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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal February 2013

Last Post 1789 days 9 hours ago

More Planting

28 February 2013 16:48:58
Hellebore Bed

Hellebore Bed

I procrastinated again today.

Instead of planting the box, I opted to plant up the Lasagne Bed from last year as it's ready for planting now. I had already put the trees and shrubs in so today I planted the herbaceous.

A lot of plants from my good garden.ie friends went into that border today, as well as things I grew from seed. Even some actual purchases went in!

So a big thank you from me to Eilish, JoanG, Hazel, Elizabeth, Krista, Bruno, Damo and Violeta who all gave me plants for the Lasagne Bed.

Afterwards I went and peered at the cloud-pruning area and made the nice discovery that I am more than half way through. There are only 10 box left to plant so that's not bad. I should get to it tomorrow.

Douentza, Feb 2013


27 February 2013 18:19:22


I had other things to do today and when I finished them I didn't feel like getting on with the Cloud Pruning area.

The box plants have big roots and need big holes.


Instead I felt an irresistible urge to plant. So I did.

I planted a variety of accumulated, spring-flowering plants, mostly in the Hellebore Bed and a shady bed under a Cherry Tree.

I felt all sunny inside :)

The Aim

26 February 2013 20:53:28
net photo

net photo

For those of you who asked, this photo shows roughly what I am aiming for with my cloud pruning.

My area is deeper than one side of this though.

And I don't have the water :)

Cloud Pruning

26 February 2013 16:53:05


Some of you may remember the project I started last year to create a 'cloud pruned' area in my garden.

Last year I covered the intended area with mypex to kill off the grass. I worked on bulking up smaller box plants that I had, through feeding.

So, now it's time to put it all together.

I removed the mypex, re-cut the border edge and laid out my many box plants to see how I will arrange them. I also pruned the lower branches off the trees in that area for appearance sake.

I only got to plant 14 of the box plants today but should finish off tomorrow. By next year I reckon the area should begin to look really well.

The photo is from yesterday as the light had gone by the time I finished work today.

Chop Chop

25 February 2013 18:00:08

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Unbelievably the snow was all gone today and bright sunshine graced the skies.

There was no time to loose so out I went to prune, clear, weed and edge.

The two trees that were recently felled got chopped up too (but not by me).

That new lasagne bed is filling fast!

Spring stands still for no man (or woman)!

Open Day, July

24 February 2013 17:20:04

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Date for your diary :

I'm having a Garden Open Day at Douentza, Knocknalour, Bunclody on 27th July from 2-6pm.

All welcome.
A small entry fee applies.



Douentza 2011 - YouTube


No need to confirm, just turn up on the day.

In Flower

24 February 2013 14:02:04
In Flower

In Flower


Odontocidium Hansueli Isler in flower!

Snowy Garden

24 February 2013 10:12:26
Snowy Garden

Snowy Garden

This won't be the last snow pic to go up on the site today!


24 February 2013 00:55:46

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Couldn't believe the snow this afternoon. I drove home from Gorey against a snow storm! It's still snowing now and there's a layer on the ground.

But, on the bright side, my first seed germinated today - Dahlia imperialis, the tree Dahlia. I'm looking forward to that one.

Pruning Roses

22 February 2013 14:07:25

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The title on this journal header holds a big hint into how I spent today!

I pruned all the roses, including about five Rosa rugosa, which were thinned out and given a serious lesson in manners!

Well, it was too cold to do anything else. The earth is freezing to the touch and the cold emanates up through the kneeler if you're on it!

Free tip on rose pruning : when you've cut a branch and have to pull it out, close your eyes first!


Now I'm inside and thought I'd post a few orchid photos.


The first one is Cattleya Bob Betts. It's at its best now, having two flower spikes in bloom simultaneously.

The second one is Laeliocattleya C.G. Roebling 'Sentinel', which very kindly opened on Christmas morning for me. That flower spike is long gone but now I have a new one.

The third is Dendrobium Spring Dream 'Apollon', which is most obliging this year. It has decided to open almost all its flowers at roughly the same time - something it was always loath to do before. This orchid is a cold one, the type that Bill Hunter recently posted a journal about.

Raising Trees

21 February 2013 16:08:18


I set about raising a Tulip Tree by about a foot today!

Last year's Lasagne Bed is ready for planting but this unfortunate tree had been planted before the Lasagne bit was done so was at a lower level.

I had kept the higher earth away from the tree trunk but decided it was best not to have to rely on this going forward. The tree is a beauty - a variegated Tulip Tree, Liriodendron tulipifera 'Aureomarginatum', so I would not like to loose it.

This vigorous tree is still a manageable size so the best thing was to lift it now, fill in the level and replant. So I did that.

Then I planted the bones of this new bed, along with the Tulip Tree - Hydrangea 'Love You Kiss', Sinocalycanthus raulstonii 'Hartlage Wine' and Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Crimson Queen'. Yes, they should be nice!

PS Do you like my hedgehog tap?

Everything's Broken & No one Speaks English...

20 February 2013 19:33:28
Chrysosplenium macrophylla

Chrysosplenium macrophylla

I had a bit of an ''Everything's Broken and no one speaks English'' day today, in the words of Tom Waits.

First, as mentioned previously, the lawn mower had stopped working and when Hubby phoned up the repair shop they said it sounded like a transmission fault so that would be €1000 to fix! It would therefore not be worth fixing so we'd need to buy a new one. Bloomin heck, we only have the mower seven years!!!

Then hubby took out the shredder to chop up recently-pruned branches. And, you've guessed it, that was dead!

Finally, I couldn't garden today because I had to spend the morning preparing for a lesson and, just an hour before I was to go give it, I got a text to say the lesson was cancelled!

Just not my day :(

I decided to sow seeds. I sowed 24 types of mostly perennial seeds. That feels better now!

Then the tide started to turn...

Hubby managed to turn the mower over (very hard) and found a previously unknown belt (drive belt), which isn't turning. That would appear to be our problem. Okay, this can be fixed and won't cost a grand! Hurray!

Then, hey, I remembered that the shredder had a long guarantee - 3 years! I found the documents and contacted the manufacturer and they will replace it!

And... the work I did for the lesson-that-never-happened? Well, it's not wasted. I'll use it next time :)


20 February 2013 10:11:38


Yes, you guessed it.

The lawn mower is broken. It did a bit and then stopped!

It's such a pain when that happens and the complete down-side of ride-ons.

We don't have a trailer so can't bring it in to be fixed.

Hubby's going to phone up the repair shop today to see what they can suggest.

A Spot of Gardening

19 February 2013 15:00:14

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I got down and dirty today in the garden.

Pruned, cleared and edged!

I even removed all the liverwort from the spaces between the flags on the stone circle. A tedious job!

And, wait for it, the grass is being cut as I type!

The daffs at the front of the house are just going over (pictured) but they've done well as they came into flower on 3rd January. They've given me a good run for my money :)

My snowdrops are now finally fully open.

I've added a few photos to the February album...


Douentza, Feb 2013 

More Pasta & More Hellebores

18 February 2013 17:50:52

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The morning was spent driving to Aughrim to get composts and the like. Van Der Wel, Cappagh Nurseries, in Aughrim is the only decent nursery anywhere near me. They have a proper range of composts, including grit, vermiculite etc and small earthenware pots. Hurray!

They also do great value bare root hedging but I'm not in the business for that this year. I was very good and only had one impulse buy. Yes, you've guessed it - a hellebore! I think this one's a stunner and, although a double, it actually holds its head up enough to see some of the bloom!

Then home again, a bit of driving, lunch and out to the garden.

But I'm really pleased with what I got done. I started on the new Lasagne bed at last! I marked and cut out the edge and then started clearing and pruning and just put my debris into the Lasagne area. So easy!

The photos show my new hellebore and also a little orchid that opened today.


Slight Set-Back

17 February 2013 18:06:29
Pleione Tolima & Zeus Weinstein

Pleione Tolima & Zeus Weinstein

I went through my seeds today, deciding what to sow first etc.

Now I have a bit of research to do regarding temperatures.

Tried to get seed compost today but failed. I'll have to take a trip out on Monday.

Oh, and one of my Pleiones has failed to open fully (for reasons I hope to get to the bottom of).

This was a new one, bought from Butterfield Nursery in UK, and it is called Zeus Weinstein. It is a bit unusual because the funnel is yellow and frilled and the petals are pink. Not that you can tell from the photo.

It seems the petals just never opened out. Oh, well. There's always next year!

The one on the right, Tolima, that I got from Deborah Begley is doing great :)

New Hellebore

16 February 2013 20:38:58
New Hellebore

New Hellebore

I thought I'd put up a photo of my new hellebore.

Despite not having first pick of the hellebore, I think I got a good one. I love the dark colours.

It is one of Guy de Schrijver's hellebores and I had it in my hand when I bumped into him yesterday.

Can't wait for my other hellebores to open in the garden. I only have some plain white ones in flower so far, unlike you lot, who seem to have the works in flower.

Snowdrop Week

15 February 2013 18:17:14

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As we all know, this is Snowdrop Week at Altamont gardens.

I got my chance to go along today and what a perfect day it was for it!

I think I say this every year, but the gardens have never looked better. The snowdrops are in their prime and there are several new areas where the snowdrops have been extended to. It was a delight to see snowdrops on the other side of the lake, under the recently established rhodo area.

I bumped into HeadGardener there and also Guy de Schrijver, the hellebore breeder. So funny because last year myself and Guy made elaborate arrangements to meet up yet never did and this year there were no arrangements and we just bumped into each other!

There were lots of tempting treats in the plant sales area but I only came away with one of Guy's irresistible hellebores and a Hepatica 'Blue Jewel'. I had been going to take a variegated Daphne but was embarrassed when I checked in my purse! Oops!

People Power & An Post

15 February 2013 12:01:57

Snowdrop Shot

15 February 2013 11:51:23
Snowdrop Shot

Snowdrop Shot

I'm off to Altamont Gardens to view their snowdrops today.

It's a beautiful day for it.

I was up and out early to get this snap of my own snowdrops beforehand.

I hope you ie-ers left me some plants to buy!

Douentza, Feb 2013

A few Orchids

14 February 2013 20:04:35

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And just in case anyone was strung out for a few orchid photos...



Rachel's Orchids


14 February 2013 19:52:45
Iris 'Katharine Hodgkin'

Iris 'Katharine Hodgkin'

It was a beautiful sunny day today, the sort of stuff that spring is made of.

I would have loved to visit Altamont but it wasn't possible so I decided to get a good bit of gardening done instead.

I thought I must have been drunk last year the way I planted my snowdrops. Why were they in the middle of that border, covered in debris? What had I been thinking?

But today I got to clearing that debris and it seems I hadn't been so irrational after all. When the border was cut back (as it should have been already), I found lovely swathes of snowdrops and primulas around the trunk of the peeling Acer griseum. Now I'm thinking I was inspired!

I'll just have to remember to clear that area quickly in future in spring so it can be enjoyed.

It was too dark for photos when I came in but I did managed to snap a close-up for this Iris early in the day.

First Pleione

13 February 2013 10:46:34
Pleione Tolima

Pleione Tolima

Such a wet day!

Here's my first Pleione to flower.

This one is called Pleione Tolima.

It's a cross between Pleione formosana and Pleione pleionoides and was bred by Butterfield Nursery, the UK National Collection Holders.

A Leaf out of Myrtle's Book

12 February 2013 14:38:36

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Today I took a leaf out of Myrtle's book and went out to attend to the hellebores, epimediums and other spring flowering plants that need their foliage removed for good effect.

It didn't take too long and soon I could see loads of buds! The hellebore bed is about to burst forth! What a shame to miss them through laziness!

I also did some tree pruning and hubby did a good bit more of that. My teenage son was roped in to remove an unwanted apple tree (the first of  four trees that need to come out) so that the new lasagne bed can go in! I'm not sure he's forgiven me yet!

I was delighted to see that Rhododendron 'Christmas Cheer' is all set for a good season! More like Spring Cheer!

Gardening Gloves? I think not!!!

11 February 2013 21:31:38
Gardening Gloves? I think not!!!

Gardening Gloves? I think not!!!

The postman brought be a lovely surprise today, all wrapped up in pretty gold tissue paper.

It was these beautiful hand-knitted gloves from my friend Liga.

See the lovely cable stitch on the back and the picotee edging! Aren't they just gorgeous?

Of course I got a big laugh from Liga's note, saying that they were to keep my hands warm when gardening.

Gardening? In something as beautiful as these? No way! But you can bet that you will see me wearing them at all the get-togethers from now on, probably together with Jurga's wonderfully crafted socks!

A great big thank you, Liga :)

Seedling Warning

11 February 2013 15:00:43

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I just thought I'd pass on a little reminder to anyone with seedlings outdoors or in the greenhouse in pots. Check the surface of the pots!

We all put grit or vermiculite on top to keep moss off but sometimes we forget or the grit spills or whatever.

Anyway, for newly emerging seedlings it is very important that they don't have to punch their way through a mat of moss. If you have moss on the surface of your pots, take it off carefully now!

I found a few pots where the newly emerging seedlings were just beneath the moss. So I think I got to them in time!

A dull day here, which didn't do my iris photos any favours.

PS Yes, I know I have stony soil. The mulch isn't on yet!

Plants Person & Orchids

11 February 2013 10:11:56
Arpophyllum giganteum, Bot. Gardens

Arpophyllum giganteum, Bot. Gardens

On Saturday I was off to the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin (I refuse to refer to them 'Botts') for the Plants Person course and to meet up with the usual suspects.

There were a few people missing. I wonder could it have had anything to do with the threat of yet another conifer talk! I was ambivalent about conifers before starting this course. Now I hate them. But we need not have worried. The session was excellent and even the conifer talk was done in such a way to make it interesting and lively.

The Orchid House in the Botanic Gardens was of particular interest to me. Apparently the collection is largely due to Frederick Moore who, in Victorian times, played a big part in accumulating it.

His penchant was for the small-flowered orchids so when expeditions came back with orchids (these were unregulated times) and all the collectors were fighting over the large, flamboyant types, he went for the little ones and had his pick. Apparently, at one stage, the Dublin Orchid Collection was the best in the world for small-flowered orchids.

In those unregulated, Victorian times it was common for nurseries to send expeditions out to collect particular types of orchid from the wild and then to destroy all remaining ones, to keep the prices high! Nowadays I don't think there's anywhere that you are allowed collect orchids from the wild.

I notice some plants, especially orchids, that are incompletely labelled in the Botanic Gardens. I suspect this is a deliberate ploy to deter thieves!

More Orchid Gardens

10 February 2013 15:26:48
More Orchid Gardens

More Orchid Gardens

Here are some photos from the Orchid Garden in a large theme park in Tenerife, called Loro Parque.

I think they do a superb job of displaying them. And all the other planting in the park is exquisite too.

You'll be glad to learn this is my last Tenerife album.

Orchids & Plants, Loro Parque, Tenerife

Orchid Garden

09 February 2013 22:56:03
Orchid Garden

Orchid Garden

I visited the Orchid Garden in Puerto de la Cruz recently and have just put up an album of photos.

This 230-year-old, English-owned garden is the oldest in Tenerife. Information abounds on all the famous people who stayed at the house there but information on the garden itself is sparse, apart from the fact that it has a 600 year old Draco tree!

Hearing that it was an orchid garden, I could not be kept away!

Actually, I was a teeny bit disappointed with the garden. It is quite small and, although the orchid display was good, I guess my expectations were set higher by the fact that the nearby theme-park, Loro Parque, has its own orchid garden, which, for my money, is better!

Don't miss the nearby Botanic Gardens in favour of the orchid garden! The Botanic Gardens are exquisite and much more extensive. But if you have time to spare, why not visit both!

Jardín de Orchídeas de Sitio Litre, Tenerife


09 February 2013 00:11:18


08 February 2013 10:49:34


Here's a meadow with a difference.

It was in a very arid area of Tenerife but soooo pretty.

I just love it to bits.

Now, children, don't try this at home!

Tenerife Meadow

Can't Find the Forest!

08 February 2013 09:59:31

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It's strange to be back to cold Irish weather but spring is just around the corner and I know we are all itching for it!

I thought I would share with you some of my horticultural adventures in Tenerife. This first journal is about the Anaga region, which completely flummoxed me!

Following a tip-off we headed to the Anaga mountains in the north of Tenerife. This is the oldest part of the island geographically and, supposedly, the most interesting horticulturally. We were looking for the laurel forests.

But despite a white-knuckle ride through Bailadero, ending up in Taganana and then a separate jaunt to Iqueste, the laurel forests remained illusive.

We did come across lots of breathtaking views and amazing plants though and ended up in the most perfect beach imaginable near Taganana. But no forest!

Here are some photos of the plants I did find. I'd be grateful for any names...




07 February 2013 21:54:07



Look at this lovely orchid that opened for me!


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