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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal February 2009

Last Post 3186 days 8 hours ago

Seeds

28 February 2009 23:06:24
Sweet Pea Melody Rose

Sweet Pea Melody Rose

I sowed some more seeds - a tray each of Corn Flower (blue), Morning Glory & Larkspur (thank you, Lorraine).

I also sowed some more Sweet Pea - a named variety - Melody Rose.

Do you like my Sweet Pea pots, made from toilet roll cores?

Capsicum Experiment

28 February 2009 18:14:58
Banished Brothers

Banished Brothers

I potted on the three types of sweet peppers that I have grown - Jumbo Sweet, Sweet Chocolate and Big Banana. I selected the four strongest plants of each type and they are currently on my windowsill.

I decided to experiment with some of the back-up pepper plants and potted up one of each type, leaving it outside in the greenhouse. I have two trays of hardy annuals and some potted-on biannuals out there now but, of course, I can't see if these seedlings are growing more slowly then they might have if they had been indoors. They certainly aren't dying and, indeed, minimum temperature is now 7+. I hope to gauge whether or not growth has been stunted with my pepper experiment because I will be able to directly compare the house-pampered peppers with their banished brothers.

I also potted up 6 Hostas , 6 Phlox Paniculata roots that I bought in Lidl and a Chocolate Cosmos tuber,  I repotted one of my big Banana plants, Hibiscus and I also finished planting the Lonicera Hedge.

Potting On

27 February 2009 22:42:03
Potted on tomatos and aubergines

Potted on tomatos and aubergines

I potted on my tomatoes and aubergines into 4" pots.

I now have the 15 tomato plants and 6 aubergine plants which I will plant in my greenhouse for crops this summer. I have selected three plants of each of the five types of tomato and, as I only have one type of aubergine, I selected 6 of these plants. I will get around to potting up the remaining plants eventually as back-up in case something happens to one of these 15 tomato or 6 aubergine plants.

I also remembered to put down slug pellets around my Ligularia. The slugs haven't started on the new leaves yet so maybe I'll beat them this year. I also put down pellets around my arums as I recently observed slug damage there already.

 

View from Greenhouse Project (5)

27 February 2009 18:05:53
Lonicera hedge in front of the dump

Lonicera hedge in front of the dump

I collected my bare root Copper Beech and Lonicera today.

I plantd most of them but got slightly distracted by a neighbouring Rosa Rugosa hedge, in desperate need of weeding. I have five Lonicera plants left to go down tomorrow.

The Lonicera hedge looks great already - almost ready made. Thanks for all your help and advice about this last autumn, Alison.

Seedlings in the Greenhouse

27 February 2009 09:18:41
Seedling in the Greenhouse

Seedling in the Greenhouse

I decided to experiment and leave a tray of seedling in the greenhouse, including overnight. Temperatures have been frost-free but obviously I will need to monitor that on a daily basis.

I put a tray of HA Cornflowers out yesterday. As I have plenty more seed and these are probably planted too early anyway, I was prepared to offer them up to the dark gods of the garden, if need be.

They seem fine so far. Minimum temperture was 5+ last night.

Digging

27 February 2009 09:11:20
Digging

Digging

 

I dug half the greenhouse border yesterday evening. It is very strange but pleasant to do this task indoors, in the warmth, at a time when I would normally be helping with homework in the house.

I also potted on my Datura, 3 Amaryllis (or whatever the new name for them is) and an Agapanthus. What a joy and delight to do this in the greenhouse!

Pussy Footing

25 February 2009 15:26:42

If you want me I'll be in the greenhouse...

24 February 2009 17:16:47
If you want me I'll be in the greenhouse...

If you want me I'll be in the greenhouse...

If you want me I'll be in the greenhouse - with all my family!

The paving slabs went down today and some of the staging was assembled. I moved my first four plants out to the greenhouse - they look so lost. The greenhouse looks so big. I can't imagine ever filling a quarter of it!

Incidentally, I also cleared and weeded most of the cresent-shaped bed in the West Garden but that pales into insignificance now.

Sweet Pea

23 February 2009 14:05:56
Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea

I have bought quite a few mixed Sweet Pea this year. The advantage of the mixed one is that you can afford to have lots. Named Sweet Pea are lovely but I never have enough of them.

I started off the first 17 seeds today, using a pack of bio-degradable pots that I found at the back of the shed. I'm saving my toilet rolls for the rest of the Sweet Pea!

I'm thinking along the lines of a Sweet Pea "wall" somewhere in the garden...

Anemone

23 February 2009 13:46:49
5 Anemone & 2 Tulip Pots

5 Anemone & 2 Tulip Pots

I planted the two packs of Lidl Anemones that had been soaking in a bowl in my kitchen for two days. There were rather a lot of them so I had to use five large pots. I put the unsightly pots outside to keep my tulips company. The soil level for the Anemones is low as I don't intend to leave them in the pots - just to get them going.

I was sworn off Anemone corms until one year when my son, Sammy, saw the photo in Lidl and begged me to get them. I told him that I had bought them before and planted them out but had never gotten any plants. He said he was sure it would be different this time.

So I bought a packet of corms and planted them in a pot indoors.  Sure enough they flowered and I then transplanted them outdoors. They have come up again ever since. They are such a good plant because, when they are finished, they leave no wilting foliage hanging around for half the summer - like tulips do, for example.

 

Gardening Gloves

23 February 2009 10:53:58
Like mine - except cleaner!

Like mine - except cleaner!

I am now a fan of gardening gloves.

I always swore against them before, claiming that I need to feel the weeds to know what to pull. I went to my doctor recently, however, as I have a patch of persistent psoriasis on the heel of my right hand. She strongly recommended gardening gloves so I decided to give them a try.

All I can say is, so far so good. I have managed to weed sucessfully with the gloves and my hands need a whole lot less scrubbing when I comein from the garden. The psoriasis is still there but it's not being aggravated by the soil, as it normally is.

Vegetable Beds

22 February 2009 15:50:28
Vegetable Beds

Vegetable Beds

My husband started weeding and digging our six raised vegetable beds. He finished the first one. The raised beds are in the unkempt part of our garden.

As this first bed already has Jerusalem Artichokes in it, and they're practically impossible to get rid of, my husband has decided to give the bed over to Jerusalem Artichokes. I think he said he was going to plant radishes there early on in the season (my sons love radishes as they love Fraggle Rock).

Note our Laurel and Olive trees in the centre of the raised bed area. I wonder will the poor Olive tree survive after that dreadful winter! Gerry Daly said I had no hope with an Olive tree outdoors in Ireland. I don't think he believed me when I said I'd had one for three years outdoors. But this part of the garden is quite sheltered by a native hedge.

First Blood

22 February 2009 15:37:33
Main Border, West Garden

Main Border, West Garden

I finished cutting back and weeding the first flower bed of the season.

It is the easiest to weed because it is in the main part of hte garden we use most (West Garden) so it gets the most attention. However, it is quite a long border so it's good to get it done.

I am so pleased with how well my Yucca Gloriosa is doing. I bought it at Bloom two years ago and the snow doesn't seem to have bothered it. I wonder will it flower for me this year! The slugs have already been busy, however, on my poor Arums.

I will have to put some compost or manure on the end of the bed that you see. The soil is very poor and stoney. Whenever I weed it I take out great handfuls of stones. I also need to get rid of the wiggly bit in the middle - it annoys my husband no end when he mows the grass.

Jerusalem Artichokes

22 February 2009 12:27:18
Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem Artichokes

 

My husband just dug up the Jerusalem Artichokes.

What a nice surprise as we forgot about them.

View from the Greenhouse Project (4)

21 February 2009 14:47:56
Back on the Chain Gang

Back on the Chain Gang

I'm very pleased with what I got done today.

I dug the 15 holes for the Copper Beech hedging in the semi-circle, I widened the strip for the Lonicera hedging and dug the 14 holes necessary for that too. The holes are at 18" intervals.

When I started out I only thought that I would get a bit done today but the soil was easy to dig - a lot easier than other places in the garden - and I did have my little helper!

However, my muscles started to atrophy over a cup of tea when I sat down with my sons for an outdoor picnic. So that's enough for today.

By the way, I know that the best method for hedging is to dig a trench but that is double the work and I do need to consider self preservation - no point in callapsing from exhaustion when the gardening season is only kicking off!

More Seeds

20 February 2009 17:58:54

View from Greenhouse Project (3)

20 February 2009 16:53:14
The Dump

The Dump

And here is the second hedging stip - to the right of the photo in the last journal entry.

I plan to plant Lonicera Nitida along here. It will grow quickly and hide the unsightly dump. I have left two entrances and room for the dump to expand (I have to be realistic here) but the hedging should soon camouflage my sins.

Obviously I will need to cut the strip wider but I got too tired to do that today.

I am trying to get this job done as soon as possible because I want to avail of bare root hedging, which will not remain available for much longer. Now I just need to dig a trench!

View from Greenhouse Project (2)

20 February 2009 16:30:52
View from Greenhouse Project (2)

View from Greenhouse Project (2)

Here is the same view after a lot of hard work today.

I have cut out two strips for hedging.

The first strip is in the shape of a semi-circle and my son is standing in the middle of it in the photo.

The idea is to replicate an idea from the Coolaught Gardens in Clonroche, which I really loved. I want to plant a Copper Beech hedge along the semi-circle and to plant a Cornus Contorversa Variegata around where my son is standing. The contrasting backdrop of the purple Beech foliage to the cream of the Wedding Cake tree is really lovely.

The tree will, of course, eventually obscure next door's shed and the hedge will hide the ditch, on which the Hypericum Hidcote is planted. It will also hide the Hypericum Hidcote too if I don't watch out.

Hedging strip number two can be seen to the right of the photo - see next  journal entry.

 

View from Greenhouse Project (1)

20 February 2009 16:23:54
View from Greenhouse Project (1)

View from Greenhouse Project (1)

 

Welcome to the view from the front door of my greenhouse. It's not very pretty, as you can see.

Straight ahead is the roof of next door's enormous shed. There is a small bank in front of that, on the boundary of our garden, which has a Hypericum Hidcote hedge on it.

To the right, just past the Chestnut tree and the lamp-post is the dump. It is unsightly and holds soil, removed grass sods, weeds, cut perennials etc.

To the left, out of view, is a Rosa Rugosa hedge with a small Ginko tree and a small Contorted Red Hazel tree.

Tubers

20 February 2009 05:15:32
Tubers

Tubers

I bought a good few Dahlia tubers in Lidl yesterday. They are such good value that I couldn't resist. I also "encouraged" my daughter to buy her Mother's Day present for me at the same counter!

I really like the look of the Eucomis Bicolor bulbs I got - will try them in a pot and  over winter in my greenhouse.

Hellebore

19 February 2009 15:36:51
Hellebore

Hellebore

 

Found this sad looking little Hellebore hidden away. What a waste!

 There is also a white one and a few more like this in the same borders. They really are planted in the wrong place as you might not notice them at all.

The Driver

19 February 2009 14:22:46
The Driver

The Driver

We made a gardening investment today that may save our marriage ;-)

Every time it comes to planting a tree, I and my husband have serious disagreement.

The scene can be imagined with me, holding the stake, and my husband, belting the stake with something heavy. The exchange goes along the lines of ..."it's not going in at all. There's a rock down there." The reply follows ..."no, it's definitely going in. I can feel it going down". 

The stake usually gets pulled out a few times and re-inserted a few inches over, with the whole process starting over. On a really bad day, the task gets abandoned altogether.

Anyway, the newly-bought "driver" that you see in the picture is a great yoke.  We managed, in a few minutes, to hammer the mother-of-all stakes into the ground and re-erect the birch tree that was knocked down in the storm of 17 January. We had unsucessfully tried this task a few times since the storm toppled my poor tree over a month ago. Amazingly there was no rock under the stake ;-)

Hope the tree survivies.

Pruning, Clean Up & Alliums

18 February 2009 16:23:30
Alliums

Alliums

I finished pruning my roses today. More about that later. I love roses but I don't think they love me.

I started cutting back and weeding in the first border (the easiest one). I got such a surprise to see the unknown plant in the photo popping up all over the border.

I couldn't think what on earth it was until finally I remembered the Allium bulbs I had planted last autumn. 

Camellia

18 February 2009 16:15:33
Camellia

Camellia

 

My large Camellia has its first flower.

Annuals

16 February 2009 21:06:06

Converted Galanthophile

15 February 2009 16:56:52
Snowflake

Snowflake

 

Today was such a beautiful spring day that it got me out pruning my roses.

Then I went to Altamont Gardens to take part in the last guided Snowdrop walk. It was a wonderful day out and I took plenty of photos, which are now in my new album "Galathomania". I have captured some of the more than 100 different types of Snowdrop which they have at Altamont. I even fancy that I can now tell the difference between a Snowdrop and a Snowflake!

When I returned my husband had cut the grass - boy does it make a difference to the garden!

 

Cistus

14 February 2009 14:13:59
Cistus

Cistus

It was a beautiful spring day today.

I planted 8 Cistus on the hill at one side of my garden. It is amazing how many plants that hill swallows and yet still shows gaps!

I did loose a few cistus purpurea there - some kind of pest problem as  two consecutive 4ft plants just withered and died. I'm hoping the problem has abated.

Greenhouse Finished

13 February 2009 17:45:30
Greenhouse

Greenhouse

 

At last, I have a fully assembled and bolted down greenhouse!!!

Hurray! It's a couple of drinks for me tonight...

The paving isn't done yet but one step at a time!

Snowdrops

12 February 2009 15:35:45
Snowdrops

Snowdrops

 

My only snowdrops. Taken from my mother's garden last spring.

Crocus

12 February 2009 15:31:34
Crocus

Crocus

 

Is spring trying to break through?

More Seeds

12 February 2009 14:44:23
Hollyhock Nigra

Hollyhock Nigra

Sowed some Monarda, more Hollyhock (Charter's Double Icicle) and some Aquilegia (Nora Barlow).

This is the easy bit - it's a killer when they all need potting on at the same time.

 

Forcing Dahlias

10 February 2009 13:02:30
Forcing Dahlias

Forcing Dahlias

I decided to try to force dahlias as I can now overwinter the cuttings in my greenhouse. It would be wonderful to be able to double my stock.

I bought 5 tubers of dahlia "fascination" - lovely deep pink flowers with dark foliage.

I put the five tubers in two free draining containers, covering the tuber "fingers" but leaving the top uncovered. I watered them well and popped them on the lizard mats.

I also sowed some pepper seeds I'd forgotten (sweet chocolate) and the monkshood I collected from my own garden last year.

By the way, the black & white hollyhock and the perennial cornflower all germinated this morning. I was surprised at the perennial cornflower since the packet had said 1-3 months for gernimation! All thanks to my reptile mats!

Peony, Sarah Bernhardt

09 February 2009 18:09:34
Peony, Sarah Bernhardt

Peony, Sarah Bernhardt

I found this photo from my garden, taken 30 June 2008, of the peony Sarah Bernhardt.

I thought it is apt as I just recently planted the root of one such peony in a pot indoors. The one in the photo also originated in this way a few years back.

The arm behind the flower is mine (not a child's) so you can appreciate how big the beautiful flowers are.

Reptile Help

09 February 2009 12:12:13
Reptile Help

Reptile Help

The internet has been down since our recent cold spell when a "wire froze".

The good news is that my 5 tomato types have germinated and just this morning the peppers and aubergines popped their heads up. I'm delighted but no flowers yet.

I had been very worried about my seeds since it was really hard to maintain the correct germination temperature either in the hotpress or outside it. This was compounded by the fact that the heating oil then ran out and we had to wait a few days for delivery. The only tray that kept the right temperature was the heated propagator. As heating propagators start at €54, I didn't really fancy buying any more.

Then I found a great solution - sparked by the husband's giant African snails! Let me explain. Reptiles and exotic molluscs are often kept at temperature (not for cooking purposes, you understand) with heated mats. I put some of my seeds on top of the snails' mat, which was on top of their "box". It worked a treat. I have now bought my own "reptile mat" for €24 and intend planting some more seeds this afternoon.

Potted up some roots/tubers too - 2 peonies (one white and one Sarah Bernhardt), 2 white agapanthus and one Glory Lily (gloriosa rothschildiana), which I was overjoyed to find.

More Seeds

05 February 2009 08:03:20
More Seeds

More Seeds

I sowed two types of Hollyhock (one white and one black) and perennial Cornpoppy yesterday.

I love the Cornpoppy annual so I'm hoping the perennial will be just as exuberent. Only afterwards did I realise that these seeds take a mammoth 1-3 MONTHS to germinate.

Snowed In

03 February 2009 09:08:29
Snowed In

Snowed In

 

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Germination Temperature

03 February 2009 09:05:21
Germination Temperature

Germination Temperature

My tomato seeds, in the unheated propagator in the hot press, are not at optimal temperature.

The thermometer says a minimum of 14 and a maximum of 18. I need 18-20 for germination. But maybe it's actually a bit warmer under the lid of the propagator.

However, there are about 2" of snow outside.

The Snowman

02 February 2009 14:42:59
The Snowman

The Snowman

 

We built a snowman.

My gardening gloves have at least had some use so far this year!

Snow Storm

02 February 2009 12:04:47
Snow Storm

Snow Storm

 

It's really snowing out there.

Tulips

02 February 2009 12:03:57
Tulips

Tulips

 

 

My poor tulips!

Snow

02 February 2009 09:00:12
Snow

Snow

Has the weather gone completely mad? It's actually snowing this morning and the place is covered in snow.

The lads are due back today to finish assembling my greenhouse. It has some of the glass in at the minute. I have a feeling they won't be coming.

More sowing

02 February 2009 08:51:11
More sowing

More sowing

I planted two of my sweet pepper varieties and some datura (blackcurrant swirl) today.

They got the luxury of the heated propigator and are in my "plant nursery". I keep all sick and hibernating plants on the shelf in my bedroom and this is the plant nursery.

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