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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal April 2011

Last Post 2491 days 15 hours ago

Shock of my Life

30 April 2011 20:51:47
Strelitzia reginae

Strelitzia reginae

I lifted my bird of paradise out of its pot today to bring it to the greenhouse and got the shock of my life.

There was a fat, giant, white snake under it!!!

Bloomin heck!

I only repotted the thing last at the end of January.

This plant is now officially 'the beast'!

The Boys Are Back in Town 2

30 April 2011 20:27:19


The boys seem to mean business this year as they have completely skipped the flowering stage and have decided to go straight into producing pitchers for catching insects.

It's a shame as Sarracenia flowers are very pretty. The plants produce flowers, before pitchers, to allow bees to pollinate them unhindered.

They don't look much now but wait until these pitchers attain their final height and colour up properly. I think they are fabulous.

The Boys Are Back in Town

30 April 2011 20:22:38
bog planter

bog planter

I brought all my carnivorous Sarracenia out of the greenhouse today and re-planted them in the bog garden. I have a tall planter, used as a bog, for them in the West Garden.

The boys have come through winter quite well in the cold greenhouse, with only one loss - my namesake, the Darlingtonia!

And these plants are definitely boys! I'm not fooled by conventions of giving them names such as Rebecca and Judith.

And a few more

30 April 2011 20:16:51
Brassia 'Big Spider'

Brassia 'Big Spider'


I wonder if I have too many orchids?

It's a rhetorical question. Don't answer that :)


And a few more

30 April 2011 20:15:31
Beallara 'Euro Star'

Beallara 'Euro Star'



Fed Orchids

30 April 2011 20:13:17



I fed a few orchids...

Castor Oil Plant

30 April 2011 20:08:50
Ricinus communis 'Zanzibariensis'

Ricinus communis 'Zanzibariensis'


Today I potted on my castor oil plants.


29 April 2011 23:12:18
Euphorbia ?

Euphorbia ?

I need more Euphorbias in my life!

This is my considered opinion after seeing the way Euphorbia lathyris danced around Deborah and Martin's garden at Terra Nova. Euphorbia is such a good plant, with its fresh green foliage in spring. It reminds me of a salad - so healthy and full of goodness, you just want to gobble it up!

I seem to have lost Euphorbia 'White Swan', which looked so lovely last autumn, and also Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost', the gimmicky one which a lot of us bought at Bloom last year. Mellifera, that I got at Terra Nova last year, is hanging in there.

So, the only fully, healthy, surviving Euphorbia in my garden is this tiny chap. I bought him at June Blake's last year but she couldn't give me a name for him. Can anyone help? It is quite a small plant.

I did a good bit of mulching today and a little planting. Nearly finished the West Garden. Hubby bought me an additional 300 small square pots and a box of 1000 labels. I wonder how long it will take me to use the labels up.

Aroid Alert

29 April 2011 10:34:15
Arum elongatum 'Crimea'

Arum elongatum 'Crimea'

Following weeks of careful 'aroid watching' in our garden, poor Josh was still asleep when Sammy discovered the first aroid in flower.

Sam's prize was a shiny €2 coin. But maybe Josh should be allowed 'discover' it for himself too as he put all the work in.

This is an aroid, not an Arisaema. I love it.

Potting & Hardening

28 April 2011 22:47:06
some of this year's seedlings

some of this year's seedlings

Whew, what a day! I started early, potting on before breakfast and was just getting into my stride about midday.

Hubby came out and laid a strip of weed-suppressing membrane on the south side of the glasshouse, where I usually put my plants for hardening. We didn't kill the grass first but, hopefully, the membrane will do the job. My pots of plants usually kill it before long anyway.

After a full day potting on, the membrane strip was filled with little plants. I should be able to fill those nasty winter gaps before long!

The plants are staying put so I'll need to keep an eye on the forecast for frost. Do let me know if you hear of any coming our way!

Love Hearts

27 April 2011 23:51:56
Dicentra of some sort

Dicentra of some sort

My youngest, Sammy, was delighted with this plant.

"It's covered in love hearts", he pointed out. And dead right he is too.

If anyone has a name for this Dicentra, I would be glad to have it.It might be Dicentra spectabilis.

I have managed to kill a number of nice Dicentra over the years so it's good to see this one doing well.


27 April 2011 23:39:25
Angelica 'Corinne Tremaine'

Angelica 'Corinne Tremaine'

I have had a long and mottled history trying to grow Angelica.

I bought seed but it failed to germinated for me so I gave up and got two plant in Terra Nova when I visited last June.

The winter seems to have killed the purple one but doesn't this surviving one look great? It seems to have fairly sprung up the last few weeks.

The trick to growing Angelica from seed is to get fresh seed and sow in autumn. I did this last year and will have many Angelica plants to my credit this year.

Weeding etc

26 April 2011 21:00:55
West Garden

West Garden

I did a good day's gardening work today, weeding, planting, watering and mulching in the West Garden.

It looks like I've lost a large area of Monarda over winter but that will be a good place for a mass planting of the seedlings I have coming on.

I was delighted this morning to see that my Roscoea seeds had germinated. Just as well since these are 'Sammy's seedlings'. Josh chose Francoa as his seeds for this year so Sam wanted to rhyme with him and chose Roscoea. The Francoa is up ages and already potted on so I was fearing the worst for Sammy's choice.

I planted out three of the peonies I bought from the Lithuanian site earlier this year.  I wanted white ones for the West Garden but couldn't remember what colour the different ones were from their Russian names. I was too lazy to go check it out indoors. So I selected three on the basis of their leaf texture and planted them out. Only afterwards did I discover that I had chosen two reds and one pink, which is really quite amazing since the majority of the peonies are white. Sods law!

Anyway, I think I've getting there finally. Thank goodness. There are some new photos in my album but I have made so many new photo albums this April that you will have to go up a few to find my 'April 2011' album.

Camassia Again

26 April 2011 20:42:43
Camassia leichtlinii 'Coerulea'

Camassia leichtlinii 'Coerulea'


I just think the Camassia is really lovely.

Who Does This Remind Me Of?

26 April 2011 19:47:52
Who Does This Remind Me Of?

Who Does This Remind Me Of?

Another of my rhodos has come into flower.

Look at this shocking pink arrangement.

It reminds me of someone.

I wonder who?


26 April 2011 01:05:59


It was a pleasantly cool day so I thought I would sort out the West Garden for once and for all. There is a lot of May flowering stuff there and it would be too dreadful to have to view that through uncleared debris. But I didn't get finished as my back started complaining. I did notice my Chatham Island Forget-Me-Not coming back from the dead - so that's great news.

The photo shows my last remaining broom. It is in full flower but, unfortunately, is lying down on the job. I lost one last winter and large pieces of this one. Two days ago, with the little boys' help, I tried to prop it up. They held it up while I attempted to tie four linked tree-ties around the trunks to pull them together. As you can see from the photo, it didn't work out. Ah well, it's still pretty but this will be it's last year.

Easter Walks

25 April 2011 01:01:45
Sequoiadendron giganteum 'Wellingtonia'

Sequoiadendron giganteum 'Wellingtonia'

It's been mad busy here with Easter, my son turning 18 and stuff. We took a nice walk yesterday and then today, after the Easter Egg Hunt, we all went for a walk around Altamont Gardens.

The bluebells are in flower at the moment and looked wonderful down in the wooded areas. I did my best to capture it in the photos but it was very hard.

There were some beautiful rhodos in flower too and afterwards I treated myself to one in the nursery. It is Rhododendron 'Virginia Richards' and it's a real cracker, covered in blooms and with extra large flowers like the 'Loderi' series. It is from the wardii group of Rhododendrons and I am pleased to add it to the nice plants I got recently from Terra Nova.

Happy Easter to everyone.

Terra Nova

23 April 2011 21:25:05
Arisaema griffithii

Arisaema griffithii

Yesterday started early for me as I woke up at 6:30, unable to sleep. Normally I could sleep for Ireland so that was unusual. Clare said she had the same experience. I think it had to do with the sense of 'school tour' that was in the air :)

I met up with Clare at Fran's house and we set off for Terra Nova. But there was time for a quick glance at Fran's garden, including the new area. It is looking great, full of lush growth and promise for the season ahead.

The drive to Terra Nova was long but, once there we met up with Jacinta, Steve and Bruno (who magically appeared at the same moment as everyone else.

Terra Nova was as I remembered it. Tropical, lush, exotic, tasteful with touches of gaudy and a total headache in terms of plant identification! I thought I was good at plant names but, once again, I am defeated by Terra Nova, as my photo album bears witness :(

I loved the day and Martin and Deborah were the charming host and hostess - hostess with the mostest! Martin cut a dashing figure in his gleaming white jumper, although his true gardening credentials became obvious later when soil got smeared down his front :)

The day was a joy but passed only too quickly. Thank you so much, Deborah and Martin. And thank you, Fran, for driving me and, Clare, for the lively conversation and, Bruno, for the Latin names and, Jacinta, for pointing out stuff I'd missed and Maria and Steve for being towers of indulgence and good humour.

Lair of the Giant Spider

21 April 2011 19:17:13
Lair of the Giant Spider

Lair of the Giant Spider

I recently posted a journal called 'Big Spider'.

Well I think I found his lair!

Looks a bit scary, huh?

But seriously, I moved the Lidl staging out to the glasshouse today and rigged the fleece around it. All my seedlings came up off the glasshouse floor and onto the staging. It is wonderful to have room again and not be afraid of breaking something my accident.

Rhodo ID?

21 April 2011 19:11:52
Rhodo ID?

Rhodo ID?

Hi, can anyone id this Rhododendron for me please?

Having seen Ladygardener's journal and noted that Cunningham's White is just coming into flower now, I think mine might actually be Cunningham's White.

It was bought as a large plant with no label that was going cheap and this is the first year it has flowered for me :)


21 April 2011 01:02:38


I suspect it's going to be a bumper year for apples.

Certainly all my apple trees are looking absolutely fabulous this year, the trees covered in blossom.


21 April 2011 01:01:09



Here comes the Camassia.

A Boy or A Girl?

20 April 2011 23:41:34


This is the second orchid I bought in the Keukenhof.

I have wanted a paph for some time. In fact I do have two small ones that are a couple of years off flowering but when I saw this one it was love at first sight. And a steal at €15!

I am sure it is a 'he' but hubby seems to thing my paph is a 'she'. What do you think?

He has a gloriously hairy neck. Do you want to see it?

Big Spider

20 April 2011 23:26:52
Brassia 'Big Spider' & Beallara 'Euro Star'

Brassia 'Big Spider' & Beallara 'Euro Star'

Just for Liga - here is the first of the orchids I bought.

I've had my mind set on a Brassia for some time.

This one had no name on it and was marked as Cambria but it is clearly a Brassia.

I think it is Brassia 'Big Spider' as in photo number 50 of my Keukenhof orchid album.

Fun & Games

20 April 2011 09:58:11
Fun & Games

Fun & Games

Home again and I have some catching up to do in th garden.

But, there was still time for a game of croquet yesterday evening. Our croquet pitch has had to move since last summer as I have planted more trees but we found a spot right down to the front of the garden.

A pity all the rhubarb tart, made two days before from home grown fruit, was gone. But there will be more.

I was told that I was not contributing fully to the game though as, when it was not my go, I was busy pulling up grass by hand from the edge of the borders. Can you see the little pile of it in the photo?

Favourite Tulip Display

20 April 2011 09:32:48
Favourite Tulip Display

Favourite Tulip Display

This was my favourite tulip display in the Keukenhof.

We discovered this quite late in the day in a section where tulips and Hyacinths were planted with Anemone blanda.

I think it is just beautiful and adore the way the blue Anemone is used to pick out the bluish tints in the tulip. I would never have noticed the tulip's bluish tints before.

The tulip is the parrot one 'Blumex Favourite' and it is underplanted with Anemone blanda 'Blue Shades' (whether that's a cultivar name or just a description, I'm not sure).

I wonder how hard, and how costly, this would be to emulate?

2nd Favourite Tulip Display

19 April 2011 23:03:27
2nd Favourite Tulip Display

2nd Favourite Tulip Display

This was really hard to judge. Some internal yearning in me wanted this display to win. I adore the red/orange colours and this display spoke to me! It speaks of exuberance and richness and lavishness. I adored it with every fibre of my being.

It was interesting to note how the straight lines worked best with mass tulip plantings. I saw many displays, which haven't made it to my album, where patterns of curvy lines were used. Rectangles or squares of a single colour worked best. By coincidence, this mirrored the way they grow tulips in the fields (see photos).

This gorgeous display, overhung by a magnificent flowering cherry tree, included my favourite tulip of all time, a triumph one, called 'Princes Irene'. It also included the one that Fran, in his rashness, rejected, 'Blumex Favouite'. It featured a second parrot tulip called 'Red Princess'.

I would love to replicate this fabulous display in my own garden but, hey, I can't even get my wallflowers to bloom at the same time as my Darwin hybrids!

3rd Favourite Tulip Display

19 April 2011 15:49:06
3rd Favourite Tulip Display

3rd Favourite Tulip Display

This is my third favourite of the tulip displays I saw in The Keukenhof, Amsterdam yesterday.

I love the sunny colours of the yellow and orange Fosteriana tulips. The ones used are from the 'Emperor' series - 'Yellow Emperor' and 'Orange Emperor'.

The shrub in the background is Kerria japonica.

I may try to replicate this one at home because Fosteriana tulips tend to come back.

Back from Keukenhof

19 April 2011 15:43:41
Back from Keukenhof

Back from Keukenhof

I got back from Holland last night and arrived home very late. Both myself and Kristina were completely exhausted but exuberant. I am totally and utterly overwhelmed, suffering from sensory overload! It will take me at least a year to process what I saw in Keukenhof yesterday.

The gardens were extensive and mature, with plenty of big trees, lakes and canals. There were some really fine examples of pleaching, espalier and clipped conifers and some touristy additions too - like a windmill, ornamental boats on the canals and fountains. But the main thing was the tulips.

The displays were completely breathtaking in their extensiveness and manicuredness. They had a certain polished charm about them that only the Dutch can do. Within ten minutes I had stopped trying to record names and within half an hour the brain had stopped processing. But it got a second wind later!

As if all that weren't enough, there was a sprinkling of small show gardens and three indoor pavilions with displays of shrubs, woodland plants, daffodils, tulips and, wait for it, orchids.

The orchid display was amazing. It knocked the socks off the Dublin Botanic Garden's Fair. At this stage poor Kristina decided that she had had enough of the orchids and went outside to sit down, where she promptly got sun burnt, while I did the rounds and even bought two amazing orchids to bring home.

I took millions of photos and am putting the best up in three albums soon - Keukenhof outdoors, Keukenhof indoor displays & Keukenhof orchids. Although I have only put up the best photos, there are lots. So three journals will follow with my three favourite tulips displays, for those who haven't the time to wade through photos.

Thanks to Kristina for being such a great companion and for the original idea to go. I hope the sunburn isn't serious and that your poor feet are in a bucket of cold water now, like mine.

Bamboo & Seedlings

17 April 2011 20:57:02
Apricot Impression & wallflowers

Apricot Impression & wallflowers

After my time at Jimi Blake's yesterday, the first thing I did today was move all my seedlings out to the glasshouse. The difference between Jimi's sturdy seedlings and my whimpy ones had been startling. I rigged up fleece to shield my vulnerable seedlings from the sun.  I also moved all shade-loving seedlings from the glass house to outside, under the permanent dappled shade of a large cherry tree. I sprinkled some slug pellets though, to be on the safe side.

Two great tips from yesterday's session:

1) When digging up hellebore seedlings for potting up, always mix actually earth with your compost. Otherwise you are likely to loose them.

2) Seedlings which will develop into bulbs eventually, need feeding. Use a diluted liquid feed every two weeks on the likes of lily seedlings (presumably Arisaema too).

The bamboo got split today too. My Phyllostachys aurea aureocallis had started to run (slowly) up Babies' Hill. Hubby dug up the strays and we planted them elsewhere. Hurray - instant height! I hope they take. A bare root birch also got planted (I know - shameful at this late stage)! And hubby sowed a whack of vegetable seeds in the raised beds. He wants to use a sheet, from my spreadsheet, to record what he's sown, if you wouldn't mind!

It was a glorious day here and the garden looked great after yesterday's cut. Hopefully hubby will mow the edges tomorrow when I'm in Amsterdam. Doesn't that sound really jet-setting!?! : ) I have also left the boys a gardening task. They're all on holiday so they are going to sow sunflower seeds in little pots for me.

So, that's me done. I'm going for a shower now and bed. I have an early start tomorrow as I have to leave the house at 2:00am. Night, night, all.

June Blake's

16 April 2011 21:03:25
Podophyllum 'Spotty Dotty'

Podophyllum 'Spotty Dotty'

We visited June's garden today too.What a treat.

June talked about how she believes in the value of framing her planting. This became so evident from a brief walk through her garden.

Near the entrance an ancient and enormous larch tree provides a vertical and horizontal, etching the top and side of a virtual photo frame. The larch frame leads the eye through to the garden, where it rests on June's serpentine box hedging, interspersed with red lily flowered tulips.

In other places, edgings of cobbles and other stone work did a similar job. Even from June's newly built private courtyard garden, the view to the larger garden is carefully controlled and framed by a hornbeam hedge.

June may be a control freak but she is definitely one whose touch turns things to gold. I couldn't help wondering if she had worked her magic on the new Primula 'June Blake' which danced through both June and Jimi's gardens, as vibrant and zingy as polished gold.

Photos will follow.

Jimi Blake's

16 April 2011 20:44:15
Mecanopsis nepaulensis & Chrysosplenium davidianum

Mecanopsis nepaulensis & Chrysosplenium davidianum

I'm back from a day at Jimi Blake's.

Wow, is his garden looking good! Pulmonaria, hellebore, daffodils, primulas, erythroniums and anemones are all looking particularly good and copious at the moment.

The new bed is planted up and there are stately rhododendron along the walk up from the new car park.

A photo album will follow. 

Decay of the Angel

15 April 2011 23:23:29
Decay of the Angel

Decay of the Angel

I weeded, I mulched and then I rested.

Not a very interesting day really.

Part of the weeding was to clear out the pond. Yuck. Lets just say that my water lilies have escaped!

I love the way 'Purissima' tulips go over. These tulips reminded me of a book I read, many years ago.



14 April 2011 19:03:58
Dracunculus vulgaris & Azalea

Dracunculus vulgaris & Azalea

I'm feeling really annoyed with myself at the moment. I'm sick of looking at bales of mulch that I haven't gotten around to spreading. I have no excuse. What have I been doing with my time? I am going to Holland on Monday and when I booked it back in December I remember thinking how the garden would all be sorted by then! I was so wrong.

I went out and mulched two beds today but was driven indoors by the rain. Mulching is one job you can't do in the rain as the cocoa starts to stick.

One problem is that I need to plant before I mulch any bed and that takes time. 

I cleared another bed, ready for mulch too and finally pruned my Buddleia.  I can't believe I left it so late this year! To compensate for the late cut, I only reduced the Buddleia to about 3ft this year so that I will get some decent height.

There they go

14 April 2011 18:49:26
Tulips fosteriana 'Purissima'

Tulips fosteriana 'Purissima'

Today's rain has knocked my fosteriana tulips for six.

They are on the way out for another year.

Bye bye.

Tricky Customer

13 April 2011 18:59:21
Laeliocattleya 'Coastal Sunrise'

Laeliocattleya 'Coastal Sunrise'

I have been putting off repotting this orchid for some time.

The problem was the roots that had climbed over the edge of the pot and down the outside.

As you all know, when repotting an orchid, any exposed roots must remain exposed and any covered ones must remain covered. 

I couldn't think how to repot it and leave the overhanging roots exposed because bending them upwards would snap them off. 

I finally tackled the problem today, the only way I could see fit. I repotted, placing the plant right up against the side of the new pot so that the roots could hang down. Lucky the hanging roots were only on one side. I had to cut the original pot away, the poor thing was so completely pot bound.


13 April 2011 16:32:55


Only five short days now until myself and Kristina fly to Amsterdam for the annual tulip festival at the Keukenhof.

We will fly in and out the same day and will take in everything.

The excitement is mounting now (for me anyhow) :)

Primula auricula

13 April 2011 09:52:15
Liga's Primula auricula

Liga's Primula auricula

I love these little primulas I got from Liga.

I know where I am going to plant them too.

But it will be a while before I get around to the additional planting that needs to go into my spring bed.

In the meantime I am enjoying them in the glasshouse while the garden enjoys the glorious rain.

Buxus sempervirens

12 April 2011 23:24:51
Buxus sempervirens

Buxus sempervirens

I got very little done today besides feeding my warm orchids.

I finished off the box job, repotting the Buxus sempervirens with fresh mix and chicken pellets.

I am sure they will green up soon.

A few more pictures in the album.

Aeonium 'Velour'

12 April 2011 20:56:47
Aeonium 'Velour'

Aeonium 'Velour'

Check out how this Aeonium has taken off since going out to the glasshouse.

It might be a bit of a monster!

The photo was taken through the glass from outside the glasshouse, hence the dullness.

Wild Flowers

12 April 2011 17:42:29
What is it?

What is it?

Is anyone any good with native flora or wild flowers.

I found this miniature flower in my lawn today. It is really tiny but quite beautiful.

It looks almost like a violet. Any thoughts?


12 April 2011 00:09:34
Rhododendron 'Gill's Goliath', Botanic Gardens

Rhododendron 'Gill's Goliath', Botanic Gardens

Everything is doing so well in the glasshouse, with this good weather, that I started moving more trays of seedlings out to it today. The difference in growth is amazing.

A bit windy today but not bad weather. I decided to tackle my box balls. I am ashamed to say that they have gone yellow through lack of feeding. I have 6 large balls, 2pyramids and14 small balls, all in pots. I bought all the large ones at a nursery closing down sale and got good value.

As I wasn't transferring the box to larger pots, I took them out, rubbed off excess compost and repotted adding fresh compost, mixed with chicken pellets. I also gave them a hair cut. I didn't finish so will have to resume tomorrow.

The photo is from the Botanic Garden's yesterday. I have just finished uploading my photos of the Botanic Gardens. There are lots of Rhododendron and woodland plants featured so take a look if you like.

What Is It?

11 April 2011 19:36:39


My husband came home with this on Saturday, wanting to know what it was.

Apparently it was a large flowering bush.

I think it might be Staphylea.

Any thoughts?

For Liga (peony)

11 April 2011 14:17:35
Paeonia veitchii

Paeonia veitchii

When I last visited the Botanic Gardens on 19th March, I was particularly taken with a very early flowering peony that was just opening then.

In the interim, myself and Liga (who was also smitten) have managed to obtain seeds for this peony.

Yesterday, when at the Botanic Gardens again, I went back to see what the peony looked like in full bloom. Pretty good, eh, Liga?

Orchid Fair

11 April 2011 00:05:19
Beallara 'Euro Star'

Beallara 'Euro Star'

I visited the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin today as the annual Orchid Fair was taking place.

We headed up late, bringing a guest who is staying with us, and arrived just in time for the 2:30 orchid lecture. My husband and his friend were not interested in orchids or the gardens so retired to write poetry!

After the lecture, I saw the orchid display and joined the guided tour of the orchid house (an orchid album will follow tomorrow).  But, actually, the best bit was going around the gardens, taking in the newly flowering plants and comparing them to a few short weeks ago. Spring is racing in and it's a joy to watch.

I treated myself too. Last year I decided to treat myself to a flowering orchid and it was a toss up between a Brassia and Laeliocattleya 'Coastal Sunrise'. I bought the Leeliocattleya. This year it was a toss up between a Brassia (again) and a Beallara. I bought the Beallara. I guess I will buy a Brassia in the end : )

Beallara is a complex generic mix of Brassia, Cochioda, Miltonia and Odontoglossum and it likes cool to intermediate conditions so that's good for me. He's a handsome divil though, isn't he?

Aubrieta & Geranium

09 April 2011 18:45:05
Amalanchier canadensis

Amalanchier canadensis

I am very pleased with what I got done today although I did not take a photo so you'll have to do with one from yesterday!

I started off by deadheading the daffs and widening the circle around my summer flowering Magnolia. I saw that the grass had sneaked in too close to the tree.

I decided to try out something I'd seen in Mount Congreve two days ago. Several clumps of Aubrieta in my garden are not doing well for me. They look pitiful and have moss growing through them. I'm not quite sure why as the ground is dry. Anyway, I dug up three of these clumps and planted then in a stony cliff wall that I have and can do nothing with. We'll see how they do.

Then I fed the beech hedge along the drive with chicken pellets and a good drink. While the hose was running I turned my attentions to an enormous clump of geranium I had dug up yesterday.  I decided that, as it spreads easily and is tough as old boots, I'd plant it on the slope of the mini-ditch on one side of my garden, beneath the Hypericum hidcote hedge (which is looking woeful, by the way).

But before planting the geranium I had to weed this ditch. Normally I don't weed it and, as it's mostly covered in grass, I just trim it with the sheers once or twice a year. But today I weeded a large section of it (about 50ft long and 2-3 ft tall) and planted a load of the geranium. It is being watered in as I type and I will be very pleased if it takes and solves one of my gardening problems.

I noticed a Trillium and Peltoboykinia were up, on my garden travels :)

Lobelia 'Tupa' & Arisaema

09 April 2011 00:05:50
Prunus cerasus 'Morello'

Prunus cerasus 'Morello'

It seems unkind to put up a happy journal when poor Deborah is having palpitations. But actually, we know the tulip week will be a resounding success even if she doesn't.

I just remembered, however, two bits of really good news in my garden today.

I was mulching and I think I spotted two plants of my Lobelia 'Tupa' coming back. I grew them from seed last year but the plants were still only small as winter set in. I mulched them well with ash and bark but it was such a dreadful winter that I didn't hold out any hope for their survival. Fingers crossed!

And the second bit of great news is that the Arisaema speciosum that I grew from seed last year has also come back (well, one pot of it so far). Of course it won't flower this year but this could mean I'm on track to having a garden full of Arisaema in a mere three years.

Common or Garden

08 April 2011 21:55:00
Magnolia soulangiana 'Superba'

Magnolia soulangiana 'Superba'

I noticed that my Magnolia is now showed sufficient open blooms to be classified as 'in flower'.

After spending yesterday looking at the crème de la crème of Magnolias in Mount Congreve, I came home feeling that my soulangeana was very unsophisticated.

But today, with the sunshine and a backdrop of snowy mespil, although only a common or garden Magnolia, I must admit that my soulangeana does look quite fine.

And my second Magnolia soulangeana has also erupted in full flower. For that smaller tree, 'full flower' is only one bloom again this year. But it's a good one.

More photos in my album, as usual.

Where are my wallflowers?

08 April 2011 21:43:51
Apricot Impression

Apricot Impression

Today my darwin hybrid tulips burst into full flower.

They look great.

Only one problem.

Where are the wallflowers I sowed as a companion plant?

The wallflowers are there and in bud but they are behind the tulips.

I hope they catch up because this was not the plan : (

Garnet Avalanche

07 April 2011 22:14:04
a Cemellia hedge to die for

a Cemellia hedge to die for

As my companions have already mentioned in their journals, this morning I visited Mount Congreve Gardens in Waterford with Linda (LindaB), Paddy and Mary (Gracedieu Lass) and Anne (Ladygardener).

It was perfect weather and we had the perfect guides to the gardens, in the form of Paddy and Mary, for whom Mount Congreve is their local stomping ground. It was just as well we had guides as the gardens are enormous and it would be very easy to get lost.

The Magnolias were spectacular. There were so many different species and cultivars it was hard not to loose the run of oneself completely! My favourite was a smallish tree, with gnarled trunk and goblet shaped flowers. The name on it was Magnolia 'Garnet' and now I'm wondering if that should have been Magnolia 'Pickard's Garnet'.

There were also many sumptuous Rhododendrons and I have added Rhododendron 'Avalanche' to my wish list. Many of the rhodos had trunks with coppery peeling bark, which looked breathtaking with a ground litter of pale rhodo and Magnolia petals underneath.

But the best part of the trip was the banter and the tips. Paddy described how Mount Congeve had propagated their soon-to-be-named Magnolia 'John Congreve' (in my album as Magnolia '? Congreve') using kiddies' hollow plastic balls. And Mary sorted out a Hydrangea pruning problem that has been bugging me, in between sharing philosophies with Anne on unobstructed views.

'Twas a super day, which passed all too quickly. I can't wait for my next visit, when hopefully I will see that alley of peonies in flower! And next time when I visit I would really like to see the Michelia doltsopa in Mount Congreve, apparently the Irish height and girth Champion.

Weeding & Guess What!

06 April 2011 17:33:58
What am I?

What am I?

It was a tad windy today but I managed to do a bit.

I spent a few hours weeding and cutting back in the West Garden. It is lovely to see plants coming back - Cimicifuga, Dalmera, Romneya, Liga's Lychnis arkwrightii 'Orange Dwarf' and even the bronze fennel I thought was well and truly dead.

I kept my eye on a cheeky Anemone all day. As I went out to garden, I noticed it had sent a tall spike up. When I passed by again later, I noticed the flower bud. And on my way indoors that cheeky bud was actually opening to reveal a dark blue flower : )

For fun, I thought I would put up this close up photo of a plant in my garden. I wonder can anyone guess what it is.

My Favourite Colours

06 April 2011 17:19:08
Clivia miniata, Hibiscus & Daffodils

Clivia miniata, Hibiscus & Daffodils

One of my indoor Hibiscus came into flower today.

It did it slyly in the boys' room.

I put it together with the Clivia miniata, which has been in flower for some time, and a vase of double daffodils.

Now that's my idea of a colour combination made in heaven.

Roll on summer.

Annuals Border Saga

06 April 2011 11:24:52
Salvia coccinea 'Lady in Red' & Verbena rigida

Salvia coccinea 'Lady in Red' & Verbena rigida

Mary asked me what I was planting in my Annual border and I started to type a reply that got so long I decided on doing a separate journal. Here's the state of play so far this year.

My Annual Border takes 600 plants.

The front layer was to be Salvia coccinea 'Lady in Red' and Verbena rigida (purple), 100 plants of each. This is a planting idea I nicked from a Great Dixter book and I am on track for fulfilling this part of the plan, with Salvia to spare.

The middle layer of the border was supposed to be Pennisetum villosum. I am having no luck with this at all as I can't get the damned seed to germinate. I have a handful of seedlings from the 200 plants I need. One tray is in the fridge and some are still in the kitchen and one has been on a heat mat but it's doing me no good. However, I refuse to panic! My back up plan is Hordeum jubatim instead for this part of the Annuals Border.

The back layer of the border is supposed to be Amaranthus 'Hopi Red Dye' (200 plants). This was also a fiasco. Chiltern took my order and money and then said they were out of stock for the Amaranthus seed! I eventually got the seed and sowed immediately on 8th March. The germination rate was nearly good enough and the seedlings are doing okay. But they are still dreadfully small.

I think I may have to be a bit creative. Maybe I'll reduce the middle layer of the border to about 100 grass plants and increase the back layer. I could put some tall yellow sunflowers to the back of the border with the Amaranthus (sunflowers always do well for me and would contrast the colour scheme) and maybe some Nicandra physalodes back there too.

Fun and games. I'd better go sow some more Hordeum jubatum and Nicandra! : D

Lady in Red

05 April 2011 16:52:42
Salvia coccinea 'Lady in Red'

Salvia coccinea 'Lady in Red'

Today was potting-on day for the 100 Salvia 'Lady in Red' seedlings that I have grown for my Annual Border. Salvia coccinea 'Lady in Red' will constitute 1/6 of the plants in the Annual Border.

The Salvia has grown really well and I have nice sturdy little plants now but they did take an awful long time to pot on. Once done, I put the Salvia out in the glasshouse as that was the only practical option. Potted on and turfed into the glasshouse all in the one day - not ideal but they'll be grand! I now have four whole seed trays to re-use. Joy : )

I also potted on some Verbascum, Angelica, Mina lobata and Peppadew (a type of sweet picanté capsicum from South Africa).

Consider the Lilies

04 April 2011 22:59:47
seedlings in the kitchen

seedlings in the kitchen

I nearly got nothing done today. Except of course for having a nice relaxing morning with Linda.

But then at the last minute I decided to pot up the lilies I'd bought earlier in Aldi. They have been sitting around for much too long.

So out I went and potted up 22 bulbs in three large pots and one medium. I used the big glazed pots that I usually do nothing with and just left them outside. There was no point clogging up the glasshouse with them. After the lilies come up I will transfer them to the garden.

I still have 14 lilies to deal with another day.

Linda's Visit

04 April 2011 13:35:56
Where did that come from?

Where did that come from?

Linda popped over for a cup of tea this morning.

It was wet and windy and not nice at all.

We did have a quick jaunt around the garden but mostly stayed indoors chatting. 

I was flabbergasted to discover this little plant in flower. I believe it's a forget-me-not but I've never had one nor been given one so it's a complete mystery as to where it came from. It is near to the Yucca that Dick gave me so maybe some seed came with it as an extra present.

I will be needing help naming a plant that is coming into flower soon. It is one Linda gave me and is doing really well but Linda doesn't know the name either. Sally's Doronicum is nearly in flower too : )

Thanks for dropping over Linda and see you on Thursday for Mount Congreve.

Slicing Tulips

03 April 2011 20:50:44
Fritellaria imperialis 'Sulpherino'

Fritellaria imperialis 'Sulpherino'

A great lot of work got done in our garden today in celebration of Mothers' Day.

Hubby dug up a few large things, things that had been weighing on me for a while - a squashed rose and Hydrangea and a Stipa gigantea in the wrong place. I replanted the rose and grass while hubby dealt with the Hydrangea. He is being really helpful the last while : )

I had to lift three parrot tulips, in bud, to plant the grass. It broke my heart. I adore the parrots but only have a few - whatever has survived for the last few years. So the handful that have come through are precious. As sod's law would have it, I even managed to slice through one of the three bulbs when lifting it : (

The rest of my time in the garden was spent laying mulch, with a spot of weeding and Robinia pruning thrown in for good measure.

The light was beautiful today so I took a few photos for the April album.

Tulips 2

03 April 2011 20:34:27
Tulips fosteriana 'Purissima'

Tulips fosteriana 'Purissima'

But... my second lot of tulips are now here. They are the fosteriana types called 'Purissima' and they are white.

The picture shows my 'tulip circle' where I planted a few hundred 'Purissima' tulips in autumn 2009. It is their second flowering year. Lets see how many years they do me!

Last autumn I focused on buying tulips that would come back - kaufmaniana, fosteriana, darwin hybrids.

I adore the parrots and the lily flowered ones but I only get one year out of them as I am not pepared to lift them in summer. So, if I have to pay normal prices for tulips, I will focus on buying ones that will last.


03 April 2011 20:25:53
Tulipa kaufmanniana 'Giuseppe Verdi'

Tulipa kaufmanniana 'Giuseppe Verdi'

My kaufmanniana tulips aren't looking so pristine any more. They won't be around for much longer.

They opened on 21st March so that means I've gotten 13+ days out of them.

My early daffodils, 'Rijnveld's Easly Sensation' are finished. I dead headed them yesterday.

The first one opened on 20th February so I got 41 days in total out of them, which isn't bad.


A Bound Boggart

02 April 2011 19:51:20
Magnolia stellata

Magnolia stellata

Today, when trying to plant a tree in the garden, we found the cell of a bound boggart. It was an artificially bound boggart, of course, and he was bound with stone. Iron is okay for imprisoning witches but stone is needed for a boggart. The tree had to be sited somewhere else. Here's how it happened...

I have built up a collection of trees the last few months and today, with hubby's muscle, we decided to plant some of them in the garden. The pine, Pinus wallichiana, was no trouble to plant and neither was the Persian ironwood tree, Parrotia persica, but when it came time to dig a hole for my newly acquired Magnolia 'Star Wars', trouble arose.

The position I wanted for the Magnolia was about 4ft away from an existing bed. But plants had never done well in that bed! Was it an omen? Hubby dug down about 1.5 ft down and hit concrete. At first we though it was a buried concrete brick but it soon transpired that whatever-it-was extended sideways. It looked like the roof of an underground bunker so we puzzled for a while and then decided that the only thing it could be was a covering over the pipe leading to the sceptic tank. We were not convinced but it was all we could think of. We abandoned the hole and filled it in.

I chose a new position for the Magnolia, 5ft away from the first and in the opposite direction from the sceptic tank. Hubby dug down for the second time  and - same story! At about 2ft down he met the top of an extensive structure. There was white powder mixed in the soil too, maybe lime. We thought for a very long time as to what this 'thing' could be but only when I realised we were in the east of the garden did the penny drop. It must be the cell of an artificially bound boggart. And, whether a hairy one or a hall-knocker, he is a big one!

We abandoned the second hole, moving about 5ft away (lucky I have a big garden) and dug again. Hubby encountered lots of the white lime-like stuff and then hit stone a third time. We were getting worried now. But, third time lucky! The stone hubby struck was only the usual stone and shale we find in our garden and it was soon removed. We planted the tree but didn't put any of the removed soil back, just in case.

So, when you visit my garden, which you are all very welcome to do, be sure to come during daylight hours. And, no matter what, never ever visit the east of the garden at night on your own ;-)

Wind Moves Operations Indoors

01 April 2011 20:06:45
Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'

Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'

It's a windy old day here in Wexford so I paid a visit to Bill in the morning and had a brief look around his garden (see HeadGardener's journal). It's all looking very well but Bill could do with a tulip or two... ; )

Home again I began to feel a tiny bit envious of Bill's space. Yesterday I had brought all my colocasias down for a shower as they have aphids. The plan had been to pot them on today but, as it was so windy, there was no taking them outside for potting on. So back upstairs they went. 

But I did do a little potting on. Firstly I did the Solanum and Nicandra Bill gave me and then I turned my attention to my Francoa seedlings. Although the seedlings had their second set of leaves, they were still very small. I guess this is due to Francoa being a small plant anyway. The seeds were also sown too close together but I potted them on anyway and will see how they turn out. I do have a back-up pot if these seedlings go pear-shaped, which is just as well as Francoa are my second son's plant-of-the-year.

Growing anything in a pot

01 April 2011 18:31:39
Sam, April 2002

Sam, April 2002


Speaking of being able to grow anything in a pot...

I think this must have been the incident that started his liking for sunflowers!


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