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TheH (Hazel)'s Journal

TheH (Hazel)'s Journal August 2016

Last Post 542 days 12 hours ago

Faith conquers all!

31 August 2016 11:53:29

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I love Hydrangeas. I have always loved them.  For 25 years I had a magnificent display of them in my garden in Dublin so when I came to Laois I bought some and assumed they would do what Hydrangeas do best - just get on with it and produce masses of flowers for me.

Well they say "pride goes before a fall". The first pair I bought only one came through the winter of 2009 and it really struggled and failed to flower at all for the next couple of years. Then I got some from kind .iers Dick and Headgardener. One perished and the other just sulked for a bit but finally produces huge blossoms but a maximum of 2 each year! Another gift from a visitor to the garden produces one flower but hides it under very healthy looking leaves.

Seduce by the pretty pictures in the Catalogue I purchased Vanilla Fraise two years ago. Year one - 6 inches high and no flowers. Year two I thought it was a goner but it came on after I gave it some TLC and a good mulch of my very best compost and lo and behold - for such a small plant it is doing its thing very well - and I noticed last evening that the characteristic pink is starting to show! I'm so glad I had faith in that delicate little plant this spring!

August Surprises

31 August 2016 00:36:16

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I went round the garden yesterday taking photos for an album (will put it up later) when I spotted two totally out-of-season flowerings. The first is my Magnolia which has produced 3 flowers and the second is a pretty double helebore from Lidl that refused to flower in the spring!

Scorched Earth Policy

30 August 2016 00:43:05

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It all started with a casual comment from a guest that she loved my garden because it was wild! Now I know I like close planting and self-seeding and no lawn and stuff but I was taken aback that my garden struck someone as being "wild". This prompted me to look at various areas in the garden with new eyes.

First victim was the Birdhouse Border - the one with the multi-stemmed birch tree underplanted with Saxifrage. The saxifrage has gradually been invaded by grasses and any attempts to remove the grasses was just wrecking the saxifrage so a more drastic approach was needed - see Photo 1 - I'm still undecided what to use instead of the saxigrage but I have ordered some Tulips for Spring interest and maybe I'll put some hardy geraniums in for later interest. I would welcome suggestions!

Next area is the border where the "Rose of Sharon" Hypericum Calycimum has been smothering the shrubs in the border. The desperate action is to cut it right to the ground and dig out the bits that were strangling the shrubs! I have no doubt it will be back in full force next year!

But the third area was inspired by Peter's recent adventures in the Soggy Bottoms. My Hazel Grove (ok - NOT the nuttery!) has been difficult to manage - first there is the annual invasion of the Celandine, then the Geraniums took over so the area became impenetrable - not the best when Hazelnuts need harvesting. Now I can't get my strimmer to work (the string keeps breaking) so I resorted to the Cultivator and it made short work of everything on the ground - well almost! Anyway the object is to be able to see the hazelnuts when they fall and in Spring I've no doubt that the Celandine, Geraniums and Violets will return!

I think I should be careful which area i work on next .... recklessness is the mood at the moment LOL

Speaking ot Eupatoria

29 August 2016 23:46:25

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Not only are they bee magnets but the butterfiles love them too! Does anyone know which butterfly that is with the wings closed? They didn't like having their photo taken and flew off on me before i could identify him. I know the one on the right is a Small Tortoiseshell.


Busy day

27 August 2016 22:55:52

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Today I tackled the job I like least in the entire spectrum of gardening tasks - tidying the shed! I've been putting it off since Spring and every time I couldn't find something in the chaos I promised myself that I would tackle it. 

How does the shed get into such a state? And the surprising thing is that there wasn't actually a lot of junk to discard - but the recovered space is amazing!

So when this job was done I needed to cheer myself up - so I did a bit of harvesting! Monty described how to check if your apples are ready to harvest - grip them firmly and twist - so I did! Some of the ones that came off hadn't been listening to Monty as they were definitely a bit young to be breaking out into a brave new world!

Went indoors and had a bite to eat but it was such a pleasant evening that I couldn't resist going back out for an while. This time it was cutting back the over-enthusiastic geraniums in the Hazel Grove. This is a very necessary task before the hazelnuts start to ripen and fall as otherwise most of the crop ends up as an unexpected treat for the wildlife! I had a lovely surprise while I was doing this task. There is a Sidalcea that I don't remember planting at the edge of this area and it hasn't flowered until this year. And guess what? It is WHITE!!!! I remember buying a white Sidalcea a few years ago and assumed it had just failed as it never appeared. I have nurtured this one in the Hazel Grove thinking it was a self-seeder of my pink one so I was delightfully surprised when it turned out to be the long-lost white one!

Recently I came across "Nuttery" as the name to describe my "Hazel Grove" - so what's the verdict? Which name?

Two things to say thank you for!

27 August 2016 01:06:21

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Number one item is the Mirabilis Jalapa Variegata which Rachel gave me in 2013 with strict warning to protect it over the winter. This is also known as the "4 o'Clock Plant" and when she gave it to me Rachel mentioned this second name and said "it flowers at 4 O'clock or something like that". Well I was a good girl and carefully lifted Mirabilis Jalapa Variegata each year and it produced these lovely flowers each year. But also when I lifted it last year the plant decided to break into three so this year I have a lovely display right outside the windo so I can see for myself what all the "4 O'Clock" business is about - the flowers open wide to greet the sun and guess what? They CLOSE at 4 O'Clock!!!! So thank you Rachel for this truly lovely plant - well worth the trouble of bringing it in over the winter!

Number two item is 20 bags of wonderful compost/soil from my dear sister Elizabeth. She is having to dismantle a large part of her front garden to accommodate some renovations and I have benefited by these 20 bags of compost/soil. The best use to date has been to do a big overhaul of the Jardiniere and to replace the top layer of old compost with this new stuf! It looks worlds better already! So thank you Elizabeth for the great compost! I have several other projects that will benefit rom your generousity!

A different Clematis

25 August 2016 00:06:39

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Most Clematis aim to please by producing masses of blooms whether they are the Montanas who are smothered with small blossoms or the later flowerers with big brash colours but there is also another group with delicate flowers and one that is flowering in my garden at the moment is Clematis Luxurians. 

I first saw it scrambling through the borders in Heywood Gardens and had no idea what it was called. Then I spotted it scrambling up the side of a shed in Mount Venus and Oliver there promised to source one for me. It was a little slow to get started but this year it is getting there!

Any idea what this is?

23 August 2016 12:23:07
Any idea what this is?

Any idea what this is?

I think this plant may be some kind of Ginger. I know it was given to me by a.ier a couple of years ago and I have carefully lifted it and minded it in the greenhouse each winter but so far no flowers! I suppose if it would flower I might have some idea what it is.

I have decided it will have to take its chances outside this year but I would really like to know what it is!


20 August 2016 23:18:41


How can just watering tomatoes turn into such a saga?

Well, in my greenhouse I have a makeshift water supply - namely a hose with a nozzle at the end that can turn the water on or off. It is very useful as there are three thirsty tomato plants and a similar number of equally thirsty chilli plants currenly in the greenhouse. So the routine is to fill two watering-cans using the hose/tap and adding some miracle-gro now and again and then water the plants liberally.

Nothing out of the way about that - I've been doing it daily, even twice daily, for weeks. So what was different about today? Well, for starters I didn't get around to going out to the garden until evening and as soon as I put my nose outside the door it started raining.

So a quick withdrawal to the house and I grabbed the nearest coat with a hood as the number one task was to pick the day's blackberries. Unfortunately the coat I chose is an old coat of Brendans - usually only used in dire cold winter weather as it is at least 10 sizes too large for me. it did a great job of keeping me dry while picking the blackberries.

It was a horrible evening - wind howling and lots of rain so I wasn't hanging about any longer than i had to. Went into the greenhouse to water said tomatoes and chillis and this is where it all went pear-shaped. As I was filling the watering cans Puss decided he had waited long enough for his tea and sneked up behind me - just as I was stepping back - Disaster! The hose/tap shot out of the watering can spraying the entire greenhouse and its occupants liberally with VERY cold water. As I dived on it to turn it off it snaked around as only a hose can do - and aimed its jet directly up UNDER that great big totally waterprrof coat right up my trousers!

I'm feeling a bit better now. I've had a hot shower and all the soaked clothes are in the washing machine. And as for the tomatoes - they can wait for their drink!


20 August 2016 10:00:04

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I saw an idea I really liked a couple of years agon in the Delta Gardens in Carlow. They have a wonderful pond there with very attractive planting around it. One thing caught my eye - they had used Virginia Creeper as ground cover which I had never seen before!

I just happened to have Parthenocissus Quinquefolia Engelmannii growing in the Jardiniere by my sheds and it wasn't looking too happy so I decided to try out the Delta idea. I planted it beside the Stream Pond at the end of the garden and thisyear it is really coming into its own! It is also trying to become an aquatic plant with tendrils creeping into the pond all the time! Because it is in full sun here I have great hopes for its autumn colour too.

I was sitting admiring the creeper when I had an inspiration - I've added Iris Japonica Variegata (thank you JoanG) and I think its lovely leaves make a very good contrast which will be even more pronounced when the Virginia Creeper colours up.

Pretty collapsr

19 August 2016 10:04:50

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I've tried to be better at staking my tall herbaceous plants this year but some of them got away on me. The Japanese anemones that usually need no staking decided to collapse this year and I must say I think they collapsed very prettily!

I also like the way the plants by the stream pool collapsed too.

As shucks! Can't figure how to add photos from the new phone!

Got it!

Vegetable Update

18 August 2016 00:19:31
Spring Cabbages

Spring Cabbages

Monty Don said "pull up your peas now" so I did. He also said that the place the peas were would be good for Brassicas. By a happy coincidence I had some cabbage plants just waiting for a place to be planted!

The day was very overcast and showery but I was determined to get some gardening done so between the showers Ifound a good home for several of my "plants-in-waiting" and did a bit of tidying up too. Finally I got down to the vegetable garden. Yesterday evening I had yanked out the peas and threw them on the compost so today I needed to weed the bed and fork it over. I don't walk on the raised beds in an effort to avoid compacting the heavy soil.

The planting of the cabbages was quickly done but putting up the protection from the dreaded Cabbage Butterfly took much longer! I hope I am more successful this time - I put in a few cabbages a few weeks ago and they were eaten so badly I just pulled them out!

So a question for the seasoned vegetable growers - as the crops are harvested from the beds what happens them until next year? 

Over the winter I'm growing cabbages and broccoli but I don't really like any other winter veg so what to do?

I gotta new phone!

17 August 2016 13:03:26

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Getting a phone upgrade is way up there with getting married and having a baby in the stressful life events in my opinion.

Seeing my daughter with a lovely new phone that had a beautiful camera and I was struck with terrible phone-envy! A quick check and I could get a free upgrade to a similar one and of course just couldn't resist!

First step was to back up my old phone and I managed to make a mess of that so a trip to the shop was needed. A new even tinier SIM was also needed. It took two days of my life to get through but I'm finally sorted. And the camera?

I love it! but still not able to cope with the purple/pink colours ..... maybe the next phone upgrade ..... Nooooo!

First Encounter

15 August 2016 01:25:45

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..... but not of the Extraterrestrial kind!

This year with great trepidation I put my garden into the GARDENS OPEN 2016 booklet published by Irish Garden.

Unfortunately I didn't have my website ready in time for inclusion so I didn't have any great expectations of the outcome but this afternoon proved me wrong! A surprise phone call looking to visit the garden this afternoon! 

Two lovely ladies arrived - Mum was almost 90 years old and a keen gardener but needing some help these days, and Daughter was a keen gardener too! We spent a delightful afternoon strolling in the garden talking plants! Mum wasn't able for a lot of walking so we actually only got round half of it but they have promised to come back for another visit!

Slowly but surely I'm getting Gortnalee House Garden to be a little better known.  I'm really appreciative of the opportunity that the magazine is giving to newly opened gardens like mine to get them known more widely.

So a big "Thank you" to Gerry and all the staff and contributers at Irish Garden - and not just for this helpful booklet but also for an excellent magazine that gives us advertisements for things we can actually GET here in Ireland!

And maybe check out the website that will be in next year's booklet!

Gortnalee Garden


Patience rewarded

14 August 2016 20:38:29

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Several years ago Rachel gave me a selection of exotic seeds of various kinds and not being the most successful grower of seeds I was very dubious of the outcome. I planted them and they languished on the shelf ifn the greenhouse for ages until one day I was weeding them and I spotted something that wasn't any of my usual weeds so I took a chance and left them be. They grew about an inch tall (sorry - nearly 3 cm) that year. Time went on and I would occasionally inspect them but there was no further progress that year. They became a semi-permanent fixture in the greenhouse for the next two years still only managing the 3 cm growth but every time I threatened to throuw them out I would find these dainty little bulbs in the pots so I would carefully replant them and give them a reprieve.

This Spring something new happened. Instead of the 3 cm leaves they actually stared to grow! I was amazed! The leaves looked a little like Crocosmia as they grew and I had many moments of doubt (had I mixed up the pots/labels?) but they just continued to grow! Once the weather got  a bit better I moved them outside and unfortunately the slugs seemed to fancy them (so definitely not Crocosmia then!) but they only sampled them rather than devouring the whole of the plants. 

Slowly a long shoot emerged in each of the pots (reduced down to two by now) - up and up - the suspense was killing me - very slowly buds appeared - and finally I could see the results of this long process!

Ta Da! Galtonia Candicans!

Willing Helper

10 August 2016 23:58:16

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Just thought I'd share these pictures of my most willing helper! She goes home tomorrow and her request for what to do on her last day in Grandma's was to do some "planting and weeding" !!!!


Not bad for 75cent

09 August 2016 02:13:39
Onions galore

Onions galore

Sorry I've been a bit distracted with the granddaughter this week but one of the delights has been her four-year-old enthusiasm for taking up weeds! Once she was shown what Bittercress looks like she was pretty unstoppable!

One task I really had to do today as it was well overdue was to lift my onions. I thought I'd put up a photo .... I've been using them for about 4 weeks now straight from the ground but they really needed to be lifted!

I bought a packet of onion sets for €1.50 in DEALZ this year and could only fit half the packet into the space I had set aside for them so the total cost of my onion crop is approximately 75 cent! I reckon definitely worth while!

I understand I need to dry them out so they are laid out in the Greenhouse. Any tips on how best to dry them and how to set them would be appreciated! 


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