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TheH (Hazel)'s Journal

TheH (Hazel)'s Journal December 2013

Last Post 1482 days 13 hours ago

Get-together – Update 1

29 December 2013 17:23:42
Get-together – Update 1

Get-together – Update 1


I think it’s time to get cracking on the arrangements for our get-together in just 2 weeks time!


Venue: Johnstown Garden Centre

Date: Sunday 12th January

Time: 1 pm – 5 pm.

Plant Swap: 11 am to 1 pm

 The day includes some lunch, a Raffle, a Kris Kindle, and of course the chance to meet up and do what we do best – talk plants!


 The Raffle is free for everyone – and I’d like to ask anyone who wishes to donate a prize to let me know.

 This year we have a really special prize for the Raffle – a short holiday break in a beautiful modern self-catering house in Co. Clare – more details later!

 Kris Kindle

 If you want to participate in the Kris Kindle please bring along a wrapped gift – (husbands and wives can bring two if they wish!). The gift should not cost more than €10 as we want to make sure everyone can participate. It is of course optional to take part, but it does add to the fun!

 Plant Swap

 This year we are trying a new idea for the Plant Swap – We plan to meet in the Left-hand car-park as before but BEFORE the lunch instead of after! We are suggesting 11 am as the earliest people should arrive – and by 1 pm I’ll be shepherding everyone in to the restaurant for the main event!

Fran suggested that if we had stuff not promised to anyone in particular they could be put together and people could help themselves.

 So make sure if you are bringing plants along to label them – with your own name on so people will know who they came from!

Thank you, my friends

27 December 2013 23:31:07
Lets remember him like this

Lets remember him like this

I have been very much supported by all the kind expressions of sympathy from my lovely friends on this site. 

Although Brendan had become very frail over the past year and the past six months were particularly difficult with him having to go to a nursing home because of the level of care he needed his passing came as a shock to me but I took great comfort in being able to take him home to wake in the home we built together.

Brendan was my inspiration in the garden, encouraging me in the whole project. When we discussed buying the site his reservation was in taking on such a large garden - declaring that he wasn't going to start mowing lawns again! The challenge he set me was to design a garden that didn't include lawns. So far I haven't quite met that challenge but maybe some day!

Our garden will always be a reminder of Brendan and our happy few years together. 

Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís.

Highlights 2013 - Gortnalee

21 December 2013 21:03:33

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I've been inspired by all the highlights people have posted here. Thank you Fran for getting this one going!

I've just spent a happy hour going through my photos for the year and trying to decide which were the highlights for me this year - which as some of you know hasn't been the best in some ways.

I think I've decided there were two real highlights for which I'll remember 2013.

Highlight number one was the first visit of my precious Granddaughter from Barcelona. You see, when I was designing my garden I wanted it more than anything to be a garden that children would enjoy - trying to create a place where they could play the great imaginary games I remember from my own childhood. Little Cliona and the other little ones of her generation who visited this summer saw my dream fulfilled. 

Highlight number two was how the front gardens recovered from the "cattle invasion" of the previous year and came back better than ever! I love the gravel area that replaces the grass. It reflect light on the darkest days and gives the garden a great lift. There are now much larger borders and beds so the opportunity for more planting let me experiment with giant plants from seed like the Solanums and Castor Bean Plants.

But I think what I learned this year was that I am so lucky to have a garden that I can escape to, where any problems or difficulties can be put to one side, and where Nature is always there to cheer me up!

Great to finish a project

17 December 2013 22:31:34

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I started this project ages ago - about the middle of October I think! I had just done a big trim of the willow fence and had a positive mountain of trimmings so I got the idea of making a hurdle surround for the compost area. The pallets I had been using were starting to rot and didn't look good anyway.

With my usual optimism I reckoned it would be all sorted in a week! 

First job was to empty the stuff out of the exisitng bays and dismantle the pallets. Three very large bags of assorted compost material - browns, greens and partly composted - were filled and the pallets dismantled in a few days.

My idea for the new area was making use of existing fencing posts and to add some uprights from the stronger willow. Elizabeth and I spent a whole day just sorting through some of the willow and eventually I got started on the weaving. 

After the first day of weaving it became clear that my estimate of a week was way off the mark. And since I was learning as I was going along, the progress wasn't very smooth.

However, I persevered day after day, getting more and more fed up with the whole thing. The whole lower area was a total mess  between the bags of compost material and willow piles everywhere.

In the meantime the rest of the garden was crying out for attention with leaves by the ton begging for collection but I steadfastly kept to my resolution to finish this */?*** project!

A few weeks ago I broke .... REAL gardening took the focus. It was amazing how once I let myself off the hook I found I was inspired to do a bit on the project each day I was gardening.

This has enabled me to finally finish it! I'm thinking I should be breaking out the Champagne now!

So now I have the prettiest compost bays you could imagine - all I have to do now is lug all that compost material back and fill up the new bays :-)

Oh and one more thing .... that pile of willow in the last photo still has to be shredded  :-( 

And for anyone wanting a blow-by-blow there is an album!

Another job completed!

16 December 2013 23:34:10

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It was very pleasant here in Laois today so I just left the Christmas stuff to one side and escaped to the garden for a decent bit of "therapy"!!!

I had noticed that the second arch on my pathway was damaged by recent storms so it was time for the trusty cable-ties again! I had got the materials for the repair work a few days ago so today I set out to sort out this area into a more secure arrangement. First I put the same "splints" on the arch and secured it in a more upright position. Then I linked the arches with some fencing. This is where I usually grow my sweetpeas along the edge of the shrubbery, but now I have suitable supports on both sides of the pathway so this gives me lots of scope for climbing plants next year - there are a couple of clematis already there and of course, I'll probably put in a few sweetpea too!

One more thing I want to do to complete this Archway Path - next time these really cheap arches are in Lidl I'll get I think two more - but this time I'll put the "splints" on before the wind wrecks them!

I also marked out the next bit of grass to go - will leave the stones there for a while till I'm sure I'm happy with them - then its time for a lasagne bed!

I also did a bit more on the long saga of the willow hurdles - but it was too dark for photos when I finished!

Small woman - big job!

15 December 2013 00:29:35
Job done!

Job done!

Most of the day here was as dreadful as the rest of the country. I've recently started going to our local Country Market in Borris-in-Ossory - its a very small one but it is a good way to get to know my neighbours! 

The Country Market was very quiet today with the dreadful weather but it was great to see the christmassy stuff brightening up the hall!

Did some much-needed shopping on the way home as I was determined not to venture out again into the gale ... but guess what? By the time I was leaving the shops the rain had stopped, and by the time I got home the sky had brightened!

I was worried that all my grand logs (delivered with a lorry and crane a few weeks ago) were not very well protected by my makeshift covering so decided to move them into the shed - it was about 20 barrow-loads i think - but I'm happier now that my fuel for the winter will be nice and dry!

I have to say there is nothing like stacking logs to get the circulation going - unless it is stacking turf (as I did a few weeks ago!)


Horns of a Dilemma

12 December 2013 21:22:39
Horns of a Dilemma

Horns of a Dilemma

Today was so mild that I ventured out to do a bit more work on the Willow Hurdles that had ground to a halt when I ran out of suitable willow. This is a bit early for coppicing willows but since I needed the willow I decided to coppice one of my three Salix Alba Chermesina - the ones with the amazing godl to red branches!

I have already done a job on one of them in the late summer so I was very please to get a further foot or so of the willow hurdles before I again ran out of willow.

So what is the dilemma? The final willow will yield enough to complete the hurdles - but that is the tree I posted a few weeks back - totally stunning - looks like it is on fire!

So do I leave the willow to brighten my winter - or do I harvest the branches and complete the willow hurdle project that is really dragging out ....

Since I'm not posting any photos till the hurdles are finished you'll just have to settle for the Christmas Tree erected this evening LOL 

Johnstown Recci

11 December 2013 23:23:57
Johnstown Recci

Johnstown Recci

Today I had to drive to Dublin for various family visits so since I was passing by Johnstown Garden Centre on my way it was a good opportunity to check out the changes there since last year. 

I was not disappointed! It has been enlarged considerably and now has many items available only loosely related to gardening :-)

I also checked out the new cafe - and I can just picture all of us taking over a large section of this new cafe - and the lunch I had was tasty too!

Unfortunately, Jim Clarke (who looks after us so well) wasn't around today but I'll be talking to him later in the week to finalise the arrangements.

I am very happy with what I saw of the new layout - we will be well looked after! I have to say that I am reallyy looking forward it! 

It is good to see that the details are now on the front page of the Members area - please check it out if you need clarification of the arrangements for the day! 

Of course I'll be posting further journals as we get closer to the time ....

Hardiness Zones?

10 December 2013 12:09:11

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I really can't get my head around Hardiness Zones - 

I looked it up and it says that Ireland is between 8 and 9 - and I'm in the 8 bit. So the smaller the number the colder the Zone.  So far so good.

Then I looked up Cerinthe - According to the RHS this can be annual, bienniel or perennial. And it is hardy to Zones H3 - H4 which is pretty cold!

I got some Cerinthe seeds from one of you two years ago - raised them with gentle heat in the greenhouse - hardened them off and finally planted them in the border at the Coffee Corner. My total germination was 3 plants so I was chuffed at the lovely display from three little plant! When they went over I just dug them up and composted them.

Now move on .... This Spring I again got some seeds and went through the whole performance but this time got a much better germination rate so I was able to line the driveway with little plants. They grew very well and I was delighted with the effect - Ajuga at the edge and Cerinthe making a lovely contrast with the dark and light leaves - and the flowers were amazing too! Eventually they got tatty and again I dug them out and this time collected my own seeds. There were lots of seedlings around where they were planted so I removed the ones that were in the middle of the Ajuga and left the rest to see if any of them would come through the winter.

Please note the photos - and we had some frost that saw off the Dahlias, Castor Bean and Solanum but these warriors are going from strength.

The third photo is seedlings that appeared where they were planted two years ago - they only emerged at the end of the summer!

I wonder are they Annual, Biennial or Perrenial? Whichever they are I don't think I need to worry about losing them !!!!

Following Fran's example ....

09 December 2013 21:39:30
Arbour seat

Arbour seat

... I also was on the road today - I was having some jobs done at the house and Kevin needed some 40mm screws so that meant I HAD to go to Centernary DIY in Roscrea .... and my good friend Ultan was there caring for the lovely gardening section .... I bravely resisted all the lovely plants and almost escaped ....

But then I spotted this little bench sitting all forlorn ... last one in the place! How could I leave it there - it was marked €20 but since it is a little weathered he markde it down to €15!

I've been keeping an eye out for a suitable seat for my new arbour so this was definitely Fate!

Won't it be pretty when the willow in the arbour greens up!

And then there is the sad tale .....

07 December 2013 21:13:09

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Today was the day to sort out the Birdhouse Patio. Over the past year or so this bit of paving had become very uneven and was becoming quite a trip hazard so we started lifting the slabs to investigate what was going on underneath.

Bit of a shock to find that the culprit is the beautiful Rhus beside it. The roots had completely disrupted the ground under the paving. My original plan of just topping up the sand under the paving was no longer looking like a solution.

Isn't is awful when you know what needs to be done and you really don't want to do it ?.... this paved area needs to be safe for people and looking at the amount of subsidence after only a few years it is clear that a more drastic solution is needed.

So the poor little Rhus had to bite the dust! However, I did manage to salvage a couple of cuttings .... and I still have several of this lovely little tree in a less critical part of the garden - Ok - so I'm just trying to console myself :-(

However, the silver lining on this particular cloud is that when I trimmed back the sides of the patio I managed to get lots of nicely rooted little plants - Cerastium and the hardy Osteospermum.




Fernery put to bed for the Winter!

07 December 2013 19:58:15

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Really enjoying this weather - I reckon it is pretty unbelieveble for December - today I took advantage of the nice day to give the Fernery its Winter Duvet of turf-mold. It was so much easier because I had raised the canopy of the birches in this area so that I can now navigate the area much better.

I've decided to develop a little path through this area just for fun!

And that's another one off the list - Fernery well and truly in bed for the winter!

Fernery Done!

05 December 2013 17:10:40

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I'm working on the principle of "one bed at a time" so yesterday I tackled the Fernery. This is a relatively new area in my garden around the base of my three silver birches. 

During the year tending this area was a total nightmare because the birch branches made it a real obstacle race so the first task was to trim off the lower branches of the trees and raise the canopy a bit.

This was a really satisfying job - isn't it great when you finally do a chore that has been nagging at you for months :-)

Then it was weed and trim everything in sight - and root out even more of those very prolific cerinthe seedlings!

As I clambered among the ferns I came face to face with these amazing fungi on the logs I've used to give a bit of height to the fernery. What really surprised me was that they actually feel hard to the touch - to me they look like they should be as fragile as mushrooms! I hope they aren't anything sinister!

Unfortunately darkness overtook me before I could spread the mulch - and today wasn't really a day for the garden so it just has to go on the list of jobs to do.

I finally figured how to get replacement Shredding Lines for the garden Vac - this was my excuse for not lifting the leaves up to now - I have been trying every hardware and garden tool shop for ages trying to get them but for some reason never thought of looking online! At less than €7 for five it actually cost as much for the delivery as it did for the item! Now I'm running out of excuses .... Hey - maybe all this strong wind will solve the problem for me - or at least gather the leaves into piles for me LOL

Get-together - the plan - 12th January 2014

04 December 2013 13:58:08
Get-together - the plan - 12th January 2014

Get-together - the plan - 12th January 2014

It's very exciting reading how people are looking forward to our annual get-together - and the last couple of comments giving me carte blanche on the arrangement! Do you realise how dangerous that is? LOL

First of all, let me clarify - 11 am is the time that Johnstown opens! There is no compulsion on people to be standing outside the gates - and Fran - you don't need to camp outside either LOL


From 11 am to 1 pm - Plant swap in the left carpark. Try to label all plants with the name of the plant if you know it, and your name. It is helpful to also add the name of the person it is promised to. Surplus plants should also have your name and the name of the plant and they can be put in one place for people to help themselves.

1 pm - we start to move inside and make our way to the new Cafe - that is when we bring our Kris Kringle gifts to the Kris Kringle Elves - and if anyone has items for the raffle they can be brought in at that time. If Jacinta is up to doing her usual magic with Name Tags you can claim your tag there to.

2 pm - Lunch 

3 pm - Kris Kringle event - followed by free raffle

After that, the day is yours! Shop, chat, etc.

I'll be taking up all the kind offers of help nearer the time!

Remember, Johnstown's January Sale will still be on and they will put plants aside for you to collect on that day if you wish.

Hope this will suit as many of you as possible.

Nearer the time we should put up lists of plants we might have to swap etc. It's a bit soon for that yet :-)

Get-together - ideas

02 December 2013 21:40:23

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I'm really encouraged by all the kind offers of help for the upcoming Get-together in Johnstown Garden Centre. 

I was struck by a few comments regarding how frenetic the day has become so I've been trying to think of how we can improve on the day.

Firstly - Johnstown opens at 11 a.m. is open till 6 pm.

One suggestion was that we do our "Shopping and Swapping" first - What do people think?

Last year's agenda:

1 pm - meet and have lunch

2 pm - Kris Kringle followed by raffle

3 pm  - mad dash outside to do the plant swap before darkness fell

I know I felt that there was very little time to chat with people.

I know it might be difficult for people to get there for 11 but maybe 12? with lunch booked for 2 pm?

Suggested Agenda for this year:

11 am to 1 pm - Shop and Swap

1pm - 2 pm - in Cafe - meet and greet

2 pm - 3 pm - Lunch

3 pm - Kris Kringle

4 pm - Raffle 

People who couldn't make the earlier start time could do their swap at any break in the proceedings.

Johnstown is open till 6 so that would give people a better chance to chat (and shop!!!)

Please feel free to make alternative suggestions or comments.




Can it really be December?

02 December 2013 00:45:07

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Like Fran I am having difficulty believing that it is actually December - today was mild if a bit overcast but I was able to spend a couple of hours outside doing a bit more of the "putting the borders to bed" stuff - and I even got around to making a map of the border I was working on and have written in all the plants. This will help me to plan what next to add to the border. It is the one at the top of the drive that I had full of annuals this year - Nicotiana, Cosmos and Solanum - yese, Fran, I know they may last rom year to year but I only intended them to be a stop-gap until I decided on a bit of a plan!

I now have a golden opportunity to put in some of the long-suffering plants-in-waiting if I could only decide which ones to plant :-)

I took a break from the weeding and went walk-about to see what was still in flower on the 1st of December and was surprised to see no sign of this lovely rose stopping flowering! It is a rambler, 'Ghislaine de Feligonde' , and I really love it. I don't do any pruning on it, just tidy it up as I want it to develop into a mound of colour and it is starting to do what I want! I think I may remove the support now as it appears that the rose is holding up the support rather than the other way around!

I'll put up a small album of the 1st December flowers too.

Favourite Plant photos for 2013

01 December 2013 19:12:21

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And here is the other set - my favourite plant shots!

And just for good measure I'm putting up an album ... or maybe two!

Favourite Garden Views

01 December 2013 19:03:40

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I'm going to cheat too - this lot are my favourite views of the garden this year but the next one will be my three favourite plant photos!

As you can see these ones are all June photos!


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