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TheH (Hazel)'s Journal

TheH (Hazel)'s Journal March 2011

Last Post 2490 days 6 hours ago

Busy day in the garden

28 March 2011 00:44:52
Watering system.....

Watering system.....

I had a lovely day in the garden today - hadn't realised how many new plant I had put in over recent weeks until I decided to water them! The new Laurel hedge was badly in need of a drink, and then there was the new planting at the Japanese area.. and the Laurel from Jacinta.. and the Aucuba on the other side of the gates ... and the new planting in the Hot Bed ... and the roses ... Oh Dear! I have been busy:-)  I love watering the garden because it gives me the perfect opportunity to check how things are doing.

I also decided to rake off the bark on the herbaceous border. I was trying to dig this in to try and improve the heavy soil but it just wasn't working and looked really tatty. Most of the bark has been removed, the bed has been weeded and it looks a lot better now. It is so exciting to see the herbaceous plants making their lovely hummocks of green - such a sign that Spring is really here!

We are going away for a couple of days so I had to rig up a self-watering system to try to keep the struggling seedlings alive - we tried one of the automatic ones last year but it just turned on the water and kept going - flooding the whole place!

Hope this one works a bit better.....


26 March 2011 17:41:49
Camera in focus at last!

Camera in focus at last!

I have had my little camera for about 9 years now - and it was doing strange things on me when I tried to photograph my efforts in the garden yesterday. My daughter suggested that the camera was past its sell-by date so I was browsing for new cameras when I came upon the manual for my camera. Imagine my surprise to discover I haven't been using the camera correctly all these years!!!!

Here is a sample of what it can do when I use the correct settings....

Apart from that I've been very busy the past couple of days and only got back to the site today - up to Dublin on Thursday to a funeral and then to spend time with my sister which involved a visit to Newland Garden Centre. We had a lovely time - I got my aquatic plant - thanks for the tip, Jacinta - and I also got a replacement for the Lobelia Cardinale that I lost last winter. Then my sister decided to get me a belated birthday present for my new "hot bed" - a great red poppy Papaver "watermelon" and Chaenomeles 'scarlet' and just for fun, a Fennel.

Yesterday i had fun planting them all up and then had to water all the things I've planted over the past couple of weeks. My final bit of good news was that the strawberries in the greenhouse have produced their first flowers ... so i can already taste the strawberries and cream!

I'm a plant-mover too!

23 March 2011 00:24:47
Anemones on the move

Anemones on the move

Today I decided to move the rest of the Anemones from the clover lawn as it really needs its first cut of the season. It was quite tricky separating out the plants from the clover, clemantine and grass!

I replanted some of them in the Gardiniere along the container shed. I noticed that an Aucuba that has barely been surviving there - last winter nearly finished it but it has a couple of new leaves this year - so I decided it had to move. I popped it into the pot with the anemones and went to the greenhouse with the intention of potting it up without delay.

Of course, I got distracted! I needed some compost to pot up the Aucuba so I had to go to the composter behind the greenhouse. Couldn't get anything out of the opening in the bottom so I tipped the whole thing over and removed a barrow-load. Then the compost had to be sieved and the coarse stuff needed to go back in the composter. This meant  moving the big heap of compost out of the way and putting the composter back on its base again!

Then I thought I'd sort the rest of the compost instead of leaving it in a heap on the ground - this time I used a griddle made from the shelf out of an old small greenhouse - it is very useful with squares about 1inch so it does a pretty crude filtering of the compost. I extracted any stray branches or hard roots (like dock ) to one side for disposing of later. Anything that was sprouting was in another pile. There were hundreds of celendine in it as well as some scutch grass that was still alive. The stuff that wouldn't go through the griddle went back into the composter. The barrow-full of good stuff was brought down to the septic tank area where I am trying to level it out into something that can be planted! To date it has had wild flowers sown in it and the tank hadn't been covered properly with earth. There are no photos of this area because it is NOT a thing of beauty yet.

The composter yielded about 4 barrow-loads of compost and the stuff to re-compost is only about a sixth of the composter so I'm all set for the new season. At the end of this process I was pretty exhausted and started my clean-up when - shock horror - I spotted the Aucuba and the remaining anemones patiently waiting to be planted! The Aucuba will live in a pot for a while and the anemones are now happily residing in the herbaceous border where they should thrive!

Tomorrow is another day. The mowing might happen then!

Pretty plants...

22 March 2011 23:58:15
Pretty Tulips

Pretty Tulips

Today was a day for the garden! Temperature was 22 degrees on our sheltered deck! Took this pic of my tulips before I got down to work... i have no idea what variety they are - the first year we were here in Gortnalee we got several presents of tulip bulbs from friends who had been in Holland and these are the only ones that have survived!

They are very low-growing which is very good - I never took to the tulips that keel over! They were one of the first things planted in the herbaceous border - I just sprinkled them along the bed and the effect really works - from my swing seat under the Pergola the effect of these brave little tulips dancing through the bed is really pretty.

Busy doing nothing....

22 March 2011 01:27:14
Pond area looking good!

Pond area looking good!

.. working the whole day through!

Today I set off on a mission to get an oxygenator plant for the pond since the Parrot feather didn't make it through the winter. Tried two local garden centres without success. One said he didn't do aquatic because of the risk of water with children about and the other said they had stopped doing aquatic because there wasn't enough demand. Since I was on the road I went to Lidl thinking they had the bare-root plants in today but I had got it wrong! Bit of a waste of a day, although I did get a tree hydrangea for the bed beside the container. Last year I put in  some Boston creeper but one of them died and the others aren't looking great. I think the hydrangea is unlikely to reach its promised 50 ft in 10 years in this location as it is in a planter but if it thrives at all I'll be delighted.

Went to cut the grass this afternoon but found that there are a load of Anemone Blanda in the lawn on the right of the garden and there were also some Scillas in the left lawn that I missed when I lifted them last week. I moved the Scillas and sorted out the planter at the container so that was enough for today. It got very overcast and dark by then so no photos of my labours, just an earlier one of the pond area looking good in the sunshine!

What am I doing wrong?

20 March 2011 23:13:06
Nemesia seedlings

Nemesia seedlings

I'm the first to admit that I'm not very good at seeds. So far this year the most successful seeds have been Nasturtiums and if i had failed at them I would just give up!

This tray of Nemesia seedlings looks very promising ... but... I planted them on 7th Feb in the greenhouse (it has a frost heater so it doesn't get too cold) They germinated quite quickly - about 10 days i think - but then nothing!

I've had this problem with seedlings before and would welcome any advice on how to persuade them to grow more than two leaves!

These seeds were planted in seed compost, then stood in water as recommended by Carol Klein, then covered with grit to keep them moist. 

What next? Should I be feeding them? They are much too small to be pricked out yet... or are they? I'm at a loss!

Things always look better in the morning....

15 March 2011 23:51:26
Stream area tidied

Stream area tidied

After my busy day yesterday it was too dark to take a photo of the stream so this morning when the sun was blazing I got around to taking the photo.

The area to the left has the Rosa Rugoza hedge and I've just planted the michaelmas daisies along there. It already had some white daisies and russian sage.

I'm trying to decide what I could plant with the Rosa Rugosa to make a more effective windbreak on that border of the garden. I'd appreciate any suggestions... so far the only idea I've had is the Laurel that I planted along the old hedgerow.

Third time lucky....

14 March 2011 23:22:28


Having lost the long version of my busy day, and the first abridged version, here is the short and third version :

Planted seeds in the new propagator - Cosmos (2 varieties) Thunbergia and red poppies.

Planted new apple tree to polinate existing apple tree.

Planted Michaelmas Daisies on the stream bank, removed the weedblock and refreshed the bark

Planted Berberis, Bellis Perennis (divided one pot into three plants) Euonymus, Euphorbia purpurea, all in the new "hot bed"

Planted Fried Egg Plant near small pond.

Weeded the whole bottom area of the garden and refreshed the bark



14 March 2011 23:10:47

Some tasks completed

12 March 2011 19:42:31
Carex Everest and Carex unknown

Carex Everest and Carex unknown

When the sleet and snow went away I ventured out to the greenhouse and managed to pot on the Nasturtiums for the hot bed. Then, full of enthusiasm I planted my sunflower seeds. Last year I had no success at all with sunflowers (I'm not very good with seeds!) so I'm taking two approaches - some have gone in to the new propagator from Lidl and some have gone into separate compartments in a seed-tray covered with polethene in the greenhouse. I'll watch with interest to see what happens!

Brendan came up with a suggestion that it would be nice to have a dry wall with plants like Aubretia cascading down .... i feel another project coming on!!!! There is a good place for such a wall but unfortunately the side facing the house will be north-facing. Now I'll have to look for rockery plants that like a north-facing wall....

Doing the rounds of the garden I was fascinated to find that the Carex I got from Fran is the opposite to the one I have already! Mine is Carex "Everest" and has green leaves edged with yellow (described as edged with silver on the label) and Frans is a lovely yellow leaf with a dark green edge! I thought I was seeing things until I put them together and saw the difference!

What's that white stuff....

12 March 2011 12:33:16
Helen Dillons Hot Border

Helen Dillons Hot Border

...outside the window? At least it is varying between sleet and snow so it shouldn't stick. When I got up it was overcast but dry so I was all geared up for a good garden session. Last night between watching nice garden programmes (I have a good few saved on the Sky box for repeat viewing) I did some research on plants for hot borders which is my latest project.

Most of the magazines and articles suggest lovely things for flowering in late summer but nothing for earlier in the year. Finally I went to the Helen Dillon book and trust her - she had a whole host of "hot stuff" that flowers from late spring right through! Although in her book she describes how she got fed up with her hot border, she still gives all the plants and successions of plants she tried in it!

So far I have planted:

Phormium - half dead
Kniphofia - moved from border where it wasn't thriving
Rudbeckia Goldstrum - Johnstown gift (was it from Fran?)
Crocosmia - mixed, from Bakker
Nasturtium seedlings -still in the greenhouse
Carex - thanks Fran!

The wish list:

Berberis Darwinii - because Cotinus and other suggested plants won't survive the exposure
Lychnis Chalpedonica
Salvia Splendens 'Scarlet Queen' - flowers earlier than 'Scarlet King'
Potentilla Nepalensis 'Miss Wilmot' - herbaceous potentilla
Potentilla 'Gibson Scarlet'
Physalis Alkekengi
- Chinese Lantern
Papaver Orientale - any red poppy will do
Dahlia 'Bishop of Llamdaff' - needs no explanation
Eupatorium Purpureum
Knautia Macedonica
Persicaria microcapala
'Red Dragon'

If I succeed in getting all of these the 'Red Bed' will become the 'Red stream'!

If anyone has either good or bad experiences with anything on the wish list I'd be happy to hear from you!

Currently the backdrop for this new bed is a hedge of Rosa Rugosa with a few Leucanthemum, Perovskia (russian sage) and pretty dead-looking ferns. However there are a number of Michaelmas Daisies earmarked for that bed. There is also a flourishing clump of Lysimachia at the lower end of the stream. I'm trying to decide what I can plant with the Rosa Rugosa to give a better shelter to that part of the garden.


Rain stopped play....

09 March 2011 17:51:27
New Hot Bed - using my imagination a bit....

New Hot Bed - using my imagination a bit....

Like Myrtle I also was quite grateful for that sudden shower this afternoon. I had a busy time planting out the Rudbeckia in the newly prepared bed beside the stream.

I'm taking the advice and making it a "hot" bed although I don't think there is any point trying to include tropical plants even as a temporary measure as that is the most exposed part of the garden! However, keeping the hot theme I added some crocosmia to the bed. There is already a phormium trying to survive in it but I'm not hopeful. So following the hot theme i have a Kniphofia that has sulked for the past two years in the herbaceous bed  - (which amazes me as I had a splendid one growing right up against a Leylandii hedge in my old garden) so i prepared the ground really well including some slow release fertilizer and added a bit of compost for good measure so if it doesn't thrive here I'll just give up! the final part of the hot bed will be the nasturtiums that are coming along nicely in the greenhouse at the moment. If any of my potentilla seedlings turn out to be "Red Ace" I think they would fit in to the planting very well.

Of course when the bed was all planted up it showed up the rest of the stream area so I spent the rest of the day weeding and tidying. I finished the last bit in pouring rain as I was too stubborn to leave the last little bit....

Oh my aching back!

08 March 2011 20:51:41
Pretty Crocus

Pretty Crocus

Started out well this morning - had decided the best place for the Rudbeckia would be in the bed where I had wildflowers for the last two years. Had it all planned - dig over the bed, plant the rudbeckia and move on to the other things waiting for planting!

It took until lunch-time to clear the wildflowers - some of them were real thugs - be warned those planning to plant wild flowers!

This bed is alongside my "stream" feature so when it was all dug it needed to be extended further... and this made a lovely little path alongside the stream....the new path needed some stones....and then the bed needed some compost to improve the soil....but the compost needed to be sieved....and then the rest of the bank of the stream looked terrible so it had to be weeded too...

So at six o'clock I finally crawled in from the garden - I really must learn to pace myself a bit better - feeling a little more human after a hot shower - and I never even got the Rudbeckia planted after all that!


Planting begun

07 March 2011 21:15:28
Laurel in its new home

Laurel in its new home

What a lovely day today! No difficulty in getting going on the planting with all that lovely sunshine about! First on the list was the Laurel from Jacinta - what a great shrub! It was the perfect replacement for one of my dead Escalonias in the woodland area. Isn't it strange how once you start on planting something you suddenly see all the other bits to be done! So I weeded the whole section and planted up some more Pachysandra and finished the whole thing off with bark - very satisfying!


Then I watered the new hedging and moved on to the back garden. As I told Fran I have the perfect place for the Libertia he have me - it will give interest in the small pond area where there will be Aquilegia, Lupins and Dicentra as well as some California Poppies that self-seeded there. I'm really looking forward to seeing the Libertia flower!

Next on the list was planting the lovely rose "Romance" that I got with my voucher on Saturday. The roses have now been gathered together in the raised bed that had strawberries last year. It is made with large limestone rocks from the site and it has a twin bed beside it with rockery plants in it. Brendan refers to them as the wto graves! Working on the roses today I had an idea how to combine the two beds into a larger bed .... will have to think about it some more... meantime there are more plants to plant and the usual maintenance stuff....

Oh! I had a lovely surprise today - tidying up the herbaceous border what did I spot? The THREE paeonia roses that I planted last year and then couldn't remember where I put them! They are now labelled! Who says I don't learn by my mistakes?


Good intentions...

06 March 2011 23:06:22
Front garden - One woodland bit farthest away

Front garden - One woodland bit farthest away

Got up this morning with great intentions of planting the treasure trove from Saturday but when I got home from church it was a bit overcast and cold so I sat down with my Helen Dillon book for a couple of hours... Finally steeled myself to face the elements and had one of those "where will I start?" moments. The snowdrops and Eranthis won out in the end. I wanted to clear the two sections of clover lawn each side of the drive ready for mowing in the next few weeks. This year's plan is to keep these two sections short and to let the "woodland" sections grow longer. I really like it when the clover flowers in May or June.

I lifted the snowdrops and Eranthis and replanted them mainly near the Hazel bushes in what I fondly imagine are "drifts" - Helen Dillon is big into this rather than the groups of 5 or seven I would have done before. Both these little plants had increased quite a bit since they were planted in 2009 although I am shocked to see that I actually planted 100 Eranthis! Only about 15 of them came up the first year but they have all grown into nice little clumps so I reckon I'm nearly back to the original number!

My original plan for the front garden was to make it all a woodland with winding pathways but it proved too difficult to manage so now the woodland is confined to the outer areas! Part of the plan involved trying to naturalise bulbs where they would look attractive from the house, hence all those snowdrops and Eranthis having to move! There were also about 100 Scillas which I also moved today! They were just coming into flower so I planted them straight away all around the new Japanese area. I hope they will survive!

I'm a little concerned about the new Laurel hedge - the leaves are going a little yellowish at the top. I have been watering it because we have had no rain since it was planted, but I think the yellowing of the leaves may be due to the lime in the soil - at least that is what I am hoping!

Tomorrow is another day, and the treasure trove will get planted hopefully!


New friends ...

05 March 2011 22:47:19
Happy day at Johnstown March 2011

Happy day at Johnstown March 2011

It was really wonderful to meet so many of you "in the flesh" today at Johnstown. I am also overwhelmed by the lovely plants I took home, although like Myrtle, I'm not really sure who gave me what! Tomorrow will be a busy day...

I think the photo captures the happy atmosphere of the day very well.


Some days improve as they go along....

04 March 2011 12:43:47


This morning was cold and foggy so I've been avoiding the garden but... first there were TWO parcels from Bakker needing attention and now the sun is trying to scare away the fog.

Bakker sent me some Crocosmia - mixed ones this time - I got some Lucifer from them last week (I probably forgot I had already ordered the first lot!) and I've just realised they will clash with almost everything else in the garden, but I do love their brightness. I also got some Penstemon which I haven't grown before. That order also included a selection of 5 fruits - blackcurrant, redcurrant, thornless blackberry, raspberry and strawberries as a gift. Pity I have strawberries coming out my ears! Anyone want strawberries tomorrow?

The other box had Dicentra, metal plant supports and a gift of a Hawaiian Palm houseplant.

This is all very exciting because today happens to be my birthday so the Bakker deliveries feel like extra pressies!

I think I'll be spending some time in "wandering" mode deciding where these treasures will be planted - if only it was as easy to plant them as to stroll around! I'm a bit behind in the planting - have some onion sets also in need of attention, so no more dilly-dallying - out I go!

What a performance!

03 March 2011 21:33:13
Auto-vent Opener

Auto-vent Opener

My automatic window opener in the greenhouse collapsed the other week so I got a replacement in B & Q. Today's task was to fit the new fitting - if you know what I mean! Who would have thought that this could be such a major operation! First of all we had to remove the old fitting. This was installed when the greenhouse was erected so when we went to remove it the screws that held it in place were not accessible without dismantling the window frame!

Then we found the holes weren't QUITE the same for the new fitting so out came the drill....and then longer screws were needed .... then the lower part of the fitting had to be "tailored"... then we had to figure out how the whole mechanism worked... and FINALLY it worked!

After all that drama it was light relief dead-heading the potentillas! It was easier than I thought - just gently rubbed withered flowers and Hey Presto the potentillas are looking fresh and lovely and dressed in their lovely pale green spring attire!

Also did a bit of preparation on one of the new raised beds in the japanese area getting it ready for planting. Hopefully tomorrow will be fine again and I might get it planted.

Speaking of Potentilla - I have some seedlings if anyone is interested for Saturday? They are quite small but will probably flower this year.

Keeping track....

01 March 2011 23:39:36

Hedge planted

01 March 2011 11:42:09
New Hedge

New Hedge

What a wonderful spell of weather! Our "grand tour" of the south went very well - Lismore Castle and Helen Dillon were great, then we went to Oulart in Wexford to collect the hedging. I checked out some garden centres and the general price was about €1.80 per plant bare rooted and the ones I saw were a bit sad and starting to wither. Hylands nursery in Oulart had lovely fresh plants, straight out of the ground, for €1 each! The hedgerow had been trimmed back, the ground rotavated and the hedge planted thanks to the great spell of weather.

Really looking forward to Saturday!


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