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TheH (Hazel)'s Journal

TheH (Hazel)'s Journal November 2011

Last Post 2244 days 2 hours ago

Clematis on the move

30 November 2011 10:02:40
Clematis corner

Clematis corner

Its a bit overcast here this morning but I thought I'd take a photo of my hard work over the past couple of days. That barrel was a divil to move - used the principle of the lever - and the wrecking bar! Could have done with Peter's crowbar not to mention Cherub to lend a hand :-)

 I love Clematis Montana Reubens ever since my mother's garden. I hope this one likes this corner. It has had a bit of an adventurous lie so far. I bought it for the balcony of my apartment in Dublin before I moved here to Laois and it did well there considering it was in a pot.

Carefully transported to Laois it spent the next winter (2007/2008) still in the pot, outside the back door and suffered the gales that blew our heavy timber patio table right across the deck!

When the garden hard landscaping was more or less completed we built a Pergola and I thought this would be the ideal place for Clematis to live. However, it didn;t do very well, but did produce some new growth and a few flowers. 

Winter 2009  nearly did for it but it came through. Reading that Clematis likes to be buried deep, that spring I dug it up. deepened the hole and added some compost. Again barely any growth. 

After winter 2010 it was really struggling, and the cold spell in late spring turned all the foliage brown so I was ready to give up on it. Dug it up in July, and was about to consign it to the compost heap when I saw some new growth at the root. This little plant deserved another chance. Potted it  in a nice rich mix of my own compost and some potting compost and it rewarded me with some nice healthy new growth.

Here's hoping that it will like its new location. I've planted it good and deep, and as I said in a previous journal this area was the site of my compost heaps for over two years so there should be lots of nutrition in the soil. It is in the lee of the hedgerow so will get no early morning sun, and the roots are protected with some slates. I can't do more. It it doesn't start being a "proper" Montana I'll just give up! 

Slowly but surely .....

29 November 2011 17:58:37

Wise after the event

27 November 2011 21:52:02
Bed - what a nightmare!

Bed - what a nightmare!

Some of you may recall that I allowed myself to be persuaded to plant up a bed in place of a simple bit of grass earlier in the year. Well, I was really happy with how it looks and it was definitely a good idea .... or so I thought until today!

Next time I'm creating a bed I shall measure the width of it very carefully .... this bed is way beyond  the possible width that one not-very-tall gardener can reach on her knees doing a bit of weeding. We have some horses in the field next door at the moment and they were very interested in my techniques to reach the pesky weeds - first position kneeler about 2 feet into the border making sure no little plants are flattened in the process - then down on the knees and lean forward on all fours - careful now, don't lose your balance - remove the offending weed - then back off carefully and repeat all the way down the bed. 

Next bed will be MUCH easier to weed ......wait a minute .... that Sedum bed is even worse .... Oops! Back to the drawing board :-) 

For Rachel

27 November 2011 21:21:24
Euphorbia Amygdaloides Purpurea

Euphorbia Amygdaloides Purpurea

This is the Euphorbia that I have, Rachel. It has vivid green flowers/bracts or whatever in June and is very hardy for me. If you don't have one and would like one I can bring one to Johnstown.

Open day in Laois in June - but which day?

27 November 2011 19:07:26
Open day in Laois in June - but which day?

Open day in Laois in June - but which day?

I have been mulling over the best date to have my open day next year (while I'm not panicking about what I'm letting myself in for !!!!) and having decided that I would like to open in June I then remembered that June is the time when Bloom in the Park and the Gardener's World Show in Birmingham happen. I've gone to Bloom every year since it started, and have been trying to get to Birmingham for the past few years so where does that leave me? 

Bloom this year is Thu. 31st May. - Mon. 4th Jun

Gardener's World Live is 13 -17 June

So that leaves the weekend of  9 -10 June or the weekend of 23 - 24 June. If I choose the earlier one I might have problems having the garden at its best because we tend to be about 3 weeks behind most areas here in Laois .... so 23 - 24 looks more promising! Also, if the plans work out I might bring my car over to the UK and who know what I might pick up at the show ....

Ok. Decision made. The weekend of 23 -24 June we will be happy to open our garden for better or worse :-)

Now comes the hard part. Saturday or Sunday? No matter which I choose someone will not be able to come .....  feedback please?



No Rain!

26 November 2011 18:07:03
Sedum Bed 'before'

Sedum Bed 'before'

I was expecting the weather to break all day today but thankfully it didn;t. A bit windy, but I wrapped up well and ventured out planning to cut the grass - final cut! Well, did you ever have one of those days? First off the motor mower wouldn't start - it has a "key start" which is the only kine I can manage, and the battery had run down. Not to worry, the backup mower, a little Flymo, would be fine since there wasn;t much to cut. So I went to take out the extension lead and the LAST PERSON TO USE IT (who shall be nameless) had managed to tangle it up in a regular Mare's Nest so that took half an hour to unravel. Started up the mower but it was set too high so I tried to loosen the nut to lower the cut but it wouldn't budge. Called on Brendan to help - he took one look at the plastic spanner provided and immediately went off to buy a "proper" spanner. One hour later, despite copious use of WD40 to loosen it, we had to admit defeat. Will try to get it sorted on Monday. Not much point in having a backup machine if it doesn't do the job!!!

By now I was totally fed up so I tackled the area for the planned Sedum Bed - it was very uneven after the paving around the turbine was done a few weeks ago so I did my best to level it out. I'm going to take Bruno's advice and put a thick layer of gravel on top to provide the Sedums with the good drainage they need. The best part of THAT plan is that I won't need to dig over this bed before the planting.

Got another bed weeded and sorted before it got dark so I was very happy with the days work despite the frustrating start!

And the picture? I'm doing like Fran and giving a "before" picture .... 

Busy day - but not all outdoors!

24 November 2011 17:58:47
Snug Greenhouse

Snug Greenhouse

This morning was very windy but at least it was dry, so togging up in the ski-trousers and warm jacket I finally got to planting the red tulips I got in Lidl weeks ago. They have been sitting by the back door rebuking me every time I went in or out! They are now scattered through the shrubbery where they should give a nice splash of colour as the shrubs come back into leaf. I'm afraid they weren't planted with Rachel's precision - that looked like WAY too much hard work!

I can now reveal that 2KG of tulips is actually 75 bulbs - so enough to make a good show. Monty Don explained the different ways of planting tulips - deep if you want them to naturalise and not so deep if you plan to lift them when they have finished flowering. I have a different approach - plant deep if the ground is easy to dig, and not so deep when you hit rocky terrain - anyway, I'll see the results in the spring.

Delighted with myself getting that job done, I tackled another bed for its Winter Tidy-up and then it was time for lunch. I remembered that I was to lift a plant to take to my sisters tomorrow, so there was nothing for it but to go back out after lunch. I just got the plant lifted when the rain started so I headed for the greenhouse to finish potting it up. 

It was so snug in the greenhouse that I spent a happy couple of hours there tidying up the sedums and other plants removing debris and was delighted to find that many of the plants have little leaf buds appearing already. Some of the plants from Bruno are also showing signs of growth, and the Tetrapanax are really coming on. This is all new to me as I didn't make much use of the greenhouse last winter not realising how much fun it could be :-)

Late or early?

24 November 2011 17:40:45
Rose and Heather

Rose and Heather

Are the roses late or the heather early? This rose  'Ghislaine de Feligonde' is a rambler and most ramblers seem to do just one flush of blooms but this little beauty produces flush after flush from June but it still surprised me by producing yet another flush to greet me when I got back from my travels. 

The heathers are maturing nicely. They are so reliable and bring a touch of colour during the winter days.


Introducing .......

23 November 2011 00:36:39
Baby Cliona

Baby Cliona

Baby Cliona - 11 days old!

Just back from a second trip - it never rains but it pours! We were in the UK for a few days for a wedding. Saturday was the big day, and it was a real "pet day" - warm and sunny! I hear there was a bit of a deluge here so I'm glad we missed that one!

When we got back of course the first thing to do was see how the greenhouse stuff had survived! What a surprise! I had moved most of the sedum plantlets into the greenhouse before we went away, as well as all the plants from Bruno, the Tetrapanax and some fuschias as well as some slips. All obviously appreciated the bubblewrap, not to mention the frost heater (which hardly comes on since the insulation is really working!)

Most of the sedum seedlings are producing lots of tiny growth now, and the new plants are also looking healthy. the Tetrapanax are producing new leaves, and one of the fuschias is flowering its socks off!

I suppose the best thing has been that I wasn't fussing over them for nearly a week so there was no danger of over-watering! i'm taking a leaf out of Rachel's book and planning on a weekly watering.

Now I'm off to catch up on the journals ..... and to browse through the photos of my pretty little grand-daughter :-) 

Just had to post this ....

16 November 2011 18:39:18
Bruno's treasures

Bruno's treasures

I've been in Barcelona with my beautiful granddaughter Cliona for the past week so haven't had time yet to catch up on journals. Imagine my delight on getting home to find an interesting parcel had arrived while I was away. I confess to being an absolute child when it comes to parcels, especially when delivered by post! The accumulated bills and other "important" letters were flung to one side while I dived into the parcel. What a treasure trove!!!!  Bruno, as good as his word, had sent me a great selection of his succulents that I admired when we visited during the summer. Once I realised what was in the parcel I just hurried out to the greenhouse to pot them up, as I was afraid they had been in the parcel for too long. There are sedums I know, sedums I don't know, sempervivums and something that looks a bit lik Aloe Vera. I'm sure as they develop Bruno will help me learn their many varieties.

This has me really excited about the proposed sedum bed. the Wind Turbine is once more up and running so I can access that area properly again. We made an attempt to rotavate it but it isn't fully killed off completely yet so I'll just have to have patience. I also need to get some of the gravel that Bruno recommended to help the heavy clay soil. The turbine now has a proper access path (thanks to the trusty Kevin) so its all systems go as soon as the weather is right.

In the meantime the "goodies" from Bruno and my own propagations are all safely tucked up for the winter. In the week I was away the cuttings I brought in to the greenhouse have shown real progress. They should be nice healthy  plants by the spring when they get planted out. 

That was a hard frost last night ...

07 November 2011 22:40:50
Brave little Fuschia

Brave little Fuschia

.... and I almost lost this little beauty! I had put this planter in the shelter of the house as I hadn't time to pot the fuschia up for the greenhouse on saturday and sunday was a trip to Dublin, so when I got up this morning and saw the frost I had to rush out and see if it had survived.

Today's main task was to wrap the greenhouse in bubble-wrap. What a tragedy it would have been if the frost had got my precious plants while 30m of bubble wrap stood in a roll in the greenhouse!

I never wrapped a greenhouse before, and I really didn't realise what a task it is! I had followed Dick's journals on the subject, but still didn't take account of the amount of work involved. Well, now I know. Wrapping a greenhouse, even a small one, is a long day's work!!!!

The clearing out of the accumulation of the summer stuff, dozens of clean pots (from my last "garden housekeeping") and almost as many pots still needing to be washed, half-full bags of different composts, boxes full of hand-tools - it took an age! And then of course the whole place needed a wash-down - have to confess it was a bit of a cursory wash-down as I was starting to realise how much needed to be done!

Finally the Big Wrap started - the little fittings that came with the bubblewrap were very good at holding it in place but there was a bit of a problem in the corners as there are no handy grooves in these sections so a good strong sticky tape came into play - as did the plastic clips I got from Lidl in the spring for holding up plants. I have now proved that a 30m x 0.75m roll of bubblewrap is EXACTLY right for wrapping a small greenhouse!

It was almost dark by the time the wrapping was done but I had to keep going in the gloom, moving as many of the little sedums as possible under cover as many of them  are on the small side for survival out of doors and the cold frame is crammed to the gills!  I'm looking forward to admiring my work tomorrow when it is bright !!!!

We get nice sunsets in Laois too ....

07 November 2011 00:23:20
Laois Sunset

Laois Sunset

These frosty days have their compensations!

Ferns - some with names!

07 November 2011 00:18:40
Maori Koru

Maori Koru

I've put up some photos of ferns - some I have names for, but a couple were just labelled "Seasonal Plants" whatever that means! I'd be grateful if anyone can definitely identify the mystery plants!

I love ferns, especially when they unfurl their new leaves. In New Zealand the Maori have a special reverence for the fern - they refer to that unfurling frond as the Koru and it symbolises rebirth, and renewal and new beginnings. I visited new Zealand a few months after my late husband died, and this symbol really struck a cord with me.

The photo is from the Web, and shows tha Maori Koru.


Great day today

05 November 2011 20:46:39
Composting area

Composting area

After the early morning frost it was a truly lovely day here. After a mixed week I really enjoyed having a long uninterrupted session in the garden today. Elizabeth (my sister) came down yesterday for a "gardening sisters" session and we tackled the Willow Fence, trimming it back for the winter and making it neat and tidy. (I've decided i don't LIKE the alternative name of "Fedge" - Sorry Bill :-)) I was so glad to have her there to steady the ladder while the arches were being trimmed.

One of the pieces of advice I got from the guy who helped me build my Willow Fence was not to trim it too enthusiastically as this would mean that the fence would not continue to produce growth on the sides. I visited the Delta Sensory Garden recently (where I first saw these fences three years ago) and was sad to see that the fences there are now quite bare on the bottom.

Today I began by shredding all the trimmings from the willow, then since the shredder was set up, I went around with the wheelbarrow gathering up herbaceous trimmings and was delighted to get it all shredded and transported to the compost area (see the picture!) which is looking very ship-shape for once!

I'm really pleased with my compost area at the moment - there are a number of bags of leafmould, a bay with manure (left over when the veg beds were covered), a bay full of compost well turned and left to finish over the winter, and the final bay is the "work in progress" filling up rapidly as I tidy up for the winter.

My Brussel Sprouts are coming on well. Some of them started to open a bit, I believe this is caused by having insufficient room, so I took out a few to give the rest more room. Now I need advice - Do brussel Sprouts prefer you to pick them according as they reach size - does this affect the size of the remaining one? I've never grown them before and would be grateful for any gems of wisdom here ..... 

Rain stopped play ....

02 November 2011 16:10:56
Sweet Fruit Chutney and Plum Pud in the making

Sweet Fruit Chutney and Plum Pud in the making

My mission to clear the Plants-In-Waiting corner has met with a setback. I'm all fired up and energetic today but the rain just WON'T stop for me .... I even had Kevin lined up to sort out the new sedum bed for me. He arrived with a trailer full of the best manure in Laois for me and bless him, he barrowed it all down to the veg area and spread it on the beds - mark you, this was when it was only drizzling - but the rain prevented the other jobs being tackled.

Hey Ho, what to do? Very bored and frustrated with this weather. OK - no more excuses - make that Chutney!

So while I was in "kitchen mode" I put the Plum Puddings together. Never been so ahead of myself before - of course I was helped by the voucher for €20 off if I spent €75 last week in Supervalue so that encouraged me to buy the makings of the puddings. There is another voucher for this week - maybe its a good time to buy selection boxes and biscuits for C.....*** (are we allowed to mention it yet Jacinta?) but there is always the chance they will be discovered before the big day .... hate to pass up such a good discount .... pity they aren't a garden centre :-( 

Getting things done

01 November 2011 23:20:23
Gerbera and friends

Gerbera and friends

Over the past week I've been taking advantage of any nice weather to get on with the garden tasks. The shredder came into its own, with most of the trimmings and prunings being processed as they were taken down, so the garden is gradually settling down to its tidy but not so interesting season of winter.

Every day I was carefully inspecting the many pots accumulated outside the greenhouse, did they need water? or other attention? There is quite a selection of stuff - I have been propagating the sedums like mad for the new sedum bed, and it isn't quite ready for planting up yet. Then there were the 10 Weigela slips that ALL took ...  and the 9 Hebe slips from trimmings in friend Joan's garden ... and two dozen aubretia seedlings .... and a dozen campanula ... a couple of pink geraniums and so on and so on!

Then i had a light-bulb moment! Didn't Jacinta suggest I PLANT some of these plants! Now THERE'S a novel idea - plant plants in the GROUND!

So today I was on a mission - how many pots could I empty in a day? The Weigela went in to the bed where the night-scented stock had been removed - all in a little group - they can be moved on when they get a bit bigger. The Hebe have been scattered in the East Woodland where their evergreen foliage will give some winter interest. I don't know what variety they are so it will be a "wait and see" situation. Where the Cosmos were gave me lots of space, so the geraniums (including the "pot luck geranium" and the lovely Gerbera) found a home, as did the Aquilegia that were overcrowding the little pond bed.

Then it was the turn of the edging plants - Aubretia and Campanula are now happily bordering the paths in the woodland areas and then, as darkness fell, a little Potentilla found a home in the Japanese garden!

I'm a happy camper tonight - the outside sink is full of empty pots and the Plants-in-waiting area is getting much much smaller! The forecast for tomorrow is showers and wind, so I'm hoping they won't both happen at once - and then I might get some more planting done! 

What a week!

01 November 2011 22:53:03
Cliona - 7 hours old!

Cliona - 7 hours old!

Got myself worked up this week with various family issues - to such an extent that I ended up doing an over-nighter in Portlaoise with chest pains! Fortunately, the final diagnosis is stress rather than heart attack so I'm a happy camper! Main cause of raised stress level was the anticipated arrival of Cliona, my first grandchild, in far away Barcelona!


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