Storm Barbara

The storm has arrived. It’s only our second storm of the winter, and it’s called Storm Barbara. I’ve waited for it. Normally, I’ve attempted to get the latest article online by Wednesday each week. This week is different, though. I’m extra busy, but now that the wind and rain are all around, just two days before Christmas, I’ve taken time out from the busyness to sit and write. Time out from wrapping gifts, endless cycling, tidying my room and preparing sherry trifle while trying out the Baileys cream. There are thirty-seven other jobs that need doing, but right now I want to write during the storm.

No gardening today, but it’s nice to be inside looking out.
Happy Christmas from Dungarvan,
Pádraig, 23rd December 2016.

Cheering Up My Monday #3

It’s another Monday, and time to begin another week. In the garden, the temperature has moved wildly. This morning it’s a very mild 8 celsius here in Abbeyside at 8am, and likely to hit 10C later. As against that, it dipped to minus 2 overnight on Friday.

These low temperatures are tough for plants. Most are able for the drop, and some actually revel in such conditions. I was out with the camera on Saturday to catch the cold.

Phlox subulata ‘McDaniel’s Cushion’
Osteospermum jucundum ‘Blackthorn Seedling’
This last one, known also as African Daisy, is staying wrapped up. We may think that plants don’t have any sense. This may make us think again! Why would we go outside when we can wrap up in a warm jacket? It’s the same with this little guy. The petals will remain tightly gathered to protect the core.

Note: O. jucundum is a perennial with aromatic grey-green leaves and daisy-like, white flowers, flushed purple with darker purple eyes in summer and autumn. I’m putting it on my list of favourite plants. Further info here (on my virtual welly footprint)

That’s it for this week. Next Monday is St. Stephen’s Day. Of course, I’ll be waiting with excitement for a white Christmas, but not sure that these fellas will!
Happy gardening,
Pádraig, 19th December 2016.

Things Come In Threes #2

Approaching the mid-winter solstice, my time in the garden is limited by cold and dampness. The work is done, yet it’s rewarding just to walk around for a few minutes to see what happens. Yesterday, on my way to the shed to get wood for the stove, I met Mr. Robin on the bird-feeder. He was on it, I was not. We eyed one another up and down before he returned to feeding as I journeyed to the woodpile.
This little fella accompanied me on my 5-minute ramble
Just before the woodpile (in the shed) I glanced down to the two rows of gypsophila seedlings. I had planted these back in October, and they are thriving. Well, they were thriving until very recently. Yesterday, most of them were cannibalised, a gourmet starter for Mr. Slug and friends, perhaps even starter and main meal. I’d be tempted to have a word with Mr. Robin, but I don’t think he likes them either. There are about seven plants remaining, and this one seems to be head and shoulders above her siblings. The others have been beheaded.
One of the few untouched gypsophila

Finally, loaded to my chin with seventeen logs, I approached the kitchen window boxes. The pansies are in full bloom, defying wind, rain and cold. This particular one is so pretty, added to by a tiny spray of light mist remaining from overnight. Naturally, you’ll understand that this photograph was not taken until I had unloaded the seventeen stove logs in the stove log basket beside the stove; and when I returned to the shed to get the camera (it was beside the log pile, you’ll agree?), the delicate mist on the pansy was exactly as it had been one minute earlier.

I love the misty rain on top
  • Time in garden: five minutes. That’s just about enough. I’ll put on the kettle and set the fire while it boils.
  • Four minutes to set and light the stove
  • Four minutes for water to boil
  • Result: tea and accomplishment
  • Five minutes later on, warmed by both tea and stove, to to dickie up the robin photo
This is #2 in my “Things Come in Threes” series, recounting a five minute ramble in the garden, and consciously seeking out three things of interest. Want to look back to #1?Here it is: Things come In Threes #1

Happy gardening (or reading), wherever you are,

Pádraig, 16th December 2016.

Cheering Up My Monday #2

This African daisy has been in bloom since May and brought great colour to the garden. Next year, I think I’ll grow the white one.
Even now, approaching mid-December, there are still a number of flower heads despite five or six nights of heavy frost over the last two weeks.
It has very definitely cheered up my Monday.

Pádraig, 12th December 2016.

Things Come In Threes

Winter may not be a time for active gardening, yet it’s a good time to observe. Rather than the full-on effect of summer abundance, it can be the best time to notice the little things.

Three Today

1. On a micro-level, while photographing one of the few remaining rose blooms, my eye was drawn to a small slug sheltering between the petals. I did consider removing it,  but on reflection, I left it there.
2. The leaves of the columnar beech have all fallen. At a certain time of the day, the low sun glints through the boughs. It’s time to appreciate the beauty even when the tree is bare.
3. The winter lettuce is thriving, despite some hard frost, and the first narcissus is in full bloom. That’s crazy for the 2nd of December!

Narcissus Ziva (click for details)
Secret hideaway

However, There’s A But

Interestingly, I find myself walking much more slowly. On the flip-side, this slow walking leads me to see small tasks that need attending to. Here’s today’s three:

  • thin the thriving winter lettuces
  • replace one cracked glasshouse pane
  • spray the window-box pansies for whitefly! I’d have thought that hard frost would have helped me out, but the buggers are still there
Task 1: Winter lettuce needs thinning
Task 2: replace the pane to stop draughts
Task 3: kill the critters the frost left behind!
I have resolved not to complete these tasks on the spot. Rather, they get added to my mental schedule for later in the day / week. Besides, my garden ramble is before breakfast, and the kettle usually is on the boil.
Happy gardening,
Pádraig, 2nd December 2016.