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Scrubber's Journal

Scrubber's Journal February 2013

Last Post 1788 days 2 hours ago

Gracedieu in early Spring

27 February 2013 19:59:57
No not Villandrey-guess again!

No not Villandrey-guess again!

One of the great delights about going around the Gracedieu garden is that at any point you can ask ‘What’s that?’ or chance ‘Is that a Winter Aconite?’ and your gracious host and hostess trots out the answers and they are always right. One of the great difficulties about describing their garden is that their kindness makes one lazy and one says ‘Ah yes I’ll remember that’ But there is so very much to be seen and such a huge variety that one ends up as Scrubber is tonight, mildly panicking and wondering how can he convey just what Gracedieu is like.

Well to begin at the beginning I collected my friend, who like all the galanthophiles I know (Two!)is a shy retiring person thus  ‘my friend’, and we set off for Waterford. I had visited before and thought I knew  what to expect but as soon as we arrived at the gate I was blown out of the water by the hellebore display. We both went ‘Wow!’’ and ‘Oh Gosh!’ They were there in abundance and so full and so colourful one forgot it was early Spring.(The hellebores not Paddy and Mary!) We rang and were warmly welcomed, were delighted to see Ladygardener there,as Anne had visited my friend’s garden the Monday week before  and then straight out for the ‘Tour’.

We had caught a glimpse through the window of the pond which Mary claims always overflows when visitors arrive but as the day was dry if chilly enough we were not inundated. Just as well because there were so many things to see. Hellebores in the most beautiful shades of a steely blue, purple, white, singles and doubles were breathtaking. The snowdrops were everywhere and here it must be confessed that Scrubber just listened. My friend is very well up on snowdrops and by the time Paddy Mary and herself had looked , examined, commented on and enjoyed the large selection both Anne and Scrubber had learned a huge amount-where the best displays are, some of the stories behind particular owners and donors-in fact Its fair to say that Anne and I can now recognize Lady Moore at a distance of ten yards!

Paddy and Mary extended their garden about twelve? Years ago and there is a great sweep of well kept and supremely edged lawn containing beautiful beds crammed with hundreds of plants. Where I would have five plants , Paddy and Mary through diligent separation and dividing would have a hundred. Glorious primulas of different colours, sheets of indigo pulmonaria, also white,, a wonderful purple ground cover whose name I thought was Carmadine but I know now it’s not. Oh yes and fascinating mandrake plants with their peculiar ‘flowers?’ And many many more, too many to catalogue!

The trees and shrubs that frame the garden  are wonderful.  That lovely Cornelian Cherry ‘rocket-bursts of tiny yellow flowers’ as the garden magazine has it this month. A graceful garrya elliptica just gone over but still capable of conjuring up it’s glory,A bright orange sedge set against a background of black bamboo (Rachel have you that as well?).

There are a sucessions of little paths and circular lawns nearer the house –all edged with brick work-paddy take a bow and a wonderful large Helleborus Foetidus that one just might kill for! Then as we reeled from the variety and brilliance of the plantings there were seats-yes my dear, Fortnum and Ball blue-what else! But we hadn’t time to sit. Over to the Compost pile or rather Hanger! It was eight feet high at least and about five meters long and opposite it the nearly emptied finished compost. Paddy and Mary’s garden must be the best fed and tended garden in Ireland. I think Elizabeth wisely said about it that its as good as any of the official great gardens but made intimate by the warmth of the welcome. She probably put it better than that.

You are overwhelmed by the  expertise and the gardening skills but you don’t let it depress you , you celebrate it! I mean , look at the vegetable beds in their raised beds-so elegant, yet so practical and functioning. The hens live beside it and get paddy to tell you the story of Tulip/ Frank the cock, some day and his dire fate. I think it might be too bloodcurdling for some of our more sensitive readers!

And there at the side of the house a lovely avenue and again a glory of hellebores on each side of a broad grass path. We went in towards the house and the smaller conifers and alpines were all about us. But by now an east wind had set in so we were glad to go inside and sit down to hot tea-in this house of coffee drinkers- and delicious scones with Mary’s Jam and Paddy’s quince Jelly.

We would be there until the small hours but I had promised my friend to have her home by six-as it was she was only a half hour late! And of course  neither Anne , my friend nor I left empty-handed. Typically generous bundles of plants from two of  Garden.ies finest! I am sure their ears were burning as on the way home we relived the whole experience! Paddy, mary, A huge thank you from both of us and I personally cant wait to meet and greet Lady Moore herself! And even as I re-read this I relies I have only skirted the magic that you have created down there under the bridge-and with some of the bridge as well!


For some odd reason I cant get pictures up tonight. I meant to have the gracedieu ones up but must wait another time sorry!

The Scrub-folk were getting worried again

25 February 2013 21:09:22

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. Cherub Lute: ‘Did you notice Mr Scrubber for the past few days?’ Cherub Cymbals: ‘Do you mean the way he’s going around in a kinda daze?- and mutterin’ to himself?’  C. Lute: ‘Yea, I think it might have been something he ate-I distinctly heard him mutter something about ‘grey Stew’. Sure that would put anybody off eatin’-imagine the likes of grey stew!Yuk!.  ‘Ahem!’ This from further down the Scrub ‘I do think you misssunderstand. I don’t think its ‘Grey stew’ ‘It’s actually Grace Dieu- I’m quite au fait with French as you know well and Cherub let me in on a little secret’. ‘Well Mr Frenchy Pants ‘ chirped Cherub Lute who always enjoyed being disrespectful to Micilin dee – Are you going to share it with us?’. ‘I don’t think I can achshually’ retorted Micilin with a touch of asperity in his voice. ‘After all it is a secret’

Well what has grey Stew or Grace Dieu or whatever to do with Mr Scrubber going goggle eyed for the last week?’ asked Cherub Cymbals. Here Cherub himself intervened before Esmeralda got the chance to say ‘–oggle eyed, ogle eyed’. Mr Scrubber went there last week. ‘WHERE?’ shouted both Cherub Lute and Cymbals together in exasperation. ‘It’s a garden’ said Micilin,’ who was bursting to tell all along, ‘ in Gracedieu in Waterford.’ Am I correct Cherub?

‘Yes Micilin and Mr Scrubber has been a little overcome since he was last there. So much so in fact that he has not as yet managed to compose himself to write an account of the day!’ ‘I find dat too’ said Micilin swishing on the ‘s’s,  ‘I find the contemplashun of perfekshun to be at times almost overwhelming’ ‘But then I often encounter perfeckshun in my affairs’. This was said as a side wipe to brazen cherubs who did not treat people of perfekshun with the respect due to them!- and who obviously would not encounter perfekshun in their daily goings on.

‘Ah! Said Cherubs Lute and Cymbals together, ‘He’s been to see a garden!’ ‘Perfekshun in a garden’ added Micilin. ‘And he’s so gobsmacked that he’s gone a bit do-lally?’.Such impertinence shocked Micilin to the core, especially as Esmeralda echoed ‘-olally,-olally’ in great delight. To be honest she did not realize it was disrespectful she just like the sound of it.’ ‘I think we have heard enough today’ said Cherub firmly ‘and no doubt once Mr. Scrubber has fully recovered we shall hear all about ‘Grace dieu’in time’ ‘Yessh’ agreed Micilin Dee and I am sure his eloquence will do justice to what I hear is an excepshunally lovely garden.’ ‘-unally lovely garden’. ‘-unally lovely garden’ ‘Indeed’ said Cherub closing down the conversation as night approached and a great full moon rose over the scrub. He turned to watch Mr. Scrubber gather up his tools and tarpaulin and head for the house. ‘Yes, give Mr. Scrubber a day or to more and he will be back to himself again’.

The hard slog!

18 February 2013 23:00:24

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Can it be a week since i was prancing around enjoying my visitors and wishing I had the long border weeded? The snow drops have just started to say goodbye and they were lovely this year and I am so grateful for them. They are still in bloom but the odd clump here and there have just faded and thatsthe beginning. Daffs and bluebells next!

Have spent the last few days on the hard slog trying to weed a side bed. Today I just took up everything and dug all round and through it and have probably lost a loyt of bulbs as a result but at least its now clean or cleanish and Ill try to put back most of what I took out today. Lots of nasty grass and vetch and things growing into one another and big rocks needing to be adjusted. hard slog but Im not complainin' honest!

Ill work very hard tomorrow and then hopefully on Wed ill see a lovely garden. So Ill hold that up as a reward! Did a brave trimming job on a big pine-no it wasnt a high one .I could reach the lower branches by standing under them-but i felt i took off a lot. Think its ok though. Now where's that wintergreen?

The Gatherin'

11 February 2013 20:59:47

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Today Scrubber had the great pleasure of a visit from three friends and , not to put a tooth in it, he was ‘up to ninety’ in nervous anticipation for a few days before. It was like, as he confessed, ‘sittin’ the leavin’ Cert’ again! Now this was of course utter foolishness as the people who came to visit were friends and gardeners and who would understand why the long border looked like a battlefield and why the weeds looked well nourished and totally uncared for, and why----well all the sad bits surfaced in Scrubber’s mind and he had beheld both the gardens of the visitors and had been spellbound.

But from the moment they landed, all three visitors put him at ease and began admiring and noticing (and ignoring!-the sad bits) and exclaiming and bit by bit the nerves calmed and the anxiety lessened and once we had gone beyond the long border (to be weeded next week for definite!) Scrubber began to enjoy himself and to believe that he had indeed a very nice acceptable bit of a garden which was much appreciated by the visitors! ‘-ery –ice, -cceptable-ndeed!’

It was so good to see that the visitors enjoyed being there and the nicest thing was that they weren’t shy about saying so! Also when people comment, you see things in your garden that you hadn’t seen before, views or effects . One of my visitors told me that one always, courtesy of hindsight, says that that combination of leaf and hard surface was of course preplanned! ‘-replanned’.

With his head still swirling a bit from compliments, Scrubber led the visitors back for buns and cake and coffee and chat-mostly non-gardening! Then he drove his visitors down to see a friend’s garden. This was very special and the entrance up the drive was carpeted with snowdrops, cyclamen, crocuses and winter aconites. Scrubber’s friend is a very talented and very industrious gardener and the swathes of flowers under her trees were breathtaking- and then there was the little intricate knot garden framed by box and other wonderful box cubes and balls. Scrubber didn’t know whether he enjoyed more,  the visitors’ obvious delight or that of the owner who so enjoyed being visited.

Up, up and away then and over to Altamount. Even the slight drizzle that set in couldn’t spoil the sight of yet more drifts of snowdrops and such a variety. Luckily the company were extremely well- up on all the varieties and Scrubber learned an almighty amount in a very short period. We were lucky enough to meet up with Paul Cutler who is the head gardener and he was very knowledgeable and easy with it. Then into Robert Miller’s fine nursery. There were still some lovely hellebores left after the raid last week by some .iers and we all were very pleased with our choices. By now the rain had begun to get heavier so back to base and the intrepid three set out for home. They left behind a grateful and slightly bedazzled Scrubber. Grateful not alone for the lovely garden gifts they had left him but for their obvious and warm appreciation of his little kingdom.And oh yes- As for the Leaving Cert?  600 points!

A reformed character!

09 February 2013 20:51:42

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Can you imagine/ Well yes i know you can but can you imagine Scrubber saying. 'Now I need one Osmathus Goshiki and thats all'. Then he went into Glanbia. Selected one Osmathus Goshiki. Admittedly glanced around and walk firmly out-well of course he did pay! This was to be the new Scrubber! 

Later that day was in B and Q looking for bulbs (light bulbs) for a friend, Gorgeous pots of four blue irises reduced to a euro each. Dont ask! Anyway there were only ten left.

Had only two hours on friday but put in osmathus and irises. Then got out the lawnmower-all set as had had it serviced in january!' Put- put- put- and collapse. Boy I was a little disappointed. Cleared out end of Veg garden instead and when putting in irises hit a stone so reset that into edge.

Down first thing to shop and they were very helpful and fitted new sparkplug and all was well so did as much of lawns as snowdrops permitted. Irises looking beautiful. Started to weed side bed and began not with a prayer but a stone shift-whats new? Then wanted a ceramic ball to be a bit higher so had idea and stuck flowerpot into earth and set ball on same! Elegant! Rest of day hard weeding, digging , separating, dumping, replanting and got  about a strip eight feet by two done!!!! Little by little as the ground was filthy. If there one weed i hate its vetch with its stringy black roots. And it was everywhere and in everything but  was quite contented and retired at six!

Sorry the photo is of such poor quality. had I Fran or paddy's skill it would have been a brilliant shot. There was a large pheasant in the garden and Shoosh decided to stalk it!

'Sod it!'

06 February 2013 19:18:16

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 Yes you may well be surprised! I definitely was. Cherub had returned from Hazel’s. I knew he was back because there was a niggling, ‘take another foot off the tops of the vegetable beds and extend the funny shaped one. They will look better’ sort of feeling going on.

Well shortly before this I had been planting up my latest pressie-five lovely primula from Anna and a friend, so got the compost and the liner and then they looked the picture of perfection in their splendid ‘Fransplanter’. Its no use asking  where that can be bought , you have to knock a tree and then tell fran.

Anyway Scrubber did as was suggested and then had nice skimmed sods in his barrow. ‘Sod it!’ came the voice and from the Scrub,  ‘-od it, -od it’. As I said I was a little shocked and wondered had he heard that in Hazel’s??? But then I realized what was intended and the reason he had inveigled Scrubber into taking the foot off the veg beds! The idea was to edge the path near the urn with the sods and the result surpassed expectation! So apologies to both Cherub and Hazel!

Then back up to dig the new bits of veg bed and later down to Scrub again and raked and raked and raked and have most if not all of the leaves of the past five years down on the compost heap (dumping area). Also did a little bit of leveling to emphasise the path which worked out nicely. Took a lot of photographs and will try to get them up later,

Very sorry if I mislead anybody with yesterdays title but believe me you would far rather have read of streaky windows!

.Scrubber streaks in the sunshine!.

06 February 2013 00:03:19

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Yes he thought that would get your attention but immediately banish visions of pink and white apallingness haring over the beech hedges in the early morning-the streaks refer to the six windows I industriously cleaned yesterday. The sun came out this morning and revealed i had done a BAD JOB! Streaks everywhere so  before gardening I put vinegar into the hot water and did them again finishing this time with a wad of newspaper.-Sparkling!!!

Then on to the sorry vegetable beds. I had cleaned out the stubbeldy carrots yesterday and now it was the turn of the long shanked crowded cabbage stalks- plants that had been left to their own devices and looked it! Out Out Out. Margaret T had nuttin' on me or was it lady macbeth? Anyway the beds were cleared, enlarged and re-shaped and extra sods turfed down to Scrub. I now have three larger beds and one funny shaped one. The ground was quite muddy and i carted the mud all over the place. Hope for a drying wind tomorrow-but maybe this year ill have some decent veg!

Tomorrow hopefully an attack on the remaining leaf piles and a beginning of the weeding of the side border. Not looking forward to the job but the aftermath will be great!

The two pictures  : The sun just caught the little lantern and the flowers so I ran for the camera!

When Scrubber got serious!

04 February 2013 20:15:55

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I mean its all very well to spend hours on rocks but there are other things to be done-like digging the veg patch and throwing out all the stuff that came too nothing including some very weird stubbeldy carrots that shall be brought over to a friend (horse) who lives across the bridge and expects me to have a tit bit when i pass.

Plan for today was clear out veg beds. make the four small beds into two larger ones. get out those blessed carrots! Go down to scrub and finish off around carraig more-general tidying and stuff. Empty more tarpaulins of leaves.

Actually done: four beds are now two and roughly dug. Carrots out and trimmed and separated -some for horse and some for Scrubber! Sods that were skimmed off in making wider beds put down to Scrub where a few weeks ago I dug out big fern and rock.They covered the brown clay there very nicely Two or three loads of leaves dumped-or (carefully set aside for composting!!!)

Tidied around Carraig mor and reshaped edge and also put in a small stone and also realised that if I shaved away the earth beside the stone steps it would accentuate (Now Sr. Josephine be proud!!) them more  and it did-unbelievably so. Also cleared muck off two other stones just at edge.

Then on way back up  saw a stone I had tried to budge before. Got crowbar but to no avail. called for Cherub but he's not back yet. And found another big one beside it. Got a tiny budge outof that but failed to move so they are both BIGGIES. Had an idea. If the mountain cant come to Mohommad  ....... Si I dug out some of the clay around the rocks and levelled the surface by about a foot or more. So that now they are a feature instead of just barely peeping through.

Needless to remark this took up lots of time and involved replanting an acer and a fern but Scrubber had done the veg plots so did not feel too guilty. And carraig mor looks so well. Oh and Jackie! I transplanted a few snowdrops the other day and they are blooming away today as if they had never had the operation!

My back is reminding me of the tasks done but I sat (on a sack) on the 'Pwincesses chair' in the gathering gloom and looked out at the river swirling past , full and cold and deep and Shoosh came and sat on my lap and purred like a Rolls Royce Engine and life was good!

Re Photo album feb 2013

03 February 2013 15:08:47
Carraig Mor

Carraig Mor

Sorry should have warned people its only all about rocks and one in particular. I cant get the proper colour up on my machine so I dont even know if you can see them clearly- will try for some snowdrop pictures for a change tomorrow!

Only out for an hour

02 February 2013 22:06:12

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so spent it wisely. First noticed that my Cherry had caught the light of the morning sun. I thought Id have to wait years before I could notice the flaking bark-yet there itwas already. Nice bonus.

Then yesterday was in a florists-I go in to look and wonder and very deldom to buy. The very nice lady said'I have a present for you!' and she presented me with three whit Hyacinth bulbs for free-well yes a present! She had just used the flowers in a wreath. (Its quite a posh florists!)Nother bonus.

So into Scrub and just so I wont do me back in I start with tarpaulins of leaves and do two, raking first, then loading then dumping. Then I am ready to try to ease in rock from yesterday. Rock im standing on Carraig mor -is muddy and slidy as is handle of crowbar so there a bit of slitherin' an' slidin' but eventually its hauled into position. I dont know where cherub was. Hazel? Elizabeth? but got it done and once i had packed earth around it it fitted well. Bonus three.

'-ish the job, -ish the job!

01 February 2013 20:15:53
Looking down on Carraig Mor

Looking down on Carraig Mor

Got three Osmanthus  Goshiki-I bet Martin would like one- in Glanbia today. They had two forms of the same. One for 14 Euro and one for 11 but if you bought two you got them for 18E. I got three for 27E. so felt I did well. And when I got them home I immediately put them in their place and they were perfect. Except that I need one more to finish the line!

Then I got back to tarpaulins of leaves again. You have no idea of the multitude of leaves this year and I want to get them out of the way before Spring is sprung.

Then decided to brush the Carraig Mor as I was walking across it and there were wet leaves in abundance and noticed the large rock nestling under the big fern and going unnoticed so I decided to make it the bottom step in the line down to the Carraig Mor. Alas having dislodged it and dragged it over, it just wouldn’t fit as the shape was wrong. I nearly despaired but a Cherubic voice suggested to just ‘inch’ it into the side and it would look well. ‘-it into the side, yes indeed-it into the side ‘ gabbled Esmerelda in the background. Now inching is hardly the word as it was a major rock but  using crowbar I have got it almost right and will be out early tomorrow morning to finish the job!  ‘ish the Job, -ish the Job’ Oh Esmerelda I love you but do shut up!


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