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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal December 2012

Last Post 1842 days 16 hours ago

9th Orchid

31 December 2012 14:47:53
Dendrobium Spring Dream 'Apollon'

Dendrobium Spring Dream 'Apollon'

This Dendrobium orchid opened today.

It's pinker than it has been before as it used to have a green inge on the flowers.

Happy New Year to everyone.

Mild Winter

30 December 2012 15:21:27

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It has been windy and it has been wet but mostly it's just been mild.

I sent my felco off for its annual service and I occasionally open up the greenhouse but that's it for gardening. I had the heater on out there last night for the first time in ages.

Fran, here's a photo of my Melianthus major for comparison. It's got big too, thanks to two mild winters.

On the orchid front, minor disappointment as it would seem that Cymbidium Colonel Mustard is not going to flower after all , despite indications to the contrary. His days are numbered! Reduced light in the kitchen (mostly due to the Xmas tree) mean that the phals (lowest in the orchid pecking order and therefore least deserving of light) aren't getting enough light and I have had some bud drop. I can live with that. More orchids to flower soon.

Gotta go. The Christmas jigsaw won't make itself!

Douentza, December 2012

8th Orchid

29 December 2012 12:04:23
8th Orchid

8th Orchid

I hope I haven't lost count but I think this is my eighth orchid to open.

I've had this hybrid for a few years now and it is a reliable and easy flowerer, flowering about twice a year.

It looks like it has Oncidium and Zygopetalum in its genes but I don't have any better id for it.

This is the one where a slug bit half way through the stem a month ago yet the plant has managed to flower regardless.

On this one I was originally attracted by the dark flowers but the curvy buds also add interest, long before they open.

Christmas Crackers

28 December 2012 12:49:58

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We all love Christmas crackers - the glittery paper on the dinner table, the exciting snap, the silly hat and even the lame joke.

But who ever got any kind of useful trinket in one?

Well, I did! These little butterfly clips are great for tying orchids!

And look how the colour matches my newly opened orchid!



27 December 2012 23:47:00


Here's that picture I wanted to put up before.

It shows the flowering Aeonium in the bathroom.

It's kind of taking over!

I garden therefore I am

26 December 2012 17:58:23


25 December 2012 10:25:25
Laeliocattleya C G Roebling 'Sentinel'

Laeliocattleya C G Roebling 'Sentinel'

Wishing all my garden.ie friends a very Happy Christmas.

And look what opened for me on Christmas Day! :D


I have a bigibbum

22 December 2012 18:15:30
Dendrobium bigibbum

Dendrobium bigibbum

It was last minute Christmas shopping for me today.

Boy was it packed!

At the very end I nipped into Woodie's in Carlow for a quick looksie.

Their orchids really are good value, at €6.99 for flowering ones, but my eye fell to the bargain trolley.

I wasn't looking for a Dendrobium but at €2, you can't go wrong!

Close Up

21 December 2012 20:13:16
Close Up

Close Up


Here is Mrs White, close up :)

PS The Mayan apocalypse seems to have missed Wexford!

Mrs White in the Sitting Room with the...

20 December 2012 17:21:37
Cymbidium Mrs White

Cymbidium Mrs White

And here's my sixth non-phal orchid to open.

It's a cold orchid, a Cymbidium.

All my cyms are just unnamed hybrids so instead of calling them the white one, the mustard one, the yellow one and the pink one, I have given them a series of Cluedo names : Mrs White, Colonel Mustard, Prince Azure and Miss Scarlet.

Mrs White is the first to flower. The blooms aren't fully open yet and there's another flowering spike to come but here she is.

So was it Mrs White in the sitting room with the candelstick...?

For Margaret

19 December 2012 18:35:49


Hi Margaret, at your behest I've changed this photo to black and white.

It's certainly interesting but I think I prefer the colour version!

Voting Time!

19 December 2012 14:23:22
Voting Time!

Voting Time!

An Irish product, Supernemos, has been nominated by the Horticultural Channel for  best gardening product of the year.

The decision on the winner will be made by popular vote, your vote!

So please follow the link below and vote on the second page, in the  last category listed, for Supernemos. You will need to follow this link and then click 'next page' to get there. Thank you.

THC Awards 2012


18 December 2012 17:40:31


While everything in the garden is looking quite dormant, there is beauty to be seen, even in what's ugly.

Trying very hard to resist the urge to put up more orchid photos, I snapped this Ligularia seed head.


Eerie Mist

18 December 2012 16:58:04
Eerie Mist

Eerie Mist

I had a stomp around the garden this afternoon, just to see if anything was worth photographing.

It's all a bit depressing out there with inches of leaves to be lifted and plants to be cut back.

While I'd gone out to find some individual plants to photograph, the eeriness of the mist was in itself quite attractive. So I took some photos of the garden in the mist...

Douentza, December 2012

Christmas is coming

16 December 2012 16:54:12
Christmas is coming

Christmas is coming


Yes, Christmas is definitely on its way :)


Jaunt to Rush

15 December 2012 21:05:04
Liga, Botanic Gardens, Soring 2012

Liga, Botanic Gardens, Soring 2012

This morning we all had to be over at Donabate for 11am so, afterwards, I thought I would really like to visit my friend Liga. Well, it must have been a while since I was at Liga's house because I couldn't remember the way!

After a few false starts down dirt tracks and baulking at one mini-stream (my goodness it's wild up in north Dublin!), we eventually made it to Liga's. She was there to greet us on the doorstep with a big smile.

It was wonderful to see Liga again and soon we were chatting and I was looking at all her orchids and getting the tour of the polytunnel. My doesn't she have a lot! And they are all very well kempt with healthy growth and clean leaves.

But all too soon it was time to go. How great to see Liga again and roll on spring.


14 December 2012 16:50:28
Huntingbrook, July 2012

Huntingbrook, July 2012

I had a very strange and nice dream last night about Huntingbrook Gardens and thought I would pass it on...

...One day I was at Huntingbrook and Jimi Blake got a visit from a Health & Safety official. And while he was keeping him talking, Jimi gave me the wink to rush around his garden and close up the pavilions so the Health & Safety guy wouldn't see them (!?!).

So off I rushed. And the garden was as I had never seen it before. It was a tropical jungle paradise, full of bananas and coconut trees and epiphyte orchids. Really beautiful and humid (not that the garden isn't already beautiful) and it was dotted with pavilions. All the pavilions were different, with open sides, and very atmospheric. I had a lot of difficulty working out how to close them up (as is the stuff of dreams).

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was trying to close up the last 'pavilion'. It was an enormous, ornate metal cage and it held large birds of prey. Just then Jimi Blake and the Health & Safety guy caught up with me but they were smiling and chatting - whether Jimi had talked him around or he was captivated by the garden, I don't know. But everything was all right.


14 December 2012 10:42:53

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I thought I'd put up some photos of orchid buds.

I find it fascinating how the different genus of orchids have different flowering methods.

The first photo is Cymbidium. Here the plant throws up a spike that eventually opens to show buds. After a few monts the buds open, as pictured.

The second photo is Cattleya (Laeliocattleya, in this case) where the plant produces a sheath in the leaf axles. The bud forms inside the sheath and eventually breaks through the top of it. In this photo you can see the bud just emerging. I had cut the top of the sheath to let it out. I am really looking forward to the flowering of this plant as it's a new plant for me and a first flowering.

The third photo shows Densrobium. Here buds form at intervals along the cane between the leaves. If you feed at this point, the plant aborts the buds and makes them into keikis. I have buds. Hurray.

A wet day here. Lots of Christmas things to do.


11 December 2012 18:04:15
Punica granatum var. nana

Punica granatum var. nana

It has been very cold at night and it's becoming increasingly difficult to keep the greenhouse temperatures above zero.

The cold orchids came indoors about a week ago. But there is everything else still out there to consider.

It was + 0.8 in the greenhouse, with heat, last night so today I had a look to see what I would grab and bring indoors.  I have limited space this year but could put a few things on windowsills.

But which ones of my babies should I save?

I grabbed the Protea cynaroides (probably because I just saw them in the Botanic Gardens on Saturday) and the smaller Senecio pestasites. I will grab a few more bits tomorrow and hope for the best with the rest.

The pomegranate pictured has been indoors since the summer as it is flowering and fruiting. Isn't it joyful?

4th & 5th

11 December 2012 15:55:42

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My 4th and 5th non-phal orchids opened today.

It is a first flowering for both of them so they are greatly appreciated.

My favourite is the pink Oncidium. It is making me revise my position of only liking orchids with big flowers as now I can see the power of sprays.

Orchid Moment

10 December 2012 17:57:26
Orchid Moment

Orchid Moment

I had an orchid day today, giving all of them a milk wipe, feed and water.

This silhouette caught me unawares and sent me scurrying for the camera.

It shows an orchid leaf on the draining board, catching the shadow of a second orchid.

Yeah, I know. You sort of need to love them to appreciate it :)

Sharing is Caring

09 December 2012 23:53:13
Sharing is Caring

Sharing is Caring

As I had such a great day at the Botanic Gardens yesterday, I decided it was only right that I should share.

But look at the reaction I got from Sammy to the berry I brought back for him to taste!

Some people are so ungrateful :)

PS the berry is one that has a numbing affect in the mouth

I broke away from our group yesterday to bliss out for a few moments in the orchid houses in the Botanic Gardens. Here are the photos...

Orchid Houses, Botanic Gardens, December


09 December 2012 11:40:31

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I just thought I'd put up a little journal about rhodos that I spotted in the Botanic Gardens.

Very impressively there was one in full flower, outdoors, on 8th December. It is Rhododendron fictolectrum. That's got to be worth a punt.

Indoors, in the heated glasshouse, were others. Obviously we wouldn't be growing them normally in this country but they were gorgeous...

Here are some photos from the Botanic Gardens yesterday...

Botanic Gardens, Dec 2012

Botanic Gardens

08 December 2012 20:58:20

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Back from a full day at the Botanic Gardens.

It was cold. But I was prepared and was wearing so many clothes that I couldn't bend over. In the car I had to take off one of my pairs of socks because I couldn't get my shoes on.

I'm afraid that my muscles were acting up too after yesterday's tulip planting. So much so that when there was mention of all the Dividia seeds on the ground, going begging, I nearly couldn't bend down to get some. But I managed in the end!

The two best bits for me were the Grass Garden, which I had never seen before, and was absolutely breathtaking. This grass garden is quite different from the Bay Garden one but is more committed, in that it really only has grasses in it. But it was just as good!

There was an amazing pampas grass but I failed to catch the name. I thought it was 'Hummelo' but now I'm not so sure.

The other amazing thing was in the greenhouse where Leonotis leonutus reached a staggering 10ft and was covered it vibrant orange flowers. It was hardly recognisable as the plant I grew from seed a few years back. At risk of repetition, it was breathtaking.

More information and photos to follow. And thanks to Mary, Fran, Bill, Ali and Terry who all went to making it a great day.

Tip Toe...

07 December 2012 16:25:07
Tip Toe...

Tip Toe...

Well, tip toeing through the tulips was exactly what I was up to today.

I planted my 500 odd tulips in the Annuals Border.

The tulips are the same ones that I had there last year and the design is the same as last year's, using 'Carlton' and 'Prinses Irene'. I know some of you don't like geometrically arranged tulips but I don't care. I love them!

It will be interesting to see how the tulips come back this year as I did everything by the book in terms of their care...

I dead-headed them, I fed the leaves, I waited until the leaves wilted and then dug them up, I dried them and I stored them indoors until now.

What I should have done was to buy a few more to top up the ones that perished. But I didn't get around to it. And, despite discarding the smallest divisions,  a number of the tulips looked quite small. Never mind, I put the best ones at the front.

Oh, and I even remembered to plant the 'Carlton' bulbs on their sides. Hopefully it will delay them slightly this year so that they flower at the same time as the slightly tardy 'Prinses Irene'.

And then, to finish off, I potted up the four packets of different tulips I had succumbed to  in Lidl this year.

I'm done in the garden until after Christmas.

Drama Queens

06 December 2012 15:04:19

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I think orchids have got to be the worst drama queens of the plant world.

I mean, there is always something up with one or other of mine!!! Of course it gets worse in winter when I've more gardening time on my hands to worry about them.

For example, a while ago I noticed some pits and marks on the leaves of a Paphiopedilum. Oh no, I thought! Is it mealy bug? Could it be the dreaded spider mite? I checked the plant very carefully for pests but found none so I asked expert advice.

Well, guess why my plant had marks on its leaves! It was mesophyll cell collapse due to the fact that I had been watering it with water that was too cold! Orchids like to be watered with nice tepid or warm water. And there was me, giving it straight from the tap!

No. You couldn't make this stuff up!

The latest episode with my drama queens is that I have suspected Cymbidium mosaic virus on the cym I call Mrs White. Opinion is divided and it would cost more than the plant is worth to have it scientifically tested. So, I will wait until Mrs White flowers (very soon) and that should reveal the truth of the matter.

I'm telling you, it's a rocky road with orchids. But, you know, they are worth it :)

Around the Garden

03 December 2012 16:36:38

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I spotted a few things in the garden today.

And then I rushed indoors to the warmth.

Winter Warmer (Rachel)

03 December 2012 16:29:00
Rhododendron ponticum 'Variegata'

Rhododendron ponticum 'Variegata'

I kinda like the look of this variegated Rhododendron in winter.

Lazy Day

01 December 2012 19:04:14
Cattleya forbesii

Cattleya forbesii

There's not much gardening happening here at them moment.

I took some photos of my orchids and did a bit of staking.

I had to put up a photo of this orchids (currently my favourite) in case anyone missed it last time :)



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