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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal February 2012

Last Post 2183 days 19 hours ago


29 February 2012 15:49:33
Erythronium dens-canis 'White Splendour'

Erythronium dens-canis 'White Splendour'

I did another day of weeding and clearing today and it's lovely to see all sorts of things popping up around the garden.

In the new borders that I planted last year (the ex-Rose Garden), most of the plants were grown from seed. As they were all done last year, I am not really familiar with them yet. The result is that weeding those beds is like a magical mystery tour - wondering what this or that is! Going to check out my database now that I'm back indoors :)

I've added a few photos to my February album, which yo might like to check out.


29 February 2012 15:40:03
Trillium cuneatum

Trillium cuneatum

If there's one thing I'm good at, it's leaving things be!

Some people are dead impatient and if something doesn't show its nose, there they go, digging about, looking for it (I'm naming no names here :) I don't have that bone.

When I planted these Trillium bulbs in 2010, I read that they should be left be, that they didn't like disturbance and that they may not emerge the following year but that you should just bide your time as they are busy growing roots!

And here they are now, two out of three cuneatum. Don't you just love it :)

Don't You Just Love It!

29 February 2012 15:30:46
Daffodil Hill

Daffodil Hill


Don't you just love it?

Spring, that is!

Still Going

28 February 2012 18:06:26
Schizostylis & Stipa tenuissima

Schizostylis & Stipa tenuissima


I think this Schizostylis might just exhaust itself, it's been flowering for so long.

Boys @ Work

28 February 2012 16:27:58
Boys @ Work

Boys @ Work


You should have seen the excitement today when I brought the boys home from school and they saw Daddy was shredding...

Working my Way Round

28 February 2012 14:33:35
Lupinus arboreus & Euphorbia mellifera

Lupinus arboreus & Euphorbia mellifera

I got out and at it again today and am pleased with the progress I'm making.

I came in in the end because I got bored rather than tired.

It's wonderful to see so many borderline plants survive - the tree lupin and Euphorbia pictured, among others.

Other normally troublesome tenders seem to have come through too - echiums, arctotis, Clianthus, tetra.We could get spoilt!

Tree Peonies

27 February 2012 22:27:44
Paeonia suffruticosa 'Wu Long Peng Sheng' (Black Dragon Holding Blossom)

Paeonia suffruticosa 'Wu Long Peng Sheng' (Black Dragon Holding Blossom)

I mentioned a while back how the tree peony seeds from Terra Nova had germinated. There's no sign of life from the ones that Liga, Bill and I shared two years ago although both Liga and Bill's have germinated :(

Today I scowled at this tree peony. It is down many years but has never flowered.

In desperation I dug it up last autumn and raised its level (something that should only inhibit flowering in herbaceous peonies). But, like I said, it was desperation! 

Wouldn't it be wonderful if it flowered for me this year? 

PS Cool name, eh?


27 February 2012 16:03:04
Prunus cerasifera 'Nigra'

Prunus cerasifera 'Nigra'

I've decided to stop mucking about and just finish clearing the garden.

I always take far too long at this. I mean, what is the problem? So, out I went this morning and got cracking.

Of course, I didn't get nearly as much done as I thought I would. But I did finish the greenhouse end of the garden, including weeding the hedges, around the trees and the other funny little places that always get put on the long finger.

I even weeded around the mass-planted tulips in the Annuals Bed as they are now poking up so I could know where to lean a hand and where not to. The main weed there is that small alyssum-like weed that lifts really easy.

Tomorrow I will move up to the next section of the garden and, hopefully, get the lot done quickly.

Ultimatum to Colonel Mustard

26 February 2012 15:03:15


Tending to my orchids this morning, I decided to unmask a free-loader.

I accuse Colonel Mustard, in the kitchen this afternoon!

Colonel Mustard is a Cymbidium, of the same colour, who has refused to flower for me since 2010. To add insult to injury, Colonel Mustard keeps growing and is taking up enormous space. That's him on the right of the photo, the great lump.

So, this afternoon, I did 'a Fran' and gave the Colonel a good talking to and an ultimatum : flower now or it's the cold greenhouse for you next winder!

I can tell you that my boys were completely socked to the back teeth at my ruthlessness :O

FIO : rest ( big catt & LC 'Blossom Bounty' 14.1.12-26.2.12),  (small catt  14.1.12-19.2.12)   

FCO : rest ( D. nobile 2 19.12.12-26.2.12),( coelygne,  loddigesii 19.1.12-19.2.12)


Bellefield Plant Fair

26 February 2012 00:04:26
Bellefield Plant Fair

Bellefield Plant Fair

Who's going to Bellefield Plant Fair next Saturday?

It should be a great day with a chance to visit Angela Jupe's fabulous spring garden (her snowdrops were featured in February's Gardens Illustrated).

There will be plenty of plant sales, from over 20 of Ireland's specialist nurseries, including Deborah & Martin Begley's Terra Nova.

And there will be a few lectures too, one of which by our very own Paddy Tobin.

The day is from 11:00-4:30 and entry fee is €5

I think it should be a great day out and hope lots of you can make it and hopefully we can meet up.

Bellefield Plant Fair 

A Bit of Slap Stick

25 February 2012 21:09:33
Dactylorhiza maculata 'Kilmarnock'

Dactylorhiza maculata 'Kilmarnock'

It was a gloriously sunny day today and I had the greenhouse wide open for most of it. But I don't do gardening on the weekend so the plants were left to their own devices.

Must tell you about the thing that happened to me yesterday!...

I finished potting up my new plants just as it was getting dark. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself but was hurrying to tidy up a little while I could still see.  

I had several trugs full of water, where I had washed the various orchid potting ingredients, and I had just fished out all the grit, perlite etc from the trugs and put them back in their respective bags. The final trug had been used to wash bark and I lifted it up to empty the dirty water under a tree.

Unfortunately, just at that moment, the handle of the trug caught on my sleeve and, instead of tipping towards the tree, the trug somehow managed to turn back and empty itself completely down my cleavage! Argh!

The shock of it all and the freezing water was a deadly combination. And, worse still, the whole inside of my jumper was plastered with little bits of shredded bark and bark dust. Yuck!

Just Keeps Getting Better...

24 February 2012 15:10:59
Just Keeps Getting Better...

Just Keeps Getting Better...

This day just keeps getting better and better.

The postwoman arrived and look what she brought for me!!!

There are five there for Liga. But it's up to her to tell you about those!

Here's a list of my 10 plants. I'd better get potting!

Asarum splendens
Bergenia ciliata
'Looking Glass'
Calanthe discolor
Calanthe tricarinata
'Ulla Silkens'
Podophyllum pleianthemum
'Spotty Dotty'
Saxifraga fortunei 'Silver Velvet'
Ypsilandra thibetica

Breaking News

24 February 2012 14:28:27
Pulmonaria & Helleborus

Pulmonaria & Helleborus

After a mere two years, I was greeted by a wonderful sight in the greenhouse this afternoon.

Both Cardiocrinum and tree peonies have germinated!

A big, big thank you to Paddy & Mary for the Cardiocrinum cordatum seeds and to Deborah for the Paeonia speciosa (pink flowered) seeds, which I sowed in the depths of darkest December 2010.

Gardening doesn't get much better than this!

Tip Toe...

24 February 2012 11:27:47
Tulipa 'Giuseppe Verdi'

Tulipa 'Giuseppe Verdi'

A wet day means I can't do gardening.

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

Don't the tulips look nice in the rain?

I'm off to get compost now.

Seeds & Spring

23 February 2012 21:29:59
Corydalis solida

Corydalis solida

I sowed lots more seeds today but am too tired to list them now.

I need to crack on with the clean-up and cut back in the garden tomorrow so seed sowing will take a pause.

I'm just going to check the germination information for a few types of seed now and then it's off to bed.

25:55 Decision Time

Actually, I've made a decision. That's all the seeds I'm going to sow this year.

I'll just go through the box tomorrow to make sure I didn't forget something good (so maybe I'll sow one or two more types) but that's my lot.com!

At Last

23 February 2012 21:09:26
Iris 'Katharine Hodgkin'

Iris 'Katharine Hodgkin'


At last these irises flowered!

So Many Seeds, So Little Time

22 February 2012 23:20:32


22 February 2012 11:46:15


Well, it's a miserable old wet day so it's time to take to the greenhouse and pot up the dahlias.

I lifted all mine last autumn but need not have bothered as it was such a mild winter. But you can't bank on these things!

At least this means that my dahlias will get an early start and be flowering early!


All done now - 56 potted up and I have one left over because I ran out of compost. They took 3 full bags of compost. I think I spend more money on compost than plants.

Dahlia australis was looking very shrivelled. I fear the worst for it but potted them anyway.

On Now!

21 February 2012 20:58:06

Children Who Refuse to Go to Bed

21 February 2012 17:21:40
Canna 'Wyoming' & Sammy

Canna 'Wyoming' & Sammy

Last autumn my cannas refused to go to sleep.

I lifted them, cut them back and put them in the dark. But they kept growing.

It was probably because it was too warm in the house although that is no excuse for such disobedience!

I cut off the newly emerging snouts a couple of times but they wouldn't take a hint. So I called a truce. If I continued in that vein I would have killed them.

Admitting defeat, I took the cannas out, putting them in the only available bright space - the bath!

And boy have they liked it! Look how tall they have grown! It just goes to show how cannas are really tropical evergreen plants and we thwart them, forcing them to behave unnaturally to fit in with our cold climate.

Rescue Orchid

21 February 2012 16:20:11


Here is one of my rescue orchids.

It came into flower for the first time today so now I know what colour it is.

Well, it won't set the world on fire but rescue orchids are a bit of a lottery.

Tulips - Headgardener Beware!

21 February 2012 13:26:33
Tulipa 'Giuseppe Verdi'

Tulipa 'Giuseppe Verdi'


And here are the first tulips in my garden.

Hopefully the rest will join them soon so I can give you a proper photo.

Flowering Trees

21 February 2012 13:22:06
Prunus cerasifera 'Nigra'

Prunus cerasifera 'Nigra'

Here is the first flowering tree in my garden.

Spring is on its way :)


21 February 2012 13:16:47
Camellia 'Debbie'

Camellia 'Debbie'

It was a toss up today as to whether I should pot up my dahlias or continue with the spring clearing. I opted for the clearing or, more precisely, pruning.

The three Buddleia, three big Sambucus and most of the Hydrangeas are now pruned. I must say that Hydrangea pruning is never straightforward. It looked straightforward when Mary demonstrated last Friday but I never seem to have the grow lines or new buds that she had.

A Few Seeds

20 February 2012 22:18:21

Aroids etc

20 February 2012 18:08:47
Aroids etc

Aroids etc

I spent the day potting on plants, mostly from the greenhouse but also some cuttings from indoors - Furcraea, Omphalodes, Erysimum, Iris, Musa and lots of others that I can't remember now.

I was pleased to note good growth on some plants. Bruno's Californian Fuchsia is flying it. It was potted up last autumn and again now and is a good sized plant already. Thanks, Bruno :D

I also excavated my arums and Amorphophallus out for potting up. The arums have started into growth already, despite being kept bone dry all winter. I caught them just in time.

The Amorphophallus were stored without soil overwinter and I brought them back indoors after potting and watering so that the heat will get them going. I won't be tempted to water them again until I see growth.

It was a good day's work and I am pleased.

I filled 17 pots with seed compost and they are waiting for me in the kitchen now so I'd better go sow some seeds.

Double Hellebore

19 February 2012 17:03:19
Double Hellebore

Double Hellebore


If you are all not completely jaded with hellebores, I have added a few photos of the two new double ones I bought recently to my album.


19 February 2012 16:48:00
Chrysosplenium macrophylla

Chrysosplenium macrophylla


Looking good now!



WIO : rest ( big catt & LC 'Blossom Bounty' started 14.1.12),  (small catt  14.1.12-19.2.12)   

FCO : rest ( D. nobile 2 started 19.12.12),( coelygne,  loddigesii 19.1.12-19.2.12)


An Incredible Story - no word of lie!

18 February 2012 20:23:48
Pleione shantung (web photo)

Pleione shantung (web photo)

Pleione orchids require a cold winter but not too cold.

As they are deciduous, standard practice is to lift the bulbs in autumn and store then over winter in the fridge.

Today I removed my pleiones from the fridge for potting up.

The bulbs are kept in sealed plastic bags in the fridge and when I opened one of the bags today I was amazed to discover...

A bee!


Okay, he was very sluggish but so would you be if you had been in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag for the last four months!!!

And he hadn't been eating anything because the orchids were intact!

Now, that is incredible but I tell the truth!

The photo shows a new Pleione I potted up with the others today. The photo is from the website where I bought it as it's obviously not in flower yet.


18 February 2012 13:22:35


Here's another little souvenir of the Canary Islands that I brought back.

It is pumice stone and I used it as an ingredient for today's orchid potting.

My youngest is keeping a piece as a 'pet' (silly sausage). We did have fun together in Tenerife, pretending to be Victorian Plant Hunters in unknown lands, although Sammy would keep 'discovering' cannibal populations and carnivorous plants :D

Potting up the orchids today with grit, bark, pumice, compost and perlite, it was very cold. Then I noticed perlite flying around so I got a bit worried that it was being blown out of the bag and away. But it wasn't perlite. It was bloomin hailstones!!! Grrr.


17 February 2012 23:53:11
Epipactis gigantea (June Blake's garden)

Epipactis gigantea (June Blake's garden)

When we were at Mary and Paddy's today, a plant package arrived for them and we all got almost as much pleasure from watching them open it as they did from receiving it :)

Home again, I found a little something waiting for me. It was my own parcel, containing seven orchids, six of them hardy. Three are Epipactis gigantea. I saw this hardy orchid first at June Blake's last June (where this photo was taken).

So potting up is on the menu tomorrow and I need to get cracking with sowing and potting on and clearing the garden. Actually, just at the moment, I feel exhausted by the whole idea but once I get going it will be fine

Paddy & Mary's

17 February 2012 20:47:49
Paddy & Mary's

Paddy & Mary's

Myself and Myrtle paid a visit to Waterford today to see Paddy and Mary's inspired garden in spring.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has read their journals or looked at their photos that the garden is wonderful. It has mature trees and shrubs, tastefully chosen and placed, and large drifts of choice plants in an immaculate setting.

The drifts of snowdrops, crocuses and primulas are just magical but my favourite piece was the tapestry of black hellebores, interspersed with white and snowdrops near the vegetable area. The handsome espaliered apple hedge was also to die for.

People should definitely grow more hellebores and I intend to try to copy the tapestry planting!

Thanks you, Paddy and Mary. You are charming hosts and great company and thank you also to Myrtle to for braving Gorey at such an early hour and keeping me company so that the journeys down and back just flew by.

Back to Reality

16 February 2012 15:59:58
Back to Reality

Back to Reality

A quick look around the garden and everything seems so cold and drab after the bright light and sun in Tenerife. No disasteres except the slugs may be eating my tulips in pots!

I see Corydalis solida (although the pink flower is lost against the cocoa mulch), Fritellaria imperialis and even Erythronium dens-canis peeping up. Worryingly there is no sign of Chinodoxa or Symplocarpus (I think I might have a nervous breakdown if Symplocarpus didn't come back)!!!

The snowdrops have finally opened (:P) and Iris 'Katherine Hodgkins' is on her way up although slugs are eating one Hepatica's buds and the second is nowhere to be seen. The Iris reticulata in the photo have passed their peak but they were good while they lasted.

Volcanos & Echiums

16 February 2012 14:30:52
At the base of the Teide Volcano

At the base of the Teide Volcano

I'm sure you'll be glad to hear that my holiday photos have come to an end.

There are two albums on garden.ie - one from the Botanic Gardens and one of other Tenerife Flora.

The second album includes photos from Mount Teide. We visited Volcanic Mount Teide on the basis of photos I had seen of giant pink and blue echiums flowering majestically against black rock and blue sky. The echiums were not in flower when we were there but their architectural skeletons were still impressive.

Although we came for the flora, we had a wonderful time regardless at the top of the mountain, where the only plant I spotted was a single scrubby Argyranthemum teneriffae. So enjoy the photos and for those who want to see pics from the barren top of the mountain, join me on FB.

Almond Trees

15 February 2012 20:18:36
Almond Trees

Almond Trees

The almond trees were in blossom in Tenerife.

I had never seen that before. Not much of a scent but so beautiful.

Ferns For Martin

15 February 2012 09:57:45
Ferns in El Botanico, Tenerife

Ferns in El Botanico, Tenerife

I have finished uploading my photos of the Botanic Gardens in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, if anyone wants to look at the full set.

I found this photo that I thought might be of interest to our Irish Ferns correspondent, Martin :)

There are a few more ferny photos in the album. I loved the way the Stag's Horn Fern was grown on walls and even out of the side of the 'Orchid Tree' (see a couple of journals down) and there were some gorgeous Cibotium schiedei!

A Few More Weeds

15 February 2012 01:09:18
A Few More Weeds

A Few More Weeds


Here are a few more weeds from Tenerife I liberated.

Who recognises them?

Some Weeds

15 February 2012 00:58:14
Ricinus communis

Ricinus communis


Here are some weeds I found on scrub land in Tenerife!

They seed about the place, in the dust-like earth, and take over vacant lots.

Of course in Tenerife the frost doesn't kill them off in winter.

Home now, I sowed my first seeds of the year - lots of Ricinus.


Land of the Giants

14 February 2012 20:06:45
Outside the Botanic Gardens

Outside the Botanic Gardens

The photo was taken outside the Botanic Gardens in Puerta de la Cruz, Tenerife.

The two boys are my youngest, posing against the garden's walls.

The leafy plants are Philodendron and escapees from the Philodendron tunnel inside the gardens.

It was a bit like Land of the Giants.

I think this photo gives a good idea of the scale and stature of many of the plants in El Botanico!

The Orchid Tree

14 February 2012 17:58:30
The Orchid Tree

The Orchid Tree

I couldn't get over this tree in the Botanic Gardens in Tenerife.

There were orchids and bromeliads growing on it, outdoors, just like I've seen in books.

The Botanic Gardens were absolutely fabulous, with an array of what we know as house plants growing outdoors.

Still struggling with the upload of photos :P

PS Shame about the dead-heading bucket to the right of the photo!

Exotic Flora

14 February 2012 00:54:48
Dracaena & Echium

Dracaena & Echium

I'm back from Tenerife and the most glorious time.

I see you've all been busy, breaking legs, heaving stones and mourning plants! I will catch up better in the next few days and sorry if my current exhaustion has made my sympathy curt.

I'm going to bed now but let me just say that the flora in Tenerife was simply amazing!

Plenty more to follow.


05 February 2012 15:23:25
Ruta graveloens

Ruta graveloens

While I'm not mad about the flowers on the rue plant, it looks quite nice in front of the holly. I grow it for its glaucous foliage, very like Coronilla.

I planted some Freesia bulbs in pots in the greenhouse and fed some orchids. That's my lot for the day.

FWO FIO (rest ; cattleya x2 & LC 'Blossom Bounty' )  


A Good Day

04 February 2012 22:17:51
A Good Day

A Good Day

I think Jacinta & Liga said it all already.

They were great company and we had a lovely day.

I (the only one left with a decent working camera - say no more!) took a few photos, which I've added to the Altamont album from yesterday.

Take a look if you like.

And We're Off

03 February 2012 17:37:35
Jurgita (Hoeys) knits a mean sock!

Jurgita (Hoeys) knits a mean sock!

While there have been a few outings so far this year, I think today's one to Altamont was big enough to constitute a proper event (albeit a mini-event).

Today I met up with Fran, Clara, Ladygardener, Gracedieu (Paddy & Mary), HeadGardener, Joybells, Noelle and JoanG in Altamont Gardens. Notwithstanding the odd tardy member (say no more), we were soon off into the gardens, chatting and enjoying the snowdrops.

We lost Paddy almost immediately (he went running round the lake for some reason :O) but, thankfully, someone else stepped in to make up the numbers and we hope we have not scared him too much from joining the site.

It was a crisp, cold, clear day - a perfect day for all us galanthophiles - although some of the snowdrops may have been missed through chatting! Myself and Clare were luckier than most, being well protected from the cold by the super-warm socks that Jurgita kindly knitted us :D

Afterwards it was soup and lunch at The Forge and planning of gardens to visit and places to go in the coming year.

Crunch, Crunch

02 February 2012 13:59:37
Francoa 'Pink Giant'

Francoa 'Pink Giant'


It was about -4 last night and frosty this morining.

Dead Heading

01 February 2012 18:59:40
Alstroemeria 'Oriana'

Alstroemeria 'Oriana'


It's February and I spent a good while dead-heading today.


Quick Journal

01 February 2012 18:54:35
Viburnum rhytidophyllum etc

Viburnum rhytidophyllum etc

Here's a quick journal after a long day's work. I am going with Linda to hear Carmel Duignan this evening so I'd better start trying to make myself look presentable shortly (it will take a while).

I wanted an easy day in the garden after yesterday but before long I was cutting back, weeding and mulching!

It is cold - really cold! My fingers started going numb doing weeding.

I was delighted to see my Cardiocrinum poking up. It came up last spring but it soon became so buried at the back of the border that I thought it was a gonner. I'll have to clear some space for it this year.

The border shown produced phenomenal growth last year. Viburnum rhytidophyllum, the two paulownias, Sambucus 'Black Lace' and other plants have just shot up. I put it down to the cocoa mulch so am giving it another does this year.

I am always amazed at how bare borders look in late winter - you'd never think I planted anything!


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