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TheH (Hazel)'s Journal

TheH (Hazel)'s Journal April 2011

Last Post 2492 days 11 hours ago

Aren't friends great!

30 April 2011 22:22:02
Joan at work

Joan at work

This weekend my friend Joan has been visiting. She reckons I'm a real slave-driver ! Since she came yesterday morning we have:

Moved the compost heap

Created a new seating area where the compost heap used to be

Planted up and weeded the beds at the Japanese area

Weeded and fertilised and mulched the Hot Border 

Planted an ENORMOUS number of seedilings inthe diffeent beds including the new Hot Border (Thanks Liga and Margaret for all the plants!)

What a pity she has to go home tomorrow or else we could have reorgainsed a few more beds :-)

All joking apart isn't it great to spend time in the garden with a friend - the whole process is so much more enjoyable when it is shared. I don't know if I would have had the courage to tackle that whole compost business on my own but with company it didn't feel nearly such a chore.

Joan is also a demon with the hose as you can see in the photo!

Website techie stuff.....

28 April 2011 12:50:40

Today was busy, - not just in the garden

28 April 2011 01:54:14
Pink Forget-me-not

Pink Forget-me-not

Sometimes I forget that there is a whole other world there that isn't the garden! Today was a day for bringing the car to the garage, doing some shopping, and finally replacing my mobile phone that has been driving me nuts for weeks past - eventually got some time to go view my domain, namely the garden! Even though it was very overcast i gave all my newly planted bit a good watering and took the opportunity to see how they are getting on.

Well, the Laurel hedge seems to like the sods of gras that are now piled up behind them - they have started to look as if most of them might survive! The hedgerow has a lot of bluebells coming into flower nicely - i think I'll transplant some of them later on to the woodland beds. Does anyone know if they prefer to be moved "in the green"?

 No sign of the potatoes yet, but the onions are up!

The Hot Border is not doing so well - the little border dahlias got badly attacked by slugs and there is no sign of the crocosmia bulbs at all! The Rudbeckia are just about alive, and there  are a few nasturtium seedlings on their way. The kniphofia is barely alive, but the poppy looks fairly healthy. I thimk I need to add some serious fertilizer and mulch to this bed before everything dies on me :-(

On the other hand, the sunflowers are now about 6 inches tall, and the West Woodland now has a layer of bark and looks the better for it! And the littl box hedge at the Japanese garden is looking a lot better and might even need a few bits trimmed soon!

Starting a new contract on Monday week so I need to get a move on and plant out my precious seedlings or all my efforts will have been wasted! As i said before, "Work is the curse of the Gardening classes" to misquote Oscar Wilde!


West woodland on its way

26 April 2011 23:29:06
West woodland - first bit done!

West woodland - first bit done!

Today was a really productive day for me. First of all i sowed the clover seed for the new lawn beside the hedge (described in "Fine Tilth") and gave it a quick water. Then I finished lifting the sods from the section of woodland that i have been working on.

Having cleared the sods I got out the "woeful weapon" tool and thoroughly "cultivated" the soil. Then came the enjoyable bit - planting some ground cover! i planted the geraniums from my cousin, and transplanted some Alchemilla. There were still quite a few gaps that will be closed when the geraniums take properly. At the moment they only have a couple of leaves, but it won't be long untl they take off!

So what better to use to fill the gaps but some of the Nemesia seedlings that were bursting out of their pots - yes, I've finally got some seedlings to mature to the planting out stage!

Finally I lifted the daffodils from around the trees on the lawn and transplanted them to the woodland where they can continue to die back without getting shopped by the mower!

This woodland area is really starting to work - As you can see in the photo i have just made some trodden paths to give me access for planting, weeding etc., and when I walk along those little paths it is beginning to feel like a woodland - well, I have quite an imagination, I suppose, but don't all gardeners like to imaging how their garden will look in the future...

I plan to put some bark on these trodden paths and still haven't decided if I'll bark the whole thing. I'd welcome suggestions.....

Looong weekend!

26 April 2011 01:18:27
Springtime in Japan :-)

Springtime in Japan :-)

Spent most of the past five days travelling up and down the M7 but managed to squeeze in a little bit of gardening in between...

The clearing of the first woodland area is progressing steadily - so far about 12 barrowloads of sods have been transported to backfill behind the new laurel hedge - it had been planted on a ridge and with all this dry weather is wasn't too happy but filling in behind it seems to be making a difference.  The sods are just placed face down and should mostly rot away, i hope. Anyway I'm not too worried as this  part was always going to need to be cleaned up with Roundup on a regular basis anyway.

I'm really looking forward to planting up this woodland space. While I have been working on it I have realised that the trees and shrubs are actually beginning to give a tiny bit of dappled shade - like a REAL woodland!

The clearing of the area is a slow task and I think I may start planting up the bit that is cleared tomorrow, just to give myself a break from the slog of digging! I know I could have gone the Roundup route but I wanted to plant up fairly soon, and I couldn't cope with the thought of that whole area gradually dying back - also since it is clover I'm digging, and a lot of it is getting dug in, this will hopefully help to enrich the soil.

The picture shows the Japanese garden with some nice spring flowers - the area I'm clearing is beyond the gravel area to the left of the path - so quite a large section still to be done....

Two whole days with no garden work!

23 April 2011 00:52:45
Tulips in the Bots

Tulips in the Bots

I'm getting withdrawal symptoms! Thursday was a busy day in Dublin - three appointments to make - and we ended up with a couple of hours between appointments in the afternoon so we made my long-threatened visit to the Botanic Gardens. I was not disappointed! it was just as magical as I remembered it. I got some great inspiration for my woodland area.

Arrived home about 10 pm and found that I had got a wonderful bundle of plants and seeds in the post from Hosta (Margaret) - thank you so much, Margaret - they were so well packed that they travelled very well!

This morning I potted up the "goodies" from Margaret - I thought I'd give them a little time to recover before they go down to the Hot Border - although the soil there is looking so parched that I don;t know how the plants there are surviving - I'll have to incorporate some compost when I'm planting.

Once the potting up was complete I headed for Liga's and only got lost once... thank Liam for the excellent "talking me in"! Liga's garden is a delight! I am so impressed with the many unusual plants she has raised from seeds, as well as her various "bargains" from the internet! She is gardening in soil very similar to mine, clay with lots of stones, so we had a lot to talk about today and shared lots of tips and information. She has an amazing number of little plants in pots around her house, and as we strolled around the garden she was gathering up bits and pieces for me - she is so generous! I came home with a boot full of plants! She has also encouraged me to be more adventurous with raising things from seed so I'll give it a try and see how I get on!

Inside having a very welcome coffee I got the chance to admire her Orchids, many of them in flower and smelling divine, and I think her daughter Nicky wanted to adopt me! Thank you for a lovely visit, Liga! i look forward to seeing you in Laois later in the summer!

Home again after a really enjoyable day, in time to stroll around my own garden, with my mind working overtime after all the ideas I got over the past two days. I am all set now to tackle the first section of woodland planting properly. All I need is someone to do the digging .....

Fruit 'n Veg

20 April 2011 21:57:19
Viburnum caricephalum

Viburnum caricephalum

Wasn't today a glorious day! First day gardening in the tee-shirt and really needed the the sun-block! Had to take a cooling off break every half hour - and this is only April!

And this Viburnum caricephalum is in full bloom and spreads it's beautiful scent far and wide.

Have decided that the veg area really needs some compost so some moss peat was purchased.

First to be dealt with was the Bramley Apple tree I bought last week.  The spot where I wanted it to go had weedblock and bark on it for the past three years so when I stripped it back the soil was very compacted. Deciding to do it "by the book"  I dug out a square hole twice the size of the rootball. Lovely! The top six inches at least LOOKED like soil. The next bit was blue clay. As I dug it out I excavated five large rocks from this small hole!

So then I mixed a 50-50 peat and this horrible soil, threw in a bit of bone meal for luck, and planted the tree with many prayers for its success - at least it has the two pollenators it needs so here goes for home-made apple tart. 

The rest of the planting was easy (well, easier, anyway!) - one of the newly sorted beds in the veg area had a full pack of peat and a few handfuls of bonemeal raked in, and then I planted my soft fruits that have been living in pots for the past few months.... so one raspberry, one rhubarb, one blackcurrant, one redcurrant and one gooseberry are now happily spreading their roots in the newly enriched bed!

All I have to do now is get some netting to keep the birds off the fruits when they arrive!

Having some fun

20 April 2011 00:45:56
Nice clean stream

Nice clean stream

Just for a bit of light relief from wrestling with tough soil and stones .... I know now why I put in my water features - it gives me a chance to indulge my inner child and play with water!

I sat down for a little break beside the stream which was gurgling away (Brendan remembered to turn it on while I was working in that end of the garden). I noticed that there were still a lot of leaves and other junk in the stream, so of course, that meant getting the hose and spending a happy half hour chasing the leaves down the stream!

As you can see from the picture, the stone problem is not a new one - all stones used for the stream originated on the site  - there are some really nice big rocks that I rescued when the site was being levelled - though of course they are mostly in the wrong place, and are much too heavy to move without machinery, so the garden is evolving around the stones!

the Veg and Stones area

20 April 2011 00:31:47
Lots of blue string and stones

Lots of blue string and stones

Been busy the past few days - having the veg area rotovated meant I needed to get cracking on it before is got away on me again. What a job! Who was it that said that stones grow? Well, I reckon I'm a true optimist trying to grow anything in this field of stones.

The veg plot has been marked out in what I hope is a semi-permanent layout - the compost heaps are moving down to this area for starters. This is because I realised when i was working on the compost this spring that the spot where the heaps are has one of the best views of the garden! So move the compost heaps and replace them with a seat - a project to be done later in the year.

I had great fun with a roll of binding twine and some stakes marking out the various areas. I've made three long beds for the potatoes. Put in two earlies in the first two rows and am on the lookout for some rooster type for the third row. The pathways are just tramped earth - since the soil is mainly clay it compacts well, (good for paths but not for veg!) and are wide enough to manage the wheelbarrow in this area.

The new compost area is in progress - the ground is leveled off and a layer of stones lifted from the beds has been laid and trodden in - however, since I've only cultivated about half the beds so far, there will be lots more stones for this platform!

The onions also got planted at last - and I covered them with a cloches of netting to keep the birds from digging them up.

Next task will be to plant the fruit bushes presently living in pots!

A fine tilth

17 April 2011 00:37:16
Fine tilth

Fine tilth

Today was a really good day in the garden. As i was potting up my great haul from yesterday along came Kevin to rotovate the vegetable area - the lower area where the new soakage area was put in last week.

While he got going on that area, tossing off the largest stones and turning the great clods into something resembling soi, I was busy removing the remaining bark from the bed alongside our hedge in the back garden. This area was the last piece to be "landscaped" in the first onslaught on the garden, and the landscaper was discouraged by a particularly wet spell that turned our soil to sticky morass so just to finish the job, he roughly leveled the area, threw down some weedblock and bark and then rode off into the sunset!

I've decided that a bit of clover lawn here would be more attractive and will allow me better access to the hedgerow to keep it under some sort of control. I've been gradually removing the bark and using it to mulch the beds in the front, so when Kevin arrived with the rotovator it was too good an opportunity to miss so the bark shifting moved up a gear, the weedblock was ripped up revealing sadly compacted earth. 

After the rotovating it was clear that a bit of a redesign was called for - levels were all over the place and the path needed to be realigned. Kevins work was done, so I set to and raked and raked and raked until my arms nearly fell off. The path realignment needs a bit of tweeking and the levels aren't quite perfect yet, but I am so proud of my "fine tilth" and looking forward to scattering the clover seed maybe tomorrow if the wind isn't too strong. 

Last but not least

16 April 2011 22:45:17
Last Daffodil

Last Daffodil

This is the last daffodil to open - isn't it beautiful! The rest of my daffodils have nearly gone over, so this latecomer is especially precious!

Planted up!

16 April 2011 22:37:22
Planted up

Planted up

First task for today was to plant up all the goodies from yesterday's visit. The yew tree is the seedling of a 250 year old tree that is no longer alive so I'm taking extra special care of this little baby! The ground cover plants will have time to get started before I'm ready to plant them. My cousin's garden was a real inspiration so I've decided that the first section of woodland is going to take a big step forward this year.

Step one will be to kill off the clover that has kept the area tidy for the past two years. With the benefit of my experience with the bluebell bed I will be resorting to roundup rather than hands and knees!

When the area is clear I'll plant up the ground cover plants at the path edge, letting them begin to drift towards the back of the area.

I'm planning to move the daffodils planted around the trees on the lawns to this area so I'll gently lift them and leave them to die back in their new locations.

Lastly a good thick layer of bark will help to keep weeds down  while the plants establish.

I'm just trying to find a magic way to advance my trees and shrubs by about 20 years.....anyone got any magic spells?


16 April 2011 00:23:34

Front garden sorted for now

14 April 2011 23:10:32
Prunus Avium

Prunus Avium

The past few days I've been concentrating on the front garden, first of all, sorting out the bluebell area, giving the lawns a good cut, weeding the other beds and sorting out some ground-cover plants and as usual the head working overtime on more plans!

Sometimes I spend so much time down on my knees pulling up weeds that I forget to take the time to enjoy my garden. So today I took a leisurely stroll around all the winding paths that I planned before the house even existed - they were carefully planned to slow down the progress through the garden, and now, three and a half years later, I can confirm that they work!

Passing the various beds in the back garden I stopped myself from making lists of all the things that need doing, and instead just admired nature doing its thing - my dicentra is looking pretty - the strawberries are in flower - the Hot Bed is warming up a bit - those bamboos we divided up seem to have survived the trauma and they look great from the boardwalk - walk quickly past the work-in-progress that passes for a compost heap and now I'm heading for the front - the east side woodland area looks better now with the bark around the bluebells - and it all looks lovely and neat with the lawns trimmed - the buddleia looks happy since it was pruned - that new Aucuba has a lot of new shoots on it - across the drive - that laurel from Jacinta is thriving and the pachysandra seems to be surviving so far - the native shrubs are getting nice and full - that Buckthorn is very pretty - that was a good idea planting Alchemilla Mollis under that tree in the corner - and now I'm at my new Japanese Garden - it looks really good now, much more interesting than the old design - that bed beside the car park is pretty with the tulips in flower now, taking over from the daffodils and crocus - and what's that overhead? - oh yes, Prunus Avium - and now I'm back at the greenhouse - oh well, back to work now. 

Phase one of the woodland project

12 April 2011 22:24:25
First day of the woodland project

First day of the woodland project

Spent a hard couple of hours clearing the clover from this area and it still isn't quite finished! I had forgotten that I had transplanted my snowdrops and Eranthis to this area  when they finished flowering in February so it was quite a job trying to avoid destroying them in the process!

At least I can now see where the bluebells are, and tomorrow I hope to get the rest of the ground cleared and the disturbed snowdrops and Eranthis replanted. At that point I'll be putting a good thick layer of bark over the area.

There are some of the tiny daffodils (can't remember the variety) in need of dividing so I think they would go very well in this bed, and if it is barked then it will be easy to add other suitable woodland plants as they become available.

I'll probably leave mowed paths through this area and gradually extend the beds to encourage the woodland effect.

For some of the other beds with the shrubs in them, I take the sledgehammer approach, lots of roundup to kill off the undergrowth and then apply the bark. I tried putting the bark over ground not cleared and it was a nightmare when the weeds grew through it. I tried applying the roundup at that point and it made matters worse!

On woodlands.....

12 April 2011 22:08:02
Woodland area to be worked on

Woodland area to be worked on

This is the area where I want to develop a bit of woodland underplanting. Somewhere in that lot are some bluebells! NoelleP - this is a section of my front garden that I would like to be a woodland! Ambitious or what! That section has two different oaks, two small ash, a group of hazels, a group of hollies, some poplars to the front, some Buddlia, Viburnum, Leycesteria and a gorse. Sounds a lot, but as you can see there is still a lot of space to fill!

If I was starting again I would take a different approach. I would have grouped the shrubs around the trees rather than planting them in separate groups of their own. I may still try to do this by getting bare-root plants next year.

In the meantime I've decided that this business of bulbs in the lawn is a bit of a bother, because when you leave the area uncut to preserve the bulbs you allow Dock and other undesireables to flourish as well. (see the marvellous specimen in the photo!)

I may allow the celandine to flourish as it is quite pretty in itself although it is a very prolific self-seeder!


Woodland planting

11 April 2011 23:37:13
Woodland underplanting - Belvedere

Woodland underplanting - Belvedere

Really mixed bag today! Sunshine, strong winds even hailstones! I took refuge in the greenhouse during the hailstones and planted up some Dahlia seeds! The greenhouse is filling up with seed-trays now and some of them are even showing something appearing in them. Maybe this will be the year that I suceed with at least SOME of my seedlings!

I have started a couple of tomatoes in growbags again this year. I cut the bottom out of a 5 or 6 inch pot and make a hole in the growbag to match. The tomato plant is the planted within the flowerpot and filled with the best compost I have. I came across this in a magazine last year and it really works - apparently the tomato has two kinds of root  and this method allows the surface roots to grow in the pot while the deeper roots have the whole growbag to work on.

I'm also experimenting with the automatic watering I used when we were away to make sure that the tomato compost never dries out. Haven't decided whether to try to see if the tomato food will be absorbed through the "wicks" in the watering system!

When the hailstones stopped I got the last bit of weeding on the front gardens completed. Great feeling of satisfaction at a hard job completed. Tomorrow's plan is to trim all the edges and give the closer cut to the lawns. 

Of course there is another little job.. (isn't there always)... i have some lovely bluebells planted in the lawn area and I'v e transplanted snowdrops and Eranthis to the same area and if i leave the mowing of this area until the bulbs have all died back the docks and dandelions will have taken over!

The solution I've  come up with is to clear the ground around all these bulbs and use a bark mulch as a permanent feature - then i can develop the area as a woodland area with helebores and daffodils to keep the interest going - maybe some Anemone Blanda as well... here I go again, the designing and planning is a sort of disease.... however, I took some lovely photos of the woodland underplanting at Belvedere in our recent visit so i have lots of inspiration.

Can't believe I had to do this today....

10 April 2011 22:30:37
Greenhouse shading

Greenhouse shading

I had to check my calendar - yes, it is only 10th April - but the greenhouse was 40 degrees so I had to get out the shading for it! Very elegant, you'll agree - used it last year - it is just some wind-break material left over from another job, held together with baling twine but it does the job! Temperature was down to 25 degrees within about half an hour!

Any idea what this could be?

10 April 2011 00:47:13
Mystery plants

Mystery plants

I found these plants appearing in the little pond bed - no idea what they are and absolutely no recollection of planting them. They are about 3 - 5 inches tall at the moment. Any ideas please? Am i nurturing some rampaging weed? they appeared in about 3 days.....

Finally got that lawn cut!

10 April 2011 00:37:13
Not quite zinging yet.....

Not quite zinging yet.....

I've been trying to make myself cut the clover lawns all week but let myself get distracted every day - so when the sun was shining this morning when I got up, instead of the mist we had every morning this week, I decided to get the mower out first thing.

It took a total of just over 2 hours to mow it all, including using the cuttings to mulch the new laurel hedge. Of course, once the lawn was cut it showed up the beds that haven't been weeded yet so the rest of the day was spent tackling the weeding. I got most of them done. I reckon another day will see the front gardens all spruce and taken care of for a couple of weeks!

Yesterday I had a planting day - planted lots of seeds and potted on some. Then it was time for the Hot border. I had acquired three very cute bedding Dahlias a few days ago and they were now hardened off so planting was on the menu. The pic shows the beginnings of "zing" factor in this bed - I of course can see in my minds eye the "Danish Flag" poppies, the Nasturtiums, the Crocosmia lurking beneath the soil and the Rudbekia just emerging (marked with bamboo canes).

The far end of this bed has a well-developed clump of Lysimachia as well as a yellow wallflower that seems to want to be a perennial!

Isn't it amazing how quickly the garden fills up once there is a bit of heat in the weather. My view from the kitchen over the garden is actually looking like a nearly-mature one! Oh I wish i had patience!!!! 


The REAL Woeful Weapon and friend!

10 April 2011 00:00:36
Woeful Weapon & friend

Woeful Weapon & friend

Remembered to take a picture of my two trusty weapons - worth their weight in gold! They were in action again when I planted these pretty dahlias in the Hot Border.

Woeful Weapon

08 April 2011 01:34:35
Woeful Weapon

Woeful Weapon

The picture is of a cultivator from the web as I forgot to take a photo of my own! Mine has an additional feature - it has a hoe on the back! It has become my favourite tool.

Today I was trying to catch up on some weeding in the woodland areas in the front garden. It took nearly an hour of hard slog on my knees for the first bed - then I remembered the Woeful Weapon! What a difference! Two beds cleaned up in about 15 minutes and no kneeling! The cultivator breaks up my very difficult soil in jug time and the hoe makes short work of the weeds.

It may leave some roots in the soil but if I have to do the same thing every few weeks it isn't a big deal. Every morning for the past week I've started by saying "today is the day to cut the lawns" but every day some other task takes over!

My second favourite tool is a broken rake! It has lost half of its head, so is only about 5 inches wide. It was a great rake to begin with, had really sharp tines, but now it is a prince among tools because it is small enough to rake gently between most plants, and the broken edge is quite sharp, so is great for breaking hard lumps!

The clover is covered with wild celandine and while the yellow flowers are very cheery I still think I should do the first cut! Maybe tomorrow....

No gardening today....

06 April 2011 23:48:26
Surprise Daffodil

Surprise Daffodil

Spent the whole of the nicest day this year with my head stuck in a computer - but yesterday I got a good spell in the woodland area .... no idea what this daffodil is called but it seems to like where it is in the woodland area. This photo shows the state of that bit of the garden before I got started - among all the celandine and other unwanted things are the Alchemilla Mollis plants I divided last year.

I managed to clear that bed and have got very fond of a cultivator/hoe that I acquired which is great for breaking up the surface of my heavy soil. Hopefully this windy weather will help to dry the soil a bit. My veg area has been gone over with a digger as we had to create an new soakpit in that area and I was hoping that Kevin would come back with a rotavator but he is busy elsewhere at the moment. I'll have enough rocks for another dry wall by the time I'm finised with it!

I watched an old Gardeners World program about allotments and it showed paths between beds covered with either a weedblock or just black plastic - i think I might try that this year as I have some of both going a-begging. I really need to get going this week and plant the potatoes patiently chitting away in the shed, not to mention the onion sets!

Why I have a Boardwalk....

05 April 2011 12:57:32
through the trellis...

through the trellis...

Myrtle asked me about the boardwalk - I'll put up an album of it.

The overall design of the garden was that you could take circular walks around the garden at all seasons. This meant that paths are done in chippings (the cheapest stuff is called "finings" and it is the bit left when they have taken off the good stuff!) and all was fine until you reached the dreaded septic system. Since the soil is clay and not great to drain I needed a new solution. Browsing an inspirational book "Japanese Gardens in a Weekend" by Robert Ketchell I spotted the boardwalk - would have loved it the way he has it with no rails at the side, but that was too dangerous because of the drop over the side!

My boardwalk is a sort of bridge spanning the lower level of the garden. It is deliberately zig-zag so it slows you down and makes you look at the view over the countryside! It is much enjoyed by visiting children, and we enjoy it too!

The other morning i went for my morning "inspection tour" to admire our hard work in the new Bamboo Garden (my new name for the septic area!) and one of the cats decided to take a walk with me all the way along the boardwalk so they obviously like it too! They think I planted the bamboos specially for them to play with!


That difficult area.....

03 April 2011 23:44:57
New Bamboo Area

New Bamboo Area

Since we moved to the country I have had the typical "Townie" attitude to the Septic Tank - something we have to have, but something to be disguised, made invisible to the eye and most importantly to the nose!

The Boardwalk brings you past this area, and up to now i had no success with it at all - I grew wild flowers but the weeds took over - I grew Nasturtiums hoping they would self-seed but they didn't - the area was short of topsoil and what was there was mostly stones. Ugh!

So Friday was the day decreed to sort it out!. My trusty helper Kevin shifted topsoil and leveled it. Then we dug up the 3 bamboos (Fargesia murielae Rufa - umbrella Bamboo) that I planted beside the Magnolia two years ago. We split them up and guess what? We got a total of 25 PLANTS!!! How is that for plants for free! They look really happy in their new home in that problem area. An access path to all the necessary parts of the septic system was laid, and some more nasturtiums around the tank. Job complete. But..... maybe I'll plant a few grasses in the clear space .... or maybe something ground-cover....Is there ever such a thing as a completed project?

Mothering Sunday

03 April 2011 12:10:11
Mother Earth

Mother Earth

....this is Mother Earth from Belvedere House garden - created by a team of FAS trainees!!!

Photos of our visit going up now!


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