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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal August 2010

Last Post 2698 days 12 hours ago

Super Weather

31 August 2010 18:23:45


I didn't do any gardening today but had a lovely surprise in the post from Sally, who sent me some offsets from her Scarborough Lily, Cytanthus elatus (previously Vallota). I am really delighted to add them to my South African bulb collection. Thanks a million, Sally.

Like many of you my kids went back to school today.

Hubby fixed the lawn mower and cut the grass and that was the height of today's gardening. As usual, it makes a big difference.

Notes to Self

31 August 2010 18:12:01
for the chop

for the chop

I did a little survey in the garden today, assessing what needs to be moved, discarded, replaced etc. The following notes are mostly for my own reference.

1) Thinking of discarding the bamboo in the picture. Its culms are quite thin and unassuming, despite my Chelsea defoliation treatment, and I am very wary of bamboos, having seen how they have taken over areas in Glanleam Gardens.

2) The Rosa rugosa hedge to one side of the stone circle bed is definitely going. Thinking of replacing it with a row of Paulownia tomentosa.

3) The Golden Rod, Solidago, is all going. It looks too much like a weed and its scent is not enough to save it. Thinking of replacing it with the Telekia speciosa I got in June Blake's. That area is quite weed prone so I need something vigorous there.

4) Crocosmia 'Lucifer' is coming out of the West Garden and going right down the front to the entrance. I'm thinking of a row of Zantedescia in that 'white bed' where it came from in the West Garden.

5) Aretemsia needs moving from the 'white bed'. It is squashed. Seeing how scrappy it looks at this time of year, I am now doubting that I will put it to replace the geranium by the pond.

6) Stray Day Lily in the Buxus circle needs moving before the Crocosmia monoculture in there chokes it.

7) Heliopsis in the Long Border needs to be moved to the back. Same for the Lychnis coronaria. There is space at the back. Thinking of putting Maureen's red peonies in the spaces that I vacate.

8) Need to rescue the sedum squashed under Sambucus 'Thundercloud' in the long border.

9) In spring I need to cut and remove runners from the nice bamboo on Babies Hill.

Autumn's Breath

30 August 2010 15:39:22
Actea simplex altopurpurea

Actea simplex altopurpurea

Last night was cold and this morning I could feel autumn's breath trying to steal the last of the summer form us.

I am still resolved to try and keep the garden going for as long as possible this year.

I did a round of dead-heading and weeding in the West Garden and continued the watering. Everything has been so dry.

Feeling much better today.

World's Smallest Orchid Discovered

30 August 2010 08:17:09
World's Smallest Orchid Discovered

World's Smallest Orchid Discovered

The smallest species of orchid in the world has been discovered hidden among the roots of a larger plant in a nature reserve in Ecuador.

The plant is just 2.1mm wide, and instantly supercedes the species Platystele jungermannioides as the world's smallest orchid. The petals are so thin that they are just one cell thick and transparent.

More information @ ...


Home Again

29 August 2010 18:54:04
Lobelia cardinalis 'Queen Victoria'

Lobelia cardinalis 'Queen Victoria'

I didn't do much today except survey and photograph (see album).

Hubby fed everything in the greenhouse and I think he may even have gotten my Proteas and succulents. That's what comes from taking the labels off things!

Last night I did a bit of emergency watering - outdoor pots and the bog garden. Today I did the tree ferns and the hose is now on the long border. My Smilacina racimosa is not looking well and some caterpillar defoliated the kale I got from Deborah, Nero di Toscana, so that had to go. Other than that, all is well.

Hopefully I can do a bout of dead heading tomorrow.

I bought a few plants too

29 August 2010 15:55:34
echeveria, puya, protea in front of Annuals Border

echeveria, puya, protea in front of Annuals Border

While I was in Kells Bay, I did treat myself to a few plants. Although I didn't do as well as Russ and had to consider the kids in the back, I think I did well. I got...

Puya coerulea

Protea subvestita

Echeveria 'Black Prince'

Although all three plants will have to come indoors for winter, they are small, so it can be managed.

I am particularly pleased with the Puya but am not sure whether to count it among my succulents or my carnivorous plants. Puya chilensis, my Puya's cousin, has been known to eat sheep. Not a joke! The way this happens is that, in Chile, sheep accidentally get tangled in the spines of this tall, lethally sharp plant. If no farmer finds the trapped sheep and untangles it then it eventually dies of dehydration. The Puya then absorbs the nutrients from the dead animal. Nice!

On the way back in the car,  I warned my kids that they had better behave or the Puya in the boot would eat them : )

Closer Still

29 August 2010 11:22:32
Xanthorrhea glauca

Xanthorrhea glauca


And, in best Martin Begley tradition, I have gone closer still.

Isn't the bark amazing. Just like snake skin!

Unfortunately I didn't buy one though : (


29 August 2010 11:20:57
Xanthorrhea glauca

Xanthorrhea glauca


Here is a closer shot of its amazing trunk.

It is one of those plants that is SO completely ugly that it is beautiful. Like gargoyles.

Xanthorrhea glauca

29 August 2010 11:20:04
Xanthorrhea glauca

Xanthorrhea glauca

Check out this fabulous Australian palm from Kells Bay.

Xanthorrhea glauca is a Grass Tree and they are quite rare because of the incredibly slow growth rate.

This Grass tree grows at a rate of one meter per 100 years! Now that would require patience.

Although the owner was not present when I was there, it looks like the trees are hardy and were over wintered outdoors.

Kells Bay

29 August 2010 11:19:20
Kells Bay

Kells Bay


Here's another shot of Kells Bay Gardens.

It does not do the place justice.

The tall palm, in the background, is the largest in Ireland and front right is Xanthorrhea glauca.


Back from Kerry

28 August 2010 20:41:18
tree ferns in Kells Bay

tree ferns in Kells Bay

I'm just back from a wonderful week in the Kingdom of Kerry.

We managed to take in two gardens - Glanleam, on Valentia Island, and Kells Bay in Kells. I am very glad that we visited Glanleam first because it was terribly disappointing.

I supposed matters weren't helped by the fact that I had wanted to see Glanleam for years. After waiting so long, it was probably bound to be a disappointment. I just found it extremely unkempt and dull despite the multitude of tree ferns seeding around the place. There were other exotic plants too - like gingers (Hedychiums) - but they seemed to be growing despite the poor maintenance rather than as a result of any gardening efforts. Anyway, that was my personal opinion.

On Thursday we visited Kells Bay and the whole family was really impressed. The kids adored the primordial forest, predominantly planted with tree fern. It was really quite eerie, with a lack of birds and quite a monoculture but you really could believe that dinosaurs might pop out from behind a tree fern at any moment. Fabulous. I loved the large succulent plantings, including the tallest palm in Ireland, and the landscape with giant Gunneras and more tree ferns. The scale was really impressive.

 I had come away from Glanleam like a junkie, dying for my fix of colourful flowers - a scenario that could have badly tainted my Kells Bay experience. But I soon forgot that yearning completely at the Kells Bay garden.

Oh, and we bumped into Russ in Kells Bay. He looked like he was planning on putting down his own roots there he was so impressed by the place and their collection of exotics.

So now I'm back. The grass is high and a few sunflowers have been felled by wind. But the Acidanthera and Sedums are in flower and nothing has died so all is well. It doesn't look like there's been much rain.

It will take me a few days to catch up on all your journals. I'll be reading but may not be posting so much for the next few days. At risk of sounding like a dreadful moan, I developed an ear infected last Wednesday and am staying well dosed up on ibrufen until I can get antibiotics from the doctor on Monday morning. Looks like lots of reading ahead for me.

Early Christmas

21 August 2010 09:08:16
Haemanthus natalensis

Haemanthus natalensis


It seems that Christmas has come early.

This is Haemanthus natalensis.

Sally's Pelargonium

21 August 2010 09:04:32
Sally's Pelargonium

Sally's Pelargonium


The Pelargonium Sally sent me by post has flowered.

Such a beauty.

I believe the originally plant came from our dear friend Rita D.

Don't worry, Linda, there will be a cutting for you when it bulks up.

Rain & Thoughts for Next Year

20 August 2010 12:32:21
Canna 'Panache'

Canna 'Panache'

The rain is very welcome in my garden. But the recent computer connection probelms I've been having are not.

It has battered the flowers a bit and I had to stake a few China Asters but it is very welcome.

I am a bit disappointed in the growth progress in my new 'runway' part of the long border. I put it down to the stony soil.

I have decided to treat my garden next spring and will be buying a load of cocoa husk mulch. The Head Gardener in Altamont swears by it. He doesn't feed his roses and lilies, just lays a mulch of cocoa bark on their bed after the spring clean-up. The Cocoa feeds and keeps weeds down.

While I won't be treating the whole garden to this therapy, I will do it for the 'runway' part of the long border at a minimum. My poor Astrantia seedlings in there are really struggling and the Pacific Giant Delphiniums are no where near flowering, whereas a single plant from the same batch that I gave to my neighbour, Wayne, is about to flower.

Keeping the Show on the Road

20 August 2010 12:25:12
heliopsis & lobelia

heliopsis & lobelia

This year I am going to try to keep the show on the road for as long as possible.

In gardening terms this means I am going to try to keep the garden looking decent for as long as I can. 

Last year I gave up on dead-heading some time in September as I got fed up. I think if I can preserver, I would manage to keep parts of my garden, especially the large Annuals Border, looking good into October. We'll see.

Novelty Plant Exceeds Expectations

19 August 2010 14:45:15
Mimosa pudica

Mimosa pudica


I've put up several journals before about the Sensitive Plant, Mimosa pudica.

It really does react to touch.

Today the plant in my son's room has flowered.

As you can see, it is a good manly colour : )

Chrysanthemum 'Alec Bedser'

18 August 2010 19:21:28
Chrysanthemum 'Alec Bedser'

Chrysanthemum 'Alec Bedser'

This is one of the giant Chrysanthemums that John and Ann gave me as 'stools' (I think that's the correct tern) some time in spring.

Chrysanthemum 'Alec Bedser' is the first to flower.

Talk about sunshine in the greenhouse! I won' even need a light at night time with this luminous beauty.

Patti Pan Squash

18 August 2010 19:18:10
Patti Pan Squash

Patti Pan Squash


Well, I got one!

Painted Tongue

17 August 2010 17:02:20
Salpiglossis sinuata ('Kew Blue', maybe)

Salpiglossis sinuata ('Kew Blue', maybe)

My poor Painted Tongue Flowers, Salpiglossis sinuata, has opened.

These poor annuals suffered mistreatment at my hands, I am loath to admit.

They were kept in seed trays for too long and were over-watered.

But at least I am getting to see their flowers at last.

I will probably give them another shot next year. They were just unlucky as there was no room in the Annuals Border for them so they had to wait ages to get planted out.

African Lily

17 August 2010 16:57:50
African Lily

African Lily


My first African Lily, Agapanthus, has opened fully.

This is one I bought as a root in Lidl/Aldi in spring 2009.

Not bad for less than €2!


17 August 2010 16:55:34



Looking good at the moment is Liatris spicata.

Gardening Injury

17 August 2010 16:53:00
newly planted

newly planted

I think it must be the season for gardening injuries as I've read about various pulls and strains on other journals and have added to them today.

All started well when I decided to get rid of 5 roses that have never done well for me ('Reine des Violettes' maybe). They were originally bought bare root and cheap in Lidl/Aldi so I don't feel bad about wasting money.

This summer was excellent for roses, the first part of it anyway, and ones I had almost given up on, 'Baron Girod de l'Ain' springs to mind, did well and earned a repreave. These five roses did not however so up they came today.

I planted a few things in their place, near a holly, Ilex x altaclerensis 'Golden King'. Notably I planted Rue, Ruta graveloens, which Liga gave me. I was told that this pretty little bush is the national herb of Lithuania although I do not know it. It has fine glaucus foliage which I thought will be beautiful between the yellow holly and a purple Smoke Bush.

But on the way to get the hose I put my foot down a dip in the lawn and turned the same ankle I did in 2 months ago in Donegal. I will have my foot up for a bit now.

Must Work Harder

17 August 2010 15:19:04
Must Work Harder

Must Work Harder

I have recently noted how the main border in my West Garden is primarily for early summer interest. It has large boring patches at this time of year.

Last year I replaced the lavender with Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' and a pink Phygelius (both of which will need another season to get going) but still more is needed...

I am taking on board the dictates of Fergus Garrett at the recent course I attended. Choose the best plant, he said. Look for more than one season of interest, he said. This is, of course, good advice but like many of us my garden has grown from what I can find in Garden Centres, can propagate or have been given. It is not always possible to have the 'best' plant of a certain variety and unfortunately money is an 'object'.

However, this border is important. We sit in this part of the garden all through the summer and I would like to liven it up at this time of year.

I think I should replace the large geranium as it only flowers once and has gotten too big anyway. It would not go to waster as I have hills to cloth. The Aubrieta might go too.

Maybe a Fuchsia would be good there. Liga recently gave me a small hardy one called 'Pink Pearl'. I just need to work out if the pink will be see together with the Helenium that has just gone over. But maybe that would be okay as they are both strong shades. Alternately there are several good geraniums I could put in there.

Zinnias & China Asters

16 August 2010 20:36:20
Zinnia elegans 'Scarlet Flame' & Callistephus sinensis 'Siam'

Zinnia elegans 'Scarlet Flame' & Callistephus sinensis 'Siam'

I am really pleased with a number of annuals this year.

Among them is the Zinnia, whose seed I bought on the Estonian website Krista recommended. It is called Zinnia elegans 'Scarlet Flame'. By contrast I am very disappointed with the green Zinnias 'Double Envy' that I got off Thomson and Morgan. What a waste of space.

I am also quite ecstatic over the China Aster seed Olga send me from Russia. The red variety is fabulous but the pale pink one, Callistephus sinensis 'Siam', is really very special. Some blooms are very pale pink and others are white, with the slightest flush of pink. They were most definitely worth waiting for but I will sow them earlier next year.

It is just such a shame that I will not make this year's Bunclody Horticultural Show. Because, I'm telling you, I would be scooping top prizes with these flowers! 

Painted Ladies

16 August 2010 20:27:09
Painted Girl*********Painted Madame

Painted Girl*********Painted Madame

I am pleased to see that the Dahlia my daughter bought me last year for Mother's Day has come through the winter.

It is the pink flecked one called 'Painted Girl'. I am reminded of my daughter every time I look at it : )

This spring I bought the orange Dahlia 'Painted Madame' in Lidl/Aldi. It is obviously the 'grown up' version. It is also gorgeous.

They are definitely the same flower, just different colours.


16 August 2010 00:22:05


Here is a collection of tomatoes that hubby picked fromt he greenhouse yesterday.

They are Amish paste, Red cherry, Oregon Spring, Suncherry, Reis, Black Krim, Siberian, Peace vine and Alaskan Fancy.

Yum, yum.

Krista's Visit

15 August 2010 23:16:52
grasses in the Bay Garden

grasses in the Bay Garden

I had the pleasure of spending the day with Krista and her lovely family.

We had an early start at Hardymount Gardens (first time for me) and then visited Altamont. We had County Carlow covered before lunch!

We then went back to my place for a bite and on to the Bay Garden in Camolin.

I realised that I have only ever been to the Bay Garden in early summer and I must say that I have missed out. There is one garden room at the Bay that I have always disliked. I wondered why they never did anything 'decent' with it. Visiting that very garden room today, my jaw dropped open. The prominent plants are grasses and boy did they look spectacular with the sun coming through them. I was quite bowled over.

However, time got the better of us and we never made it to Coolaught Gardens  but I think we managed to pack quite a bit into today. I couldn't believe how good Krista's little girl, Evelyn, was. She never complained or moaned, with all the walking and everything. 

I must say, Krista is such a great gardening companion, never demanding or imposing. I could spend days happily in her company. Sorry, I can't make it to Coolaught with you tomorrow, Krista. If it was up to me it would be my preferred day out but the kids had to have their say for tomorrow ;-)

New Acquaintances

14 August 2010 19:14:57
Evelyn, Violetta & Sam

Evelyn, Violetta & Sam

I had the pleasure of meeting Violetta for the first time today and just had to put up this lovely photo of her.

Violetta was the first to arrive at our get-together and, as I was the second, we got the chance to exchange a few words before the others arrived.

It was really lovely to finally meet you, Violetta, and I hope our path cross again soon.

Sorry for lumping you with the babysitting though : ))

If you go down to the woods today...

14 August 2010 19:07:03
Steve, Krista & Evelyn, Fran, Jacinta, Myrtle, Periwinkle, Violetta, Drumanagh & Dean (?) and my Sam

Steve, Krista & Evelyn, Fran, Jacinta, Myrtle, Periwinkle, Violetta, Drumanagh & Dean (?) and my Sam

I am just back from today's escapades, meeting other ie.ers at Huntingbrook Gardens.

We had a lovely walk through the woods, although quite rough in parts. What did you do to that step again, Jacinta?

But my favourite, I must admit, was June Blake's garden. It looked spectacular in the summer sunshine and I will not insult it by putting up the photos I took with my inferior camera.

June was on hand to give us a bit of a tour too so that was very nice. A truly spectacular garden, if anything, looking even better than when I saw it a month ago. June said it was at its best now.

Long Border Finished

13 August 2010 21:15:33


Today I officially finished planting up the long border. It is officially full. What a great feeling.

I still have a few plants to go into the ground somewhere, including the beautiful Yellow Horn Tree, Xanthoceras sorbifolium, that Liga recently gave me, but it won't be a problem as I have plenty of gaps.

The fan belt on the ride-on lawn mower has broken again so hubby cut the grass with the petrol mower. I think I now hate grass (and I didn't even do the mowing today). Even if all your borders are weeded and dead-headed, the place still looks a mess when the grass is long. So unfair.

Nice Surprise

12 August 2010 20:33:04
Nice Surprise

Nice Surprise

A lovely surprise awaited me at home.

Friends, who recently visited from Holland, sent me a package. They had been impressed with our garden and we had spent time discussing Piet Oudolf (at one time, my gardening hero) and his gardening principals.

I got a lovely letter, saying they had visited one of Holland's finest nurseries, Ploeger, to get me a small gift. And here it is. A magazine - always interesting to get ideas from abroad - and some seeds. Hope my Dutch is up to the magazine. I'll be curling up with this magazine tonight : )


12 August 2010 20:25:23
great nosh-up

great nosh-up

We went to Powerscourt today.

The last time I was there was 2001 and I didn't even visit the walled garden then.

We had a great walk around and a super nosh up (my second Avoca Handweaver nosh-up in 3 days). I think we saw everything in the gardens.

But, unfortunately, we were too late for the Garden Centre. A great day.

Thai Russian China Aster

12 August 2010 11:02:31
Callistephus chinensis 'Siam'

Callistephus chinensis 'Siam'


Here is the first of my Thai Russian China Asters, grown in Ireland.

Thanks, Olga : )


12 August 2010 11:00:17
Haemanthus natalensis

Haemanthus natalensis


Here comes my first Haemanthus into flower : )


12 August 2010 10:52:11
Cobaea scadens

Cobaea scadens

At last my purple Cobaea has flowered.

The plant that has flowered is one that is int he greenhouse border.

No sign of flowers outdoors yet.

I think something has been having a munch on this flower : (

Turk's Turban

12 August 2010 10:50:34
Turk's Turban

Turk's Turban

Well, I didn't get around to sowing pumpkins this year so the best we are going to get is Turk's Turbans.

The plants outdoors have done abysmally and, of the two planted in the border, one seems to be dying.

So I have one plant that is doing well and forming turbans.

No Gardening

11 August 2010 18:39:44
Clivia miniata

Clivia miniata

No gardening for me today.

Busy with other things.

I took a few photos of my orchids and house plants and put them in the relevant albums.

Myrtle's Extended Garden

10 August 2010 20:55:35
Myrtle's Extended Garden

Myrtle's Extended Garden

My companion for today was Myrtle and what an excellent companion she is. I don't think the chatting stopped all day but we were very good and we did actually manage to talk of some non gardening related things... on occasion : )

I arrived at Myrtle's around 11 this morning and we hurried out to get to Noel's. Well, Noel's garden was a great treat, as per my journal below, and we had a lovely morning talking about plants and gardening programmes and gardening clubs and the best gardens to visit.

When it was time to leave Noel's, we headed back to Myrtle's as I hadn't had the chance to see Myrtle's garden since the latest changes. Earlier on this year I think Myrtle will not mind me mentioning that she felt she had bitten off more than she could chew. A lot of work, including hard graft digging, had been needed. As we all know, it is very hard in early spring to believe that such a mammoth effort can be worth while.

But now, turning the corner round Myrtle's sun-room, the visitor is faced with a mature herbaceous planting, still displaying the tasteful colour combinations that Myrtle does so well. As I must confess a weakness for herbaceous planting myself, Myrtle's choices were a delight to my eyes. I particularly love the dark reds and oranges, which would brighten anyone's day.

Before long the day was getting away on us and we had to change plans. Instead of a visit to Kilquade, we decided on Avoca Handweavers for a late lunch and a look around the Garden Centre. Just a perfect day! Thank you, Myrtle : )

Noel's Garden

10 August 2010 20:38:17
phlox, crinums & martegon lilies

phlox, crinums & martegon lilies

I had another fabulous gardening day today, this time taking the opportunity to visit Noel's (Noelfitz) beautiful South Dublin garden with Myrtle.

Noel's garden is a haven of peace and tranquillity, completely screened by mature trees, which conceal a myriad of garden rarities.

The strategically placed splashes of colour from Agapanthus or Tiger Lily serve well to draw the eye into exploring the rich tapestry of leaf texture and form. And boy were there many plants to explore in the tapestry. And just when I was thinking that it was all over, bam. My eyes lighted upon Noel's extensive Celmisia collection! Suffice it to say, I have added many a plant to my wish list as a result of today.

The overall effect was of peace and tranquillity as we enjoyed delicious scones with cream on the lawn and chatted over many things. Unfortunately I was unable to effectively capture the breath or essence of the garden in a photograph so I have settled for uploading this shot of an artistic planting of Crinums and Tiger Lilies.

Thank you for a wonderful day, Noel.

Greedy Gluttons

09 August 2010 20:45:18


This photo is looking down the throats of my carnivorous Sarracenia.

By this time of summer the pitchers are so full of dead and dying insects that they sometimes fall over from the sheer weight.

It is easy to feel sorry for individual insects in there, especially lady birds or bees, but very hard to do anything to save one that would not damage the plant.

A close-up photo is available in my August album for anyone who can't make out the gruesome detail.

Candied Flowers

09 August 2010 20:41:01
Candied Flowers

Candied Flowers

Look at these beautiful candied flowers that our friend makes.

She grows her own flowers to ensure that no chemicals are used and then she candies them.

A miniature rose and Violettes are used in this selection. It was a present for my daughter who is the cake maker in our family.


09 August 2010 13:49:40
Galtonia candicans

Galtonia candicans

The Galtonia candicans is opening.

Anna Pavord recommended planting a minimum of five bulbs in a clump for this lovely flower, which is what I did.

My guests yesterday were raving about this plant. They referred to it as giant snow drops : )

This part of the West Garden is my white space. It doesn't look as well as last year with the Cosmos 'Purity' but it is still good.

Thanks to Krista who got these bulbs for me.


08 August 2010 22:23:47


We had visitors today.

It turned out a double treat. My husbands' friends were mad into gardening, one of them knowing a load about carnivorous plants. What an unexpected surprise.

And I also had a visit from garden.ie friend HippyChick, who happened to be in the neighbourhood. It was lovely to see Antjie again.



New Stuff

08 August 2010 13:39:12
Lavon Tree Lily

Lavon Tree Lily

A trip around the greenhouse this morning reveals several treats soon to be mine.

My first giant mum and purple Cobaea are soon to open.

My Haemanthus natalensis is throwing up what looks like a flower (although it's a long way until Christmas) and could my Protea be possibly thinking of flowering?

But for the moment, I am contented with my Cautleya spicata and Lavon Tree Lily, both in flower : )

Climb Every Mountain

08 August 2010 00:02:12
Latest Fad

Latest Fad

I have noticed an increasing interest in mountain climbing on garden,ie

Greenway was first and then Clara and MartinB! I think there were others too. I'd be happy to climb to the top of my dump without puffing!

You can tell it's not weeding season with all this extra energy being bounded around the place!

Is mountain-opia the new orchid-itis or rose mania? Time will tell.

Russian China Asters

07 August 2010 19:28:13
Callistephus chinensis

Callistephus chinensis

Olga sent me seeds for China Asters, Callistephus chinensis, last winter.

The ones pictured are the red ones. I wonder will they open any further? I think they are just beautiful and I will be growing these again.

I am also waiting for the pink ones, variety 'Siam', to open.

When the pink ones open, does this mean I will have Thai Russian China asters, grown in Ireland?

Thank you, Olga.

Pennisetum as Annual

07 August 2010 19:17:14
Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Majesty'

Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Majesty'

The Giant Red Millet, Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Majesty', that I grew from seed this year has not lived up to expectation.

I planted 2 groups of seven in my Annuals Border, one of which is pictured.There is a better picture in my album but, basically, the black sticky-up bits you see among the Cosmos are the Millet.

The plants were terribly slow to get going, despite a really early sowing. Only now are they getting their seed heads. What's more, the plants were supposed to be 3-6ft tall. It looks like I'm getting 3ft so they are lost here at the back of this border.

I would not recommend this plant as an annual.

More Lilies

07 August 2010 13:14:28
West Garden

West Garden

A few more lilies have opened.

The pinke ones must be from the Stargazer series.

The white ones are 'Apollo' and I would highly recommend them (better photos in album).

The scent from both is fabulous.

Taro from Chinese Food Shop

07 August 2010 13:12:34
taro (Colocasia) in Tropical Border

taro (Colocasia) in Tropical Border

Just thought I'd give you a shot of the Colocasia plant I now have in my Tropical Border.

It started life as a taro tuber for sale in a Chinese food shop last year for a few cents.

Needless to say, I now have a lot of these tender plants : )


07 August 2010 12:54:43


I took a little tour of the garden this morning, before feeding the chickens, and there is a list of things to do.

But it is spitting rain so I don't see the grass getting cut or the weedkiller put down today. I may get to do a round of dead-heading later.

The grass on the ditch under the Hypericum hedge has grown back so I should give that the second annual clip with the shears - a 2 day job. However, my shears has not been the same since my son tackled the rough hill at the back with it. He did do an excellent job on a very difficult area though so I'm not complaining. I think it is time to invest in a strimmer.

And I need a new half-moon edger. Hubby broke mine when he cut the rose-garde edges before my open garden in July.

These roses are looking very well at the moment. I bought them in Lidl/Aldi and they look like floribunda, with no scent, but they make a grand strong bush with nice repeat flowering blooms.

I may bite the bullet soon and get rid of all my Charles de Mills roses. I have a large garden but even still, single flowering (if the rain doesn't spoil the blooms) and an untidy habit with bad black-spot disposition, is not a happy recipe for any garden.


06 August 2010 22:59:44


Here I am home again after a bit of a trip today.

First stop was at Maurisa's to drop off her prize for successfully guessing the Great Dixter annual garden budget. Well done, Maurisa, and it was lovely to meet you at last. I hope you get the chance to keep up the gardening and that those plants do well for you. Couldn't stop to take uo your your kind offer of coffee but I love the cheery Bizzy Lizzy, in my favourite colour. Thank you very much: )

After a visit to my daughter's (non gardening related), I was on the road to Rush to visit my friend, Liga. We all know Liga. The reason we all know Liga on this site is because Liga knows so much about horticulture and, in addition, she is the resident orchid expert.

Liga's garden is a blaze of colour. You can tell how much this lady loves flowers and plants from her garden. And all plants are so perfectly matched, with no gaps. It is a real achievement when you consider how new this garden is and how mature all the perennials look.

A closer examination unveiled some stark revelations. The Obedient Plant, Physosegia virginiana, I gave Liga earlier this year is in flower for her. Mine are nowhere near flowering. Liga, and her horticulturally minded husband, Liam, made the diagnosis... The potting-on compost I use is sub standard. Next year I am upgrading my seed and potting-on compost. There is no point is spending money on seeds and then loosing them through cheap sub-standard compost. I suspected that I had a problem in this area before but Liga confirmed it.

We had a further jaunt around Liga's borders and I was flabbergasted to note the size of her Chatham Island Forget Me Nots, Myosotidium hortensia. We both bought plants of the same size at the Rare Plant Fair in Celbridge earlier this year and hers is double the size of mine!!! Has Liga been feeding them steroids??? But my Cimicifuga, Actaea simplex altropurpurea, is bigger than Liga's, also bought at the same time and place. Surely my dry stony soil can not be good for this moisture loving plant?

I could go on and talk about Liga's orchids and rare bulbs and many, many seedlings, only a fraction of which I could absorb. But soon it was time to go home. 

Thank you so much for having me, Liga. I had a super day and a super chat and I so wish you did not live so very far away from me : (

Zygo in Flower

05 August 2010 19:05:34


I had a lovely afternoon with Linda but was greeted by the best sight on my return home. Sorry, Spider, it's orchid o'clock again!

My Zygopetaum orchid has finally flowered and it is beautiful. It has been a long haul with this one.

I got the orchid in January 2009. It had been my mum's and had lain unwatered and untended since her death in July 2008 until I got it in January 2009. It was in a bad state, with brown tips to the leaves etc. 

I adopted the basic orchid care routine but there was no sign of flower or growth by November 2009. After looking up the information, I decided that the orchid needed re-potting.

That was the first orchid I ever re-potted and I did it on 7 November 2009 but I made 2 mistakes. As I didn't use a special orchid pot, I should have placed crocks at the bottom for extra drainage but I didn't. Hubby drilled some extra holes in the pot, without removing hte orchd, a few months later. The second mistake was that I found a mass underneath the orchid root and, fearing it might actually be part of the root, I left it intact. It was sphagnum moss and should have been removed.

By 12 December the orchid had produced a shoot. I was delighted but very worried at the moss I had left under the plant because I now knew what it was. I decided to remove the moss and repotted the orchid again on 15 December.

Unfortunately I must have broken a root during the second repotting because the new shoot died and the orchid did nothing for a while : (

But now, eventually, it is August and the first flower on my Zygo has opened. Wasn't it worth waiting for?

Canna from Seed

05 August 2010 12:17:04
Canna warscewiczii

Canna warscewiczii

My first Canna to flower is one that I grew from seed.

It is not very tall but hopefully next year.

I will also be growing Cannas from seed next year. It is a worthy endeavour.

Double Delight

05 August 2010 12:12:06
Double Delight

Double Delight

This hybrid tea rose is looking well at the moment.

It is called 'Double Delight'.

Plenty of Colour

04 August 2010 21:53:49
annuals border

annuals border

Sometimes I get annoyed with the garden, especially at this time of year when things begin to look untidy and there are large boring areas.

But then I look at the good bits and I feel happy again : )

Trimming Advice

04 August 2010 21:46:42
santolina balls

santolina balls

I've just been out to trim my Santolina. I want to keep it in nice neat balls in a circle around a tree.

It is very like Lavender and Rosemary in its habit and I want to avoid it getting leggy. The flowers have just gone over so now seemed like the right time to clip.

Although the balls have trimmed up quite nicely, I see that one of the plants has actually opened up, in one place, more than I would like.

I wonder how this can be avoided. Should I have clipped last year (they only went down last spring)?  I wonder how much foliage I should be taking off too as presumable heavy foliage will cause the plant to fall open, due to the weight of the foliage. I was just wondering if anyone had any experience of this.


04 August 2010 21:32:57


I went out this evening to trim my Lavender and Santolina.

Disaster. I couldn't believe it.

The Liquidambar tree, Liquidambar styraciflua 'Worplesdon', I planted last year for my mum has been broken in two. 

At first I thought it had been done maliciously as it really was not windy last night and the tree has never given any indication that it was unsteady. I did lose a sunflower last night however. But on the other hand, if someone had come in to do malicious damage, they did it very neatly. It must have been the wind.

I'm really not sure what to do now. In my experience, when a leader has been broken, a tree may re-direct its energies but it is never as good looking again as nature intended it to be. I don't want an inferior tree for my mum. She would not have appreciated that : )

Maybe I will wait until autumn and dig it up and plant it elsewhere but buy a new tree for my mum.


03 August 2010 19:58:51


Quite the trendy plant at Helen Dillon's was Anaphalis.

Actually I've noticed this plant come on in my garden for the last month and it is a little gem.The silver foliage is lovely and it has a nice neat habit. Small white flowers are the icing on the cake.

It was Myrtle gave me the Anaphalis at our meeting in the Arboretum last autumn and hasn't it done well for me?

Helen Dillon's

03 August 2010 19:55:59
Helen Dillon's

Helen Dillon's

Here I am home again after seeing Helen Dillon's.

I even managed to persuade hubby to come see it and he said it was 'very nice'.

It was good to see the garden later in the season as last year I had been the first through their door for the opening of the summer season. 

Helen's husband recommended coming back in September to see the 8ft Dahlia 'Admiral Rawlings' in his full glory.


03 August 2010 15:39:08
Dillon Garden

Dillon Garden

I'm in Dublin at the minute, settling my daughter in her new college accommodation.

I think I will take a run up to the Dillon Garden now as I'm here anyway : )

Wasted Journey

02 August 2010 22:32:23
sarracenia in my bog garden

sarracenia in my bog garden

Today I decided to take a jaunt up to Rathvilly where Helen Dillon was giving a talk on herbaceous borders for the Carlow Garden Festival.

It was a bit disappointing as when I arrived she recognised me and asked if I'd been to Duckett's Grove yesterday. When I said that I had, she said that this talk was to be the same thing again. She was true to her word, which was a shame really as the talks were billed as different.

Home again, I did a bit of dead-heading. I determined to take Helen's comments about feeding lilies on board but haven't done it yet. I also started worrying, after what she said, about where I have positioned my Japanese Anemones and that they are going to take over the border.

Orchids Again

02 August 2010 17:40:41
sitting room orchids

sitting room orchids

I was prompted into some orchid care this morning as one of my orchids was knocked over. Why is it always the same one that goes splat - my favourite, the Bulbophyllum, Cirrhopetalum 'Elizabeth Ann Buckleberry'?

Anyway, it was soon righted and I then did some watering and re-potted the orchid I got on Friday in Woodies. I was in two minds as to whether I should touch it when it was in full flower but when I saw the mix it was in and the great lump of sphagnum moss right under the base, I was glad I had.

I have a real issue of stability with two of my larger Phalaenopsis. They are in flower and are so top heavy they need to be leaned against something to stand up. Stakes don't help and I'm not sure what the solution is because I wouldn't like to put a phal in a terra cotta pot as they need light on their roots.


02 August 2010 17:29:41
Clivia miniata

Clivia miniata

My Clivia miniata is just opening.

I recently divided my plant in five and the largest plant immediately set flower.

Another few days...


01 August 2010 23:49:12


Isn't chard the prettiest thing?

We grow it for consumption in our raised beds. Hubby took this photo today.

I tried using this beautiful plant as bedding last year but found it too demanding in terms of watering and space requirements.

But isn't it just a beautiful thing and a perfectly worthy crop too! 

Duckett's Grove

01 August 2010 18:25:30
'Apollo' lilies coming into flower, my West Garden

'Apollo' lilies coming into flower, my West Garden

Today we decided to go to the fair at Duckett's Grove gardens as part of the Carlow Garden Festival. And I'm very glad that we did go. It was a brilliant day out. Unfortunately I was not impressed with the state of the gardens but Helen Dillon gave a very lively talk on the pros and cons of various plants in the border.

The kids were soon having fun, tasting things and there were plenty of nibbles and cups of tea on sale cheaply. They also enjoyed observing the butter churning, horse shoeing, spinning (they both got a go and got to keep the wool they spun) and basket weaving.

There were plants for sale too. One stall owned by The Arboretum, one owned by Morgans (both with appropriate prices) and the third plant sales was a private seller who grows for fun. She had a great selection of healthy perennials and was selling them for €2 each. She told me that she sells at the Carlow Market and doesn't keep her plants but she loves growing new ones every year.  I helped myself to a Silene, Polemonium, Linaria, Agastache, Catananche and Oenothera anddidn't have to feel guilty at an even €12 the lot! I can't imagine that the Arboretum or Morgan' were doing any business with her beside them!

My teenage son (who knows what I like) called me quickly to come see some plants for sale in the tea rooms. He thought they were just my style. He was right. There was a tray of Coleus and Aloe for sale and I just wonder were they the property of our garden.ie friend, Dick, who also grows fine healthy plants of that ilk?

And the icing on the cake was that I bumped into Pat, Barbara and Angie (Wellie) - all while I was there. And we were all buying from the same plant seller : )


01 August 2010 17:50:22


My sunflowers are mostly dark ones this year.

I like them but they are hard to get a good photo of because they are so tall and dark. I caught this one against a broody sky.

This one is 'Claret' and it is very tall, taller than 'Moonwalker' surprisingly. You can judge the scale in the August album.

Hubby says he prefers the yellow ones.

Who Bought the Lidl Lycoris?

01 August 2010 00:18:40
Lycoris aurea, photo from net

Lycoris aurea, photo from net

Like many of you, I bought the Lycoris aurea bulb in Lidl back in February this year.

I also bought a Lycoris radiata from a different source and potted them both separately in an ericaceous mix, leaving them in the greenhouse.

Despite careful watering and no sign of rot, neither of my bulbs has started into growth at all.

Can anyone tell me what happened with theirs? I would be interested to know because I know many of you bought the same bulb.


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