Cheering Up My Monday

It’s New Year’s Eve, a very special day on the annual calendar. It’s very special for me also, as I recorded a real gem in the garden yesterday. I held it back, especially for today. 
This is my favourite winter moment of the year! I sat outside in my sheltered corner in very mild weather yesterday as low sunshine moved across the garden between scattered clouds. I was watching the birds on the feeder when my eyes were drawn to what I thought was a butterfly. Surely not, I said? It was not, in fact. I needed to move closer to inspect. It was a leaf trapped on a single thread of spider’s silk, and rotating with such grace at a distance of mere centimetres from the wall behind. In fact, furthermore, there were two. I was reminded of a dream-catcher. I was reminded also of a wind-chime although this scene was silent. I too moved silently for my phone, lest I break the spell and recorded this beautiful short-lived event. I imagined the delicate flow of air that obviously set the leaf in motion. Two minutes later the moment was gone. This tiny macro-universe was subject to climate change.

Continuing #shortdayschallenge as I briefly log winter here in Waterford, Ireland. Time to focus on the little things, such as macro-universes.

Furthermore And Also: Short Days Challenge

Last autumn I had wondered what on earth I’d write about during the winter. It is easier when the garden is ablaze with life and colour. It is easier when there’s lots happening. I had thought that winter would be very tricky. I could not have been more wrong. Furthermore and also, the past two months have given me a dreamy insight into my garden and my appreciation of it.
Christmas has come and gone. I have always liked Christmas, and this year was different. It occurred to me only last week that, for those of us in the mid-northern latitudes, it has been created to occur just at the perfect time of the year. It is mid-winter, yet it is exactly four days after the equinox. Things are on the up. Farmers are looking ahead to spring and animal birth. Gardeners, like myself, are looking ahead to warmer weather, longer days and new plant life. Indeed, there will be rough weather ahead during the months of January and February (and perhaps March/April too, if last year is anything to go by). It was a tough time for gardeners, farmers and many others. Ireland nearly ran out of bread. Yet, just a very short ten weeks later Ireland baked in the long drought. The toaster was set to crispy. I cannot remember warm weather like the summer of 2018. It was astonishing. The spirit of the nation was lifted. It remained lifted despite a prolonged abortion referendum here in Ireland, or perhaps because of it. It remained lifted until such time as Ireland beat the All-Blacks in mid-November, and on a personal level, it remained lifted as I began my daily Short Days Garden Challenge. I wrote about it twice recently (here and here), so this final 2018 article completes the trilogy.

Thursday, December 20th: The geranium cuttings from mid-November are doing well. They look healthy, and likely the underground rooting system is underway. I will keep a close eye on these over the coming 6-8 weeks to ensure they thrive. Even in the glasshouse, there is the possibility of frost damage. I noticed yesterday that the thermometer (which gives maximum and minimum readings) recorded 1.1 degrees recently. The glasshouse is entirely free of draughts, yet I will remain vigilant. Páraig the Vigilant! If there are very cold nights ahead I may bring these delicate babies indoors.
Lovely weather here in Ireland today. I got some last-minute Christmas gifts sorted and enjoyed my usual full Irish breakfast. Not in that order, of course. Hope all my friends here are looking forward to a wonderful Christmas time. It can be a lonely time for some, so try to look in on an elderly neighbour, or simply spread a contagious smile. Little things can mean a lot.

Lookin’ good there

Friday, December 21st: it’s mid-winter, Solstice day. Warm sunshine before the rain arrived. It’s very mild too. I spent a short while doing a few small jobs, such as topping up all the daffodil pots with a shallow layer of gravel to keep weeds away and a very tiny pinch of bone meal to feed them. Also generous scattering of fertiliser around the roses. Come summer solstice in June I’ll be glad that I fed them. Having spent my few minutes in the winter garden, it was then time to go wife-shopping. How very necessary, and yet exciting. My wife rewards me so much more than my garden, so fair’s fair.
Have you anything/anyone more important than your garden?

Shortest day, sunshine and grey
Saturday, December 22nd: Here’s another shot of one of my favourite plants, Nandina Firepower, as it changes colour through the cold weather. It certainly brightened my journey this morning as I went for a very short walk before breakfast.
Afterwards, I cycled with Marion and other friends in dense fog to our favourite Summerhouse in Lismore for coffee and mince pies. This lovely bike-friendly cafe is very aptly named! The fog was very heavy but the mince pies were deliciously light and flavoursome. Finally, I returned to view the lovely Nandina amid mid-afternoon watery sunshine once again. I consider this a really good day, and a few Guinness with my friend later were very pleasant too. 
Nandina Fire Power again
Sunday, December 23rd: Today’s winter garden is as much my Sunday biking as anything. After a damp mucky ride I needed to wash the bike and overshoes. As I strolled down the garden to the glasshouse I noticed that the flashing lights on the heel of the shoes were still on. It’s all about being as visible as possible on the roads. Together with front and rear lights and an extra one on my helmet I know that I’m doing my best to be safe.
In this case the gardening connection is loose, but it can clearly be seen that the two grey pots act as a perfect bike stand, while the tiny tip of emerging narcissus can just be seen top right. You may need to go to Specsavers to get a clear view.
Good to combine two of my passions
It’s there, but barely visible, just below the centre in the pot.
Monday, December 24th: 

Tis Christmas Eve and Santa Claus
will bring his gifts tonight.
We’ll hang our stockings by the bed,
And wait until it’s light.
I wonder what he’ll bring for you?
And what he’ll bring for me?
Ah! There! It’s no use wondering,
You’ll have to wait and see!

An old man said to me, won’t see another one
Tuesday, December 25th: Happy Christmas from Dungarvan. It’s that wonderful time of the year. The fuchsia is still in leaf. Normally, it would be bare many weeks ago but we have had only three frost nights and it lingers on beyond its time.

Fuchsia non-denudendum

Returning to an attempt to connect gardening and my cycling, I received the most exceptional gift today. Not the love of the two great women in my life, which is hugely important and unconditional. My daughter gave me a miniature 5cm replica of me on my bike. Paraig ar a rothar! Complete with beard, exact Ridley bike replica, Fulcrum wheels and new DCC gear. Uphill drag about 2% but the Lady Belle (my favourite Guinness watering hole) is not far away! Go raibh maith agat, a stór.

Created by #minifigurescenes
Wednesday, December 26th: this time I am visiting Ballinacourty, Cappagh to view things from a different angle, and I come away with an extended wishlist.

Joan’s garden in Cappagh
Until next year, see ya around!
Páraig (also known as Pat) is the author of Petals by Paraig. He loves winter, summer and cycling in both. Furthermore and also, he likes Christmas, sherry trifle and an uplifted spirit, but not essential last-minute wife-shopping.

Another Short Days Challenge

I am moving steadily towards the Winter Solstice, and so too is my garden. Here in Dungarvan, it will happen on Friday at 10:22pm. I know because I use timeanddate.com to know things like that, and I know about it because my brother told me about it. Equal day and night occurs, and thereafter the days will get longer. However, I admit that I was perplexed by another set of data. Yesterday at approx 5pm the distance between the Sun and my garden in Dungarvan stood at 147,193,000km. By midnight it had reduced to 147,189,000km. The garden was 4,000km nearer to the source of all life! I was perplexed, as I’ve already mentioned. In fact, as I’ve mentioned it twice now, my level of perplexity is doubled. I needed to go back to some of my school science lessons. This did not help at all. I needed the help of my brother Micheál.

How come the earth is getting closer to the sun, and it’s WINTER?, I asked.

Winter is caused by the tilt of the earth away from the sun, not by the distance from it. Simple science, really, says he.

Today, as I write at 6pm, the distance is reduced by a further 9,000km to 147,180,000km, and most of this movement towards the sun happened while I slept.

It’s now time for my weekly Short Days Challenge summary since last week:
Thursday, December 13th: Today’s winter garden: WET. Continuing #shortdayschallenge as I briefly log winter here in Waterford, Ireland. Time to focus on the little things, such as 38.6mm of rain.

Heavy rain, then more heavy rain

Friday, December 14th: Incredibly, its the front garden. This is its’ debut photo. A winter scene including narcissus tete-a-tete, polyanthus, viola and an ivy. The narcissus is almost in flower. I think it is a display model intended for an indoor window-sill. But I’m not having any of that sort of thing (As Ted & Dougal would say: Down with that sort of thing.)

Front garden debut photo

Saturday, December 15th: Oh the weather outside is frightful, and #stormdeirdre is is on the way, bringing bucketloads of wind and rain. These pretty #kalanchoe (K. blossfeldiana), commonly known as Flaming Katy, are safely tucked up on the kitchen windowsill, and brighten this miserable day.
Continuing #shortdayschallenge as I briefly log winter here in Waterford, Ireland. Time to focus on the little things. The big thing is due after 3pm.

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

Sunday, December 16th: A trapped leaf among the pebbles. It has been there for the past week, standing erect despite the buffeting winds of Storm Deirdre. Also, a single rose petal.

Storm Deirdre couldn’t move this stubborn leaf

Monday, December 17th: The apples are under water. There’s been over 48 hours of constant rain, and the saucer is flooded despite having three small drainage holes. No doubt they are clogged with leaf debris or something other. I’ll have to get the Council out to clear it.

Apples: drowned by Deirdre

Tuesday, December 18th: Since red is the colour of blood, it has historically been associated with sacrifice, danger and courage. Modern surveys in Europe and the United States show red is also the color most commonly associated with heat, activity, passion, sexuality, anger, love and joy. In China, India and many other Asian countries, it is the color of symbolizing happiness and good fortune. (from Wikipedia)
Have you any thoughts on red in the garden? You will, no doubt, be aware of red and green being the traditional colours of Christmas. Note: not white!

Traditional colours of Christmas

Wednesday, December 19th: How is today’s winter garden affected by sunlight? How is it affected by distance from the sun? A close look at both screenshots shows that in 7 hours the distance between the sun and my garden has decreased by approx 4000 kilometres. Thankfully winter solstice is very close and the garden will start to get warmer as the distance narrows further.
Continuing #shortdayschallenge as I briefly log winter here in Waterford, Ireland. Time to focus on the little things. Actually they are huge things, yet the small daily changes may not always be noticed.

147.193 million km just before 5pm
The earth is a fast mover!

Would you like to join in? Simply use the hashtag #shortdayschallenge either on your blog, Facebook or Instagram to connect with many others noticing the little winter things that bring delight to these short days.

Páraig (also known as Pat) is the author of Petals by Paraig. He loves his roses, winter solstice and small plants such as Flaming Katy. He also likes Timeanddate.com and watching the rain from the kitchen, but not when there’s a bucketful (like maybe 36.4mm) during a storm called Deirdre.

Until next week, enjoy the Christmas season.
Paraig

Short Days Challenge

This week I focus on a challenge I joined lately. It’s called Short Days Challenge. I briefly introduced it just last week. The idea is to note the little things in the winter garden and to publish one item every day between November and February on Instagram using the #shortdayschallenge hashtag. Now, I take a look back for this Throwback Thursday at the daily winter little things I noted.

Friday, December 7th: Today’s winter garden: Another journey starting. I loved cacti and succulents many years ago. Having visited Deep Route Gardening in Cork during the week, I returned with enough plants to kick-start my interest once again.

Thanks to Deep Route Gardening in Cork 

Saturday, December 8th: Today’s winter garden: I purchased a replacement thermometer for the glasshouse. The previous one fell into a barrel of rainwater about 15 years ago. This machine measures maximum and minimum and the humidity and well.

Temperature & humidity data log

Sunday, December 9th: Today’s winter garden: almost identical colour and petal form on two great winter plants: wallflowers and violas. Continuing #shortdayschallenge as I briefly log winter here in Waterford, Ireland. Time to focus on the little things.

Wallflower and viola

Monday, December 10th: Warm mid-morning sunshine. Small flowering plants at this time really stand out. These are smashers!

December sunshine 

Tuesday, December 11th: I put out a query as follows… “Can anyone I’d this plant please? It was bought as a trailing annual and has thrived to such an extent that it has rooted wherever it can. In fact, I’m now wondering will it survive the winter as three nights of frost seems to have had no effect on it.”

Glechoma hederacea variegata (Ground ivy) 

Speedily, the information came back from several sources:

plantbump
I  think it’s a variegated #groundivy 👀🌿

petalsbyparaig
@plantbump Many thanks. Indeed it is! The same info came through via #gardentags. Glechoma hederacea variegata.

Wednesday, December 12th: Today’s winter garden: It’s good to take a photograph from near ground level. Just another angle on things. Parhaps this is the everyday view of this section of the garden seen by our two Yorkies, Molly & Becks?

Ground photo. Nandina in foreground 

Thursday, December 13th: Today’s winter garden: Plants thrive in small spaces. Top left: nasturtium in a sheltered cul-de-sac. Top right: Geranium rozanne is now dormant but resurrection will happen. Bottom left: leaf shelter for the homeless creatures of the garden, and finally, another cranesbill rooted between wall and patio. Continuing #shortdayschallenge as I briefly log winter here in Waterford, Ireland. Time to focus on the little things.

Nasturtium, dormant geranium, leaf-shelter & a second geranium 

Would you like to join in? Simply use the hashtag #shortdayschallenge either on your blog, Facebook or Instagram to connect with many others noticing the little winter things that bring delight to these short days. Have you a favourite winter item in your garden, be it plant, structure or ornament?

Páraig (also known as Pat) is the author of Petals by Paraig. He loves his Yorkies and winter and low-angled photographs. He also loves post-winter resurrection, warmer temperature in the glasshouse and Garden Tags software but not exclusively. Shoot Gardening is his software of choice.

Short Days Challenge

Continuing #shortdayschallenge as I briefly log winter here in Waterford, Ireland. Time to focus on the little things.

Today’s winter garden: I had a very tasty crop of tomatoes all summer long. In fact, between indoor and outdoor, the season stretched right through to the end of October. Having cleared the plants from the glasshouse to make room for incoming geraniums, begonias and lots of plant cuttings, I am now ready for winter. Curiously though, I notice that there are plenty tomato seedlings already sprouted! This saves me time and money. I will not need to buy tomato plants, as I know these ones will do well. They are from Tomato Moneymaker, and very tasty they will be!

Tomato Moneymaker babies with cigarette butt

Páraig (also known as Pat) is the author of Petals by Paraig. He loves tomatoes, begonias and winter. He also likes growing from seeds and Moneymaker ideas, but not cigarette butts among the seedlings in the glasshouse.