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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal November 2010

Last Post 2616 days 12 hours ago

Xmas Get Together

24 November 2010 16:54:33

Ant Attack

20 November 2010 08:11:53
Ant Attack

Ant Attack

Okay, I'm going to try to put up this journal for the umpteenth time.

Three days ago I was collecting rocks in my garden to weigh down some weed suppressing membrane from the wind. I picked up a load and carried them in a pile with the lowest resting on my forearm and the highest under my chin (as you do).

Anyway, I started to feel some discomfort on my arm, then pain. I dropped the rocks and examined my arm. It was covered in ants which I had inadvertently mashed between the rock and my arm. They were biting me. I suppose I can't blame them really.

That's my arm yesterday - very itchy. Now who would think that there could be any even slightly dangerous animal in an Irish winter garden?

Going Mad

20 November 2010 08:02:38
Euphorbia 'Swite Swan'

Euphorbia 'Swite Swan'

I'm going mad here with the lack of internet.

I managed to make some journals this morning but it is slow. At least it works.

Off to my course at Huntingbrook today.

More Bark

20 November 2010 07:56:44
Prunus serrula

Prunus serrula


This one is nice too.


20 November 2010 07:50:51
Acer rufinierve

Acer rufinierve


Some nice bark in my garden.

Who wants...

19 November 2010 20:06:47
Abutilon vitifolium 18.11.10

Abutilon vitifolium 18.11.10


If anyone, coming to Johnstown on 4th December, would like a small Abutilon vitifolium or Thalictrum delavayi then please let me know.


17 November 2010 15:59:07

Xmas Get Together

16 November 2010 20:53:17
Xmas 2009, Arboretum, Co Carlow

Xmas 2009, Arboretum, Co Carlow

Our Xmas get-together this year will take place on Saturday 4th December.

We hope that as many people as possible will attend.

To vote on the venue for the get-together, please go to the site mentioned below.

Please only vote once and make sure to press "done" when finished.



And thank you to Bruno, Una and Clare for all their help so far.

18 Nov 2010

We are going to Johnstown!

22 people will go to Johnstown, 21 to the Botanic Gardens, 20 to Carlow, 19 each to Clonmel & Fernhill and 18 to Belvedere.

30 people voted and someone logged out before pressing 'done' so their vote wasn't counted. No one voted twice despite some couples probably using the same computer and therefore should have been entitled to vote twice.

Thanks to all. Johnstown here we come!


15 November 2010 09:06:50
first hard frost

first hard frost

Here comes winter! We had the first hard frost last night and we were all shivering this morning. I guess it didn't help that we had watched a disaster movie about Arctic weather last night before going to bed!

It was -1 inside the greenhouse so I guess that means it was about -3 outside.

Boy am I glad I got the last tree fern properly covered yesterday!

I saw the way it was going last night and brought 5 Cannas indoors from the greenhouse.

The Cannas that are staying in the greenhouse are duplicates. Of course they are well wrapped too.


14 November 2010 13:49:40
Crinum cintho 'Alfa'

Crinum cintho 'Alfa'

I did some additional protection work outdoors with the very large bale of straw that Linda recently gave me.

My fourth tree fern, Dicksonia antartica, got properly wrapped, like the other three.

And then I decided to do a second job on my two Crinums. Both were bought and planted this year and previously this autumn I piled a load of bark mulch around them.

Today I decided that this might not be enough and I placed a large pad of straw over the top of each and a square of weed-suppressing membrane, which I nailed down. I would be very sorry to loose those.

However, I refuse to protect Phormiums, Cordylines and Pittosporum (or what's left of them after last winter). I mean, we couldn't have a winter as bad as last one. Could we?

The Barn

14 November 2010 13:40:45
Pheonix canariensis

Pheonix canariensis

It's impossible to keep the greenhouse looking anyway nice in winter.

I did a bit more protection work in there today. I have very little left in it but I do have some large things which I couldn't take in the house.

My Musa basjoo and Phoenix canariansis, for example, were sunk in the greenhouse border and then covered in straw.

The whole place looks like a barn now : (


14 November 2010 13:32:17
Lycoris 'Aurea'

Lycoris 'Aurea'


For anyne who bought Lycoris 'Aurea' this spring in Lidl, here it comes.

At long last. 

It's lucky I'm not in a hurry or anything.

My Lycoris radiata is also on the way up.

More Rain

13 November 2010 14:41:22
Cobaea scadens 'Alba'

Cobaea scadens 'Alba'

A beautiful morning changed into a rainy day.

Not up to much gardening today. Opened up the greenhouse briefly as usual but that was it.

Fraught dreams last night. I dreamed about trees and where they should go in the garden. When I woke up I rushed over to the windows to see how the plans I had had in my dreams would fit. But none made any sense in terms of what's actually in my garden.

Anybody else ever do that? Devise complex plans in your sleep and then wake up to find it's just rubbish? : )

PS Suggestions for the venue for our Xmas get-together of Saturday 4th December are being taken. See 4 journals below "Internet & Xmas".

Annuals Border

12 November 2010 13:46:09
Prunus 'Shogetsu' & Malus 'Golden Hornet'

Prunus 'Shogetsu' & Malus 'Golden Hornet'

I got rid of the 555 annuals in my Annuals Border today. Bye bye.

I can't be looking at them, in their decay, all winter and into spring.

I left behind the Squirrel Grass because, despite what the books say, I suspect, from last year's experience, that it's not really an annual at all.

I also uncovered the Dahlias I planted in that border in 2009, the ones that survived last winter! They are still unburnt by this year's frost as they were shielded by giant Cosmos. I will remove them from the border in a little while.

I also took the opportunity to plant my Nyssa 'Autumn Cascade', Cotinus 'Old Fashioned', Cotinus 'Golden Spirit', Opiogonum nigrescens and Libertia peregrinans. I think the yellow smoke bush should look nice with the black grass at its feet in the Long Border.

PS Discussion on the venue for our Xmas get-together of Saturday 4th December, is 4 journals below "Internet & Xmas". Please join in if you are thinking of coming, and we hope you are!

New Orchid

11 November 2010 16:11:06
Ludisia discolor 'Dawsoniana'

Ludisia discolor 'Dawsoniana'

Picked this up in Lidl today.

I don't have any Ludisia orchid so I thought I had to try it out. Ludisia is an intermediate orchid.

I could have bought one with a bigger flower bud but this one seems to have a second shoot emerging from the soil so I thought that was better value.

It was hard to resist the Cymbidiums but I think the selection wasn't as good as last year - in Enniscorthy anyway - so I managed to resist.

Ran into HeadGardener at the orchid stand and had a discussion on trees. Somehow he didn't seem tempted at all by the orchids!?! Weird!

PS See a few journals below for voting on date of Xmas Get-Together!!!

New Trees

11 November 2010 15:47:52
Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

Bought myself a Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo.

The bark is gorgeous and peeling and it's actually in flower.

It needs shelter from winds, which looks nigh on impossible today.

It's a howling gale out there!

Gardenia & Cordyline

11 November 2010 09:17:30


The Gardenia Clare gave me back in the summer is showing a second flush of flowers.

I just adore the scent.

My husband can't get over how it's called Gardenia yet you can't plant it in the garden!

Much drama here when the 10 ft Cordyline trunk actually fell over. It died last winter but is re-sprouting from the base yet I never got hubby to saw it down as I had a Cobaea growing up it.

Actually, it's broken off much more neatly than could have ever been done with a saw!

Internet & Xmas

10 November 2010 16:33:33


Sorry, guys.

I have no internet at the moment so I am putting this up from the library. But the lack of internet has allowed me work on other projects...

I believe I was nominated to organise the Xmas get-together at Fran's party the other night (ganged up on, more like!) The concensus was that we should decide on a date before a venue. So can you all please vote for either the weekend of 4th or 11th December? It was suggested that Saturday would be a better day than Sunday as people who travel could then stay over in a hotel. So Saturday 4th or Saturday 11th???

Frost this morning! Got a large bale of straw from Linda and am considering where to put it. Also I'm planning for at least 10 more new trees for my garden!

My Cymbidium is sending up a flower spike so I'm feeling chuffed. Yes, I can do cold orchids!

Speaking of which, Lidl are selling Cymbidiums tomorrow, along with Ludisia orchids for whoever is interested.

13 Nov 2010

The Xmas get-together will be on 4th December. Suggested venues are...

Johnstown Garden Centre, Dublin
Belvedere House & Gardens, Mullingar, Co Westmeath
Powerscourt, Co Wicklow
Clonmel Garden Centre, Clonmel, Co Tipperary
Arboretum, Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow
Fernhill Garden Centre, Athlone
Rathwood, Tullow, Co Carlow
The Orchard, Celbridge, Co Kildare
National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin


Please don't vote on your preference now we will do that on Tuesday when I have heard back from all the venues.


05 November 2010 09:53:44
rogue iris

rogue iris

Isn't this mad?

I though the frost would finish it off completely but no...

The only gardening done today was to plant up a large earthenware bowl with 10 Hyacinths in the greenhouse.

Of course, I picked the moment when it decided to rain to venture outside to do this job : (

Orange Peel

05 November 2010 09:37:42
Prunus 'Kanzan' undresses

Prunus 'Kanzan' undresses

Entering our drive yesterday, bringing the lads home from school, Josh made an exclamation!

"Who dropped all that orange peel there" he said!

Little did he know that his favourite tree, the pink Cherry Blossom, would choose yesterday to undress.

And to do it right on the street!


Halloween Bark

05 November 2010 09:33:18
Betula 'Jacquemontii'

Betula 'Jacquemontii'

Here is a shot of my Betula 'Jacquemontii'.

I mentioned yesterday about stripping the bark.

I won't be going out with the soap and toothbrush however : )

I have joined the club

05 November 2010 09:31:44
Japanese acer

Japanese acer

Okay, I have now officially joined the "aren't leaves such a lot of work in autumn" club.

Myrtle, Fran, please send me my identity badge! Do I have to pay €2 to join this one too?

This is the bed I cleared yesterday.

But the leaves are pretty!

Fighting a Rearguard Action

04 November 2010 22:40:37
Velthemia bracteata (1 year to flowering)

Velthemia bracteata (1 year to flowering)

Although it didn't rain much today, the whole garden is sodden.

I went out and before long found myself tidying up a bit, cutting back dead stems and pulling handfulls of leaves out of the borders. But it is quite soul destroying as we will have to wait such a long time to see the result of this work. The garden does not look much better as a result of my efforts so it was all a bit pointless.

I did have a little go at stripping the dirty outside layer of my birch trees.They are Betula 'Jacquemontii' and the trunks are a lovely luminous white if properly stripped. Recently I saw a product in a Garden Centre for cleaning such bark. I laughed out loud when I saw it and wondered who would buy such a thing. But there I was today, doing the same job. I have taught my Sammy to pull off the bark whenever he sees it because he enjoys that. But one day he got in trouble with hubby who thought he was damaging the trees and wouldn't believe that mum let him do such a thing : ) Poor Sammy!

Raised my spirits in the afternoon with a trip to the Coolaught Nursery in Clonroche. It is lovely to visit at this time of year as the owner is not overrun with customers and has plenty of time for chat and to give tips.

PS. The photo is for Mary if she is reading this. Mary was showing me her Velthemia and mentioned what a beautiful plant it is and worth having. This is mine - just 1 year to flowering now - so I will get to see its flowers soon myself : )

My Favourite Orchid

04 November 2010 12:06:05
Bulbophyllum 'Elizabeth Ann Buckleberry'

Bulbophyllum 'Elizabeth Ann Buckleberry'

This is my favourite orchid. It is a Bulbophyllum hybrid called Elizabeth Ann Buckleberry and, although bought as a small plant at the orchid Fair last spring, it is doing really well.

But it presents certain problems. Bulbophyllums (previously called Cirrhopetallum, just to confuse matters) have short, rambling roots and, as you can see from the photo, it is very hard to keep the plant in its pot! In fact, the whole root system is pretty much just sitting on top of the mix, making it quite unstable and susceptible to drying out. As this Bulbophyllum prefers moist, humid conditions, it needs constant spraying.

Heading into winter, I am putting away my misting equipment for orchids and Nepenthes. I believe that the incident of Botrytis in my Dendrobium nobile (which, thankfully, made a full recovery) last winter was due to winter misting. I have since read that it is safer not to mist at all in winter in a cold house. And, by orchid standards, my house is cold.

So, I need to repot my beloved Elizabeth Ann Buckleberry!

I will not use a slab, as this orchid would dry out too much. I need to get either a basket or a shallow earthenware dish, although a mature plant will soon overrun any dish. Decisions, decisions!

Oh, and it does flower! And when mine eventually flowers I will be able to show you why this orchid is worth so much trouble : )

Trip to Waterford

03 November 2010 20:36:35
2nd Hippeastrum (flowered previously in March 2010)

2nd Hippeastrum (flowered previously in March 2010)

Today I had the treat of visiting Paddy & Mary (Gracedieu) at their beautiful garden in Waterford. I was, actually, on a flying visit but made to feel completely welcome and at home by this wonderfully friendly gardening couple.

The garden is gorgeous (as we all suspected from the photos that Mary & Paddy put up), with strong winter structure and the choicest of plants. All I can say is that if the garden looks like that in late autumn, I can't wait to see it in spring and then in summer! Mary and Paddy may be sick of the sight of me before long! It just goes to show what can be achieved by two like-minded, knowledgeable people with exceptional taste.

And just a little note on the greenhouse... The greenhouse was immaculate, in pristine housekeeping order and absolutely crammed with exotic bulbs and plants. What is the note I want to make? Ah, yes, note to self : that's the way I want my greenhouse to be in a few years' time.

When I got home I retired to my own greenhouse and started vigorous sweeping like one possessed!

So, thank you so much, Paddy and Mary, for a wonderful hour in a rushed day, and for giving me a peep into your horticultural heaven : )

Favourite Autumn Tree

02 November 2010 14:19:52
Prunus 'Accolade'

Prunus 'Accolade'

Looking around the garden today, I had a bit of an epiphany.

My favourite autumn tree is the Cherry Blossom.

I am almost ashamed to confess this as Cherry Blossoms are so ordinary. Everyone has them. Yet there's probably a good reason why they are so common and everyone has them! They are outstanding trees, with two exceptional seasons. They are fabulous is spring and fabulous in autumn.

Despite my obvious penchant for newly released more exotic tree varieties,  it seems I have been quietly populating my garden with numberous Cherry Blossoms over the years, mostly bought from Lidl or Aldi! Photos in the November album.

Incidentally, I adore common beech, Fagus sylvatica, and flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum, also for autumn.


02 November 2010 13:56:47
Helleborus foetidus

Helleborus foetidus

I love this Helleborus foetidus. After reading about it for ages, I finally managed to track it down in Mount Venus this year.

As the name suggests, the plant is not supposed to smell very nice. When I brought it home hubby asked what my attraction to stinky plants is! I really don't think I have one. But a bad smell will not stop me buying a good plant. Besides, I am sure this one does not smell so bad.

The flower buds look so full of promise but, actually, this Hellebore is usually grown for its architectural impact, rather than the flowers. I planted Asarum kitaibelii next to it as the leaf shapes form good contrast. I will have to keep an eye on this pair though as they may require more shade than I have given them. 

Now is the time to feed your Hellebores and to cut off all the dead foliage to neaten them up in anticipation for early spring flowering, although this one looks like it's going to flower sooner.

Hort.Fleece & Halloween

02 November 2010 10:25:01
Horticulturally friendly ghost with added vampire

Horticulturally friendly ghost with added vampire

We must have had gremlins in the works because the internet has been down.

I see I have loads to catch up on on the site.

Well, we did Halloween and I finally found a good use for my Horticultural fleece.

It makes the best ghost costume ever!

It is light and semi-transparent so there's no need for eye holes.

It certainly did a better job of making a ghost then it did of protecting my plants last winter.


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