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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal March 2010

Last Post 2887 days 6 hours ago

Beaten Indoors

31 March 2010 19:05:37
stone circle & greenhouse in snow

stone circle & greenhouse in snow

We did much wrestling with plastic membrane today. When the wind gets under that stuff, it just rips out the pegs and takes off! I re-attached the piece on the long border and hubby dealt with the piece on the ditch at the front - several times!

Hubby also emptied the compost on the 3 veg beds he recently weeded and started off new compost from the hen house leavings. This was my cue to start some hedge work.

But the weather was too awful and before long the hail was falling and I whimped out back inside. Oh well. I took a few final photos for my March 2010 album.

Tea Plantation

31 March 2010 13:37:31
Camellia sinensis (tea)

Camellia sinensis (tea)

I thought I would just give you an update on how my proposed tea plantation is progressing : )

Hubby decided he wanted to grow tea this year, although it will not be harvest-able year one and probably has to be over-wintered indoors.

Anyway, we got and sowed the seeds on 16th January. They did take a long time to germinate and then seemed to grow ever so slowly. I think we have about 7 plants out of 10 seeds so far, the one in the photo being the most advanced.

So, just another three years to the Tea Plantation : )

Most Disappointing Seed

31 March 2010 13:24:41
Eustoma 'Double Eagle Mixed'

Eustoma 'Double Eagle Mixed'

Myrtle recently made a post on her most disappointing seed so I thought I would mention mine.

Apart from Isoplexis isabelliana, sown on 20th February and hasn't germinated to date, my biggest disappointment is Eustoma.

I sowed Eustoma 'Double Eagle Mixed' on 12th January. They were my second seeds sown this year so I had high hopes for them.

After a good while I got one seedling. After ages I took them off the heat but got nothing else. I kept the lid on and checked the tray every now and again but nothing was happening except that one tiny seedling seemed to stay the same size.

Yesterday (after 77 days from sowing) I finally decided to transplant the one seedling and re-use the tray. And what do I see - 2 more seedlings!!! So that makes 3 seedlings out of 24! Not a very good or very quick result. They had better be absolutely gorgeous!


31 March 2010 12:51:49
privet hedge on top of cliff

privet hedge on top of cliff

We were woken this morning by the sound of a kindly neighbour ringing the door.

He came to advise us that our garden had blown away!

Well nearly.

The long sheets of plastic membrane on the ditch at the very front of the house were heading to Wicklow.

Worse to follow - about half the newly planted privet hedging plants are lying at jaunty angles at the back. I'm really not sure what to do about that because it would take a hell of a lot of stakes to stake them. I will wait until the wind eases anyway.

It's very hard to see the hedge in this photo - there's a better one in the March album.

Bad April Fool

30 March 2010 20:32:29
snow falling on the greenhouse

snow falling on the greenhouse

Is this some kind of bad April Fool joke?

I can't believe the snow tumbling down out there!And to top it all, the wind has knocked over some of the bushes in my newly planted privet hedge!

I went out to the greenhouse and wrapped up my plants with fleece again - lucky the fleece hadn't gone up to its summer home in the attic.

I already have all seedling trays back indoors except for the Astrantia & Sarracenia that germinatd out there. I put lids and fleece on those two though. It was 2.2 in th greenhouse last night. Goodness knows what it'll be tonight.


30 March 2010 14:38:14


I wonder does anyone have experience of sowing Cerinthe major purpurescens?

I sowed these seeds for the first time this year and they shot up. They took me quite by surprise and I do need to pot them on but one thing has stopped me...

Although I am quite positive that I sowed only one seed per cell, as you can see from the photo, it looks like two seeds have been sown in exactly the same place in each cell. It looks like two plants are growing in almost all cells, from exactly the same spot.

Or, perhaps this plant grow like this? Perhaps this plant sends up two stalks right from the beginning?

Obviously I need to know whether or not I can separate these two stalks when potting on. Has anyone any knowledge of this? Thanks.

Bible v New Testament

29 March 2010 22:31:09
Bible v New Testament

Bible v New Testament

Today I discovered that I have been using the New Testament, thinking it was the whole Bible!

Let me explain. My brother bought me an RHS Encyclopaedia one Christmas, pictured right. It is The Royal Horticultural Society Gardeners' Encyclopaedia of Plants & Flowers, 4th edition, 2006, Editor in Chief Christopher Brickell. It has 8000 plants and was a lovely present.

I  have been using this book as my main reference book. I found it good for most of my needs although it doesn't have some of the more exotic plants.

Recently I was given a 2nd RHS Encyclopaedia, pictured right, also as a gift (lucky me) but I barely looked at it because it was published in 1996 and I thought the one from my brother must surely be more up to date.

Only today did I compare the two books. The 2nd one - RHS A-Z Encyclopaedia of Garden Plants (1996, Editor in Chief Christopher Brickell) is actually far superior. It has 1,500 plants, a better layout and detailed cultural information - it even says what temperature to germinate seed at for the plant in question. I did a check for a couple of plants I'd recently failed to find in my other reference book and found them in this 1996 one.

Anyway, my point is - how would you know what to be buying? The titles of these books are really similar yet one is far superior to the other.

Gardening jobs done today - potted up my Lilium nepalense and Galtonia candicans bulbs, potted on my Canna seedlings and sowed a tray of Gaillardia (thanks Liga & Krista).

First Tulip

29 March 2010 16:48:28
First Tulip

First Tulip

My first tulip opened today. Oh joy!

I suppose it's cheating slightly as the tulip is in a pot inside the greenhouse.

But it's still good.

Something Wrong with the Bees?

29 March 2010 16:46:05
Something Wrong with the Bees?

Something Wrong with the Bees?

Steno recently posted a journal about a bee that seemed completely comatosed inside a flower.

I came across the same thing today on a Hyacinth in the greenhouse. The bumble bee was in the flower but not moving at all. When I came back several hours later, he was still in exactly the same position. I thought he was dead except that he made a slight movement.

I'm sure this isn't right? I wonder could there be something wrong with the bees!

Great Day

29 March 2010 11:25:48
Great Day

Great Day

I had a super day yesterday at our Belvedere get-together and would like to thank Fran for doing such a great job of organising it.

It was great to finally meet Krista and Una and to catch up with so many others.

I can't believe the number of plants I came back with! Thanks so much to everyone.


28 March 2010 09:52:26


Just heading off now.

Fran & Jacinta, I have a roll of sticky labels in case anyone forgets their name badge.

Just going to take Fran's cuttings now : ) See you soon.

In again, in again, jiggidy jig

27 March 2010 20:48:05

Bud Freeze

27 March 2010 18:29:26
Rhodo Lady Alice Fitzwilliam

Rhodo Lady Alice Fitzwilliam

I have been waiting for my tender rhododendron to flower.

It is a Lady Alice Fitzwilliam and is supposed to have sumptuous scented blooms in early spring. I have never actually seen the flowers as I only bought the shrub last year but it has had buds for a long time. The idea was for it to scent my greenhouse before other shrubs had woken up.

In fact , I am lucky to have gotten Lady Alice through last winter. It is in a pot and was in the greenhouse and then was brought indoors with my other plants when temperatures plummeted below -8.5. But now Lady Alice is back in the greenhouse and I have been waiting for her to perform.

But all is not as it should be. I noticed new growth on the plant and still the buds would not opened. And now I have identified the problem - 'bud freeze'. The buds are brown and hard and will not open : (

But, on the positive side, I still have my plant and it should flower for me next year : )

Day Out

27 March 2010 17:09:50
azalea & daphne

azalea & daphne

It was a lovely day today so we took the opportunity for a walk around Altamont Gardens.

It is a bit depressing seeing how far advanced in spring preparations these big gardens can be. All the beds were weeded, cut back and mulched with cocoa bark so the place looked great. It was a reminder of all the work I have to do in my garden yet : (

Other than that, I did a bit of orchid re-potting and watering and am going to pot on my Canna seedlings now. But first I need to sort everything out for Mullingar tomorrow : ) Looking forward to meeting you all.

Cluck Cluck!

26 March 2010 17:19:27
Better than the telly!

Better than the telly!

Our chickens arrived today. Hurray!

There was much excitement as the whole family gathered to name our three little brown hens - Gilda, Peach & to-be-decided (my 16 year old son will name the 3rd one but needs to think about it).

Besides this obvious distraction, I got 3 hours of clearing done in the garden. New photos in my March 2010 album.

What's Eating my Petunias?

26 March 2010 15:19:11
munched petunia 'strawberry sundae'

munched petunia 'strawberry sundae'

A few days ago I noticed that some of my Petunias had disappeared.

The seedlings are small and I was a bit disappointed but... win some, lose some.

Today I examined them in more detail. Some seedlings have been reduced to stalks and others have what look like bites taken out of them.

Since the Petunias are in my kitchen, I think I can rule out rabbits. Any thoughts?

Does Anyone Want...

25 March 2010 20:25:44
taro tubers and plants

taro tubers and plants

Would anyone going to Belvedere like to try Colocasia.

Colocasia is a tender aroid grown for its leaves.

As per previous journals, I have grown 'Colocasia' successfully from taro tubers which are for sale in Chinese food stores. I believe it is the sale plant.

Hubby was in Dublin today and picked up a handful of tubers for 21c each. Although these ones have no buds, they are firm so should grow.

If anyone would like to try one, please let me know.

Too busy for much gardening today but I did a good bit of sowing - half a tray of Coleus and 1/2 a tray of Orlaya grandiflora (thanks Krista), tray each of Cosmos 'Picotee', Helichrysum, Well Behaved Plant, Lobelia Tupa and China Asters (pink - thanks Olga).


24 March 2010 17:41:18
Cosmos bipannatus

Cosmos bipannatus

Encouraged by the success of a single tray of Cosmos in the greenhouse since 22nd, I have now moved all 5 of my Cosmos trays to the greenhouse. I also moved out a tray of Marigolds, Myrtle's mini-tray of Cosmos and Krista's mini-tray of Astrantia.

Night temperatures have been warm - a minimum of 4.6 since they went out.

Obviously it's great to move things out of the kitchen, but the best thing about half hardening seedlings by moving them to the greenhouse is that they start to straighten up. The photo shows the tray that has been hardening since 22nd.

The most dangerous part in bringing a tray of seedlings out is the journey from the kitchen to the greenhouse. My Cosmos are mostly prostrate so I could not protect them with a lid for this short journey - one gust of wind and that would have been the end of them. But luckily that didn't happen.

Obviously I'll be keeping a sharp eye on temperatures, moisture levels and which windows get opened. But it is good to be moving in the right direction.

The Giants

24 March 2010 11:15:32
plant from taro tuber & Bill's tetrapanax

plant from taro tuber & Bill's tetrapanax

I mentioned this morning how my Colocasia plants needed potting on and, before I knew it, hubby was out in the garden looking for pots and compost!

This is very unusual behaviour and I'm not sure what to put it down to. Perhaps it's because hubby feels an affinity with the taro tubers he bought me from the Chinese food shop last autumn and I grew them.

All three plants (from edible taro tubers bought in a food shop) now look exactly like my Colocasia 'Ruffles', which I paid good money for, and are the same size. One of the taros has red stems, like the Colocasia, and the other two have green stems but identical leaves and size.

When hubby was sorting that all out I cheekily added Tetrapanax 'Rex' to the potting-on list and provided a box of fish blood and bone to be added. The only glitch was when a scream from downstairs announced that hubby had accidentally potted one of the taros in the large pot destined for the Tetrapanax! Obviously an alarming discovery!?! But we can live with that.

Now to find saucers for underneath these large plants : (

My Tomatoes

24 March 2010 10:58:20
my best tomatoes

my best tomatoes

Dave's recent post on tomatoes prompted me to make this one.

Of course my tomato numbers pale into insignificance compared to Chilipeppers but they should cover my family's needs.

My tomato plants have not done as well this year as last. I think I didn't pot them on promptly enough. However, since I did pot them on and move them to a south facing window, a lot of them have just taken off.

The Siberian tomato is the strongest plant so far. Next is Oregon Spring, Alaskan Fancy and Black Krim. My cherry tomato plants have not done too well and I only have a few of these that are looking strong. Same for the Reis tomato.


23 March 2010 15:44:02


Today we bought a chicken coop and 3 brown laying hens.

They are to be delivered on Friday with feed, grit and bark - the full package!

There is much excitement in our house today since the kids were told. Sammy is hoping to chase the poor things but seems to have been placated by thoughts of collecting eggs.

The chicken coop has a run with it and can be moved around the garden as and when the grass dies. It is the sussex model, like in the picture and it can hold up to 6 hens.

Feeling a little bit nervous now!

Enjoying Spring

22 March 2010 18:13:33
glory of the snow & tulip foliage

glory of the snow & tulip foliage

I had a glorious afternoon in the greenhouse and garden.

It was so lovely, despite a brief hailstone shower!

I made up 15 small pots of 'Oregon Sugarpod' mange-tout and 25 of Pea 'Oasis' and parked them in the greenhouse.

And then I just sat there for about half an hour, enjoying the sunshine, until I got called.

Mother Hen

22 March 2010 12:31:50
3 Hippeastrums in a pot

3 Hippeastrums in a pot

I've put a tray of Cosmos out in the greenhouse.

But, after Jacinta's experience yesterday, I'm like a mother hen checking it every so often.

Need to do some non gardening stuff now.

More Scent in the Greenhouse

21 March 2010 17:59:08
Coronilla glauca & Polygala myrtifolia

Coronilla glauca & Polygala myrtifolia

I had a fabulous day in the greenhouse with the sun shining. The scent of those Hyacinths is still prominent and now my Coronilla glauca is adding to the 'aroma therapy'.

I potted up all my remaining Dahlias - 9 Colour Spectacle (orange, cactus), 6 Nuit d'Eté (dark red, cactus), 6 Painted Madame (orange/cream, decorative), 6 Tsuki Yori No Shisha (white, cactus) and 3 Bishop of Llandaff. It's a relief to not have to worry about them going mouldy in their packets.

I finally threw out any greenhouse bulbs from last year that didn't make it through. The only surviving ones were 1 Eucomis bicolor and 3 Ornithogalum saundersii, which I repotted in good compost with plenty of grit.

I scrubbed all my plant labels and am glad to note that I have plenty so I shouldn't have to buy any this year.

And today I returned several plants to the greenhouse - ones I rescued during our Arctic winter. I think they should be fine now. New photos in my 'Greenhouse 2010' album.

Pleione Orchid & Peas

21 March 2010 11:33:02
Pleione formosa

Pleione formosa

My Pleione formosa orchid opened today. Such a pretty little thing. But it is very small.

Hubby is agitating to start sowing veg. I am thinking of sowing peas and lettuce in pots in the greenhouse, for an early start, but am slightly worried at how early it is. I didn't sow the peas and bean in greenhouse pots until this time in April last year!

I think I will give it a go anyway. Hubby is very enthusiastic ever since he saw the tomato plants start to perk up and it is just after his birthday...

Anyone Going to Belvedere Want...

20 March 2010 22:15:48

Hubby's Birthday

20 March 2010 17:40:02
Wayne's nicely rooted Nepenthes 'Ventrata'

Wayne's nicely rooted Nepenthes 'Ventrata'

It was hubby's birthday today and he got 7 different flavours of Turkish Delight and a nice book about keeping chickens. Needless to say not a lot of gardening has been done.

But I did finally get a few bits and pieces that were on the long finger done. I potted up my 3 Nepenthes cuttings in small water lily pots. The delay in potting was trying to find a component for their mix - 1 part perlite, 1 part peat, 1 part orchid bark. I could not find orchid bark that was just orchid bark anywhere. In the end I found one that was composed of bark, organic matter and wood chip. Following advice I gave it a good wash to dilute any added nutrients. I then rinsed it in rain water. So, Jacinta's Nepenthes 'Ventrata' is ready to travel to Belvedere next Sunday. I also got a few bits and pieces together for neighbour Wayne, included a potted Nepenthes 'Ventrata' and am heading up there now.

But a glorious day should not be spent all indoors so I did a little potting in the greenhouse - 9 Dahlias 'Bora Bora', 2 Lavon Tree Lilies and Sharon's Dahlia 'War of the Roses'. I think it' warm enough to pot up Dahlias now in the greenhouse.


19 March 2010 17:04:46


Here are the 3 Echiums that I protected in the greenhouse with fleece last winter.

The ones in the garden are a write off but these at least have solid stems.

I wonder might they recover. I will leave them and see!

Myrtle, that's the palm you gave me in the foreground. It's come through fine : )

By the way, my Kiwi plant (of all things) has new growth on it!!!

Greenhouse Clean Up

19 March 2010 17:02:13
Greenhouse Clean Up

Greenhouse Clean Up

Spent an hour or so with a large bucket of soapy water in the greenhouse this afternoon. It was very pleasant with the scent of Hyacinth permeating the air.

I unwrapped the fleece from all my plants, cut back any dead matter, washed the staging, washing the glass behind the staging and gave the whole place a good hard sweep.

Now I'm all set to start potting up my summer bulbs : )


19 March 2010 09:17:43


I went to dinner last night with some people for whom I had done a genealogical favour.

But I wasn't prepared for what followed.

I was presented with a library of gardening books, including the RHS Encycloaedia of plants and the one on gardening (pictured). Although not new, they are all in pristine order. What a lovely, lovely present : )


18 March 2010 18:16:00
Sarracenia flower bud

Sarracenia flower bud

I made a wonderful discovery today. The Sarracenia seed I sowed last autumn in a tray and left in my cold greenhouse, has  germinated!!! And this despite the unbelievably cold temperatures we had.

Sarracenia (carnivorous pitcher plants from the Americas) require stratification to germinate. They also require pure peat and moisture and are strickly "tea total" - that means it's rain water only for them.

To tell the truth, I would not have tried such a fussy plant from seed but Gismo sent me some so I thouht I should at least try. Imagine my surprise and delight in seeing a smattering of tiny seeds in the tray this evening!

Siobhan, looks like you'll be getting some Sarracenia plants if you're still up for them : )

Speaking of Sarracenia, my mature ones are now sending up flowers, as per a previous journal entry and the photo opposite. They came through the winter in my cold greenhouse fine. 

Patrick's Day without Daffodils!

17 March 2010 13:13:19
yummy green ice cream

yummy green ice cream

I don't ever remember a St Patrick's Day before when the daffodils weren't in bloom.

It's like a vital ingredient is missing.

Off to the parade now : )

Lawn Edge

17 March 2010 00:03:40
Lawn Edge

Lawn Edge

I wonder has anyone had any experience of the lawn edging products for sale on the market.

I have 8 'rose beds' in my lawn and want t o maintain crisp edges around them. I had thought of laying a brick edging between the lawn and the plastic membrane covered beds. However, maybe one of the lawn edging products could to the job!!!

Any advice?

Ticking Over

16 March 2010 21:41:46


Today had to be spent doing other things so I got no gardening in.

I did, however, put time aside in the morning for a close inspection and careful watering of all my seedlings. They are all doing well and have really picked up this last week - whether its the extra light or heat or what!

The exception is one tray of Zinnias, where individual, sturdy 2" seedlings decide for no reason that they don't like life and die, stem first! But I have read that Zinnias can be picky - quick to germinate but tricky thereafter. Also two of my larger Ricinus plants are quite bent double because of soft stems, despite staking.

Later on I did manage to get a few trays sowed - all my remaining Arisaema, a tray of Monarda didyma (red) and two trays of Callistephus chinensis from Olga. I started with my favourite Aster colour - a deep sumptuous red : ) I just love red. Can't wait.

Bare Root

15 March 2010 19:04:20
hellebores in sunshine

hellebores in sunshine

This morning I picking up my hedge for the front of the garden. More about that another time.

I also picked up 6 bare root green pivot hedging plants to fill the gap left in the hedge on the cliff. I was lucky enough to get almost enough hedging plants from a gardening friend (Pat) to run along the cliff behind the house. So today I planted the remaining piece of the privet hedge.

I also planted 4 Cotoneasters dammeri. I bought these 4 plants to hang over the lowest part of the cliff and cover it. I am not mad about Cotoneaster generally but I guess every plant has its place. And most plants will look well if you take care of them.

The final thing was to plant 16 bare root beech hedge plants to fill the gaps along the drive. I have now had to replace all of the Lidl/Aldi beech hedging I originally bought. For hedging in future, I'm sticking with my local garden centre.

Also, I took a break to help hubby with the enormously long plastic membrane needed on the front ditch. So a good day's gardening!

Annuals Bed

14 March 2010 17:01:35
Annuals Bed

Annuals Bed

After a wasted half hour looking for a trowel, I finally got out to the garden. We really need to do a 'Fran' on that shed!

I started clearing and weeding the 'annuals bed' in front of the greenhouse. I was very pleased with it last year and this year it is going to contain a completely different planting scheme. It's my border for 'ringing the changes'.

Actually, the weeding wasn't as bad as I feared. The bed does actually have some dahlias in it so luckily I had the presence of mind last autumn to mark where the dahlias were planted with bamboo canes. That way, I didn't pull them up with the dead sunflowers and helychrysum. I am assuming for the time being that the dahlias are still alive.

Well, I didn't get it all finished but I nearly did so that wasn't bad! I think I will put plastic over it when I'm finished until it gets planted up the 3rd week in May.

Gave my new privet hedge another watering while I was busy. The soil is terribly dry!


14 March 2010 16:52:57
Darlingtonia & Sarracenia psittacina

Darlingtonia & Sarracenia psittacina

One of last winter's survivors in the greenhouse, is my sarracenia collection.

They are just waking up from dormancy at the moment and one is even producing a flower. Sarracenia produce their flowers before their carnivorous pitchers to ensure pollination. No point in eating the insects that are going to pollinate you!

The picture shows 'evergreen' carnivorous plants.

Scent in the Greenhouse

14 March 2010 16:46:42


A glorious scent welcomed me as I entered the greenhouse this morning.

Unfortunately I have no room indoors for my bowls of hyacinth but they are not wasted in the greenhouse.

Mothers' Day

14 March 2010 11:45:37
Mothers' Day

Mothers' Day


Don't you just love Mothers' Day?

Best Secateurs

13 March 2010 19:37:20
Felco 8

Felco 8

Every time that I go to a talk by the Bay Garden, I hear how brilliant the Felco secateurs is. Recently I went to a pruning demonstration and saw one in action. I was very impressed. There was hardly any need for a loppers.

I was told that Felco is a secateurs for life. Although costly (circa €30), you can have it serviced annually for free. You just pay postage to the factory in Switzerland.

Well, I am fed up hacking my roses to death so today when I spotted Felco secateurs for sale, I decided to treat myself. Well, it is almost Mothers' Day!


13 March 2010 18:25:32
boys' room with tomato plants etc

boys' room with tomato plants etc

The number of plants in my kitchen has reached capacity. It still isn't warm enough to put things in the greenhouse. It was then that hubby hit on the brilliant idea of bringing the greenhouse table indoors to the boys' room.

I hope they don't mind too much, But Josh just recently told us how plants are good for us because they breath out oxygen : )

I also managed to get my hands on some more seed trays so tomorrow I will be sowing again.

This morning was orchid potting time. My neighbour, Wayne, dropped over yesterday with an unwell Dendrobium and Oncidium that he didn't want so I re-potted them this morning. So two new orchids for me. Thanks, Wayne : )

Pruning Unidentified Clematis

12 March 2010 15:56:52


Today I got the roses and clematis pruned and a bit of clearing done.

I am no expert on pruning clematis but thought that the following might be useful to others in the same boat.

For pruning purposes, clematis fall into 3 groups. If you're like me, you may not know what clematis you have or what group it falls into. So, what to do?

Remembering when your clematis flowered last year is key. If you're lucky enough to have an early flowering clematis then you are off the hook. There is no need to prune as you would only end up cutting off the flowers which are about to open. Leave well enough alone.

If your clematis flowered later than spring last year then it would fall into either group 2 or 3 for pruning. Pruning for both these groups is similar so in the absence of a positive id, I would opt for group 2 pruning. Group 2 pruning is less severe that group 3 so if you do this pruning but your clematis is actually a group 3 clematis, then at least you won't kill it. The worst that could happen is that you build up more woody stem than is necessary.

Group 2 pruning involves removing a few stems right back to the set of buds nearest the ground. Then, all remaining stems should be tip pruned, back to the highest set of buds.

A few things I found useful...

1) Get a chair. Start at the top. From the top you can easily prune back to the topmost set of buds on each stem.

2) Bring a scissors and string with you. Be prepared to cut the existing ties and re-tie your clematis. It may be much easier than trying to work around existing ties.

3) Any woody tendrils serve no useful purpose. The whole pruning job is made harder by the complication of woody tendrils wrapping themselves around branches. It is easy to get confused. Cut off any tendrils that are in your way or are making it difficult to work out which one is the stem. The tendrils extend horizontally from each stem and grab anything in their path. Cut as many of them off as you need to. Cut them all off if you want.

4) Dead leaves are no use either. Cut as many of them off as you want.

5) Strong buds are easy to see but barely emerging buds are harder. Your clematis may be farther behind than normal because of the cold weather.

6) If you make a mistake and cut a healthy stem, don't give up! Don't pull up the whole plant in frustration! Your plant will probably do fine without that stem and probably the worst you have done is gotten rid of a few extra flowers. Your attempt at pruning, even with mistakes, is undoubtedly better than no pruning.

I hope this is helpful.

A Few Bits

11 March 2010 20:02:43
Pleione formosa (from net)

Pleione formosa (from net)

Unfortunately I have done very little in the garden over the last few days as other jobs have taken priority.

I was pleased this morning to see a shoot popping up on my Pleione orchid. This is a deciduous orchid that I bought as a bulb a few weeks ago. Also there are signs of growth on one of my Jacobean lilies.

I sowed three trays of seeds this evening - 2 Hordeum jubatim and 1 Calendula Candyman Orange. Now I really am out of seed trays again!

Glory of the Snow

10 March 2010 18:26:34


I didn't do much gardening today despite the great weather.

Hey, you realise of course that this is our summer so we should all enjoy it while it lasts :)

I planted a few trays of seeds - 1 Petunia and 2 trays of Coleus.

But I noticed that the first of my little Glory of the Snow bulbs (Chionodoxa) has flowered. Isn't it dinky?

Don't Discard Before May!

09 March 2010 16:10:05
Abutilon vitifolium

Abutilon vitifolium

The intention today was to prune the roses. I got as far as pruning my two climbing roses and then got distracted into clearing up that bed.

The first good news is that my Voodoo Lily (Dracunculus vulgaris) was unaffected by the frost. I saw two shoots emerging : ) The Lobelia cardinalis seem okay but time will tell. Signs of regrowth on the Penstemon too.

The yellow Phormium, that's now completely brown, I cut back. The advice I received on assessing what is dead or not, is to wait until May before discarding. If stuff hasn't shown any sign of life by May then it is most probably dead but everything should be given a chance until May.

The main feature in the bed I cleared today is a prime example. It is a large Abutilon vitifolium. I have never seen it loose its leaves before and I see no sign of new buds when usually, at this time of year, it is bursting with them. I cut off a small branch to look for signs of life and fancied I saw some green. So maybe there is still hope.

The thing I regretted most though was the fact that I had given away all my seedlings from this fast growing shrub. I had kept one and planted it but it has not survived the winter.

But, as I was thinking these thoughts and clearing around the shrub, I was amazed to discover a host of new seedlings, all unburned by frost. I am absolutely delighted. At least if worst comes to worst with the mother plant, I will be able to grow one of her babies in instead.

Root Cuttings

09 March 2010 15:54:02
Crambe maritima

Crambe maritima

I got a photo today of last autumn's root cuttings.

I saw the first sign that one had taken a few days ago.

So pleased they survived out horrendous winter.

This is Crambe maritima (Sea Kale).

Potting On

08 March 2010 18:11:54
Canna warscewiczii seedlings

Canna warscewiczii seedlings

Although beautifully sunny this morning, it was icy cold. I decided to do some potting on until it warmed up a bit outside.

I potted on all the 48 tomato plants, using Dave's trick of burying a bit of the stem. This was really handy and helped sort out some curliness. I also potted on 9 of the chillipeppers and 10 of the Pennisetum glauca. Also the odd Ricinus and Cobaea. Boy was it hard to find space for all those plants!

The sun eventually melted the frost and out I went. It was beautiful outside and the boys came out to play too after school. A taste of what's the come, I hope! I finished mulching the long border.

Seed Trays

07 March 2010 23:04:33

Gratuitous Plug

06 March 2010 20:46:44

All Gone

06 March 2010 17:24:28
hedge half gone (from road)

hedge half gone (from road)

I left the work on the hedge in progress to attend a gardening talk at Springmount, Gorey. Ian McDonald of the Bay Garden (who will be guiding our friends Jacinta, Fran etc at Chelsea this year) gave an excellent practical demonstration and talk on pruning and cutting back. I found it really informative and helpful and it was free too!

On my return - joy, bliss. My 'hedge' is gone.

It has taken a couple of years to talk hubby round as he was quite attached to this hedge, for inexplicable reasons, but now he says he's pleased with the result.

It does kind of feel like 'having a picnic on the road' but I can live with that until the new hedge grows up. Photos in the album.

Close Up

06 March 2010 11:51:59
Close Up

Close Up

Here is a close up of the 'hedge' in my garden and the back of the long border.

I'm going out now and expect the hedge (see journal below) to be all gone by the time I come back : )

Goodbye to my Hedge

06 March 2010 11:46:28
Goodbye to my Hedge

Goodbye to my Hedge

Here is the front of my garden yesterday afternoon.

I have a very long 'hedge' running along the boundary with the road.

In the photo the road is to the left, my 'hedge' is in the middle and my garden is to the right. My long border is what you see on the right in my garden. It runs along the inside of the 'hedge' but there is a good big grass gap between the border and the hedge.

As I write, the 'hedge' is being removed : )

Gardeners' World Tonight!

05 March 2010 19:59:09

Mulch & Tree Removal

05 March 2010 19:31:44
site of the massacred nectarine tree

site of the massacred nectarine tree

I did great stuff today - even if I say so myself!

I sprinkled chicken pellets all over the long border and got hubby to water them in while I finished planting the hedge. Then I started mulching the border. I got almost half way. It will be great to not have to worry about weeds now!

Then hubby did two jobs which have been on the long finger for too long. He removed a Mulberry bush that was not doing well for many years. It's leader got broken at some stage and it has never produced fruit.

He also removed the Nectarine Tree from the West Garden (sorry, Jacinta). This tatty tree was hard to get out so it's lucky it was done now. Now what to plant here?

Green Privet Hedge

05 March 2010 19:25:17
Green Privet Hedge

Green Privet Hedge

I planted the last of Pat's Green Privet plants today. My god but he had a lot of plants in his rose area! Thanks a million, Pat, I am really delighted with the result.

I decided to not bring the hedge all the way down but even still I was slightly short of plants. So I left a gap for the 6 additional plants I will buy and finished the hedge off with two strong plants of Pat's. The bare roots plants I will buy will be smaller so it is handy that they will be behind the shed.

Down at the end, I planted my Cornus kousa tree. It will have space for effect there. I think it is a good place.

Salpiglossis sinuata

04 March 2010 23:43:11
Salpiglossis sinuata (web photo)

Salpiglossis sinuata (web photo)

I sowed the last of this year's sweet peas today. They are sown in toilet rolls for a longer root run. I only have two types of sweet pea this year and am starting late. This is in start contrast to last year when I must have sown about 200 sweet pea in total. They are now in  the greenhouse to germinate.

I also sowed a tray each of Mimosa pudica, Zinnia Envy Double, 20 Cerinthe and a few Salpiglossis in the remaininfg cells.

Salpiglossis sinuata is one of this year's star seed performers for me. Although the seeds are tiny, they germinate easily, even without heat. I had limited success with the 'Kew Blue' variety but since then the packet of mixed colour seeds is proving a real treasure. Of course the real test is how the flowers look and perform in the garden. But they look good in their photo!


04 March 2010 11:00:04


The scent in the sitting room hit me when I went in there last night.

My Brugmansia has opened the first of a new flush of flowers.

Big Clear Up

03 March 2010 20:01:18


I continued on with the big clear up today. I decided to start on the hardest bit - the long border. Psychologically, it's always better to have done the hardest bit of a job whereas we always tend to leave that until last.

And I finished it in just 3 hours! Getting the weeding under control last year has really paid off. Now I need to put down some chicken pellets and mulch and I'm laughing.

Lots of casualties but new life emerging too. I noticed peonies, eryngium, lysimachia, chrysanthemum, heleniums, sedum and lots and lots of tulips : )

This evening I sowed my first sweet peas and some arisaema. I also re-potted my amorphophallus and was pleased to notice healthy looking buds.

Bamboo & The Bloom Treatment

02 March 2010 17:07:37
Phyllostachys aurea

Phyllostachys aurea

I headed out for a few hours this morning to continue with the clean up.I didn't actually get as much as I would have liked done.

But I got a bit distracted by a bamboo I've had down for a few years. I remembered buying it cheaply in Lidl and, since I planted it, I've always been meaning to move it. I check every spring to make sure it isn't spreading as we all know how invasive bamboo can be. And since I didn't even know what type it was and it was bought cheaply, it was bound to be a real pest int he end. But it seemed to be staying put.

The bamboo never looked any great shakes. Although about 4ft now, it looks a messy, leafy mass. So today I decided to give it the Bloom treatment. You know how the bamboos at Bloom are stripped of leaves to about half way up their stems? I carry out the Bloom treatment on my Phyllostachys each spring and it looks great for it. You can really see the thick golden stems.

So I spent about 20 minutes doing the Bloom treatment and started to think that the bamboo had rather nice legs in there after all. I eventually got to the middle and found the original tag! It wasn't bought at Lidl at all but was an expensive Phyllostachys 'aurea'. What a lovely surprise.

Astrantia & Stratification

02 March 2010 00:24:37

Bring It On!

01 March 2010 17:46:05
weeded & mulched

weeded & mulched

The plan for today was to plant the privet hedging that I collected from Pat on the weekend.

I was feeling very whimpy to start with, wrapped up well and even donned a hat as my right ear is giving trouble. Although I really thought I should keep the ear covered, it became impossible and before long the jumper and hat were off!

I planted all 14 bushes. Wow, that hedge is coming on. I then noticed the glorious sunshine. Spring, at last...

Before long I was doing the first weeding and clearing up of the season. It's been a slow start this year for me. I decided to start with an easy job so I tackled the bed with the dry stone wall at the back of the house. I finished it and moved swiftly on to the raised bed to the side of 'Babies Hill'. There was no stopping me now, out came the bark mulch and I mulched the whole area.

And yes, more winter casualties! But, like Krista, I'm not going to dwell on them. I'd rather look forward to the flowering of the Darwinian tulips and the Aubrieta in these beds!

Good Start

01 March 2010 09:57:42
Polygala myrtifolia limping back to life

Polygala myrtifolia limping back to life

It's a beautiful sunny morning here in Wexford although there has been frost.

Hubby's off getting me compost and chicken pellets so I can continue planting the hedge.

But I am very pleased because I have a host of new seedlings - the Zinnia, Canna and Ricinus have all germinated. In fact they were up last night.

They were all super quick! The Zinnias only took one day!!!


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