Last Post 1206 days 18 hours ago
31 January 2010 18:44:20
Kitchen Garden 31/01
Fantastic day although it was still very cold there was a skiff of snow this morning around 8 am but this cleared away by mid morning. I decided it was time to spend to do some work in the kitchen garden while lifting some leeks for soup. The soil had a frozen layer in a lot of places and any plants that had suffered in the freeze have now been removed in preparation for this years crop. I'm not sure that the over winter onions I planted in November are going to survive however the garlic planted at the same time looks as though it's okay. I had also planted rhubarb and from one root there is some growth, also had planted gooseberry bushes but I think they may not have survived but I have decided to leave them be at present. Hopefully this digging will allow the thrushes to remove slugs or snails and I had only finished when a robin landed and removed a big juicy worm.
Still a lot of work to do for this season, plans need to be made to weed or spray the paths between the raised beds and the vacant end, the hedge needs to be faced or tied in as it provides a break from the wind so lots of work to be done. Compost bins need to be set up and some kind of a shed for tools etc. and of course that polytunnel if I can swing it. There are also raspberries and gooseberry bushes that need moved from their temporary home there 3 seasons now but I plan to used this area for salads as it's adjacent to the house.
Few more photos up of the swans in our iced up pond and winter scenes of the area.
29 January 2010 15:19:05
Poppies,Foxgloves and Roma VF tomatoes
Once the trays were removed I decided to sow some more seeds I had a packet of 5 types of peaony type poppies so decided to try some in a cell tray and still have seeds left to sow direct although if this works might sow some more and hope they are in bloom in mid June. Also on the flower front sowed some white foxglove seeds in pots and on the vegetable side sowed Roma VF tomato seeds that came with the Grow Your Own magazine. I sowed 2 seeds in 6 pots so this will be a waiting game and nervous expectation of a different kind than Jacinta as it's my first tomato seeds. Mind you with all the advice on tomatoes in Chillipeppers journals I know there is help and advice on hand.
29 January 2010 15:07:58
72 hours Later
The Cosmos Seashell Red and the cauliflower have now moved from the progogator to one of the utility window sills. Some of the Cosmos appeared quicker than other and I'm wondering are they too spindly hoping they will be okay now they're still in a warm environment.
28 January 2010 22:31:48
With all this talk of keeping notes on seed planting and garden plans I eventually looked out a garden journal I had bought some time last year. It now has details of what and when sown in the note section at the back. It's got different notes on aspects of gardening through out and divided into the garden in seasons hopefully I'll keep up the notes now I've started.
No real gardening today but a beautiful day to be outside, put up another feeding station for the birds and while doing some other bits and pieces outdoors the racket that was coming from the old ash trees on the lane was amazing. Ducks seem perfectly at home on the pond splashing and diving and the swans are gliding around problem is that watching them becomes addictive.
Noticed daffodils are now beginning to peep up in through the grass and there are lots of bulbs popping up in the beds and pots which will be dropped in once they come on a bit further.
Plan to soak some of each of the six different sweet pea tonight and hopefully sow them tomorrow evening and will remove the Cosmos Seashells Red and by the look of it the cauliflower as well from the propogator in the morning to the utility room window sills.
28 January 2010 22:12:41
Waiting Game Pays Off.
I planted 2 Amaryillis from Lidl at the same time neither made any move for a while and then one the poor unfortunate that went bump in the night took off and the other still hibernated. What was facinating was they both had the same conditions and then over the last week or so the one in hibernation started to look as though it might produce leaves. Today on inspection there are leaves beginning to emerge so patience has paid off. I will also be sourcing a suitable planter to make sure this one doesn't go bump in the night too.
On the question of the one that lost it's flower what treatment should it get now? I thought about trimming back the leaves and broken stem the other day but then decided against it.
27 January 2010 22:36:19
Release of the new arrivals
No gardening done today but this afternoon there were four new arrivals at our pond. Malachy arrived with 2 pairs of ducks who have now joined the swans, to make sure they don't just fly off some of their wing feathers were clipped and we will feed them so as they realise this is home. Hopefully another few will be delivered by the weekend and while the swans stay Connie won't venture into the pond. Put up some photos in Wildlife 2010
On the propogation front this evening I think I see tiny green heads appearing from the compost amazing in about 30 hours will see better tomorrow but cann't believe so quick.
26 January 2010 12:46:46
Cosmos and Cauliflower.
After the strenuos work in the east bed yesterday I decided to sow some of my seeds and it was very frosty here this morning so not really good for outdoor work. All this activity with propogators convinced me to buy one when shopping at Hombase a week ago, I bought a Stewart one at £37:00 stg that can hold 2 seed trays and this morning I sowed my first seeds in cell trays and now hopefully they are on their way to germination. Both trays are sown with 2 seeds per cell so it'll be interesting to see what happens.
The Cosmos that I sowed is Seashells Red and I plan to sow more later I'll have a good display of flowers over long period of time and will sow some seeds direct in late April or May.
Cauliflower is one of the vegetables we most frequently use and although I tried them through plants that I bought last year they weren't very successful as they seemed to be damaged by slugs or snails so any tips how to prevent damage would be appreciated.
25 January 2010 18:58:40
Swans & sunset
I can now see I have a massive challenge on my hands to clear the Lysimachia from the east bed. James has now gone off to Edinburgh on his trip and I thought that most of the bed had been cleared but after a short while of digging and removing plants I know now that it's going to be difficult to readicate it,. There are runners everywhere and roots it has totally overtaken the NW side and I have a feeling that it'll be left baron for a while and then it'll be a case of spraying growth when it appears. I spent a long time lifting out the roots etc but just know that it'll reappear. I had planned to leave some in place but am really tempted to lift it all were possible. Can see the lifted plants having to go into waiting for a while but at least tackling it now means I have a lot more time to sort it out. To try and prevent it from creeping back I have put in a divide using the plastic strip for edging lawns don't know if it'll work as the runners are so deep in the ground. While working I could hear the swans dipping their heads in the water and the sunset with the swans in the foreground created a beautiful shot, put up photos of the swans and sunset , more of my bed project and today at lunch there was a goldfinch visiting the new feeder lots of activity and fighting as to who was going to have dinner. Hope tomorrow is another good day to see can I get anymore done in this bed if anyone has any suggestion on how to prevent Lysimachia returning l'd be grateful of the advice.
24 January 2010 19:20:42
James at work
Day two of the redesign of the east bed with the removal of the Lysimachia it had gone everywhere under the membrane trying to find anew home. There is now a mountain of soil and roots to be relocated although James planted up about 10 chunks in an area between the pond and the new drive will see what he's done tomorrow as it was 5:30 before he came in. There will be a lot of soil needed for the east bed before it's planted and I need to work out a planting plan, I already have some plants but probably need some evergreen shrubs to provide a backbone to the bed and a bit of a wind break. Along with removing the Lysimachia James also lifted a Cistus and Hypericum that were cramped in the east gable bed, the Cistus has now been replanted again in more space on the gable corner and the Hypericum will find a new home in the east bed. Long way to go but the heavy work is done lifting plants and now it's up to me what happens next.
24 January 2010 18:44:59
New Bird Feeder Station
Bought a delux bird feeding station on Friday and assembled it this morning and put it up so as I can watch the birds from the kitchen table. think it needs to be plummed a bit but I need another pair of hands for that , it looks okay from one way and from another it has a bit of a tilt but this afternoon along came the birds so they seem quite happy with it. Now need a couple more feeders or the top holders so another excuse for shopping and think I will maybe buy another one to go in the NW bed - thinking forward it might be possible to hang baskets from it which would give a bit of height to flower beds.
Photos up in Birdwatch album.
24 January 2010 12:15:44
Swans visit 24/01/10
Looked out this morning and there floating abouton the pond were two swans, the pair of moorhens and Jeremy the Heron. Not a duck in sight but hopefully they'll return. Lots of activity on the bird front as the feeder had fallen and there was seed scattered everywhere activity at the peanut feeders too. I bought a Delux Bird Feeder Station the other day in the Armagh Instore for £6:99 stg and hope to put it up today, it was discounted from £9:99 I had nearly bought one the other day in B&Q but it was around £35stg for similar.
So far James is catching up on his Beauty Sleep but if he wants funds he'd better Rise and Shine soon.
Put up new albums for Wildlife 2010 and Projects 2010 starting with the East Bed.
23 January 2010 23:59:52
Cold and foggy morning but looking out to the pond there were 4 ducks and 2 moorhens floating about. The last few days we've had 2 ducks in the evening but as soon as there is any movement outside they were up and away. Took some photos through the window and then decided to open the window to get a better shot must have been the click of the camera but they were up and away as soon as I pressed the shutter. Will have to try and set up a feeding station to try and get them more settled.
Due to work I didn't get much time in the garden till after 4:30pm and it was pretty cold but I managed to get James son no 3 to start and dig out the Lysimachia that is rampaging through the eastern bed, We actually love it's brightness but other planting was being smothered, It's amazing how dry this bed is but possibly it's due to the way the plant has run everywhere that isn't covered with membrane and weighted down. There is a massive pile removed and still a lot more to go, the plan is to relocate it to around the pond where it will not impinge on other plants. We will keep some in the eastern bed but I plan to plant it in a similar way to mint in a deep bottomless pot in groups and hopefully this will solve the problem. James is on the hunt for funds to spend on a 4 day trip to Edinburgh his birthday and Christmas present from his girlfriend, great when they want to work instead of looking for a sub so hopefully tomorrow we'll get a lot more done.
Have put up some photos of the ducks in the Wildlife Album.
19 January 2010 16:42:01
David Austin Roses Planted
Not nearly as nice a day as yesterday but no rain so it was a case of braving the sharp wind and continuing the tidy up, cleared dead stems from the bed that wraps around the house on the east and north east and the mallow on the corner was given a severe chop as it had become very untidy and I now have to decide if it is to be cut back further some of the stems are thicker than a wrist or if it is going to be replaced with something that will provide colour all year round but I'll need a strong man if that is to happen. The beds at least look tidy and I now just have the bed on the NW side of the house and the bed to the east that runs to the arch. There needs to be a major transplant of Lysimachia it's taken over the bed and I think a home near the pond might be the place for it but I need a man for that job too. This afternoon the 4 David Austin roses got planted into the terracotta pots, I lined them with polythene before adding the compost I had 3 bags of Drum Stick alliums so these have been planted as well I know it's late but they were all in good condition so there is nothing to lose. The wind has got up and it's now bitterly cold so gardening finished earlier today and now it's off to teach.
18 January 2010 19:00:07
Amaryilis flower broken but still providing a show
That's what the garden looked like limp and straggly was the way the herbaceous plants looked, it was a good day for starting the tidy up weatherwise. On Sunday I had taken a trip to Homebase and B&Q in Craigavon, went to get some large terracotta pots to plant up my present of David Austin roses from Kate. I had been given money at Christmas as well and although I had sort of earmarked it for trees I made quite a hole in it as always go for one thing and come back with a car load. The first task today was to remove the geraniums from some of the pots others I cut back and then I planted up spring bulbs as B&Q had an offer 5 pots for £5 so now there is some colour back in the pots outside the patio door from the kitchen and some planted at the back door. Bulbs are peeping up in other pots and beds so hopefully there'll be a bit of flower colour soon. The next task was to up root the Love in a Mist it had looked quite well before the big freeze but had sort of turned to brown mush. Secateurs in hand I then picked my step through the bed below the terrace to the south and now although plants have been scalped the mushy growth has been removed and new growth is showing through. Worked up until 5:15pm when it was getting a bit too dark to do anymore but at least now the bed is tidy and I won't be having to work around the bulbs that are beginning to appear.
My shopping included Spider Lily,Globe Thistles, Echinea White Swan, Rudbeckia Goldstrum, Chinese Lantens, Double White Begonia, White Fressia, Nerine Bowdenii, White and Blue Agapanthus, Varigated Aubretia Dr Mule and the pots of bulbs, Muscari,tulips Fur Elise, Tete a Tete narcissi, Iris Harmony and a packet of Cosmos Seashells Red along with a packet of 6 different Sweetpea.
One other item was a small heated propogator along with a selection of vegetable seeds,onion sets and potatoes. Tonights job is to make a chart of all seeds etc to be sown detailing growing instructions and flowering or cropping and then work out what will be into the propogator first. Tomorrow plan to pot up the roses as they are currently getting a drink in a bucket of water as per the planting details. Hopefully weather will be favourable to continue the tidy up.
16 January 2010 18:03:31
DEMISE OF A BEAUTY
The moral of this story is to Enjoy Beauty and Life While You Can.
I have never grown Amaryilis before and with all the online chat about them decided to have a go. I bought 2 from Lidl and while one is sitting still and although there is a hint of leaves is really going no where but the other although slow to start took off and produced a flower stem and duly presented buds and opened first one then 2 and yesterday 3 with at least one more still to go. ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS and each day I recorded it's beauty. Thought about finding a planter to put it in but it seemed so balanced and must have been 85cm tall so I suppose it was an accident waiting to happen. This evening I opened the door to the drawing room to record it's progress would another flower have opened. Shock - horror no Amaryilis in site on the window sill - well not quite true the one that is on a go slow was there. My eyes went to the floor and there battered and broken was my Amaryilis beauty I am devastated that I didn't prevent this catastrophe from happening. Although I know Jacinta managed to splint her one up and it continued to flower I don't think this will work as it's neck is nearly severed but I have splinted it but I think it's met it's end. The odd thing is I heard a bang last night while watching the Late Late Show and sort of thought what can it be but didn't go to check it out. Should the other Amaryilis decide to bloom I'll know better and ensure it's in a more substancial pot and as my kids say "You Have To Learn From Your Own Mistakes" but other NOVICE AMARYILIS PARENTS TAKE CARE and LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE.
Posted up photos of before disaster struck. in Amaryilis album
14 January 2010 13:18:22
My first Goldfinches
On the peanut feeder which I hung on the chestnut tree there were two goldfinches and one green finch. I had seen the green finch before but never the gold, quite difficult to get up close but this is a definite first for me to see these beautiful birds. The weather here is sort of closing in getting foggy and the ground is rock hard although I did manage to prise out two leeks in the kitchen garden ground in raised beds frozen more or less solid for 6 inches. Amaryilis has opened even more will post some photos later. Will have to see can I get the bird house up in the NW bed and hang the peanut feeder there then I'll be able to get up close and personal with the birds looking from inside to out.
13 January 2010 16:50:32
Good things will come if you have patience to wait, eventually one of my Amaryilis has decided to show it's face and is now opening up to a tinged white - pink. The other one is still sitting hibernating however I'm hopeful some day soon it will take off as they have both been given the same treatment. Both the pink hyacinths are flowering as well, with the white one nearly thinking about peeping out. On the orchid front there is now only one of my orchids in bloom , what care should they be given once the flowers are past ? Any advice would be much appreciated.
The thaw has started up here but everywhere is rock hard and I feel it's going to be a while before there will be much chance of digging soil there is still a layer of ice all over the pond - lake. Had a look at the plants in waiting and although the lupins look a bit sad there is new growth appearing, the peony has new shoots just peeping up and other plants look reasonably okay even though they were uncovered during the big freeze. The one plant that I feel might have met it's demise are the lavender plants as they are very black but I'll give them a while yet before I bin them. Had a quick look round the flower beds around the house hellebores are peeping up and although some things look a bit sad I feel they will bounce back, once weather improves there is a lot of cutting back last years dead growth but hopefully it'll have given that bit of protection plants. Will also need to start and organise for the kitchen garden but 1st priority is to get things back to some kind of normality no money no fun.
With any luck the worst of the weather is over and one thing I need to do is organise some pots for my David Austin roses so as they will be on their way. Amazing how the evenings are lenghtening every day so roll on spring have to think positive.
09 January 2010 18:22:54
Great Tit 8/01
Water was up and running by 12:00 so I set off to buy some more bird food. Monaghan Co Op was out of seed so it was a bucket of peanuts and 2 peanut feeders that had to surfice. I had no sooner put up the first one on the chestnut tree at the front of the house and a cheeky robin was investigating it. He was followed by a Great Tit what I'm curious about is how do they find it so quickly, put up a 2nd peanut feeder on the arch to try and balance out the demand on the feeder. Activity on the bird front was even more active and rooks, blackbirds and thrushes trying to scare off the smaller birds but have to say on the whole they didn't manage it. One blackbird was hanging off the side of the peanut feeder in the chestnut tree but it was total unbalanced so he wasn't having much luck, wondering whether to make up a cake like Jacinta but might just be dominated by the rooks etc. Will put up some photos if my mobile broadband co operates, I'm assuming it's due to the weather. No real snow here today rose to -1 from apparently -11 last night about 1am. Indoors I have 2 pink hyacinth just pushing up their flowers and the amarilyis is also just ready to open the 3rd hyacinth which I think is white is still a bit off flowering.
Hope everyone keeps safe as long as we're all safe, warm and healthy we are okay I think the flood damage would be even worse so keep counting our blessings and longer days and hopefully better weather on the way
09 January 2010 11:42:21
It is now becoming BEAUTY and the BEAST. The boys wrote HELLO! on the frozen pond - lake yeaterday evening, hope it won't need to be changed to HELP!.
All riding has been cancelled today as it is just too cold and perhaps I'm getting too cautious in my old age but the idea of being responsible for people on horses and ponies being sharp in the freezing cold is something that I just don't feel I want to be in control of. The other reason is all water is now frozen in farmyard and stables no running water even with the usual heat supplied so not sure what we are going to do to get it running. I think this BIG FREEZE will make us look at how we can be better prepared if it's going to become the norm. How do other countries cope for months on end? Temperature down to -10 early last night no weather station here so no idea what it hit during the night has warmed up a bit and snowfakes falling so I'm off to brave the conditions and see whether we can get water up and running.
08 January 2010 17:16:47
Messing about on the Ice
Well eventually temptation won and Conor along with friend Ciaran ventured out across the pond to the island accompanied by Connie- now would be the time to make the bridge as it really is frozen solid if it wasn't so cold. Water is normally about 1m20 deep so if it had cracked there would have been some scramble for the bank. This has to be the coldest day here yet with temperature at -5 at 2pm sun came through for a short time after that but then down came the fog again- Caroline says water was freezing in the buckets with the horses as soon as she put it into the stables - now about 18days thawing taps and carrying water to horses and cattle as all the automatic drinkers are frozen. Bit frightening to here them on the radio talking about major roads being closed next week due to the lack of salt and grit available, I'm really getting a bit fed up as expenditure still occurs even though income is practically nil.
On the bird front feeders very busy and think the rooks must have tipped the tray of seed onto the ground but so much activity it's nearly all gone, the great tit and the pied wagtail came today as well as the usual callers.
Oh to be young and carefree like the boys, wonder could anyone propogate a tree to grow money like Deborah's grows icicles - wishful thinking unfortunately.
Put up photos from the last few days of birds and the garden
07 January 2010 11:21:11
Christmas Card Scene
Air is literally blue today with cold although the sun creeping up behind the trees on the Castle Leslie estate giving it a warmer glow to the east but looking north west it's cold. Birds very busy on the feeder and the tray I set out on the bench so as I could watch the comings and goings problem is it's addicting so nothing else is getting done. All lessons cancelled yesterday and think today will be the same, so should take advantage and do some housework. Putting up photos of the birds and winter garden in albums including one of the neighbours labrador walking on water. Take care of yourselves and our feathered friends.
07 January 2010 01:21:28
Robin Red Breast in the Snow
Today it looked as though snow was going to fall but it passed over to land on Dublin and further down the coast. Checked with Conor's school in Waterford and yes they were opening checked yes buses running, on the way to leave Conor to the bus weather report on M9 being very bad but Conor was going on the train so off he went - wrong decisin he eventually got off the bus over four and a half hours later missed his train by nearly 2 hours and had to walk to a friends college house to stay the night. Doesn't look like we'll be gardening for a while and no work as roads too bad for most people to travel to ride so roll on spring and summer weather as I'm getting depressed not being able to teach or be outdoors much too cold for my bones liking. Lucky I have plenty in the freezer as shops are fairly low on stock after seeing the veg shelves in Lidl when in to get tomatoes for soup. Lots of activity in the garden with birds had to buy some more food will have to see if I can head northwards for a bigger bag as very expensive in Monaghan town.
03 January 2010 18:00:20
RHS Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations
Had to call into the shopping centre this afternoon for potatoes, none to be had in Tesco but left bargain books with a new book - The Royal Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations, hopefully it'll be useful in planning up my planting schemes was marked down to €20 from £30stg had a box of RHS Wislety books on various topics but had the willpower to leave it behind.
03 January 2010 13:33:14
Second time around as my mobile broadband connection disappeared.
Last night I set off to see Peter Corry in concert in Armagh, this was the 4th time I've been to his concert and I'd go again it's hard to believe that it's 17 years since winning a Talent competition which has taken him to where he is today. Such a variety of music, Musicals, Opera and popular songs over the decades. On the way down the winding road between the Caledon and Tynan Estates a fabulous glowing low moon kept appearing from behind the trees and hills, I wish I'd had the camera and the right equipment to capture the scene. As I drove into Armagh it was a wonderful sight behind the Cathedral on the hill. After the concert Kate gave me my Christmas present of 4 David Austin Roses all packaged up and this morning I opened it up to see which other varieties I now had. The package contained four repeat flowering roses -Eglantyne - soft pink, Winchester Cathedral- white, Brother Cadfael- pink and Benjamin Britten - crimson. They are now resealed in their package in the basement until I can plant them up, my plan is to get 4 large terracotta pots and have them that they can be placed out hopefully in flower for caroline's June wedding. Definitely going to order some more including standards - think Darcy Bussell is what I will go for as I plan to move the hydrangeas from the two large terrcotta pots either side of the french doors from the entrance hall - dinning room, think that roses underplanted would give a fabulous display.
I also hope I sowed the seeds in Johnny's head about a tunnel, Hoey sent me details of how she constructed hers and we actually have some materials her that will work so hopefully happy days as I would love to have pots ready to move into position for the wedding as well as being able to grow more veg.
Cold but fabulous day in the sun birds busy hurtling to and fro from the feeder, not much can be done outside so it's a planning day.
New album of Plants in Waiting 2010
02 January 2010 17:37:01
Delicate Clematis Freckles
Well at Cloncaw a lot of plants have suffered with the wind and cold, the Smoke bush is very frazelled and lots of other plants need to be tidied up but think I'm going to wait till the cold retreats. Providing a bit of colour in the garden are the many shrubs including the firery dogwood that just glows in the sun, the varigated euphorbia and the various heuchra provide colour here and there. Lots of plants have new growth appearing so I hope this continuing cold spell doesn't cause them a set back. Plants flowering were Skimma,Daphane, Anenome The Bride, a poor lone frozen anenome, hellebore flowers just peeping up, polyanthus, rose buds in the East gable bed although don't think they will open but I'll keep hoping. The Clematis Freckles planted beneath the wisteria has survived the cold with a couple of very delicate flowers, hopefully next year it'll be better once it's more established. On the clematis at the arch growth is appearing and the evergreen clematis in a pot looks like it might flower shortly so I'm hoping as the month progresses that colour will become more dominant. I'm venturing out to Armagh to a Peter Corry concert this evening hope the snow stays away until I get home again.
02 January 2010 17:13:55
Fire on Ice
New Years Day was sharp to say the least everything even more frozen, but clear and sunny, the sunsets here are spectacular the colours on our frozen pond adding to the effects. The ever changing colours on New Years Day were just breathtaking starting at about 3:45 and with the last glow disappearing after 5:30pm. It's was just breath taking watching the sun sink and the colour of the sky all around lit up and glowing pink. Nature is so beautiful, the birds as usual were busy on the feeder with the shrubs to the East being a great perching place. Today it was back to work although the icy weather meant that it wasn't as busy a people just weren't travelling. No spectacular sunset this evening with dark clouds moving in from the NW possiblity of snow on the horizon temperature at 3pm 2C and falling rapidly. It's going to be armchair gardening for the forseeable future by the look of it, and the garden site has been a hive of activity yesterday and today.