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TheH (Hazel)'s Journal

TheH (Hazel)'s Journal May 2011

Last Post 2460 days 10 hours ago

Rachel - I finally get it!

31 May 2011 13:30:03
Rachel - I finally get it!

Rachel - I finally get it!

Yesterday I planted the sweetpea around the post as planned and as I was popping those lovely little plants I suddenly realised - this is what it is all about - the magic of growing something from a tiny seed and nurturing it to the point where it can strike out on its own!

Thank you Rachel and all my other garden.ie friends for encouraging me when I was depressed about my lack of success with seedlings. From now on there will be no stopping me ... now where will I plant out all those dahlias ....

Can you see in the photo those really handy clips from Lidl for holding plants in place?

Shrubbery redesign - Step one

29 May 2011 22:53:27
Sweetpea posts

Sweetpea posts

The area I rather pretentiously refer to as "The Shrubbery" has been getting on my wick for a long time so a major redesign is called for. The area is inside the willow fence ahd has the benefit of a windbreak inside the fence.  The shrubs are too scattered and there are quite a few gaps after last winter. The weedblock/bark combination is not suited to the heavy clay soil and the whole thing looks rather drab with just occasional patches of colour as the shrubs come into flower. .

The new design is to move all the shrubs into a wide sweeping bed folowing the curve of the willow fence where they will get some additional shelter from the wind. they will be planted much closer together which should also afford them some additional protection from the elements! The shrubs to move are a deep red Weigela, Berberis, Osmanthus, Deutzia, Spirea, a dark Lilac, Chaenomeles and Ceanothus 'Gloire de Versaille'. They will be joining a variegated Weigela, a white Lilac, a Cotinus and a Philadelphus. As you can see there is a good variety of flower interest in that selection but at the moment the effect is lost.  This will create a lovely open space which will show off the two specimen trees - a multi-stemmed birch (Colin's tree) and a Cornus Controversa and the Pampas Grass to bood effect. The bark will be removed in this part and replaced with some more clover lawn.

I made a start today. I marked out the shape of the new bed and raked off the bark. I also removed the weedblock from half of this bit. the soil was so sticky that I had to sprinkle some of the bark back on it so I could walk on it! From the photo you can see there are some posts serving no real purpose now (they used to have windbreak attached but it blew off in winter storms last year) so I have dug around the posts and attached some chicken-wire to them. Didn;t have time today to plant up the sweetpea that are earmarked for those posts but tomorrow is another day :-)


29 May 2011 22:27:53

Back into the swing of things

27 May 2011 23:06:17
Hot Border in progress

Hot Border in progress

It feels really good to be back into the swing of things in the garden. My week of unashamed idleness in Barcelona had me reluctant to brave the elements of the average Irish summer!

The roundup project was completed, although I had to stop spraying every time the wind took up but I managed to get all of the paths sprayed. I also tried an experiment that I may regret ... Our hedgerow is polluted with the nasty Greater Hogweed so I took a chance and sprayed the leaves of the monster while trying to avoid the more desireable wildflowers and ferns that I would like to encourage. I'll post reports ....

Then I did a bit of weeding - the Hot Border is doing its best - there is a beautiful large red poppy - as usual can't remember the name - its the one about the size of a saucer with the black dramatic centre - doing its best despite the wind and rain. The Geums are giving a bit of a lift to the border but the cooler colours are still dominating at the moment. Just wait until the rest of the poppies, the Ruebeckia, the Nasturtiums, the Marigolds get going!

On my way back up to the house I stopped to check the little pond bed - of course that led to a bit of weeding - had to seriously thin out the california poppies self-seeded from last year and found to my delight that the Aquilegia ("Concubine"  in our house) is seeding all over the shop. the other surprise is that the seedlings that I thought were Marsh Marigolds have turned out to be seedlings of the lovely Evening Primroses I had in the lower garden last year. They are starting to flower already so I'll need to keep an eye on them or they will take over completely!

Also discovered some nasty slugs making their way up the Echinacea so the slug pellets had to come out. The Rodgersia in this area has gone mad this year - it is overhanging the pool and has one magnificent flower! Isn't it a great opportunity to get "up close and personal" with the plants when you do a bit of weeding! The lilies that I didn't recognise earlier in the year are full of buds but I may need to cut back some of the surrounding foliage to give them a bit of light.

Found what look like some more Day Lilies in that bed.  I got a bunch of them last year and had no idea where i planted them, so any that appear are a big surprise!

One little mystery - I transplanted all my poppy seedlings in various places (labelled this time) before I went away - sprayed them with Grazer and put out some slug pellets but guess what? They have all vanished without trace.

I'm really beginning to feel that the garden is maturing this year so the work is much more enjoyable, and despite my comment to Fran, it is giving me lots of joy and tranquility. I'm reminded of the essays we used to write in school " ... and we went home for our tea, tired but happy" ... that sums up my days in the garden!

Overcoming the weather

27 May 2011 09:47:39
New seating area

New seating area

Yesterday the cabin-fever finally got to me so I donned the winter gardening gear - ski trousers and heavy waterproof jacket - and ventured forth into the wild wind. I was panicking because of the blight warnings so the first job was to spray the potatoes. They are in the lowest part of the garden so between the gusts of wind I was able to get at least some of the spray onto the leaves. I used an old spray bottle from a rose spray and it was just the job.

Next on the list was earthing up said spuds. This was really easy to do because the recent rain/wind combination had left the soil nice and easy to work. I even got around to planting the thornless blackberry that has been living outside the greenhouse for weeks!

I managed to find a bit of shelter from the wind at the long gardiniere beside the big shed. This was looking very lush and green but on closer inspection it was at leas 50% weeds!!! It looks much better now. I was amazed to find that the compost was quite dry so the new resolution is to water it daily, rain or no rain. The Virginia Creeper (or is it Boston Ivy? Never can remember which) is doing well, as is the climbing hydrangea I put in this year but I have given up on one of the ivies and the other one is struggling. There were three of the original ferns I got way back planted there to give them a chance against rabbits, floods etc. I already transplanted one of the ferns from here to the Japanese area and now find that only one of the other two has survived. It is really taking off so it might be finding its way to the woodland area very soon! Some of the ferns I bought at Birr are struggling a bit. What fertilizer woudl be helpful for them? any ideas?

So all that was before lunch. After lunch I tackled the finishing off of the new seating area where the compost heaps used to be. I'm very pleased with the results and look forward to having my coffee here with some new aspects of the garden to look at. It never ceases to surprise me how different the garden looks when you view it from a new angle.

Off now to spray the roundup where it is needed - first day it is calm enough to think of doing this task!

What a difference a week makes .....

26 May 2011 01:20:47
Rhododendren Kokardia

Rhododendren Kokardia

Only away for a week and what a difference! Couldn't wait to take a stroll around the garden, although I was a bit apprehensive with all the strong winds while I was away.

There wasn't as much damage as I feared although there were lots of things thrown around the garden by the wind. Some of the perennal geraniums have been flattened and a few other things got knocked about. However the trees seem to be bearing up - I think most of them are still small enough to be flexible and bend with the wind.

The biggest surprise was the lime-tolerant Rhododendron which had burst into flower. I am so happy at how this plant is thriving. I thought when I started this garden that I would have to give up on these acid-loving plants, and then one day in Dunnes in Durrow I came across this one!

But this wind is something else - haven't been able to do anything in the garden since I got back.  Brendan did a good job minding the stuff in the greenhouse - the tomatoes are getting good and strong with several flowers on each plant. The best bit was the strawberries! He had left them to ripen nicely so we had a lovely treat for my first dinner at home - can't beat strawberries and cream!


Visit to Barcelona

26 May 2011 00:01:32
Balcony flower

Balcony flower

Just back from Barcelona where I was visiting my son and his lovely partner. I managed my timing really well, going out the day the Queen arrived and ended up at the airport several hours early in case there would be delays! -  and returning when Obama was giving his speech in Dublin so this time it took an extra hour to get home :-(

The most surprising thing was to discover that my son, who all his life avoided ANYTHING  to do with the garden, is now an enthusiastic "Balcony Gardener"! We actually went to a garden centre while I was there to get stuff for the greenfly and blackspot on his rose bush! He also purchased a secateurs so he had to get a crash course in pruning too!

Bit of a shock to come back to the crazy wind!

Job well done

12 May 2011 23:12:49
Spic and span

Spic and span

Today, in between the showers, I gave the lawns a haircut! I'm away for most of next week visiting my son in Barcelona so I've been trying to get as many garden chores out of the way as I can, since I start my new contract immediately I get back! I reckon Brendan will be busy enough looking after himself and the cats without having a load of plants to keep happy as well!

Hopefully he will only have to water the tomatoes, strawberries and melons in the greenhouse :-))

I love the way having the lawns neat makes the whole garden look good.  

Which Clematis?

12 May 2011 22:54:55
Which Clematis?

Which Clematis?

At least some of my flowers are doing what they are supposed to .... this was one of four clematis that I got from Bakker three years ago. One didn't survive its first winter, one didn't survive its second artic winter but this beauty is better than ever! I've been trying to figure out which one it is - the labels were - 2 Multi blue, 1 Nelly Moser, 1 Ville de Lyon.

Since Nelly Moser has pink and white stripes, and Ville de Lyon is deep pink, that leaves Multi Blue - but it looks nothing like the pictures on the web. The nearest I can find is "President". Any suggestions?

I know I'm impatient....

12 May 2011 22:32:36


I was tidying up the herbaceous border and found this sad little excuse for a Paeony - what am I doing wrong? I have a total of 3 Paeonies, one for three years and the others planted last year. The first one flowered a small flower the first year, but nothing since, and the others have done nothing yet!

I grew paeonies without any bother in previous gardens, and I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong. any advice would be welcome.

Planting the Birr stuff

12 May 2011 01:17:13
Lady's Mantle in the woodland

Lady's Mantle in the woodland

Well, today was a busy day. Spent the morning and part of the afternoon clearing away more clover in the west woodland to make a suitable home for the goodies I bought in Birr.

Having doubled the size of the woodland area, I took the bull by the horns and planted like a woman posessed!

Planted the ferns, suitably labelled, first. I've decided it is easier to remember the common names for these treasures - Brilliant Red Buckler Fern, Dwarf Lady Fern, Sensitive Fern, Fancy Fern, and of course Rachel's favourite Japanese Painted Fern.

Next were the primula with their lovely graceful flowers that i was sure wouldn't survive the recent winds!

Then there were the various bits from outside the greenhouse - 6 Japanese Anemone, a Campanula from Liga, 10 of the hardy geraniums from my cousin in Swords, 8 unidentified ground cover plants also from Swords and 16 saxifrage  along the edge of the path!


Most of these little treasures don't show up too well in the woodland area yet - they need to grow a bit first! However, the Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla Mollis) is doing really well. One of the Japanese Anemones is planted in the middle of this group to give later interest.

And just to make a perfect end to a perfect day - a really good shower of rain this evening will settle them in nicely!

Still learning

11 May 2011 00:45:34


Some of you met my nephew Joey at Birr on Sunday. He is a professional photographer so while he was staying with me I had some lessons in how to get the best from my camera. I'm hoping that my photos will show my new-found knowledge.

I found the high winds of the past few days really difficult to work in, particularly with the drenching showers that kept catching me out! The new seating area replacing the compost area progressed yesterday, as my trusty helper Kevin was here and he has laid the brick boundary for the area. Once it has set I'll be able to finish the area myself, so hopefully should have it completed in the next few days.

Today I tackled another bit of the clover in the west woodland. It was much easier to clear after the rain so I got a good bit done before the rain chased me in again. The planting I did there last week is coming along well, and the newly cleared area will soon be planted with my booty from Birr!

The Aquilegia or Columbine  in the photo is in memory of my late mother-in-law, who loved this plant, but always caused great amusement by calling it "Concubine" :-))

Tomorrow is forecast to be less showery, so its full steam ahead!

Now look what you made me do....

08 May 2011 22:08:59
Birr purchases

Birr purchases

Had a lovely time in Birr today meeting up with you all ... and then losing you ... and finding you again ... and finally losing you completely So what could I do, all lonely and abandoned in the midst of thousands of temptations? Had to buy something, didn't I?

So I hope you are all feeling guilty for deserting me and I'm having to console myself with buying 5 lovely ferns and 4 equally lovely Candelabra primula.

And just to make you feel worse, I had to take home some dahlias and some lettuce that were supposed to be for export... although Liga & Co. did take a few bits .. and of course, I missed the bits that Rachel had for me too!

The only cure for all this guilt is to have another get-together really soon :-)

Potting time

07 May 2011 00:25:21


Yesterday started off very wet, but it brightened up beautifully in the afternoon so I donned the waterproof gear and headed out - had a great time planting up that bed I cleared way back where the dahlias were last year.  Sadly when I investigated them there wasn't even a squigy mess - just some stalks!! So I planted the space with two lovely Aquilegia, som Jacob's Ladder, a Campanula, some Cosmos and Papaver seedlings - a bit on the small side but i wanted to see how they will do. I also had a Acuba in a pot that was looking unhappy and a lilac that nearly died on me last year, so both of them were added to give a bit of structure to the bed.

Last year, as well as the Dahlias I had a couple of Malva Sylvetica 'Marina' that were really spectacular but they didn;t survive the winter. Same story the previous winter. If i can get my hands on one again this year I'd welcome advice on how to over-winter it!

Today was a bit showery too, so I concentrated on potting on some of the plants I got from Swords a few weeks back. The geraniums are already planted out but I don't know the names of the other plants - one looks like London Pride but the other is totally new to me! I'll have to wait until they develop a bit before I post pictures....

And then, when they were all potted up and watered, I got the chance to take this picture of the first flower on my perennial Osteospermum.

Looking forward to meeting people at Birr.

Open Day Calendar???

05 May 2011 11:57:53

Rainy day in Laois

05 May 2011 11:06:04
Strawberries & Struggling seeds...

Strawberries & Struggling seeds...

Meant to post this last night but was too darn tired! All that lovely rain yesterday has my garden looking fresh and green, and the rain is holding off today so I'll get out and get planting!

Yesterday I really got the benefit of the greenhouse. I'm new to the greenhouse business as we only got it last summer, but yesterday I had a lovely time pottering in the greenhouse while the rain pelted down outside! I even put some of the trays outsdie for a bit to get some REAL watering! In between the showers I ran out and scattered some night-scented stock in one of the beds - I reckoned that the heavy rain would give it a good start!

I now have only two trays of seedlings waiting to come up - the salvia tray had a load of chickweed in it which I removed and there are a few unidentified seedlings that may be what was planted! The other is Rudbeckia that i don't think is going to come up. However, following Liga's advice I'll leave them be a bit longer!

I potted up all the remaining dahlia seedlings and will have some spares to bring to Birr on Sunday, some Cosmos and Thunbergia Alata (black-eyed susan) but the most exciting bit was planting the melon seedlings in the growbag - i can taste the melons already!

And speaking of taste - I hope to harvest a small portion of strawberries from the plants in the greenhouse tomorrow- must get some cream!

Running to stand still

04 May 2011 01:10:06
Lost Crocosmia

Lost Crocosmia

I'm trying to get the garden in shape before I go back to work on Monday next and since the weather is to break over the next few days I feel I'm under pressure ... there are a lot of seedlings that will need to be planted (or donated on Sunday) as I won't have time to water them each morning as I have been doing.

Of course, while I've been busy with the front garden and the compost heap project the beds I weeded earlier in the year have gone to pot again. Spent the past two days clearing them, and in the process got some nice surprises.

In the bed behind the greenhouse  there were a number of little Japanese Anemones that had broken free from their parent plant. These are now potted up and may come into service in the woodland areas. That bed has a Nandina that I almost lost in the frost. There is only one branch left alive on it but I'll give it another chance. that bed also contains my Hamamelis Mollis and Robinia. There is a great clump of Solomons Seal there, also some Alchemilla, anemones and Michaelmas daisies so it has some interest all year round. The front of that bed has the transplanted hardy fuschia "Moonlight" and the remaining space is now raked and ready to plant some night-scented stock tomorrow.

I was hoping to progress the woodland project by doing the roundup on the remaining clover, but with this high wind I was afraid to chance it.

 Next I tackled the bed to the north of the pergola. Here the weeds were hiding whatever was planted in the bed. When the weeds were cleared away the three Day Lilies came into view - they are still very small but I suppose it id probably a bit early  for them. then I got a real shock - five Crocosmia Lucifer have appeared! I even had a plant label on them! Liga is a good influenc on me - I was so impressed with her labellin in her beds that I decided to follow her example.

Planted out a few sweetpeas where they can grow up the pergola trellis. The number of plants-in-waiting is gradually getting smaller... but of course there are still seeds waiting to be potted on .... but this bit is FUN :-)

And i almost forgot - my spuds have appeared above ground!


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