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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal August 2014

Last Post 1273 days 2 hours ago

Banyan Tree

31 August 2014 11:01:37
Banyan Tree

Banyan Tree

Looking through my photos I found this great one that illustrates how the banyan grows.

See how the tree 'drops' new roots from on high and when they touch the ground they dig in and make roots!

I had seen this tree in a few places before this trip but never really appreciated it.

Getting Sorted

30 August 2014 23:27:54

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The first job I had to do once home was to move all the cattleya orchids back indoors from the greenhouse. Tina sent me an emergency message when I was away, advising of night time temperatures of 6 degrees. Cattleyas need a 10 degree minimum, you see. But I think they will be fine.

Then I had to deal with my cuttings, water all the orchids, collect my baby plants from various kind friends who were minding them, rescue some plants from the wind and tidy up the greenhouse. The usual, I guess.

Of course there is loads more to do but at least the emergency stuff has been done now! And everything is looking really well. The only exception is my poor bat plant.

Anyway, here are some random shots of plants. There are more in my August album if anyone is looking to pass some time.

Pasta from Ireland

30 August 2014 22:52:27

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I know, I know. You all think I'm going to make another Italian post!

Well, this time it's Irish pasta and my Lasagne Bed, to be precise!

Last time I tried to put up some photos of this bed (a few journals back), it broke garden.ie so I hope that doesn't happen again.

Anyway, this bed was largely planted up this spring and it is looking terrific already. In fairness though, the echiums, verbascum and hydrangeas went in a little longer ago.

And I make no bones about featuring my favourite hydrangea again, Vanille Fraise, and the fantastic chimeric dahlia, York and Lancaster (sometimes known as War of the Roses).


29 August 2014 23:26:01

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I've uploaded some photos of the Botanic Gardens in Palermo.

I visited it twice. I had a great time the first time round but a week later I discovered all sorts of things I'd missed the first time round.

The photos are from my second visit. More to follow.

What do you think of this cool Banyan tree (Ficus macrophylla)! Originally from Australia this tree seems very at home in Sicily.

It has an epiphytic habit (growing on air), dropping roots from on high. They look like Tarzan ropes until they hit the ground and sink in to anchor the tree further and making the tree spread outwards at aan alarming rate.

Anyway, it I were the pillar in the second photo, I'd be very worried. Look how the tree has swallowed one pillar!

Enjoying the Botanics

28 August 2014 23:05:23
Enjoying the Botanics

Enjoying the Botanics

As you can see, hubby really enjoyed the Botanic Gardens in Palermo.


28 August 2014 20:36:18


I really think this is Trevesia palmata and, if so, I have gotten my hands on seed!
Can't wait to get sowing!

A Far Cry

28 August 2014 08:45:46

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I have just finished uploading the Villa Giulia, Sicily, photos for anyone who fancies a look.

Crinums, or perhaps Amaryllis belladonna, featured heavily in that garden. You can see them on the middle photo in my last journal.

This morning I took the attached photos of crinum and Amaryllis belladonna in my own garden, where they are just coming into flower.

Oh, the difference!!!


Villa Giulia, Palermo

28 August 2014 00:15:06

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Here are some nice photos of a beautiful garden I recently visited in Palermo, Italy.

In summer, with temperatures in the mid 30's, gardening there relies more on symmetry, sculpture and shadows than fussy plants.

The photos are only half up. I will continue uploading tomorrow morning.


27 August 2014 12:31:06

High Summer

09 August 2014 13:50:40

Another Thank You

09 August 2014 13:37:58
Another Thank You

Another Thank You

Thank you, Fran :)

House Plantaholics Ireland

08 August 2014 09:43:51
Pelargonium 'Ardens'

Pelargonium 'Ardens'

I've started a facebook group for people who want to talk about house plants.

If you have an interest, please join!

Summer Pruning

07 August 2014 18:11:37
Summer Pruning

Summer Pruning

Today it was time for the annual pruning of the more than a dozen mock oranges in the garden.

I hate this job most of all because it makes an ungodly, unseasonal mess.

But now it is done and cleared away and I'm glad to have it behind me.

I thought this photo from yesterday was very evocative of the Mediterranean, even though it was taken here in Wexford.

Thanks, Fran

06 August 2014 17:54:13

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Thank you, Fran, for these great plants.

I think the surprise calla might be Picasso but the others in the pot may be something different.

The begonia is just opening now to and is a nice white.

The third photo shows the child of the brug cutting you gave me in January (the one I tried to give back to you recently). Look! It is going to flower too! I'm delighted to have two flowering pink brugs this year :D


Display Change

06 August 2014 17:30:50
Display Change

Display Change

There have been a few changes to the greenhouse display recently as some plants are past their best or are now to big for the staging.


06 August 2014 15:57:47
Tibouchina urvilleana

Tibouchina urvilleana

The tibouchina is looking lovely at the moment.

As you can see form the photo, I also have a lot of those hover-flies that pretend to be wasps this year.

For Roofy

05 August 2014 22:43:35
For Roofy

For Roofy

Hey, Roofy.

This is the bird I saw at the horticultural show yesterday that reminded me of you and your colourful menagerie :)

I don't know what he is but he would brighten up any garden!

I didn't buy him.

Scary Days

05 August 2014 11:11:53
Scary Days

Scary Days

Some of you may have read about my efforts to grow proteas from seed this year.

Well, it seems I have fallen victim of my own success.

What happened was that I sowed six seeds in each small pot and a good proportion came up, in some cases all six.

But proteas hate root disturbance and soon I realised that I was facing a problem as it is impossible to separate seedlings without at least some root disturbance. This problem has been nagging at me for months now.

However, with the certain knowledge that the bigger the plants got, the more the roots and the problem would be compunded, I went into action yesterday.

I decided to separate half of the seedlings, keeping a back-up pot of each type. Gingerly was the order of the day and with heart in mouth! And then there was the whole dilemma of how much to water them after repotting as they don't like too much water either.

When I woke up this morning I rushed out to the greenhouse to see if the proteas were still standing and I took this photo. It is looking good so far!

What a laugh!

05 August 2014 00:02:52
What a laugh!

What a laugh!

I had to laugh today when I saw this on my trip around the garden.

See what has happened to the knitted socks on the crab apple trees!

Nature always has her way in the end :)

New Dahlias

04 August 2014 23:55:11
New Dahlias

New Dahlias

I bought a few new dahlias this year, mostly from the UK National Collection.

This is 'Jomanda'.

Photo Catch Up

04 August 2014 18:26:14

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I've now finished uploading two sets of photos.

The first were taken at Jurgita's beautiful garden in Avoca on 24th July. I am sure whoever went to her open days had a great time.

The second album is from Kell's Bay in Kerry on 29th July. It is famous for its forests of tree ferns and a great place for the lads to run, climb and explore.

Paniculatas again

04 August 2014 17:59:41

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After my recent post on Hydrangea paniculata I took some photos of my favourite bushes.

The first photo shows Hydrangea paniculata 'Vanille Fraise'. It is planted in sun and has done well right from the begininning. I can't say enough good things about this plant. It is my absolute favourite.

The next photo shows Hydrangea paniculata 'Phantom' and Hydrangea macropylla 'Madame Emile Moulliere'. Both were bought as very small bushes in 2011 and planted in shade.

This year, for the first time, 'Phantom' is just amazing.

'Madame Emile Moulliere' is also good this year but I know she will get better as I've seen her in another garden with football sized puff balls. Interestingly, her blooms are flecked with blue but I suppose if you had alkaline soil they would be flecked with pink.

The final photo shows 'Phantom' on its own.

I have lots of other paniculatas in the garden but they are only young so time will tell as to how they mature.

Bits & Pieces

03 August 2014 22:20:39
Bits & Pieces

Bits & Pieces

I got out to deadhead the dahlias today, between the showers, and tended the orchids.

I also deadheaded Calendula 'Candyman Orange'. This is a brilliant annual (in all senses) and the only one of the 300 odd annuals that I grew from seed this year that is earning its keep. The nicotiana and callistephus haven't peaked yet but generally I think I will sow fewer annuals next year.

Tetrapanax is really looking well at the moment, as is Amicia zygomeris and the trumpet lily 'Pink Perfection' as seen in this photo.

Hydrangea paniculata

03 August 2014 14:50:47

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Here's a little footnote on hardwood propagating of Hydrangea paniculata (the nice ones ;-))

Since panicualtas need hard pruning in spring anyway, in April I propagated some hardwood cuttings of Hydrangea paniculata 'Vanille Fraise'. I put about 8 cuttings each in two largish pots.

The result is that one cutting in each of the two pots has struck.

So, not the most effective propagation method but not useless either, especially since you have to cut the bushes back anyway!

The two rooted cuttings are already earmarked for my neighbour and Violeta, whom I promised last year.

PS Besides Hydrangea paniculata 'Vanille Fraise', H. paniculata 'Phantom' is looking really fabulous here at the moment. However, I have no batteries for my camera :P

Going out to do a bit now but here are some random garden pictures I took yesterday.

PPS All the Dhu Varren photos are now uploaded to the album.

Two Books

03 August 2014 10:15:06

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Going away for a few days, I grabbed some books to read.

I don't know about you but I can never read a scrap during the growing season so holidays are a great opportunity!

Well, I was in for a treat with Hugh Johnson's In The Garden, which I am still reading. It is a wonderful book full of scraps of knowledge and funny anecdotes and I am benefitting from it greatly. Thanks a million, Fran. I love books like this that you can easily dip in and out of and they give you a laugh on the journey.

The second book I brought was Ruth Kassinger's Paradise Under Glass, which I've been reading on and off since Christmas. Apart from a very interesting chapter on clivias (did you know they have variegated clivias - must get one of those!), I don't think much of this book.

If anyone wants Paradie Under Glass, you are welcome. I will put your name on it for next time we meet.

Indian Summer

02 August 2014 23:32:27
Indian Summer

Indian Summer

This is Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer'.

We saw it at Wisley last year and Kristina sourced and sorted it.

Thank you, Kristina.

Besides the obviously lovely flower colour, the great thing about it is the dark foliage.


Brown Peacock

02 August 2014 20:14:00
Brown Peacock

Brown Peacock

Speaking of roscoea, this one has bulked up nicely in the garden.

It is Roscoea purpurea 'Brown Peakcock'.

I love the red stems.

A Few Purchases

02 August 2014 16:14:03
Hedychium wardii

Hedychium wardii

On a recent visit to Carmel Duignan's garden I was given some very good advice which I am doing my best to follow.

Carmel said that whenever she sees something for sale that she really wants, she is never hindered by considerations of where she will put it in her garden.

So, with this in mind, I came home from Kerry with one or two new plants...

Iris   'Broadleigh Rose'
Crocosmia   'Prince of Orange'
Watsonia   (light pink)
Gladiolus papilio 'Ruby'
Baloskion tetraphyllum  
Cordyline indivisa  
Hedychium wardii  
Bomarea speciosa  
Cistus ?  
Roldana petasites ssp. cristobalensis
Aichryson laxum  
Aichryson pachycaulon  
Nipponanthemum nipponicum  


01 August 2014 23:04:35

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Even after a few days away, it is always lovely to come back to your own garden.

It seems that it hasn't rained much because the grass didn't grow but my heroic neighbour did a fabulous job of keeping all the pots and greenhouse well watered!

I love coming back, seeing plants in seemingly bad array and getting busy dead-heading with the secateurs. I love the before and after effect with the flowering plants.

If you ever think you don't do much in your own garden on a daily basis, go away for a week and see how the cumulative effect of no dead-heading and every day maintenance takes its toll. But it is all easily remedied!

I was in Kerry and lucky enought to take in two gardens. My favourite Kerry garden is, as always, Dhu Varren (pictured). I spent a wonderful evening there with Mark and Laura, chatting over wine and cheese and doing a little plant swapping.

Home again and the lilies and dahlias are in full swing. I am also delighted to see the pomegranate in flower, together with eccremocarpus, tibouchina and a few orchid and strep surprises.

Congratulatiosn to the Tobins on their feature in the Irish Garden, which I have just seen now. We have all known how wonderful their garden is for a long time.


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