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Scrubber's Journal

Scrubber's Journal April 2012

Last Post 2090 days 7 hours ago

'Its a beautiful world'

30 April 2012 22:55:36
I forgot my camera! So this is the Scrub!

I forgot my camera! So this is the Scrub!

Oh dear! Can it really be four days since Thursday. I see everyone has commented on our day in Mt. Congreve and Anne’s garden even down to the detail of the the fizzy coca-cola-bottle sweets that Anne fed to an appreciative Headgardener and Scrubber as we walked along. It has been a hectic weekend with lots of adventures with Shoosh and the grandchildren and a visit on Sunday to Terri and Martins garden outside Hacketstown and a visit today to the rabbit -plagued Wicklow garden that I did earlier this year for my friends. Ill try to do them one at a time…..

Scrubber had been to the Mt Congreve garden on a guided tour led by Gerry Daly and Michael White (Head gardener) a few years ago and had been impressed hugely by them. But this time in the Company of Anne, Mary, Rachel, Paddy, Bill and Martin (A friend of Anne’s who is on garden.ie and was a welcome addition to the gang) he had an absolute ball! Was it because all these people knew their way around the vast area and chose the very best paths for viewing? Was it because he revelled in the fact that  they knew the names of every plant bush and flower that he wanted to know? (It was like having a walking talking RHS Dictionary of Plants beside one but infinitely more fun), Was it because of the banter and good humour and sense of companionship and being with friends and the ever so gentle whiff of brimstone that seems to accompany the remarks of P.T.? One could not ask for pleasanter and more informed people and of course there were those Coca Cola sweets!

But seriously folks. Mt. Congreve is one of the wonders of our country and we are so lucky to have it. Time and time again as I walked around  I could feel a gasp of astonishment, a wham of wonder slamming into my consciousness. The beauty of the place, the grandeur of the design, the splendour of the vision that created it.

Paddy, Mary and Anne brought us first into the walled garden and then past the huge glasshouses into the  next garden. The paeonies were not out but there was so much else to see. There were huge poles along the way which will soon be wreathed with roses. There were glowing acers in all different shades of red, plum, lime green, even orangey tints. There were Rhododendrons and azaleas startlingly contrasted Pink on Reds and pink flushed white throated  lilyscented Lady Alice Fitzwilliam in abundance. And Vistas…one glorious walk facing down to a fine river view was bordered on both sides by Magnolia (Soulangea?) and the three -yard -wide grassy edges on each side were sprinkled with fritillaries and oxslips and cow slips,. Oh and by the way, courtesy of Mary, Scrubber now can differentiate between ordinary and Spanish bluebells!!! Then there were the massive outcrops of rocks with mossy steps clambering up their slopes..to die for. And the quarry, in the centre of which was a circular pool and a Chinese pagoda which brought me straight back to Rupert Bear! Paddy and Mary had us in stitches with the story of  the quarry, the tractor that went over the edge and the broken lunch flask-or was it the sandwiches? (youll have to ask them!)

There were swathes of Skunk Cabbages and legions of Hostas around a big pool at the foot of one of those great rock outcrops. But everything is on a massive scale. Magnolia Campelli according to Paddy, planted by the hundred! Then on the other hand we pushed our way very very carefully in to a thicket to marvel at a Magnolia whose three blossoms were each the size of a soup bowl! There was great naming of names-sometimes helped a little by the small black labels and lots of anecdotes. A friend came by and we learned about the temple where the great man rests alongside his dear wife. I forget the lovely inscription but it was so fitting and the temple itself overlooks a majestic bend in the river.

It was such a lovely day that the weather didn’t matter and Scrubber said to hisself  ‘Enjoy everything, this is very special’ And so it was. We got back to the Yard and made a few purchases. Scrubber bought two Rhododendrons at 10 Euro each as he had the exact place for them in the wall rockery. You see that’s the great thing about Mt. Congreve-you  know it is surpassingly beautiful and beyond comparison and yet you don’t feel despondent but impelled and inspired to continue to create your little piece of beauty as Ambrose Congreve did his.

If ever you get the opportunity, go there and be overwhelmed. Its open every Thursday and there’s no admission fee. Now Scrubber has to go and lie down because there’s part two to follow, what we did AFTER visiting Mount Congreve (The Visit to the Garden of Ladygardener!!!) which Ill hopefully get to tomorrow night and then Terry and Martin’s garden, that visit today to Wicklow and……thank you so much Anne,Paddy, Mary,Rachel,Bill, Martin I know it’s a cliché but you made my day!

To be brief.

25 April 2012 13:22:33
When you leave the garden alone for a while!!!

When you leave the garden alone for a while!!!

Very short one today. You dont want to hear about another boulder? No I thought not but its in place so thats done.

Put in four rows of broad beans but then was distracted by the boul...Oh I said i wouldnt talk about...

And this morning my beautiful Fagus Antartica has fallen over AGAIN and brought the stake with it. IT was a very special tree as a dear colleague gave me forty Euro and said  now buy something for the garden (When I retired). But today I shall buy two stakes and a cross bar and properly stake it so that it will survive for many more years.

Im going to do it today and resolutely ignore any rocks i see in the vicinity!So looking forward to tomorrow and yes we are all indubitally mad! But i feel the weather will be surprisingly better! (I feel these things in my bones, Didnt Dick and i correctly forecast a mild Winter!) You see we who have seen many seasons pass have THE KNOWLEDGE that ye young 'uns will eventually acquire!

And there was morning and there was evening.......

23 April 2012 21:20:17
Of course I was looking for a hazy effect!!!

Of course I was looking for a hazy effect!!!


‘Scrubber you look a right eejit’. There was I standing on me ‘surf board’ i.e. a bit of a plank that would ensure that I didn’t compact the damp dug clay and attempting at the same time to dig drills, balance and sow potatoes at the same time. Shades of Sr Josephine all around me-not of course that she ever called me Scrubber. No everyone got the benefit of their full Baptismal when she was giving out. Even Doorley became ‘Thomas Dooooorley’ and  ‘Wobbly bits Hanrahan (Doorley so named my unfortunate cousin) got the entire ‘Mary Louise Veronica Hanrahan’. Incidentally Mary Louise eventually headed up the local planning office and Doorley swore his outline planning permission failed due to her intervention. (bright and later very beautiful girl!).

Well there I was totally out of my element but got the spuds in and sowed an entire bed of red onions-well there were a lot in the bag! And two rows of shallots and got the beds ready for rocket and peas. Then I spilled the packet of white Lisbon in the grass. Shades of Sr. Jo? I was never less sure of what I was to do and how much space I needed and what to put where. But hopefully tomorrow will see a more confident Scrubber putting in Broad Beans and peas and suchlike. Oh and I completely forgot lettuces!


Can this be the same Scrubber? I divided  a hosta and placed the two halves to their best advantage down near wall rockery. Then I noticed that if I shifted a big boulder there I could make a step! So up for my trusty crowbar and sent out a prayer for cherub. He didn’t seem to be around as I gently eased one boulder up over the other (held in place by a treetrunk) but just as I seemed to be getting there disaster. Both rocks made a dart for freedom and crashed down bringing  a good bit of wall with them. But this was where Cherub arrived! As I surveyed the damage I saw that there were other stones there that were actually much bigger than they looked and that with a bit of luck one could get rid of lots of smaller ones and display these to better advantage. Scrubber was in his element and the hours flew. Now there is a lovely continuation of the wall rockery and its much nicer than before as the old new rocks are more far impressive-just need a plant or two to enhance them!

And the two boulders? Here’s the thing. There’s a slope, the one on which my St Patrick Days daffs grow and there was a very large stone on the brow. I had often said it would be nice to have a few more there and had debated shifting some but didn’t. Now I had two beauties and within rolling distance and the ground sloped towards the intended site so actually with very little effort I managed to roll them over and ‘plant them’. Another rock trinity! Scrubber was so pleased! It was so good to be out and working again.Ill try to get up the pictures later tonight. Cant find my camera charger just at present!

Miracles happen!

22 April 2012 21:47:46
I loved the trees against the dark looming sky

I loved the trees against the dark looming sky

Sometimes when least expected. There was Scrubber this week a bit down because he hadnt been out and working and getting places, --and today-- as if the Mother nature herself  said 'Let it be Scrubber, I'll take over for a bit and suddenly, swathes of bluebells and alliums arrived and things filled in and sprouted and ferns and foliage came out and Scrubber was nearly winded with the wonder of it all-especially as he hadn't hand, act or part in it--this was the garden itself taking over and generously filling gaps and flinging foxgloves around and even the tulips which should not have been there, took on a spring shade of green and white. Moss revived on the rocks and there were strange coincidences of contrast and colour and texture. So Miracles do happen and did today.


I have put up a photo album tonight (Even though it didnt come up on the  list of new stuff) and I think it might capture what I am trying to say here. I do warn you though that there are a lot of bluebell pictures-a lot! 

Still not back into it!!!

21 April 2012 20:54:53
As you see the tulips did arrive at last

As you see the tulips did arrive at last

BUT Anna has seen our first swallow this year! Theres always a little competition among us  and I used be quite good at spotting. And then at the sight i always have a glass of sherry-no less to welcome them back and the summer in. I went out but could see nary a one so perhaps tomorrow.

We went to the ideal homes exhibition and it was quite interesting. Very nice young man Conor on the garden.ie stand. Gerry Daly was giving a talk to  a large group in one section but as it was about fertilizer I merely waved and wafted on. (No I didnt wave) There was a very poor B and Q plant display-all very pedestrian stuff but I bought a marvellous gadget that fits on the hose (when i buy a hose!) that allows me to surge or tinkle if you get the drift. Apparently I will be able to powerhose or gently spray by twisting the nozzle and it will last forever! It would want to! 20Euro!

We came home to find that the patio is nearing completion. The area is covered completely and just needs cementing in and a few bits done. we are very pleased.The Scrub is getting wilder and wilder but nicer and nicer with bluebells and wild alliums-I will try to photograph it tomorrow. And the foxgloves are coming on strong. I think the whole place will have to sort of explode and then i can go back after to tidying it and strimming but Im going to have a month of excess!

I may finally get back into the garden tomorrow. I do hope so. Oh I met my wicklow friends at the show and they have invited us up to see their lovely colourful garden!!!! 


Scrubber is finding it harder and harder

18 April 2012 16:29:46
Dooley's Summer Dacha!

Dooley's Summer Dacha!

to actually get out and garden. He has a slightly sore heel but thats not it at all. Each day he says this is it and each evening he says where did the day go. The fact that it has been cold windy and very showery may have played a part and also, dont laugh! his nervousness at attempting vegetable gardening. What to sow when and where-despite fran's great book...

But today he went to the hairdressers (He has to keep up appearances for those damn papparazzi!} and she was away but downstairs from her is a new shop that sells gifts and cards and ---little plants! he got a lovely azalea a nice saxifrage and a nice yellowy thing with ferny leaves all for a tenner! So he went out and put two in the rockery and the azalea at the foot of a path. Everywhere is shooting up and rapidly becomming unkempt as the daff leaves have to be left.

However  a lovely surprise. A twig/little branch that he broke off a Rhodo and just stuck in has overwintered and today there was a blossom on it! These are the unexpected joys! Also he saw his lily of the Valley unleafing, if thats the word and the foxgloves are only thrusting up into the air. The bluebells are coming out in force and mixed with them are the wild allium so theres a lovely blue and white area down in the scrub. He put in about five clumps of allium years ago and now the place is flooded with them. He  loves them and the foliage like the bluebells soon disappears. Even though the place is in a bit of a mess its a nice mess and Scrubber can happily live with it.

So even though the celeriac and fennel are on the long finger there is much to rejoice at and so he does!. And the patio is really taking shape and its going to be lovely as the builder/friend who is doing it is particular, tasty and professional!  Not putting up any pictures of it until its finished- about a week or two. In the meantime Scrubber hopes to get back to the garden soon! 

Home again home again, jiggiddy jig...

16 April 2012 22:25:42
Erigeron beside the bridge

Erigeron beside the bridge

Came back to find the circle under the dogwood had come out quite well after all. Maybe I should go away more often! Thought my hedge would have come on a bit more and there had been a heavy frost as well. OOOH dear! However rabbits and slugs spared my cabbage plants so that was a GOOD THING.

Work has begun on the patio and it looks very promising. The funny thing was the surface was raised up three or four inches but the Wall seems to have shrunk by about six! What was a little retaining wall is now more of a large retaining ledge. Ill be able to weed on my knees instead of bending in over the bed.

Saw a bridge over a waterfall recently and all along the bottom was covered with Erigeron! Mexican Fleabane. I was tempted but as they were wild I didnt. Elizabeth had kindly given me two clumps already. Only for that I might have succumbed. Now I have the pleasure of going back over lots and lots of journals. Twill take me a night! 

Sorry-Rachel's Garden day- part two!

07 April 2012 21:22:00
But while photographing the one, the other took a big bite!

But while photographing the one, the other took a big bite!

Oh it was a very special day and as I said earlier Thank you so much to Rachel and Norman for their very warm hospitality, to Stephen and Ishtar for those delicious sandwiches and to Sam and Josh for that great chocolate rabbit hunt. Scrubber definitely found the most rabbits but who ate the most??? Hope Sam’s jaw has recovered from the accidental kick!

A lovely sunny morning and Scrubber took the road over the mountain on a whim. Great music on the radio and breathtaking views over carlow from the Nine Stones-Try it some time. Then down into Bunclody and on to Rachel’s. Only made one mistake and got there at twelve. Guess who was there earlier Fran! Yes Fran! I met Joan on the way in and she is every bit as nice as her journals promised. I recognized her from her profile picture and she recognized me from the Scrubber statue!

In and had tea and Christine from Cork (who I think was in Holland with Rachel?)  joined us followed by Hazel and Brendan. We went out and saw the tulip display and although half of the display is yet to come what was there was beautiful and hugely impressive. A little bit of the Netherlands! Then we went around the rest and Fran and Scrubber complimented themselves on how much they had learned in the last year recognizing Geums and Hairy Mollies otherwise known as meconopsis!

Rachel’s garden has such a huge variety of plants that it’s always a learning experience to go around with her-nice learning experience -not a Sr Josephine one! Anne and Noelle arrived from Waterford and the craic was mighty. Philip (friend from the Jimi Blake course was also there and apparently his garden is a must to view. Its somewhere in Rachel’s file. Hope he joins the ranks! We also met Sumjak who is not a person from some remote pacific Island! But a perfectly nice lady, Terry and her husband Martin and their garden will be open soon in the Wicklow garden trail. (I left the leaflet in the car but will get it later and let you know.

There was also Matraschka (who is multitalented, even drives lorries no less!) and Jemo or Brian as he was christened and his lovely wife Maria. All lovely friendly people and so knowledgeable. But then there was much to be knowledgeable about. Rachel complained there was very little mystery in her garden but the real mystery is how all the many sections are kept so perfectly whether it be the tulip display, the green house, the wonderful Buddha against the bamboo, the Birches-she is advertising for strippers soon!- and everywhere one looks there are wonderful plants and new varieties.

Because there was not a huge crowd we all got a really good chance to talk. That helps as Scrubber as you know is very shy and retiring. Imagine Noelle was able to tell me things about my gran in Waterford that I hadn’t heard-lovely things. I was so chuffed. Anne is organizing us for the 25th in Mount Congreve which should be a blast. Most of the talk was continued with tea and sandwiches and lovely muffins (Fran’s daughter) and scones and Roullade and biscuits and swiss roll and…

Then out to the cars and the usual car boot sale antics! People are so generous and thank you Fran and Hazel and Rachel and Joan. One always gets much more than one gives… its embarrasin’ And Hazel bless her took on loads for other people. It was Brendan who said we were like a car boot sale!

Then a lovely drive back in the Spring evening with the gorse blazing yellow and the fields a patchwork of ploughing. Ah there should be more days like this!

And if you read this and weren’t there, of course you were missed and we did talk about you and no theres no swiss roll left!

Rachel's today

07 April 2012 19:04:33
Our own natives are equal to the best!

Our own natives are equal to the best!

Had just written a long account and its vanished so will attempt another later tonight but just to say a huge thank you to Rachel Norman Ishtar Stephen Josh and Sam who made us all feel so much at home and gave us a very memorable day. I hope to do so in more detail tonight and maybe get up a photo or two-theres one of Fran and two gargoyles.....

Note for Hazel, Anne, Nuala and Elizabeth

06 April 2012 22:09:08
This wasnt what i had imagined!!!

This wasnt what i had imagined!!!

Alas Scrubber today discovered his limitations and a lot of them! First I realised my circle around the tree is never going to be as i had envisioned it and I show the Picture to prove it. I realise i should have kept the circle bare.

My next lesson is one in humility. For the past week i have been saying to all and sundry that I have bluebells and to spare and very graciously promised some to the above gardeners. I had them in my border and wanted to get rid of them. I thought I had MASSES. Now after a very frustrating day-they are beggars for deep rooting and its almost impossible to get them up without them snapping off- I was only able to have a large flowerpot for each of my friends. In my attempts to get them out i unearthed Lillies and all sorts of things I hadnt known were there and even now I feel half of the beggars (change the letter if you like) Are still in situ and will be up next year. But I am really glad I tackled them.

As I hadnt so many i went down the scrub where there are lots, convinced I could easily uproot bunches. It was impossible. They snapped or were too deep or had cleverly gone in under roots. I did try and hard but the result was paltry. There is a little bright side I have a few clumps of lovely white bluebells and they came up reasonably well so Ive put some of those in and also a nice white double daff that needed dividing so thats in. So Ladies I am really very sorry to have raised your hopes re bluebells. You will have some of course but not as many as Id have liked.But I know you are all forgiving friends so I hope to be excused. Serves me right for boasting.

I put in calabrese and cauliflower and a pointed spring? cabbage, as plants and put up a net at which I am sure the pigeons are giggling but at least its a start. With all of the above my confidence has taken a knock!!! 

So looking forward to Rachels tomorrow. 


Finally managed to print those pictures! Veg help!

03 April 2012 10:50:41
This truce didnt last long! Grandchildrens' dog 'Turf'

This truce didnt last long! Grandchildrens' dog 'Turf'

It worked today even though it was telling me it wasnt working! Im in rather than out as theres a sprinkling of rain that I wish would develop and give everywhere a good soaking. we havent had rain for about three weeks. But then I wouldnt wish rain on those of you who have had too much. Ill just mention once again if anyone from near Nuala (ait alainn) or Elizabeth is going to rachels, let me know as I have blue bells for them. I know Hazel and Anne are going and hope to have some for them as well.

Im trying to plan a vegetable garden and seeds are so expensive that i dont want to make a hash of it! Im being careful about not sowing too early. Would it be stupid to sow brassicas in seed trays or old plant trays and then transplant them? Rather than put them into the ground. And is ordinary potting compost ok if i do this? Im not going to put in a lot of potatoes-just a few small rows as Im told its not worth planting a lot? I really feel so inadequate with the vegetables. Oh I bought fertilizer=fish blood and bone. Do I just sprinkle that on in fistfulls? I told you I was thick when it comes to veg. Now Rocks thats a different matter!

Id be grateful for advice from Moya and all you other veggies!i.e. good vegetable gardeners. Fran your book is a great help! 

Theres no such thing as a simple garden idea...

02 April 2012 19:44:36
The non existent path

The non existent path

Scrubber had a free day and decided to edge a non existent path. he had done so with snowdrops and daffodils and it looked ok so decided that he would simply there's that word! simply take up a strip where he had the daff bubs sown and the resulting strip would edge and accentuate the curving grass path. I say non existent because it was actually part of the side lawn and not a path at all! The photos may help explain it better.

One long strip about12 meters long and20 cms wide. Easy peasy?. It wasnt! It took me the whole evening to do it. Now i thought it would take about an hour or two and there were lots of other things to be done including going to Ross for seeds for veg garden (which cost a fortune so i hope I do get veg this year) I also picked up my Osmanthus delavayi whose scent is an occasion of sin in itself! and planted that below in the Scrub. But apart from that  that was the sum total of the work. Oh I cleaned off some rocks that had got covered from loose clay from terraces and replanted a big bunch of daffodils from where I planted the Osthmanthus. Then having done my edging and watered it ,I put in alternating chives and  Italian parsley along its length. Thought the flat leaved used to be french???

Will put up a new album if i can for April. In the meantime Ill put up a pic of the non existent path 

A little later. I didnt open a new album as my behind the wall one had only ten. Got in the first few but it refuses to take the last five after three attempts. Ill try again later. Have trited again-no go. will try tomorrow.


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