like a banshee.
29 December 2009 18:15:08
I am very impatient to get things going again in the garden. I have a heap of seeds that I will be growing for next year. But it's the waiting that I get p.....d off with. Yea, you have guessed, patience is NOT one of my virtues. And before you all say it, I Know. I just HAVE to wait. But it's killing me. I feel that I am in a bit of a Limbo right now. I have very little to report on my recent gardening activities. And I suppose that makes me feel very frustrated. Now that Christmas is over, I want to be doing something constructive. However, all I can do now is plan where everything is going to go. Maybe I could rent a little corner of Chilipeppers new Allotment!!
I will be sowing seeds of Sweet Basil, Garlic Chives, Turnip, Pepper 'Hungarian Hot Wax', and 'Heatwave', and 'Hamik'. I have already sown some tomato 'Alicante' seeds, and soon more tomatoes 'russian black', onion seeds 'Brunswick' (I have usually only planted onion sets, but these are seeds), hanging basket tomatoes 'Tumbling Tom' Red, Cucumber 'Crystal Apple',Climbing Beans 'Sultana', broad beans 'Aquadulce', dwarf beans 'Purple Queen', Runner beans 'Painted Lady', and Mangetout pea 'Reuzenzuiker'. I have two other types of peppers to sow, which I bought in Lanzarote, and 2 types of melons, and 1 watermelon, and parsley. I wonder would the fellow next door even notice if I knocked the wall down between us and took over some of his garden. He's never there. It seems such a waste of land.
29 December 2009 07:19:34
Oh for a bit of sun!
I hate getting up in the dark, but my body clock won't let me stay in bed. Looking forward to the bright mornings. This morning I had a great sense of relief when I saw the roads seem to be ok. Very windy though. Can't wait to be coming home from work in daylight. And kicking off the safety boots and donning the gardening gear to potter around, working until lack of daylight forces me to stop. Can't wait to see the results of my new plans for the front garden. Can't wait to have loads of colour in the garden, and having dinner outside on the patio, a few drinks, nice music and great company. Ooooo roll on the summer. Oops, lets not by-pass Spring. But unfortunately the weathermen have predicted this rotten weather until 6th January at least. Let's hope it will just be a small blip on the barometer.
28 December 2009 21:14:49
Field Guide to the Birds of Britain & Ireland
Here is another excellent book on birds. This also has just sketches, and includes females, and juvenile plumage. I find this excellent. It also tells you what habitat a certain bird prefers. I find this quite useful. This is by John Gooders. This is my 'Bird Bible', even though the first 80 pages are given over to foul. Not bad since there are 284 pages in it.
28 December 2009 18:18:10
Heron - cold and hungry!
It put the fear of God into me this morning when I pulled back the curtains. White everywhere. While looking out into the garden, I spotted the Heron across the field. I felt a bit sorry for him. He was looking cold and hungry. You could see him pivotting around, hoping to spot something nice for his breakfast. Maybe a nice field mouse or a vole. He certainly wasn't going to catch any fish this morning, all the ponds were frozen thick.
Poor Steve got dragged out of bed to give me a lift into work. Roads were really bad. Business was dreadful today too. Nobody in their right mind would venture out today unless they really had to. But it gave me the perfect opportunity to spend a bit of time watching the Robins, and now Great Tits, in the garden centre. Photos in Dec 09 album. I bought loads more birdseed today. One bag to attract Bullfinches, Greenfinches, Tree Sparrows, Starlings, Chaffinches, GreatTtits, BlueTits, Coal Tits and Hedge Sparrows. Another bag to attract Woodpeckers, Tits and Robins. And a tub of Dried Mealworms to attract Wrens, and Dunnocks. Hopefully it will 'up' the species of birds in my garden. Business picked up a bit in the afternoon. But there was a thick freezing fog descending everywhere by 2.30. Got a lift home also. Dropped into Dad. By the time I was leaving his house at 5.30, the paths and roads were becoming glassy. I'm dreading tomorrows' road conditions.
27 December 2009 21:09:55
Since joining Garden.ie my small front garden has been almost totally neglected. All I have done there is a small bit of weeding, and a weekly grass cut. I am not fond of my front garden, and in fact, I rarely even cast it much more than a glance, since I reverse into it after work every day. However, when Fran came to visit, I was suddenly very aware that something just HAD to be done about it. There is a 2ft bed running down one side of it with a mixture of things (Hydrangea, Hebes, geraniums, Cytisus, and 2 large prunus (Don't know which ones), and Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis). There is also a small bed running under the front window with lots of montbretia (which are a b.... to try to remove) and a few daffs. The area which will be getting the make-over measures roughly 20feet x 30ft. The rest of the garden is in concrete for the cars. All in all, the garden is sooooo boring.
However, just now, I have done my first draft of what will become of it. It will be VERY different. The plants that I wish to put in include Epimedium acuminatum, Heuchera 'Chocolate Ruffles', different types of echeverias, sempervivums, Lithodora diffusa 'Heavenly Blue' (Love this plant), Bellis perennis, Schizostylis (Kaffir Lily), Thalictrum 'Hewitt's Double', Helianthus 'Irish Eyes', Gentians, Fuchsia 'Lady Thumb' and 'Tom Thumb', Fascicularia Pitcairnifolia (Baboon's Bum), Camassia, and Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra' (Japanese Blood Grass). And I plan on getting rid of the grass completely. I can't find the time to keep on cutting it, so it usually ends up a right mess.
WATCH THIS SMALL SPACE!!!!!!!!!
27 December 2009 17:23:20
Sign of Hope!
It seems just recently that all of us here have taken steps to ward off the cold on all our tender little babies. I don't think ANY of us could have predicted this major cold spell. And so early too.
It goes to show, it always pays off to be (or TRY to be) one step ahead of Mother Nature. Although, in saying that, she always amazes us in what she can produce. I was led to believe that Musa was VERY frost tender. And yet today in the greenhouse, I witnessed lovely new growth, in spite of that Siberian weather that has gripped the country over the last couple of weeks. And I don't even have horticultural fleece over anything in the greenhouse. Simply amazing!
27 December 2009 13:00:49
Some of my downstairs plants!
Ok It really doesn't suit me to be stuck indoors for too long. I haven't been outside the house since Christmas eve, apart from filling up feeders, and giving fresh water to the birds in the garden.
I am just finished watering all my downstairs plants. I have a better photo in my Dec 09 album. Cut back one of my orchids, and fed my phalaenopsis. It's still looking good. Hyacinths doing well. Amaryllis beautiful. All my small christmas cacti (schlumbergera) are beginning to flower.
Thank God I am back to work tomorrow. I need a break from sitting on this chair in front of the computer. I could end up looking like Spongebob Squarepants. I am NOT a tv person. And at this time of year nobody here even wants dinner, we all just seem to pick at the Christmas leftovers. I am so bored.
All the frost has thawed out, thank God. But it is still cold and showery.
13.45. Just in from the garden. It is a total mess. The grass is like a field. It really needs a cut at the first opportunity. I have checked and watered everything in the greenhouse. Can you believe it. Musa is supposed to be tender. And there are new shoots on it. And to think I was going to cover it with fleece. Everything looking grand in there. I didn't get to eat my own sprouts for Christmas dinner, they are still far too small. I reckon I will be waiting another 3 weeks maybe.
26 December 2009 20:05:58
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant, growing on trees such as apple, crab apple, lime, black poplar, ash, sycamore, pear etc. It will not harm an established healthy tree. The large sticky white berries are very popular with the birds, especially blackcap and mistlethrush, who help to disperse the seeds. February or March is the best time to plant the mistletoe berries. Simply smear the berry onto a crevice or fissure in the bark. Or for better results, you can make a small incision into the bark first. Tie the berry in with cotton bandage. This will protect it from insects and snails, as well as reminding you where it is planted. The seeds may take a couple of years to germinate. But isn't anything worth a try. And if it DOES germinate, that means an extra course for the birds. I don't have ANY of the trees mentioned above, but maybe I can plant the berries on my False Acacia (Robinia Pseudoacacia Frisia).
26 December 2009 19:16:56
One of my first jobs for the new year, when climate permits, is to dig out an old ivy in my shady border. I know that is just going to take forever. In its place I will be planting Mitraria coccinea (Mitre Bush). This is a shrub that I have had in a pot behind the greenhouse for at least 5 or more years, and totally forgotten about. But I plan to rectify this situation. Mitraria coccinea is a shade loving, evergreen shrub that has climbing tendencies. It is best if you give it a regular pruning. It is a vigorous grower. It flowers usually from May to July. I really don't know how this shrub is still growing in its' really cramped conditions. Hopefully, it will reward me by giving me its best possible perfomance once it is released from its' prison.
26 December 2009 17:42:47
Great Christmas pressies again this year, crystal, jewellery, cosmetics, confectionary etc. Disappointing amount of garden-related gifts though. Kim gave me, as a little extra with my pressie, 2 pods containing Golden Berry seeds, and Mimosa.
These seed pods contain all you need to grow the seeds. Golden Berry (Physalis pruinosa) is a 'frost tender' so they will be grown in pots and kept in the greenhouse over the summer. Mimosa pudica (pudica is Latin for shy or bashful). This is also called the Sensitive Plant. The leaflets fold up in a most spectacular manner when touched or blown by the wind. Run your hand over the plant and the leaves will fold up and the leaf stalk will drop as if on a hinge. The movements are quickest with youngest plants, in bright sunshine. (Let's hope we get some). They return to their normal conditions in a few minutes. This is a bushy mat-forming annual.
26 December 2009 16:51:01
This year I just have to make a conscious effort to bring back my older amaryllis. It's just sulking inside on the windowsill, with just one leaf. Nothing happening with it just yet.
But when you look at the bulb in full growth, and flower, it is so stately and almost regal. That will be my next challenge, to get my older one to flower a second time. Here is a photo of my latest one. Gorgeous. Just waiting for the second stem to start flowering.
25 December 2009 23:27:51
ICE, ICE, BABY!
Santa arrived last night at 11.30pm. Up this morning at 5.00am and started dinner preparations. I had the table set by 8.00am. So nobody was allowed to sit at the table when they got up. I ushered them straight into the living room with their breakfasts, for once. Steve's Mam and Dad came over for dinner. This Christmas was a big milestone for Kathleen. This day last year, she was taken into hospital with an internal bleed. She subsequently suffered a major stroke and brain haemorrhage in February when Steve and I had just arrived in Barbados. She was given her 'last rites' and we expected to see her on a life-support machine when we eventually managed to get back home. But she has fought and fought and today, she was the 'belle of the ball'. Full of fun and wit. Ok not the way she used to be, but to see such a major improvement in a person so sick, is just amazing. The whole day was great from beginning to end. And today I perfected the art of 'delegation'. Ha ha. I was never so relaxed. Thanks Steve for everything.
Just took a few photos out in the garden this morning (dec 09 album). It was magical. I prepared a little banquet for the birds, chopped apple and bananas. And I filled up their 'hot tub' again. We didn't need our spare fridge today. As you can see, we used our very own OUTDOOR WINE COOLER. There was nearly an inch of ice on the smaller pond.
I am beginning to flag now. I think it's time to retire for the night. Hope everybody had as good a day as I did. Goodnight all.
24 December 2009 05:52:35
An end to the cold spell!
Thanks be to God the heavy frost and snow have disappeared. You have no idea how nervous I get, especially when having to walk in these conditions. All week I have been getting taxis to and from work. I would not be confident enough to drive in those conditions. And I CERTAINLY would NOT walk in them (I've got 2 dodgy knees).But luckily all signs of frost are nowhere to be seen this morning. Phew! Such Relief! I really think that NOBODY should have to work on Christmas Eve :(. C'est la vie. Right now, the plants in my garden are getting a nice gentle watering (from the rain) and it hasn't rained all week, so they must be parched.
I still have a few more bits and pieces to get, after work. So when I get home, it's a dial-a-chinese and a couple of beverages. Santa will be coming to our house just after midnight. Should be good.
Talk soon. :) :) :) Have a nice day!!!
23 December 2009 20:53:16
Who has been good or bad!!!!!!!!!!
Just in case I don't get the opportunity to log on tomorrow night, (working from 8.00am till 5 :( ) I want to wish EVERYBODY a very Happy Christmas, and a very prosperous New Year. Thanks to Garden.ie for, not only great advice on gardening issues, but the building up of a network of great friends. Long may it last. Without Garden.ie since joining in April, I would surely have ended up in a mental home. Ha ha. Actually, maybe it's not too late. Happy Christmas Everybody!!!!!!!!!
23 December 2009 18:32:41
It looks like my robin decided to have a good wash before Santa's arrival and as you can see he is clearly enjoying it. I put the boiling water in to the saucer again this morning, to melt the ice. Then filled it up again. All we were short of was some lovely Bubble Bath. Ha ha
23 December 2009 17:58:23
Just in time!
Went off to do the final bit of shopping in town today. By 4.00 it was starting to get a bit manic to say the least. My cue to hop on a bus home. Anyway, my bags were beginning to make my arms ache. Got home and noticed that one of my 3 ordinary hyacinth bulbs decided to make an appearance while I was out. Just in time for Christmas.
23 December 2009 08:19:06
'Tis the season to be Jolly!!!!!!!!!
I was given today off to do my Christmas shopping. Any other time that I went off to do this, I just came back with insignificant bits and pieces, and gardening books. Today, it's down to serious business. If I don't get something TODAY, it won't be GOT at all. Let's face it, there is usually more CRAP bought for pressies. But like Rachel, and even though my kids are NOT kids anymore, I still do a 'layout' on my bed to make sure that they both have roughly the same amount of stuff. Sad, I know.
Even though we have passed the 'shortest day', has anyone noticed how much later daylight is showing itself. 8.20am and it's still quite dark!
22 December 2009 22:16:25
For Fran! Or anybody else.
Fran, can you identify this bird, seems that you are the expert. He was in the garden centre today. Bigger than a robin, roughly the same size as a sparrow, but much rounder. Bad photo, I know, but do your best. It will be clearer in my Dec 09 album
22 December 2009 20:47:33
I'm Still Standing.......
As you can see, the break in the stem has made no real difference to the flower.
22 December 2009 20:16:54
Nearly a disaster!
I was saying on one of my journals how there were 2 stems on my amaryllis. One was growing straight up. The other was growing at 45 degree angle. It was really getting up my nose, so the other evening, I tried to coax it very gently to grow upright. When I got it as far as I would dare, I tied it to the straight stem with a nice red ribbon, for Christmas. But this morning I discovered that the 45 degree stem actually broke. Flower is still fine though, amazingly enough. And improving despite its accident.
22 December 2009 17:48:24
With all the Christmas Greetings going round on this site in the last few days, I feel like I am going to be the only one here over the Festive Season. I have no intention of switching off my computer just because it's Christmas. I only hope I don't have to post comments on my OWN journal. Ha ha.
21 December 2009 19:13:26
Crazy little robin
I have a glazed saucer on one of my patio tables, beside a lot of the bird feeders. This morning the water that I put out yesterday was obviously frozen solid. Each day I either top the water up, or refill it after washing the saucer. But this morning I boiled a kettle to try and melt the water that was already in it. Before I had the chance to go back inside, there was a robin bathing in it. It must have still been freezing. Crazy!!!!!
21 December 2009 18:26:20
Today we got in a consignment of indoor plants. Great value. I was weak again. Bought 3 different types of ferns which I will plant into the one container. However the names of these weren't on the pots. So having done a bit of looking up, I have found the names of only 2 of them. The other one remains a mystery. I will put them into my 'Houseplants' Album to see if anyone can tell me the last ones' name. Great value at only €1.99. These would be great planted up together in a nice container to give as a decent enough Christmas gift. Maybe even strategically placing some glazed stones of different sizes, or a small piece of driftwood. Or even a simple little robin.
21 December 2009 07:37:10
New reading material
Sometimes I wish my Birthday was in June or July. It doesn't feel like it's YOUR special day, as there are so many Christmas presents flying around at this time of year. But on the plus side, everybody is in great spirits so they all partake in the celebrations, and you imagine that they are doing it purely for YOU. A very Happy Birthday to anyone who celebrates during this 'silly season'.
I got lovely pressies yesterday, and amongst them was a great book voucher. Looking forward to heading into Chapters during the January sales to spend this. My eldest daughter, Kim (22yrs) sauntered in last night at 11.00 o'clock, just as I was comtemplating going to bed. She presented me with a very heavy parcel. My God, she knows me so well. Big chocolate cake, and even brought her own candles. And a very heavy parcel which contained a BIG Gardening Book. She must have muscles on her muscles after carrying it. Luckily she had the intelligence to get a taxi. Oh never again, chocolate cake that was so rich and almost as heavy as the book. Ha ha. And at THAT hour of the night. God bless her little heart. I am so delighted with this pressie. At least now I have new reading material over the Christmas, without having to do a trip into town.
Can't wait to finish work today so I can get stuck into this Two Volume A-Z encyclopedia of GARDEN PLANTS. You may never hear from me again. Hee hee.
So once again, everybody who has their birthday at this time of year, HAVE A HAPPY ONE.
AND PLEASE TAKE CARE ON THE ROADS THIS MORNING!!!!!!!!!!!
20 December 2009 17:32:05
Cocktail time is upon us once again. What a way to enjoy unusual beverages. And what better time, than Christmas.
Let's try a 'Red Mist' (Red being the festive colour)
1 Measure of De Kuyper cherry Brandy
Top up with Champagne
1 Measure of Cranberry Juice
This is a delicate cocktail with cherry and berry flavours blended with champagne. Build above ingredients in champagne flutes. Stir gently and serve.
20 December 2009 08:32:53
', Baby, it's cold outside'
It looks like there won't be a whole lot done in the garden today. It is so cold out there. Grass covered in thick hard frost. Two ponds frozen over. I hope the fish survive, especially the ones in the new pond as this is much shallower than the old one.
The roads are looking pretty treacherous out there. And I have more Christmas shopping to do. Why did I leave it so late this year! I think today might be a good day for catching up on my 'Library' and sitting by the open fire with a nice cup of cocoa!
19 December 2009 20:53:49
Funny how the seasons change, and the garden pests. Slugs and snails in the summer. Birds in the winter. Ha ha I don't consider them pests at all, actually. But they really should be a little bit more considerate. Here is the damage the blackbirds have done to my 3 pots of cyclamen. I have added a few more pics into my 'Birds in my garden' album.
19 December 2009 20:24:46
I managed to get everything done today on my list of jobs except the baking. My cake and pudding are already made (the girls did them). But I still need to bake the mince pies. I feel a trip to Aldi coming on tomorrow. It's probably cheaper to buy them. And I love their 'Stollen'. I did a bit more tidying in the garden. I also noticed that my cyclamen in pots have been absolutely pulled apart by the blackbirds. I witnessed them doing it. Maybe I shouldn't put so much feed out for them. Ha ha. Not a problem. It was only the ones in pots that were uprooted. The ones in the ground are still fine.
I sowed some tomato seeds too. They are 'Alicante', sowed 3 seeds to each of the 8 pots (11cm) so I can afford to have a few failures.
I potted up my Grevillea, and the last of the daffs. That's a relief. Steve hung the bird box up finally. It looks great. And it wasn't long before the robins were landing on it and sussing it out.
19 December 2009 18:31:41
Since becoming part of the Garden Bird Survey, I have noticed a fierce amount of activity in my garden. I am sure it was always like that, but it takes something like this for us to appreciate the pure volume of feathered friends that visit us on regular basis. In the last week, I have noticed so many species. Amongst those are blackbirds, sparrows, wood pigeons, crows, bluetits, wrens, magpies, gulls, starlings, robins, thrushes, together with 2 species of birds which I was not aware of in the locality, goldfinches and dunnocks. "Dunnocks?" I hear you say. A dunnock is so similar to a sparrow. It is sometimes called a 'hedge sparrow'. It is of a much shyer nature than a sparrow, and feeds mainly from the ground on insects and seeds. Its' beak is much smaller than a sparrow. And then there was 'the heron', not quite in my garden this morning, but flying overhead.
19 December 2009 10:07:07
Just spotted the heron on a rooftop across the wall of our back garden. He flew into a tree where the magpies have been building their nest. He had a good nosey around and caused a terrible ruckus with the magpies. I just hope he keeps his distance.
19 December 2009 06:29:24
enough light for tomatoes
I have so many non-gardening jobs to get done today. I am beginning to resent this festive occasion. I still havent finished my christmas shopping. I also have to make room in Kims bedroom (she moved out in August) for a lot of the houseplants that I have acquired over the last couple of months.
I have to bake today too. And get my hair done, and visit Dad. But after all that, I must sow my first tomato seeds. Hopefully the bedroom light being on 24/7 will give them enough light. Maybe I should get a higher wattage bulb. Just looking at my sprouts yesterday, they seem a bit small. I was hoping to serve them for Christmas dinner. But sometimes small is best. We'll see. I also have to plant the last of the daffs, and my newly-acquired Grevillea into a nice pot that I bought during the week. I think with this cold weather, it might be a bad idea watering everything in the greenhouse.
18 December 2009 22:51:55
I find this plant so fascinating. Take a look.
18 December 2009 22:31:43
I bought this plant in Bloom 09. I have never had a 'pitcher plant' before so this has been a learning experience for me. I water this with rainwater at room temperature, and i disturb it as little as possible. And it grows under a fluorescent light. I also give it a tiny bit of mince every now and then. I think it might be happy in its' new home. As you see from this picture, it is growing plenty of new shoots.
18 December 2009 19:15:41
A Long Tme Ago!
I was just browsing through old photographs today and came across a couple of 'oldies', like my garden 20years ago. How awful. How plain. How boring. How nothing! All I can remember was having a big bed of nasturtiums all along the right hand side of it. But when the girls were very small, we had 2 Aylesbury ducks, and a Bantam hen. So maybe they would have destroyed all my plants, if I had any. And I had a big shed down at the end of the garden which measured about 28feet. I used it as a playroom, and also gave Arts and Crafts classes to all the neighbourhood children.
18 December 2009 08:54:29
Goldfinches in my Garden.
Oh My God, I am just looking at my FIRST goldfinch in the garden. The experts say you shouldn't bother putting a Nyjer Feeder out unless you have seen finches in your garden. I haven't seen one here in about 10 years so I was just chancing my arm. Oh My God, I am so excited looking out. It is snowing and there are 2 goldfinches feeding from the Nyjer feeder. They are beautiful. This has just made my day! This photo is from internet. I think Santa should bring me a camera with a proper zoom lens. Look at him. He is BEAUTIFUL!
17 December 2009 18:45:05
Mahonia 'Winter Sun'
Had a quick walk around the garden this morning before heading out to work to see what caught my eye. Yesterday I said that I had a Libertia in a pot. I discovered that it is ACTUALLY planted. I forgot about that. But I did notice another Libertia in a pot (Cant remember which one) so that will have to go into the ground too as soon as I get the opportunity.
I have just a few things still flowering sporadically, like Penstemon 'Garnet' and Fuchsia 'Black to the Fuchsia'. I have some alpines that aren't actually flowering, but their foliage is quite eye-catching. Also, my Mahonia is flowering. The flowers are gorgeous, but I really love the spiky foliage. Good job it's right down at the back of the garden.
I will add more photos into my 'Winter Colour' album.
17 December 2009 07:19:34
More growing space!
My original Hyacinths were put on vases of water way back at the beginning of October. 2 of them were in proper hyacinth vases, with a fairly wide neck, and are doing well. The other 2 were put onto a taller, much narrower vase. These 2 seemed to be doing ok, but growth has dramatically slowed down on both of them.
However, last night, I cut out a circle of cardboard with a 2nd circle inside to allow the roots plenty of room to grow, and put them over a normal drinking glass. The worst one of the two, roots were only growing out of one half of the bulb. When I took them off the original vases, the roots came out like cooked spaghetti that had been left in a pot overnight. There is absolutely NO top growth on this one, so I gently peeled back the outer skin to help it on its way. Hopefully, this will do the trick. I can now just about see the shiny growing point. Maybe it will catch up on the rest of them now.
16 December 2009 19:35:26
In my garden I have Libertia 'goldfinger', Mine is still in its pot until next year. I was delighted to see mass planting of Libertia in the Arboretum, Co. Carlow. Unfortunately mine will never be so expansive. I also have a lovely pink Phormium 'Pink Panther', but this is also a new plant this year, so it is also small.
16 December 2009 17:13:00
Last year robins were nesting in the eaves of the store. I was delighted. But Manager wasnt too happy, so he had 3 destroyed. Oh it nearly killed me. They were pooing all over the crockery on the shelves. So now I have a nesting box up in the garden centre. I have it lined with bits of leaves and moss (as Fran suggested) and it looks all cosy. It is positioned well away from customer traffic. I will be the only one with a vantage point by climbing up on the promotional bench to keep a close eye on it. The robin is coming in more and more and today I was very close to getting him to take bird seed from my hand. Still a little skittish and shy, but working on it.
Sorry, that is not exactly a 'gardening' journal. But what choice do I have. And I didnt even BUY a plant today. If I plan on going to Chelsea, I had better practise keeping my hands in my pockets. Ha ha.
16 December 2009 08:21:43
BBC2 tonight 8.00 - 9.00 'Grow your own Drugs'. Ethnobotanist James Wong tosses out the tinsel in favour of a more organic approach to Christmas. Might be worth watching.
15 December 2009 21:00:39
I don't think there is a common name for this plant so let's just call it Rhipsalis. I bought one during the summer in Johnstown Garden Centre. A few weeks ago I noticed a few little flower buds coming out on it. This plant is quite similar to Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera) but the leaves are flatter, more elongated and has a trailing habit. It has finally flowered, they are rather insignificant really. But I just wanted to show everybody. Flowers are a very pale pink, almost white. Lovely plant though.
15 December 2009 17:56:08
On Sunday, I donated a Guzmania to the raffle, as there were way too many plants in my very small bathroom. Today, a delivery came in. There was a space on my cistern that needed filling up now. So I just couldn't help myself. I brought it up to the tills, with the intention of buying it when my shift finished. But throughout my working day, on a few occasions I decided that I shouldnt buy it. And then I changed my mind. Oh help. Anyway to cut a long story short, I bought it in the end. It is so beautiful, I couldnt resist the temptation. But I nestled it in at the back of the other plants in my bathroom so nobody would notice. How sad is that.
Vriesea bromeliads are grown either for their foliage, or their brightly coloured flower spikes. These bromeliads are closely related to the tillandsia. They take indirect light, but the foliage has a better colour with slightly brighter light. These are epiphytes but can be potted in a rapid draining mix. Keep the central cup full.
I was also tempted with an Aechmea, which is another bromeliad. And Rachel, we got more orchids in. I will put a photo of both in my Dec 09 album. These are gorgeous. I also bought a new pot for my recently purchased Flowering Christmas Tree (Grevillea 'Red Salento') and Fran, I got your Loropetalum.
14 December 2009 20:57:32
I just gotta show ye all this nesting box that Steve has made. It's finished, at last.
14 December 2009 18:55:08
Loropetalum chinensis 'Fire Dance'
Yesterday Fran was looking for a plant that likes acid soil and has a trailing habit to go into a container with his new Leucothoes.
Fran, we have one in our place. Took a photo for you. It is called Loropetalum chinensis 'Fire Dance'. This is a mid-sized evergreen shrub with purple foliage. It is related to the witch hazel. It has similar spidery flowers, which are pink and scented, appearing in late winter.
Plant this in moist free-draining acid soil, in full sun or dappled shade. Too much shade will reduce flowering. It is good in containers.
13 December 2009 21:00:16
succulents from the Arboretum, Co. Carlow
It has been said in others journals already. I too had a brilliant time today. Finally putting faces to online personalities was just great. But do you know something, there were no surprises. We are all exactly as we portray ourselves online. And I feel that EVERYBODY was comfortable in each others presence, once we got the introductions over with. And all four of the children were impeccably behaved.
Rachel, thanks a million for organizing this meeting. It was definitely a big success. Fran, thanks for taking me AND my baggage (oops sorry Rachel, didnt mean to insult your new children) down to Carlow. Liga and her husband, Liam, were responsible for delivering me right to my door. Mairin, thanks a mill for the seeds(Ligularia dentala and Brodiaea/Agapanthus). Clara I love my Baboons Bum (Fascicularia bicolour), Liga for the Gaillardia and Streptocarpus. Liga, do I root this in a glass of water, or just plant it straight into a pot? Thank you also for the Rhodochiton seeds.
And I also bought Ilex crenata 'Gold Tip', and Leucothoe axil. 'Curly Red', and 2 small pots of succulents.
Thank you EVERYBODY who turned up today, it meant so much to me to be part of this get-together. Hopefully, there will be lots more to come.
12 December 2009 17:51:13
Ready for painting
I was up and out early this morning to do another bit of Christmas shopping. The idea was to get the boring tasks done so I could start the garden nice and early in case the weather changed.
I positioned the 2 halves of the 7-up bottle in an old ivy on a south facing wall. Here's hoping something will take up residence in them. I swept the garden paths and disposed of all the brambles that I cut back last Sunday. Glad that's done, it was doing my head in. Took away some more yellow leaves from the sprouts. It looks like they will be ready just in time for Christmas dinner.
I put out my new Nyjer feeder. The experts say that you shouldn't bother putting one out if you have never seen any finches. Because obviously there are none in your area. I have only ever seen 2 here, so we'll take a chance. I won't know until I try.
Steve has finished the robin nesting box. He has put a perch on it, even though I objected. I reckon a bigger bird would only have easier access to the chicks with this perch. So I think I might have to 'drop' it so it breaks off. He is stubborn............
It looks great, all that needs doing now is a lick of paint.
Really looking forward to tomorrow. Don't forget to charge up all your cameras.
11 December 2009 18:08:00
Birds of a feather flock together
Today I decided to buy myself a new bird feeder. This one is for use with Nyjer seed only. Nyjer seed comes from a flower that looks like a yellow daisy and is grown primarily in Ethiopa and India.
Although Nyjer is sometimes called 'thistle', it is not related in any way to this invasive plant.Nyjer is heat treated so it can't germinate in your lawn. Goldfinches, Redpolls and Pine Siskins all lover nyjer seed because their bills are adapted to cracking open tiny seeds. If you want to use nyjer on its own, you will need to buy a Nyjer Feeder. It has very small feeding ports so the seed won't fall out, and squirrels won't often go after the nyjer feeders. And before you all think I have gone bonkers, I always had a love for birds. When I was in Barbados last year, the locals actually called me 'birdwoman' because I was always feeding the birds off my table. And I also do a mean wood pigeon call. Ha ha. Tomorrow I am going to rig up those 7-up bottles of Frans as nesting sites in the garden.
This morning I phoned the 'experts'. And gave a description of the bird I saw yesterday. But I was promptly told that it couldn't have been a woodpecker as they are never seen on the ground. He tried to convince me that it was a goldfinch, or maybe someone's bird that had escaped. He asked me to try and get a picture of him. So I was placated by this answer and went up to the canteen to have a cuppa before starting work. I was looking through another bird book I have, and there is NO WAY it was a finch of ANY sort. It was definitely a woodpecker. But I was too busy today to keep an eye out for him, so I didnt get a photo. Now I will probably never know for sure.
10 December 2009 22:16:41
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
While in work today, I spotted a very different looking bird on the other side of the fence. These days I have my camera with me, so I can photograph my little robin. But because of the fence, I couldnt get a proper photo of this new bird. I have just looked up my encyclopaedia on birds, and it was definitely a lesser spotted woodpecker. I have never seen one in real life. Until today. Being part of the Garden Bird Survey has made me more observant.
10 December 2009 18:39:54
Robin in Garden Centre
That was a glorious day. I was lucky enough to be able to work in the garden centre in t-shirt sleeves. I was thinking to myself that spring is just around the corner. The bit of good weather brings customers out of the woodwork. Ha ha. Today was one of those days. Just the way I like it. I was a bit down on Monday, but I couldn't stay 'down' for too long with this great improvement in the weather. And according to the weather man, it should be pretty good until mid-week next week. By 4.30 I had to head inside, as the outdoor bulb is on the blink, and I couldn't see a thing.
Steve is out in the garage at the moment making me a robin nesting box, using marine-ply. He won't let me see it until it's finished. Can anybody advise me on what kind of paint to use on it? Can you use ordinary gloss paint?
09 December 2009 19:47:13
Schlumbergera (Christmas cactus)
The photo on the right is a plant that my mother-in-law presented me with in 1986, 23yrs ago as a mere slip. It doesn't seem that long. It has been moved about, repotted a few times (maybe 4 times), totally forgotten about and neglected at the best of times. And it has seen me through all my good and bad times. I usually only water it 4 or 5 times every year if I remember. In summer I put it out on the patio and take it in again come the end of September.
Even though I have fed it occasionally, it hasn't flowered in about 6 yrs and guess what I spotted this evening while giving it a good 'leaf shine' and watering. Yes, one little flower bud. Who'd believe it? You can just barely see the flower up at the top of the photo. I have been on the verge of giving it away so many times, even though I love its VERY 'low-maintenance' requirements. I deliberately left the washing up liquid bottle beside it just to show you its size (not because I am so untidy ha ha). Hopefully it will be with me for another 23 yrs at least. How old is your oldest house plant? And no, Spider, this is not another competition.
08 December 2009 18:55:18
Lovely and mild today here in Dublin, there were only one or two showers. It's getting much busier now, in the run up to Christmas. I hope yesterday was just a 'once- off'. It did my heart good going about my business and watching the bees going from cyclamen to cyclamen. They seem to really love them. And to think they're still at it in December.
For those of you who might be interested, tonight on RTE1 @ 10.15 'Victoria and Shane Grow Their Own'. This is a documentary following Victoria Mary Clarke, wife of Pogues' front man Shane McGowan, as she sets up her own allotment and faces the challenges the rock 'n' roll lifestyle presents.
08 December 2009 07:59:22
Spathyphyllum after LeafWipe
How many of us actually dust down our broad-leaved houseplants. At this time of year, with windows being opened less and less, dust has the opportunity to collect and lodge on the foliage of our house plants, leaving them dull and lifeless. The plants' stomata (pores) become blocked and the plants quickly become tired looking. A gentle wipe of a damp cloth can do the trick, or you can buy a tub of Leaf Wipes, which will leave a lasting shine and allows your plants to breathe. You can also buy a leaf wipe that has a foliar feed incorporated into it. But leaf wipes would obviously not be suitable for use on prickly or hairy leaved plants, like Yucca, Ferns, Palms, Cacti or Poinsettias.
07 December 2009 22:05:15
Fran posted a journal 2 wks ago about a group of us possibly heading over to Chelsea Flower Show in May 2010. The cost of the trip is €725 per person sharing. Single supplement E85. triple rooms available. Cost includes flights, all private coach transfers, gardens and show entrance fees and full board in hotel. Come on Ladies, I can't be going with a lone strange man. VERRRRRRYYYYY STRANGE, (especially with the new red and white hat)
07 December 2009 18:15:53
Next year I will hopefully put a bit of quality time into re-doing my front garden. I have almost run out of space in the back. During the summer I bought 3 small shrubs (which were on offer) and one of them was a Chaenomeles, one Euonymus, and I forget what the other one was. I dont be out in the front too often. However, I haven't heard anybody on this site talking about Chaenomeles at all. Has nobody got this in their garden.
It is a hardy, deciduous shrub and also flowers. It can also be suitable for 'bonsai' growing. It is an excellent shrub for growing against a wall. It tends to grow wider than it is tall. It is great for late winter and early spring colour. Also, the fruits are suitable for making marmalade, as they contain more pectin than apples and true quinces. The fruit also contains more vitamin C than lemons. I have updated my Dec 09 album.
06 December 2009 09:09:35
Robin outside Kitchen window
Just looking out at the birds this morning again. There are so many more out there now that I have the garden littered with fat balls and birdseed. At the start of this birdwatch, I put some fat balls hanging just outside the kitchen window. It was scaring them away whenever they saw me moving around in the kitchen though. But this week, and this morning in particular, they were quite ok with that. I even managed to get a couple of photos of them. A little bit blurred, but I dont have a fancy camera with a whopping great zoom lens. Just your average digital.
Looking out at the garden now I can see what needs doing. All the brambles need cutting back before it gets too late. Leaves from my cherry are littering the whole area around it. Paths need sweeping. Brussels sprouts need leaves taken away. Empty or redundant pots need to be hidden from view. Broad beans need a bit of tidying up. They have been blown about from the recent winds, so they need a bit of staking. And the hose is all over the garden. Must do something about that before I break my neck.
Last night, Steve and I just sat back in candlelight looking at the tree. I wondered how many years it took for this tree to grow to that size. Then someone or something just came along and cut it down in its prime. Killed, in an instant. Sad that. So all you people who have 'falsies' are probably doing the forests a favour.
04 December 2009 21:11:36
Getting friendlier by the day
2 weeks ago, I started seeing a robin in the garden centre. I greet him every morning by whistling the same tune. Sometimes I might not realise that there are customers out in the garden centre. And all they hear is me whistling the same tune over and over again. They are surely wondering about my mental state. Ha ha.
Now I am bringing in a pocket full of breadcrumbs every day. I leave a small pile amongst the plants and go about my business.
Each day he becomes braver and braver. Today, he came about to about 2 feet away from me. He flutters about during my working day. And is becoming noticeably friendlier. I get such a kick out of this. He is still a little bit wary of me, but I am sure this won't last too long. If I make a sudden movement when he is close to me, he flies off. I must be patient.
04 December 2009 19:24:30
Awaiting their new home!!!
It is so challenging being a foster parent. You first of all have to consider where all these extra children will sit in the evening. Will there be enough room for them to breathe? Are they squashed by their siblings? Will there be enough water for everybody? And are they going to eat and drink the same as her other children. Are her other 'real children' feeling put out by their presence. And what do they get up to while Foster Mother is out at work? One thing is for sure, they don't know where to find the vacuum cleaner, or the duster, and they certainly don't have dinner ready for Foster Mother and her family when she gets in from a long day at work.
"Ah, this Foster Mother will probably get more kids when we are re-homed next week. And she will forget about us altogether. How can she just give us away, and get new ones? She must have a heart of stone."
If only they knew!
03 December 2009 18:36:37
Just watching birds in the garden this morning from first light until I left for work. My binoculars live on the kitchen table permanently. We were visited by an abundance of crows and blackbirds, 1 robin,3 bluetits,2 magpies, 2 sparrows, and 1 wren. The wren was a bit shyer than the others. I love watching them in flight. They just flit about. They are all very welcome to the garden. But then I spotted the dreaded heron flying overhead. Don't get me wrong, I love herons. Almost to the point of issueing them with a special invitation into my garden.
Last year when he landed in my garden beside the pond, I got so excited and said to myself 'do I scare him away from the pond, or do I run for my camera'. Ha ha the poor fish. I ran for my camera and when I turned to the patio door, there he was with our biggest koi in his beak and took off like the clappers. I was awestruck with the size of him. I have never seen a heron up so close. And it was only a young one. He stood nearly 3 1/2 feet off the ground. And his wingspan was massive. I was enthralled by him. This year he hasn't managed to get any fish so far. However, he's on the prowl again. Must be the cold weather, and looking for an easy meal.
Pigeons were out in full force this morning and 6 of them landed on the pergola. They were eyeing up my sprouts. Good job there has been netting in place from the beginning. Next year, I will plant lots of corn into this bed. I bought some purple 'sprouting' broccoli for there, but I have just realized that you have to rotate brassica crops. Hopefully, this seed will still be viable for the following year.
Biting cold today in work, but I was well wrapped up and the crisp air was very invigorating. I had a nose on me like Benji's (Cold and wet, ha ha). The rain stayed away, which was a big bonus. Look what I bought today. As if I don't have enough hyacinths. Ha ha.
02 December 2009 20:48:29
Oooooo it's almost upon us. I am really getting into the Christmas Mode. Gismo, you haven't posted a photo of your Christmas tree yet. Oh, maybe you are waiting until Fran shows off his photo of his shed. Ha ha.
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way.......
I have just finished making up place names for the tables in the Arboretum. Hope they are ok.
I am actually getting butterflies in my stomach about meeting so many of you. You see, I am quite shy. So tread carefully.
02 December 2009 16:42:49
I am sure those of you who have ponds in your gardens have found that it is now beginning to freeze over with this extremely cold spell we have been having. Many of us have success with a simple tennis ball. Left to float around the pond, the ball creates movement in the water and stops the surface from freezing up.
However, the hole left by the ball often makes a perfect fishing hole for Herons. But store-bought polystyrene floats can be used. These often have a reflective surface, which acts to startle and scare away the Heron. However, in severe cold, the ice will simply creep under the float and push it out of the water, sealing the pond. In that case, you can use both.
This was an article from Decembers Amateur Gardening. I have never seen this product on sale in Ireland. If anyone else has, maybe they could let us know. Or if any of you 'inventive' gardeners want to try your hand at improvising, let's see what you can come up with.
01 December 2009 19:38:02
The week before last I visited Johnstown Garden Centre. My first visit to this place. And I got lots of really cool plants, like my beautiful lithops, other succulents and cacti, and a Stags Horn Fern. But also a little plant called rhipsalis.
On searching images, I have discovered it is actually called Pseudorhipsalis alata. It is very similar to The Christmas Cactus (Sclumbergera) except the leaves are pointier, and longer and flatter. It also forms a trailing habit. And this evening I discovered little flower buds on it. Can't wait to see what colour they turn out to be.
01 December 2009 17:29:35
Should I be feeding my orchids now while they are in flower?
You'll never believe this, years ago (about 8 yrs ago) I became a member of the Irish Orchid Society in Glasnevin with a friend of mine. I went to the first meeting and I never went back. It was so full of 'stuffed shirts' and so boring. I couldn't be bothered going back.