31 October 2009 23:13:25
One bed cleared!
Today we had some sunny weather in between the showers so I managed to get the weeding done on one of the beds. I find something therapeutic about weeding which may sound strange. I have figured out that my difficult soil needs careful timing - there is a period of about 48 hours after rain when the soil is really easy to work - so long as I don't tramp on it too much! This was one of those times so the weeds were really easy to pull up so I had the satisfaction of getting at least one bed sorted - just before night fell. I really hate the dark evenings, especially when I have a job to finish!
I went out again this morning and took a daylight picture - much better. Myrtle asked what the interesting netting was about - well the picture shows the lengths I have to go to to keep the bunnies at bay - the two nearest the front of the bed are two rose bushes that the rabbits really loved - they ate every single leaf off both bushes so in desperation I moved them to this bed and put up the defences!
That bed has the temporary brushwood fencing to give some shelter from the wind (to be replaced with something more permanent shortly) so I put my Nandina and a Jasmine here - they are a bit happier but still not exactly thriving! I also have a Robinia that was a present from my daughter and it really hates the strong winds. I got some spiral supports in B&Q that are doing a good job of supporting the fragile branches of this pretty tree so far. I suppose the successes in that bed are the Japanese Anemone and the Alchemilla Mollis - the rabbits don't appear to like them!
Mind you, I hadn't got the "Grazer" when the rabbits were feasting on roses, so maybe I'll try that next year......or maybe the rabbits will go off roses....or go away and annoy someone else. Hope springs eternal.
26 October 2009 21:48:41
I wasn't able to get to the garden at all today which was very frustrating - had to go to Dublin - of course that means I had to pass Johnstown - Oh dear! I m now the proud possessor of a white Malva (we already have 3 magnificent blue ones) several strawberries, three Russian Sage and a Columbine!
The Columbine is in memory of my mother-in law who passed away this summer. She loved Columbine and had lots of them in her garden and the best part is that she always referred to them as "Concubine" :-)
I took some more pics this morning before I left for Dublin. This rose reminds me of a dear aunt who taught me lots about gardening. She had this rose growing as a mound of colour about 5 or 6 feet across, and we played in the wonderful scented bower underneath as children. Mine still has a bit to go.....
26 October 2009 18:10:42
As promised, here is the picture of the Wind Turbine. As can be seen from the picture we are on a petty exposed site which is very good for the Turbine although the extreme gusts of wind are taxing the turbine mechanism a bit. Looking at the maps of wind for Ireland we weren't sure about the turbine at all, but in our first winter here we had winds that moved a heavy garden table the full length of the house!
As a city dweller I am finding life in the country very interesting - between the 100 mile an hour gusts of wind, temperature of -6 last winter and the constant battle with rabbits and difficult soil I realis that my old garden in Clonsilla was a doddle!
25 October 2009 21:32:24
Took the afternoon off today to visit Heywood Gardens near Abbeyleix. What a lovely surprise they were! They are still under restoration but there is lots to see at this stage.
25 October 2009 21:28:09
I just posted some pictures of how the garden progressed this summer - the little pond was a real success story - it is my answer to an area that was so waterlogged that my bulbs actually floated out of the ground last winter! The June picture was the end of construction. I took a chance and planted all my remaining plant seeds around it, protected them from the crows with chicken wire and sprayed the with "Grazer" when they sprouted to keep the rabbits at bay - the October picture shows the results - not bad from a bed with too much lime, too much clay and too much water! Mind you, the french drain installed by my trusty helper Kevin has been a big help.
The June picture shows the base of the Wind Turbine I mentioned. I'll take a proper picture of it tomorrow weather permitting. It is a 5 KW turbine connected to the grid under the Micro-generation scheme. As you can see it needs a bit of camouflage for the base but it can't interfere with the lowering of the mast for servicing. I'm working on it.....
Also all the attempts at raised beds are to counteract the rabbits... but recently a lovely little black cat has decided to make her home in my shed so she may be the answer..... although I'm not sure I want to be presented with dead rabbits at my back door on an ongoing basis.....
25 October 2009 20:38:18
Hazels & Hollies
When I originally planted the Native area in summer 2008 I thought the bark chippings would keep the weeds at bay but alas they didn't so instead this summer (2009) I replaced the bark with clover! This is in the way fo being an experiment and so far I am happy with the results. The clover was the seed usually planted by farmers to enrich their pastures and the variety was Aberace. It was allowed to grow to about 8 or 10 inches before it was mowed. I thought it looked great with its gentle rounded surface but the perenial weeds began to peep above the level of the clover. I went around pulling them out by hand ( a bit laborious but easier than weeding the bark!) for the first while but decided at the end of September to mow the lot and see what would happen. The photos in the October folder show the results!
The picture showing the Hazels & Hollies shows how I want the woodland to develop. The bare patches in the foreground are where shrubs have been moved back behind the path to concentrate the planting in that area. I plan to fill in the gaps with similar shrubs so that eventually there will be little or no clover visible in this section. The section in the foreground will continue to be mowed a few times a year (it just has some trees dotted around).
The native hedgerow in the background is an integral part of this design but needs to be regularly maintained. This hedgerow appears on maps going back to the 18th century so it is kind of special! Already the bluebells have started to colonise my native beds much to my delight.
19 October 2009 18:52:36
Beginning the Native Garden
The native garden area is planted as far as possible with native plants, but I'm not fanatical about it!
To date I have planted 3 Ash trees, 3 Oak trees, 3 Birches, 3 Rowans (2 died because the ground was too wet for them) about 8 Hazels (my namesake plants) and the same of Hollies - but the rabbits really loved the hollies so they are now protected with chicken wire. I hope they will recover.
What else did I plant? Oh yes, Poplars, Viburnum Opulus, Dogwood, Buckthorn, Pheaants Eye, Buddliea, Forsythia, Native cherries, Willows, a hedge of Hawthorn, some Rosa Rugosa and a couple of Excallonias (because there is so little evergreen among the natives)
The Native Garden spans both sides of the driveway and each side has a curving path dividing up the area. Originally we put bark around all of the trees and shrubs to keep the weeds down but it wasn't successful so we laboriously removed it all (I have amound of bark that will provide me with mulch for the next 20 years, I reckon)
I planted clover in place of the bark and that has been a great success. It doesn't need the kind of frequent mowing that a conventional lawn would, and it looks pretty even when it is neglected for a few weeks. I have concentrated the shrubs near the fences and just have a few trees in the areas near the driveway. I plan to pack in as many shrubs as possible into these areas to encourage them to fill the space!
The other major planting of natives will be this November. The garden is very exposed (we have a very successful Wind Turbine to prove it) so I need to create a shelter belt in order to be able to grow anything successfully, so I will be collecting 120 bareroot plants from Coillte next month and have already lined up my trusty helper to assit with the planting. We have already prepared the bed with some well-rotted manure - one of the real advantages of living in the country! so it will be easy enough to plant - that is, of course, provided we don't have a monsoon between now and then!
This picture shows the original groundwork on one side fo the native garden - as you can see the soil isn't great, and all those track marks just meant compacting of the soil!
19 October 2009 17:15:55
I have just posted some pictures of how the garden looked at the very beginning. I find it encouraging to look at those pictures and compare them with where the garden is now - it still has a long way to go but considering that the first trees and shrubs went in in May 2008 it has progressed quite a bit.....one of my success were the sunflowers that came free with a magazine!