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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal September 2013

Last Post 1568 days 17 hours ago

Pink, Blue & Yellow

30 September 2013 19:53:39

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Here are three plants, looking lovely right now.



Begonia 'Red Undies'

Salvia patens

Hedychium 'Stephen'

Stow Away

30 September 2013 17:42:33
Stow Away

Stow Away

A while ago I brought back some palm tree seedlings from Tenerife.

The tree in this pot died but this exotic little weed has sprung up instead.

It seems to be a climber or scrambler.

I wonder what it is!


27 September 2013 19:18:30

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I love this plant since Deborah introduced it to me two years ago.

It is grown for its foliage but aren't the tiny flowers precious?

Since getting it I've had the complete Baader Meinhof experience and have seen it absolutely everywhere . You know that way when you have been recently introduced to something and then afterwards keep coming across it! Helen Dillon grows it too.

I went and lost the one Deborah gave me (very careless really) but thankfully Eilish helped me out at the Xmas get-together so I have it again.


More of the Same

26 September 2013 19:38:14
hemerocallis on the lawn

hemerocallis on the lawn

I always knew that empty compost bags would come in handy some time and they did today.

I don't know how many of them I filled with the plants I took out of the Long Border! My neighbour had to make several car journeys to cart them all away to a better place.

I got all the Eryngium planum out today, although those blasted tap roots run deep. I don't think there was a single one that I didn't snap the tip off!

The photo shows the state of play yesterday, with plants dumped on the lawn.

The Long Border has gaping spaces in it now and I'm beginning to feel a bit scared :(

I discovered that my fig tree has been busy layering itself although I only found out once I'd cut the branch off and ripped it up. Grrr.

And - good news. Curculigo crassifolia, whom I'd given up for dead, is showing new growth.

Voracious Herbaceous

25 September 2013 23:01:31
Voracious Herbaceous

Voracious Herbaceous

The Long Border has been bugging me for a while.

One end is full of very voracious herbaceous (hey, hey that rhymes!) and some other plants that just aren't pulling their weight.

I kept giving them another chance because I didn't fancy the job of digging them up. And, besides, what would I put in the large gaps that I freed up?

I spent the morning on the computer, thinking about what to do, trying to source plug plants and generally postponing.

Then I made up my mind and out I went!

The first casualties were the enormous clumps of yellow day lilies. In a summer where day lilies were spectacular, why on earth would I keep these ones when they only flowered sparsely?

Then I dug out all the Heliopsis helianthoides I could find. Okay, so they had one glorious summer, when Jimi Blake admired them. But gardens stand still for no man and they can't continue dining out on that indefinitely!!!

I thought I had better stop then and take stock, to avoid takign a step too far. Besides, it was pelting down.

But now, having thought about it Lysimachia 'Firecracker'  and Eryngium planum are coming out tomorrow.

And the best part is that all these giant clumps of plants are going to a new home just up the road!


25 September 2013 08:00:26
Kniphofia caulescens

Kniphofia caulescens

This is my favourite Red Hot Poker.

It is my favourite because the foliage is so good, not like the floppy monocot type you usually get on kniphofias.

But don't buy by mail order. This is a plant you need to check out as the quality of foliage differs.

It is just coming into flower.

Another Ginger

24 September 2013 22:51:10

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This is Hedychium gardenarianum and it's a first flowering for me.

I am really delighted with it.

No scent though.

There are more photos in the September and Orchid albums now...


Dounentza, September 2013

My Orchids

Look What's Brewing

24 September 2013 15:09:43

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The orchid in the top photo is now too tall for the kitchen window. Very soon it will be too tall for the bedroom window too. It is about to flower.

When Epidendrum orchids are about to flower, they send a long leafless shoot upwards, upwards, upwards...

I can't wait to see this one in flower. It came to me in an envelope from South Africa, where a friend had literally dug it out of her garden. I had two and gave one to Liga. Liga's was much smaller but flowered last year (I was so raging :D). But mine will be worth the wait.

The second photo shows Beallara Eurostar, which opened its first bloom this morning.

Mt. Congreve's Riff Raff Day

23 September 2013 20:48:43

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As Mount Congreve was letting the riff raff in this weekend, we decided we'd better take advantage. Until recently they only opened on Thursdays and children and dogs were strictly forbidden.

So on Sunday morning I filled the car with assorted children and headed off.

The place was packed! Many people were taking advantage of the new regime, rather than visiting for horticultural reasons. But the sun was shining and the place was big enough to not feel cramped.

Thankfully some standards were maintained and there were notices up, direly warning us riff raff that the taking of cuttings was punishable by the full force of the law!

The gardens were fabulous, especially the walled part. The walled garden had a sea of toad lilies, dahlias manicured to perfection and lots of beautiful hydrangeas and eucomis. There was an Albizia and summer-flowering Magnolia in bloom and the most gorgeous Salvia involucrata 'Boutin' (which I had seen in France two years ago but never got the name). The walled garden was pretty perfect, actually.

We riff raff, however, had to go explore the woodlands, climb the Dutch steps and generally allow our children to throttle each other noisily in the rhododendron groves, while stuffing our faces with sandwiches and encouraging said children onwards with bribes of chocolate biscuits.

I bumped into Kevin (Kindredspirit) and then, on my way out, found Mary and Paddy (Gracedieu) - very surprising on 'riff raff day'!!!

While my children were generally unimpressed, hubby said he would love to come back when the rhodos are in flower so that's what we will do.

I bought myself a Myrtus 'Glanleam Gold' to commemorate the day, from the over-eager staff in the plant sales.

Photos will follow, tomorrow a.m.

French Garden

21 September 2013 23:52:01

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I got around to uploading the last of my French garden photos.

These ones are from the Potager Extraordinaire in La Mothe Achard. It is well worth a visit if in the area. I've been a handful of times now and they always have something new.

There were some interesting experiments in planting of 'wall systems'. One system used plastic bottles, the bottom half painted black for the roots, and each bottle having an opening in the side where the plant was put in (see album photos).

There were lots and lots of exotic plants, all nicely laid out and several polytunnels, including the 'gourd tunnel'.

I spotted another plant for my wish list. It's called Solanum quitoense and has edible fruits but I love the lovely big soft leaves, very like Senecio petasites (photo 2).

My Favourite Job

21 September 2013 09:54:58
Colchicum 'Waterlily'

Colchicum 'Waterlily'

I have come to realise that my favourite thing is pottering around the greenhouse. Not when it's very full, like in late spring or winter, but right now.

I don't do a lot - remove a few dead leaves, rearrange some pots, do some sweeping, maybe repot something. It is lovely and warm and time just seems to fly.

The photo shows Colchicum 'Waterlily' in a pot. When I first photographed it, four journals ago, it was completely white. That is because the bulbs had been allowed grow in a paper bag. Oops! They have now taken on their true pink.

Photos of Huntingbrook & June Blake's are now up!

Another Great Visit

19 September 2013 19:37:18

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It started out very wet this morning but as I neared Huntingbrook the skies cleared and the sun came out.

Fran, Hazel, Elizabeth, Mary and Paddy were already there, making the acquaintance of Jimi's new dog, Doris.

The gardens were great, with autumn just creeping in, but the real icing on the cake was the fact that both Jimi and June Blake took the time to go around their respective gardens with us, pointing out what was new and plants that we may otherwise have missed.

It was a lovely day but, unfortunately, I had to leave early, missing a lot of June's. So I'm sure I missed all the best gems and the others will catch me up later.

Cutting Back & Dog Poo

18 September 2013 23:07:17

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I went at the garden like a mad thing today, cutting back loads in the Long Border. It will save work later and improves the look of the place now. Besides, I hate things flopping soggily and messily about all winter!

Nearly broke my neck, skidding on dog poo on the lawn. It made me quite angry for a moment since we don't have any dogs and neither do our immediate neighbours!!!

I also planted some new things in the spaces I'd created recently, some plants I picked up on our mad UK trip - Eryngium pandanifolium 'Physic Purple', Roscoea 'Wisley Amethyst' and Ballota acetabulosa.

I found great spots for the heucheras Joan recently gave me and also planted some tiger lilies.

Celmesia allanii is doing really well for me in the clay pipes (2nd pipe from the left in photo 2). It must like it really, really dry! But Celmesia hectori had become overshadowed and is doing less well. I decided to dig up C. hectori, hoping it's not too late, and put it in one of the pipes with plenty of grit (3rd from left). Fingers crossed I'm not too late!

When I was finished I thought of Artemesia schmidtiana, still in the greenhouse since the UK trip. Isn't that empty pipe on the left just calling out for it? :D

Huntingbrook & June Blake's Tomorrow

18 September 2013 08:22:38

Some Pretty Things

17 September 2013 22:46:21

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Here are Pelargonium 'Grifitti Double Salmon', Colchicum 'Waterlily' and Pelargonium sidoides, all looking good now.

Pelargonium sidoides is my favourite pelargonium so far. Although I may revise that when 'Ardens' eventually flowers for me or when 'Lord Bute' is in full glory.

Like Ardens, P. sidoides seems to be one that has to mature quite a bit before you can take cuttings. That must explain why they are harder to obtain than many.


17 September 2013 22:36:57


This is the biggest of my Amorphophallus konjac. It's still far from flowering size though.

My biggest amorphophallus was bulbifer. It was a great big bulb and I was hopeful for a flowering this year. It started to grow well but then rotted (regularly an issue with these bulbs).

I wasn't hopeful but in autumn when I tipped A. bulbifer out of its pot I got a nice surprise. Although the large bulb had indeed rotted away, it had produced a smaller one before it left. So at least I still have this amorphophallus, although I'm a few steps further back from getting any flowers.

And I did have Amorphophallus nepalensis in flower this year so  won't complain.

Our trip to the glass houses in Kew Gardens, where we saw giant amorphophallus close up, has only made me more determined to continue growing this stinky aroid.

Waiting for the Gingers

17 September 2013 19:38:35
Waiting for the Gingers

Waiting for the Gingers

While Hedychium densiflorum has already flowered, I'm still waiting for my main ginger display to do its stuff.

I have H. forrestii, a hardy one, on the left of the picture but it's showing no sign of blooms. I also have 'Tahitian Flame' and and this is also reluctant. Lucky I bought it for its variegated foliage!

But thankfully the forest of Hedychium greenei is getting ready to display its orange flowers on red stems and, for the first, time Hedychium gardenarium has the most enormous flower spike.

Last Lily

16 September 2013 13:20:31
Last Lily

Last Lily

These are my last lilies to flower. They are only flowering so late because they were bought at Bloom and planted out late. They will be very tall over time, so much so that they are sometimes referred to as tree lilies, and the scent is intoxicating.

These ones are called 'Manissa' and remind me a lot of the 'Conca d'Or' ones I featured earlier this year. Both are oriental/trumpet hybrids. Conca d'Or is supposed to have bigger flowers of a deeper yellow.

I spent the morning in the garden digging up plants that I no longer want, to make space for nicer ones. My neighbour dropped by about fifteen minutes ago and took away the enormous clumps of leafy blue iris, tradescantia, geranium and silene in plastic bags. It is nice to know that they are going to a good home as he has a big empty border to fill.

I relocated all of my hardy osteospermum onto the little bank. It really is too vigorous a plant for the open borders but will look great on the little bank as it will be the backdrop for the new border I will plant next spring.

Late Treats

15 September 2013 23:37:50

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Here are a few plants, looking lovely at the moment.

The Plectranthus was from Eilish at the Xmas get-together and it's just coming into flower now. Thanks, Eilish :)

I'm pleased how the planter with the agave has tuned out. I stuck some spare aeonium rosettes in the soil around it in spring and they have all taken and look great.

Aeoniums strike very easily if you cut off rosettes, with a little stem, and stick them in soil (not leaves, as appeared mistakenly in my August article in the Irish Garden. They never strike from leaves).

All aeoniums are looking great at the moment, especially the hybrid called 'Velour'. The photo shows one of my smaller 'Zwartkop', looking gorgeous in September light.

Garden Club Talks

13 September 2013 23:37:35
Garden Club Talks

Garden Club Talks

Just a reminder for anyone booking speakers for their gardening clubs.

I do a great talk on annuals!

Jardin Botanique de Vauville

13 September 2013 15:07:56

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I've just put up an album of photos taken at a French garden this summer. The garden is not too far from the ferry in Cherbourg.

Unfortunately I had less than an hour to see this large garden as we were pushed for time so I literally ran around it. This was a shame as there were lots of nice features and very well-labelled exotic planting.

It had large drifts of agapanthus, crinum and Eryngium pendanifolium and large specimen palms, tree ferns and the biggest Euphorbia mellifera I ever saw! There were lovely ornamental features too but I suppose, if I were to find fault, it was slightly scruffy around the edges.

So, there you go...

Jardin Botanique de Vauville


13 September 2013 11:53:01

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I first saw this plant in Mount Usher gardens and was astonished at its late flowering. I was then even more astonished to learn it was hardy.

These plants are now in my garden, grown from seed, and seem to be settling in well. I wasn't 100% convinced that I liked them up until last year but now I have decided I do.

It was only after I grew the plants from seed that Myrtle mentioned she had had this plant for years and would have happily given me a cutting!

Isn't Strobilanthes such a great name though?

Garden Shots

12 September 2013 22:51:16

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Here are a few photos from the garden this afternoon.

Butter & Jam

12 September 2013 22:35:49
Butter & Jam

Butter & Jam

I love these two leaf shades together.

The yellow (butter) is Arisaema costatum and the red (jam) is Sanguisorba 'Pink Brushes'

More Roscoea

12 September 2013 22:24:56

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Here are two more roscoea in flower right now.

The first is Roscoea purpurea and a lot of the known cultivars, like Red Gurkha, come from this one. This is just the original species version.

The second is a miniature one, Roscoea procera. It was grown from seed and is a little cutie.

Meconopsis paniculata Plea

11 September 2013 19:24:31
Meconopsis paniculata, Nov 2011

Meconopsis paniculata, Nov 2011

Here is a plea.

I grew Meconopsis paniculata last year and when it died (it's monocarpic) I collected seed.

I sowed lots of seed but the blasted slugs managed to get all my seedlings.

As the seed had to be sown fresh, I gave all spare seed away to friends.

So, if you got Meconopsis paniculata seed from me and you have successfully raised plants from it and have lots, could I please have one?

It is a beautiful plant and I am sorry to be without it. Thanks.

Orchid Day

11 September 2013 17:31:29
Orchid Day

Orchid Day

It rained today and it was time to feed/water the orchids again.

I took the opportunity to move humidity trays and clay pebbles and now all the intermediate orchids are indoors. It's only the cold ones still in the greenhouse.

I potted on three orchids, one of which was Dendrobium loddigesii which went into one of the antique clay pots I recently purchased. This is the first of these pots to be used on orchids but it won't be the last.

The photo shows the orchids beginning to line up at the sink for attention!

On a different tack, today I took possession of two Digitalis 'Chelsea Illumination Gold' in a cloak and dagger operation involving a shady northern character and a fly-by drop at a petrol station. I've said too much :O

For A Laugh

11 September 2013 10:33:22

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It was really interesting to see Hazel's photos of my garden from yesterday.

I had to laugh when I saw the lovely one of me by the Cornus controversa 'Variegata'. That tree is planted in front of a copper beech hedge and when I saw Hazel's photo I laughed because I hadn't taken a photo like that since the whole area was planted and described in my journal of 19 April 2009.

Well, it just goes to show what four and a half year's growth will do.

So, just to give you a laugh too (because the digging to plant out that bare root hedge will not be as fresh in anyone else's mind as mine), here's the comparison.

Come back in another four and a half years and let's see how well everything looks then :)

PS The yellow letters on the 2009 photo were to explain what I had planted where because the plants were too insignificant to see. You'll have to go back to the original journal of 19 April 2009 to understand...

Journal 19.4.2009

Visit, Thursday 19th Sep

10 September 2013 22:07:33

Out & About

10 September 2013 18:35:05

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Except it wasn't me who was out and about today. It was Hazel. And she came to see me.

We had a lovely day and I don't know where the time went.

It threatened rain but that never materialised.

We chatted and walked and it was great.

Oh, and as Hazel was about to go, the hens broke loose from their pen. So they were out and about too. But not for long!

September Light

09 September 2013 18:59:33
September Light

September Light

You really can't beat the fabulous light we get in September for garden photos.

There are long moody shadows and the it's particularly good in early morning and late evening. But morning has the edge.

It was really magical this morning when I got up. It wasn't just the quality of the light but also the mist, dew and eerie spiders webs around the garden.

So I've added some more photos to my September album.

Douentza, September 2013

First Ginger

09 September 2013 14:18:49
Hedychium densiflorum

Hedychium densiflorum

This is the first ginger to flower this year in my garden.

It is Hedychium densiflorum and was another donation from Bruno at the last Xmas get-together.

Thank you, Bruno, if you are reading this.

Hedychium greenei looks like it's trying for second place.

Patthana Photos

09 September 2013 09:57:54

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I've just uploaded my photos from Patthana yesterday.

It is such a beautiful garden although you've probably seen your fill of photos from it by now.

But here are a few more.

Patthana Visit

08 September 2013 17:54:57

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Oh how you'll all be sitting there, feeling so sorry you didn't come today!!!! :D

Eight of us ie-ers had a wonderful day at Patthana Garden in Wicklow.

The sun shone, our hosts were graciousness personified and the garden was fabulous. Eight was the perfect number for everyone to get a chat in and for it not to become unwieldy and impersonal.

After seeing the kind of perfection that is maintained at Patthana I feel like I want a smaller garden!

I will put up another journal shortly, together with the garden photos, but that is all for the moment.



Japanese Garden, France

07 September 2013 21:11:59

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As I had a little time this morning, I uploaded photos from the Japanese Garden in Maulévrier in France.

This garden is really fabulous and well worth a visit if in the vicinity. It was my second visit.

The garden has an enormous number of expertly pruned and trained trees, various temples and displays fabulous reflections in the large lake. It puts to shame many gardens that pass for Japanese in Ireland.

It was a wet day here, which I spent moving half my orchids indoors from the greenhouse. That involved washing trays and clay pebbles, many of which escaped down the sink and blocked it :P

Last Reminder, Patthana

07 September 2013 10:49:30

Friends & Gardens

07 September 2013 10:45:41

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I think I prefer the autumnal garden visits with friends best. There is a certain sense of getting the most out of the last bit of the gardening year. Although it's not really autumn yet, the fabulous grass planting in the Bay Garden in Wexford does herald the autumn for me.

Myself, Clare, Joan, Fran and Krista all met up to celebrate autumn at the amazing Bay Garden yesterday. It did not disappoint and I highly recommend anyone in the area to treat themselves to this last hedonistic garden delight of the year!

The garden has a new section too, there's a new pavilion in the pond area and the Rose Garden seems to have recovered from the box blight.

Let me just say, the craic was mighty. Everyone was smiling and talking and I made short shrift of the hydrangeas for sale.

PS The album of photos is now completely uploaded.


Embracing Change

06 September 2013 17:28:05
Embracing Change

Embracing Change

The march of progress


05 September 2013 16:44:05

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Aeoniums are looking well at the moment.

Banana RIP

05 September 2013 16:33:39

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I have had two Abyssinian bananas for as long as I can remember. Each year I put them out in the garden and each winter they come indoors.

While tidying up in the garden today I noticed that one banana was leaning. Upon investigation, the whole trunk is no longer attached to the root! I have no idea what happened but I see a hole, about an inch in diameter at the base. The top of the banana looks fine (photo one) but that, unfortunately, is probably the end of it! Its twin, a few feet away, is fine!

The second photo shows one of two bananas that I grew from seed. They were supposed to be Musa 'Tiger Stripes', which I bought because of its supposed almost-hardiness. However, it is not as it was sold because I have no stripes!

Persicaria Moment

04 September 2013 22:36:56
Persicaria affinis

Persicaria affinis

Forgive me a persicaria moment!

The front of the garden, where it gives onto the road, is looking particularly lovely at the moment.

The Persicaria affinis still has a lot of pink in it at this stage. My favourite is when all that pink is changed to red (dare I call it russet after last journal's controversy?). It will come in a few weeks.

See the echiums i am trying to establish at the front! I planted a few seedlings there this year so fingers crossed for a mild winter!


04 September 2013 22:24:03


It has been very sunny the last two days but there is that nip in the air.

I've started closing the overhead windows in the greenhouse at night.

It was great to get out and do a little bit in the garden today.


03 September 2013 22:22:05

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There are some real autumnal tinges in the garden at the moment.

I think this is what is known as russet.

It is surely too early to say they are autumn colours... but it is definitely the late side of summer!

The plants pictured are Berberis 'Harlequin' and Miscanthus 'Ferne Osten' - look at them close up by clicking!

Garden Visit, Patthana, Sunday

03 September 2013 09:34:32

Leaf Cuttings etc

02 September 2013 19:43:08
Leaf Cuttings etc

Leaf Cuttings etc

When I bought my fancy streptocarpus recently, I realised that this was one that would need to be propagated.

Today was the day -  I got leaf cuttings going, as shown, and they are now sitting on bottom heat. I know it would have been preferable to do the cuttings in summer but Streptocarpus is reputed to take easily so I'm hoping for the best.

Another thing I'm trying is turmeric and galengal roots. When I was in France I saw large turmeric plants for sale and hubby was so taken with them that he wanted to buy one. As we didn't, I'm trying it now with roots from a Chinese shop.

However, my record with curcurma is not the best. I still cringe at the painful memory of the most fabulous flowering curcurma that Clare gave me as a present and I managed to rot it to death :O

Victorian Clay Pots

02 September 2013 12:59:09
Victorian Clay Pots

Victorian Clay Pots

My pots arrived today in the post and I'm delighted with them.

Three broke in transit but the seller had put extra in so that I was not at a loss. I think there were originally 52 pots in the box so that wasn't bad for postage of £22!

I immediate ran out to the greenhouse to see what I could put in them and repotted a Hoya and six Santolina cuttings.

Oh the luxury of potting on something as ordinary as Santolina in antique clay pots :)

Seeds & Cuttings

02 September 2013 08:54:40
Seeds & Cuttings

Seeds & Cuttings

It's that time of year again when we need to start thinking about winter.

I have started seed collection, although it is not really in earnest yet.

I was delighted recently to find that fresh Celmisia seed, I had sown from the garden, has germinated and all the little seedlings I recently gave to LindaB to mind are in great health.

This year's great success was the pelargoniums. I was really delighted with them. I guess my problem before was that I listened to the kind of advice that says pelargoniums thrive on neglect. They certainly do not. They thrive on regular watering, feeding, dead-heading and initial attention to pinching out and potting on! But if you pay attention to do all this, the rewards are great.

When I went away my pelargoniums had to be left unwatered for two weeks. I put them at an east-facing window in the house and they mostly ticked over. Unfortunately, Oldbury Duet, the one that had been the best for me all summer, did not like its two-weeks without water so is looking the worst for wear now. I've decided to skip to taking cuttings from it for next year.

But the three pictured are looking the business. They are Friesdorf, Graffiti Double Salmon and Vancouver Centennial. So I decided to bring them into the kitchen to enjoy. If I have space and they continue to excel like this, I may overwinter the plants, as are, in the house.

Last August Photos

01 September 2013 18:52:58
Gloriosa superba 'Rothschildiana'

Gloriosa superba 'Rothschildiana'

I've just added the last few August photos to the album of the same name...


Douentza, Aug 2013

Some thank yous

01 September 2013 16:22:21

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I would just like to say some big thank yous to my garden.ie friends for the following plants, which are looking good right now...

1) Agastache 'Red Fortune', grown from seed Myrtle kindly gave me in January. It is flowering now and looking like a good one. Thank you, Myrtle. I have some really choice plants from seed you have given me.

2) Ipheoin uniflorum, gifted to me by Paddy and Mary. Isn't it a sweety but I'm not sure it's supposed to flower now :P

3) Zauschneria california 'Dublin, came from Bruno two years ago and is looking beautifully orange right now. I hope the divisions I gave to people recently take. They should, as it seems quite a vigorous grower.

UK Open Gardens

01 September 2013 15:22:54

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Having just talked about my experience of the French private Open Gardens Scheme, I think this might be a good time to mention my experience of the UK one.

During our recent gardening trip to UK, we managed to catch just one private garden. It came with excellent credentials though as the owner was a landscaper called Roger Platt, who had five Chelsea gold medals to his name, including Best Chelsea Show Garden in 2002.

I think I speak for all of us when I say we were disappointed.

The main problem with the garden, from my point of view, was the lack of colour. There wasn't much in flower at all, and it early August.

There were some nice wooden arches and the whole garden was feed-free and properly edged (an RHS minimum requirement for participation). The view out of the garden and along a mown path through a field, was fabulous (photo one).

I will put up the few photos I took of the garden this afternoon.

I suppose the only lesson from my comments on this, and the French Open Garden scheme, is that you cannot judge much from viewing just one garden!


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