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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal August 2009

Last Post 3065 days 22 hours ago


31 August 2009 23:03:35


Another wash out. Very depressing! Had to rush around and get more last minute school bits - still short two books!

As a boost I dropped in to Aldi and came away with a pack of 3 Clematis and a small Crassula. And can you believe it? I actually found a pack with two passion flowers in it. Wasn't that so lucky since I've been wanting to grow them in the greenhouse?

I use the weather as my excuse for using a web photo on my journal again - the second in short succession. It's a photo of what I'm hoping for in the greenhouse next year :)

What is it?

30 August 2009 22:24:46
What is it?

What is it?

I discovered this little beauty in the garden this evening.

Now, either Drumanagh or Cooper gave it to me but, shamefully, I can't remember which.

It's very like something I saw in the Dillon garden this year. Anyone got a name for me? Or...who gave it to me.  Really delighted with it!

Deadheading Helenium

30 August 2009 20:45:53
Deadheading Helenium

Deadheading Helenium

I'm a bit miffed at Gardeners' World at the minute.

Recently they advised that if you dead-head Helenium, you will get lots more flowers. I obediently dead-headed my Helenium but got no repeat flowers. It's not just the clump in the photo but other Heleniums in my garden too. 

I shouldn't have bothered dead-heading at all because the centres of the flowers, where the seed pods form, look quite attractive if left. Now I just have bare stalks!


29 August 2009 22:25:06


We have visitors at the moment so went to Altamont Gardens today.

It was a wonderful day and we had a great picnic with a bottle of wine and all. It did get spilled a few times with the kids around but so it goes...

Anyway, I came across this beautiful weed down by the river at Altamont. Its flowers look a bit like orchids. Thought I'd bring back a piece to propagate but it got lost somehow!


28 August 2009 19:03:16
Geranium Patricia - copied photo

Geranium Patricia - copied photo

Such a dreadful day. I needed a boost so I dropped into The Potting Shed in Camolin to buy myself a really good geranium.

It bucketed down - so much so that even I could not get to look at the plants for sale. Now that's saying something because I'd swim through a glacier to get new plants. I sheltered in the potting hut and felt miserable.

Then I spied it on the table beside me - a single Geranium Patricia. I remembered Michael C looking for that very plant a few months ago and I think he actually got it in the Potting Shed in the end. Talk about eerie! Anyway, it was much too wet to go looking for Jolly Bee, as recommended by Helen Dillon, so I settled on Patricia. I recently bought my neighbour Jolly Bee as a present so we can compare the performance of the two.

On the way out, I asked the owner about Johnson's Blue. Mine flowered beautifully and long this year and then I cut it back. Since then it has regrown but has not produced any more flowers. The owner advised that Johnson's Blue is like that. It won't necessarily give you a second flush. He said that both Patricia & Jolly Bee, on the other hand, would keep going all summer. He recommended dead-heading rather than cutting back.


28 August 2009 15:39:08
Korona or Ostara?

Korona or Ostara?

Spider has prompted me to make a journal entry about my strawberries.

I can't believe how big the strawberries are and delicious to boot. I haven't fed them steroids despite Spider's accusations!

I bought two types of strawberry this year - Korona - supposedly golf-ball size, fruiting in June/July and Ostara - perpetual strawberries lasting to the end of the summer.

So which ones do you suppose these are - Korona or Ostara? They're gold ball sized but fruiting in August!

They look all the more startling beside the dainty Alpine strawberries (thank you Drumanagh & Head Gardener for the Alpine plant you each gave me) but the kids gobbled the lot before I had a chance to take the photo of little and large.


27 August 2009 19:28:19
new batch of cuttings - about to go to the greenhouse

new batch of cuttings - about to go to the greenhouse

Another miserable day. I had to spend it getting the last few school items. At least, that was the plan, but I'll have to go out again because I didn't get everything :(

Yesterday I made a few more cuttings - two types of Salvia and Artemisia. When I'd finished doing that I found I'd made up too much potting mix so I decided I should use it up. I scoured the garden and made a couple of chancer cuttings - Pittosporum Tom Thumb, Stachys byzantina, santolina and Eucomis bicolor. Nothing ventured...

Of my previous cuttings, the Sedums, Fuchsias and Penstemon are doing very well. The Sedums were particularly easy and seemed to take even when I used flowering shoots. The Epiphyllum and Cactus from Rita are looking good and so far so good for Myrtle's cuttings, although it's early days yet. One of the Fuchsia cuttings from Myrtle even produced tiny flowers, which I of course cut off! But I fear for poor Lady Banks.

There are new photos of the garden in the rain in my August album.

20.41 : Having problems uploading photos - will ty again later.


26 August 2009 17:28:25


Spider and family came for a visit today and what a super day we had.

We did a tour of the garden and Spider made some great suggestions regarding a cold frame and how to get fertiliser to the roots on one of my ailing trees. Although he did make some scurrilous accusations about my strawberries and steroids!

Spider also  brought enough cream cakes to feed the whole of Wexford so we all tucked in. The kids were very happy playing together and even exchanged mobile numbers before leaving (aren't the under 10's precocious nowadays?)

All too soon it was time for Spider and Fiona to leave but Spider had one last trick up his sleeve. My lads love to chase any departing car down the drive but as they were running behind the slowly moving vehicle, it suddenly stopped. Sam kept going and crashed into the back. No sooner recovered than Spider was out of the car and chased them back up the drive again :)

Windy Night

26 August 2009 17:14:23
aeonium zwartkop

aeonium zwartkop

It was very windy last night. I made a quick tour of the garden this morning to check for damage and see everything was still there for Spider's visit.

Disaster. When hubby cut the grass yesterday he turned the wooden table in the West Garden on its side to get past. However, it seems he forgot to put it down again and this morning it was in the flower bed!!!

The hosta and some annuals are flattened. But the main cause of concern was my large aonium zwartkop, in a pot, as the table landed right on top of it. However, it isn't actually broken - just badly bent, by a stroke of luck. I have moved it to the greenhouse for nursing.

Visiting Head Gardener's

25 August 2009 20:08:30
Verbena & Tithonia

Verbena & Tithonia

I went over to visit Head Gardener's garden today. It's interesting seeing how gardens mature even during one growing season.

Everything was looking great but I was particularly taken with the collection in the conservatory. Bill has three or four different types of banana, gingers just coming into flower and other large extics. They were absolutely super.

I took a few photos which I've put in a new album. Watch out for the dodgy lunch they serve round at Head Garderer's!


25 August 2009 18:18:50



I think Chilipepper was giving out information on where to buy mushroom kits a while ago.

Well, I don't think I'll be needing that. I'm growing some fine ones, without any intervention, on the lawn.

Got Me!

24 August 2009 21:02:50
After the Sunflowers

After the Sunflowers

There's a definite air of autumn in the garden. I did a round of dead-heading today but had to admit defeat with some of the annuals. I've had a good innings with the corn flowers but it's time to call it a day.

In the same vein, the sunflowers in the greenhouse have long ceased to offer any flowers and can only be described as obstructive to general circulation in there. Hubby and myself decided to fell them together today. However, I had to go out and as I was going I noticed that he was already working on the sunflowers.

Over dinner, hubby was looking a bit uneasy. First he says "you know how I've been so helpful in the garden this year?" Now this is always a dangerous one. It is undoubtedly an introduction to a more sinister main point. So he continues "well, when you said to cut down the sunflowers, you never said only the ones in the greenhouse". There it was - the bombshell! I couldn't believe he had cut down the sunflowers in the bed outside the greenhouse - they've only recently come into flower. I even entered one of them in the Horticultural Show last Saturday. They were not gone-over. But, anyway, to cut a long story short, it seems that he felled the lot!

I gulped down my dinner and went outside to take stock of the damage. I walked up and down and up and down but everything seemed intact. It was only on my return to the kitchen that the peals of laughter from the whole family accosted by ears. I was well and truly got there.

Site Changes

24 August 2009 12:52:46

Ishtar's Garden

23 August 2009 19:49:23
Ishtar's Garden

Ishtar's Garden

As I've already mentioned on this journal, my daughter, Ishtar, is off to college in Dublin next month. Her flat is bare so she will need some plants to make it more homely.

We went to Lidl and Woodies in Carlow today to get Ishtar some house plants. I couldn't believe the great deals they had in Woodies - there were numerous small plants for €1.99 each! Well, I was well impressed.

That's Ishtar's 'garden' in the photo, starting back left ;

Dracena lemon & lime, Dracaena marginata, Ficus golden king, Ficus alii

And from front left ;

Begonia rex, begonia, ?, ?, Schefflera gold

Not bad for the princely sum of €27.93! I looked up the plants with names and I think if she keeps them somewhere bright, with no direct sunlight and waters them occasionally, they should do okay for her.


23 August 2009 19:40:21


These are the lilies I couldn't bring myself to cut for the Horticultural Show. I don't know what type they are but they smell fabulous.

When Olga was here with Myrtle & Dorothy, we had this conversation. I can never generally bear to cut flowers to bring indoors. It always seems criminal. I know plenty of people grow whole beds just for cutting, but I'm not one of them. Having said that, I did do my fair share of cutting for the Horticultural Show. At least it's just a one off annual event!

Bunclody Hort. Show

22 August 2009 20:31:06
Bunclody Hort. Show

Bunclody Hort. Show

The Bunclody Horticultural Show took place today. We were up early, picking fruit, veg and flowers for our entries. Then the real fun started when we tried to get millions of delicate vases with water and flowers into the car without breakage!!!

The show was held in a new venue this year and much benefited from this change. It has also changed its day from Thursday to Saturday which must have improved attendance. Bumped into Head Gardener as I went in.

We didn't do too badly at all! I won a cup for most meritous entry under the flower section. I also got to share a cup for drawing with Frances McDonald of the Bay Garden on the most points in the flower category. I get to keep the cup first. And, wait for it, my garden came second in the large garden category, judged back in July. I'm dead chuffed.

Hubby got various for the fruit and veg (including a first for his cucumber - that was your plant, Linda :) And Joshua got a third for his Fruit & Veg monkey and a third for the under 10 handwriting (see new album).



21 August 2009 22:51:27
Sammy's Sheep & Joshie's Monkey

Sammy's Sheep & Joshie's Monkey

Here is a preview from tomorrow's Bunclody Horticultural Show.

These are the two fruit and veg animals my sons Sam & Josh have made and are entering.

Josh & Sam are finding it very hard not to play with them : )

Drooping Begonia

20 August 2009 17:03:07
Drooping Begonia

Drooping Begonia

My house Begonia hasn't been looking good for a bit. It was drooping and bits were falling off.

I removed it from the pot today to see if it needed potting on. It didn't seem to have grown any since I potted it on this Spring but I potted it on again. I think the problem is overwatering - a sin I am regularly guilty of. I'll try letting it dry out between waterings in future.


More Weather

20 August 2009 12:48:48
Black Hollyhocks

Black Hollyhocks

I couldn't sleep last night for worrying about the damage the wind was inflicting in the garden. At 4am I woke up with a start as I'd had a vision of my large Agave Americana unearthed and was blowing across the garden!

I had to go outside to check everything was still intact. Of course, in the dark and the wind and the rain that was all a bit of a laugh. I brought in the pots of Begonias as they were getting a battering.

This morning I managed a quick tour of the garden between the sheets of rain. The only damage seems to be the solar powered dwarf, whose globe broke off. I think it can be re-glued. There was just time for a quick snap of the Hollyhocks, which are looking particularly pretty, before rushing indoors again.


19 August 2009 19:48:45


The truth is I didn't do a tap of gardening today. The rain has just spilled down. Yesterday I also did nothing, except pot up a cutting. But the day before that I did do some gardening and I thought I'd mention it here if that isn't cheating!

I bought eight large Buxus in a closing down sale this summer. The original idea was to plant them in the garden but that idea changed and I have now decided to keep them in pots. That meant I had to buy eight new pots as the plants could well do with a little bit more space and would look nicer in matching pots.

Boy are pots expensive! I wanted glazed pots (to avoid cracking with frost) and I wanted them all the same colour and I wanted green. The diameter had to be 13". The cheapest I found was in Dunnes, for €15 each, but they didn't have eight. The staff in Dunnes were even kind enough to phone all nearby Dunnes stores to see if they could make up the eight but to no avail.

In the end I settled for unglazed earthenware for €10 each. I will protect the pots in winter - maybe bring them into the greenhouse. If one does break, it shouldn't be too hard replacing it either as plain, unglazed earthenware isn't that hard to find.

I lined the inside of the sides of the pots with plastic to reduce water loss and made up a mixture of multi-purpose compost, water-retaining gel and fish blood. I then potted on my Buxus. Boy do they look happier!

Bet I get inundated now by you all with information on where to get pots really cheap!


18 August 2009 19:43:34

Dublin, Watch Out!

17 August 2009 08:33:42
Ishtar, off to Froebel, Blackrock

Ishtar, off to Froebel, Blackrock

Hurray! The suspense is finally over.

My daughter's been offered a place in Primary School Teaching.

She's off soon to do her B.Ed at the Froebel College, Blackrock, Dublin.

Watch out, Dublin, here she comes.

Silver Balls

16 August 2009 16:13:04
Liquidambar & Santolina

Liquidambar & Santolina

Yesterday I invested in eight Santolina plants. The plan is to clip them into neat round balls like you do with box.

Yesterday's plan was to invest in eight identical pots and plant these balls in them. But that was yesterday's plan. As usual I bought a plant with one idea in mind and ended up planting it elsewhere.

I planted seven of the Santolina around my Liquidambar tree. The plan is still to clip them into neat buxus-like balls - just they are planted at the base of a tree. I have seen pictures of Buxus mounds at the foot of trees and I love the shape contrasts. So, why not Santolina? I even had one plant over so I put it nearby to echo the shape and colour around the Liquidambar.

The plastic will go in spring but try to imagine this planting in five years time!


16 August 2009 16:03:09


The Bunclody Horticultural Show is next Saturday. It's always great fun and we always attend. I usually enter some flowers, hubby enters some veg and the kids make something creative. While some categories are fiercely contended - gladioli, for example, mostly nobody takes themselves too seriously.

As I plan on entering a few flowers in this annual event, I decided to cut back all my sweetpea now (see album for photos). I am reliably advised that it takes them one week to regenerate so the plan is that I will have great sweetpea for next Saturday.

The action was a bit drastic but the house sure smells nice.


15 August 2009 20:49:41
Felled Russian Giant

Felled Russian Giant

Two sunflowers down this morning as a result of the winds last night.

Lucky the roots aren't broken but it took a stake and tree tie to get them back up again!

Lots more photos in my August album.


Garden Visit

14 August 2009 18:15:28
Cooper, Tiernie, Joybells, Myrtle & Dorothy

Cooper, Tiernie, Joybells, Myrtle & Dorothy

Today I had a few visitors - Myrtle, Dorothy, Joy, Linda and, all the way from Russia, Olga.

I had a lovely afternoon and hope my guests did too. Even the rain was courteous enough to stay away until after everyone had left.

I was given some lovely gifts and am off now to pot up the cuttings.

15 August

I forgot to mention how I loved something Olga mentioned during her recent visit. Now, Olga, you need to correct me if I get this wrong!

In the Russian language there are three different words for what we blanketly refer to as gardening. The first word applies to fruit growing and public parks, the second term applies to all other types of ornamental gardening (roses, herbaceous borders etc) and the third term (the poorer cousin) applies to growing vegetables. So in Russian vegetable growing isn't really considered gardening : ) Lucky my husband wasn't around to hear that!

By the way, Dorothy & Myrtle, the two trees in my West Garden (in the borders wih the Little Dorrit sunflower) are Prunus Serrula.


13 August 2009 22:48:40


Well, we finally used the new stone circle with its table and benches. We had breakfast outdoors. I do hope this weather lasts. We could forgive the summer if we got sunshine from here on in.

I did a bit of weeding and tidying today in anticipation of tomorrow's visit. I am, however, coming to the opinion that if you cut the grass, neaten the edges and dead-head thoroughly then you can get away with a few weeds. Lets see if I'm right : )

Roll on Halloween

12 August 2009 20:40:16
Pumpkin, Atlantic Giant

Pumpkin, Atlantic Giant

The Leaving Results were out today so very little gardening got done.

I did take some photos, mostly of lilies, which are in the August album.

One of our pumpkins is doing really well. It's one of the ones outdoors - not the one cosseted in the enormous pot in the greenhouse.

In the photo you can see my second son, Joshua, giving it a bit of tlc.


11 August 2009 20:51:37
Echinacea, achillea & butterfly bush (no grassses in this photo)

Echinacea, achillea & butterfly bush (no grassses in this photo)

I'm pleased to say that I got a lot of planting done today.

Unfortunately I did manage to dig up some tulip bulbs in the process. They're always there - in the gaps - and it's the gaps I try to fill with planting. I think they're destined to be dug up. They seem okay so I'll stick them down again.

I'm having seccond thoughts about my 'prairie' area. The problem is that it looks like a mess every month except August. I tried planting some grasses in it (see picture in August 09 album) but they're a bit short and don't really add enough interest.


10 August 2009 22:04:21
Japanese Acer & Dahlia

Japanese Acer & Dahlia

I had an inauspicious start to the day's gardening when I tried to lop off a branch that was to big for the loppers. I broke the loppers and only half cut the branch. Hubby will have to have a go with the saw tomorrow.

I have a number of plants to put in the ground and, since the weather was good today, I had no excuse not to do it.

I spent a long while laying them all out and positioning them and re-positioning them. The hubby then came out and offered me tea and sandwitches. I went indoors and that was the end of gardening for the day. I hope the wind doesn't lift everything because the plants are still sitting around in the flower beds.

Smashing Day

08 August 2009 20:26:07
keeping orange & pink apart

keeping orange & pink apart

Smashing weather today.

I did a good bit of dead-heading, cutting back and a little staking.

I'm prioritising the dead-heading this summer to try and keep the annuals going as long as possible and they haven't let me down yet. It's amazing how many flowers just keep coming!

Looking at the annual border in front of the greenhouse, I thought that I didn't do a bad job on it. Besides, I sucessfully managed to keep orange and pink apart, as planned.  Orange and pink together is a pet hate of mine, although I like deep pink and deep orange together - very Indian. But the worst colour sin for me is yellow and pink together. I personally detest it although many people like it.


07 August 2009 22:15:42
Dahlia Bora Bora & Cosmos

Dahlia Bora Bora & Cosmos

Thanks to the info on Chilipepper's journal and Spider's tip off, I headed off to Aldi first thing this morning to grab me a pomegranate tree. I have been wanting a pomegranate tree for some time. If I get fruit, that would be wonderful but I'm growing it for its flowers and the middle eastern touch it will bring to my greenhouse.

I had no problem getting one and also treated myself to a kiwi, grape vine (unnamed variety) and two goji plants. Wasn't I feeling nice and smug as I potted them up in the greenhouse this afternoon. I also potted on the Oleander Nerim that I recently bought in Lidl. I just love Lidl and Aldi. Where else can you get such good value?

Despite it being a beautiful day, I took the opportunity to give the greenhouse a bit of an overhaul. I removed the plastic bags from my recent cuttings (not quite sure how long you're supposed to keep the bags on for). The physalis fruits have turned yellowish, suggesting that they are almost ripe, which is quite exciting. There are plenty of tomatoes, courgettes and peppers still coming, although the aubergines are really slow. We also have gallons of mangetout from the garden which is just wonderful.

The photo is from the border in front of the greenhouse and there are a few more photos in my August and Greenhouse albums.

Introducing...the Pumpette

07 August 2009 21:56:29
Introducing...the Pumpette

Introducing...the Pumpette

A while ago my husband encountered a problem in his daily pollinating routine with the greenhouse courgettes. There were insufficient male flowers for the job.

After a few days of indecision, he noticed that the pumpkins had plenty of male flowers. Since courgettes and pumpkins are essentially the same plant, my hubby  decided to use the pumpkin pollen to pollinate the female courgettes.

We thought nothing more about it but were glad to see courgettes start to form. But now we are reaping the result. Take a look at the size of the pumpette in the photo!

The reason why I'm sure this result is due to the pumpkin pollen and not the result of leaving courgettes on the plant for too long is that I tried to grow giant courgettes a few years ago and couldn't. When Wallace & Gromit's Revenge of the Wererabbit first came out, my kids wanted to grow a marrow. I could find no marrow seeds so I thought I would grow a giant courgette for them. I removed all but one fruit from a single plant and gave it loads of water and tomato feed. It would not, however, grow very big at all - nothing like the size of the pumpette in the photo.

Can I claim it as a cultivar, do you think?


07 August 2009 10:19:49

Carlow Floral Festival

06 August 2009 21:10:49
helenium & gypsophila

helenium & gypsophila

We came back from Donegal and Sligo late last night. We had a wonderful time although, unfortunately, I had no chance for any gardening related activities.

To make up for the shortfall, I went to Altamont Gardens today where Helen Dillon gave three workshops and a guided tour of the gardens as part of the Carlow Floral Festival. Now I am satiated.

Back to my garden and the long grass, I have a added a few photos to the new August album.

By the way, Myrtle & Tiernie will be visiting my garden on 14th. So if anyone would like to come down on that day and meet them then you are more than please drop me a note.


02 August 2009 09:47:10
Maghery Beach, Dungloe

Maghery Beach, Dungloe


Off to Donegal for a few days. Hope the weather holds.

6th August

Came back home last night and we had a wonderful time.

My Mother's Grave

01 August 2009 18:44:48
My Mother's Grave

My Mother's Grave

A close friend of the family wanted a bush on my mother's grave. I had already been over this ground with an ancestor's grave which I maintain. I'm not convinced it's a terribly clever idea to plant up a grave. Besides it is very hard to decide what to plant. Nothing you can think of is good enough or significant enough on its own. I came round to the idea of a topiaried bush a few months ago. Initial thoughts of something that my mum would appreciate were of a buxus buddha but I'm not one to rock the boat in the local catholic cemetery. In the end I fell in love with the topiaried vase in the photo. I think it is very elegant and I am sue my mum, who was once a dedicated gardener, would have appreciated it. She was never a shrinking violet so I think the extravagance of this bush is in keeping with her character. Even the sun came out for the occasion.


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