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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal March 2009

Last Post 3213 days 10 hours ago

Changes, Strawberries & the Olive Tree

31 March 2009 18:15:33
Our Strawberry Bed

Our Strawberry Bed

Well, I came back from Germany yesterday and there is many a change in the garden. The first Tulips are out, the Magnolia is in flower and some plants are looking good. I have added some new photos to my Early Spring album, including before and after pictures of when I pruned the Olive tree this afternoon.

In my absence, my husband planted the strawberries and boy did he do a neat job - see photo. He planted 25 "Korona" and 25 "Ostara" plants. One type is perpetual strawberry - we'll see how good they are.

I finished up teaching my French class for this year and the students gave me a present of a Magnolia tree, which was really nice.

I did buy a few bits and pieces in Germany - more about that later.

Pollinating the Peach Tree

25 March 2009 16:39:13
Pollinating the Peach Tree

Pollinating the Peach Tree

I took a pre journey amble around my garden today and was astonished to notice blossoms on my peach tree.

I bought the tree several years ago, before I knew any better, but it has never flowered for me.

So I found an artish's paint brush and gort my husband out there to pollinate it (a few pictures in my latest album). I made him promise he would do this every day while I am away. I know peaches are not an outdoor crop in Ireland but God loves a trier...

Auf Wiedersehen

24 March 2009 22:57:26
The Greenhouse

The Greenhouse

I'm off to Germany for a few days.

I got my husband to shadow me this morning in my ministrations to small seedlings and greenhouse plants. He will have to take care of them while I'm away. The picture shows the plants on staging in my greenhouse. The lower staging is mostly Dahlias, Agapanthus, Hosta and Phlox. The top layer is mostly Hardy Annuals, Cosmos and Marigolds.

Potted up the final Dahlias and potted on my miniature seven Echiums. My son, Samuel, was delighted to discover that some of his Radishes have germinated in the greenhouse and possibly a Sunflower.

I fed my roses with special rose food a few days ago (that's all they're getting this year - no manure or extra compost) but just realised that I forgot four bushes. I hope to remember to feed them tomorrow before I set off.

Happy Gardening.

Strawberries & Tricky Seeds

23 March 2009 17:48:54
Strawberry Bed

Strawberry Bed

My husband dug the raised bed that is to become our strawberry bed today. The strawberry plants should arrive any day now.

I sowed some tricky seeds - Cumicifuga Racemosa. They need 3 months in heat then 3 months in the fridge! If I had known beforehand, I wouldn't have bought them. My Aconitum (Monkshood), which I planted 6 weeks ago, has not germinated. I transferred it in the fridge today. I hope this will have the desired effect.

For good measure I sowed some easy seeds too - the last of my Cosmos Purity and some more Cosmos Bicolour from Lorraine. I also sowed some more Sweet Pea. You can never have too much Sweet Pea.

But the fruit of the poor orange tree...

23 March 2009 10:10:51
Josh eating the orange

Josh eating the orange

I decided to pick and eat the few miniature oranges on my more advanced orange tree. I have a suspicion that if you leave the fruit on the tree to mummify, it delays new flowering.

The yield was five oranges and two more on the way.

Everyone in the family had to try some of this rare treat so we all sat down at the table. But when we bit in - ouch. Oh, what a surprise we got! You never tasted anything so sour in all your life - as bad as a lemon.

We have saved the fifth orange for my daughter for after school today. She was missing yesterday when we had out little feast. We wouldn't want her to miss out now.

Hehe ;-)


Suggestions for Plants Please!

22 March 2009 18:18:26
Problem Bed

Problem Bed

I have a problem area in my garden and could do with some suggestions for planting please. The bed is pictured in this photo between the two pergolas.

It has a drainage problem and a lot of moss grows here. I have just finished weeding and scraping the moss out.

I originally planted the bed with Carnations and Lupins, which I grew from seed, but these are past their best by date now and I have gotten over the need to keep them because I germinated them. A Japanese Acer is planted in the left corner and is doing quite well so I will leave that. I made the mistake of planting a Dodonea Viscosa Purporea on the right but it needs a much more sheltered site and is half dead since last winter. I will dig it up. There is a mixture of other planting there too - Aconitum (doing well), Lilies, Phlox, Hollyhocks (on its last legs).

Ideally I want a large bush or plant that will block the view across the garden. Ideally something evergreen but not so dense that it gives a heavy feel. About five ft tall and wide would be good.

Any suggestions??

24 April 2009

See journal entry for this day for final solution.

Mothers' Day

22 March 2009 12:45:13
My eldest & gifts

My eldest & gifts


Guess what?

I got 12 Dahlia tubers as Mothers' Day gifts.How did they know?

I had better get to potting!

Courgettes, Mexican Sunflowers & Lion's Tail

21 March 2009 18:49:06
French Courgette Orelia

French Courgette Orelia

I potted on my courgettes today. It was just in time, I think. They just shoot up and strangle themselves if you're not on top of it.

I sowed a tray of Mexican Sunflowers, thanks to Bill. I had been wanting to try these for some time.

I also tried to germinate five of the African Lion's Tail seeds (Leonotis Leonurus) Bill kindly sent me. They seem a bit tricky and I am no expert on tricky seeds so I googled them to see what I could find out. In the end I planted them on compost soaked with water which had a few drops of tomato feed added and put them on the heated mat. If this doesn't work I will try again with the remaining five seeds, dropping them into boiling water for three minutes beforehand. Hopefully it won't come to such drastic measures.

Russian Giants

20 March 2009 18:37:05
Josh Sowing Russian Giants

Josh Sowing Russian Giants

Both Josh and Sam, my youngest, have their own little plot in the greenhouse. They are growing Sunflowers and Radishes.

First thing that happened was that Sam opened the Radish seeds and sent them everywhere. We'll have Radishes popping up in the cracks all summer. But lucky there were lots of seeds so there were plenty left.

The Sunflowers are called Russian Giants. Outdoors they never grow very big for me but I'm hoping that in the greenhouse, without wind or root disturbance, we might actually get some giants.

After the lads had watered in their  little plots, my husband sowed the Lollo Rossa lettuce.


20 March 2009 18:28:02
Sam Planting Radishes

Sam Planting Radishes

I decided to plant some quick crops in the greenhouse - ones that would be up and gone before the tomatoes and courgettes needed to be planted there. We decided on Lettuce & Radishes.

I weeded the greenhouse border as some annuals were popping up. Then I raked it and added 160 lt of compost and 40 lt of manure. I also put down a good dose of bone meal and raked it over again. Then it was time for the Titschmarsh Trot (you know the exercise he does to get rid of air pockets in the soil). I gave it a good water with the hose and waited for the lads to come home from school to plant their radishes.

Both of my youngest are mad about Fraggle Rock and want their own Gorg's Garden with Radishes.I wonder if they'll eat them!



20 March 2009 12:40:36
Prunus Accolade

Prunus Accolade

I planted four trees today, with the help of my husband who dug the holes. It is his birthday today so maybe he should have been let off!

I planted a bare root Prunus Shogetsu (white cherry blossom) and Prunus Pink Perfection behind my Copper Beech semi-circle that is visible from the greenhouse. No photo, however, as they are small and can hardly be made out from a distance - wait til they come into flower.

I finally got around to planting my second Prunus Serrula. It had sat shamefully in a pot all winter.

Finally I planted a bare root Prunus Accolade - supposedly the earliest flowering cherry blossom.  Indeed it already has flower buds, as you can see from the photo.

I also finished weeding the back of the dreaded Long Border and put down chicken pellets there.


Acacia & Long Border

19 March 2009 17:03:53
Staked Acacia Tree

Staked Acacia Tree

It was a beautiful sunny day today but, unfortunaely, I had to spend most of it indoors.

However, I've nearly fnished weeding the Long Border.I just still need to do a bit of work at the back.I put some photos of my gappy, but weeded, Long Border in the Early Spring 2009 album.

I have made a decision NOT to put compost on the borders as it would cost too much. Instead I will put down chicken manure pellets everywhere.

Myself and my husband sorted out the poor Acacia tree by putting in a stake, using the "driver". I wish I had bought that "driver" years ago - it is brilliant.

Long Border

18 March 2009 16:55:24
It sure feels like it goes on forever

It sure feels like it goes on forever

It's sunny everywhere in Ireland except Wexford. I continued weeding. God, it's so boring.

I am nearly finished the Long Border. My Long Border was dug last year so it has plenty of gaps in it and opportunistic weeds are springing up in there. Hopefully I'll plug a lot of these gaps this year with new plants.

I was sorry to note a purple Hebe, split in two by the wind. Also a small Acacia tree, leaning at a jaunty angle. I didn't notice it before because it's behind an ornamental wheel. Unfortunately I may have pulled up a lot of my Aubrietia as I tried to extract the grass from it. The Eryngiums I planted are sure spreading. I'm beginning to wonder if they were a mistake already. Lychnis, Lobelia Cardinalis, Helenium and Rudbeckia are all showing signs of life.


17 March 2009 18:05:29



Here are my two youngest, Josh & Sam. They are holding up their self-grown shamrock, which they refused to pick for St Patrick's Day.

Bougainvillea to Begonia

16 March 2009 18:50:06
Bougainvillea to Begonia

Bougainvillea to Begonia


I did some weeding today but it's so boring I had to stop and do something much more enjoyable. 

I potted on a number of my house plants in the greenhouse and gave them a good feed.

I've had my Bougainvillea for a year and a half but it hasn't flowered for me yet. Maybe this year...


16 March 2009 10:35:24
Badly Pruned Forsythia

Badly Pruned Forsythia


Here is a warning of how NOT to prune your Forsythia. See how mine has no flowers from half way up the stems? That's because I cut them after flowering last spring - silly me.

I have started a new photo album - Early Spring 2009 - in the photos section.

Echiums at Dublin Zoo

15 March 2009 19:18:21
Echiums with Zak & Sam

Echiums with Zak & Sam


We went to Dublin zoo today. It was a while since I'd been there but I was most impressed by the planting - Gunnera, Fatsia, Bamboo, Astelia, Yucca and Echium (to name just the exotic plants I recognised).

The Echiums were dotted all over the place and looked really impressive - like giant aliens. This is a coincidence since I sowed Echium seed just two days ago! It would be wonderful if I could get them to grow.


14 March 2009 20:46:01
Courgettes & Dahlias

Courgettes & Dahlias

I sowed my Courgette seeds today at last - four types, two of which I bought in France last year.

I also sowed some of Lorraine's Dahlia seed and Romneya Coulteri (hope that works out for me).

I did about an hour's weeding before going to Springmount Garden Centre for a talk on "Spring in your Garden". I learned a couple of things - like now is the time to prune your Photinia, despite its red top leaves.  Needless to say, I put my secateurs to action once I got home.

A lot of plants were looking extremely tempting at the garden centre and I really had to try hard to resist. I did, however, buy two Yucca Gloriosas and a small Dicksonia Antartica.


13 March 2009 15:42:56
Long Border

Long Border

Started weeding the long border at the front of my garden. I had been putting it off but feel better now I've started. This border is going to have to get wider this year too, if I get my hands on the digger from my brother-in-law, as it is too narrow in places!

Anyway, some little dainty is popping up all over the place. I know it is a perennial that I bought at the Bay Garden in Camolin last summer but, for the life of me, the name isn't coming. You don't see these things until you get to weeding.

With a bit of luck I'll sow my courgettes this evening. Yesterday I sowed Lobelia Cardinalis Queen Victoria, Echium Snow Towers (inspired by Nuala's garden), more Cosmos Purity, more Giant Marigolds and more Sweet Pea. I need more loo rolls!

The Plant Addicts 8pm BBC2 Tonight

13 March 2009 10:16:40
Carol Kline's Plant Addicts

Carol Kline's Plant Addicts


Really looking forward to this programme tonight. At last, some gardening on TV.

The Incredible Bouncing Peony

12 March 2009 15:29:12
White Peony

White Peony



I planted this Peony root on 6 Feb this year and it is already showing a flower bud. This is really good going in my experience. Will it be the first flower in my new greenhouse?

Anyway, this morning I was sad to see that the plant was bending over, in a wilted manner. It didn't seem to need water but I gave it a good drink anyway. It was quite sunny so I was wondering if that had had a detrimental affect on my would-be flower.

I came back just now to check on the greenhouse and, lo and behold, the Peony has bounced back. How great is that! Maybe it needs a bigger pot.

Morning Glory & Chilli

11 March 2009 20:33:24
Chilli Seedlings

Chilli Seedlings


I potted on my 24 Morning Glories today as they were dwarfing their tray. The pots are now in the sitting room, taking up a whole lot of space.


My husband sowed some chilli seeds, from a kitchen chilli, and they germinated today. My nephew wants a red hot chilli plant so one of these is earmarked for him.

Dahlia Cuttings

10 March 2009 16:00:52
Dahlia Cuttings

Dahlia Cuttings

I took cuttings from my "forced" Dahlias today.

The shoots were around 3" and I cut them, with a sharp knife, above a set of leaves. I then removed the lower leaves from the shoot, applied rooting hormone and placed the shoots around the edge of a 3.5" pot. I covered the pot with a plastic bag and am keeping it indoors.

The shoots were quite small by the time the leaves were pared off. I hope that I did it right.  I have four shoots. I suppose I should pot up the tubers now!

Finished weeding the circular bed. I also potted on my Chrysanthemums, Fucsias and Physalis plants. I took three cuttings from the Fuchsia, in the same way as I did the Dahlias,  and I pinched out the buds on the remaining Fuchsia shoots to make them branch. I'm thinking of leaving theMums in the greenhouse.

Weeding & Clear Up

09 March 2009 13:31:58
Arum Lily - I hate slugs!

Arum Lily - I hate slugs!

The internet's been down for a few days but I've been busy in the garden all the same.

Finished weeding the semi-circle bed in the West Garden and half did the final bed there.Put down some "bone meal" and compost on part of the semi-circle bed.

Weeded the bed across from the kitchen window and planted out my Christmas Hyacinths and some Anemones (thanks, Lorraine).

Started weeding the circular Aster bed in the "Triangular Garden" (as my husband calls it). Put down some slug pellets, prompted by the hideous sight in the picture to the right. This is an Arum Lily I bought last summer in full flower. Look at it now!

Put "bone meal" on my three new hedges.

Potted on my three citrus plants, using "citrus compost" so maybe I'll get more flowers/fruit this year. Tried the last of my Datura seeds, having soaked them for 2 days this time, in a pot which is now on the reptile mat (which I am using instead of a heated propagator). Lets see if I have any luck!

I ordered 50 strawberry plants - 25 ordinary and 25 perpetual. I am hoping the hubbie will dig the raised bed for these. We won't get much this year put, hopefully next... My daughter, Ishtar, also planted a second tray of flower seeds - she showed the boyfriend how to do it and even persuaded him to select seeds to plant.Very encouraging to see her taking an interest. She wants her own flower bed this year!

I was amazed to see a tray of HA Corn Flowers, which I had left covered in the greenhouse through the cold snap, actually germinate. They must be mad! I took the lid off and left them in the greenhouse. I will follow their lead but keep them well watered. Following this surprising success, I moved some more ungerminated trays of HA's to the greenhouse and even moved out some trays of HA seedlings.  .


06 March 2009 19:40:39


It was bitterly cold today and raining slightly so I didn't do any work outdoors. Instead I finished digging the border inside the greenhouse. Got to have it ready for those tomatoes!

I measured my tomato plants today and the tallest measures 4 1/2 ". They are all looking nice and perky too since the potting-on. I'm quite pleased as this is my first attempt at tomatoes from seed.

My Daughter's Tray

06 March 2009 07:43:14
Ishtar's Tray

Ishtar's Tray


My daughter, Ishtar, planted up one tray.

She had fun choosing what to plant, although she did favour seeds with pictures on the packets.

She sowed four each of Giant Marigold, Nasturtium. Poppy (thanks, Linda), Lupin, Cosmos (thanks, Lorraine) and Sweet William.


06 March 2009 07:38:24



My daughter, Ishtar, planting seeds.

The Giants !?!

05 March 2009 13:17:26
The giants have arrived !?!

The giants have arrived !?!

I want to grow giant showy flowers this year - you know, the really kitsch uncool types that our grandparents loved?

So I ordered 6 large-flowered Chrysanthemums, 3 giant Fuchsias (Royal Mosaic) and 5 giant Begonias (Angelica) from the Bakker catalogue. I also ordered an edible Physalis as my third child loves this fruit but it costs a lot.

I was so excited when I got the call this morning from t e courier, asking directions to the house. I'm not so excited now, looking at the collection in my sink. They look a bit sad - like something kept under a stone for too long. I'm sure they'll pick up though with a bit of TLC.

The Begonia corms (not pictured here) are quite small - like those for sale in Aldi at the moment. I thought big corms/bulbs meant big flowers! I hope they grow as promised in the catalogue!

Pink & Blue

05 March 2009 12:33:48
Camellia Williamsii Debbie

Camellia Williamsii Debbie



My Camellia has one flowery side (the back) and one not-yet flowery side (the front).


04 March 2009 12:47:58
Sago Palm & Dicksonia - unlikely bedfellows!

Sago Palm & Dicksonia - unlikely bedfellows!

It was a nasty frosty morning and the minimum night temperature was -2. I did well to bring in my plants yesterday. The greenhouse looked very strange, covered in frost. Stepping into it was like entering one of those "ice hotels" they have in Finland - not that I've ever been but I do have a TV. It was all silent and frozen.

Inside the greenhouse the soil in pots was frozen solid. I had taken the precaution of wrapping a towel around my Sago Palm, although it can take some frost. I hadn't covered the small Dicksonia Antartica I recently bought. Perhaps this was an oversight. I've wrapped the two up together now but I hope it's not too late for the Dicksonia. The only other potential casualty is one small chrysanthemum which had started to regrow - it's probably been knocked for six now.

Since there was no gardening outdoors today, I decided I would use up the sprouting trays I had recently freed up from potting my tomatoes etc. on.

I sowed a tray of Helenium last night and, this morning, one each of Echinacea, Dahlia (thanks, Lorraine) and Mignonette (thanks, Alison). I also sowed some Sweet Basil, that Lorraine sent me, in a small pot. I put my fourth set of Dahlia tubers in a tray for forcing (hope it's not too late in the game for that). The other "forced Dahlias"  have small shoots now so soon I will need to cut these off.

Agave Americana

03 March 2009 13:02:21
Vicious or what?

Vicious or what?

I was going to move my Agave Americana to the greenhouse a week ago but suddenly my teenage son expressed a fondness for it and a sadness that it would be moving. What a surprise!

I said I would keep it in until its new "leaf" unfolds - something which has been threatening since last autumn but has speeded up in the last few weeks. I guess it is waking up with spring!

Plant Rescue

03 March 2009 12:50:25
Back-Up Veg & Hardy Annuals

Back-Up Veg & Hardy Annuals


The weather is due to freeze tonight so I've brought all small plants in from the greenhouse to my kitchen.

I'm heading out to rescue my Bananas, Hibiscus & Datura now. There's no point in being too gung-ho and loosing plants!


It's now snowing out there- cripes!


03 March 2009 12:48:07



The Clivia is flowering.

Bulbs & Hardy Annuals

02 March 2009 18:12:52


01 March 2009 16:58:39



I seem to have mostly yellow crocus - only a smattering of the larger purple ones.

But the yellow does look cheerful.

Ceramic Pots

01 March 2009 16:55:31
Ceramic Pots

Ceramic Pots

I had a big scrub-up today and transformed all my ceramic pots that aren't currently in use.

Some of them were filthy.

I now have a nice collection for planting. I love to plant lilies in ceramic pots as they tend to fall over in plastic ones.


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