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TheH (Hazel)'s Journal

TheH (Hazel)'s Journal January 2011

Last Post 2581 days ago

Indoors today ....

31 January 2011 23:42:11
Cactus in flower

Cactus in flower

Didn't manage to get out in the garden today as there were indoor tasks that needed to be done. However I did get the chance to stroll around the garden and plan the next tasks. The Japanese area can now be redesigned as suggested - design number four I think - and I'm feeling more optimistic about the other areas where it would be nice to put in seating areas. The paths may not have to be totally redug - just edged properly with the new bricks.

That only leaves the vegetable area - still in a state as we had to dig a trench to see if the percolation area was working properly. The plan is to fill the trench with stones from the site as and when they are dug up to create a good deep French Drain to help with the percolation but that leaves a heap of sub-soil to dispose of.

The Cactus flowers are coming out nicely - and it seems to be trying to straighten up a bit since it was repotted. I'll put the pictures in an album.

Border cleared

28 January 2011 22:15:13
One bed cleared - half an acre to go!

One bed cleared - half an acre to go!

So today was a great day for the garden. First of all I re-potted the Buxus hedging plants - they were in one of the multi-pack pots and were looking a bit sad. Since I won't be able to plant them until the Japanese area is restored and that will probably not happen for a couple of weeks, I thought they could do with a bit more space. Several of the pots had two plants rather than one, so I should get a good few "free" plants! I will be forever grateful for  Toby's hints on plants for free from Gardeners World - I can't believe they have sacked him for "dumbing down" the program. I must be very dumb because I found his advice really helpful!

Then I couldn't put it off any longer, so out I went to tackle the bed with the Witch Hazel behind the greenhouse. It took the rest of the day to remove a whole wheelbarrow of skutch grass etc and move some of the plants. The picture is a bit vague - I have Japanese Anemone and Michealmas Daisies along the fence, a couple of Alchemilla around the tree (Robinia supported on "trendy" curled supports from B & Q). There are two rose bushes here but they are not doing well, probably because of the poor quality of the soil so I have to put the thinking cap on and figure out a new home for them!

Tomorrow is given to be fine but we are on the road to Dublin with lots of family stuff to do!

And last thought - I can re-use the multi-cell pots from the Buxus as a seed tray for my sunflower seeds. i love it when i can re-use!

Finished Fence

28 January 2011 11:08:51
Finished fence & new Arch

Finished fence & new Arch

I've put pictures of the finished fence in the Willow album - having some difficulty uploading this morning - maybe its the broadband.

Now the sun is calling so I'm going outside!

More work on the Willow Fence

27 January 2011 23:48:20
Willow waiting for its new hairstyle!

Willow waiting for its new hairstyle!

We visited Klaus Kahl, our Willow Fence expert, the other day and I had a chance to examine his willow fence that is a couple of years ahead of mine. I realised that I had taken the wrong approach with the top of my fence so today I got cracking on it.

First off I used the willow stakes I got from Klaus to construct the pillar for the second arch I started last year. It is tall enough to be woven into the arch already so I now have two arches! They are hard to keep together at the top of the arch so I think I'll keep an eye out for cheap metal arches to use as a frame for the willow (another tip from Klaus).

Then I had to unwind all the tieing up I did last season to the willow fence and start over with the top of the fence. Got it finished just before dark so the photos I've added to the Willow Album don't include a picture of the finished fence - that will have to wait for daylight!


Leaning Cactus in its new home

27 January 2011 22:59:16
Not-so-leaning Cactus

Not-so-leaning Cactus

Brendan got the Cactus Compost so I got brave and repotted our little friend. It was a bit of an ordeal but I had so much good advice that I'm sure it will be fine.

The compost is only up to the previous level and all the rest is gravel. The "crutches" are still in place but at least it doesn't have to lean on the window now! I'll go back to rotating it each day and see what happens.

Isn't it an amazing plant - THREE rows of flowers this time and it only finished its last flowering in September!

Greenhouse events

26 January 2011 18:02:27
Tidy Greenhouse

Tidy Greenhouse

Today we decided to move the greenhouse about a metre right up against the shed so that (a) the space between them is no longer a dumping ground and (b) the greenhouse will benefit from the shelter of the shed which is on the north side.

The greenhouse is a light one with plastic/polythene "glass" in it. It sounded so simple - just take out the screws holding it to the ground, move it along and replace the screws - estimated time about an hour. Well, instead of the expected 4 screws there were 8 and all were very firmly fixed so it took about 2 hours just to loosen them! By lunch-time the greenhouse was in it new location and secured to the concrete again.

So after lunch my task was to clean up the yard and reorganise the contents of the greenhouse - again a small task as I thought, but it was still 5 o'clock before I was finished. However I'm really happy with the new location of the greenhouse and it is great to have all the debris from last year cleared out! Maybe tomorrow I might get to some "real" gardening!

Some Swaps

25 January 2011 23:40:48
Frosted Saxifrage

Frosted Saxifrage

I put up an album of January Colour with the best shot I could get of the Artemis - I really need to learn how to use the camera properly!

I have a couple of seedlings of the Euphorbia as well as some strawberry plants for March. If anyone wants bits of the Saxifrage that also can be arranged!

Unfortunately I took a bad alergic reaction to the lovely flowers my visitors brought at the weekend so they had to be "re-homed" with the guy sorting out the water system - his wife got a nice surprise! I'll have to make sure not to put Lilies in the house from now on. Starting to feel more human now so may get out to the garden tomorrow. 

A non-gardening day...

25 January 2011 00:20:22
Eranthis in clover

Eranthis in clover

Didn't manage any time in the garden today - the water system project is almost finished and although I haven't been involved in the work, it is a full time job keeping the guys well fed!

However we did make a trip to the brick factory in Castlecomer (Osbornes I think) to get edging bricks for my various redesigns of the garden. I had been pricing them all around the place and 49cents per brick was the best I could do, then I gpt a hint to go direct to the factory - a pallet (480 bricks) for €50.00 - so now I'm all set to get the new plans under way.

Tomorrow sees the finishing of the water works so the reinstatement will be under way. I'm really looking forward to it - especially being freed from kitchen patrol!

However i did get to check out the snowdrops - they are in bud on both sides of the front garden which is such a hopeful sign of spring.

Leaning Cactus.....

23 January 2011 18:27:08
Leaning Cactus.....

Leaning Cactus.....

This cactus came to live with me along with my lovely Brendan - so I have a vested interest in keeping it alive.... I re-potted it then and it grew rapidly over the past three years (firstly because I overwatered it!) but has got very weak at the base. i used to rotate it religiously until it got to the stage where it couldn't support itself. I thought these cactus only flowered every few years, but this one is truly amazing - it has produced a pretty ring of pink flowers every year including flowering three or four times last summer, and when I looked at it the other day it is fully in bud again!

I was wondering would it be an idea to repot it burying it up above the weak bit? Also any suggestion how to support it? Currently it is supported on that very precarious branch, or alternately it leans against the window! The window is south-facing and is tripple glazed, which seems to suit the plant well enough.

Irish Garden surprise ... and WIP

21 January 2011 18:19:30
Happy Robin

Happy Robin

I also got the surprise gift of some packets of seed from Irish Garden magazine, however the selection I got was a little different:

1. Cabbage - Red Drumhead - not growing cabbage this year so that packet is up for grabs at the get-together

2. Turnip - Snowball - not growing this either - last year the slugs got any that germinated

3. Sorrel - will try this since it says it is a perennial!

4. Thunbergia - looking forward to trying this

5. Ipomoea - Inkspots - should provide some nice colour

6. Nemesia - never tried them from seed before

So all in all, I'm happy!

However, the water supply replacement is still going on - the mini-digger came into play today and the first part of the pipe is in place but there is still another full day of work to be done before reinstatement can begin.

The picture shows the happiest bird in the garden - a whole trench full of worms for his supper!

Beautiful Frost

20 January 2011 17:04:53
How the Willow Fence should look.....

How the Willow Fence should look.....

This morning we had more freezing fog so I took the opportunity to take some pictures (new album) of the frost in my garden - it quite took my breath away. I checked out the plants that went in yesterday and they seem happy enough. I'm a bit worried about the ones I cannot plant yet - the work on the water supply has to be completed first.

Today we visited the "willow man" over near Castlecomer - (anyone interested in the willow fence can contact me for details) because I need to make a pillar for the second willow arch and he had promised me the willows! I brought him some pictures of my fence and got some sound advice on how to maintain it. The picture here is of his fence which is about two years ahead of mine. I think I'll have to undo the top of the fence and redo it!

Over in Kilkenny the temperature was about 3 or 4 degrees but when we got back home it was still hovering about zero with the fog not quite gone so I took the sensible decision to stay indoors!

Tomorrow sees the next stage of the water works....


Planting begun

19 January 2011 18:08:22
Pachysandra - not actually in the dark!

Pachysandra - not actually in the dark!

The bright sunshine today tempted me out for a while. I decided the Pachysandra would be happier if I planted them so I got stuck in this afternoon. They are going in the woodland area in the front garden so I had to dig up some of the clover there. I was amazed at the improvement in the soil - it really is true that clover improves the soil. When we did the initial planting there in 2008 we were struck by how few worms there were in the soil and the soil was so hard and compacted that planting was a real challenge. How different the story today - the soil is crumbly and easy to dig (no doubt helped by all the frost) and the worm population has exploded, with fat and juicy worms providing great encouragement to a little robin that came down to help me garden!

The clover that has been dug out will make excellent compost so it will continue to improve the garden. This was a benefit i hadn't expected from the clover lawn planting. In the main lawns the grass is increasing faster than the clover but I'll just leave it be for the moment. i really want to leave the clover to flower again this year as it was so pretty last year. To keep the clover dominant in future years i may have to kill off the lawn and replant it in the next couple of years.

I also planted the Hypericum in the woodland area - this is not as fast-growing as the Pachysandra but i love its beautiful flowers. The weather is to stay fine tomorrow so I hope to take advantage of it!


Fair and easy goes far in a day...

19 January 2011 00:28:48
Johnstown purchases being minded!

Johnstown purchases being minded!

New Year resolution is to pace myself in the garden and avoid the back and knee problems of last year so I am using my mother's sayings to keep me to the resolution!

Today I planted this years strawberry plants in the raised beds we made in the autumn. They have done well outside the greenhouse in individual pots and I should have some extras for the Get-together in March! The beds have been filled with some great topsoil so I have great hopes for them!

The work on the water system moved on today but the next bit is deferred to Friday - a small digger is involved and today I moved everything I could out of its path!

Made a start on tidying the greenhouse too - it needs to be moved a few feet to give it more protection so I'll have to take everything out of it for the move. The staging is very dodgy - came very cheap from B & Q and it is inclined to fall apart at the least excuse so I hope it will survive the move! 

I'm still afraid to plant out the Johnstown plants so they are living in the greenhouse and being protected with fleece until the night temperature rises above -5!


The trouble with buying plants.....

17 January 2011 17:50:14
Hazel's Witch Hazel

Hazel's Witch Hazel

....is that you have to do something with them! So today I gave a bit of time to my purchases from Johnstown. I had put them in the greenhouse but one or two of the Buxus were looking a bit sad - we had a hard frost last night and I probably should have covered them with fleece. The frost heater in the greenhouse only seems to protect things within about 2 feet of it - definitely need to get some bubble wrap for the greenhouse next winter!

Anyway, they were all looking a bit parched so I put them to soak for a while and got on with clearing out the general debris from the greenhouse. Kevin who is my trusty garden help brought me some topsoil for the new raised beds for the strawberries and also helped me dispose of the contents of the sad potato bags - we actually found 3 small rotten spuds in one of the bags! He is also working on the water problem this week so soon I can look forward to a rejuvenated and remodelled Japanese Garden!

It was getting dark by this time so I didn't get to do anything further with the plants. I just took them out of the water and covered them with fleece. I am considering potting them all on into larger pots and keeping them in the greenhouse for a few weeks - the idea being to help them grow on a bit rather than giving them the shock of planting them into soil that is only barely getting above freezing! Any advice please?


Last October...

16 January 2011 19:07:01
October beauty

October beauty

In October I took this picture of a Japanese Anemone which serves to remind me that the seasons of the garden do actually come around every year, and that winter gives way to spring and spring to summer and that each season has its own beauty and its own challenges.

I have to admit that in the words of Oscar Wilde "I can resist anything except temptation...". We stopped off at Johnstown so that I could get my Sunflower seeds and also to see if they had the pachysandra that we spoke about ..... Well, they had both, and I also fell for some Hypericum Calcycinum which will also give me evergreen ground cover as well as beautiful yellow flowers in summer. What else tempted me? Everlasting Sweet Pea, a Sarcococca that I've been looking for and finally some Box hedging for the redesign of the Well (Janapese Garden) area. The Box, Hypericum and Pachysandra were all in 6 packs so I'm going to grow them on a bit before I plant them out. The Johnstown sale is still on so there was 20% off all the plants, but apart from that no spectacular bargains. Many of the plants on display were looking the worse for wear after the recent cold spell, but no doubt they will come on later.

I wonder will the hard weather have the effect of spurring plants on to make up? I remember hearing my mother say that in a harsh winter, anything that survived generally did better the next year - I guess I'll have the chance to see if she was right! 

Oh! I forgot to take a picture of my Witch Hazel - it is flowering bravely for the past week! As a child called Hazel I was often teased and called "Witch Hazel" so it was a real revelation to get this beautiful plant with the same name in my garden!

Meetings and things...

15 January 2011 16:43:09


Does anyone know how we could get a notice about meetings on the "Members News" page? This would help people who miss individual journal entries to keep informed.

Apart from that, isn't browsing Garden.ie Club the very best way to spend a miserable wet Saturday afternoon!

I'm glad that other people are enjoying the Carol Klien series as much as I am. She is such a totally practical person and keeps on demonstrating the little tricks she has acquired over the years to make gardening a bit easier! I find it very encouraging to see how parts of her garden also look sad early in the year and how they burst into life so quickly!

The constant dilemma of whether to trim back old growth is one I struggle with. Last year I tidied up too early and the late frost took its toll so this year I've touched nothing yet but I'm itching to get out with the secateurs!

I read somewhere that the old leaves of Helebores are better removed so I got going on them the other day and look what i found! (see photo) For me, since my helebores never flower before January, they are my harbingers of spring and this one is in the raised gardinier by the shed so it is at eye level when I go in and out of the house! 

Good days work!

13 January 2011 16:55:03
Puss and Ginger venture inside the door......

Puss and Ginger venture inside the door......

Today was a great day to be doing heavy landscape work - not too cold and no rain! The preparation for the work on the well is now all done and I am feeling very satisfied with myself! The photo album "japanese garden project" has the step by step pictures - usually I forget to bring out the camera until I'm finished working but today I had it to hand because I was taking pictures of the two kitties who are now quite grown up but still very shy!

Fran was so right when he said I would get inspiration to improve the area when it was all dismantled! My head is buzzing with ideas. Unfortunately the whole project has to wait for an investigation of the water supply pipe and then we have a couple of options depending on what the investigation shows up - I may have to move a whole swathe of plants if the pipe needs replacing as this will involve a mini-digger and I am only too aware of what mini-diggers do to gardens :-( (big sigh!)

However, with that piece of preparatory work done I can now focus on doing some tidying up and sorting out! Hope the weather holds tomorrow.....


Out in the garden again!

13 January 2011 00:05:58
I think this is dead......

I think this is dead......

I took a strole around the garden this morning before I started on the latest project and was encouraged to find that many things in the garden are showing signs of buds. I'm just hoping that later frost is not going to do too much damage. 

My Ceanothus is looking very bad - the leaves are completely brown and no sign of regrowth. Patience is called for. the picture is of a Camelia that has never been too healthy but I think it has finally cashed in it chips now! 

We had problems with our water supply over Christmas which means that some serious work needs to be done around the well-head. Unfortunately the well-head is camouflaged by my lovely Japanese area - landscaped with two different types of stone with a lovely Japanese lamp in place.

So today I started to dismantle the area so that the supply pipe from the well can by excavated and sunk deeper.  This involves removing all the decorative stones! I made a good start today - fortunately I still have some of the large bags used for delivering sand, so I started the chore by lifting about a quarter of the stones before the rain came down. Probably just as well, as it is heavy work and I probably did enough for one day!

It is so disheartening when my lovely garden has to be disrupted in this way but this is better than having to cope with frozen water supplies every winter, and I will take the opportunity to improve the area when it is being restored.


So the New Year begins....

03 January 2011 13:00:11
Evening calm

Evening calm

My resolution for this year is to try really hard not to moan about things I cannot change..... much to the relief of those around me! Isn't it so easy to get into the habit of perpetual moaning and it is just as easy to make the habit one of looking for something to be cheerful about. I am amazed how all the negativity about frozen pipes, cancelled plans and other disappointments this Christmas have evaporated as quickly as the melting snow!

The picture is to remind me that there are blessings that come with the snow -stunning sunsets being just one of them! 

Despite everything we did actually manage to have a lovely Christmas - different, but in some ways more relaxed since the customary Christmas Day visits were off due to the weather so I actually got to serve Christmas dinner at a very respectable 3pm instead of the usual 5.30!

The milder weather tempted me out to the garden to survey the damage - so far I'm hoping that most things will survive. My Hamamelis is trying really hard to flower, and the brave daffodils are peeping above the ground.

I am really encouraged to see that all the many varieties of tits and finches have returned to the feeders this year. I feared that the severe weather had finished them all off but they are back in force. Even the two cats are not deterring them. As a matter of fact there is a really cheeky wagtail who steals food from the cats feeding dishes at every opportunity - sometimes right under their noses!

I got a bit over-ambitious the other day - stayed out in the garden plaiting the top of the willow fence for a bit too long - result a nasty chill/cold that has kept me confined to barracks for a few days. That will teach me to go out without the warm ski-pants (Lidl last year) and the woolly hat!



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