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TheH (Hazel)'s Journal

TheH (Hazel)'s Journal September 2011

Last Post 2332 days 2 hours ago

Cloud descends on Laois

30 September 2011 17:16:14
Agapanthus & Cotinus Grace

Agapanthus & Cotinus Grace

Well, I'm glad I made the most of the recent nice days - today I am living in the middle of a cloud, with heavy downpours to relieve the monotony. Looking out at the grass, which is rebuking me for not mowing it  the other day, I am struck by just how vivid the colours look just now. It was so inspiring that I ran out between showers to take a few last September photos.

This last flower of the Agapanthus against the Cotinus Grace struck me as being particularly lovely.

Of course, having read both my magazines from cover to cover I now have a long, long list of "must do" chores waiting for the rain to stop. The biggest irony is that the wind has finally dropped, but of course I STILL can't spray off that area for the Sedum bed because it won't stop raining .... Grrr! 

Garden Magazines .....

30 September 2011 16:24:35
Cherry Brandy

Cherry Brandy

This year I was lucky enough to get presents of subscriptions to both Irish Garden and Gardener's World. I have really enjoyed having them drop into my letterbox each month, usually a day apart so I don't have to decide which to read first!

Yesterday brought Gardener's World (early for once!) and today brought the Irish Garden - but it also brought a reminder about renewing the Gardener's World subscription.

What a dilemma! Would I prefer to have it drop through my letterbox without any intervention from me? Or would I prefer to have the anticipation of watching the news-stand for its arrival? .... Indecision!!!!!


Taking advantage of the sunshine

28 September 2011 17:04:02


I missed out on the nice weather yesterday garden-wise as I was in Dublin, but I did get to stroll around the city in bare arms!
I was determined to get out in the garden today, and as if to encourage me, I got a delivery of some plant replacements from Bakker - (they are very good at replacing things under their guarantee, I find) so i had some Hemerocallis Stella Oro and someOenothera Speciosa Roseum to find a home for today. The Oenothera went in with the rose bushes as they like good drainage and this is a raised bed.
Then I went down to the new bed planted a few weeks ago and found space for the Hemerocallis there. I took the opportunity to hoe the bed and was delighted to see that every one of the plants in this new bed is showing signs of new growth! Hopefully they will come through the winter alright.
I also needed to update the database with the planting in this bed so that was the next task. I was totally amazed to find there were a total of 22 different plants - and most of them gifts from kind .ier friends!
Here is the list:

Anemone Japonica
Campanula Carpatica
Campanula Poscharskyana
Campanula 'elizabeth'
Euphorbia Sequieriana
Euphorbia Purpurea
Geranium Lividum
Geranium Ibericum
Geranium Sambor
Geranium Wargrave Pink
Heuchera Geroge Peach
Heuchera Peach Flambe
Heuchera Sanguinea
Verbena Bonariensis

I can't wait for Spring!

Done and Dusted

24 September 2011 23:02:11
Leaves to the left, Shredded stuff to the right

Leaves to the left, Shredded stuff to the right

Wasn't it a great day today? I hope it was as warm, sunny and pleasant wherever you are today. Having got the domestic chores up to date I ventured back to the compost area this afternoon.

This time I had a better strategy - step one was to sort out the leaves and branches making a pile of nice clean pile of sticks for shredding. This process was a bit tedious but gave me a big pile of leaves which will no doubt make great leaf mould in time. I was going to put them in a black bag as this is supposed to be the best way to end up with good leaf mould, but the book says the leaves musn't be dry, but about 25% of my pile of leaves are dry and crumbly!

Anyway, back to today - so having separated out the sticks in this way it was a really easy task to shred them all. Of course, yesterday I was doing two jobs at once, turning the compost heap and including the shredded material at the same time, Today's apprach was much simpler and less exhausting.

I've been reading the comments on Jacinta's compost .... and may be bursting into song with Dick .... all in the name of good compost :-) 

One of the big tasks tackled today

24 September 2011 00:25:01
Sweetpea and Potentillas still looking good!

Sweetpea and Potentillas still looking good!

My trusty shredder from Lidl broke back in July and I've been collecting hedge clippings etc since then. My replacement shredder (Well done, Lidl, guarantee honoured!) arrived today, so with Brendan's help it was assembled and brought down to the compost area.

Of course, the shredded hedge clippings have to be mixed with the compost, so that made the task a lot bigger. Isn't it always the way - my estimate of how long it would take to shred was way too optimistic - after three hours of hard work I'm only a little over half way through the pile for shredding!

The real problem was that the clipping, mainly from the Willow hedge, have sat in a pile for weeks, and the leaves have started to compost so there was nothing for it but to try separating the leaves from the branches which was a very tedious task indeed! However, there is always a plus - I will have an amazing pile of leaf mould for use next year!

Having worked myself to a standstill I didn't have the energy to drag the shredder back up to the shed, so instead I covered it with a tarpaulin and tied it down well. Just as well, as i can hear the rain outside already!

However, the growing pile of compost is another plus for my hard work! 

Have a confession to make .....

24 September 2011 00:07:13
Primula Viallii (from the web)

Primula Viallii (from the web)

When I visited the Delta Sensory Garden recently I paid the usual visit to the garden centre as well - when I was chatting with the guy here I was looking at a pot of the lovely Primula Viallii that appears all around the various gardens. It was looking a bit sad, and definitely going off, so the kind chap gave it to me!

So today I attacked it with a pruning knife and now have 6 of them :-)  Haven't any pics of the new plantlets, but found this picture on the web .... 

Mystery plants

22 September 2011 21:25:46
Mystery plants

Mystery plants

I have two of these in the Hot Border and I think I got them from Liga - or maybe not! Neither is showing any sign of flowers yet, so all I have to go on is the leaf! I'd love to know what they are before they have to face the winter :-)

BTW the yellow flowers in front are no mystery at all!!!! 

First step in the Sedum Project

22 September 2011 21:15:03
First attempt

First attempt

Went out to try out the bricks for the sedum bed and the results are very encouraging. However, I would like to do some more of this kind of thing and I am actually out of bricks! (460 bricks seemed such a lot when i got them from the brick factory) However, I may look at alternatives as I don't want to have to buy bricks at full price to complete it. After all, the  pallet I got before only cost €50, while the bricks usually cost about a euro each!

However, the first test has been passed so if it is not too windy tomorrow I reckon I'll spray off the area.

Ooooh! I'm getting all enthusiastic again!

Took a tally on the sedums -

Sedum Acre - 23

Sedum Spathulifolium Purpureum - 7

Sedum Spurium 'Dragon's Blood' - 11

Sempervivum - not yet divided but should make about 12 plants

Miniature sempervivum - large clump could also be divided

Still have to lift lots of seedlings of the Sedum Acre so I'll probably end up using it as the "background" with the other being used for the details.

This is the kind of shape I'm thinking of at the moment although it could all change .... and of course Puss was making sure i did it right :-)

...and when you sleep on a plan .....

22 September 2011 17:04:41
Sedum Spathulifolium Purpureum

Sedum Spathulifolium Purpureum

...it starts to clarify. I've more or less decided how to go about this project.

First of all I need to experiment with the brick edgings just laying them out in the patterns I want. If they will go the way I want then to then I'm ready to kill off the clover in the bed in preparation. When the clover has died back I'll till it with the little rotovator and level it off.

Some parts near the turbine have very little earth because of the big concrete foundation so that will affect how I proceed.

Anyway, when the bed is dug over and levelled as well as possible I'll set in the brick border outlines so that I can see where I'm going with the planting. I reckon that I won't really know how many plants I'll need until then, but hopefully it will be nearer Bill and Tony's estimated than mine :-( 

 But isn't half the fun in the planning! I have a copy-book full of sketches and plans for the garden, many of them will never see the light of day, but I got a great buzz out of creating them!

Last winter I made a number of plans out while cooped up in the house and my expected timeframe was over the next year or two- imagine my surprise when I looked back and see that most of them have been achieved this year !!!! I guess this is because I haven't had any "real" work to do since last December so completing each project was a way of keeping myself sane!


When it rains ....

22 September 2011 00:19:15
Front door planter

Front door planter

.... I indulge in flights of fancy so I take out the squared copy and draw plans!

I suppose I could have caught up on the housekeeping chores today while the rain was pelting down, but couldn't get my mind around to it somehow. It all started when I checked the site and there was a question about my Sedum Project. First thing to do was figure out the area of the proposed bed. Unfortunately this involved measuring it up, so I donned the raincoat and ran out and took the measurements as quickly as possible.

The size of the bed actually surprised me - it is a bit of an irregular shape because it has curved paths surrounding it, and the access path to the turbine has to be left clear. Roughly speaking the area is about 9m by 7m so 63 sq.m. with about 10 sq.m. taken out for the access path. So doing the sums, then, planting sedums at about 25cm distance, that is 16 plants per sq.m.,  or 504 plants for the whole thing. 

Considering that I thought I was doing well with about 25 plants so far, it is easy to see that I was a bit discouraged.

I decided the best way to cheer myself up was to let my imagination run free and draw a first attempt at a design for the area so I could get some idea of quantities of each variety ....

This was a really good idea because as I drew out the design I realised that i would have to include some way of dividing up the sections. I considered narrow gravel pathways, edging strips of various kinds but nothing seemed quite right. The designs are stylised flower shapes and to make the shapes stand out they need a dramatic edging. then I remembered that there are still quite a few of those bargain red bricks left over .... and if this plant stays they have a potential use.  So of course this means less plants!

Just as I was putting the finishing touches to the sketch the sun came out! This was obviously  a good omen, so without further ado I went out to do some "real" garden stuff! I'm amazed to find that my sweetpea are still flowering away merrily - just needed a bit of dead-heading and they are almost as good as new! 

The photo shows a new pot for the front of the house. As well as the Cyclamen there is a Helebore seedling in the centre which may or may not flower this year, and there are some Scilla, some Leucojum (snowflakes) and some crocus to give early colour. At least i feel there was something other than flights of fancy achieved today!

For Periwinkle

21 September 2011 12:50:54
Sedum Acre

Sedum Acre

This is my Sedum Acre from earlier in the summer. Its common name is Yellow Stonecrop and it is a ferocious self-seeder, so perfect for my Sedum Project!

Planting is always fun

20 September 2011 23:22:34
Cotinus Grace

Cotinus Grace

Today I did some potting on of Sedum Acre for the sedum project - 24 done, no idea how many more will be needed!

I also planted the beautiful Cotinus Grace that I got in Mount Venus beside the small pond. I'm hoping that in time it will provide some dappled shade, and some wind filtering for the more shade-loving plants in that area. I love the way it reflects on the pond.

Did some weeding while I was at it, and uncovered several nasty slugs in the process ....

Potted up some Aquilegia and some Potentilla too - one of the potentillas is pink so I'm putting it aside for a friend. Also finished off planting of the daffodil bulbs, so all in all a satisfactory day's work! 

P.S. - for the curious, the strange metal object in the background is the turbine which is currently reclining, awaiting surgery! 

Have you been to Delta Sensory Garden?

19 September 2011 19:44:51
Mystery Shrub

Mystery Shrub

This garden is one of my favourites for a number of reasons. For those of you who have never heard of it, Delta is a garden made up of a number of smaller gardens designed by some of the best garden designers in the country. It is tucked away in an industrial estate on the outskirts of Carlow, and is well sign-posted.

From when we entered at the spectacular fountain/sculpture, and enjoyed the unusual indoor Music Garden, right through the Path of Life garden, Prairie garden, Five Senses garden, The Stolen Child garden, Formal Rose garden, Pond and Woodland garden, the new Mirror garden, Peace garden, Willow garden, Sculpture garden, and a few more whose names I can't remember, we were in another world, wandering from garden to garden and being surprised at each new vista. 

I understand that the construction of the various gardens was done by FAS trainees, and the gardens are largely maintained by the people who attend the nearby workshop, under the guidance of some expert horticulturalists. Some of the gardens were sponsored by a viariety of notable sponsors and the whole thing is beautifully maintained and cared for.

There is a very modest entry fee of €5 (€4 for OAP and Students) which goes towards the running costs. We were about 2 hours in the gardens and could have been much longer as there was so much to see! The people caring for this garden are very friendly and happy to tellyou all they know about it, although you may need to find the Horticulturalist if you want the name of a plant!

This was my third or fourth visit to these gardens, first time to visit in Autumn and I was not disappointed. The gardens vary from completely formal, to unusual, to wild woodland. What they provide is real inspiration for planting and plant combinations, as most of the  "gardens" are no bigger than an average suburban garden, and there are many interesting sculptures blended in to the gardens. As i was leaving I spotted the shrub in the photo against the reception building, but couldn't find anyone to ask its name so any ideas? (full size photo in album)

There is a small garden centre where plants from the garden can be purchased, and a coffee shop where snacks or a full lunch can be had. 

Altogether a very enjoyable visit - highly recommended! 

Sisters are the best!

18 September 2011 00:36:57
Rain cannot stop play

Rain cannot stop play

Yesterday my big sister Elizabeth paid me a visit - we decided a few weeks ago to "trade days" in each other's gardens and it was my turn to be at the receiving end! When she said she was coming down I whooped with delight as there were 5kg of daffodils that really needed planting!

The day was like the Curate's egg - good in spots!

However, my sister is nothing if not determined - every rain shower was halting the planting which was very frustrating, so not to be deterred, Elizabeth went into the house and procured this cheery umbrella. Believe it or not, she actually kept on planting through all the remaining showers! - and please note she gardens in a skirt!

Then this morning she came with me to Mount Venus and helped me choose a new tree/shrub to give some shade to my small pool bed - mind you we also had the excellent input from Bill (did you actually buy up the entire place, Bill?)

The new plant is Cotinus Grace that I admired so much in Bill's garden. It was a toss up between it and a lovely healthy Cornus Kousa (Milky WayI think) so taking Bill's advice, if torn between two plants, buy both! Such excellent advice!


The Sedum plan ....

15 September 2011 22:59:56
Some I prepared earlier!!!

Some I prepared earlier!!!

So what am I like? I'm still filling up the new border with lots fo lovely plants thanks in no small measure to my garden.ie friends and their very generous gifts of plants - but of course while that border was under discussion someone made a comment about the "lawn-free garden" that was my original objective. Although I had to put that plan to one side because of the difficulty in keeping on top of such a young garden, and all the projects that were being carried out at the same time, in the back of my mind it was lurking .... and all it took was a chance remark for me to start thinking about it again.

I'll concentrate on the turbine bed first and see how it goes .....

This is an area with a number of problems. The installation of the wind turbine involved a large concrete foundation which has little or no topsoil on it. Also the turbine itself needs access for maintenance. My solution was to make a bark area for the access, and to spread some soil over the rest. The clover lawn planted in that area is food in some parts but very poor where the soil is thin. To add to the difficulties, one side of the section is very steep and difficult to mow. All in all, the perfect place for my new sedum lawn!

I already have a few different low-growing sedums

Sedum Acre with bright green leaves and yellow flowers

Sedum spathulifolium 'Purpureum' with grey/silver leaves and less yellow flowers

Sedum spurium 'Dragon's Blood' with less vivid green leaves and red flowers

I also have two different Sempervivums with different sizes of rosettes, no idea of the varieties and some London Pride.

I'm looking forward to Bruno's promised sedum with the lovely wine-tinged leaves ...

My plan is to use the colours of the sedums to create patterns. This is going to take an awful lot of plants, so I reckon the greenhouse is going to be full over the winter! I'll just have to have patience, i suppose :-)



Worth waiting for

13 September 2011 22:53:16
Rudbeckia 'Cherry Brandy'

Rudbeckia 'Cherry Brandy'

At long last it has opened!  

Lovely Rudbeckia "Cherry Brandy"! 

Thank you Clare!

All is not lost after all

13 September 2011 22:47:26
Robinia survives!

Robinia survives!

Ventured out after the storm today armed with a handful of carefully written labels for all my treasures from Sunday. Having labelled them all I then planted out the Eryngium, Agastache, Campanula, Euphorbia and the Heuchera, all in the new border which is really filling up nicely. I think I'd better stop now or I'll be pulling things out before the end of next summer :-)

I also moved a few things from the herbaceous border that were causing over-crowding problems. The "plants in waiting " area still has a way to go, and is likely to get worse before it gets better!

I've decided to try and raise a large number of sedums this winter. I had just two pots of them in the greenhouse last winter and they did extremely well, so I think I'll try dividing the various varieties I have that might be suitable for a sedum lawn! I'm back on track with the idea of a garden without grass, although I think I'll keep a little grass for the contrast especially during the winter. 

As I was planting the last of my "movers" the heavens opened so I scurried in to the greenhouse, where I was trapped for nearly an hour by the downpour! I  made good use of the time, potting on the little Fuschias i got in Woodies on Sunday. I have no idea of they are hardy or not, so I'm just going to keep them in the greenhouse over the winter and hopefully they will continue to flower for some time yet. Did a bit of sifting of compost and general tidying of the greenhouse before the rain stopped.

My last task before going indoors was to take a walk around the garden to view the effects of the storm. I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of my trees and plants came through the storm in good shape. One lot of Sweetpea came loose from the pergola, but the Robinia is not as bad as it looked at first! The whole centre of the tree is gone but there are still some branches attached that it may be possible to train back into a vague "tree" shape. The Japanese Anemones were originally growing up through the tree, and are well over 5 ft tall so at least they are taking the bare look off this corner. 

Unidentified Plants -Ideas please?

12 September 2011 13:08:14
Bigger pics in Album

Bigger pics in Album

I've spent the morning trying to find the names for the plants I put in the "Unidentified Plants" Album.

The first Fuschia is hardy - it survived last winter forgotten in a pot and reappeared this summer very late!

The plant from Geraldine is very familiar but I can't quite put a name on it.

The other Fuschia is the 99cent one from Woodies - the nearest i can find are either Ballerina Blue or Vodoo.

The final picture is a complete mystery - it was in with some Asteriscus in Woodies but didn't have a label - its leaves are very different - almost like Aubretia leaves - but the flower if it ever comes out, looks like it will be yellow.

I'm getting obsessed with the database and having all the plants correctly named (well, as far as possible, anyway!) and of course this windy day is the perfect day for staying indoors and playing with the computer :-)


Tullamore Treasure Trove

11 September 2011 22:37:56
Will these survive the storm?

Will these survive the storm?

I went to meet Geraldine (Cloncaw) today at an Equestrian event near Tullamore to collect some promised plants - I was totally overwhelmed by the boot full of treasures she had brought me! Where would my garden be without the great generosity of my .ier friends? It would be a much emptier one, and that is for sure! Another herbaceous potentilla "Ron McBeath" for the japanese area, some Campanula "Elizabeth" that I coveted from Clara's journal a few weeks back to add to my growing collection of campanula, some Agastache and euphorbia all destined for the new border and a Nepeta seedling - Oh dear, the cats will have a great time with it!

i was struck by the great dedication and effort that she puts in to the whole horse business - and am impressed that she finds any time for her garden at all :-) Up at 5 am today, a long journey and an even longer day of events and then the journey home - definitely dedication! 

Having left Geraldine to her equine pursuits I set the trusty sat-nav to take me home, and you'll never guess, it took me right past Woodies in Tullamore (well, actually not quite past ...) so I remembered I really needed some paint brushes :-)

It definitely wasn't my fault that they were giving away such marvellous bargains ... 40% off is a real discount! Fortunately for my bank balance I already had a boot full so I showed commendable restraint and escaped with only a few fuschias (99 cent each) and some golden Heucheras and was delighted to get a replacement for my Potentilla Abbotswood (the white one) that perished last winter. Also picked up some spring bulbs at 2 packs for €5.

All tucked up now waiting for the hurricane to hit .... busy day tomorrow planting. May have to do it in rain-gear!!!! 


Sun, Rain and Wind

10 September 2011 22:22:59
Plants in Waiting on their way ...

Plants in Waiting on their way ...

Today was a really mixed bag - the best of the day was this morning, but since I was on duty while we were having an attic ladder fitted I couldn't take advantage of it - however, I'm very happy to have a safer way of accessing the attic D

After lunch I headed out to get on with the planting of the new border which I think I should call the "club border" because it was the club members who inspired me! 

Brought all the plants down in the wheelbarrow and then positioned them roughly where I wanted them to go. The positioning of the plants means that there is scope for filing in with annuals next year to give the more permanent items an opportunity to bulk up!

I've gone for a pretty conventional layout - at the path edge mostly Geranium "Wargrave Pink" then along the edge of the steps the box hedging slips. The next row is Campanula Carpetica, Oxalis crassipes 'Rosea' Cottage Pink, Chaerophyllum Hirsutum Roseum, Euphorbia Sequieriana Niciciana, Hardy Geranium phaeum 'Samobor', another Pink Geranium, Hardy Geraniium Phaeum Lividum.

Next row Geranium sanguineum, Heuchera Sanguinea (four in total).

Next row Arbutilon, Mint, another Heuchera, Fran's Anemone.

Back row Echinacea and Verbena Bonariensis.

Behind this border is a shrubbery in progress so I'm hoping that the effect of the Verbena and the Heuchera in flower will add real interest to this border.

As usual, when all the plants were in the ground they looked much smaller than in the post, but I'm ready to go for it and have a bit of the rare quality of patience waiting for my new border to materialise! 

Electric Tiller

10 September 2011 21:53:52
The 'Handy' tiller from Mr.Middleton

The 'Handy' tiller from Mr.Middleton

A couple of folk expressed an interest in my little cultivator (or Tiller)  so here is a picture!

It is a very useful tool for people like me - who still want to garden like a "young wan" but haven't got the stamina! It is quite light to use and does a great job of turning my heavy clay soil into something I can actually work!

Most recently I used it to (a) in the new border to break up the hard surface that the clay soil develops every summer  and then, when I was convinced by garden.iers to plant it as a border instead of a lawn (b) to dig in a load of home-made compost to said border.

Only disadvantage is that it takes a bit of getting used to, and you need to clear the large stones or it will be doing a kind of "Bucking Bronco" act as it tries to cope!

The border I was working on is approx. 7 metres by 2.5 metres ( 23 feet by 8 feet in old money)

It was very compacted in places because I had the weedblock on it for a couple of years, and  bits it it were trodden a lot when the steps were under construction. I cleared off the large stones first, then used the cultivator. It took about half an hour to get is all broken up and this exposed lots more stones!

Then I raked off the big stones again.

Then I spread lots of home-made compost over the border. The compost was still a bit coarse so I reckoned the best way to deal with it was to use the cultivator again!

This worked a treat - the soil was reduced to breadcrumbs in about 15 minutes flat!!!!


So the decision is made - its a border!

09 September 2011 21:33:49
First plants in ....

First plants in ....

Today was a busy day here in Gortnalee. First there were domestic tasks to do - dinner to organise, washing to put out since there was a good breeze today! Finally after lunch I was free to get cracking on the new border!

First task was to barrow up the entire compost heap to improve the soil - 6 barrow-loads! Then roughly spread it out. Now it was time for the heavies - so down came the new electric cultivator and the VERY long extension lead and off I went!

Witnin 15 minutes the whole bed was reduced to breadcrumbs! I love that little machine!

Took the wide rake to it then - and the whole thing was levelled in no time!

So then it was time to look again at "the plan" and see what was to be planted. This is the bit I really enjoy - however unfortunately just as I was getting into my stride it started to drizzle in a most unpleasant way, and I didn't have my jacket with me so a difficult choice had to be made - press on with the planting or go and get the jacket!

I'm afraid the planting won - I convinced myself that the rain would stop .... but it didn't!

Still, i got a start made, and if there are any decent good spells tomorrow I should get it finished. I'm really happy with this change of direction brought about totally by this site !!!

One of the things that I thought of when considering the options was that I originally planned a garden with no lawns to mow but then had to modify my plans because keeping some sort of order on the garden while  getting the whole place planted up was just too big a task for me. 

 How quickly things change - already the garden is getting much more manageable, so now I can decide whether to extend the planting based on the plants i want to accomodate. I certainly didn't think I would be anywhere near this point when I was struggling with the garden in all weathers during 2008 when it was being planted up for the first time!

Hmm! Looks like it might be..

09 September 2011 11:22:30
Plants in waiting

Plants in waiting

.. a new border after all!

Now look what you've started, Rachel - I was out before breakfast with the tape measuring the bed - it is about 7m long and about 2.5m wide - and counting the "plants in waiting" - there are about 40 of them - so enough to make a good start anyway:-) Now I just need to dig in a load of compost as the soil ereally isn;t as good as it looks!

And its a lovely day here - sunny at the moment and little rain expected! Must head off and get the dinner in so I can get out and start!

And yes, i have to admit, I'm all fired up about this new border;-)

Thanks for all the encouragement! 

Satisfied ....

08 September 2011 22:42:38
Last area to level

Last area to level

After my unsuccessful wrestling with the willow stump today I tackled the last "unfinished symphony" - the last bit to be leveled, de-stoned and prepared for grass sowing! I am reminded of the warning I got from Andy (I think) about not removing too many stones ... and then I thought of the instructions for laying a lawn -

1. Dig over the soil

2. Rake it level and remove the large stones

What they don't say is what to do if the area is about 50% stones .... so I took my trusty cultivator and broke up the top layer of soil and got rid of any weeds ... then I attacked it with the rake and gradually persuaded it to look like something that might actually let grass grow on it! I have a great area below this lawn where the stones could be dumped so at least I wasn't having to barrow them round the garden looking for a home :-)

Had a look at the Heuchera Sanguinea that someone suggested might have the dreaded Vine Weevil - dug ti up and Phew! no sign of anything resembling a grub of any kind so I reckon it is as I suspected - the foliage of the heuchera is so dense that the soil underneath where the sedum was had completely dried out!

This story had a really happy outcome as the Heuchera has been divided up into TEN plants, including a large bit to be returned to its original place where it was really beautiful this summer.



Don't they go well together?

08 September 2011 22:10:58
Pretty combo

Pretty combo

Cosmos - still flowering its socks off and Cerastium tomentosum 'Silberteppich' - Snow-in-Summer still producing the odd flower, but really brightening up that bed with its lovely silver foliage.

This is one of those plants that you either love or hate - it is a bit of a thug, but if you want something to look good all year round it is hard to beat! 

At Last! Hot Border looking at least luke-warm!

08 September 2011 22:05:15
Hot Border (nearly)

Hot Border (nearly)

What a lovley day here in Laois. Woke to really heavy cloud and was not hoping for much, but then out came the sun and it was a real "indian Summer" day!

I was going to tackle that tree stump, but I have to admit defeat! My little chain-saw is brilliant for branches but was not making any impression on the willow stump, so then I tried the D-saw but couldn't make any impression with that either! It will have to wait for my friend Kevin to bring his "grown-up! chainsaw to cut it off at ground level. If that fails I'll just have to put a bucket over it and plant around it :-)

Feeling totally frustrated at my lack of success, I turned around and there behind me was my new Hot Border, actually looking a bit hot at last! 

Isn't that what gardening is all about? Ups and downs, swings and roundabouts all the time. 

Glutton for punishment!

07 September 2011 22:59:19
The 'before' picture

The 'before' picture

Ventured out for a second stint today - mainly because I didn't get to what I planned earlier with all the drama with the lawnmowers!

I am once more on a bit of a mission. Remember that willow tree that had to be taken out? Well, the corner where it was needs to be tackled. I want to try and get more of the stump out for a start - so I have started digging around it to see just how incredible the roots are! I've cleared back the bark and stones  out of the way and plan to plant the Cherry tree that Jacinta gave me to replace the willow - and then maybe make it into a nice little haven to sit - I've discovered that this is actually the most sheltered spot in the whole garden! May end up planting it up with things that are suffering from the wind in other parts of the garden! 

Of course, just when I was getting into the swing of it, down came the rain - and this time there was no escape! Tomorrow is to be showery too, so i guess I just have to get up early so I'll get the bit of sunshine ...... 


Some things done .....

07 September 2011 16:40:00
Onion harvest

Onion harvest

What is it with the weather? I wake almost every morning to sunshine streaming in to the bedroom .... but by the time I've showered and breakfasted the lovely sunshine is all gone! I ventured out with the intention of cutting the grass in the back gardens but the mower decided to act up - not as badly as Bill's - only needs to recharge the starter battery. Having got the bit between my teeth I wasn't going to be defeated, so I took out the little Flymo (that I was planning to sell) and at least got the grass finished in some way.

I've realised that why it gives such a poor cut is because the blades are too high DOH! and the little tool to loosen the blade, with the necessary "spacers" to adjust it have been hanging in the shed since i bought the mower! Unfortunatly I couldn't get the bolt loose so it will have to wait for Brendan to do it for me! I think it may be a good option for the smaller patches of grass, although when the motor mower is behaving it is the business! 

When i was bringing the grass cuttings down to the compost area I saw that the onion stalks were almost all bent over, so without more ado I harvested the onion crop! It was a bit disappointing because that bed in the veg garden looked like the soil was really good, but the onions didn't really swell very much at all, despite my dedicated watering!

I'm thinking of sowing some "green manure" in the veg  garden this year just in the beds that I created in the spring. I want the paths to stay where they are, so it will be a matter of removing the great crop of stones that the potatoes threw up and chucking down the seed .... or would I be as well to go get some good manure and dig that in instead? I just don't want that area to get out of control again on me!

Oh! the rain has stopped .... maybe I'll go out for an hour :-) 


Plants for free .... I'm lovin it!

06 September 2011 21:30:29


Today was very showery but I braved the elements between the showers and got quite a lot done. First I sorted out some compost - I now have two good-size containers of compost outside the greenhouse convenient for sieving for potting. I have been using a mix of equal parts garden compost and peat moss, with a handful of sand added all summer and it has been working very well.

I took up a load of seedlings and potted them up for the winter. There were a good few seedlings of the Hardy Geranium Wargrave Pink, some were left where they were and some were lifted. Next was Sedum Acer with the lovely yellow flowers. It is destined for edging the woodland area to help keep the bark off the gravel paths. I already have Sedum Spurium 'Dragon's Blood' doing this job along the West Woodland and it is working very well. Then I went to lift and divide the Sedum Spathulifolium 'Purpureum' that has outgrown its place. It was really wierd - the whole plant sort of crumbled when i tried to lift it, so I just put it loosely into a seed-tray. Then the rain came down so I scurried into the greenhouse with all my goodies! I think the reason the sedum purpureum did this was that the ground was really dry and crumbly because it has been completely sheltered by a Heuchera all summer!

What a satisfying job! Potted up lots with the lovely new compost, but there was too much of the Purpureum to pot, so a few of them got potted, and when the rain stopped the remainder were just planted in situ. Lots of the little branches had roots attached so I'm hopeful that they will take.  


06 September 2011 21:03:26
Some Stipa in the Bamboo garden

Some Stipa in the Bamboo garden

I put a couple of grasses in the Potentilla bed a couple of years ago. The Carex "Everest" has been very successful, and I've been able to divide it and even had "spares" to give away! Andropogon 'Prairie Blues' perished last winter. Carex Testacea has done OK.

However, Stipa tenuissima 'Pony Tails' is another matter altogether! This is a lovely feathery grass that self seeded to a couple of locations and I was very happy to have it appearing in the herbaceous bed and the small pond bed. Unfortunately, my cats think I planted this grass especially fro them! They jump through it at each other, pounce on it, even wrestle with it - result - lots of dead grass leaves all aroung the beds and a rather pathetic stump of the plant left. Not really the look I was aiming for!

Today I made a decision. If the cats are going to play havoc with the grasses, then I will put them down in the Bamboo Garden where I don't have to look at the devastation all the time! So I lifted all the grasses except the Carex (which the cats ignore) and transplanted them to their new home. The two cats watched the whole proceedings with great interest, with one of them trying to play with the trowel! i hope they let the plants at least settle in before they attack them again!

To Rachel - great guru - and other seed experts

05 September 2011 12:13:50
Three different candelabra primulas I hope!

Three different candelabra primulas I hope!

..... candelabra primula seedlings seem to have sprouted as per Monty Don instructions .... so what do I do now to make them grow? I'm misting them rather than watering them as they are so tiny, and keeping the little plastic covers on them. They are in the greenhouse, on the highest brightest shelf .....

But my track record with getting seedlings from this stage to actual plants hasn't been brilliant - so please please please any advice ?????  

Best value ever!

05 September 2011 01:52:07
Four Dahlias from seed.

Four Dahlias from seed.

I lost all my Dahlias last winter so I decided to try Dahlias from seed. They were a bit hard to find, but eventually they were procured! They have been a joy - filling up spaces all around the garden - I even put some near the gate and even though the slugs had a good go at them, when they flowered they were very pretty!

I crammed a load of them into a couple of big pots on the deck and they have been a source of joy for weeks now. I hope the photo loads alright,

Busy day

02 September 2011 22:45:25
Plants in Waiting

Plants in Waiting

Well, I'm delighted with myself!

Managed to cut the front grass, and did a bit of work on tidying and weeding the woodland areas at the same time.

Then it was on to planting! First plants were a couple of Verbena Bonariensis, a Lychnis and that lovely Rudneckia Cherry Brandy which is almost out and their new home was the main herbaceous border alongside the deck. They will fill some gaps in that border. I will need to do some moving and dividing in that bed later this month. Having seen how lovely the hostas looked under the trees in Hosta's garden I'm planning to lift and divide the hostas in that bed. They are in full sun now, so even the bit of shade in the woodland areas may suit them better.

Next to be planted were the geraniums I got from Hosta now identified as GERANIUM X OXONIANUM " THURSTONIANUM "  (Thanks, Margaret!) I was looking for something to plant at the edge of the paved circle that would follow on from the daffodils and the plant that Margaret dug up for me actually was four separate plants so they fill the bill perfectly! I stuck the other Lychnis into this bed too - I'm making it a sort of extension of the Herbaceous border as it is also along the deck.

The Red Hot Pokers were next - one planted in the corner near the new seating area, one planted beside my lime-tolerant Rhododendron and one held in reserve for the head of the stream.

Then I planted the "pot-luck Geranium" from Rachels  open day and the Polemonium Caeruleum at the Pergola.

Having got nicely into my stride, I ventured to the front and planted some aubretia cutting in the Japanese area around the well, a forsythia slip in the West Woodland and the Leycesteria and one of the Buddliea from my sister also in the West Woodland.

Having been so enthusiastic with the planting I then had to (a) remember where I planted them and (b) water them in! That took as long as the planting!

All in all, an enjoyable day in the garden, and the Plants in Waiting area is definitely much smaller than it was this morning D 

PS - couldn't resist the Cyclamen in Lidl yesterday - one step forward and two steps back!!!!! 

Woman with a bad memory ....

02 September 2011 11:46:09
Altamont souvenir

Altamont souvenir

Yesterday I started to work on the long, long list of things I would like to do in relation to moving stuff etc. First off, I made a list of all the "plants in waiting" and another list of "plants to be potted on". These lists were so long that I had to stop for a cup of tea!

On this list there are some gifts from kind garden friends and I would love to have the correct names for them if possible, and where I've forgotten the kind donors that would be great to know too! 

Plants in waiting 

Campanula Carpatica (see photo - from Altamont)

Verbena Bonariensis (thanks Noelle)

Rudbeckia Cherry Brandy (thanks Clare)

Geranium variety unknown (thanks Hosta - do you have the name please?)

From my sister -

Buddleia shrub - may be pink!

Leycesteria shrub

Several Red Hot Pokers

2 different geraniums, one deep pink and one Magenta

Geranium Lucidicum - has a lovely label - who gave it to me? Can't remember 

Lychnis from Keego I think??? from Rachel's open day

Alstomeria from Rachel

Hellebore seedlings - can't remember who I got themfrom at Bill's open day

Sedum Acer self-seed

Pink Oxalis from my daughter's window-box

Polemonium Caeruleum again - can't remember who gave it to me!

Box cuttings

Aubretia cuttings

Campanula Poscharskyana cuttings 

Clematis Montana that came back to life when I dug it up

As you can see, quite  a bit to be done... and that doesn't count all the seedlings I still have to lift and transplant, not to mention the list of stuff to be potted on ... including two lovely Tetrapanax that I think I'll overwinter in the greenhouse to be on the sure side!

So apart from all the lists, I actually did a little in the garden too! The gardiniere was looking a bit tatty so I gave it a good mulch and it looks happier already. The Cosmos in it are still flowering their socks off and the Virginia creepers are turning gorgeous colours. I also started positioning the plants-in-waiting around the garden so today's task will be to plant as many as possible! Also would like to get the lawns cut as we are promised lots of rain to celebrate the Electric Picnic this weekend :-)





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