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TheH (Hazel)'s Journal

TheH (Hazel)'s Journal March 2012

Last Post 2156 days 23 hours ago

Photo viewing and ads - a solution

31 March 2012 00:45:01

Who am I ?

25 March 2012 21:58:13
Ground cover???

Ground cover???

I saw this in lots of places in Birr yesterday and would love to have it in my garden. Can anyone identify it for me please? The little inset is to give an idea how it grows. It looks nice and invasive (Hee Hee)

Bunk off Day

24 March 2012 22:25:48
A seat at last!!!!!

A seat at last!!!!!

To those not familiar with this phrase - it means dodging going to where you should be, for example, to school ....

We took advantage of the lovely day to pay a visit to Birr Castle. First off we went to see the Telescope - a wonderful machine lovingly restored - and from there we wandered down to the lakeside. The nice girl in Reception had mentioned that the Lower Walk was best just at the moment so we headed in that direction. It certainly was! That walk meanders along the riverside and has a succession of Magnolias all in flower, and some pretty dramatic bamks of daffodils.

The only snag was that there were hardly any seats on which to rest when the walking got a bit much. I was really disappointed byt this, as I had two mid-seventies visitors with me. They were in a state of collapse by the time we made it back to the cafe for our very tasty lunch. (see how exhausted they look - we finally found a seat but even this was up a steep incline to the base of the tree.)

Having restoked the boilers, Elizabeth went to look at the museum, Brendan went for a rest in his car, and I went to the Formal Garden. Having once more admired the restoration of that area I headed to the Fernery. I had never been to this part of the grounds before and I was quite entranced. A delightful winding path led to a wooden bridge crossing over a great waterfall ( I think its the one that used to provide the castle and the town of Birr with electricity right up to 1950!) and then on to an interesting building over an ancient well - the inside of which was beautifully decorated with shells in honour of one of the Guinesses.

I've come away with lots of ideas how to "naturalise" my woodland areas and having had such a lovely day off I'm all energised to get on with my own! I've put up an album showing the highlights of our day. 

Buaile Bos!

24 March 2012 18:38:26

Sisters hard at work again!

22 March 2012 22:11:10
Little stream - version 4

Little stream - version 4

My sister Elizabeth is staying for a while and we have been busy in the garden over the past couple of days. There has been a major job under way on the Wind Plaza - I'm keeping it under wraps until the project is complete! This was mainly a construction project so that left me free to get on with other tasks. I was demonstrating the two water features to Elizabeth when I realised that the stream was losing its water so remedial work was called for.

I tackled the stream bit by bit - the liner is actually in parts and it was at one of the joints that the leak occurred. Dismantling more than half the stream was a big job with the pebbles in the stream bed needing to be conserved for re-use and there were a number of smallish rocks needing moving. I reckon Peter's Cherub definitely made a visit as the rocks were very obliging and moved easily into their new homes!

The liner has now been replaced and the landscaping of the stream completed. This is probably the fourth time this stream ahd been redesigned and hopefully this is the last! i suspect the leak was caused by little visitors not realising that the stream bed wasn't another path to be explored! I reckon the cure is to make sure the stream is running when there are visitors so that this error doesn't occur again! 

And what was Elizabeth doing while all this construction was going on? She was doing an amazing job of weeding several areas for me, and planting out the wild-flower seeds Fran kindly sent me! Although we are sisters, our gardening styles are very different. While I garden "with a broad brush stroke" and am far from a perfectionist when it comes to the nitty gritty of the garden work, my compost is kind of on the coarse side, and weeding and tidying beds is a bit hit-or-miss. Elizabeth, on the other hand is the most pain-staking gardener I know - she weeds with fanatical  precision, and divides and propagates with great enthusiasm. This I know having been on the receiving end of her propagating successes since I began this garden in 2009!

I love this kind of weather

19 March 2012 23:21:32
Tidy bed

Tidy bed

This kind of fresh weather is probably my favourite for working in the garden. Once the worst of the winter is over, I dig out the ski-pants, warm jacket and hat and head out to the garden. This begins a steady progress through the garden, weeding, forking over the ground, cutting back the junk, one bed at a time. It is hard work but so satisfying. 

Since I got my greenhouse there is another dimension to this time of year - the excitement of sowing seeds and potting on seedlings - somewhere to hide out when it rains -  it just gets better!

That is, apart from the backache .... the running nose ....  the muck that always manages to come indoors with me .... the OTHER seeds that don't even appear .... and the even more annoying ones that germinate and then go into some sort of twilight zone refusing to get any bigger ....

But then the sun comes out again and I take a stroll round the garden, carefully ingoring the beds I haven;t got to yet, but feeling really satisfied with the ones that are done!

Being a full-time gardener (otherwise known as a retired person) as of this month, I'm just loving it! 

Mixed bag

17 March 2012 20:45:45
Dicentra on its way

Dicentra on its way

Today was defintely a mixed bag here in Laois. The day started out beautiful and sunny but unfortunately had do do some domestic stuff and by the time I was finished it was starting to rain! Not to be defeated by a little rain I togged up in the gardening gear and headed for the greenhouse. Good decision as the drizzle became more serious rain! 

I pricked out the seedlings that were demanding attention -Dahlias and Cosmos. I saved some Dahlias from last year's crop and have potted them up but so far no signs of life. I'm glad I had some seeds for this year as these little plants are really easy to grow from seed (they must be if I succeed with them!) and flower their socks off for weeks and weeks in the late summer.

While I was pottering away I had a visitor - a lovely neighbour who came to see if I could  help her plan out her garden -  she has a much larger area than mine, but has one great advantage - two-thirds of it is used intermittently as a paddock so as well as not having to do anything with that area she gets the bonus of free horse-manure!

We had a lovely afternoon talking gardens, exchanging ideas and she left armed with one of my gardening books to read on the train as she commutes to Dublin! I'm so chuffed that someone thinks I know enough to be able to be a bit of a mentor!

When she arrived I was just starting to plant the spuds - after all, it is Paddy's day - so I had to look for help to get them in the ground before nightfall!

I was delighted to see that the lettuce and cabbage (thanks Jacinta) that I sowed in the greenhouse are up - but still no sign of the Nasturtiums and Cerinthe. (Ok, Patience!!! I know!!) And the Tomato seedlings in the propagator have shot up and are now cooling down on the windowsill before I move them out to the greenhouse.

My neighbour is considering a polytunnel but I'm not so sure .... I think if you have a polytunnel you are kind of under pressure to keep it producing lots! All the "poly" folk on this site seem to produce enough to feed a large army :-) 

Design Phase

16 March 2012 00:06:03
design phase

design phase

I sometimes think I get as much out of the design phase of a garden project. For the past couple of weeks I've been mulling over ideas for the "Wind Plaza" letting my imagination have full reign. 

Several ideas got to the drawing stage, and some even got to the costing. I had more or less settled on one and had even started the basic construction but when I went to source some of the materials I ralised it was way out of my budget. This was a big blow - but not to be defeated we went back to the drawing phase .... and came up with a completely new idea - well within budget and even better than the previous one!


It was great fun - particularly modelling it with the kiddies blocks ........

Weeded or Wed???

12 March 2012 23:25:59
Dwarf Tulip - no idea what variety!

Dwarf Tulip - no idea what variety!

Well, Peter, you were very much in my thoughts today as I wed 9or weeded) the little pond bed. Every weed I pulled I pondered - weed or wed? In the end decided that wed sounded better- smoother somehow, giving the illusion  that it is an effortless process ....

I have news for all you enthusiasic gardeners - whether it is weeded or wed, it is darned hard work! I can hardly stand up straight after tackling that area - I thought I had given it  an initial tidy-up earlier but I can't have because it was in a very poor state between the celandine and the willow-herb not to mention the self-seeding columbine - it was quite a job! 

What is that other little weed that looks like shamrock with white flowers  - well, it was everywhere! Having removed the worst of the weeds I gave the bed a good oldfashioned fork-over so it looks really well now!

Being up close and personal with the bed i ahd a few nice surprises - one of my not-so-successful Paeony Roses is appearing again, as is the hardy fuschia " Flashlight". There are signs of life on the Agapanthus I planted last summer, and also on the Iris - both from Bloom last year. The biggest surprise is the Nerines - they did very little last year - the slugs had a feast on them when they first appeared and only one of the five planted actually made any attempt to flower - and it was pretty pathetic - but lo and behold - there are lots of little sprouts coming up - so this is where the coffee will go from tomorrow morning! Hope the slugs don't get there before me!

The photo is those pretty little tulips I have in the herbaceous bed. As you can see, the slugs tried to get them, but they survived! I love the way they open for the sun and then close up at night! 


Sleepy Bumble Bee

10 March 2012 20:43:06
Sleepy Bumble Bee

Sleepy Bumble Bee

Headed out to the garden this morning - a woman on a mission! First things first - rescued the Cardinocrinium from the propagator and moved it to the greenhouse. I reckon I've finally joined the ranks of "real gardeners" - I've actually put the date planted on the back of the label! I've always envied gardeners who could say with certainty " I planted these seeds 10 weeks ago ....." but never got around to recording that critical bit of information on the labels! I thought I was being really professional when I got around to the labels .... is there no end to the complication in this gardening business .... :-O

So the next urgent task going by the great advice I got yesterday was to remove the bubblewrap from the greenhouse. Started moving the "hardening off" plants out when  i spotted this little fellow having a snooze on the Tetrapanax - definitely an indication that the bubblewrap should come down - even the Bumble Bee can't keep awake it is so hot in there :-)

Having done that, I planted up the tomato seeds I bought on impulse yesterday. Those of you who know me will know that I usually cheat and take the easy option of buying plants for my tomatoes but this year I'm living dangerously and growing my own seeds! Also decided to try Cherry Tomatoes for a change. Will they grow in the same way as the conventional ones like Moneymaker?

Took a break from the endless Celandine weeding - donned the knapsack sprayer and dealt with anything brave enough to grow on my little woodland paths ....  I reckon that after three days solid removing the little perishers by hand I can be forgiven for taking the easier option on the paths :-)))

Best part of the day ...

10 March 2012 00:16:25
Welcome escaper - Anemone Blanda

Welcome escaper - Anemone Blanda

Now that I've had a good rant about the celandines - I promise they will not star in any more journals! So what else did I do today on this lovely mild out-in-the-garden day?

Took most of the plants out of the greenhouse for a bit of fresh air - BTW - when do you take down the bubble-wrap? My greenhouse is really hot these days and I have to leave the door open for most of the day.

Then potted up the Dahlias that I saved from last years seed-grown ones. Will be interested to see how they do! Did a bit of an experiment with the potting mixture - I had some unused kitty-litter lying around so I mixed a bit of it with the peat and compost to lighten it a bit .... if it works it is way cheaper than grit or perlite.

Then I got brave and opened up the tin with my packets of seeds .... Started off some Broad Beans (thank you Deborah) in the same toilet roll inners as the sweetpeas. Then some dark red Nasturtium seeds I saved from a plant last year - really hope they will come true! They only filled part of a tray so Cerinthe Major 'Prupureum' - also a gift but sorry to say no idea who gave them to me :-( Filled up the rest of the tray with some cut-and-come-again lettuce.

And then - what did I find at the very bottom of the tin? YES! the Rhodochition that Fran gave me at Johnstown -  and what had I put into the same little envelope - the Cardinocrinium Gigantium that I got from Jem (I think). Anyway, they are now planted up and in the propagator!

I'm really happy to be back full time in the garden - each evening about 5.30 Brendan comes wandering out to see what I've been up to - he doesn't realise that I know right well that he is getting peckish and hoping that I might go in any time soon and start cooking .... and the clocks haven;t even gone back yet! I think dinner time will be going forward an hour too!!!!

And the picture is of another little plant that likes to put itself about a bit - unlike the dreaded C.... this onw is very welcome to self-seed wherever it wants! 

I don't believe it .....

09 March 2012 23:18:47


Was having a happy time snapping some bits of colour when I noticed this ..... my lovely primula INVADED by one of those *?@** celandines!

Oh Dear!

08 March 2012 22:11:36
Water Ball????

Water Ball????

Today was a great day for the garden so I tried to turn over the veg beds in preparation for my Potato planting on Paddy's Day! - Not a good idea! The soil is still much too wet and heavy - I tried the the little electric cultivator but it got completely clogged up with wet mucky soil and even wetter manure still needing to be dug in.

Does anyone have a suggestion what I can add to the beds to make the soil easier to work? We made raised beds this year and thought this would help with the drainage but so far no improvement.

Having frustrated myself in the veg area  I decided to cheer myself up by playing with the now-working water feature - what to calll it? Water Ball? Anyway, seeing it gurgling happily away did the trick and I went on to have a very productive time weeding and clearing the West Woodland. 

The greenhouse is filling up with seedlings now that the sedums have moved out. the Sweet Pea are nearly 5 inches tall. I planted them in the toilet roll centres and they seem to be very happy there. The leaves are opening today so now all I have to do is keep them happy for a few weeks until it is warm enough to plant them out.

The Tetrapanax are taking off - so Bill and other Tetrapanax folk - wha next? I really want to give these great plants the best planting location but I know very little about them other than how impressed I was with them at Bill's open day last year :-) 

Planting day today!

07 March 2012 18:48:54
Clematis 'Blue Bird'

Clematis 'Blue Bird'

Well the weather was very mixed here today. We had the four seasons in one day again! I got into the weatherproof gardening gear and spent a happy day pottering about in and out of the greenhouse when the hailstones were falling :-)

I potted on the Candelabra Primula that I got from my own seed last autumn. There are four different ones and I've been very challenged trying to keep them separated! One lot were fine - the  Primula Florindae - a nice yellow one that I got at Bloom two years ago. However there were three more trays, all Primula Japonica from Birr last year. I potted on some 'Apple Blossom' a couple of weeks ago, and also some 'Postford White' and labelled the new pots correctly - so far so good - but then it all went horribly wrong! I left the trays in the greenhouse and they all started germinating again - and I had removed the labels! So we will have some "lucky dip" ones this year too! I suppose I really don't mind as I'm planning to plant them all in the woodland area and they will all be lovely regardless of their 'posh' names!

We had an electrician working on some stuff in the house today and we got him to check out the water feature too - and all that was wrong was some dirt in the pump so now I'm a happy camper!

In between the showers I planted out the goodies from Bellefield. The dwarf bearded Iris and the sedums (thank you Keego!) were added to the sedum garden. The Hellebore and the Lamium went in the East Woodland and the Clematis beside the Pergola! Someone was hoping to see it in flower - well, here it is!

The Tree Mallow has also found a new home in the bed near the house where I used to have the Malva - a bed we see from the breakfast table - so I'm looking forward to seeing it in flower. 

Last but not least I potted up the Camelia I got for my birthday. it is a lovely white one and I hope it will like living on the deck!

It was a really satisfying day in the garden. Some days there seems to be great progress, which makes up for the days when I just seem to achieve very little! 

Perfect day

05 March 2012 01:15:34


What a lovely day! Celebrated my birthday with family and friends and the sun managed to stay out most of the day although it was very cold. I was overjoyed to see how the little ones really enjoyed my garden - completely undeterred by the cold they spent the entire afternoon getting lots of fun out of the pathways, the boardwalk and the swing seat. When I was planning the garden I had great memories of childhood visits to the Botanic Gardens in Dublin where my brother and I loved the rockery best of all with its many little pathways (although I notice that they now have a big notice warning not to do this any more ) so I included a good few pathways in my garden too, and of course as I have developed the garden there has been a need for additional paths for access to various beds etc.. and the kiddies loved them all!

 So having eaten our fill, and said goodbye to all the guests I sneaked out to take a quick snap of the plants - from Bellefield 

Clematis Macropetala "Blue Bird" - lovely early Clematis destined for the Pergola

Lavatera Arborea Variegatea - Tree Mallow 

Helleborus argutifolius Corsicus - large Hellebore that was growing really well in Bellefield

Dwarf Bearded Iris - haven't had much luck with Iris in the past so this is a bit of a gamble but the lady selling it gave me lots of helpful advice

Lamium galeobdolon 'Variegatum' - taking a bit of a punt on this one as it likes dryish shade and my embroynic woodland is only starting to have some shade and it isn't very dry ... still, nothing venture nothing gain

And of course some Sedums from Keego 

And then, as if that wasn't enough excitement I got  a present of a lovely Camellia Japonica "Silver Anniversary" from my goddaughter and some welcome funds for the gardening budget from other kind family members.

So now I'm thinking I might venture to join that very exclusive club "the Felco owners club" but I have no idea where I might find one fo these totally exclusive items!!! 

The photo isn't great as it was my feeble attempt at a night shot! 



04 March 2012 00:52:58

....and more sedums

02 March 2012 22:56:26
Looking Good

Looking Good

Today was really cold - a bitter wind that came straight off the north pole, I reckon. I wrapped up warm - ski trousers, hooded jacket and insulated gloves and all! Once i was togged up I was nice and snug so I did another planting session in the Sedum Garden. I've lost count of how many little sedums I've planted over the past couple of days. Some of them are still very small but I'm hoping for the best.

The Sedum Bed is two-thirds planted now but the rest will have to wait a while as I need to bring on the remaining plants a bit more before I plant them out. Now I would like to find a suitable edging for the area, someting that will knit together quickly and helop to prevent the gravel from sliding down onto the path. Any suggestions would be welcome!

We are having some visitors on Sunday so I am happy to have had the chance to get the first tidy-ups done. If I didn't have occasional visitors I'd never get around to this. And I reckon this bed beside the little pond is looking good! 

Busy few days

02 March 2012 01:35:39
Version 3 or is it 4 of the Wind Plaza

Version 3 or is it 4 of the Wind Plaza

Been really enjoying the garden the past few days - even though there was a cold wind earlier I wrapped up warm and ventured out.

Had some adventures with the lawnmower but all's well that ends well - the grass has all had it first cut - although I didn't do the edges - they can wait!

I got some bulbs from Bakker - Nerines and Sparaxis - and I already had some Acidenthera that needed planting so that was my main priority - to find a good spot for them and then to get them planted! The Nerines are all in a clump on the edge of the shrubbery. I had some last year but the slugs went to town on them so these will be getting regular doses of coffee grounds! The Sparaxis have been put in two locations - near the bird feeders (this spot is usually empty once the daffodils have died down) and in and out through the heather bed,

 That left the Acidenthera - 50 of them - and the pack recommended planting them together. Well, couldn't manage that but I did manage to thread them through the new bed - the one that you all encouraged me to plant last year! I also weeded it - and every weed I took out I was thinking "remind me why I didn't plant grass here ...." I'm sure it will be worth it when all the stuff increases and covers more of the ground.

 The final task was to start planting up the Sedum Bed - 50 planted and can't even calculate how many more to go ....

Several times I took a break to rearrange the Wind Plaza the photo is the latest configuration! 



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