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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal April 2010

Last Post 2824 days 10 hours ago


30 April 2010 21:39:30

Birch & Cherry

30 April 2010 19:23:50
Birch & Cherry

Birch & Cherry

Today I noticed that the birch trees on our drive are leafing up nicely. Birch is slow to leaf and I always associate it with summer. Could spring be nearing its end?

I always think that my Betula jacquemontii inject such a feeling of gaiety into the garden when they finally leaf.

Our two big cherries (Prunus kanzan, I think) are also in flower.

To celebrate the last day in April, there are some new photos in the April album.

Foxtail Lily

30 April 2010 18:10:26
Eremurus stenophyllus (photo from web)

Eremurus stenophyllus (photo from web)

Now don't get too excited. I don't actually have one in flower!

Last year I bought 3 Foxtail lilies from Bakker for €10.99 plus postage. I had been besotted by the beautiful flower since seeing it at Bloom and then in the Bay Garden the previous year. I potted the 3 odd bulbs with grit and compost in the greenhouse and waited. In the end some greenery emerged but the plants never really got going. One rotted away and I eventually planted the remaining two in my raised bed. I thought that the raised bed would be ideal for drainage. Slugs ate the shoots and the plants disappeared.

This year I bought 3 Foxtail lilies in Lidl/Aldi for €3.99 and I planted them in the same raised bed today. Amazingly, one of the lilies from last year is doing really well but no flower head yet. The second one is obviously still alive but that's all that can really be said for it.

I wonder do these plants take a year to get established. I think I do have them in the right conditions (or as right as I can offer). I do hope at least one will flower this year. My poor raised bed is looking very sorry for itself since all the beautiful French lavender edging it has died so fingers crossed...

Continuing Saga

30 April 2010 14:01:16
Rosa rugosa roots

Rosa rugosa roots

I tackled the Rosa rugosa at the back of my border today.

The good news is that the roots are not deep. The bad news is that it is hard work digging the trench and sinking the tiles. But the other good news is that hubby has agreed to take over : )

For anyone considering Rosa rugosa in a border, take a look at these roots I dug up from my border today. The cup is to give you an idea of size. The black line imposed on the photo is to show the longest root as it is hard to see it in the photo : (


29 April 2010 17:11:02


I spent quite a frustrating day doing horticultural housekeeping.

I rationalised in the greenhouse and brought 2 of the sets of Aldi staging out from the kitchen to the greenhouse. I lifted plants from the floor and swept. For one brief minute, the greenhouse was manageable and navigable.

But, of course,all the plants that had come off the Aldi staging in the kitchen, had to go somewhere. And a lot of them ended up in the greenhouse!!! Oh well, there goes the floor space again.

Inside I did some treating for greenfly and quarantining of plants (very hard). The tray of Petunias, which was munched by slugs, has a bad greenfly infestation.I am very tempted to just discard it at this stage. I also have greenfly on the chillis in the boys' room.

So I spent the day doing loads of bits and pieces but never got to weeding, sowing more seed or even planting my tomatoes in the greenhouse border. Putting up some new photos in the April, Houseplants and Greenhouse albums now.


29 April 2010 16:59:07
coleus & schizanthus

coleus & schizanthus


I love these cute little seedlings.

I have about 3 1/2 trays of Coleus so far (lost about 1/2 a tray due to incineration when there was too much sun in the greenhouse).


Sensitive Plant

29 April 2010 16:48:55
Mimosa pudica

Mimosa pudica

I am very sorry to say that I have not done well with the Sensitive Plant. I guess it was too sensitive for me.

I had a full tray of 24 seedlings but one by one they shrivelled and died. I'm not sure what it was as it didn't look like dampening but I think it must have been something fungal. I did think I was over watering at one stage but I really don't think that was it.

I did actually see one of my seedlings react to touch but generally I think the 'shrinking on touch' must be something that the plant develops later. If you can get it to live that long.

I have one lone seedling left, which I transferred to a clay pot today to ensure maximum drainage. I am not holding out much hope but i would love if I could grow this for my son as he originally mentioned the plant from biology in school.

Very sorry, Linda, I don't have a seedling for you but if this one survives then you must bring Nicole around to see how it reacts.

Sun Tanned Plant

29 April 2010 16:39:34
Nepenthes 'Miranda'

Nepenthes 'Miranda'

Some of my Nepenthes have turned a striking red as a result of the sun.

Apparently it is nothing to worry about as the plants are thriving and making new pitchers.

I prefer the red colour to the normal green.



29 April 2010 16:33:34
Cobaea scadens

Cobaea scadens


Some of my Cobaea untangled and awaiting staking.

I am going to plant 3 of these in the greenhouse border this year to provide some shade.

I got 3 white plants and the rest are purple.


29 April 2010 16:31:36



Sarracenia leucophylla about to open...

Rhodochiton for Ladybird

29 April 2010 16:20:40
Rhodochiton for Ladybird

Rhodochiton for Ladybird

Here is my tray of 24 Rhodochiton seedlings.

They are quite hardy, being in the greenhouse for a few weeks now.

They seem to be very slow growing but they did start off as tiny seeds/seedlings so I suppose they'll catch up in the end.

Lovely red colour!


28 April 2010 19:43:37


The Magnolia soulangiana is on the verge of passing its best.

At the moment it still looks pretty good with the Snowy Mespil behind it.

I saw so fabulous cherries in flower today but, sadly, not in my garden.

No gardening done today.


27 April 2010 16:04:56
lily tulips

lily tulips

I did a fair bit of staking in the greenhouse today.

It never actually rained but, to tell the truth, I was looking for an excuse for a day in the greenhouse.

I staked 24 Schizanthus (Poor Man's Orchid) and then potted on and staked a further 24, this time the 'Hit Parade' variety. I also staked a few other odd things.

You really have to be in the mood for staking as it's so fiddly.

It's an ill wind...

27 April 2010 15:48:32


This spring I vaguely wondered on several occasions why I had thought my Leptospermum was such a great plant last October when I had bought it.

What was so great about its red foliage!

One day I brushed against it and noticed it was scratchy. I thought this was odd because I remembered showing the kids how it was soft to the touch last autumn, even though its appearance was reminiscent of a prickly bush.

However, the penny didn't drop until I noticed some green regrowth at the base.

Yes, my poor Leptospermum had been all but killed and mummified by the frost. But, it must be a fighter because it has struggled back to life with some new growth and even has a few flower buds.

The photo on the left shows my poor dead Leptospermum and on the right it shows the resultant plant after I cut away all dead growth today.

I also tipped out all my little Agapanthus plants today. But it's an ill wind that blows no good because the two new hedges in front of the greenhouse have benefited from a complete compost mulch this spring. Every time I tip out a plant, I put the spent compost on the base of the hedges. I bet they do really well for me.


27 April 2010 10:39:33
Velthemia bracteata

Velthemia bracteata

Just thought I'd give a little update on how the bulbs I bought from South Africa are coming along.

Haemanthus humilis and montanus are growing well, as are Nerines filifolia and bodenii. No sign of the Brunsviglia or the 3 other Haemanthus. Two of these Haemanthus are winter flowering so maybe they aren't supposed to grow yet.

The nicest surprise is the pretty foliage from Velthemia bracteata. It is the wavy-leaved one on the right of the photo.

11:14 am

The tree Haemanthus do have roots, just no top growth yet. I took them out of their pots as I was suspicious that the 3 that hadn't grown were in the smallest clay pots. I have now re-potted them in bigger pots.

Stump for Fran

27 April 2010 09:08:36
Stump for Fran

Stump for Fran

Fran, here is a photo of the stump from last July when I put it on the membrane I inadvisedly planted perennials through. Took that membrane off yesterday. 

The stump is big enough to sit on, although it's a bit flimsy for that nowadays. It has a nice hole on top where I could stuff some compost and a plant. We rescued this stump and its twin (now disintegrated) from a park in Dublin in autumn 2000.

I know you can't see it properly from this but I will take a better photo today. This shows you the size. I am quite happy with it, as is, I just don't want it to fall apart like its twin but I fear it may be too late to do anything about it!


26 April 2010 17:44:32
crab apple with box 'balls'

crab apple with box 'balls'

I caught up on a few jobs today...

1) I removed the plastic membrane from the long border where I had planted through the membrane last summer. Obviously perennials should not be plated through plastic membrane but I did it in a panic as my garden was about to be judged and I felt I had too many areas unplanted. I think I removed it just in time to avoid restricting growth.

2) I dug up my clump of snowdrops and scouch grass. The job was to separate the two out. I'm afraid I massacred a lot of snowdrops but hopefully some will come back and the scouth grass won't.

3) Bit the bullet and discarded my dead French lavender - all of it!

4) I planted 3 box under each crab apple tree, where I have four trees together. The ideas is to clip the box into balls when they get bit enough. I saw this done somewhere and thought it looked well.

It is wonderful to see the garden coming to life. I don't think I have ever appreciated spring so much. My daffodils are going over and need to be dead-headed but boy did I enjoy them when they were around.

Winston Churchill

25 April 2010 17:55:27
Winston Chruchill

Winston Chruchill

Thank you, Drumanagh, for the Winston Chruchill Daffodils you gave me last year.

After this afternoon's rain, I went out and gave the a proper sniff - right up close and personal.



25 April 2010 17:50:42


I also love red.

Although my Pieris aren't nearly as big as Myrtle's, they are very welcome when their leaves turn red.


25 April 2010 17:47:24


This Geum 'Blazing Sunset' is just coming into flower.

I grew a lot of them from seed a few years back. 

I just love orange.


Getting Bigger

24 April 2010 20:55:48
Camellia sinensis (tea)

Camellia sinensis (tea)

Not much done today between getting shopping and my son's birthday.

I did manage to pot on some seedlings. Six of my pelargoniums 'Black Magic' went into earthenware pots in the greenhouse. All the large Ricinus got transferred to bigger pots too, also in the greenhouse.

Indoors, while I did the shopping, hubby potted on 'his' tea plants. Their long roots were already peeping out of the base of the loo rolls. He potted the 6 biggest plants into clematis/camassia pots - you know, the ones that are really long. Brown gold and sand were used as the mix.

When I came home, I potted on my 7 ginger plants from seed - Hedychium forsestii. And that was it for gardening.


23 April 2010 21:38:55


I just love the Carol Klein section of the latest Gardeners' World episodes.

Each week she deals with a different plant family.

This week it was Boraginacea which encompasses forget-me-nots, cerinthe, echium and pulmonarias.

I hope you enjoyed it too.

My sunflowers, Earth Walker & Claret, and my lettuce germinated today.

Happy days.



23 April 2010 18:15:49
darwin hybrids 'Oxford Elite'

darwin hybrids 'Oxford Elite'

I did a bit of planting today to fill the gaps left in the border around the stone circle.

So sad to dig up my poor demised Echiums. They had a really impressive root system but that didn't save them from the frost.

I planted 5 large clumps of Michelmas Daisies (thanks, Periwinkle). There were two cheeky little primulas mixed into the clumps - one in full flower - and I did try to separate them but gave up for fear of damaging them. Every time I look over at the bed now the cheeky purple primula makes me smile.

I also planted 5 Sedum, Purple Emperor, among my few surviving cuttings from last year. And a green leaved Sedum and Anapholis from Myrtle (thanks, Myrtle). And Fran's Red Hot Poker went in too, at the back, as my experience is that the leaves never look great after the plant has flowered. But orange spires rising above my other planting - that, I love! Thanks, Fran. I moved a Hosta into this bed too as it had outgrown its previous home. There are a lot of Hostas in there already so it shouldn't look piecemeal.

And, for fear you think I never actually buy plants myself, I planted a Gaillarda and Epimidium from a Garden Centre. Hubby finished off for me as I had to go do collections and watered everything in nicely.

More Work

22 April 2010 18:06:16
entrance to former rose garden

entrance to former rose garden

I did a little more work in the garden today - mostly fiddling.

The intention had been to do some planting but I ended up moving pots around instead (photos in the April album). 

I also did some edging. I'm like a kid with her new toy  - me and this half-moon edger : )

Snowy Mespil

22 April 2010 18:04:00
Amelanchier canadensis

Amelanchier canadensis

I just adore this tree. It is Amelanchier canadensis (Snowy Mespil).

It has two seasons of interest - pretty white flowers in spring and glorious autumn colour. I also love this kind of shape in a tree.

Best of all this little tree is absolutely no trouble at all - it just gets on with it.

Second Cherry

22 April 2010 18:00:22
Second Cherry

Second Cherry

The second Cherry Blossom to flower in my garden is this little weeping cherry.

It looks particularly attractive against the Hellebores.

The tree was planted for my eldest child, Ishtar, when she was about 10.

But Ishtar is much prettier than the tree and much more trouble!

Alchemist at Work

21 April 2010 19:37:33
Alchemist at Work

Alchemist at Work

On good days, potting makes me feel like an alchemist. On bad days, it makes me feel like I'm mixing a yucky cake. Today was a good day. I potted up my Aroids.

The mix I used for the Amorphophallus and Arisaema was 2 parts John Innes no. 3, 1 part sand and 1 part grit. I used really big pots (24 cm diameter) and, unbelievably, the Arisaema had to buried between 6-10" deep!!! I hope they will do well for me. Not sure whether to leave them in the greenhouse as it's due to be colder tonight. The pots are so big and heavy for bringing indoors!

I also potted up 18 Begonia tubers, in individual pots, and the 2 Taros, both with an ordinary compost and grit mix.


21 April 2010 13:15:54
Epimidium grandiflorum

Epimidium grandiflorum

I went to buy horticultural sand and grit today, which was a real pain as I had been to the nearest Garden Centre that sells them just last Saturday.

I had a look around and picked up a six pack of Pelargoniums.

I also bought this Epimidium for €2. It was paid the ultimate compliment by hubby when i returned home because he asked if it was a house plant, suggesting that it was pretty enough to be a house plant.

I love the dainty Erythronium/Aquilegia like flowers.


20 April 2010 18:01:14


Here is my Aroid line-up at the minute.

The one on the far right is Arisaema griffithii. It arrived by post today. Doesn't it look exciting? I know I said I was going to grow all my Arisaema from seed but then I got to thinking that 3 years was an awfully long time to wait for a flower and wouldn't I not buy just one now - just to see what they really look like. So I did.

Second from the right is Amorphophallys konjac. I bought this big ugly, stinky aroid as a plant last autumn. It is my precious. I was very good and let it go completely dry over winter. In spring I re-potted it and waited. Nothing came up and then I remembered that I hadn't added any sand or grit to the mix so today I tipped it out to check if it was still okay. Amorphophallus is very prone to rotting. It is fine, thank goodness.

Third from the right is Amorphophallus bulbifer, recently purchased. I note that it is a much bigger tuber than the konjac so maybe I might get a flower this year!!!

Far left are two taro (Colocasia) tubers. I need to get my hands on some sand and grit and manure to pot these up - hopefully tomorrow : )

The Bane of my Life

20 April 2010 17:12:35
The Bane of my Life

The Bane of my Life

More weeding, clearing and edging for me today, this time in the West Garden.

I have decided not to get rid of my hedge there. It is alternate Rosa rugosa and Mock Orange. The problem is that the Rosa rugosa (bane of my life) sends runners right into the adjacent flower bed. To the right in the photo is the hedge. The runners extend all the way over to the edge of the bed on the left.

My solution is to sink a row of slates into the ground between the hedge and the adjacent border. Hopefully this would stop the runners as they would not be able to penetrate the slate. I was telling hubby about my plans today. "Good luck with that" was his reply : (


19 April 2010 21:36:59
Mangetout 'Oregon Sugarpod'

Mangetout 'Oregon Sugarpod'

Today I sowed a good portion of what we'll be eating this summer - courgettes. We all adore courgettes in this family, which is just as well because in high summer they come with every meal and are usually accompanied by a tomato and lettuce salad.

I sowed courgette 'Bambino' and 'Black Beauty'. I also sowed cucumber 'Boothby's Blond'. Cucumbers were our last year's great discovery. I don't usually bother buying cucumbers as they are very tasteless but when we bit into our first home-grow one... Well, suffice it to say, cucumbers are on our grow list from now on.

I also sowed Patti Pan Squash 'White Custard' and 'Turk's Turban's', more as an experiment and novelty. Hubby weeded the strawberry bed outside.

Finally, I sowed a tray of our favourite lettuce 'Cocarde'. Better late than never with the lettuce!

Two packets of soaked Anemone corms also went into the grond, just to keep my hand in on the ornamental side : )

Clare's Salix

19 April 2010 15:44:55
Salix cinerea 'Kilmarnock' & Tulip fosteriana 'Purissima'

Salix cinerea 'Kilmarnock' & Tulip fosteriana 'Purissima'

And today I also planted out the little weeping willow tree that Clare gave me (Salix cinerea 'Kilmarnock'). I think I have found the perfect place for it in the middle of my tulip/aster bed. I discarded the burnt Phormium that previously stood here.

Last September I mass planted this bed with the fosteriana tulip 'Purissima'. Initially I bought 200 tulips but them I bought some more so I think I planted about 240 in the end. You wouldn't see 240 tulips in that bed!!! There are gaps.

However, there are a lot of Asters planted in there too and they should obscure the dying tulip foliage later on and give their own sumptuous autumn display (well, that's the plan anyway).

Myrtle's Cordyline

19 April 2010 15:32:35
West Garden

West Garden

Recently at our Belvedere meeting, Myrtle gave me a large Cordyline which had outgrown its pot.

I must confess that, after last winter, the state of Cordylines in my garden is not good.

Today I found a home for Myrtle's Cordyline in the West Garden, where the un-performing Peach tree was recently removed. Thanks, Myrtle.

New Planting

18 April 2010 20:29:31
Magnolia soulangiana

Magnolia soulangiana

I'm pretty tired this evening.

I spent some time watering the new hedge at the very front of our garden. It has been so dry. Unfortunately the hose isn't long enough to reach so I use the hose and a watering can. Hubby tended to some individual staking of the new Privet hedge on the cliff  at the back. It is looking in good shape and a lot of the bushes are breaking bud now.

The grass got cut, at a high setting, and is looking lovely and green.

I spent the rest of my gardening time on the long border. I removed and discarded a dead looking Hebe and cut the remaining two right back. There is new growth fairly low down on the stems, so I thought I would give them a chance.  I discarded several Phormiums from that border, only keeping my favourite, and a Cytisus. A second Cytisus had half died. It looked very lopsided by the time I cut away the dead half. A third Cytisus is covered in flower buds! Go figure.

I cut off a few smaller branches from my Acacia baileyana and they were all completely dead but I didn't have the heart to discard the whole tree yet although I am fairly sure it is stone dead.

And then to fill the gaps I planted Clare's Pittosporum, a Ceanothus and a Hamamelis. Another positive was that there loads of flowers this year on my Magnolia soulangiana. New pictures in the April album.

Too Much Sun

18 April 2010 12:24:14
odontocidium now by north facing window

odontocidium now by north facing window

I noticed that one of my orchids, an Odontocidium, was looking a bit pale recently. It has just finished flowering and was in my 'staging area'. I put all orchids in flower in the 'staging area', which is the kitchen window, so that I can enjoy them when they are in flower.

My kitchen window is south facing and that has worked well for Orchids and Nepenthes up until now. I have a lot of Phalaenopsis orchids in flower and, although these don't need bright light, they seem to do well on my south facing window.

Anyway I've moved my Odontocidium to the orchid-area which is north facing (my daughter's bedroom) and will let it rest there for a bit. I'll keep a close eye on the orchids in the kitchen from now on.

When I was at the Orchid House in the Botanic Gardens recently, Liga did point out how many of the orchids were terribly pale in colour. I wonder if they are suffering from too much light too.


17 April 2010 22:32:49
Ishtar, bagging sunflowers

Ishtar, bagging sunflowers

Beautiful sunshine again today and not so much gardening done.

The hens are getting brave and went into the greenhouse today so they can't be let out unsupervised any more. Luckily they didn't do much damage. We went to a 'hen party' in a Garden Centre in Gorey in the afternoon and came back with some bits and pieces for them, including leg tags to make it easier to tell the hens apart.

After dinner I decided to sow my sunflower seeds. I have three types this year - Earth Walker, Claret and Bicentenary. The first two are of a darker colour.

I found 30 5" diameter pots - no mean feat at this stage in the season! I wanted the deeper 5" pots but, unfortunately, they had all found other uses so I had to make do. My daughter came to help and chat. 

We sowed 2 seeds per pot, labelled them and watered them in. As I had no grit to cover the pots, I had to use freezer bags to keep the moisture in. Popped all 30 pots in the greenhouse, just as it was getting dark.

Spring Border

16 April 2010 19:31:58


This morning Linda came over for a coffee and a chat. She greeted me with a big pot of her double primulas in full flower. Really gorgeous and sweetly scented too!

We had a bit of a natter and a walk but then busy Linda had to be on her way. It was good to catch up as it has been a long hard winter.

After Linda went I did a bit of weeding, mulching and edging. I also planted Linda's primula in the 'path border'. This border was greatly enlarged last year and I planted it up with spring flowering things - Magnolia stellata, Exochorda x macrantha 'The Bride', Rhododendrons, Peonies, Azaleas, Iris, Camassia and lately Dorothy's Arabis and Saxifraga. The idea is to have one border with a lot of spring interest, great to look at on my way to the greenhouse early in the year. I am quite pleased with how it has turned out.

I also planted up the Bergenia that Clare recently gave me. I just love Bergenia and I have an impossibly stony bed where I know this tough little plant will do fine. It was great to have so much to plant all in one go so thank you, Clare.

Other news - my Abutilon vitifolium is ALIVE and regrowing. Hurray! Spotted my Dracunculus bulbs peepeing up higher in the same border today.

Space Cadets

16 April 2010 16:00:42
daffodil hill

daffodil hill

My sons are space cadets.

Every spring we play the 'daffodil' game. The rules of engagement are simple - first child to spot the first open daffodil in my garden gets €1.

Now, at this stage I guess my garden is like everyone else's. It is full of daffodils in their absolute prime. But no one in my family had claimed the 'first daffodil' prize until today...

Sammy came home from school as usual. He passed the double daffodils at the entrance, passed the Winston Churchill ones Drumanagh gave me last year. Daffodil Hill, in full flower, was on his right but he said nothing. Then he went around to the back door - past the 'path border' also full of double daffodils and then he stopped...

'Mum', he called. Because I was working in the garden. 'I think I saw a daffodil'. I nearly cracked up at this exclamation because I had been reminding the boys to look out for daffodils for weeks.

So, I went and asked where. Sammy walked with me, retracing his footsteps - past the 'path border', past 'daffodil hill' and Drumanagh's Winston Churchills, past the entrance and then he stopped. He pointed clearly across the road at some dandelions. 'There', he said!!

The Same Orchid?

15 April 2010 21:05:58
Laeliocattleya Coastal Sunrise

Laeliocattleya Coastal Sunrise

I am astonished by the difference the light makes to my new orchid.

In the photo, the picture on the left is the one I took on 11th and posted to my journal of the same date. The part of the picture on the right was taken today.

Obviously the two halves of the picture show the same Laeliocattleya orchid.

While the orchid is lovely with the light shining through it, I think the markings and subtle hints of colour are more evident without bright light. Both pictures are in my Orchid Album.


15 April 2010 16:20:35


I took an easy day and did very little.

But I did pot up the 6 Chrysanthemum stools (is that the right word?) that John and Ann sent me.

The little plants were all perfectly wrapped in moss so they didn't dry out and, as soon as I got them, they went into a bowl of water.

I will have to search out the notes that John and Ann gave me last year on growing giant mums but for the moment I just potted them up in ordinary compost and am keeping them out of direct sunlight.

The cultivars sent me seem to be Clare Dobson (white), Alex Young (bronze), Regal Mist (purple), Dorridge Vulcan (gold), Alec Bedser (yellow) and Regal Mist (red).

As far as I could make out from the internet, most of the types are 'intermediate', Intermediate is a term for how the petals look, rather than a comment on the flower size as most of the mums sent me are large flowered. The Regal Mist (red) seems to be 'reflexed'. I have a lot to learn but I'm eager!


15 April 2010 16:11:12


It was so sunny today that I had to try to shade my seedlings from the sunshine with bigger plants.

If this keeps up I will have to invest in that 'glass paint' for the greenhouse : )

I didn't need to bother last year as we didn't have too much sunshine : (

Sunshine in a Pot

15 April 2010 15:52:59
Punica granatum

Punica granatum

I am very pleased with my Pomegranate plant (Punica granatum).

There is something fabulous about the way the sun catches its leaves and reflects back. It reminds me of sunshine in a pot. And to think that I bought it for its flowers!

It is no wonder the Arabs hold this small tree in such high esteem. The fruits, with their high juice content, are valued by desert people, as is the exoticness of running water. The Pomegranate is traditionally an important element in Arab gardens and supposedly reflects the Garden of Paradise.

Buddleia & Hellebore

14 April 2010 19:10:40
tulip circle

tulip circle

I think it was the late Christopher Lloyd who said that Buddleia reminded him of vomit. He was referring to the raceme-like flowers in white or mauve. I think he was very hard on the shrub.

I have 3 Buddleia in my garden and they are lovely if I cut them back each spring to stop them getting leggy. I was late doing the task this year as I only got to it today. So I doubt if my Buddleia will attain its usual 6ft this year but we'll see. Buddleia is such an easy shrub and has been used by the best. I noticed in old pictures of Helen Dillon's garden, she had a white one. But I think she is too sophisticated for Buddleia these days : )

Today hubby continued painting the garden woodwork and I weeded and edged and noticed Hellebore seedlings beside my Hellebores. At least I think they are Hellebore seedlings. I am delighted.

Thank You

13 April 2010 17:54:57
tulips in my greenhouse

tulips in my greenhouse

Last night I had the opportunity to visit Clare's (Clara) garden in Bray. I arrived just when it was getting dark.

I was totally enchanted by Clare's immaculate garden, full of quirky ornaments and hidden detail. The experience was made almost magical by the garden lights and the sound of running water from the gorgeous little water feature. Never have I seen a garden that so perfectly fits the description of 'outdoor room' before.

Thank you for inviting me, Clare, and thank you also for the super big plants you gave me. I have many gaps in my borders, from last winter's devestation, that will gratefully accept your lovely shrubs. You will have to come visit them once they have settled in : )

And I must, almost guiltily, confess that I accepted that beautiful Amaryllis 'Sumatra' from Clare. It will have pride of place in my house next spring!

So, after last night's escapades, I was taking an easy day, potting up some lilies, Lycoris, Haemanthus, Ginger and re-potting some Miltoniopsis when the post man arrived with a package for me!!! What could it me?

Inside were 6 carefully wrapped Chrysanthemum plantlets from John and Ann. Tiny and in perfect condition. I am overwhelmed. Thank you so much, John & Ann. I am feeling very fortunate and 'smiled-upon' today.


12 April 2010 17:00:56


Another great day for gardening.

I did some planting and weeding and then decided to experiment with the edger.

I don't usually use an edger but I was very impressed with the difference it made. I think I will do this once a year from now on. I wonder how long the effect will last!

I also scattered some Nigella and Clarkia seed in the border. But now I have a dilemma. If I mulch the border with tree bark, the seed is hardly going to come up. Yet if I don't mulch it, I will have more weeding.

More photos in the album, including my poor, now 'naked' Cordyline.


11 April 2010 19:04:12
weeded & mulched

weeded & mulched

Busy, busy, busy today.

But I think most of you are also working in your gardens as the site is very quiet. I'm sure we are all sharing the same feeling of joy at this fabulous sunshine.

I did more weeding, clearing and mulching today. I also kept a close eye on my seedlings in the greenhouse - they can dry out so quickly in this weather. Not that I am complaining!

Cherry Blossom

11 April 2010 19:00:16
Prunus 'Accolade'

Prunus 'Accolade'

The first Cherry Blossom of the season has flowered in my garden.

It is a very early one - normally supposed to flower in February!

The garden looks great today with daffodils, hyacinths, flowering currant, camellia, forsythia, bergenia, primula, the cherry blossom and of course the sunshine. The magnolia is also on the verge of opening.

There are lots of new photos in my April album.


11 April 2010 18:20:48
Laeliocattleya 'Coastal Sunrise'

Laeliocattleya 'Coastal Sunrise'

As I mentioned in my previous journal, I attended the Orchid Fair at the Botanic Gardens yesterday.

It was a great opportunity to buy unusual types of orchids and, indeed, I had ordered 8 small orchids beforehand from Burnham Nurseries. Burnham Nurseries is run by the Rittershausen family, who are well known as orchid exhibitors and authors of several books. Indeed my correspondence had been with Sara Rittershausen herself!

I won't bore non-orchid enthusiasts with details of these non flowering purchases but I have uploaded individual pictures in my 'Orchid' album for anyone who is interested. Although 6 of these baby orchids will take 2-3 years to flower, I am pleased to say that my Coelogyne already has a flower spike. So that was very good value for £5!

And, of course, with the day that was in it, I allowed myself an impulse purchase. I mean, who could blame me with all those tables full of flowering orchids? I spent some time debating over a splendid Brassia but in the end went for the Laeliocattleya pictured. Isn't she a stunner?

Botanic Gardens

11 April 2010 00:20:33
Lotus berthelotii

Lotus berthelotii

I had the absolute best day today at the Botanic Gardens!

The annual Orchid Fair was taking place so I headed off early with three kids in tow. It had been 8 yeas since I was last at the Botanic Gardens so I had lots to catch up on.

The Palm House was just amazing, with enormous unblemished bananas and bamboos as thick as my arm. The 'South American House' had unbelievably lavish Protea flowers (3 types in flower) and big tubs of Bird of Paradise. There was also an enormous wall, covered in Cobaea and Rhodochiton (both of which I'm growing this year). There was giant Ricinus in one of the houses too and a host of other plants that I just didn't know.

I was delighted in the anti-chamber of the Orchid house to find several large Sarracenia in full leaf (obviously having missed out on dormancy) and then there was the Orchid House... But I will leave talk on Orchids until tomorrow night.

It was an absolute treat to meet up with Liga at the Fair and to have a good nose through all the orchids together. Liga is such a fount of knowledge and such great fun to be with.

And, my kids had a superb day too. My daughter took them off on a long walk and they ran and played and ate cake and no one got grumpy or cranky - just amazing!

But, again, I had no camera. I did notice this little beauty in the Alpine House, just coming into flower. But the photo is from the web.

Chill Out

09 April 2010 23:55:08


Another brilliant gardening day. It started off early - a bit of fiddling in the greenhouse still in my night-clothes, after tending to the hens! And then, impromptu, I started moving a lot of flowers and all my tomatoes out to the greenhouse for the first time. It felt so good to be taking that step at last.

Head Gardener came on a visit this afternoon with his adorable triplets. A real treat for my boys, augmented by the fact that we both have a Sam!  And we had such a great long gardening chat, with no one rushing off anywhere and the kids running happily around. Thank you very much, Bill, for such a lovely afternoon.

Fortified with Potash

08 April 2010 19:43:18
Tacca integrifolia, Hedychium gardenarium & Hedychium coronarium

Tacca integrifolia, Hedychium gardenarium & Hedychium coronarium

Where did the day go? I really didn't get much done but I was busy all day.

I did put aside time for a smidge of potting though.

I finished off potting up my Schizanthus pinnatus (Poor Man's Orchids). I mixed a little fish blood and bone fertiliser into the compost to give them that all-important potash boost.

Then, with the remaining fertilised compost, I added 50% grit and potted up my two Hedychiums from yesterday. Hedychium gardenarium is the yellowy one in the photo and Hedychium coronarium is the white one.

Hedychium coronarium has such a fabulous scent, it's guaranteed to give you a coronary, hence its name!

I also potted up my bat plant tuber, Tacca integrifolia. After reading various opinions on the best potting mix, I settled for 1 part fertilised compost, 1 part sand and a handful of coarse bark. Can't wait for this one!!!

Hindi Newspaper

07 April 2010 22:25:49
Hindi Newspaper

Hindi Newspaper

There was much excitement today when my order from The Himalayan Gardens arrived. Head Gardener, LindaB and myself placed a joint order recently and I now have possession of it. You'd better get round here quick lads. I'm getting real attached to all these exotic looking tubers!

Although Himalayan Gardens is in Scotland, the air of authenticity was embroidered by the fact that the tubers and bulbs were all wrapped up in Hindi language newspaper!!!

My part of the order was...

Hedychium gardebarianum (ginger)

Hedychium coronarium (ginger)

Amorphophallus bulbifer (aroid - similar to my existing Amorphophallus konjac)

Lilium tigrinum (tiger lily)

Lycoris radiata (see previous journal)

Haemanthus natalensis (South African Xmas flowering bulb)

Tacca intergrifolia (Bat Plant)

Cautela spicata (ginger)

Gardening at last...

07 April 2010 22:14:16
West Garden

West Garden

What a super day, as promised. And I spent it mostly outdoors.

The boys were soon out after me, asking for the heavy stones to be taken off the trampoline and then for a game of Simon Says. But there seemed to be loads of time today for everything and everybody.

I made good in-roads on clearing the West Garden and brought all my Cosmos and Marigolds back out to the greenhouse. The Astrantias and Cerinthe are also out there now.

Coming out of the greenhouse this afternoon, I caught sight of a chicken sauntering across the garden. Upon investigation, it was one of ours. Sammy had opened the egg box and neglected to close it so the flightiest chicken, Gilda, had got out and couldn't get back in again. Naughty Sammy.

I potted on a tray of Schizanthus and watered all my plants indoors. I even dusted the surfaces and opened all the windows in the house. Let the cobwebs blow away!

Fed Up

06 April 2010 17:43:47
Datura 'Blackcurrant Swirl' 7 Feb 2010

Datura 'Blackcurrant Swirl' 7 Feb 2010

I'm seriously fed up today with the wind, the rain, the cold nights and the lack of space in my kitchen.

The only thing I did today was to pot on my Brugmansia seedling. Actually it's not a seedling, it's a sturdy plant, which is just great since it was only sown on 14 January this year. Sorry, no camera so no photos this week.

By contrast, I am still completely mystified as to what's wrong with the Datura pictured. It has quite simply failed to thrive. It is Datura 'Blackcurrant Swirl' and its history is that it was sown 2 Feb 2009. It germinated 10 Apr 2009, grew to the size you see and refuses to grow further. The smaller seedling pictured, germinated even later and has since died. This picture was taken 7 Feb 2010 but the plant is no bigger to day (about 3". I tried re-potting it in ericaceous compost and giving it some fish blood but it only repaid me by getting aphids and a bit of associated leaf curl. It occasionally looses lower leaves and sprouts a tiny new one in the centre (just when I think it's going to finally die).

This is all the more striking when I compare this Datura 'Blackcurrant Swirl' seedling to the Brugmansia sanguinea I grew this year. I sowed it on 14 Jan, it germinated on 7 Feb and now it is about 1ft high and very bushy. I just don't understand it.

Still Standing

06 April 2010 10:47:18

Bad Shopping Day

05 April 2010 19:23:29
Italo-Greco urn

Italo-Greco urn

Today's intention was to buy a planter for my mini bog garden. I went to a large Garden Centre but came away unsatisfied.

I want to display my Sarracenia to best affect. I want to raise them up so that the largest one (93cm) is at eye level (or almost). I want to put this feature in the West Garden as it is the most used and the most sheltered.

Originally I wanted something modern. But then I thought about putting a modern black, oval planter in the West Garden and I though it might be out of place. I've a little bit of an Italo romantic thing going on there (or so I like to think) with some urns. Mind you, I also have a Japanese lantern and some Easter Island heads and I think they match okay. But a modern, stream-lined planter might be too different. Besides, quirky Sarracenia might look great (by way of juxtaposition) in an old-fashioned urn.

So, after spending ages looking at the modern, black streamlined planters, I then spent ages looking at some large Italo-Greco urns and then spent ages looking at some dark green glazed planters on mini pedestals.

My kids were loosing the will to live at this stage so we had to go and have lunch. I left them at lunch and doubled back to pour over the planters again...

In the end I bought nothing. I am kind of veering towards the Italo-Greco urn but they are expensive. Actually everything I looked at was expensive : (  The jury is still out.

More Wind

05 April 2010 18:21:55

Mission of Mercy

04 April 2010 22:21:01
Venus Fly Trap (web photo)

Venus Fly Trap (web photo)

My neighbour, Wayne, popped in today, bearing gifts.

Wayne had been on a mission of mercy, taking pity on three remaining poorly-looking Venus Fly Traps in a DIY store.

The problem with carnivorous plants in garden centres, in general, is that they don't know how to look after them. They are a novelty item, an impulse buy, expected to have a short shelf life. Seldom are they given the appropriate light and moisture requirements and they usually die quickly.

Well, with some experience under his belt, Wayne took pity on these plants and dropped down today with one for me. My youngest, Sammy, was delighted. He's been after me to get a Fly Trap for ages!

So, again I am reminded that I really need to do something about the bog I want to create this year for my Sarracenia.

Completely Smitten

04 April 2010 16:38:45
candlestick primula

candlestick primula

A walk around the garden this afternoon revealed a delight.

Two white candlestick Primulas are in flower. They are such perfect little gems that I feel completely smitten by them. They also look very well against the white Bergenia.

I must keep an eye out for the Primulas Alison gave me last year as they can't be far behind. And indeed Dorothy also gave me some too : ) Aren't I lucky.

What an Easter treat!

By the way, sorry about the photo quality, I only have a phone camera this week.



04 April 2010 16:31:05
Sarracenia leuchophylla & x Moorrei

Sarracenia leuchophylla & x Moorrei

I'm keeping a close eye on my Sarracenia flower buds.

The Sarracenia leuchophylla has the largest bud so far.

Can't wait to see the flowers.

Easter Bunny

03 April 2010 23:59:37
Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny

Some words of advice to all Easter Bunnies out there, preparing for tonight's egg drop.

Don't hide the eggs anywhere where little angels will need to stomp over flower beds for access. The greenhouse may also not be a good idea.

And remember, if it rains and snows, you can always hide you chocolate eggs in the kitchen.

Happy Easter, everyone, especially those with a 7am Easter Bunny start : O


Conspiring Against Me

03 April 2010 16:42:21
Asarina scadens

Asarina scadens

Today I am taking it easy. The plan was to sow a few trays of seed as I recently bought more trays.

Seeds to be sown (1 tray each) - Delphinium (Pacific Giants Mixed), Foxglove (Pam's Split), Zinnia (dahlia flowered Scarlet Flame), Amaranthus (Pony Tails - see journal below), Asarina scadens (thanks Jurgita), Tagetes (Colossus), Calendula (Candyman Orange).

I started off and sowed two trays of Squirrel Grass (Hordeum jubatim) from the seed HeadGardener recently gave me. No new trays required for this - I sowed on top of the existing two trays of failed seed.

I then started sowing the flowers. The first problem was that I ran out of seed compost. Obviously bad planning! I decided to proceed using multi purpose - just to sow an extra seed or two per cell and hope for the best.

Next problem, the seed tray bases I recently bought were the wrong ones. I bought 5 and the top 2 were right but the bottom ones all had holes in - not what I wanted at all. Silly me. A real pain but I only realised after I had sown the trays so there was no turning back.

And then finally, I took out the Asarina scadens seed that Jurgita kindly gave me. I was surprised to see only 8 seeds in the pack so decided to sow a joint tray - just as well with the lack of proper bases. So, I went to sort that out and then, ready for my seed, went back for the Asarina. Hello - only 3 seeds!!! Well, there was a hole at the bottom of the packet and the seeds had been escaping. Goodness knows how many had originally been in that packet.

I scooped up everything on the counter but could tell that some were actually Delphinium seeds and god knows what else. I sowed anyway! Thank goodness that was the last tray because luck is not with me today.

Love Lies Bleeding

03 April 2010 16:19:25
Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding

When I was about 9 my mother tried to interest me in gardening.

She gave me a flower bed of my own and the pick of her seeds. I remember her recommending the packet of Love-Lies-Bleeding for my bed as 'my bed' overhung the garden and she said this plant would look lovely hanging over the edge of the border.

Well, I was completely captivated by this exotic looking plant and its memorable name. The thought that I could actually grow something like that, from nothing, was inconceivable. But she was my mum - she should know best. Of course, I had to ask why love would be lying bleeding and my mother gave a wistful look and a hint at things I could not understand.

I remember tending my flower bed for about a week and then I moved on, as 9-year old's do, and I completely forgot about it and Love-Lies-Bleeding.

But later that summer, I was playing in the garden and my ball rolled over to the flower bed, which was supposed to be mine. When I went to fetch it out from among the weeds, I spotted something unusually bright. After a few moments I remembered the Love-Lies-Bleeding and, although the resultant plants were much smaller than I had imagined, they were unquestionably the same thing.

So, at Belvedere when Clara (Claire) offered me some Amaranthus 'Pony Tails', I was very pleased to accept them. I sowed them today and promise to take better care of these than I did last time I grew them. Thanks, Claire.

In Flower

02 April 2010 17:21:56
Forsythia & Josh

Forsythia & Josh

I wasn't looking forward to working on righting the privet hedge today. My muscles were complaining. I decided to water the tomatoes upstairs while hubby went out to tend to the chickens. As I looked out the upstairs window, I spotted hubby sorting out the hedge. I was delighted and so were my aching limbs.

Hopefully that wind we had recently was a once off - we don't usually get wind from that direction. I'll play it by ear anyway and hope for the best.

In the garden I noticed the Forsythia in flower - such a lovely Easter treat. I also noticed the white Arabis Dorothy gave me last year in flower - admittedly still in a pot. And Myrtle's little Campanula too. I must plant both of these in front of my pond. They are nice and low, which is what is wanted there.

Hedge Finished

02 April 2010 14:56:03
Elaeagnus ebbingei hedge

Elaeagnus ebbingei hedge

My muscles were very achy this morning but out we went to sort out the plastic membrane at the front of the house. When it blew away before, hubby just weighed it down with stones but didn't put it up again because of the wind.

It was a two man job but we got the membrane back up. It was easier this time becasue we could bring the plastic right up to the hedge. Before the hedge was in, we couldn't do that. It should stay better this time because it goes over the top lip and is weighed down with rocks on top. Those pegs have limited use really.

But by bringing the plastic membrane up higher than before, it meant we exposed a strip of bank down below. So we will need to put another strip down there soon.

And finally I gave my new hedge a good watering in. They say you can't over-water newly planted shrubs. For someone like me, who generally over-waters anyway, I take that as a challenge : )

More photos in the April album.

Scented Hedge

01 April 2010 20:32:53

Bring Me Sunshine...

01 April 2010 13:22:08
Bring Me Sunshine...

Bring Me Sunshine...

This fabulous sight greeted me when I entered the greenhouse this morning.

Aren't tulips the absolute best?

I opened the greenhouse windows, removed the fleece and gave everything a good watering.

Hubby let the chickens out of their run and they too seemed to enjoy scratching around in the sunshine for about half an hour.

Hubby's gone to buy stakes and rope to fix our hedge now and I'm going up to deliver some plants to Head Gardener.

Linda called up yesterday to collect her plants and paid me a great compliment. She said the garden was looking in much better order, for this time of year, than it had done at this time last year. She said I must have been doing much more work this year. While I was delighted to hear this, actually the opposite is true. I worked much much harder last year. I guess the effect of that work is paying off now.

So there's light at the end of the tunnel! And tulips too : )


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