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Gracedieu Lass's Journal

Gracedieu Lass's Journal March 2017

Last Post 235 days 7 hours ago

Standing Up.

29 March 2017 16:40:32
Standing Up.

Standing Up.

These tulips and the Fritillaria are standing up well to the rain and cold today. It has been raining for most of the day with just a few breaks this morning. I ventured out a couple of times to do a little gardening but got so cold that I had to retreat indoors. It is miserable weather and it seems that it is going to be with is for the next few days.

Mount Usher Gardens.

29 March 2017 10:03:48

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On Saturday last we visited the gardens at Mount Usher in Ashford Co. Wicklow. It is one of my favourite spring gardens and we always try to visit at this time of year. The gardens are awash with Sicilla biflora, so there is a haze of blue all through the garden. If you have never been in spring do make an effort and go.

Anyone Interested in Outings.

28 March 2017 14:04:46

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I was just wondering if anyone was interested in having a few outings this Spring/Summer. I was thinking that maybe we should visit gardens that are open to the public so that if it is raining and we don't go, we are not putting the garden owner to trouble arranging teas and cakes and all that goes with visits. Here are a few suggestions.

Frances and Iain Mc Donald's, the Bay Garden, is open for a Tulip Extravaganza in April and we could then go on to Clonroche to Coolaught Gardens.

June Blake is also open for her selection of tulips and we could arrange it to coincide with Jimi having an Open Day. 

Mount Congreve is hosting the Rare Plant Fair on 14th May and you are all very welcome to visit our garden on that day.

If anyone is opening their garden for charity it would be good to let people know and maybe include another garden in the visit, as when travelling it is good to do as much as possible. 

I was also thinking of some gardens in the Clonmel area that open under a Garden Trail.

All my suggestions are for my part of the country, BUT, it would be brilliant if it similar days out were arranged for other parts of the country. Consider and let me know what you think.

Wishin and Hopin, Part 2.

26 March 2017 10:55:17

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Well, my Arum has opened at last and it survived the cold weather of mid week. Wishing very Mam a great Mother's Day and how lucky we are to have such a beautiful spring day to enjoy it.

Lismore Castle Gardens.

25 March 2017 08:47:27
Magnolias sprengeri var. diva.

Magnolias sprengeri var. diva.

On Thursday last Paddy and myself decided to visit Lismore to see the daffodils growing at Lismore Castle. We were hoping that they would have each of the varieties named, because last summer on a visit there, the head gardener had said he was interested in having the large collection categorised. Lismore Castle Gardens has an association with Fanny Currey, daughter of the land agent for the Lismore Estate in the mid eighteen hundreds. She was an artist and keen gardener and she collected daffodils from many big houses around the West Waterford area for William Baylor Hartland of Cork, a well known nursery man and the man who introduced Narcissus 'Rip Van Winkle' which is well known to us today. However, the daffodils were not labelled but a Magnolia sprengeri var. diva was in full flower and dominated the garden. The only word to describe it is magnificent, has to be seen to be believed. 

The rest of the garden was looking great in the spring sunshine with many more magnolias flowering and the borders full of fantastic daffodils. If you are in the West Waterford /East Cork area it is well worth a visit at this time of year. If you can't visit I hope you enjoy the album.

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.

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