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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal September 2012

Last Post 1942 days 10 hours ago

Garden.ie Calendar

28 September 2012 22:11:59
the last calendar made

the last calendar made

I am trying to work out whether it is worth making a garden.ie calendar for 2013. Can you please let me know if you might be interested in buying such a thing?

Like last year, the calendar would show photos of garden.ie club get-togethers, taken in 2012, and the many club members in our ever-expanding group. It would also show any known horticultural dates for the year (plant fairs etc).

The calendar, like last year, is a wall-hanging one with a big photo above and individual squares for the days of the month below.

I imagine the price would be the same as last year - €10 and €2.50 for postage.

Let me know who would be interested.

Fancy a Drink?

27 September 2012 19:46:31
Humulus lupulus

Humulus lupulus

Just for your birthday, Fran!

Have a beer!

Well, have some hops at least!

No Rhyme or Reason

27 September 2012 19:36:56
Aster novi-belgii 'Lady in Blue'

Aster novi-belgii 'Lady in Blue'

I invested in a lot of asters for a mass planting a few years back.

But for several years, the bed has been crippled with mildew.

The soil was very stony so I tried feeding but the mildew continued to be so bad that last year I resigned myself to discarding all the plants and putting something different in. But I gave them one more chance.

Now would you look at them! Not a sign of mildew this year. And the wet weather we had! There's no rhyme or reason to it at all!

And so it starts...

26 September 2012 19:04:32
And so it starts...

And so it starts...

The rain made a brief respite this afternoon so I got my son to help me bring the big plants into the greenhouse. We only tackled the ones already in pots as I wasn't in the mood to dig things up.

The two large bananas, two Brugmansia and the last succulent (Curculigo) got hoisted into the greenhouse.

Well, all except the white Brugmansia. It's been flowering its socks off all summer and will have to come into the house eventually anyway so I brought it in now to enjoy the flowers.

I count 14 buds and the scent is wonderful. I must take cuttings next spring as this plant is now in the largest pot I am prepared to offer it so its days are numbered.

In the Greenhouse

26 September 2012 14:49:04

Click to zoom

Click to zoom

Click to zoom

To cheer myself up, I took a few photos of plants in flower in the greenhouse today.

Well, I was hardly going to step out into the garden to take photos!

Greenhouse Infestation

26 September 2012 14:05:43

Click to zoom

Click to zoom

Click to zoom

Sheltering in my greenhouse this morning, from the ungodly deluge, I noticed something untoward.

In the roof of my greenhouse, there seem to be some small creatures.

It is a mystery as to where this infestation has come from but it looks as if it is very happy and here to stay :)

Bay Garden

24 September 2012 23:53:23
Bay Garden, Hot Border, September

Bay Garden, Hot Border, September

Is anyone going to the last open day of the Bay Garden this season?

It's on Sunday 30th September, the grasses will be at their peak and there is the customary plant sale.

New Plants

24 September 2012 20:20:54


I received my new Sarracenia today - about 25 plants and about 10 for a friend.

I now have a lot of Sarracenia.

A large Bog Garden is on the cards for next year.

Plenty to do

23 September 2012 12:57:30
Annuals Border

Annuals Border

There's plenty to do in the garden at the moment, especially with the threat of frost on the way.

We are all laid low here with nasty colds though, which is my excuse for feeling somewhat overwhelmed.

Wouldn't it be grand to miss out on autumn and winter this year and just skip straight to spring?

For the Neighbours

23 September 2012 12:45:59
For the Neighbours

For the Neighbours

Our garden looked a right mess from the outside until in 2010 we got rid of the native hedge on the outer boundary.

In autumn 2010 I planted Persicaria affis, all propagated from existing plants, on the ditch there. There were some 300 plants and it was a big job.

And in spring 2010 I planted a hedge of Eleagnus ebbingei on the top. I chose this hedge because the scent always reminds me of summer holidays in France. I lost a few hedge plants but it is looking good and strong after its first proper trim.

So now we no longer lower the tone of the neighbourhood :)

Early yellow daffs (Rijnhardt's Early Sensation) are planted in that grass strip on the road. But, you'll be pleased to hear, the pink Persicaria is not in flower in February when the yellow daffs show!

For Heather

23 September 2012 12:34:48
Salpiglossus sinuata 'Ali Baba'

Salpiglossus sinuata 'Ali Baba'

Here is my blue Salpiglossus!


23 September 2012 12:28:44
Hedychium greenei

Hedychium greenei

Hurray, I managed to flower a ginger.

It is just starting to open. This one is Hedychium greenei and came from Headgardener.

I never imagined it would have such a lovely flower! Cheers, Bill.


22 September 2012 18:43:02
some cattleyas

some cattleyas

Around midnight last night I noticed that it had dropped to 6 degrees in the greenhouse.

The intermediate orchids were still out there so they all had to be rescued. Just as well too as it went down to 3 degrees later on.

Today I assigned most of the orchids to their winter quarters. There are only a few cold ones still in the greenhouse and I cleaned the leaves with milk to ensure maximum light absorption indoors.

Clip Clip

20 September 2012 20:41:39
Echium wildpretii

Echium wildpretii

It was a good, dry day and by the time I got home the front hedge was annoying me.

I meant to trim that Elaeagnus ebbingei hedge weeks ago but didn't. And now I was afraid to in case there's a dreadful winter. But today I just did it anyway!

I trimmed the hedge with the shears. My mum's shears is great since we got it sharpened. I'm sure they don't make tools like that nowadays. But I really must invest in an electric strimmer soon as we now have a lot of hedge.

Claire was talking about echiums. I do hope we have a mild winter so I don't loose mine either. Apparently Echium wildpretii is a bit hardier than most but still...

Cape Gooseberries

19 September 2012 23:25:41
Physalis peruviana

Physalis peruviana

I grow these cape gooseberries for Joshie. He loves them.

Amazingly last year's plants came through the mild winter in the greenhouse so we're going again this year. Although the yield is much less this year.

Josh still thinks they're yummy (can't explain the sorrowful look on his face!)

New Photos

18 September 2012 22:32:43


I put up some new phtotos of my garden today...

Douentza, September 2012


18 September 2012 21:46:30


Please tell me that the tall thin plant in the middle of this bad photo is Paradisea liliastrum?

The bud isn't open yet.

Mary and Paddy gave me an enormous clump of this plant for my Open Day last August and I planted it here. I thought I had killed it.

I am really hoping that this is it!


18 September 2012 21:36:34
Punica granatum var. nana

Punica granatum var. nana


Anyone for pomegranate?

Back in the Saddle

18 September 2012 21:18:36
Back in the Saddle

Back in the Saddle

Today was a lovely sunny day. I remembered what Jimi Blake had said to me about September having the best light for photos so out I went to the garden with the camera.

The first thing I noticed was that my Magnolia grandiflora is covered in buds. It took a very long time to establish but now it is beginning to look like a half decent tree.

As I walked about I realised that some areas needed weeding. It's all very well not cutting back, deadheading or edging but you can't really neglect the weeding or the whole place goes to pot! So out I went.

I decided the best thing was to weed the area near the greenhouse. It's where I go regularly and it's depressing to see weeds so I did that. While I was weeding I thought I might as well do the edges - it's often the easiest way to weed up to the grass. Then, of course, I started cutting back, trimming hedges and doing all sorts!

The other area I prioritised was the nerine corner. I noticed nerines in bud this morning and it would be a terrible shame for them not to look their best. So I weeded that corner and edged it and trimmed. I have a whopping eight nerines in bud this year. And there are many more bulbs there that will flower next year. Maybe my nerine corner will live up to its name one day!

Dargle Cottage

18 September 2012 17:17:51
Dargle Cottage

Dargle Cottage

I wasn't going to bother putting up photos from my Dargle Cottage visit but Mary's last comments have motivated me to do so.

The reason why I wasn't going to put the photos up was that I came away very deflated from the visit and I didn't want to appear ungrateful to Jimi who was kind enough to invite me.

And the reason I was deflated was because I felt I could learn nothing from this garden.

Usually I learn something whenever I visit a garden, even gardens I don't like. But, with Dargle Cottage, the emphasis was on architecture (of the hard, rather than plant,  type), impressive statues and ornaments and generally things that cost a whole lot of money.

The solutions employed to deal with the different levels, especially down the cliff face, were all beautifully implemented. The wrought metal work was fabulous and I had only ever seen an infinity swimming pool in magazines before last Sunday. But, of course, I could never copy any of that.

The summerhouse (one fo the few listed buildings from the 1970's) was built under the premise that it should take up the least amount of garden space possible. It is suspended and only a fifth of it touches the ground. The summerhouse is guarded by a very beautiful and scary Queen Maeve, with elongated legs and a pert ass. And there was a suspension bridge too - great fun to cross, except for poor Jimi who is suffering from suspected Vertigo!

But the piece I felt the most affinity with was the waterfall by the house. It was clothed in a roaring-red Virginia creeper and it was just spectacular. I think Ali liked it too :)

There were some beautiful old trees too but, as the garden is currently only maintained by two gardeners, the herbaceous planting could have done with more attention.

It was all lovely but give me gardens that are about the plants in future please! I am just a humble gardener and not up to this sort of thing!

Dargle Cottage, Enniskerry

Autumn, huh!

17 September 2012 22:23:10
Hedychium greenei - thanks, Bill!

Hedychium greenei - thanks, Bill!

I can't seem to get motivated with the garden since my return! The weather and the long grass don't help.

Should I continue to deadhead or let plants run to seed for collection? Should I bother to cut back and edge when autumn is coming on anyway? I've started shutting my greenhouse door at night now - keep the warmth in for the orchids.When will my orchids flower? So many questions, so little motivation!

I do have some nice things coming to flower in the greenhouse though.

I visited Dargle Cottage last Sunday. Must sort out the photos!


15 September 2012 19:05:54
Dahlia 'War of the Roses'

Dahlia 'War of the Roses'

Lots of dahlias putting on a nice show in my garden at the moment.

This one is my favourite.

It is a really good do-er and it's properly hardy too.

It's called 'War of the Roses' or sometimes 'York and Lancaster'.

Douentza, September 2012


15 September 2012 18:53:00


I visited Fran last Thursday but only finally sorted the photos out today.

That garden has come on so much since I last saw it.

It was looking really lovely, despite the advancing autumn and I have passion flower envy after seeing Fran's beautiful one.


Fran's Garden

No. 1, Parc Floral de la Cout d'Aron

14 September 2012 18:16:45
No. 1, Parc Floral de la Cout d'Aron

No. 1, Parc Floral de la Cout d'Aron

This was my number one garden.

The lotus lake just blew me away.

I adore the Egyptian-style dam plantings too. It was a really big place with lots for the kids too.

Parc Floral de la Court d'Aron, no. 1

No. 2, Jardin d'Argences, Coutances

13 September 2012 18:27:18
No. 2, Jardin d'Argences, Coutances

No. 2, Jardin d'Argences, Coutances

This manicured garden came in at number two on my list of favourites.

Built in 1989, my book describes this one as a mixture of styles, including English, but a good example of a modern French garden. It is privately owned and has won a list of French garden prizes.

Again, the thinking was to build a garden to enhance the beautiful château which the garden surrounds.

The garden consists of a series of 'rooms' and displays elements which we know and love - neatly clipped hedging, immaculately edged borders, dense planting and strong emphasis on contrasting leaf shape and size.

I had a hurried one hour to visit, being ushered through by my teenage son who was determined we would not miss our boat. I am so glad I didn't miss this impressive garden.

Jardin d'Argences, Coutances, no. 2

No. 3, Château du Pin, Champtocé-sur-Loire

12 September 2012 19:25:08
No. 3, Château du Pin, Champtocé-sur-Loire

No. 3, Château du Pin, Champtocé-sur-Loire

The fabulous Château du Pin garden came in at number three on my list, although it was very close on the tail of number two.

The garden, around the medieval castle, was designed and built in the 1920's and today it is still privately owned
. My book says the garden is of the Arts and Crafts style.

We all loved this beautiful garden, alive with frogs, lizards, butterflies and dragon flies, and spent a leisurely three hours there. It was very Mediterranean in feel, with lots of water and stone and, of course, the magnificent topiary.

Note the four clumps of lotus in the main pond! Apparently a major achievement, considering the garden's northerly position. The great Christopher Lloyd tried, with expensive underwater heating, to grow Lotus and failed where Château le Pin has succeeded.

A Break & A Cool Idea

11 September 2012 23:29:02

Click to zoom

Click to zoom

Click to zoom

I thought you might all be saturated with French gardens so I'd give it a break tonight.

But check out this cool idea I saw in a French Garden Centre.

Okay, imagine vertical wall planting (all the rage now)!

But imagine, you don't have to go to that much trouble!

Here is the solution.

It's like a picture that you hang on your wall. But it's made of plants!

The frame is a few inches deep (to allow for watering, moisture retention etc) and the plants are easy ones. I saw many common house plants, Tillandsia and Saxifraga stolonifera used.

Okay, there are lots of questions. Like, how often are you going to have to adjust that artistic arrangement! But I thought it was dead cool and a great idea.

I'll wait for the price to come down though before I buy a small one at €70!

No 4, Le Parc Oriental, Maulévrier

10 September 2012 19:37:17
No 4, Le Parc Oriental, Maulévrier

No 4, Le Parc Oriental, Maulévrier

Coming in at number four in my seven best French gardens, is Le Parc Oriental in Maulévrier. This Japanese Garden, the largest in Europe, made me realise that I had never seen an authentic Japanese garden before.

Created in the late 1800's, Le Parc Oriental is acknowledged by Japanese experts and loved by whoever visits. A most impressive garden with extensive topiary, buildings and ornaments.

We visited during the day and then returned at sundown for an extra treat. By lamp light, we followed trails, listening to Haiku poetry and appreciating the many reflections in the expansive lake.

The boys got the most fun out of watching a group of people, on the other side of the lake, make their lanterns dance, and then we sent them our best choreographed response. And Zak, the ingenious, even managed to set his foot on fire with the paper lantern. We Irish have our own special skills!

Le Parc Oriental, Maulévrier, no. 4

No. 5, Potager Extraordinaire

10 September 2012 11:12:41
No. 5, Potager Extraordinaire

No. 5, Potager Extraordinaire

Of the seven gardens we visited in France, this one was number five in my personal preference.

Le Potager Extraordinaire, as implied by its name, is basically a vegetable garden but has expanded and now takes on a whole educational element.

It showcases unusual plants and their uses, in ornamental settings, and is famous for its large number of pumpkin varieties and gourds, some of exceptional size.

This was my third visit to this garden and it has improved since I was last here. It is well worth a visit if you are anywhere nearby.

No. 6, Jardin des Plantes, Coutances

09 September 2012 19:09:09
No. 6, Jardin des Plantes, Coutances

No. 6, Jardin des Plantes, Coutances

Sooo, for those following my rating of seven French gardens, in sixth place is Jardin des Plantes, Coutances.

The Jardin des Plantes in Coutances was originally a private garden but is now municipal. The planting of annual borders was exquisite.

At first I was excited, exhilarated and inspired, planning what I might do in my own Annual Border next year. Then I came to compare the specifics, the likes of Tithonia, Cleome or Ricinus...

There is no comparison between the level of growth they get from annuals in France and what we can get in Ireland. I feel compelled to give up altogether on my Annuals Border.

A beautiful garden, well worth visiting.

Jardin des Plantes, Coutances

No. 7, Jardin des Plantes, Nantes

09 September 2012 11:22:08
No. 7, Jardin des Plantes, Nantes

No. 7, Jardin des Plantes, Nantes

Here come seven journals on seven different French gardens.

Of the seven gardens we visited in France, I have given them all my own personal rating. Number one, being the best, and this one, Jardin des Plantes in Nantes, coming seventh.

The Jardin des Plantes in Nantes, home of the bizarre interspecific hybrid, the Fatshedera, came well recommended. From my point of view it was a cross between a park and a Botanic Garden.

It is a beautiful space, much used by inhabitants of the large town of Nantes, with a lot of green areas for relaxing and strolling, a kids' play area, a swimming pool and even a restaurant!

On the other hand it had some an interesting collection of Aralia, a bog planting of Sarracenia and educational displays of plants, according to medicinal use, for 'amateurs des plantes' (who were allowed walk on the grass to see them).

There were glorious old greenhouses too - two earmarked for restoration. The succulent greenhouse was open to the public at pre-specified times (not when I was there). I found a smaller orchid greenhouse and peered under the shutters to see a burgeoning, well-cared-for collection but it was not open to the public :'(

In my opinion, and with my cultural expectations, this garden was too many things to too many people. But, if I lived in Nantes, I'm sure I'd visit every day.

Jardin des Plantes, Nantes, Number 7


08 September 2012 20:50:16
backdrop to my garden

backdrop to my garden

There is a definite autumn feel to our home coming.


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