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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal December 2009

Last Post 2970 days 4 hours ago

Snow in Wexford

31 December 2009 23:49:31

Last Task of 2009

31 December 2009 18:56:22
cactus & succulent arrangement

cactus & succulent arrangement

In between watching Madagascar on the TV and playing with new games, I grabbed my youngest two for a little gardening task.

Josh (9) and Sam (7) have had a set of tiny cactuses in their bedroom for a long time. I am ashamed to say that they have not been treated well. This summer when Alison came to visit, she brought Sammy another cactus. I was delighted with this new one because it reminded me of one I had known as a child - you can pull off pieces and stick them in the ground and they re-grow. I remembered being totally fascinated with this cactus as a child and had completely forgotten about it until Alison's gift (by the way, does anyone know the name of this cactus? - Better photo in the House Plants Album).

Anyway, today the boys, with my help and the help of my new cactus book from Linda, re-planted their little cactuses in one bowl. I also gave them a little Echeveria for contrast. We are quite pleased with the result and hope to take better care of the arrangement in future.

Happy New Year!

A Little Success

31 December 2009 13:19:08
Nepenthes ventrata cutting

Nepenthes ventrata cutting

A windy night in Wexford. Luckily the only damage seems to be to some plastic membrane, which has been lifted. Hubby has volunteered to go out and sort that now. Temperatures are reasonable. It's 7 degrees in the greenhouse at the minute so I have opened the louvre windows and lifted the lids off boxes. My new water butt is nicely full : )

Meanwhile indoors, I am delighted to see my Nepenthes cuttings making progress.

While I am strenuously resisting the urge to tug at the cuttings to check for rooting, I did notice this new growth on one cutting today. Looks like Wayne will be getting his first Nepenthes soon : )

So, as a final wish for 2009. I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year and, hopefully, we'll have a bumper 2010!

Wakey, Wakey!

30 December 2009 13:58:29
hippeastrum bulbs

hippeastrum bulbs

On a cold winter's day, with "slush puppy" falling from the heavens, it's time to try to revive last year's Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs.

I have three bulbs, potted together last spring. One gave a lovely display in late spring and I can't remember about the other two. Anyway, I should have put this pot outdoors in summer but I forgot. The result is that the leaves continued to grow, lush and green in the heat, with a nice bit of tomato feed every now and again. Who would blame them for not dying back!

About a month ago, reminded by Liga, I decided to work on the bulbs and moved them to cooler rooms, reduced and then stopped watering. I would like to point out that this was a great effort of will for me as I have "compulsive, obsessive watering syndrome" : ) Eventually a few leaves started to die back. God, there's no problem to get leaves of favourite plants to die back normally but when you want them to... 

Anyway, yesterday my patience came to an end and I cut off all leaves to about 4" I have now soaked the pot in warm water and will move it to a warm place to see if it will develop new growth.

Here's a word of free advice. I planted the bulbs in one big pot based on some advice from one of Christopher Lloyd's writing and an article in the Irish Garden. It is a lovely idea to have a massive display of Amaryllis. However, the down side is - what to do with such a big pot, full of dying foliage. Single Amaryllis bulbs, in individual pots, can be accommodated a lot more easily than can a whopping great big pot full of straggly uninteresting leaves.

Will keep you posted on developments.


29 December 2009 20:55:45
pennisetum & coleus

pennisetum & coleus

Next summer is in motion - I have placed my seed order for annuals. Although I thought I wasn't ready to order, once I got going I found that it came easily.

I have been keeping lists of annuals I want and I have an idea for at least one of my border's next year. I will have annuals playing a key (if not complete) role in at least two large borders.

I'm quite excited about trying to create a tropical affect and am influenced by Christoper Lloyd's books and Will Giles. Next July I will be attending Fergus Garrett of Great Dixter's course but I will need to have my borders underway by that stage. I will do my best with whatever inspiration comes my way until then and, hopefully, be in a position to ask questions based on solid experience by the time the course comes around.

I am quite excited by the combination of giant ornamental millet, as a border backdrop,  and coleus for the foreground. Seeds for both were included in my recent order and the plants are featured in this rather pretty, albeit tame, photo.

Of course I also ordered myself a few treats -  Salpiglossis sinuata, Eustoma grandiflorum and Cobaea. You know the type? Plants that will not necessarily fit in anywhere but so beautiful that you have to give them a try : ) Sure what's gardening all about anyway?

And to engage my kids - 3 types of Sunflower for Sammy (but I'm steering away from yellow this year). Frangipani for Joshua (he's the posh one but wouldn't you have to grow it for the name alone?!) and Mimosa pudica for Zak (who originally brought this amazing, moving plant to my attention about a month ago). And also, Petunias for the first time. My youngest two love the cartoon Loopdidoo and the girl's name in it is Petunia! I grasp at whatever gardening staws I can to engage the kids.

So that's me started. I do still need to sort out all the seed I've collected (and send some off to those I've promised). There is also the minor issue of vegetables - a more limited list - tomatoes, courgettes, cucumber, mangetout, pumpkins, pak choi and probably cabbage. But that's a question for another day and maybe another seed site - need to check out the site Krista mentioned again. And, who knows, maybe I'll even have some luck with my gojis, kiwis, cape gooseberries and pomegranates next year!

Staying Indoors

29 December 2009 16:34:16
Christmas Orchids

Christmas Orchids

I had to go to town today and it is very cold. I am back in again, huddled up by the fire. I think I'll concentrate on my house plants for the time being. 

Had to spray for aphids on a few plants yesterday. I also watered and fed all my Orchids over two days. I have adopted the regime of feeding every time I water, at half strength. No new Orchid blooms to report as yet.

I'm putting up a photo of the three Orchids I got for Christmas - a Phalaenopsis hybrid, Miltonipsis hybrid and my first species - Dendrobium nobile (close-ups in the Orchid album).

Day of the Trifids

28 December 2009 22:57:45
The Triffids, 1981 version

The Triffids, 1981 version

That was great! I've just been watching the latest BBC adaptation of Day of the Triffids. What a marvellous romp for Christmas week.

Although the Triffids take themselves a lot more seriously these days, it seems that modern special affects still can't master a realistic looking monster-plant.

The Triffids have a very unconvincing gait - kind of wobbling from side to side as they propel themselves along, balanced on their top heavy agave-like bodies. But they do redeem themselves somewhat in the credibility stakes when they attack!!!

They have a huge red poisonous inflorescence - a bit like Amorphophallus konjac or its giant Sumatran cousins. A giant dose of botanic exoticism, mixed with action packed adventure for a lazy Christmas week : ) The final part airs tomorrow.

Free Seed Postage

28 December 2009 13:10:29
little and large

little and large

If anyone was going to order seeds from Thomson & Morgan, today might be the time to do it. They are offering free postage until midnight tonight...


I have put up a photo of two of my Hippeastrum (amaryllis). Both are red. The one behind has two small flowers. The one in front has four enormous flowers - go figure!

Xmas Booty

27 December 2009 18:02:07
Xmas Booty

Xmas Booty

Just time for a quick look-in to the site before I go off to play board games. We are having a wonderful Christmas and I hope you all are too.

Christmas morning was frozen and white. I got out into the garden, after present opening, and took some magical photos of the frost (see album). The weather blowing in on Christmas eve was scary - this is no Irish winter we are experiencing. I hope the worst has passed.

I did well for Christmas booty : ) No Paph but I did get 3 Orchids - Dendrobium nobile, Miltonipsis & a Phalaenopsis (see Orchid album). I also got 3 books - Flora's Orchids, Anna Pavord's Bulbs & Will Giles' The Exotic Garden. In addition my eldest two bought me a little charm bracelet with tiny gardening implements on it - so cute.

I also got a moisture/PH/light measuring tool to stop me over watering and otherwise mistreating my plants and a really cool weather station that tells me the temperature, humidity and air pressure in two locations - so I can sit indoors and check out the temperature in the greenhouse without even moving! And, as if that wasn't enough, I got a water butt for collecting water outside the greenhouse - very useful.

So, I'm off now. Hope you are all having a great time and did as well as me.

Christmas Eve Journal

24 December 2009 17:43:49


It was a busy day today but hopefully all is ready for the big day tomorrow.

I watered in the greenhouse this morning so that I won't have to for the next week or so. The weather is milder - a whimpy 0 degrees in there last night and it had risen to a toasty 3 degrees when I was watering. Although I didn't open any windows, I did take lids and wraps off plants for two hours to let them breath. The only evidence of frost damage to date is a tender Rhododendron, Lady Alice Fitzwilliam, which has blackened leaf tips despite three layers of fleece. The flower buds have not dropped, however, so I am hopeful it will be okay. The other damage was on a small succulent, Adromischus cooperi, which has some brown areas. Time will tell...

This evening the light rainfall we had earlier turned the roads into skating rinks. The result was that I couldn't bring a bowl of Hyacinths down to my mother's grave. I will have to do this after Christmas.

But, as a special Christmas treat, one of my Amaryllis is in full flower, the second is opeing and the third has finally decided to grow (like Fran's - I wonder are the synchronised!!!).

Finally, I would like to take this moment to wish you all a very merry Christmas. Hopefully next year will bring a good gardening year and many newcomers to garden.ie. But I would like to thank everyone who has contributed this year for making it such a special gardening year for me. 

Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night...

Minus 4 Inside

23 December 2009 11:57:12
melted ice

melted ice

It was -4 inside the greenhouse last night. But I'm trying not to obsess : )

A minor dilemma presented itself when I needed rain water for my house plants but the bucket was frozen over. Water, water everywhere but not  a drop to drink : )

Hubby came to the rescue and broke a piece of ice from the frozen paddling pool and put it in a saucepan in the sink to thaw. By the time I took the photo it was nicely warmed up to epiphype temperatures.

Today's gardening highlight was noticing that my highland Nepenthes, Miranda, is producing its first pitcher. Although very small yet (see House Plant album), it is great to know that conditions are to the plant's satisfaction.

More Frost

22 December 2009 09:23:39
hybrid tea, Just Joey

hybrid tea, Just Joey

There was just time for a quick tour of the garden before school this morning. You can see evidence of my frozen plants and white landscape in the December 2009 album.

Just a few short journals ago, my hybrid tea, Just Joey, was bravely sporing a single bloom. As the adjacent photo shows, all bravery has come to naught this morning.

Must dash, last minute shopping to do.

Poor Plants

21 December 2009 15:56:24


It was -3.5 inside the greenhouse last night, which gets me worrying again. My daughter keeps telling me that I should just leave the greenhouse alone as every time I think about it, it actually lowers the temperature by a whole degree. In other words - shush!

I found another large see-through storage box today and put my greenhouse Sarracenia into it. They are all completely cut back now. I covered the lid of the box with newspaper and some fleece. I had already laid as much newspaper as we had over the tops of plants in the greenhouse.

The problem with Sarracenia is that their temperature tolerance is largely untested although some are very hardy. Of course, plants in pots are more vulnerable. It's the old syndrome I mentioned earlier - which one of my babies do I save from an icy death? I'm afraid this hap-hazard emergency protection, that I'm now engaging in, does not have a lot of science to it.

But on a much cheerier note - doesn't my Hibiscus look good? It is just the right colour for Christmas.

Cold Orchids

20 December 2009 17:28:28
Odontocidium hansueli isler

Odontocidium hansueli isler

With this cold snap, I am coming to the comclusion that my house has the perfect conditions for growing cold orchids. All the bedrooms have a night temperture of 10 degrees at the minute, rising to about 15 during the day.

Maybe this isn't enough of a day/night difference for Cymbidiums, but I should really be able to grow Dendrobiums quite well : ) Next year will tell.

Anyway, I am pleased to see that my Odontocidium hansueli isler is producing a flower spike for the second time this year. It last flowered back in May. Also, one of my Phal's is producing a seond flower spike. I bought this Orchid although the spike was broken because it was going cheap and, as luck would have it, a snip in the right place looks to be producing a second flush - a well spent €3.75!

Bulbs Update

20 December 2009 10:32:54
Bulbs Update

Bulbs Update

It has not been a good season for Christmas bulbs for me. I would just like to say though that normally I find the Lidl/Aldi bulbs very good. Their failure must be due to performance anxiety ths year as I was making note on this journal.

Here is the low down, left to right of picture :

Amaryllis bought 22 October (Lidl/Aldi) for €2.99. It was supposed to be pink. I searched for one with green peeping. This is now beginning to flower but has the smallest flower head I've ever seen on an Amaryllis. It looks to be red.

Hyacinth in glass bought 22 October (Lidl/Aldi) for €1.99. I put this in the greenhouse and it started to rot. I removed the rotten layer and brought it indoors. A bud is growing slowly but no roots to date.

Orange tree in flower : )

Amaryllis bought 1 December (Lidl/Aldi) with two existing flower spikes for €3.99. It was supposed to be white. The largest flower spike is about to open and is red. The smaller flower spike has withered. I will need to cut it off.

Amaryllis bought 22 October (Lidl/Aldi) for €2.99. It was supposed to be red. I searched for one with green peeping but couldn't find one but bought nevertheless. No sign of a bud or leaf to date.

Hyacinth in glass bought 22 October (Lidl/Aldi) for €1.99. I put this in the greenhouse (as with the one above) and, same story, it started to rot. I removed the rotten layer and brought it indoors. A bud is growing and there are a few roots on one side.

Let it Snow...

19 December 2009 11:46:24
Let it Snow...

Let it Snow...

We had snowfall last night. You can see photos in my December album. It's quite impressive for this time of year.

I couldn't get into the greenhouse this morning as the stone was welded to the step. The thermometer in the greenhouse seems to show -3 but I couldn't get close enough to see properly. What to do? It would be like deciding which of my babies (greenhouse plants) to save (bring indoors).

On a positive note, all weeds have disappeared under a layer of clean, white, snow : )

Well, I may be mad but I'm off to Carlow to do Christmas shopping. Hope the roads have cleared!

White Amaryllis

18 December 2009 15:48:57


My white Amaryllis is breaking into flower.

Only one problem...

Santa Baby...

18 December 2009 00:31:40
Paphiopedilum Orchid

Paphiopedilum Orchid

It's snowing outside so I've taken to dreaming of next year's gardening.

As several people have previously done, I've created an album of photos of plants on my wish list. These are plants that I have already noted to look out for next year.

In fact, the photo album works as a much greater reminder of why I want these plants in the first place!

So, as Drumanagh said - 'Santa baby'...

Winter Colour

16 December 2009 15:11:28
Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata'

Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata'

As an entry to Myrtle's 'Winter Colour' thread, I would like to submit Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata' - also known as Spanish Dagger because of its sharp leaf tips.

I adore this evergreen plant although mine hasn't yet flowered. It provides great architectural interest all year round and, if I ever do get flowers, I will be even more delighted because they are exceptional.

This plant is no trouble whatsoever, requiring only that lower, spent leaves be cut off in spring. It likes good drainage so I have it planted in a stony bed with poor soil. I have never protected this plant in winter and it has survived our rains and last winter's snow. In fact I have invested in four more Yuccas for my garden!!! I think Yucca looks great against soft, feathery grass.

My Brave Flowers

16 December 2009 15:00:21
Just Joey

Just Joey

I ventured reluctantly into the garden today and took a hasty few photos.

I did noticed two surprises in the 'brave little flower' category. A single Just Joey, hybrid tea, rose is hanging on for dear life (pictured). Also, some white Chrysanthemums (see album) are looking very well against my Fatsia japonica.

I then scuttled back indoors and switched the heating to override.

Orchid Watch

15 December 2009 23:58:01
Orchid Watch

Orchid Watch

I have my spies out.

Here is a photo I received by email this evening from my daughter up in Dublin. She spotted these half price Orchids in Marks and Spencers in Blackrock and immediately beamed the information over ot me : ) Isn't she very good?

I won't be purchasing but €7 isn't bad for a perfectly good Phal.

Roll on Christmas

15 December 2009 15:10:41
new Oncidiums

new Oncidiums

It's very cold. Last night was -1 inside the greenhouse and the previous night was -1.5. I think we're due snow.

I can't wait for Christmas now. My daughter is coming home for Christmas this Friday. The decorations are up, the presents are wrapped, the cards have been sent. Roll on Christmas.

I tried to motivate myself to take some garden photos today but neither flesh nor spirit were willing. The garden just looks like death at the minute. I don't think I'll be putting up a December album.

I did venture out to the greenhouse and opened the windows. I also opened up my box of cuttings out there, removing the plastic on top of the box. I'd be afraid they'd go mouldy if I didn't open it at least every other day to breath. Then back indoors I went.

I did a bit of Orchid stuff though and, just so as Jacinta doesn't fear for her foster children's well-being, here's a photo of 9 of my new Oncidiums in their new hme. By the way, Jacinta, I nicked one of your photos for my profile avatar - hope you don't mind ; )

Liga, may I ask how soon you water your Orchids after repotting? Dr Hessayan says 'less frequently' but other sources say not to water for at least two weeks after re-potting, just to mist!!!

My Babies

14 December 2009 20:24:03
My Babies

My Babies

This morning I woke up still on a high from out great meeting yesterday. I decided to deal with the many and varied gifts I had as a result of the get-together. The main task would be to re-pot the 13 Orchids that Jacinta gave me (my babies). Well, I was like a pig in s*** with my fancy new secateurs, clipping off the spent flower spikes and bad roots, de-potting all the Orchids and re-potting them in a mix of Orchid bark and perlite back into their old pots.

I had done the first 4 Orchids when I ran out of Orchid bark so headed off to a Garden Centre where I remembered them selling it really cheaply. Sure enough, I got 3 bags of this fancy Orchid mix for €2. Get this description...

"Cameleon Orchid soil based on French bark (not ordinary Irish bark, if you please), coco-chips, sphagnum, NPK fertilizer and trace elements".

As if that wasn't impressive enough, the "Guarantee" lists...

Dry matter : 30%

Organic matter : 50%

pH (water) - zone 5-6.5

Electric conductivity (EC) : 200 /cm (what does this mean???)

Composition of NPK fertilizer 12-14-24 : 0.50 kg/m3

Well, although I was slightly dubious about electrifying my babies, I was more concerned about the sphagnum moss content but when I opened the packet there was none evident. It looked okay so it got used. I won't use it in my Nepenthes mix though.

As I write the 13 Orchids are resting on humidity trays and looking much the happier for their potting-on, electric conductivity or not!

And final jobs - I put Liga's Streptocarpus cuttings in a mix and popped them on the heated propagator and sprayed her Pelargonium cuttings for white fly, according to instruction, although I saw no evidence of it. And guess what? Space for all these new plants - not really an issue : )

Xmas Get Together

13 December 2009 21:04:45
chris kindling

chris kindling

What a great day I had at our get-together in the Arboretum, Carlow and how lovely to meet so many like-minded people - people that I feel I know well and finally got to meet at last.

I see the race was on to get all the photos up on our return and, indeed, there were several lots up before mine finished coming in.

I hope everyone had a good time. Best hat prize had to go to Ladybird but I noticed I was the only one with flashing Santy earrings! Jacinta's place settings were a work of art and Cooper and HeadGardener did a sterling job of organising the raffle (even if I did give Bill a bum steer on when to throw away the tickets). And of course thanks to everyone who kindly donated prizes to our free raffle.

I'm a bit perished now due to the fact that I had no coat on me during the garden tour but a nice hot coffee on our return to the Mulberry restaurant certainly helped. My special thanks to Joybells for the lovely Chris Kindle gift she gave me - I shall feel so sophisticated pruning my roses with those fancy secateurs and will never loose them due to the matching bag!

And a really big thank you to Jacinta, Liga, Myrtle and Fran for all those plants and seeds. Your foster children are settling into their new home, Jacinta, and I will let you know how they progress : ) I hope they won't pine for you.

It looks like a hard freeze is descending tonight so I hope you're all tucked up safely. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Twas the night before the get-together...

12 December 2009 16:40:09
Twas the night before the get-together...

Twas the night before the get-together...

My daughter gave me a hand to wrap my Chris Kindle pressie.

Can you guess what it is?

Is it a book?

Is it a seceteurs?

Keep guessing!

Sins of Omission

12 December 2009 14:19:45
Dendrobium & Zygopetalum

Dendrobium & Zygopetalum

I potted on my Zygopetalum Orchid some time ago but realized afterwards that I had made an omission.

If not potting into an Orchid pot, it's important to put crocks for drainage at the end of the pot or have extra drainage holes. I had done neither.

The Zygopetalum has thrown up a new shoot since repotting and, although I'm unable to tell if it's a leaf or a spike, it's a good sign. Puzzling over what to do, I thought it wouldn't be a good idea to re-pot again so soon. So today, with hubby's help, we drilled holes near the base of the pot while the plant was still in it. That should solve the problem!

While we were at it, we also drilled holes in the little pot of the little Dendrobium Keiki that Myrtle gave me. This seems to have two tiny shoots at the tip (not the flappy white things associated with Keiki) so maybe... But actually I think this plant is far too young to flower.


11 December 2009 15:32:34


I made a bit of space for my new Orchids today. They are currently in the care of their foster mother but I fear her patience may be running thin...

So, on Sunday my little Oncidiums will move here to their new home - here and my daughter's bedroom as, rumour has it, there are 13 of them! I hope to have humidity trays sorted for them by Sunday. Although my daughter's bedroom may be a little on the cool side for the ones that go in there but, sure, we can see about re-jiggling once I work out exactly how much space they will take up.

Today I removed the covering from my Nepenthes cuttings (right of photo) as this frees up a good chunk of space. So far so good. They are still alive - always a good sign! I also watered a few orchids as I'm in an Orchid-frame-of-mind : )


11 December 2009 13:38:49


The plan had been to get out into the garden today. I wanted to weed around my Dahlias, cut the blackened stalks back and mulch them thickly with bark chip.

But I didn't step out at all and I've no excuse.

Got an invitation from the Arboretum in Carlow to a sale this evening only (20%off). They are giving free mulled wine and nibbles to the invitees. I'm in half a mind to go and buy that Pansy Orchid for €20 (instead of €25) but it can be tricky to get away on Friday evening. Besides, we'll all be there on Sunday ; )

Christmas coming early

10 December 2009 19:38:10
Christmas coming early

Christmas coming early

Popped over to Cooper's today and came away with a second early Christmas present.

This is great! Maybe I should do the rounds : )

Linda gave me a lovely book on growing cacti and succulents. I'm really pleased with it as I was looking for something to increase my succulent knowledge and this looks like a great book.

Thanks very much, Linda : )


09 December 2009 17:02:38


I had wanted to bring a selection of seeds along to our get-together on Sunday but they are not ready.

I moved my bags of seeds in from the greenhouse to my daughter's bedroom today.

It is a drier environment and the room is quite cool since my daughter is away at college. Myrtle, Krista and Jacinta - I'm afraid you'll have to wait a bit longer for your seeds.

Tetrapanax Rex

09 December 2009 14:53:41


HeadGardener came up for a quick visit today and we had a grand old chin wag. He had poor little Sam in tow, who is feeling a bit under the weather.

Bill brought me a lovely Christmas pressie - Tetrapanax rex! I am really delighted with it and so surprised. That was one on my wish list!

But I must say that I did a better job of wrapping my gift for Bill - well marginally anyway...

Thank you, Sharon

08 December 2009 16:14:30
Thank you, Sharon

Thank you, Sharon

I received the War of the Roses Dahlia tuber today. A fine fat specimen it is too! Thank you very much.

Sorry you were a bit crippled there with the postage.  I should have collected it from you at some stage.

Thanks once again. Your kindness is very much appreciated.


07 December 2009 22:25:29


I was just watching the David Attenborough 'Life' series on BBC. This episode was about plants (and I thought I'd missed the plant episode).

Oh, it was great - Orchids opening, Brunsvigia casting seed, Venus Fly Trap & Sundews in action. And a British woodland scene speeded up, which lasted 60 seconds. Apparently it took two years and multiple set-ups and locations to actually record those 60 seconds record!!! The programme is repeated on Sunday.

Gift Wrapping Plants

07 December 2009 21:01:58
I wish...

I wish...

It is very hard to gift wrap a plant. It's a bit like wrapping a bottle - everyone knows immediately what it is - but worse.

I recently bought a plant at the Arboretum in Carlow and they have a great free, gift-wrapping service there. I was so impressed with how they tied the paper with a ribbon and then allowed the ribbon ends to curl up around the top of the plant, which was still visible. It looked really well although the top was open and you could immediately see the plant. At least it was beautifully presented.

Now, I haven't yet tackled wrapping my rather bulky Chris Kindle pressie but today I wrapped two plants for gardening buddies. I was inspired by the Arboretum and launched into the task with great confidence. The paper went underneath and up and the gold ribbon went around. So far so good...

Then the paper, under the base of the plant tore (probably because it was slightly damp)! Undeterred, I chucked the wasted paper and started again. This time I dried the plant thoroughly and didn't pull too much. However, although wrapped the plant looked awful - chiefly because the white underside of the paper was showing. I tried again. This time I folded a large piece of paper in half so that the inside was the same colour as the outside. So, how did that go? Well, they're wrapped now!

But I can't show you the photo because these two plants are pressies for two people who may actually read this journal and I don't want to spoil the surprise. Don't know how I'll wrap my Chris Kindle pressie but at least I'm getting some practice in!

Christmas Decorations

06 December 2009 16:06:46


We put up the Christmas decorations today. I won't put up a picture of the tree as it's not real and this is a gardening site after all.

Instead, I've put up a picture of my Brugmania. It's been moved to the sitting room to make space for the Christmas tree. I see someone put a decoration on it!

I hope all the plants on the window sills survive with Christmas lights hanging down in front of them : )


Christmas Get Together

04 December 2009 22:24:33

Elaeagnus X ebbingei

04 December 2009 19:40:10
Elaeagnus X ebbingei

Elaeagnus X ebbingei

I popped into the 4Home Garden Centre in Gorey this evening and was delighted to see all plants were reduced by 50% until Sunday.

I was quick to snap up a great Chris Kindle gift - guess what, it's a plant : ) So I'm all Chris Kindled now! A good place to get value for your €10 if your in the Wexford area!

I also bought two Elaeagnus X ebbingei bushes for €3.45 each for myself. These plants usually cost a lot and I was thinking of making a hedge of them. Their scent reminds me of France. However, given the Irish climate, I decided to buy two specimens first and plant them to see if they give their scent in my garden. So many nice perfumes doesn't seem to stand up to the rigours of the Irish weather.

Brugmansia & Oranges

04 December 2009 13:01:30
Brugmansia & Oranges

Brugmansia & Oranges

I'm sorry to keep banging on about my Brugmansia but I am amazed to observe that it is treating me to another flush of flowers!

This plant has been flowering since July and, although the last flush was thwarted by bud drop, I am now being treated to a new flush. I must take cuttings in spring as I'm sure others would like such a plant and I wouldn't mind a second one.

Apart from the Brugmansia, my orange trees are continuing to flower. The larger one has fruit and flower at the same time now, despite the fact that hubby stripped it of oranges and picked them some weeks back. Both Brugmansia and orange are wonderfully scented.

Otherwise gardening is a bit thin on the ground around these parts. I take a trip to the greenhouse each morning and open the windows. About 4pm, I close it all up again.

Then I spray and water any indoor plants that need it. Today I had to spray for greenfly (again) and did a bit of messing with tiny seed envelopes - gluing them mostly. I also spent some time puzzling over what to buy my Chris Kindle - can't wait for our Christmas get-together!

Mimosa Pudica

03 December 2009 19:05:53
Mimosa Pudica

Mimosa Pudica

Check out this weird plant. My son learned about it in biology in school and was dying to tell me about it when he came home. Being a teenager, he also found a video clip of it 'in action' on You Tube...


Basically, it reacts to touch and heat by immediately folding up and wilting. But this effect is soon reversed.

Chris Kindle

03 December 2009 10:52:50
Chris Kindle

Chris Kindle

As everyone knows, we will be doing a Chris Kindle at the Christmas get-together on 13th December.

I wanted to postpone assigning names until as late as possible but, as Jacinta pointed out, some people may need to do their present shopping sooner.

So, can anyone who needs to know their Chris Kindle by this weekend, please let me know now? Alternatively, if you're okay to wait until Thursday next week before finding out who you're buying for (the meeting is on Sunday), then please also let me know too.

One final thing, I suggest that we make the following rule for simplicity's sake...

If someone doesn't turn up on the day (person A) then whoever has a present for person A, should give their present to whoever person A was buying for. Hope that makes sense. It would just cut out having to get presents to people at a later stage, potentially in different counties.

Christmas Get Together

02 December 2009 17:49:12
Arboretum newsletter

Arboretum newsletter

To recap, all garden.ie members are invited to attend our Christmas get-togeter at the Arboretum, Co Carlow at 2pm on Sunday 13th December.

The list of those who have confirmed as attending so far are...

Bizzybee & 1
Fran M
Ladybird & 1
Liga & 1
Mairin & 3
The Cottage Gardener

Each person should wear a Christmassy hat and will be issued beforehand with a Chris Kindle name. They should buy a pressie, of not more that €10, for the person whose name they have been given.

The meeting will take place in the restaurant but there is no obligation to buy lunch. You may bring other people too, just provide the numbers beforehand.

The Arboretum, weather permitting, will have their head gardener show us round the gardens or give an indoor talk, if we so wish on the day.

We're hoping for a great turnout.

Competition Winner

02 December 2009 16:51:12
my fake orchid

my fake orchid

Well done, Myrtle. You saw through my little orchid. It is, in fact, fake.

My son bought it for me several years ago and I can honestly say it is extremely long flowering. It is also little trouble as I never water it and it never complains about lack of light or temperature : )

A selection of seeds will go out to you, Myrtle, and also to Krista and Jacinta for being such good sports and not lynching me yet...

Orchid Competition - just for fun

02 December 2009 11:10:13
What type of orchid?

What type of orchid?

So, in line with the festive spirit and the dangerous precedent set by Deborah, here is a fun competition for everyone.

Can you guess what type of Orchid this is?

The only hints I will give are that this Orchid is the easiest of all to grow. It is also extremely long flowering.

The first three correct answers will receive a selection of seed, collected from my garden (don't get too excited - mostly annuals and some perennials). Seed selection will be sent out in the next few months.

Mouldy Old Seeds

01 December 2009 23:33:38
Mouldy Old Seeds

Mouldy Old Seeds

As I'm getting my collected seed together, I am reminded of the bizarre process we carried out recently to collect tomato seeds.

We grew Suncherry tomatoes this year and they were delicious and a great success. I wasn't going to bother collecting seed until I noted the price in Thomson & Morgan's seed catalogue - about £4 for 8 seeds!

So, here's the process we followed, which we found mentioned in the book opposite. Apparently tomato seeds are coated in a protective gel which, unless removed, will inhibit germination. I don't know how this gel is broken down normally in nature - perhaps by the seeds being swallowed and stomach acid eroding it (but here I speculate as I know this to be the process with some exotic seeds)...

1) Scoop the pulpy sees into a jar and leave in a warm place.

2) After 2 days a yeasty smell will indicating that the gel is fermenting.

3) A white fungus layer should appear after 5-7 days (indicating the seeds are now gel free).

4)  Rinse the seeds.

5) Spread out for a week to dry.

Well, it goes totally against the grain to allow your seeds to go mouldy but that's what we did. Once rinsed the seeds looked quite normal. They are all enveloped up in the seed box in the fridge now and we have lots of seed.

Book Review

01 December 2009 17:58:52
Book Review

Book Review

I thought I might give a quick synopsis of my views on Dr Hessayon's 'The Orchid Expert'.

I bought this book under duress. I don't like the Dr Hessayon series but needed a starter orchid book and it was all I could find.

I have been very pleasantly surprised. The basics are laid out in simple, easy-to-follow steps and there is easily sufficient information in it to get you up and running. It also offers interesting teasers for further reading on associated subjects - plant anatomy, habitat and the history of Orchidmania.

It is, of course, limited in scope. It wouldn't have an extensive section on 'problems' for example and it is difficult to work out orchid cultivation when you have a hybrid (like most of us) as opposed to a species.

However, I couldn't put it down and have read it cover to cover twice. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a first book on Orchids.

Seed Swap

01 December 2009 15:55:41
template for seed packets

template for seed packets

I started sorting out my seeds today.

The first step is to print, cut out and glue seed packets. This is the template I am using. Alison found it on the web at...


The task will continue tomorrow.

Still hoping to hear from anyone else who can make our get-together on 13th (see below journals).


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