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Gracedieu Lass's Journal

Gracedieu Lass's Journal

Last Post 18 hours ago

Programme Reminder with an Irish Interest.

23 March 2017 07:57:04

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Just a reminder of a television programme tonight at ten fifteen on RTE 1 'Henery McIllhenny, Master for Glenveagh', (the Tabasco sauce manufacturer). It should be good as the gardens at Glenveagh have an interesting history and are set in a fantastic landscape. We were lucky to visit there two years ago.

Disappointed.

22 March 2017 20:05:41

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Last autumn Paddy was lucky enough to be given a bulb of the re-discovered Narcissus 'Countess of Annesley'. It was carefully planted and labled and this spring it appeared above the ground and low and behold it had a flower bud. So over the last few week we have watched it develope and it flowered the other day, but is wasn't the Countess. So disappointing. This daffodil was thought to be lost to cultivation, but was found in the gardens at Castwellen, Co Down and later in two other gardens. The daffodils growing in Castwellen cannot be distributed due to the presence of phytopthora lateralis.

Wishin and Hopin.

20 March 2017 19:44:11
Wishin and Hopin.

Wishin and Hopin.

for this beautiful Aurum Cretium to flower, but with this horrible weather forcast for the next few days I might end up 'thinkin and prayin'. This Arum suffered during the bad winters of 2010/2011 when a lot of the tubers rotted. However, after a few years it has increased again and now looks as if it is back to where it was. 

I hope with the title of the journal that I have not given anyone ear worm. I know that most of the contributors here don't have a clue who Dusty Springfield was.

Fritillaria imperialis.

20 March 2017 18:44:41
Fritillaria imperialis.

Fritillaria imperialis.

No gardening today because this morning the weather was grey and drizzled, so stupidly I decided to de-frost the freezer. The whole morning was given over to this miserable job. The weather improved as the morning went on and the day turned out to be a beautiful spring day.

Had a friend visit this afternoon and as we walked around the garden I notice that my Fritillaria imperialis were flowering. I have a love/ hate relationship with these bulbs as some years they look great and other years they are hopeless. Some years I walk on them when I am clearing the flower bed in which they are growing. If we get strong winds they can also snap, so let's hope the windy weather that is forcast for tomorrow don't flatten them. I garden on acid soil and they like alkaline conditions, but I did put in lime when I planted them years ago and give them a top up every couple of years. Maybe, I should give up on them and dig them up after they finish flowering this year and take heed of Bett Chatto's advice of 'right plant, right place'. 

Magnolias.

19 March 2017 22:14:11

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My son David and daughter in law Mary are celebrating their seventh wedding anniversary today and at the time of their wedding I planted a Magnolia stellata ' Centennial' which I bough in a local garden centre. It has grown into a lovely tree and at present is covered in flower.  It associates well with the hydranges and as the years go on should form a canopy over those planted near by. 

Outside my kitchen window grows a Magnolia stellata which must be about sixteen years old now. All during the winter I love looking at the furry buds on the tree which now are open producing beautiful white starry flowers.

Magnolia 'Raspberry Ice' has grown into a very large tree and when taken the photo today I looked at the label and was surprised when I saw that we had planted it in 2002, where did the years go.

Narcissus 'Chiva'

16 March 2017 18:50:42

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I ordered Narcissus 'Chiva' last autumn from Mr Middleton and I have to say that I am really pleased with how it has grown. It has the most beautiful scent and when I cut a few the other day and brought them into the house the scent from them was just amazing. It has a multi headed flower with a good strong yellow colour and it appears to stand up well to rain and wind. A good all round daffodil. 

Have a good St Patrick's Day and hopefully the weather will be okay over the next few days. 

Vegetable Garden.

14 March 2017 22:49:11
Vegetable Garden.

Vegetable Garden.

Yesterday I spent my time working in the vegetable garden weeding and freshening the beds to have them ready for the coming season. Planted the potatoes which had been 'chitting' in egg boxes on the garage window sill. There will be enough purple sprouting broccoli to pick for a meal by the end of the week. The broad beans are in full flower and looks like there will be a good crop. We have grown about six different types of garlic this year, so looking forward to tasting the different varieties. I also noticed that some asparagus spears are an inch or so above the ground. I adore asparagus and it has to be one of the nicest vegetables to grow. Sowed seeds of leeks and kale and will sow some lettuces and scallions into modules in the next few days. We always force rhubarb to have it early in the season and it has been delicious over the last month or so. 

New Project.

14 March 2017 08:53:03

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With Spring comes a new project and this year I have decided to plant a low hedge around a Magnolia wilsonii. On Saturday last on our way to Limerick we diverted to Dundrum Garden Centre in Co Tipperary to buy some hedging. I would on previous occasions have used box for this, but over the last few years my box hedges have had a few spots of blight. After some research into alternative plants for box I decided on Euonymus microphyllius. I bought thirty plants which I will plant around the magnolia and continue the hedge in a curve shape. Yesterday Paddy sprayed off the grass with RoundUp and hopefully in two or three weeks I will be able to plant my plants. I am not a fan of using RoundUp, but I cannot afford to lose any precious soil by removing the sod. My next task is to source some nice compost or well rotted manure to enrich the planting area.

Most of yesterday I devoted to my vegetable garden and planted out my potatoes. I weeded and freshened up the remaining beds for seed sowing later in the season. The broad beans are in flower now from an autumn sowing and the scent from the flowers is delicious. The purple sprouting broccoli is just about ready for it's first picking. Sowed some seeds of leeks and kale in pots and hopefully will get some lettuce and scallions sown into modules in the next few days. Tied up sweet pea plants the were sown in the autumn to stop flopping about and will harden them off during April and get them planted out in early May.

Magnolia Moments.

13 March 2017 07:34:48

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Yesterday turned out to be a lovely day, but I was not able to garden as Patrick, Aoife and baby Ben were visiting. However, I did manage to get a few photos of what has to be the best flowering tree at this time of year, the magnolia. I saw on Thursday that Lidl had Magnolia 'Susan' for sale and at the price is well worth the gamble. We were in Dundrum Garden Centre, Co Tipperary  on Saturday and they had a lovely selection of them at good prices, as magnolias can be expensive. Well, Sunday morning was a lovely morning here in Waterford and I could not let the opportunity go to take a few photos of Magnolia 'Leonard Messil' and my thirty six year old Magnolia soulangenana that I dug up from my first garden and brought here in 1987. So pleased I did. 

Orchids.

12 March 2017 09:37:17

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I have a few orchids growing which are gifts from friends, but I am no way a keen orchid grower. The first is a Cymbidium, a gift from a visitor, which has a very unusual coloured flower, almost green. The Pleione was given to me a few years ago by Liga and the bulbs have increased over time, a very pretty flower. Rachel was good enough to give me the third orchid, maybe three years ago, which was potted and carefully filled with moss. I grew this orchid and it flowered about six months later. It has flowered every year since.  She had given it to me in moss so stupid me thought it was to be grown that way, but now it is grown in an orchid mix and I am so glad it survived my harsh treatment. The name of this delightfull orchid is Dendrobum. So unusual for me to have three orchids flowering all at the same time.

Gardener's World Returns.

09 March 2017 20:30:00

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Gardener's World returns to BBC 2 tomorrow night for it's 50th season. What a remarkable record for a television programme. I must be following it for over thirty years and I alway look forward to its return each spring. I think the main attraction for me it that the programme is located in the presenter garden which somehow or another makes it seem more personal and you follow them through their successes and failures. I do enjoy the garden visit, as I am someone who always loves to peep over the garden wall, regardless as to what lies beyond. Also, the advise and introduction to new plants is a must. Here's to the next fifty years of Gardener's World.

 

Mount Stewart.

05 March 2017 23:29:23

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It is about two weeks since we visited the gardens of Mount Stewart which are suitated on the Ards Peninsul. The gardens are in the ownership of the National Trust now, but I have to say that I was disappointed with the way the gardens were looking at the time of our visit. The formal areas around the house were in a very dishevelled state and covering so many tender plants did not improve the look of the garden. 

The Lake was looking wonderful as was the woodland area where rhododendrons and camellias were starting to flower. 

I have visited these gardens over the years during early to late summer when I found them to be well cared for, but on this visit and I know it was early in the season, was disappointing The Mairi Garden was in a very poor state. I felt after paying eight pounds each that it was bad value.

February Album, 2017.

05 March 2017 14:01:56
Narcissus 'Queen Ann's Double Daffodil.

Narcissus 'Queen Ann's Double Daffodil.

Another rainy day with fierce winds lashing everything that is brave enough to put it's head up in the garden. February has been the worst month of the winter/early spring so far and after listening to the farming forecast it doesn't seem to be any better for the coming week. In desperation I will watch the weeks weather forcast on Contryfile to night to see if they can promise us any improvement, living in hope. 

The camellias have braved the weather of the past few weeks and are looking gorgeous, but they always look better in dull, wet weather rather than when you see them growing in scorching bright sunshine. 

The poor large daffodils are not so keen on the rain and wind, but the small species do much better and one of my favourite has to be Narcissus eystettensis, also know as Narcissus 'Queen Ann's Double Daffodil, first flowered in 1601.

This month has also seen the Magnolias start to flower, a little earlier than normal for the ones I grow. As one plant comes into flower another is about to set seed and at this time of year snowdrops are just about finished. Galanthus 'Lady Moore' a beautiful stately snowdrop with an Irish connection is at it's best now, being a late flower. 

The year is moving on and the start of the wonderful woodland plants that delight us is about to start. Hopefully the weather will improve for us to get out and enjoy what we love doing.

Castlewellan Gardens.

02 March 2017 15:45:52

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Last week we were in Ulster and took the opportunity to visit the gardens at Castlewellan suitated in the foothills of the Mourne mountains. The castle and lands were in the ownership of the Annesley family for a number of generation when the gardens were developed. It was sold in the sixties to the Ministry of Africulture and opened to the public. 

The garden is home to many champion trees which were planted in the mid eighteen hundreds. It is a wonderful sight to see mature trees like the twin Sequoiadendron giganteum which flank a set of steps that leads you to an area that has some of the oldest trees in the garden. There are two beautiful Ginkgo biloba which must look stunning in the autumn. From China, Davidia involucrata, the Handkerchief tree, has to be amazing when it flowers in May. Cupressocyparis leylandii 'Castwellan Gold ' was a seedling which arose from seeds  sown of Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Aurea' in the sixties.  On our visit last week the tree that was towering over the garden was Pinus sylvestris Aurea', a golden variety of the native Scots Pine. The buds on the many Magnolia were waiting for a little warmth to flower. Some giant Rhododendrons were also in flower and a beautiful specimen of Rhododendron 'Christmas Cheer' was covered in flowers.

Only last year Narcissus 'Lady Annsley' which was thought to be lost from cultivation was found by one of the gardeners. Many treasures are to be found in this garden and I hope to visit again to explore more of this charming garden.

Spring Yellow.

28 February 2017 18:01:52

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The winds of today have put an end to the snowdrops, so the main colour of flowers in the garden has turned from white to yellow. The daffodils and primroses are of course our main source of yellow flowering plants in the garden at this time of year, but these photos show yellow flowering plants that are not so familiar.

Corylopsis pauciflora a medium sized shrub with delicate pale yellow flowers that dangle along the branches and a shrub that turns the most beautiful colours during autumn.

Eranthis x tubergenni 'Guinea Gold', a tuberous perennial with golden flowers about an inch wide with a ruff of dissected bronze-green leaves which hug the ground and are immune to any damage in weather like this.

Most plants in our garden have a pleasant scent, however Lysichiton, also known as Americian Skunk Cabbage has a dreadful smell. The flowers appear before the leaves which grow to a huge size and the plant flourishes in wet soil. 

Let us hope that the weather will calm down as we head into March.

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