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TheH (Hazel)'s Journal

TheH (Hazel)'s Journal February 2011

Last Post 2521 days 14 hours ago

Two-tone Hellebore

23 February 2011 20:27:15
Two-tone Hellebore

Two-tone Hellebore

Today I was taking it easy after all my hard work over the past while but the sunshine tempted me outside. I took some nice pictures of the various things in flower, always a very encouraging sight in February!

One of the Hellebores caught my attention - two quite different flowers on the one plant!

I'll put the other pics up in a new album.....

Planning to try to make the Helen Dillon talk tomorrow evening in Lismore as we will be down that way....Is anyone else planning to go?


Its finished!!!!

22 February 2011 22:33:57
New Japanese Area

New Japanese Area

Yesterday was beautiful so a lot of work was done on finishing off the Japanese area but darkness fell when I was planting the box hedging so the remaining work had to wait till today.

Unfortunately today was not so kind weatherwise however I togged out in the waterproof gear and soldiered on - I was just too impatient to have this project finished and to have my front garden back to looking like a garden instead of a building site! I have added more pictures to the Japanese area photo album for anyone who is interested in the long saga of this project!

This picture is my favourite of the new Japanese garden - I am particularly pleased that the new design draws in the bed beside the car park where there are some pretty hellebores and lots of bulbs on the way! The new bed to the front of the well is bordered with buxus hedging and has the creeping juniper, a yellow foliage Chamaecyparis and a sircocca. I planted all the bulbs I had in pots about the place in the bed at the well.

The new design also includes raised beds around the Prunus Avium at each end of the area which haven't been planted yet. It has been a big project but I have learned new skills (brick-laying) and I have taken the opportunity to improve the design so now I can look back and say that having to replace the water supply wasn't actually the disaster I anticipated!

Altamont purchases

22 February 2011 19:34:52
6 out of 1

6 out of 1

We had a lovely day at Altamont on Sunday although the weather was a little disappointing! Of course I ended up in the Plant Sales and though Rachel and Liga did their best to keep an eye on me I ended up with a couple of purchases. they had some fabulous hellebores but they were a bit pricey at €15  but I managed to find one marked €10 - it was a deep purple which will be a good contrast with my paler ones and we should get some interesting seedlings. The other purchase was a pulmonaria 'Blue Ensign' at €8.50  - still a bit steep but not so expensive when you see that I got a total of SIX plants for my €8.50!!!

Japanese progress....

18 February 2011 19:53:11
Construction complete

Construction complete

The construction of the Japanese Garden area is now completed and I have had my official training as a bricklayer in the process! My contribution is the border in the foreground! We actually got the rest of the hard landscaping finished but by then it was fairly chucking it down so no more photos were possible!

The next bit is the best bit - planning the planting and getting the new improved version of the Japanese area fixed up!

I'm thinking of planting some Juniperus Horizontalis 'Wiltonii' that I have as they go with the Japanese theme - also the new raised bed is opening up possibilities.... I need to get the pen and paper out again!

Recovery on its way....

17 February 2011 21:40:33


Work has at last commenced on the repair of the Japanese area, helped in no small way by the good weather today. The little walls are in place and the edgings will be completed tomorrow. (Progress picture in Album) The next step is the leveling of the area and replacing the gravel and stepping stones. I will be able to do some of this myself, and I have been watching carefully how the brickwork has been done so that i can tackle the edgings in other parts of the garden.

I also got the chance to weed and mulch the heather bed which is in full flower just now. There were a couple of hardy Fuschias in the raised Alpine bed and they were not showing to best advantage so they have now been moved to new locations where they can display their delicate pale pink flowers to advantage rather than competing with the alpines!

Am I living on a different planet?

17 February 2011 21:22:10
Tidy bed

Tidy bed

Haven't had time to post the last couple of days - been too busy in the garden! Yesterday was lovely and bright in the morning and although it clouded over the rain stayed off until about 5.30 - today started very misty but by about 11 it had cleared and we had some actual warm sunshine in the afternoon - again the rain held off until tea-time. This weather is perfect for me, because when the rain comes down it is time to go indoors anyway!

So what did i do with two lovely days in the garden? Yesterday I tackled the bed around the small pond. To my surprise there are hundreds of California Poppies seedlings popping up. The lupin has survived, and at least one of the Astilbe. No sign of the Hostas yet, or the Rogersia. Sadly most of the plants in the pond seem to have perished. I'll give them a few weeks before looking for replacements. One thing that survived with a vengeance was the Marsh Marigold which self-seeded all over the bed so had to be ruthlessly removed. Lots of bulbs popping up here - daffodils and grape hyacinths - and the echinacea are starting to sprout. There is a Heuchera here that is seeding all over the place. Looking forward to the summer when this bed is usually teeming with colour!


15 February 2011 01:12:12
Lidl purchases

Lidl purchases

Well, since the back was talking to me and I couldn't do anything more in the garden the only thing to do was to pop down to Lidl .... so I am now the proud owner of a heated propagator - small but beautifully formed! Maybe this will improve my seed-growing!

I also bought two rose arches to strengthen the willow arches in the willow fence. When I was with Klaus he suggested that the arches would be more secure if they were strengthened with wires or something, so these arches should be just the answer. I'll weave the willow through the arches and that should help them to knit together better as he has found that arches are inclined to work loose during the winter winds.

So that's the end of my purchasing for now.....

Who's idea was it to plant all those trees anyway?

15 February 2011 00:59:20
Tidy trees

Tidy trees

Today was the longest day I've spent in the garden this year - I was tackling around the trees - clearing the clover so that the daffodils can grow unhindered, and then die back without interfering with the mowing later on. I just concentrated on the two "clover lawn" areas - OK - who's bright idea was it to plant all those trees? 18 in total in that area - and the only way to clear around them is on my knees!

However there were some surprises - a few primula appeared as did a couple of unidentified bulbs - and finally I found the last survivor of the Anemone Blanda that I planted two years ago! they never did very well because first the rabbits ate them, then the crows dug them up and finally they got overtaken by the clover lawn, so you can see why I was so excited to find a survivor! It is now carefully potted up and about to get some TLC at last!

Did a little bit of leveling out at the Japanese area but by then my back was talking to me so I called it a day!

Between the showers....

14 February 2011 00:06:30
Nice and tidy....

Nice and tidy....

Yesterday and today have had some really pleasent spells between the showers. I managed to get the bed beside the deck cleared out and mulched. It had a couple of spectacular Malva there as well as my dahlias. I forgot to lift the dahlias so I'm not optimistic that they will survive, and likewise the Malva.

However, on the positive side there is a Winter Jasmine slip that I put in when the garden was first planted in 2008 and it is finally taking off! It took a bit of a battering over the winter but looks like it will recover! The Daffodils are starting to multiply, the campanula around the feet of the Prunus has also survived and I THINK there might be a sign of buds on the Prunus!

That was yesterdays work and today I got the ground around 2 of the trees in the clover lawn cleared before the rain came down. I also got to plant some Nasturtiums and Aquilegia. Fingers crossed!


Eeny Meeny Minny Mo.....

09 February 2011 19:56:04
Eeny Meeny......

Eeny Meeny......

Since the weather was so miserable today I decided that I couldn't put off planting some seeds. I finally located the seeds I bought so there were no more excuses!

I filled one of the new seed planters with seed compost ( the real stuff instead of using general purpose compost ) and then picked up the seed packets.... Oh dear! which to plant first? Tried "eeny meeny" etc but that didn't help. Finally the decision was made for me - most of them are not due to be planted till March - silly me!

Anyway, the final choice was the Perennial Sweet Pea and the Nemesia. The Sweet Pea went into individual cells and the Nemesia went into a seed tray. They are all nicely tucked up with the layer of grit that Carol Klien swears by, and I have them in the lounge. I hope it won't be too hot for them.

I'm hopeless at seed growing but at least I keep trying!

Feeling very virtuous altogether because I finished off the day by washing all the pots in the greenhouse. All in all a good day despite the weather!

Busy day

08 February 2011 21:06:28
Latest Cactus picture

Latest Cactus picture

Today was mainly a non-gardening day as there were general tasks to be done but I did take time to check out some of the emerging plants in the garden.

I found an invoice from Bakker for Evening Primrose and Vinca Minor and some paeonies and had absolutely no recollection of planting them. I really must be more diligent in recording where I plant stuff :-(

Looking closely at the bed around the small pool where I did a bit of tidying the other day I was rewarded for my efforts - daffodils well above the ground, and the missing Evening Primroses are all there though whether they will have survived remains to be seen. That bed also has the Vinca so I'm hopeful that I may have planted the paeonies here also. What I would give for the excellent memory I used to have!

Couldn't resist putting up the latest Cactus picture!

Satisfying day

08 February 2011 00:56:12
Eranthis open at last!

Eranthis open at last!

Today started off very wet but by mid-morning the sun had come out and the garden had started to dry up. I tackled the rest of the bricks so the trailer is now available for Brendan to do some other stuff.

I actually remembered to take a few photos before the sun started to go down so I've put up a little album...

Having finished the bricks I wasn't up to a lot of garden stuff but I did get to tidying up the herbaceous borders taking away a lot of debris and was delighted to see how many of the herbaceous plants have started to show some growth.

Then I took a wander in the shrubbery beside the willow fence and most of the shrubs are starting to bud - I'm still keeping the fingers crossed for the Ceanothus but almost everything else appears to be alive so far. Hope we don't get this really cold end of Feb we are being promised!

I finally found the packets of seed I had "tidied" away so maybe tomorrow I'll get brave and start some seeds. Last year I started them in the house and transferred them out to the greenhouse when they had sprouted but they didn't really do well so this year I have a frost-heater in the greenhouse so I'm going to try some of them in the greenhouse from the start and see what happens.

Becoming a bricklayer....

06 February 2011 22:14:08
How many bricks?

How many bricks?

The rain cleared off this afternoon so I started to empty the bricks out of the trailer which is needed for other stuff. I decided on bricks for the path edgings to be developed duting this year because they are easier to handle than other edging - I hadn't realised how exhausting it could be off-loading them! I stacked up 162 bricks today .... more tomorrow, weather permitting!

Getting there ....

06 February 2011 22:04:49
Heather Bed

Heather Bed

When I started gardening back in the late 60s I was given the Readers Digest Garden Encyclopedia and it has been my constant companion ever since. It features a picture of a wonderful heather bed where all the heathers blend into one beautiful carpet. Since then it has been my dream to create such a bed and today when I ventured out I took this picture - it isn't quite a carpet yet but it is well on the way, I think and hope. These heathers have survived so much. 

Their first home was in the path of the turbine installation so they got trodden on and splattered with cement!

Their current home came under severe rabbit attack - they ate every bud that came out and even started a major burrow in the middle of the bed while we were away on holidays. I renewed the fencing, fed them with generous amounts of ericaceous feed and lo and behold they have grown up!

Saturday Swamp

05 February 2011 18:01:48
Potato Patch !!!

Potato Patch !!!

Ventured down to the lower garden today to check out the percolation area that was in trouble during the frost and snow - we have had persistant rain since yesterday so it looks like a lagoon!

The picture shows where I hope to plant my spuds this year - Oh Dear!

The Japanese Garden is also a disaster area - so glad I didn't get any further with the restoration as the section where the new pipe was laid has completely subsided! The barrel on top of the well blew off and I was going to put it back but the whole area is a morass!

Looking at the 10-day forecast for this area it looks like Tuesday might be a good day - otherwise rain until Saturday but fine then for the weekend. I hope it is right!

Little by little...

04 February 2011 18:00:18
Hedgerow tidied yesterday

Hedgerow tidied yesterday

Today I had a hair appointment but I decided to do just an hour in the garden before I went out. Togged out like an Artic Explorer i ventured back to the hedgerow to do a little more preparation for the (possible) new hedging. There was a large and gnarled hawthorn that must have "fallen" from the line of the hedgerow many years ago - it was growing at right-angles so there is only one solution - cut it out! Yesterday I cleared some of the soil from around it and exposed some pretty substantial roots. Today I ventured down armed with (1) secateurs (2) pruning saw and (3) pruning D-saw. All three came into play as well as my trowel to clear away more earth! I managed to saw through a couple of bits but I reckon it will take a few more sessions to get on top of it. It I can get it mainly cut out I'll see what I can get to kill off the remainder of it. I heard somewhere that if you drill holes in the stump you can pour petrol or diesel into it - sounds drastic but it may need it!

It was just as well that I only had an hour to spend - as it was I was nearly having a coronary from the sawing that I did! I can well believe that sawing wood uses more calories per hour than almost any other activity - I'd just like to have the stamina to DO an hour of sawing :-(

...and here it is!

03 February 2011 22:27:50
Rescued Planter

Rescued Planter

Got a picture of the rescued planter today before the storm broke..... It is hard to believe that this little conifer has such potential!

Making the most of the sunshine

03 February 2011 15:25:35
Ancient hedgerow in need of attention

Ancient hedgerow in need of attention

This morning was lovely and sunny if a bit windy, so I togged up in the warm gear and went out to tackle the hedgrow at the side of our site. It is a very old hedgerow - probably well over a hundred years in place. Originally it appears to have been a mixture of hawthorn, sloe, ash and damson - an elderly neighbour told me he used to pick damsons from this hedgerow on his way home from school! Sadly it has been taken over by brambles and the other bushes are now so old and gnarled that they produce little in the way of leaves and no fruit- even the brambles only have horrid hard little berries! The farmer next door has only cut the hedge (which is actually his hedge) once since we came here. We trim our side as best we can but the hedge is too deep - probably about 5 metres thick in places - for us to be able to keep the top neat.

 I spent most of the morning just raking out the debris out of the hedge so that when the bluebells appear I'll be able to see them!

As often happens when I work in a particular part of the garden I start getting ideas .... I think this hedgerow is beyond redemption so the idea is to clean it back as far as the boundary and then plant a hedge of my own inside the hedgerow. I am thinking of green beech or something evergreen - if I grow it to the current height of the hedge and keep it tidy on my side then even if the original hedgerow is never trimmed it will look more like a garden and less like a field!

Any ideas on what would be the fastest hedge for this area? It is facing west, so very exposed! Any advice welcome!

When the sun comes out....

02 February 2011 22:34:13
New Rose Bed

New Rose Bed

After lunch the sun came out so out I went - I had decided that my roses weren't happy in their location - that bed beside the fence where they were in partial shade and had too much competition from the other things in that bed.

After some consideration I decided that the old strawberry bed would be perfect for them - completely in the sun and raised so they won't get waterlogged. It may be a bit exposed but in time the shelter belt will helo with that.

First job was to move the strawberries - they now have two purpose-built raised beds where I had already planted out some of the runners, so now the two-year olds have joined them. As always when you go near strawberries you always end up with extra plants - so if anyone wants some I'll bring some on the 5th.

I also potted up four good plants and have put them in the greenhouse to see if I can get an earlier crop.

Having cleared the bed I added some general fertilizer and moved the two rose bushes to their new home. I also planted a "Queen Elizabeth" that I bought recently - it looks so sad that the garden centre put a note on the receipt in case it needs replacing!!!

Very pleased with my day's work, all things considered! I am lucky to be able to give most of my time to the garden as I am between contracts just now, so I try to get as much done as possible because once I'm back teaching computers the garden will take a back seat!

I'm so tempted to get the computer drawing tablet that Lidl have this week so I can transfer my scribbles onto the computer - how sad is that?

Rescued planter

02 February 2011 22:18:52

La Feile Bride

01 February 2011 23:32:44
Testing the design

Testing the design

What a lovely day it was today to welcome the Spring! I decided to tackle the Japanese Garden reinstatement. There are bits of it that need some building expertise and Kevin is away until next week at least, however there was quite a lot that i could do. Part of the new design is a raised bed around one of the Prunus Avium trees. It suffered some root disturbance during the repair works but I'm hopeful it will not be set back too much. The raised bed will be filled with various low-growing plants later in the season but at least it is beginning to take shape.

Then I started to excavate the path area and do some levelling. I managed to get some sort of shape on the area, filling in some of the hollows where the new pipe is laid. The soil is really difficult - a mixture of clay, some rock dust from when the well was dug, some sand and gravel because that was where the builders dumped them for use in the build - so all in all not the most promising! The rain last night meant that the clay was like putty and stuck to the boots in great clumps but I had a brainwave and stood on the tarpaulin while moving the soil! Then when I was compacting the area where the gravel will be, I put the tarpaulin on the ground and trod the earth under it! Worked a treat!

The bed beside the car-park was disturbed by the works so that had to be reinstated too. I leveled it out taking care not to disturb the bulbs starting to appear and also the helebores that are all in bud or flowering now. Finished it off with some bark so  now it is as good as new!

Finally opened the pack of bricks and tried out some of the designs for the well-head. the picture needs a bit of imagination - firstly the black pipe under the barrel will be trimmed down so that it is completely covered by the barrel! The barrel will stand on a support of bricks and the second row of bricks will define a raised bed with rounded pebbles and some planting. The lower level of that area will have stepping stones replaced, and the Japanese lantern with the whole area covered in the gold gravel i had there before.

I will probably repeat the raised bed at the other end of this area. The whole area will be bordered with the buxus hedging. I am extending it beyond the original area and will include a bed at each entrance, one for the conifer and one for the Sarcocca so it should have some interest all year round.

So that is the plan - maybe having written it all down it will soon become a reality. Patience, patience, patience!

Oh! I will also upload some more cactus pictures - it has never flowered so well before!


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