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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal May 2009

Last Post 3161 days 10 hours ago


29 May 2009 22:47:44


What a busy day!

I got notification of a closing down sale at a local Garden Centre yesterday. It promised great deals so I just had to head off there this morning before going up to Bloom in Dublin. It was the Garden Centre where I recently got good bargains on large Buxus. Well, I got more good bargains on large Buxus this morning as well as a few other odds and ends.

So, made it to Bloom around 12.30 and had a look around the gardens first. The picture shows my favourite one, The Secluded Water Garden. The plant pavillion was more fun and I was delighted to get my hands on a Sarracenia 'Juthatip Soper' and Nepenthes 'Rebecca Soper'. I nearly had to fight someone to get the last Nepenthes of that colour! I saw fabulous giant Nepenthes there - ones which could digest a mouse. But 50 quid was a bit beyond my means.

Didn't see anyone at the Irish Garden stand at 2pm but I guess we all had stuff we needed to see. By the way, I would recommend anyone to bring children this year. there was lots for them to do. I had been in two minds about bringing my youngest and didn't in the end. But it would have been grand to have brought him.

Sweet Pea

28 May 2009 19:57:52
Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea

All the Sweet Pea is planted out at last!

We put four stakes along the back of an awkward bed and put chicken wire between them. I then planted the 82 individual Sweet Pea plants I have left!!! When they grow up, with a bit of luck, they will camouflage that patch of uneven grass you see on the hill behind them.

I would like to mention that I have already planted 34 Sweet Pea plants in another area, also against a chicken wire support. That's a whopping 116 sweet pea so my garden had better smell nice this summer.

Speaking of scent, one of the Regal Lilies I planted in a pot in the greenhouse flowered. The scent all over the greenhouse is fantastic. I'm tempted to keep the Lily in there to enjoy it properly.

Beans & Peas

28 May 2009 19:49:17
Beans & Peas

Beans & Peas

The husband planted out the 44 Mangetouts & 10 Broad Beans I had grown in pots.

He's up there now sowing another bed with more mangetout. It's our first year growing any peas at all but I'm thinking they can't be very different from Sweet Pea. Hope to get a good crop, even if it's not properly staggered.

First Courgette

27 May 2009 19:17:04
Courgette Defender

Courgette Defender

We picked our first courgette of the year today!

Okay, it's only half the length of one you'd buy in the shop although it's as wide.  I hope it's the first of many.

I will really enjoy this first fruit of my new greenhouse.


27 May 2009 17:36:33
Greenhouse Border

Greenhouse Border

Finished planting up the Greenhouse Border today. There is one small blank space in it, which I will revisit later.

I also planted some annuals over in the West Garden.

Spent all day at it and finished up about 5pm. Thankfully the rain stayed off. It only drizzled a little at one stage so I didn't get too miserable.

The number of plants in the greenhouse is now substantially reduced. Just as well since I was beginning to loose the will to live, carting them in and out every day for hardening! It's great to see the flowers go out and the veg taking their place.


26 May 2009 20:57:38


26 May 2009 20:45:23
Fuchsia Royal Mosaic

Fuchsia Royal Mosaic

I never normally do hanging baskets but last summer my youngest, Sammy, pointed out a hanging basket at his school and demanded to know why "we haven't got any of them". So, just to please him but also to try out tender Fuchsias, I ordered a set of three Giant Fuchsias by mail order this January.

The Fuchsias arrived in April and looked very measly. I immediately took three cuttings as I wanted two hanging baskets and thought I should have three plants in each. Following instructions in my book, I potted on the original plants and continued to pinch out the new stems to make the plants bush.

Unfortunately one of my cuttings died but the other two did well, although they haven't caught up with the original plants. I removed the plastic some time ago and pinched them out once.  Today I finally planted up my two hanging baskets - one with 2 bigger plants and the other with one bigger plant and the two cuttings. I put in water containing gel and a small pot in each basket to make a watering hole right to the plants' roots. They are hung on brackets in the greenhouse, where I will probably leave them. Can't wait to see the giant flowers. I believe they come in six weeks from when you stop pinching out so that means the second week in July!

Cooper's Garden

25 May 2009 23:33:33
Site for Paved Circle

Site for Paved Circle

I spent a lovely afternoon at Linda's (Cooper) garden.

Not a weed in sight anywhere and what an eclectic mix of perennials. It's always great to see someone else's planting choices and to learn of plants I hadn't heard of before. Linda has done such a lot in the year she has had the garden and, if she will excuse my saying so, her garden is not done justice by the photos on this site. It is much more extensive and well maintained than Cooper's profile suggests. Linda is the real expert when it comes to cuttings - she never plants a perennial without dividing it first and indeed the cuttings she gave me last time are flying up. I will be asking advice soon.

Back home again I did a little bit of raking over the new borders. The photo shows the area that will contain the paved circle and the border around it. You can see how the digger has ploughed up the grass - oh, well.

Did a good bit of potting on vegetables this evening until my third son, Joshua, turned up in the greenhouse demanding attention and claiming I loved plants more than him. Ooops, time to go indoors.

Sunny Day

24 May 2009 22:56:38


A beautiful sunny day.

There was a water fight in my garden in the morning and my youngest drenched himself with the hose a couple of times. Everyone was happy and in a good mood.

I am exhausted though as myself and the husband worked all day. Nothing like knowing the digger is going to focus the mind!  Too tired to take photos or talk about it but will do soon.

Oh, but I did notice pears on our pear trees - an exciting first!

The Big One!

23 May 2009 16:11:54
The Big One!

The Big One!

Work started in earnest last night to create a really big flower border. This border widens the "long border" down the front of the garden and creates a tongue-for-planting which will divide the front of the garden into two "gardens".

This is a big project, made all the harder because the sods of removed grass need to be carted from the very front of the garden to the dump, at the very back. Of course it rained.

The "garden" to the right in this photo will be for my mother, who died last year. A Liquidambar tree will be planted for her, in the "tongue" which divides the two gardens. I hope to also get a granite bench, inscribed with her name. The Liquidambar tree will look over at the large coniferous tree planted for my son, Sammy, in the adjacent "garden" (left). It is quite fitting as he was her favourite. There are photos of the work in the "new borders" album.

Rapunzel's Forest

23 May 2009 16:02:18
Rapunzel's Forest

Rapunzel's Forest

The news that the digger is wanted back spurred us into action today. We had been keeping off the grass because of all the rain but this is a minor consideration now.

My husband attacked Rapunzel's Forest with the digger. I had had a go at digging up one of the roots from one of the Rosa Rugosa and failed. So, as we have the digger, this seemed the only course of action. My husband couldn't believe how the roots had spread and how tough they were. I repeat, I will never plant Rosa Rugosa again in my life.

Two Red Hot Pokers were sacrificed to let the digger at the roots but this is a small price. I know the whole area looks a disaster in the photo but it will look better when the roots are lifted off. It looks like my gargoyle has crawled out of bed in protest!


22 May 2009 21:17:49


Couldn't believe my luck today.

I was visiting a Garden Centre to pick up some mini-stakes and came across a great deal on Buxus and Bay.

I got the three Buxus and the Bay in the picture for just EURO 50. The Buxus were 10 each and the Bay 20. One of the Buxus has a dead branch and some dead leaves but that's nothing.The Bay is taller than my husband!

Really chuffed.

Greenhouse Border

21 May 2009 18:22:59
Greenhouse Border

Greenhouse Border

I started planting up the Greenhouse Border today. I got drenched twice and ended up like a mud monster but at least the job is under way.

The bed is going to hold mostly annuals and Dahlias (just to make you happy, Jacinta). The back of the border, at the greenhouse, has a row of Russian Giant sunflowers. In front of that is Helichrysum, Summer Solstice, weaving also around a large group of Little Dorrit Sunflower. The Helichrysum, in shades of brown, orange and pink is used to bind the yellow sunflowers with the mass of pink Cosmos (thanks, Lorraine) on the right and the orange flowers which I have yet to plant on the left.

Dahlia, Bora Bora (red & yellow) and Fascination (pink) are in the middle and I will separate these from the more orange side of the border with Squirrel Grass (thanks, Bill). I think I owe half the plants in my garden to other people's generosity this year.

French Beans

21 May 2009 18:12:09
French Beans

French Beans

My husband planted out the French Beans today. They are grand little, hardy plants now.Thank you, Alison, for sending the seeds many moons ago.

As you can see, there is plenty of room left for the broad beans. The sugar snap peas will go in another raised bed and the pumpkins will have their own bed too.


20 May 2009 20:00:25
Clashing Colours

Clashing Colours

Didn't do much today except get frustrated at the weather. The large "greenhouse" border was dug only recently and will be doing a great job of attracting weed seeds and me doing nothing about it.

Did a bit of potting on and was pleased t find my lychnis had seeded all over the border, giving me 18 new baby plants. I'll be bring some of these to the garden.ie get-together in West meath on 18th July, no doubt.

Added a few new photos. Off to watch Chelsea.

More Chelsea

19 May 2009 21:24:33


19 May 2009 16:36:04
Sammy's Oxalis

Sammy's Oxalis

The main focus at the moment is to watch as much Chelsea as I can. It's all good.

I find that I quickly tire of the gardens (although I will watch them) but can't get enough of the plant displays in the Great Pavilion and the walk-throughs.

In between Chelsea viewing I did manage to finish a job I had been putting off. It was to clean the front of the house. Our house is north facing so every spring there is a build up of "green" on the white plastic pipes and eves. I cleaned as much as I could reach with the ladder and got thoroughly soaked. I also cleared away the little souvenirs that last year's House Martin's left us.

The only other thing I got accomplished was to dead head my massacred tulips. Rain and wind is a bad combination!

More photos in the "Greenhouse" and "Chrysanthemum" albums.


18 May 2009 19:32:03

Chemical Warfare

18 May 2009 11:45:14
Look how it smirks!

Look how it smirks!

I'm taking no prisoners today.

I have a really persistent weed growing underneath a group of roses. There it is in the picture beside the Sedum. Its roots grow horizontally, not far beneath the surface and all seem to be connected via these horizontal runners. It seems to be regenerating from  segments of the root that I miss when weeding.

Last autumn I thought I had put pay to this horrible weed. Anyone know its name - it's important to name your enemy? I dug down and removed all root sections I could find at about a half foot depth, very carefully following the roots along to the next plant and trying not to break them. Indeed I was smug this spring because when I weeded that bed, there was no trace of my enemy! But now look at it! It's had the last laugh because it's bounced back all bushy tailed and smirks at me as I come in the drive.

This weed has had a charmed life for too long. When the hubbie did the "weedkiller thing" I specifically pointed out this area for spraying. Whether the hubbie thought better of actually spraying in one of the flowerbeds or whether he's in cahoots with my enemy, I cannot say. But this weed never got sprayed... until today.

Following Michelle's tip-off for killing brambles, I made up a 50/50 solution of gallup and water and hand painted the solution on the weed's leaves. We'll see who has the last laugh!

Empowered with my weapon of mass destruction, I then moved onto brambles, bindweed and docks. I gave no quarter but finished by accidentally tipping the jar of weedkiller onto the grass! Oh well.

Now I'm watching like a hawk for rain.


17 May 2009 15:47:48
Tithonia Torch

Tithonia Torch

The rain is pelting down today and has destroyed every tulip in the garden. There is only brown mush left on stalks.

Worse still was the wind last night. It has played havoc with my newly planted out Mexican Sunflowers, even breaking one. The Cornflowers and Cosmos seem a bit brow beaten but okay.

I am trying to make an orange and blue border in the West garden this year.

Chelsea Prediction

17 May 2009 15:34:43
Path Border

Path Border

I went along to one of the free talks on potting up containers at the Springmount Garden Centre yesterday. It was great to run into Cooper there.

Due to the recession etc, I was really trying not to buy plants. After much deliberation I did buy a Exechorda Macrantha "the bride" for the newly established extension of the "path" border. The border is a spring one and holds a Magnolia Stellata, Rhododendrons etc. I plan on putting "the bride" in the blank spot to the right of the photo.

Speaking of recession, can't wait to see what colour is this year's favourite at Chelsea. Carol Klein thought maybe bright red to cheer up a recession jaded nation. I do hope so. I hope bright colours.

Planting & House Martins

15 May 2009 15:57:58


I spent the morning planting out a lot of my greenhouse bedding. There had better be no frost otherwise there will be such an enormous shriek from Wexford that it will be heard all over the country!

Since I was last on here I have done a number of jobs...

a) Covered the newly extended "Path" Border with membrane and planted it up with rhododendrons, Magnolia Stellata, Paeony etc (see album). I need about another two large rhododendrons

b) Dug (with the digger) and raked the new Greenhouse Border (see album)

c) Painted the outside window sills and steps

d) Sprayed the roses (definitely a first for me)

e) Bought a stone circle (4 mtr) so the area we have dug must be enlarged

There is an issue however that I am struggling with.

Every year House Martins build their nest in the eve over the front door. It is very messy and the result is bird poo all over the front step. Don't get me wrong, I have no objection to them having the other eves in our house but the front door is a big problem.

I thought I had found the ideal solution this year and got the husband to hang up used CD's near the eves to frighten the birds away. They are, however, not paying the discs a blind bit of notice. Does anyone have a solution for this problem as I really can't face another pooey summer!

Back Again

15 May 2009 14:46:45

Mount Usher Gardens

06 May 2009 20:54:59
Bowles Wallflower & Persicaria

Bowles Wallflower & Persicaria

I made it to Mount Usher Gardens in Ashford, Co. Wicklow today.

I have been itching this year to see their spring Rhododendron display and I was not disappointed. The Rhododendrons and Azaleas were breathtaking and what a collection of trees! Inspirational is too small a word!

I have opened a new album to show photos I took there today.

On the way in I was charmed by this planting combination of Bowles perennial Wallflower and Persicaria. I have several specimens of this unruly Persicaria at home and its habit is quite difficult. I see it, however, beautifully combined here with the Wallflower which, by chance, Linda recently gave me. So, thank you, Linda, I have found the perfect companion for your recent gift.

Golden Gate Bridge

05 May 2009 15:43:09
Garden Ornaments

Garden Ornaments

Today was very overcast. I did a bit of weeding. I've started right back at the beginning today and am weeding the first flower bed again. Quite a few brambles still coming through on the hill. Unfortunately I have to cut them as I can't pull them up so they grow back. I thought I saw signs of a Dahlia emerging. I have all my fingers and toes crossed!

I thought about spraying my roses today and got as far as locating the liquid and a spray gun. The two didn't come together however so the job is waiting for another day.

I took my small garden ornaments out of the shed and gave some of them a scrub. There they are in the photo - a motley looking crew, waiting for a summer position in the garden!

My Flaming Parrot tulips are almost all open now. I much prefer their rich warm colours to those of Estella Rijnveld although it is obviously more cultured to prefer Estella. At risk of boring people, there are more tulip photos in my May 09 album. If you don't like tulips - steer clear of this album.

Bird of Paradise

04 May 2009 19:29:20
Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise

Can someone tell me if this seedling is actually Bird of Paradise.

It germinated a week ago in the tray where I sowed Bird of Paradise but it is the only seedling. I suspect it is a weed.

Any thoughts?

Sweet Pea Fence

04 May 2009 15:57:22
Sweet Pea Fence

Sweet Pea Fence

Myself and my husband put up a chicken wire fence at the back of a border in the West Garden today. I am very pleased with the effect. The fence really sections the West Garden off and makes it more like a garden room.

I plan on growing Sweet Pea up this fence. I am not as brave as others on this site, however, and have not yet dared plant out my sweet pea.

In fact, I am so pleased with the effect of this fence that I am going to put in another one. The only problem is that I need two more stakes. So I'm off to a garden centre to get them now.

Greenhouse Border

03 May 2009 19:49:32
Greenhouse Border

Greenhouse Border

Energy levels were low and sciatica levels high today so we weren't too ambitious in the garden.

My husband removed weeds from the raised beds, which he had previously dug with the mini digger. I gave him a hand but we quickly disbanded and drifted to other things. My husband cut the grass and I potted on some plants.

I did however manage to mark out the next new border for the digger. This border, in front of the north side of the greenhouse, will be full of annuals and will make the greenhouse look prettier and more enticing. I want the greenhouse to be a thing of beauty not just a  functional part of the garden.

Terrified, as usual, by the size of the emerging borders. However, I don't have to fill them all this year. I will probably just put a weed surpressing membrane down on some of these borders for this year rather than going mad trying to populate them and maybe even end up with another Rapunzel's Forest in my haste!

Prunus Shogetsu

03 May 2009 00:28:52
Prunus Shogetsu

Prunus Shogetsu

I was so excited this evening to see the photos my husband took today in the garden of my Flowering Cherry Tree. Actually, I have two of the same tree.

I have started a new photo album, imaginatively labelled "May 2009", showing some of these photos. 

I have always been so impressed by Butternut's profile. Take a look at her photos and you will see a spring garden to-die-for. When I first viewed her profile I determined that I would try to emulate some of her ideas. Today's photos, I hope, are reminiscent of the beauty in her superb garden.


02 May 2009 17:47:45


Took a dead heading stroll around the garden this afternoon.

Some years ago I remember Gardener's World saying that you should only cut off the dead mop heads on Hydrangeas on 1st May as only then would you be certain not to cut off the newly developing flower heads. As a result I always leave the mummified flower heads until 1 May - or 2 May this year! Mind you, there are various schools of thought on Hydrangeas. Some people cut them back completely every year. I love Hydrangeas, especially the lace cap varieties, yet I remember not too long ago my husband saying that he would move out if I planted those"granny bushes" in the garden. He's still here and so are the Hydrangeas : )

Dead headed the last of my daffodils and some tulips, taking great care not to mistake Allium heads for de-petalled tulips. Now that would be a dreadful yet easy mistake to make! It's great to see the new leaves coming on my newly planted hedging.

I got a pleasant surprise to note that my Paulownia tree is not dead. I planted it last year and it really looked dead this spring. Yet, as you can see from the picture, it has new leaves and is ready to go.

Paved Circle

02 May 2009 14:00:08
Paved Circle

Paved Circle

I originally intended to have some hard landscaping done in my garden this year. However, the recession is biting and it is hard to justify such expense. As a compromise, myself and my husband thought we would have a go at laying a paved circle. Neither of us have attempted such a task before but, with the help of the digger, we thought it would be possible...

I want a paved circle to put my stone table and benches on. The stone table has lain unused for more than a year when we had it lifted onto the grass. It cannot be lifted manually. I want the stone circle, with table, to be surrounded on two sides by ornamental planting. In my photo album "New Borders 2009" you can see the site I am planning for this.

Anyway, today we got the task under way.

1) We measured out a 3m diameter circle in the right place and marked its edge with paint (brush attached by string to stick at centre point of circle).

2) We then cut a strip around the outer edge. The inner side of the strip is the edge of the circle - we made the circle a bit bigger than needed like this to avoid problems later.

3) The digger scraped off the grass and we wheelbarrowed it to the dump.

4) The digger excavated several  buckets of earth, placed them in the wheelbarrow and we then ferried this nice top soil over to the newly extended border, close by, and dumped it on top. Actually my husband did most of this as I could only wheel the barrow when it was half full.

5) I then dug, with the spade, along the edge of the circle to give it a neat edge.

Now we need to work out how deep to excavate the circle. We are going to level it and put sand on top and then the stone circle. Of course I haven't bought the stone circle yet so I don't know its depth and I need to read up on how much sand is needed and buy it.

2nd Politest Boy in the Middle Room

01 May 2009 17:19:25


My second son came home from school very pleased with himself today. He got a prize for being the 2nd politest child in the middle classroom (2nd, 3rd & 4th class).

The prize was this lovely pelargonium. The flower looks pink and he is going to plant it in his area in the greenhouse. Look how proud he is of himself!

I also finished weeding the whole garden (hurray). Lap one is complete for this year.

I also had a first pass at removing stones and raking the newly extended border. But the soil was too wet to stand on so I couldn't finish the job.


01 May 2009 12:26:15
Munched Mexican Sunflower

Munched Mexican Sunflower

There is a slug in my greenhouse. He always goes for the same poor Russian Giant Sunflower.

I surrounded it with slug pellets but still he munches it up.

He didn't touch anything else until yesterday when I noticed a bite taken out of one of my Mexican Sunflower leaves. Will try more pellets tonight.

My giant mums have shot up just recently - new photos in the album.


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