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TheH (Hazel)'s Journal

TheH (Hazel)'s Journal October 2013

Last Post 1540 days 13 hours ago

A bit of gardening at last!

29 October 2013 19:26:12

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Today was a great day weatherwise so I left the many indoor chores and headed for the garden straight after breakfast! 

My original plan was just to collect up some more of the hazelnuts but when I had done that I just didn't want to go indoors :-) That area, the Hazel Grove, had been inundated with thistles thanks to my not getting the hawthorn hedge  cleared this year. Won't be making THAT mistake again!

It was very satisfying to completely fill the wheelbarrow with these thugs! I'm delighted how this area has developed. I am allowing the little violets to self-seed here and hopefully they will give the celandine a run for its money in the spring! I also have left some ivy to grow as ground-cover and planted some periwinkle there too. Some helebore seedlings from last year are starting to bud and the primroses and cowslips I got from Dick a few years ago are spreading nicely too. I had a single forget-me-not plant there this year so I scattered the seeds and now have lots of seedlings. The path along the back of this bed is greatly brightened by the lovely Persicaria from Rachel that is now being divided and spread along the edge of the path. I am encouraged to see that apart from the thistles there were relatively few other weeds and the scutch grass that used to plague that bed is almost eradicated.

I can't believe that it is now nearly five years since we planted the Hazels - they will soon be needing to be cut back - there was a detailed description of how to do it in some magazine last year so I'll just have to go back over the whole library to find it! There are worse ways of spending a winter's evening!

I also did another hour on the willow hurdles - it is very slow!  And all the "compost in waiting" is starting to sprout millions of Bittersweet - Ugh!

Visitors .... can't garden!

28 October 2013 11:12:20

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I really love when people come to visit. I know that most of you think that I make all my visitors work for their supper but this weekend I had a visit from my brother who is a total non-gardener! We spent the weekend just lazing about and chatting so no progress has been made on the willow hurdles for the moment. 

I went to Dublin with him yesterday afternoon and having got the shoes I went up for I still had an hour to spare before my train so I headed up to Chapters where I got a second-hand copy of a delightful book - "Dear Friend and Gardener" - a collection of letters between Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd. Made a good start on it on the train home.

Did one of those "if i can't garden at least I can photo" walks and was delighted to see how two of my Persicaria in particular have flourished. The "Red Dragon" from Rachel a couple of years ago wasn't happy with its position so I moved it and it is rewarding me by actually flowering! The second photo is  Persicaria Campanulata I got in Mount Venus last year. It is a bit of a thug so may have to move - but for this time of year it is a mass of flowers which start deep pink in the bud and gradually lighten as they open. It is beside the drive which also has these self-seeded Cerinthe (from this years plants!) flowering away! I'm dying to see how many of them will survive the winter - I even have some that appeared where I had plants last year. They sprang up at the end of the summer and are now also flowering!

The flowers on this plant are a bit strange but I have it planted beside some Ajuga Repans and the contrasting foliages are lovely! 

Surprising day

24 October 2013 00:50:12
Marry Me

Marry Me

Elizabeth was down today so we decided to crack on with the willow hurdle Compost Area. First task was to clear the leaves off the willows and sort them into reasonable sizes.

In the end I decided to just put the willow rods into the ground for the weaving - I know I know! They will probably grow .... but since the weaving won;t be growing it should be relatively easy to keep the uprights cut back. 

We actually started some of the weaving and I'm amazed at how much willow it uses up! I'll put up a complete album when the task is completed :-)

The forecast for today wasn't too good but the reality was lovely - plenty of sunshine and only a few very brief showers - sometimes I'm really happy when the weather-man (or woman) gets it wrong!

And isn't this rose the cutest thing? It is called 'Marry Me" and was a gift from new Zealnd cousins who visited us when the house was only under construction!

Help! they are breeding on me !!!!

17 October 2013 23:57:16
Breeding bags

Breeding bags

Its a long story .... I decided after my marathon compost-making session that it was definitely time to sort out the compost bays in the lower garden. The pallets I used were already a bit dodgy when I started using them over 4 years ago - they actually pre-date any actual work on the garden - and now they are definitely in need of being retired.

So flushed with my success with the Arbour and having a rather large mound of Willow looking for a home, I have the idea that I might make Willow Hurdles to hold the compost. They would certainly be more attractive than the current decrepit pallets!

So I found some large bags - the kind that sand is delivered in - and brought them down to the lower garden. They are the temporary storage for the compost until the remodelling is done.

Bag 1 has "browns" - shreddings - mostly willow.

Bag 2 had "greens" from the messy heap and anything I've cut back recently

Bag 3 is the half-digested compost from the messy heap.

I was happy enough with that ... until today .... when i cut the grass .... and had nowhere to stash the cuttings ..... Welcome Bag 4!

Guess I'd better get cracking on the Hurdles :-)

Wonderful day to be in the garden

11 October 2013 22:54:25

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I hear that the brilliant weather we had here in Laois was not experienced in some places but we certainly took full advantage, Elizabeth and I. We did a list of the chores we completed and it made good reading! There was weeding of gravel paths and beds, trimming of the Willow Arches, gathering a bucket full of Hazelnuts, weeding the Rose Garden and then emptying a bay of well rotted compost onto the nice cleared Rose beds. There was even some compost to spare for the Fuchsias in that area too!

But most of all there was the beautiful sunshine and a gentle chat as we worked away happily for the day!

I'm so sad when I read journals bemoaning the fading of the garden in Autumn so I took a few photos of the brilliant colours that brighten October for me every year

Thought for the day

10 October 2013 10:09:33
Today's thought

Today's thought

I have this cute little calendar with a gardening-related thought for the day. Sometimes it has something very apt! I've been following the journals about plant moving and am smiling to myself! Having spent the past couple of years trying frantically to fill the spaces in my garden so I have some chance of keeping the weeds at bay I am now starting to have time to actually look at how the borders and beds are arranged. Well, arranged is probably too strong a word - generally stuff often got stuck in to the nearest space so they wouldn't die in their pots!

I know some people keep great notebooks that list plants they want to move so they can do all their moving at the correct time. I'm not one of those people! 

My mother lived with me when I was creating a garden in Dublin for the first time way back in the 70's and together we planned out a "perfect" planting scheme - including climbers for the concrete walls that surrounded the garden, with a flowering scheme covering the 12 months of the year! At that time garden centres as we know them now didn't exist, so finding the particular plants was a real challenge. Often we got different varieties to what we planned, and these often turned out to be totally the wrong size or too vigorous, or too petite, so moving was always on the cards.

One year my late husband Pat decided to grow vegetables so I had to move 40 rose bushes out of his way in July!!!!!

My mother, an experienced gardener, used to sigh and say "Hazel, would you not let the poor plants have a chance to grow some roots?"

Now where is that list of plants to move? Oh yes, I didn't make one. Oh well, just have to try and remember which need moving!


08 October 2013 23:08:52


Just a photo of the "Dalek" after I completed the compost cake making this afternoon ....

Composting is fun ????

08 October 2013 11:18:07

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We gardeners tend to be a bit nerdy when it comes to our compost. I have observed a definite tendency to snobbery in the area of composting - " Do you not compost?" definitely feels like a bit of a put-down.

When you get down to it, what is composting all about? For me its about dealing with the great mounds of garden rubbish I generate right through the year without resorting to paying to dump it!

I tend to be a bit of a hit-and-miss composter so cannot lay claim to any of the snobbery mentioned above. When I started the garden we had just completed building the house so I rescued a few pallets and before I even had a garden I had decided to set up the 3-bay system I had seen on gardening programmes through the years. The bays were hardly elegant - tied together with bright blue baling twine - but they looked very professional and I had dreams of the beautiful crumbly compost I would soon have to enrich my garden.

It sounds so simple. Cut up the waste material and make sure to mix "browns" and "greens", turn it regularly and before you know it you will have said crumbly compost.

Reality check - when I get the urge to cut back stuff I just go at it and generate mounds of stuff - it all goes down to the composting area and there it sits. Willow cutting and other hedge trimmings go in one heap (currently 4 feet high, 9 feet long and blocking access to the bays) and things like Nasturtiums, general soft weeds etc just get flung in to one of the bays. Turning the heap? Not a chance!

Visiting Elizabeth I have been very impressed with her "hot composting" system that seems to be generating great compost very quickly. So since I spent a day clearing some of the spent summer beds and actually hand-shredded a wheelbarrow full of "greens" i thought I'd give her method a go.

The recipe calls for very thin layers of Greens, Browns, Compost from the last heap, a sprinkle of Compost Accellorator and a sprinkle of water, all laid out on a tarpaulin, then tossed together with a rake or fork. This mixture is then transferred to a covered container where it can cook away.

I emptied the "dalek" compost bin (another location for dumped weeds,cutting etc) and to my delight the hot summer obviously helped it to actually compost a bit so this provided the Compost layer. I also have one of the compost bays with a good mound of shredded willow so that provided the Browns.

Its amazing how many times I prepared this "compost cake mix" and tossed them into the Dalek. Anyway, it has filled the Dalek about two-thirds and I have enough Browns and Compost to fill the rest so I'm off now to cut back some Greens .....

I'm not sure it is fun, but it is certainly addictive!!!!


Where there's a Will (ow) there's a way!

05 October 2013 18:42:19

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We had a fabulous sunny day today - more like midsummer than October so this afternoon ably assisted by Brendan's granddaughter, Una, I set about sorting out the Willow Arbour I started last week with Elizabeth.

There was a design flaw in last weeks version - the Willow wands just weren't long enough. 

Nothing for it but to reduce the size of the structure so first task was to undo a lot o what had been done last week. Next was to decide the size of Willow Arbour Mark 2. Once that decision was taken the rest was plain sailing - we just re-used the materials from last week and re-positioned them. 

The weaving went pretty smoothly too untill we came to the roof bit. At that point I couldn't remember how the roof was done so we withdrew indoors for a bit if a break while I looked up the internet for the picture I was allegedly following ....

Out again we went refreshed and with a better idea of what we were trying to achieve. It took a bit of pulling and pushing but the final result is one I'm happy with. 

I'm really getting a great kick out of these Willow projects - now I need to figure how to make a willow chair ......:-)

tidy-up begun - but still some colour

05 October 2013 00:57:55

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This being the beginning of October the herbaceous plants and annuals need a bit of a tidy-up so I made a start today. I concentrated on the Maple Border pulled out all the Nicotiana and chopped up the lot for composting. The Solanum in this bed had been damaged by the weather over the past few days so I just cut them down a bit.Since they seem to like self-seeding in my garden I've carefully removed all the seed pods and then these were added to the growing pile for compost!

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the plants that had been completely hidden by these two lots of rather large ladies have all been doing their own thing underneath. My idea in crowding this bed with the seed-grown Nicotiana and Solanum was with the intention of ripping them out after the summer but now I heard from Fran that the Solanum may survive if the winter is not too harsh! So Fran - do I cut them down or wait for Jack Frost to do the trick?

I now have enough raw materials to try Elizabeth's "hot compost" - thin layers of green stuff, brown stuff, compost or earth, a bit of compost accelerator and a sprinkle of water - repeat until all are used up - then give it all a good tossing and place in a covered container to "cook" - so that is tomorrows task!

I'm really happy with the borders along the driveway - at the moment there are low-growing Asters and re-seeded Cerinthe which is a really colourful combination contrasting with the gravel.

So Fran - are you sure you don't want any seeds of the Solanum LOL

forgot to mention ....

03 October 2013 02:33:52
Elizabeth among the Fuchsias

Elizabeth among the Fuchsias

After the Set-dancing last night with Elizabeth we did a bot of gardening in between the showers this morning.

One of the tasks we completed was to construct some safersteps for her so that she can more safely clamber up to tend the Fuchsia Terraces! As you can see, she tried them out immediately :-)

Back from the Big Smoke

03 October 2013 02:29:10


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