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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal May 2011

Last Post 2460 days 14 hours ago

Work, work, busy, busy, chop, chop, bang, bang

31 May 2011 23:00:08
Dactylorhiza maculata 'Kilmarnock'

Dactylorhiza maculata 'Kilmarnock'

Again, it was a productive day at Douentza.

Hubby lifted all the sods off the garden and dumped them, even raking the recently clipped banks and carting off the cut grass.

I've put up a few more photos, including one of the ex-Tropical Bed that I finished planting yesterday.

I also put up a pic of the 'just weeded' Annual Border.

I can't wait to get all my annuals down and see the greenhouse clear of plants!

What on Earth

31 May 2011 22:29:26
What on Earth

What on Earth

I weeded my Annuals bed today and edged it. I also raked the surface.

The plan was to at least put in the sunflower stakes and plant the sunflowers.

However, I found I only had three stakes left so there were only three sunflowers planted today.

There is a photo in my album. Ignore the grass in the border - that will be moved soon.

But I found this completely unfamiliar seedling while weeding. It looks like some kind of vegetable. Can anyone identify it? Here is what I planted in this bed last year and I'm pretty sure it's not any of these!?!

No.Plants   Genus Species Variety
13   Helianthus annuus Earth Walker
10   Helianthus annuus Claret
72   Helychrysum monstrosum Summer Solstice
21   Coleus blumei Black Dragon
28   Petunia grandiflora Mirage White
6   Petunia x hybrida Strawberry Sundae
3   Ricinus communis Carmencita
41   Schizanthus pinnatus  
32   Zinnia elegans Envy Double
47   Hordeum jubatum  
18   Zinnia elegans Scarlet Flame
26   Callistephus chinensis Siam
48   Callistephus chinensis red
88   Cosmos bipinnatus  
48   Cosmos bipinnatus Rose
24   Cosmos bipinnatus Picotée
7   Orlaya grandiflora  
14   Pennisetum glaucum Purple Majesty
9   Schizanthus pinnatus  


30 May 2011 18:17:44
another iris

another iris

Right, I'm really worried about my husband! He is an unstoppable force in the garden at the moment.

Today, after digging a good stretch of the new beds, he then mowed all the grass edges and shovelled mulch for me. This is after all the back-breaking clipping yesterday! I don't know what he's on but let him not give it up!

I finished planting up the ex-Tropical border, edged it with the half-mooner, watered the bejaysus put of it and mulched. One job finished.

Quick, they're escaping...

30 May 2011 17:50:21
Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'

Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'

As I drove out with the boys this morning to bring them to school, Josh called out in surprise.

He was looking at the two bananas I had put outside the front door to harden. The front door was still open.

'Quick, they're escaping', he said!

Abandon Greenhouse

29 May 2011 23:35:28
lupins as darkness descended

lupins as darkness descended

Well it's almost June so it's high time for everything to go in the ground.

Myself and hubby did a phenomenal amount of planting today. Some more trees/shrubs went into the new borders - lilac, Rhododendron, Viburnum, Miscanthus and Acer griseum. Two Cytisus were planted to obscure the sceptic tank pipes. And the whole of last year's Tropical Border was planted up with perennials - some bought, some raised from seed!

Hubby did fabulous work with the shears too - clipping various grass banks. It is a very hard job. And then he came to help me with the planting up of the large border by digging the holes!

I almost finished the planting, leaving only 7-8 plants undone. I will finish tomorrow.

I took no photos though as it was so late when we finished up. Besides, the place looks like a bomb hit it with sods of earth still lying in piles, grass clippings uncollected and piles of stones I took out of the border. But we're getting there.


28 May 2011 23:16:05


I've started planting the bones of my new area - the trees and big shrubs.

I can tell you, it's been sinful how long some of these poor trees have been in pots.

So far I have planted my Disanthus cercidifolius and Decaisnea fargesii. I can't wait to see the black pods on the Decaisnea!

I also planted two large laurels I got cheaply last autumn. I overwintered them in the greenhouse. Last autumn they seemed like a great bargain as all my laurels had come through winter 2009. However, winter 2010 finished off my large laurel, making me regret the purchase. 

And finally I planted two witch hazels (one yellow, one brown), the large Aucuba and an Acer griseum. I'm hoping to develop this little grouping into an area of spring interest. Well, I didn't actually finish this planting as I encountered a large rock. Hopefully hubby will sort it out tomorrow.

Yesterday Hubby clipped the bank to one side of the garden with the shears.  It's a hell of a job. If I win the Bloom competition, the first thing I'll buy is a strimmer!

To vote for me, if you have a Facebook account, go to this link and click 'like' in the top left hand corner of my garden photo...


Surprise Iris

27 May 2011 17:14:13
Surprise Iris

Surprise Iris

And, what a surprise.

I clean forgot about these irises that Linda gave me last year.

Don't they look great with the Osteospermum?


27 May 2011 17:11:45
Veronica gentianoides

Veronica gentianoides


The Veronica is still looking good.

A great plant and dead easy from seed.

By the way, the same goes for the geums behind them in the photo and the delphiniums and oriental poppies that have just gone into my May album - all dead easy from seed!

People should sow more seeds!

Consider the Lilies

27 May 2011 17:10:36
Lilium martagon

Lilium martagon


But... consider the lilies...


27 May 2011 16:50:32
Digitalis 'Anne Redetzky'

Digitalis 'Anne Redetzky'

I took a tour of the garden today to find that nearly all of the white foxgloves I grew from seed last year, are destroyed. They were the biggest casualty of the wind.

Luckily Deborah gave me a foxglove last year and it must be sturdier than mine because it is looking great, with several spires, and is still standing. I will try collecting seed as it would seem to be a keeper.

Nice Climber

26 May 2011 22:25:55


Here's another nice climber.

I think Fran will recognise this one!

I have two Rhodochiton. 

I grew them from seed last winter but left the majority of them outdoors, where they perished.

Three came indoors and one got knocked over but two are looking good now.


Last Sod

26 May 2011 17:32:10
new area

new area

I got the last of the sods lifted from my new area today.

I even took a few barrowsful of them to the dump.

Although I only worked for an hour and a half my muscles were screaming afterwards so I lay down in bed. Aren't I lucky that I could?

When I got up I went out for a look and I'm very pleased. Essentially I have three beds, with two paths running through them. The central bed is large.

If the wind dies down tomorrow I will plant some trees in this area.

Photos are in my old album 'Rose Garden Make-Over 2009-2011'.


25 May 2011 14:39:16
Anemone 'Wild Swan'

Anemone 'Wild Swan'

I'm really loving the Chelsea coverage, taking plenty of notes on new plants.

While I think I will be giving flowering parsnips and the black Petunia a miss,  I do love Tulipa acuminata, Mecanopsis punicea, Sarracenia 'Johnny Marr', Erythronium 'Hidcote Beauty' and the winner of the Chelsea Plant of the Year, Anemone 'Wild Swan'.

In case anyone is interested and doesn't have it handy, here is the shortlist for the Chelsea Plant of the Year...

Anemone 'Wild Swan' - Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants
Begonia Apricot Fragrant Falls - Class Gardens
Brachyscome 'Magenta Delight' - Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
Heucherella 'Brass Lantern' - Plantagogo.com
Heucherella 'Solar Power' - Plantagogo.com
Hydrangea macrophylla Avantgarde ('Hedi') - Class Gardens
Lewisia 'Little Mango' - D'Arcy & Everest
Lilium 'Firebolt' - HW Hyde
Lilium 'Julie Fowlis' - HW Hyde
Lilium 'Lankon' - HW Hyde
Lobelia erinus Waterfall Blue Ice (Waterfall Series) - Class Gardens
Nepenthes 'Princess' - Borneo Exotics
Petunia Black Velvet ('Balpevac') - Class Gardens
Rhododendron 'Rabatz' - Millais Nurseries
Sarracenia 'Johnny Marr' - Hampshire Carnivorous Plants
Saxifraga 'Anneka Hope' - Kevock Garden Plants
Streptocarpus 'Sioned' - Dibley's Nurseries
Uncinia rubra 'Belinda's Find' - John Woods Nurseries
Verbascum 'Blue Lagoon' - The British Plant Nursery Guide
Phalaenopsis Ming - Hsing Eagle - Taiwan Orchid Association

An Hour & A Half

25 May 2011 14:07:36
a brief break in the wind

a brief break in the wind

An hour and a half is round about my limit for hard manual work.

That's the time I spent on it today in the garden and I removed a lot of sods.

I need another hour to finish the job.

But, as my capacity was reached I scurried indoors to catch the Chelsea coverage instead.

Tombrick with Hosta

25 May 2011 00:46:08
Tombrick with Hosta

Tombrick with Hosta

I am pleased to say I had a visit today from Margaret (Hosta).

After a spell at mine, we took a trip to the Tombrick Garden which is near here.

It was lovely to have someone to natter with as we wandered around the gardens. It was a super day and the scent from Dianthus 'Mrs Sinkins' wafted through the air. Note to self : find seed for next year!

Hosta certainly lived up to her name , proving quite the expert on her namesake herbaceous plant and helping the owner with nomenclature for plants in his garden.

We 'descended' briefly on the plant sales and Margaret's quick eye found the last pot of Japanese Parsley (Crytotaenia japonica atropurpurea). I might have been jealous but the kindly owner went and dug up a seedling for me too from the garden.

A great day.

Today's Iris

24 May 2011 22:34:30
Today's Iris

Today's Iris

I could really get into these tall bearded irises.

Here's another one opened today.

Double Geranium - Help!

24 May 2011 19:51:17
Which Geranium?

Which Geranium?

Can anyone please help with a name for this beautiful double Geranium?

I saw an identical one today at the Tombrick Garden so I asked the name.

Walter Kelly at the garden said he had been told it was Geranium 'Southcombe Double' but he didn't believe it. When I got home I googled 'Southcombe Double' and I don't believe it either.

I would love to get a name for it.


23 May 2011 18:57:28
competition photo

competition photo

Can everyone on facebook please vote for me in the competition as I would like to win loads of plants...


Thank you.


23 May 2011 14:07:34
Zachary's Iris

Zachary's Iris

It's very windy here today.

I've had two trees down so far - a birch from the drive and an apple tree.

It was great fun pushing them back up and staking them in the wind.

I removed a few sods from the new area but then scurried indoors to catch the Chelsea coverage.

It's so wonderful to have so much Chelsea coverage - between lunch time TV, evening time and 'on the red button', I think there is 11 hours lined up for us lucky gardeners this week.

I love that Erythronium 'Hidcote Beauty' that was featured at lunch time but had to laugh at Dermot's flying pink shed :D


Bay Garden

22 May 2011 20:51:05
Thalictrum aquilegifolium & Allium

Thalictrum aquilegifolium & Allium

We took a visit to the Bay Garden this afternoon.

It is looking fabulous and really is at its peak.

The woodland area is my absolute favourite!

If you were planning on a visit this year, I'd suggest getting your ass down there!

The Bay Garden, Camolin is only open Sundays 2-6 pm.

I've put up an album of photos and there are several plants I was unable to identify so I would be grateful for any help. They are the photos with triple question marks under them.


Lobelia Confusion

22 May 2011 00:43:58

Are you all gone to bed?

22 May 2011 00:26:23

Favourite Fern

21 May 2011 14:26:00
Dryopteris filix-mas 'Cristata Martindale'

Dryopteris filix-mas 'Cristata Martindale'

Despite being a fully paid up member of the Fern Society, I must confess a certain ignorance regarding ferns. But I hope to learn more.

This one, that Fran gave me last year, is my favourite.

Mind you, The Japanese Painted Fern and Onoclea sensibilis are right up there too.

We won't mention tree ferns :(


21 May 2011 14:21:58
Digitalis purpurea 'Pam's Split'

Digitalis purpurea 'Pam's Split'

Here come my foxgloves.

This one is called Digitalis purpurea 'Pam's Split'.

I heard about it on last year's Chelsea so had to buy the seed, as you do.

Another Iris

21 May 2011 14:20:03
Iris 'Persian Berry'

Iris 'Persian Berry'

This is another bearded Iris that I bought from Mr Middleton one autumn.

They all had names and they were expensive.

But, unfortunately. I lost the labels :(

Lucky I didn't loose the tubers.

I love irises. They are such works of art!

23 May 2011

I've managed to find names for some of these irises and amended the photo labels.


20 May 2011 17:02:57
Iris 'Jurassic Park'

Iris 'Jurassic Park'

It was a lovely day here today, if a bit breezy.

Three of my five Amorphopallus have sent spikes up so that is good. I would have been upset if they had not emerged.

I must go water the greenhouse as everything is very dry. We had a couple of showers earlier but nothing to write home about. The forecast for tomorrow is rain.

Having missed last week's Gardeners' World, I'm looking forward to it tonight, at the normal time of 8:30.

Speaking of TV, the Chelsea Flower Show is 24-28 May. There should be coverage from 23rd. I must go check.


Gingko biloba

20 May 2011 00:09:21
Gingko biloba

Gingko biloba

We moved the Gingko this spring.

Now we can see it.

Pretty little thing.

It's hard to imagine it will ever get big.

Glad Someone's Having a Sit Down

19 May 2011 21:52:11
Josh & purple rhodos

Josh & purple rhodos

I continued work on the new area today.

I lifted sods and will continue tomorrow. I then placed some of the sods on the new grass path. This second path is new and cuts across two old rose beds so has to have grass placed on the pieces that used to be in the rose bed. Anyway, there are photos on the 'Rose Garden Make-Over 2009-2011' album if anyone is interested.

My son, Josh, had a grand old sit down after school. I think the work exhausted him :D

On A Break

18 May 2011 20:33:21
Camassia leichtlinii 'Alba'

Camassia leichtlinii 'Alba'

I took the day off and didn't do a tap, finding the least excuse to do non-gardening things.

Hubby stepped into the breach and did loads in the ex-rose garden - lifting membrane, shifting bark and digging up the polyanthus roses (a big job I started in early spring but abandoned after only managing to dig two up).

Then he mowed the edges with the new lawn mower.

It's great. I can see the second path now and marked it out with string.

I will get the next load of sods off tomorrow.

Ravensbery, Co Offaly

17 May 2011 22:35:28

The Work Continues

17 May 2011 14:51:52
Limnanthes douglasii

Limnanthes douglasii

I lifted a load of sods off the ex-Rose Garden today, exposing the first path. Hubby carted them to the dump.

If anyone wants to watch progress on this area (ongoing since 2009) then check out my old album, now renamed 'Ex Rose Garden Make-Over 2009-2011' . I put two photos from today in it. But it's a few albums back. There is no point putting these pics on the journal as they can't be made out.

Here We Go

16 May 2011 22:40:48
Roscoea cautleyoides 'Jeffrey Thomas'

Roscoea cautleyoides 'Jeffrey Thomas'

Right, that's enough messing. Time to get down to some real work!

I started on the job I've been putting off.

It's to redraw the borders in the old 'rose garden'. It is the area leading from my second and third arch (if that means anything to anyone).

The most important considerations for me are...

1) To create a straight eye-line through the two arches to a point of interest further down the garden. The eye will run down two grassy paths, flanked by tall planting

2) Lots and lots of height in the the borders beside the paths, obscuring other views over the garden

I made a good start although, as always in the beginning, there is not much to show for it.

I removed the plastic membrane on three of the old borders. I transported the bark chip (from on top of the membrane) to somewhere where it is of more use. I marked the first path with string and cut the sod on one side of it. I removed some sod but then got tired so went off to do weeding. But I'll be back!

Jimi Blake's 'Plant Person Course'

15 May 2011 16:06:24


Yesterday I was at Jimi Blake's 'Plant Person Course'. I would just like to say again what an absolutely brilliant course it is. It is for the self-taught, like me, and the RHS qualified, like many others on the course. It is just brilliant and I am not looking forward to next year when I can't go there once a month any more :(

Yesterday we spent the morning at Huntingbrook. The aralias are leafing up and beginning to look great. Rodgersia podophylla is looking fab with swathes of Primula 'Miller's Crimson' but the pièce de résistance was Jimi's placing of Arisaema nepenthoides with Euphorbia 'Fern Cottage'! Our Deborah Begley was mentioned as 'the person' for buying arisaemas from.

In the afternoon we went to Kilmacurragh - the other Botanic Garden - and listened to a packed talk by Seamus O'Brien.

I am not interested in meadows but, before long, I was enthralled by tales of using the semi-parasitic yellow rattle to weaken the grass, in preparation for a more diverse culture. He talked about so much - from the Cromwellian origins of the house to the Robinsonian style of planting and it was all interesting.

I loved the Broadwalk, built in the 1800's to be wide enough for two ladies, in full dress, to walk side by side. Yesterday it was carpeted by rhodo blossom. I marvelled at the single Cryptomeria tree that is as wide as a forest and the Athrotaxus that lives much longer than redwoods. We saw enormous lime trees in rows, clipped into neat Tillia hedging for 150 years but then allowed to do their own thing. I even saw Camellia sinensis, the tea plant, growing outdoors and some Primulas which germinated after 70-80 years when the earth was churned and their seed awakened. And I can't even remember the half of what I was told.

Anyway, it was a great day and I have uploaded two albums of photos. Check out the amazing Rhododendrom vaseyi but shooting right up to the top of my 'wish list' is Podophyllum pleianthum!

Lawn Mower RIP

13 May 2011 19:57:09
more irises

more irises

Our lawn mower died yesterday.

I'm not talking about the ride-on needed to cut the lawn. I'm talking about the petrol mower needed to cut the strip between where the ride-on reaches and the flower beds.

It was 10 years old and, although kept in the shed, the metal just rusted and gave way on both handles at the same time. I suppose we got a good innings out of it as it used to be used to cut the whole lawn before we purchased the ride-on. That was great fun - five hours solid hard labour once a week!

So, we are looking to buy a new mower. Has anyone any recommendations? We need three machines to tend to our lawn but I really would like to hear other solutions as too much time is spent on grass. The three machines are :

1) Ride-on - used by hubby to cut most of the grass. It's a mulching lawn-mower so the grass has to be done ofter to avail of the mulching option.

2) Petrol hand mower (recently deceased) - used by hubby for the edge of the borders (where rode-on doesn't reach) and a few small bumpy areas.

3) Me - to go on hands and knees and pull the horizontally growing grass along the edge of the borders, every second mow. I use the half-mooner occasionally but you can't really be using that more than once a year.

Hoping for some input on this. WW

The Tale of Pink Brushes

13 May 2011 15:35:54
Sanguisorba 'Pink Brushes'

Sanguisorba 'Pink Brushes'

Last autumn, on a visit to Mount Venus Nursery with Fran, I was blown away by the most fabulous plant.

It was enormous, about 5ft, and fell in cascading branches, each bedecked with long, fluffy pink brushes. Hence its name, Sanguisorba 'Pink Brushes'.

I enquired about the plant but it was not yet for a sale - a new introduction that they were growing for a while to see how it faired. Try again in spring, they advised.

Well, Pink Brushes went immediately to the top of my 'list' so, you can bet, I tried again in spring. To cut a long story short, I did not get the Sanguisorba 'Pink Brushes' I had hoped for at the Birr, Rare Plant Fair. Boo hoo :(

But, while at Birr, I chanced asking at the Camolin Potting Shed about the plant. On line, I had seen it on their catalogue but also knew they were sold out but... no harm in asking while I was at their stall in Birr.

So I asked and, as good luck would have it, the Camolin Potting Shed, which is just around the corner from me, handed me my very own Sanguisorba 'Pink Brushes' when I dropped by this afternoon. But I've been told to pass on that they are not prepared to sell any more of them this year until they get their stock bulked up!

Not a bad result for Friday 13th. Now, I have just the place for this little baby...

A Risky Business

12 May 2011 20:23:06
Dalmera peltata

Dalmera peltata

I did gallons of planting today but just in one bed.

The bed is the one around our stone circle, with the table and benches on it, where we eat.

Last year this bed had a lot of giant Verbascum in it and Lychnis coronaria, and very well they looked too.

But, as the Verbascum flowered, it died. And the short lived Lychnis is nearly all gone too, leaving large gaps.

Today I planted too many things to list and took a risk by planting out non-hardy items already - Colocasia, Tetrapanax and bananas. I am trying to give the bed a 'giant-leaf, tropical feel'.

I also used Agastache 'Sangria' extensively. I saw this red-flowered plant in June Blake's last year and just had to have it. It has come well from seed.

Perfect Place

12 May 2011 20:11:22
Arisaema intermedium

Arisaema intermedium

I found the perfect planting place for this little gem.

But you'll have to check out my album to see it. 

When I shrink the photo to put it into a journal, you can see nothing.

He is green and very small so will need to be contrasted and placed front of the border.


Unidentified Rhodo

12 May 2011 20:06:08
Unidentified Rhodo

Unidentified Rhodo

Just in case anyone can help me with identification of this rhodo, here it is.

There's a photo in my album of the whole plant, showing scale.

The rhodo is about 10 years old and wasn't expensive but I think it had a name when I bought it. The label is long gone.

I remember when this rhodo and its companion were one of the very few plants in my garden. I remember that sometimes they would bloom and no one would see them because of the tall grass :)

Cotton Grass

12 May 2011 20:00:07
Eriphorum angustifolium

Eriphorum angustifolium

I couldn't resist putting up this close up of the cotton grass in my pond.

I bought it as Bloom last year when the newly-introduced pink one was all the rage.

I prefer the white.

And it reminds me of Donegal, where it is native.

More Clipping

11 May 2011 21:00:03


Bill paid a visit a.m. and we had a quick walk around the garden and chat. He came to collect his plant order from Birr but had to be off quick enough.

Walking around the garden, I noticed the damage done by recent winds. My Angelica and two foxgloves are broken. V. annoying. Lucky I have more Angelica plants coming.

After Bill left hubby cut th grass and I trimmed the Lonicera hedge in front of the dump. Will it ever get tall enough to obscure the every growing montain of garden debris? I guess, it will as it's nearly as tall as my Sammy now but let it hurry up... (photo in the album).

I also trimmed my copper beech hedge. Although not big enough to need trimming, it should encourage growth.

Then the box hedging and the Lonicera got a feed of chicken pellets and a good watering in. That's all my hedges fed for the year.

I have two areas of concern though :

1) The Hypericum hidcote hedge is very poorly. It is a really long, mature hedge. I am not sure it will make it. This is the only one I haven't fed. I might give it a try.

2) The privet hedge I planted last year (that Pat gave me) looks mostly dead too. This is also a big one. I fed it earlier but it is not responding. There is some life. I think some pruning is in order :(

A Day of Topiary

11 May 2011 00:21:01
box circle

box circle

I did a lot of clipping today.

I finished off trimming my circular Buxus hedge (pictured) and, although I tried to soften the corners to make it like the Terra Nova (now demised) box, it didn't quite work. I think I should have studied Martin's journal photo more carefully before embarking. I will next time.

I also clipped all my Santolina balls and my Cyprus 'cloud tree' and the box balls around by crab apple trees and did some weeding.

Boy, that doesn't sound like a lot done for the day!

But I was reminded of the last episode of Monty's Italian Gardens, where he visited Lake Como and learned of Richard Branson's topiary garden. Apparently it takes two gardeners four months to clip all the topiary, with a scissors! Well, it felt like that today.

More photos in the album.

Birr Purchase

10 May 2011 23:55:10
Arisaema nepenthoides

Arisaema nepenthoides

I though I would put up a little photo of this purchase from the Rare Plant Fair in Birr.

It is Arisaema nepenthoides, which I bought from Terra Nova.

Isn't it so fabulous?

Although perfectly hardy, it lives in my kitchen at the minute so I can appreciate its intricacy. My kids talk to it before school every day. They know how to humour me!

Sorry, Bill, yours is not 'in spathe' but is as tall. Next year for you! I get to keep the 'flowering' one as I went to Birr. it's only fair.

Shady Area

09 May 2011 18:41:23
Podophyllum hexandrum & Roscoea 'Jeffrey Thomas'

Podophyllum hexandrum & Roscoea 'Jeffrey Thomas'

Okay, I know this is a really bad photo but I'm not braving the elements to get a better one today.

I was delighted to note that my Roscoea are coming into flower and I think my Podophyllum is too (but it's hard to be sure of that as I've never seen one flower before.

I planted the Roscoea and Podophyllum under a Rhododendron but it is a very shady area with compacted soil and I regretted that decision afterwards, thinking that these lovely plants surely could not survive there.

But today I saw the tip of the yellow petals on the first Roscoea and all four have come back.

Of course, naturally, I underplanted the rhodo with this pair because I knew their flowering would coincide. Of course I thought that through!!!

By the way, can anyone identify the Rhododendron?

Blustery Day

09 May 2011 18:18:57
Acer rufinerve (Joshua's tree)

Acer rufinerve (Joshua's tree)

It's such a blustery day here, with flash downpours, that I had to put all my newly bought plants into the greenhouse for safekeeping.

As if that didn't make things congested enough, I then set about potting on loads of Amaranthus, Nicandra, Campanula, Primula and Stroibilanthes. I also potted on a few plants from yesterday that were pot bound (not ones from Terra Nova, I hasten to add).

Of course, as it was so blustery outdoors, all of the newly potted plants had to go into the greenhouse too. The weather had better improve or my plants will die of dehydration as many are quite inaccessible.

Rare Plants & Rare Crack

08 May 2011 21:30:50
the gang

the gang

I had a wonderful day meeting the gang again at the Rare Plant Sale in Birr.

I was there when the gates opened at 10:00 and soon met up with Kristina, who was ahead of me in the queue. First port of call was the Terra Nova stall.

Before long the usual suspects started drifting in - Fran, keeping his beady eye on everything and making meticulous mental notes, Jacinta, gesumping me on the best plants and Liga, correcting me on the difference between kiwi and Chinese gooseberry. We all know the form by now :D

We all seemed to congregate intuitively around the Terra Nova stand, generally being raucous and obstructing poor Deborah and Martin's business. I hope we didn't scare too many customers away!

Over coffee, it seemed that hostas were all the rage. But while Ingrida's was called 'A Touch of Class', the one I'd bought was 'Striptease'. Do you think there's a hidden meaning there?

I bought lots of plants and I'm not going to embarrass myself by listing them on here. Notable purchases were arisaemas, variegated horseradish (to be used as an ornamental), Celmisia and Ferula communis.

The day was blustery with showers but the main drawback, as far as I was concerned, was the distance to the car park. I spent a lot of time to-ing and fro-ing and waiting in the car park and so completely missed Hazel at the end. Hazel, I have some bits for you, including the Persicaria cuttings and I will keep them safe until our next meeting.

But a great day, all in all :D

Photo, left to right : Orchid, Ingrida, Yellow Rose, Violeta, me, Deborah, Keego, Jacinta, Martin, Fran, Cloncaw, Liga.

All Gardened Out

07 May 2011 20:14:26
Crataegus 'Crimson Cloud'

Crataegus 'Crimson Cloud'

I feel 'all gardened out' at the moment.

I went off to get more composts and fertilisers today but treated myself to the most gorgeous perennial wallflower called 'Apricot Twist'. It has a fabulous scent too.

First thing, when I came home I took cuttings as I would love to have loads of it. But I could only find two non-flowering shoots. I guess it's not a bad complaint to have about a plant :D

The Plant Fair in Birr tomorrow is coming at the most appropriate time for me. I feel like a good browse, natter and a bit of retail therapy and treating myself. The car's all loaded so see you all tomorrow.

Rain & Potting

06 May 2011 20:32:04
Persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon'

Persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon'

I did more potting today and the weather did more raining. But I stayed dry.

It's hard to know what to do with annuals at this stage. The temptation is to leave them in the 24 cell trays as they will all be planted out on 1st June anyway. However, I did this last year and think I never got the growth I should have as a result.

So today, Verbena rigida, Amaranthus 'Hop' Red Dye and some more Salvia 'Lady in Red' all got potted on.

I noticed the Persicaria 'Red Dragon' looking well, which reminds me. Didn't I promise some to Hazel?

... with the smooth

06 May 2011 20:14:48
tree peony

tree peony

But, on the other hand, this tree peony does flower for me.

It has a beautiful scent, which my son, Sammy, discovered this year.

Pity I lost the label.

Taking the rough...

06 May 2011 20:11:17
Paeonia suffruticosa 'Wu Long Peng Sheng' & Arisaema griffithii

Paeonia suffruticosa 'Wu Long Peng Sheng' & Arisaema griffithii

I suppose we gardeners have to take the rough with the smooth.

This is my rough - a tree peony that refuses to flower.

It is a Chinese peony, Paeonia suffruticosa 'Wu Long Peng Sheng', which means 'Black Dragon Holding Blossom' but it has never flowered. It is in the ground about six years and makes nice healthy growth in spring with woody bases. But no sign off flowers.

I wonder what the problem could be.

Incidentally, the Arisaema beside it has decided to produce no spathe for the second year running. This must be the non-flowering corner.

Going Potty

05 May 2011 20:37:18
bronze fennel & hostas

bronze fennel & hostas

I spent the day potting on.

I wouldn't have had any idea how many plants I potted except that hubby recently bought me a load of pots and I used half of them and some others of different sizes.

So I potted on at least 150 plants today.

I got completely drenched but am showered now and am taking it easy this evening.

Sometimes I think I must be mad but then I remember all the 'free' plants I'm getting and I realise I'm not mad, just greedy :D


Self Seeders

05 May 2011 20:27:57
Alstroemeria 'Ligtu Hybrids'

Alstroemeria 'Ligtu Hybrids'

I just love self-seeders. It is such a bonus when a plant you like pops up in unexpected places.

Last year I went through Christopher Lloyd's book 'Succession Planting for Adventurous Gardeners' with a fine tooth comb, paying particular attention to the chapter on self-seeders. I sought out and ordered a lot of his recommended seeds.

Anyway, one of the self-seeders, recommended by Mr Lloyd was Alstroemeria 'Ligtu Hybrids'. I was delighted to find Chiltern stocked them.

Now, it seems to me that self-seeders, by definition, should be easy to germinate so I was quite surprised to read the complicated instructions for germinating these Alstroemeria.

It couldn't be right! How could something be a self-sower if you have to soak it first, put it at 30º for 3-4 weeks then 5º for 3-4 weeks then 21º to germinate. Besides my heated mats don't even reach 30º!

I soaked the seeds and put them on the heat, full sure that they would germinate in no time. But a month later, I had to admit defeat and resorted to a regime of fridge and heat mats for the next 77 days. I was about to give up when... they germinated.

So, how on earth are these supposed to be self-seeders? But, I suppose, Verbena bonariensis, also an acknowledged self-seeder, is hard to germinate indoors. I guess Mother Nature still has a few mysteries up her sleeve.

August Open Day

05 May 2011 09:45:18
August Open Day

August Open Day

In case anyone is interested, I am thinking of having an open day on the weekend of 6th or 7th August so maybe you would like to pencil this in.

I had mine early last year so it makes sense to have it at a different time this year. Besides, I didn't want to clash with Bill's :D 

I hope to see lots of garden.iers there.

More Stinkers

05 May 2011 09:21:25
Amorphophallus konjac

Amorphophallus konjac

I always worry about my Amorphophallus over winter. I have two big ones and some babies in pots.

I bring them indoors in winter but then have to be really careful not to overwater. In spring they take such an age to come back that the temptation is always to give them more water, at risk of rotting them.

Well, there's no sign of emergence from mine yet, however... Two of the pots have roots peeking out the top. Perhaps I should have repotted them. In any case, they are alive.

Who Wants?

04 May 2011 23:59:36
picture from net

picture from net

Does anyone want the grass Deschampsia caespitosa?

I bought two pots of this last autumn but do not like the way it seeds about.

Laburnum & Rain

04 May 2011 20:09:48
Laburnum watererii 'Vossii'

Laburnum watererii 'Vossii'

Here comes the rain at long, long last. It literally started two minutes ago. My garden is going to really enjoy this! Lucky hubby got the grass cut today.

As I mentioned previously, I finished weeding a border and almost finished clipping my box hedge. I think it will be potting for me tomorrow.

By the way, my Rheum nobile germinated today, Liga, if you're reading this :D

Mine to Plant

04 May 2011 20:06:24
Mine to Plant

Mine to Plant

I finished weeding last year's Tropical Border.

Last year it was filled with tenders, which were lifted and brought indoors. I only left the dahlias behind and. although I lost most, some are coming back.

The border stands bear with only a few shrubs at the back and some woodlandy planting under them.

But this will not be a Tropical Border this year. It will get permanent planting. Lucky I thought to grow a few things from seed.

Deciduous Azaleas

04 May 2011 19:04:21
Lidl Azaleas

Lidl Azaleas


Although orange would appear to be the colour of azaleas on the site today, I must be so unfashionable because mine are white and red and purple.


03 May 2011 17:36:56
? & Epipactis palustris

? & Epipactis palustris

Here come my Epipactis palustris at long last. It is the little thing on the right of the photo. Epipactis are tiny hardy orchids.

For a long time I thought the thing on the left was my Epipactis and carefully weeded around it but now I see the actual Epipactis springing up in different places, where they were sown, and looked up their foliage appearance so I know the thing on the left isn't them.

So what on earth is the thing on the left? I knew it had to be something good because the slugs were very interested in it. I have fussy slugs in my garden. They only eat the good stuff :)

The only other plant that I sowed here and hasn't shown its face is Trillium grandiflorum. But that is not a Trillium. Any thoughts?

Wooden Statues - for Fran

02 May 2011 20:16:03
Wooden Statues - for Fran

Wooden Statues - for Fran

Here they are, Fran. Please excuse dust and cobwebs.

The statues are exactly 2 ft high. They have always been indoors.

They are made of unvarnished wood and originally had some sort of black book polish on them. About 15 years ago I sprayed them with a mat car paint in an aerosol.

Now, thinking about it, they could make great garden ornaments, if weather proofed. I would probably need to repaint them first. Your advice would be much appreciated. 

New Bell

02 May 2011 19:11:59
Ganesh Bell

Ganesh Bell

This is the Ganesh bell I bought yesterday. Now I just need to find a tree sturdy enough to hold it...

I would like to do a little Indian-deity style corner in my garden. I have a 10" stone statue of Ganesh, which goes out in summer and now I have the bell. But it is not enough.

I do have something though.  I have two 2ft wooden deities that we bought in India around 1992. They were my pride and joy for many years but they haven't had a proper display place for some years now. It is a shame that they should gather dust.

I wonder if I could varnish them? I feel inspired by Fran...

Hardy Osteospermum - for Periwinkle

02 May 2011 16:27:39
Osteospermum ?

Osteospermum ?

Two winters ago Periwinkle gave me some divisions from her garden in Donegal. Although I potted them up before the big freeze, there were many casualties. Plants in pots are always more vulnerable and these were outside, not even in the greenhouse.

Among the divisions were some clumps of hardy Osteospermum (possibly jucundum, but I would be pleased if someone could give me a name). I lost most but two clumps survived and were planted in my long border in 2010. They didn't flower that year.

Anyway, here they are now in flower! And they are just as lovely as the tender Osteospermum. Both clumps are covered in buds so I have a long season to look forward to. Thanks, Periwinkle.

Colour Clash - for Deborah

02 May 2011 16:19:14
Colour Clash - for Deborah

Colour Clash - for Deborah

When I was in Terra Nova last I commented on how tastefully all the tulips had been planted, with careful attention to colour schemes. I would have thought that Deborah, planting thousands of tulips, might have done it a bit more haphazardly. I would have.

A conversation then ensued whereby Deborah asked whether it was possible for tulips to clash as they are such joyous plants.

I rest my case, Deborah.

By the way, obviously I only planted this garish mix to illustrate a point to you!

Indian Gods

02 May 2011 00:28:54
The statue I want!

The statue I want!

Today we visited Victor's Way, which is a meditative park near Roundwood, Co Wicklow. While not technically a garden, the park is full of giant hand-carved stone statues that were shipped from India.

The statues are very impressive and depict the Indian pantheon, among which, Ganesh, the elephant-headed god and my personal favourite.

Later statues are the result of a fusion between Indian culture, Irish mythology and modern day considerations. Many are disturbing, but always impressive and thought provoking. A walk through the woods reveals the statues and unfolds a metaphorical 'journey'.

While the philosophy of the journey was lost on me, I enjoyed the walk through the woods. I did feel, however, that the whole experience could have been substantially enhanced by a bit of thoughtful planting!

I would have dearly loved one of those marvellous Ganeshes to adorn my garden. I wouldn't be greedy and would happily settle for the small, reclining one pictured. Wouldn't he look fab under a few Ricinus leaves?

I have put up an album of photos for anyone interested.

My Doo, Voodoo

01 May 2011 12:39:21
Sauromatum venosum

Sauromatum venosum

I bought one of the voodoo lilies at Terra Nova recently too. I might have bought mine ten minutes in front of Jacinta but hers has flowered first.

I thought that mine was not going to flower at all but, going out to the greenhouse this morning, ! got my second fright in two days.

Wow, I love him. But he is a stinky boy. In fairness we had to bring him into a confined space to get the 'scent' but then he was put straight back outdoors again!

Well, every member of the family has been out for a looksie and a sniff so far!

There are better photos in my greenhouse album.

Baby Arisaema

01 May 2011 12:27:47
Baby Arisaema

Baby Arisaema

It is year two for these baby Arisaema that I started from seed last year.

The two in front are Arisaema speciosum and are looking quite pretty with their red leaf rim. I potted these individually last year before getting Deborah's advice to leave them put. There was a 3rd pot of speciosum but nothing has emerged this year. 

The tall pot at the back had mixed Arisaema seedlings in it but there are only five plants there this year. I wonder could it be that the mixed pot contains Arisaema that will come later?

I do have another pot with Arisiaema consanguineum and another with Arisaema tortuosum and there is nothing coming up in either of those. I think someone said that consanguineum will come later so they may be still alive. What about tortuosum?

Any advice on further care would be welcome.


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