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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal November 2013

Last Post 1509 days 22 hours ago

Car Crash with Leaves

28 November 2013 14:42:10

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The garden looks like a car crash, with added leaves, at the moment.

But I did capture some photos today, mostly of rogue blooms...

Douentza, November 2013

Will End in Tears

28 November 2013 14:31:45
Will End in Tears

Will End in Tears

One of my Clianthus is in bud at the moment.

This can only end badly!


27 November 2013 11:16:30


I am just wondering if there are any more votes in the Which Cattleya Will Open First Competition?

So far we have Tina, Clare and Joann voting for number 6, Johnstown's Orange.

We have Jacinta and Scrubber voting for number 8, Voilà.

We have Pwiseman and Fran voting for number 2, Bob Betts.

And we have Spider voting for general confusion!

Come on now, there's a prize up for grabs! Do we have any more votes?

Just to tempt you all, here are photos taken today!

From the top left...

1. BLC Huatand City 'TY Naughty'

2. Cattleya Bob Betts

3. Cattleya forbesii

4. Noid Betty Boop

5. LC Coastal Sunrise

6. Noid Johnstown Orange

7. BLC King of Taiwan 'Dashin no. 1'

8. Guarcyclia Voilà

9. LC G.C. Roebling 'Sentinel'

The Muppets

26 November 2013 22:47:57

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I am absolutely delighted because the Epidendrum, which has been growing upwards for an age, has finally opened.

I am delighted because the colour is somewhere between red and orange.

I already have a pink one so orange is infinitely preferable.

And, besides, I do love orange!

I took this close-up of the first flower to open.

Doesn't it look like our favourite Muppet, Beaker?




Quashing Rumours

26 November 2013 18:52:38


Just to quash some rumours that are going around (I can't imagine why) that I don't like yellow, here is a photo of a lovely yellow flower I have at the moment.

Honestly, I don't know where these notions come from! :D

Bottom Drawer

25 November 2013 16:53:18
Bottom Drawer

Bottom Drawer

Hey, what do you think of the bottom drawer of my fridge?

It's full of pleiones.

I received eight more types in the post today so the drawer is quite full now.

Any more and I'll need my own fridge.

These new Pleione bulbs include some new varieties by a private breeder.

Roll on spring!

All Done

24 November 2013 12:43:36

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The insulation job is now done. The greenhouse is bubblewrapped.

We had too few clips and too much bubblewrap. But we used tape and made some double layers with the extra bubblewrap.

There is a double paraffin heater and a single in operation as well as an electric heater. We got an outside supply fitted and a weather proof box.


22 November 2013 23:14:47


21 November 2013 09:23:00


The insulation for the greenhouse has arrived, in the form of large bubble bubblewrap.

Now, if only the clips come today, I can get started.

Just 4 Fun (3 of 3)

20 November 2013 18:00:31

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So, just for fun, which of these 9 cattleyas will flower first?


7. BLC King of Taiwan 'Dashin no. 1'

8. Guarcyclia Voila

9. LC G.C. Roebling 'Sentinel'

I really can't call it. There are four, to my mind that are neck in neck.

Just 4 Fun (2 of 3)

20 November 2013 16:41:33

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So, just for fun, which of these 9 cattleyas will flower first?


4. Noid Betty Boop

5. LC Coastal Sunrise

6. Orange Johnstown Cattleya

I really can't call it. There are four, to my mind that are neck in neck.

Just 4 Fun (1 of 3)

20 November 2013 16:29:04

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So, just for fun, which of these 9 cattleyas will flower first?


1. BLC Huatand City 'TY Naughty'

2. Cattleya Bob Betts

3. Cattleya forbesii

I really can't call it. There are four, to my mind that are neck in neck.


The Race

19 November 2013 17:42:51
Saxifraga 'Silver Velvet'

Saxifraga 'Silver Velvet'

I had a very grumpy day today, due in no small part to the fact that I had the paraffin heater up too high in the greenhouse last night so there were smuts all over the plants when I opened up this morning.

I spent some time wiping the leaves of the Protea, Coelogyne, Cymbidium and things that are not going to loose their leaves. It wasn't too bad but was a very inauspicious start to the winter.

The bubblewrap for the greenhouse also hasn't arrived and there were a couple of other things, which I won't go into. When you're already in a bad mood, every thing adds up.

However, this evening that is all behind me.

On the positive side, I have about seven Cattleya orchids all racing with each other to flower first. They are at the stage where the flower spikes are just peeping out of the sheaths and there are three orchids that are absolutely neck in neck.  Of course, after the spikes come out of the sheaths, the blooms have to unfurl. So there's everything to play for at the moment.

Another Woodies Bargain

18 November 2013 19:44:43

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I called into Woodie's in Wexford today to see if any of that staging I'd previously bought was still available.

While I was there I couldn't resist this gorgeous little house for €3.99. Even if it falls to pieces after two years in the garden, I reckon I'll have my money's worth.

I just thought it was dotey.

And the second photo shows the Alocasia I picked up last time I was down there.


18 November 2013 17:39:22
Nerine 'Crispa', 'Codora' & 'Ostara'

Nerine 'Crispa', 'Codora' & 'Ostara'

Hey Tina, it's just coming into flower now!

Nerine 'Crispa', 'Codora' and 'Ostara'.

Ostara is the one that has just opened and is quite different from the other two. Codora is to its right and Crispa is the smaller one behind.

Nice Yellows

16 November 2013 15:12:25


There are some nice yellows showing in the garden at the moment.

Last of the Bulbs

15 November 2013 15:41:44


I got the last of the bulbs in today. I am shamefaced to say that there were daffodils among them. The daffs were slightly soft but I'd say they'll be fine.

I found a great place to plant them around two large Gunnera. The Gunnera foliage will be hefty enough to not be swamped by the daffodil foliage. It's not my idea, unfortunately - another Christopher Lloyd gem!

And I put 40 yellow tulips in the Long Border, where I already have a number of pure yellows and reds, so there will be a repetition.

Of course I also did a fair bit of cutting back. You can't go near the garden at this time of year without getting secateurs-happy. I removed mostly tall perennials which are already flopping over and looking messy.

It was a nice dry day but it's due to get cold!


14 November 2013 19:43:31
Streptocarpus DS Heart of Kai

Streptocarpus DS Heart of Kai

The postman brought me precious bounty in the post today.

It contained Ukrainian and Polish Streptocarpus leaves, all the way from Lithuania. The Ukrainian streptocarpus, by the breeder Dimetris, are much prized.

All were in good condition, despite being so pan-European and well travelled.
I have already propagated them and they are sitting on heat mats.

Looking good but, as always with precious booty, fingers and toes crossed!

The photo shows a Dimetris Streptocarpus, courtesy of Nzfauna (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photos Up

13 November 2013 19:39:14

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I've finished uploading the new photos to the November album if anyone wants to take a look.

There's also the orchid album...

Douentza, November 2013

My Orchids

Took a jaunt into Gorey today to hear Frances McDonald speek. Picked up a Ludisia for €3.99 in Lidl.


12 November 2013 16:08:02

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I've taken quite a few photos today and will start uploading them soon.

These three stuck out as being quite querky and random.

Hope you enjoy.

And who can name the cold greenhouse plant in the last photo?

For Fran - Mum's the Word

12 November 2013 15:52:57

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Hi Fran,

You asked for a photo of my brown mum, 'Alex Young', when in flower.

Well, it's not fully open yet but I thought it looked very lovely today in the sunshine.

And the red and purple Regal Mist ones aren't half bad either!

Glorious Colour

12 November 2013 15:36:50

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I am by no means the first to mention what glorious autumn colour is all around us this year.

I think we are even getting better autumn colour than in many years.

In my garden, I know that The Iron Tree, Parrotia persica, and The Spindle, Euonymous alata, have coloured up for the very first time. They were a cause of angst for a few years, as they had been bought for autumn colour but never delivered the goods!

Love the reds and butter yellows - love them all.

But, oh what a mess the garden is!

Still Going Up

10 November 2013 23:06:41
Still Going Up

Still Going Up

You may recall my saga of the ever-growing orchid.

The one that keeps going up and up and up.

Well, it's still doing exactly that.

I've had to cellotape it to the wall with string to stop the influorescences breaking.

My heart is in my mouth when I have to lift it over to the sink for watering.

I think the flower is going to be pink...

New Shelves

10 November 2013 15:19:04

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I popped into Woodies on my way back from Tina's yesterday and found a 50% sale on a lot of stuff.

My eye fell to the ornamental metal shelving pictured. It will be great in summer for housing auriculas or streps but for the moment it is useful indoors.

You may recall my recent journal about the orchid with the big bottom. This shelving provides the solution by giving me two teared space at the window.

The bigger shelf has been comandeered for the sitting room.

Oh, and I also picked up a large Alocaisa 'Polly' for €4.99. I thought it was a very good price for such a nice plant.

Yes, I know. I said I had no space but I kinda made some space by buying the shelves :P

Orchid Heaven

09 November 2013 17:48:39

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I am back from a morning at Tina's, or perhaps I should say 'Orchid Heaven'.

Well I must say that, since my last visit, there is no comparison in either Tina's garden or her orchid set-up.

Firstly the garden. It has shot up since I was last there and is still looking fab in November. You may remember how Tina has had a woeful time with wind, salt spray, drainage and poor soil. In fact, she is up against everything that constitutes a gardener's nightmare. The transformation has been staggering.

But the real area of interest for me today was in Tina's house where, perhaps because of the problems outside, she has become almost fanatical about orchids and house plants. Welcome to the club, Tina!

Tina's orchid set up is second to none. She has a beautiful sun room, with excellent light and space to house a variety of intermediate plants. She has other indoor space for warmer orchids and a garage for the really cool difficult ones we all struggle with. There are other spaces too, like the landing, with a big skylight, where Tina grows orchids that like it slightly darker.

I even got a sneak preview to where Tina is going to house her Streptocarpus collection and it is just perfect!

But the main thing was how beautifully everything was laid out. There was loads of light, loads of space and most plants were in lovely antique clay pots with proper humidity trays. Couple that with artistically arranged ornaments and antique furniture and you can imagine what very healthy, happy plants Tina has.

Hats off to you, Tina. Seriously! I had no idea how well you have progressed. Your hard work and dedication has paid off with dividends! Oh, and thank you for having me round :)

Off to Tina's

09 November 2013 10:03:53
Off to Tina's

Off to Tina's

I'm off to visit Tina now and have an orchid morning.

But, before I left, I thought the morning sun in the sitting room was very nice, falling on this leafy corner.

Sometimes Seasonal

06 November 2013 13:49:23


We all know the Christmas Cactus as they are everywhere at this time of year. You can pick them up for less than €2, in flower, in some DIY places.

Well, I was given this Christmas Cactus last winter and I kind of thought - so what! But it was just coming into flower, with these mad, deglow, unbelievably-bright blooms.

I thought I would keep it until it had finished flowering and then compost it. I don't mean to appear ungrateful but windowsill space is at a real primium in my house!

Well the cactus flowered and was brilliant (in all senses of the word) and just when I was about to chuck it out I noticed that it was coming into flower again so it got a reprieve. It continued all this year with either a smattering of flowers or buds. So I kept it.

And now, the plant is coming into full flower and it is outrageously pretty and exotic looking! So I think I'm a fan.

Beth Chatto's

06 November 2013 07:37:02

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In August I visited Beth Chatto's garden in UK with some good friends.

It was a beautiful day and it was the start of a few days' whirlwind gardening trip.

The thing I loved about Beth's was the water. It was very calming and beautifully laid out, in perfect proportions to grass and borders.

The thing that impressed me less was the lack of summer colour.

The nursery was amazing though and I picked up several plants from my Wish List straight away.

In fact, between the Hyde Hall Plant Fair, earlier that day, and Beth Chatto's Nursery any ordinary gardener, travelling Ryan Air, would have considered their luggage full at that stage! And it only day one! But I am more resourceful than that ;-)

The photos are up. Enjoy.

More Tulips

05 November 2013 14:39:43
Primula acaulis 'Rosanna Red'

Primula acaulis 'Rosanna Red'

Cold but sunny again today, although I did get a brief drenching.

I caught up on a few jobs - a bit of potting, got around to lifting the Amicia and posted my seacteurs off for its annual service.

Then, not meaning to shock anyone, I finished planting my tulips in pots ;-)

I am pleased to say I have 16 large pots of tulips for spring, mostly orange and lily flowered.

I had a nice surprise when it came to tipping out last year's 'Van Eijk'. I found that they were still good. I had had the foresight to buy Darwin Hybrids but had forgotten! Darwin Hybrids are very good at coming back. So, instead of getting composted, the biggest 'Van Eijk' were repotted and the babies discarded. They had to go in large plastic pots, as the good ones were already taken, but they will still be welcome in spring.

Does my bum look big in this?

04 November 2013 15:46:14
Does my bum look big in this?

Does my bum look big in this?

The problem with plants, when they do well, is that they get big!

That's not a big problem in the garden but when it's an orchid that has to live in the house, then that's another matter.

This Laeliocattleya is a beauty, with orange and pink flowers. But it has grown so big that it has had to go into a very large pot. Its bum definitely looks big in this!!!

The problem with this type of orchid is that it has to go on a south facing windowsill, to get maximum light, and because of her enormous arse this Laeliocattleya is taking up far too much space.

I've been placing her behind other orchids and she has suffered, growing long pseudobulbs rather than fat ones. She is still showing signs of flowering this year but I am sure it will be less than it could have been.

Today I experimented by raising this orchid on a pot so that she benefits from the light coming in over the heads of the other orchids. Time will tell if this is enough. (The orchids on the left of the photo prefer shade)

And, yes, I know it's time to divide her. Maybe next year!

Last Call for Seeds

03 November 2013 22:33:20
parent plants of 4 seeds

parent plants of 4 seeds

If anyone is interested. I have seeds for sale. €6 for 5 packets (of your choice from the following list) and including postage to Ireland.

The seeds are now being sold on ebay at a higher price and with a more limited list. So if you are interested in buying them here, message me.

Genus Species   Date Collected
Anthemis sancti-johannis   2011
Agastache   'Heron's Woodmist' 9.10.11
Alcea rosea 'Nigra' Aut 2010
Asclepias syriaca   8.12
Atriplex hortensis var. purpurea 6.11.11
Aquilegia   'Nora Barlow' 2010
Calendula   'Candyman Orange' 13.10.13
Datura metel?   8.2.12
Dierama ambiguum   Spr 2011
Digitalis parviflora 'Milk Chocolate' 13.10.13
Echium wildpretii   6.9.13
Eremurus stenophyllus   5.9.13
Francoa   'Pink Giant' 13.10.13
Fritellaria imperialis var. rubra Spr 2013
Hordeum jubatum   9.10.11
Kleinia neriifolia   11.2.12
Ligularia denata   20.10.12
Lilium martagon var. alba + Pink 13.10.13
Lilium regale   25.10.11
Lupinus arboreus var. alba 17.10.13
Magnolia wilsonii   10.13
Mirabilis jalapa 'Variegata' 13.10.13
Nicandra physalodes   Sep 2012
Oenothera   'Sunset Boulevard' 29.12.11
Pennisetum villosum 'Cream Falls' 20.10.12
Salvia coccinea 'Lady in Red' 2011
Selinum wallichianum   2012
Tomatillo   'Grande Rio Verde' 17.10.13
Trachelium caeruleum   31.8.13
Veratrum nigrum   6.10.13
Verbena hastata   4.9.13

Looking Good Now

03 November 2013 18:28:51

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Here are three plants, looking good now.

THe frist, Begonia 'Escargot' is in the house.

Nerine 'Codora' is in the greenhouse.

And Nipponanthemum nipponicum is in the garden.

It's nice to have late flowers.

Haloween Over

03 November 2013 12:53:40

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It's a lovely sunny day today.

Pity it wasn't like this yesterday when Liga visited.

But I took a few pics.

Halloween is over so the pumpkin heads are on the compost.


02 November 2013 18:54:11
Nerine undulata 'Crispa'

Nerine undulata 'Crispa'

I had a long overdue visit from Liga today and had the most wonderful time.

And this, despite it being such a windy wet day.

So lovely to see her again.

I forgot to take photos but here's a link to a lovely blog that Liga showed me. Who needs a garden in summer when you have a greenhouse :)

Serendipity Patch: In the Greenhouse, Again!,

The Postman

01 November 2013 21:03:44
today's haul

today's haul

It was a real day for the postman today.

Well, I don't really know if he had a good day or not but I did because of what he brought me.

Back from Dublin this afternoon, I found my seed order had arrived. Some lovely exotic things in there, making me yearn for spring!

But I was a bit disappointed because I was expect an order of plug plants, which had been posted on Monday. The postman dropped today's stuff through the letter box and no package :(

Then I had to bring the boys out at 5:30 and when I got into the car, there was the package! The postman had droppe dit there for some reason. Beautiful healthy looking plug plants too, as follows...

Impatiens niamniamensis  
Begonia luxurians  
Begonia   'Escargot'
Streptocarpus   'Crystal Ice'
Streptocarpus   'Harlequin Blue'
Streptocarpus   'Pink Leyla'


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