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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal December 2010

Last Post 2579 days 14 hours ago

Another Orchid

31 December 2010 15:23:58
Odontocidium 'Hansueli Isler'

Odontocidium 'Hansueli Isler'

Odontocidium 'Hansueli Isler' is in full flower again.

It last flowered for me in February. It is an easy one and was my third orchid ever.

May your New Year be filled with the plants of your dreams.

Happy dreaming.



Tea Drinking Camellia

30 December 2010 17:07:12
Camellia x williamsii 'Debbie'

Camellia x williamsii 'Debbie'

At one point when there was thick snow on the ground I noticed that my large Camellia seemed to have a branch broken off. On closer inspection, nothing was broken, only the thickness of snow on one branch was weighing it right down. I knocked the snow off and the branch bounced back up again. But not completely.

Now that the snow has gone I've taken a better look at my Camellia.

A very large portion of the bush seems to have separated from the main trunk although I can't see any actually break in the trunk. Obviously I'm not going to actually do anything about it now but I'm wondering if in spring I will need to actually cut away the bent section. Very sad but it could be worse.

Isn't it funny how we have so many memories associated with our plants.

This Camellia is more than 10 years old and came with us from our previous garden in Wicklow. I remember the day I bought it and how expensive it seemed at the time. I never liked its name 'Debbie'. She sounded like a bimbo but I loved the picture of her flowers on the label.

I remember how the bush sulked and refused to flower when we moved it to our new garden in Wexford and how we put tea bags under it for months as I'd heard the iron was good for Camellias. And I remember the first spring Debbie did finally flower again and how amazing and omnipresent her frilly double blooms were, which was just as well really as the Camellia and two smaller Rhododendrons were all we had planted in our vast acre expanse of grass. But Debbie has never flowered that well again for me. Although she does well enough. Maybe I should start her back on the tea bags. She probably could do with a strong cup of tea after that terrible snow!

Near Miss

30 December 2010 13:48:24
Near Miss

Near Miss


There was a lot of talk about mistakes on t his site recently and I nearly made the mother of all ones today.

I reached under the sink to find my orchid food this morning...


Ticking Over

29 December 2010 15:07:25
my daughter's bedroom

my daughter's bedroom

Here is a shot of some of the plants in my daughter's bedroom.

You can see how the Colocasia are reaching to the light. The orchids got the best place for light, right by the window because I love them most : ) Amorphophallus are fine in a darker spot (to the right in the photo) as they are now dormant and being kept completely dry.

I moved a few of the Mediterranean plants out recently (including our tea plants, Camellia sinensis, and perennial busy lizzy, Impatiens tinctoria) and have somehow managed to find them positions with better light.

Whew, it's like doing a rubric cube around here.

Get Together 2nd January

28 December 2010 19:43:26

Orange Blossom

28 December 2010 15:12:43
Orange Blossom

Orange Blossom

This year the majority of my tenders came indoors to the house. I am over-wintering them in my daughter's bedroom as she is now at college.

Unfortunately the room is not well lit and, despite warnings from Martin and Deborah, one of my orange trees suffered badly. All its leaves curled up and have now dropped. However, when I saw what was happening I immediately moved both orange trees into better light and the damaged one is now showing signs of recovery.

The second orange tree is doing beautifully, displaying sprays of orange blossom at the minute. I adore the scent of orange blossom and the funny little miniature fruits that the tree produces.

Another mystery : both trees were in the same position in the ill lit room yet one has suffered badly and the other is doing well. I guess the damaged one must have been struggling to start with.

House Plants

28 December 2010 12:57:54
Cymbidium 28.12.12

Cymbidium 28.12.12

Many accomplished gardeners have no time for house plants.

I find this really hard to understand.

What on earth do they find to keep themselves going through the long winter months?

Today I made the joyful discovery that the Christmas cactus I inherited from my mother finally has some flower buds. Only three, mind, but I am so delighted as the plant has had a hard road to recovery.

And yesterday, joy of joys, one of my Cattleya orchids has sent up a flower spike. A goodly number of my orchids are doing this. It takes a long time from the beginnings of spikes to actual flowers. But what else would you looking forward to in the depths of winter?

Blue Star

28 December 2010 12:50:57
Hyacinth orientalis 'Blue Star'

Hyacinth orientalis 'Blue Star'

My hyacinths are late this year.

It is surprising really, considering that this is the first year I have actually bough prepared hyacinths. Perhaps the variety I bought this year is later flowering. Or perhaps it has just been too darn cold, even indoors.

However, we do finally have 'lift off' for the the two bulbs my youngest boys put in glasses. My eldest son's identical bulb, also in a glass but of a different shape, is not through yet. Can the glass shape affect flowering!?!

Gardening is full of mysteries.


27 December 2010 14:23:07
Crocus speciosus

Crocus speciosus

A light rain is falling outside today and all the snow is gone. Living in Ireland, I never thought I would be so delighted to see rain.

Time for a few little jobs.

I went out to the greenhouse and watered all my poor parched plants. They need to be kept on the dry side in times of extreme cold so I had been afraid to water them for some time now. I also unwrapped them and opened up boxes etc, leaving the louvre windows in the greenhouse open for a few hours.

Then it was time for a quick survey of the garden. Quick - because it was still raining and because I was still in my night clothes (yes, I am quite mad).

Of course it all looks a bit yucky out there but the green of the grass is sooooo welcome. And time for a job that had been annoying me all through the snow. I never got to cut back my Crocosmia last autumn and, all through the frozen snap, I saw it collapsed on top of my box hedge and transformed into some kind of mad, giant snowball. Once I ventured out to knock the snow off the box hedge but I wasn't clever like Fran and didn't bring a sweeping brush. By the time I was half way round the circular hedge my hands felt like they were being pierced by knives from the cold of the snow so I abandoned task and shuffled indoors.

Today I pulled up the dead Crocosmia leaves and chucked them on the compost. So satisfying. The box looks okay.

Note to self : when you trim the box next year, make it more rounded. Like Martin's recently demised box, which had such a seductively curvy aspect.

And then, I saw it. Instead of signs of mere survival, I actually saw a sign of new growth. Now, before anyone gets too excited, this is actually an autumn flowering crocus, not a spring flowering one. But, hey, who am I to kick a gift horse in the teeth! A nod is as good as a wink to a blind bat.

Mad Idea

27 December 2010 11:06:42
Mad Idea

Mad Idea

Hey, I just looked at the Johnstown Garden Centre web site. They have a sale on until 2nd January.

I don't know what everyone thinks. I haven't approached Johnstown to see if it is okay. It's short notice and it's a weekday. But... what about having our get-together on Thursday 30th or Friday 31st ?

Are people still off work maybe? Are you all dying to get out of the house after being snowed it? Do you feel Santy might have brought a few extra gardening pressies?

That's Enough Now!

26 December 2010 15:20:53
Odontocidium 'hansueli isler'

Odontocidium 'hansueli isler'

Okay, thanks very much. That's great. Really good. But we have enough snow now, thanks.

Were my words listened to? Because it looks like the big thaw has started here and a soft rain is falling.

Did anyone else notice how many films about 'a thaw' were on over Christmas - The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Ice Age 2...

Another orchid is opening.

Christmas Day

25 December 2010 18:41:15
Cymbidium opening

Cymbidium opening

We're having a wonderful Christmas Day here despite a frosty start at minus 10 degrees. Dreadful temperatures like this have become the norm this winter. Lucky my greenhouse is a toasty minus 7!

Dinner is finished and the boys are watching the Dr Who special. A number of chocolates have met a sticky end and a numbers of beverages have been imbibed!

I have already gotten stuck into Anna Pavord's 'The Curious Gardener' - a compulsive read. I just love everything that woman writes.

Apart from that, gardening-wise, the boys gave me a Heucherella and I have the fabulous 'Trees' book by Hugh Johnson, which I love already and am sure will grow to love even more.I will be buying a lot more trees soon.

Happy Christmas to all.

Christmas Crossword

24 December 2010 14:00:24
Christmas Crossword

Christmas Crossword

For your delectation, my Christmas garden.ie crossword is now online in two formats.

1 This version can be printed and completed with a pen...


2 This version, for the 'printer-ily challenged' can be completed on line...


The above web addresses are not links and need to be copied and pasted to your browser to get to the crossword.

Have fun and Happy Christmas!

Orchids for Chistmas

24 December 2010 13:35:52


It looks like I may have a few orchids open for Christmas.

I took a risk today and moved them to the kitchen, after feeding, so that I can look at them in all their glory on Christmas Day. I keep most unflowering orchids tucked away and only move them into full view when they come into flower.

It is always risky moving orchids when in bud as 'bud drop' may be the undesired result. If you want to move them, it is best to wait until the flowers have actually opened before doing so. But, I can't see myself moving plants around on Christmas Day so it had to be done today, for better or worse.

I know this Cymbidium can't match Deborah's recent purchase but there you go : )

Time For Some Fun!

23 December 2010 13:37:30
Time For Some Fun!

Time For Some Fun!

Here's a bit of fun!

Who has been keeping up with the gossip on garden.ie over the year?

Why not take my Garden.ie Christmas crossword and find how you rate, while testing a bit of plant knowledge?

The crossword is available at the following site (but you will have to copy and paste the link to your browser)...


Sample crossword questions : 

  1. In what season would you plant daffodil bulbs? (6)
  1. Rachel’s favourite flowering plant (6)
  1. What item was pinched from Terra Nova this year? (4)

Here We Go Again

23 December 2010 09:29:21
Veronica gentianoides

Veronica gentianoides

We are snowed in again as of Tuesday. We were lucky that we had the internet connected the day before. It's not so bad this time as we have heating oil and food and everything we need. In fact, we're all set for Christmas. Well nearly...

On Tuesday my daughter decided she needed to pick up some things she left in Dublin by accident. She had to walk the 6 miles into Bunclody where, thankfully, she managed to get a bus. I hope she gets home the same way today.

We are very worried about my son who is in 6th year and needs to finish a DCG project, using an application in school, by early January. The school was closed for a full 2 weeks and it is now shut again since Monday lunch time. They have opened the DCG room today, despite the school being closed, for students to work on their project. My hubby is trying to get Zachary to school as I write. If they get in, Zak will probably have to walk home.

But except for these two little problems, we are all set.

The picture shows some seedlings, germinated in autumn. Although congested, I didn't prick them out as this is dangerous going in to winter. They should have been okay in the greenhouse overwinter but when the greenhouse hit -2 I thought better and brought them indoors.

Water, water everywhere but...

22 December 2010 12:12:09
Nepenthes waiting for water

Nepenthes waiting for water

I am reminded of the chant about 'Water, water everywhere. But not a drop to drink' when I consider the needs of my carnivorous plants this winter.

My Sarracenia and Venus fly traps are safely wrapped in the greenhouse, dormant and barely moist. At least, fingers crossed that they're safe!

But my tropical pitchers, Nepenthes, are indoors and in active growth. They need rain water, rather than tap, which is a bit tricky since the water butt is completely frozen solid.

The solution is, every few days, to collect a bowlful of snow, melt it in the microwave and hey presto! Sustenance for tropical pitchers!


22 December 2010 00:29:46
Glenveagh National Park, Donegal

Glenveagh National Park, Donegal


I came across this photo of me in the Glenveagh National Park in Donegal this summer.

So hard to imagine now!

Best Gardening Gift

21 December 2010 19:13:43
exotic plants (web pic)

exotic plants (web pic)

So, what are you all getting for Christmas?

I wonder who is getting the best/most unusual gardening gift for Christmas!

It won't be me but I'd like to hear what you all have on your Santy lists.

For Dick & Others - My Tree Ferns

21 December 2010 17:18:09
For Dick & Others - My Tree Ferns

For Dick & Others - My Tree Ferns

Hi Dick,

I am busy uploading my November and December photos to albums at the moment.

Here is a photo of my poor Dicksonia antartica, taken 2nd December!

Best keep your indoors : )

So Who Has Hyacinths?

21 December 2010 12:09:49
prepared Hyacinths

prepared Hyacinths

Hey, I know what's missing here.

Where are all the Amaryllis and Hyacinth comparison journals?

Doesn't look like my 'prepared Hyacinths' will flower for Christmas!

Witch Craft

21 December 2010 12:04:55
greenhouse candles

greenhouse candles

I am aware that this is bordering on the superstitious, but I have taken to burning two candles in my greenhouse for the last weeks whenever the temperature drops below -1.

My hubby laughs at me but I am reluctant to blow them out now.

We're snowed in again as of this morning. My son, who is in 6th year, has a project to complete for his Leaving Cert so this development is very worrying. If it weren't for that, we would be happy enough.

Back at Last

20 December 2010 20:06:55
a little thaw

a little thaw

The kind gentleman from the new internet company called today and connected us.


I'm back on my favourite site again : )

Now all I need to do is catch up on everything!

Christmas Gardening

15 December 2010 16:00:01
Christmas Gardening

Christmas Gardening

Gosh, it's so long since I've been here. Anyone remember me? I hope to get the internet connected (with a different provider) next Monday so will hopefully be back properly then.

Where do I start? I was busy in the garden until the snow put pay to that. I was debating whether to order manure (for spreading in autumn) or cocoa bark (for spreading in spring) when the weather came and made the decision for me!

We were snowed in for 2 weeks with the schools being closed to boot. We had no heating oil at one point. But that is old hat now.

Once the thaw happened I was itching to get my hands on some seed compost as I had accumulated a number of seeds that need sowing in autumn. But, despite searching everywhere, I couldn't find any. I finally got my hands on a bag and sowed 14 types of seed today. Boy is that a weight off!

Anyway, I hope you are all set for Christmas and have plenty of food in the freezer as it looks like being a bad one. PS - very glad I decided to bring my tenders indoors this winter instead of mucking about trying to overwinter them in the greenhouse.


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