Come With Me – Demolition and Exploration

Date: September 2014.

The timber shed was demolished, to be replaced by a steel one. We’d had it for nearly twenty years and it was beginning to crumble. As I look at this photograph, Meabh’s tree is on the right, planted when she was born in 1994. It too is gone, as it grew too big and cast too much shade.

Clearly, there was grass, but truthfully, it was never a lawn.

The previous week we had spent some time in Kerry and took a boat trip to the famous Skellig Michael. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it did not disappoint. The monks lived in isolation there in the 6th century.

I was reminded of this as I cycled the Beara Peninsula last Saturday (13th September 2020). Both islands (Mór & Beag) can be seen from the road between Allihies and Eyeries. Monks residing there were made of tough stuff. No Amazon Prime free deliveries back then.

Further Wikipedia details here.

Will this “Come With Me” become a regular here on my Gardening Blog? We shall see…

Pádraig,

16th September 2020.

Daffodil Day

Sit with yourself: Do nothing, breathe and watch yourself.
After a while, you will feel a positive change inside.

I hate having to repot the twenty-two pots of daffodils, but I’m glad I made a start. The new compost is magnificent, and these lovely daffs will thrive. I placed a can of Guinness just for effect, and will enjoy it with another when half the job is done. Will finish tomorrow and place them in sheltered corner until November. The daffodils, that is… The Guinness cans will be recycled promptly.

Composting Success

I started a proper compost heap last year and constructed it so that there is plenty air circulating. Today, I uncovered it to find that it truly is Black Gold. It is light, crumbly and with a great balance of materials. A few bucketfuls spread on an unused section of the raised vegetable bed allowed me to proceed with the repotting very easily. Ill be able to spread the rest of the heap along both beds later in the autumn.

Guinness is good for you me… Sláinte.

I Have A Plan

The plan is to move one third of them (yes, daffodils) to the patio area in early November, and the rest over the following few weeks. By doing that, I hope to stagger the blooms over a longer time in late winter and through the spring. Let’s see how it works out…

There’s a look back to this week in 2018: Cheering Up My Monday: Shaggy Ink Cap

Finally (Faoi Dheireadh)

This is my garden blog, but because I own it, I can bend the rules. I’m bending rule 27a right now by including a rewiew of last Saturday’s 160km cycling in Kerry/Cork. I reiterate my primary motivation for writing is to enable me to look back on stuff in 2050. Gardeners may opt to read it or otherwise. Gardener cyclists may be a bit more keen.

Tour de Beara 260km

Tour de Beara from Kenmare. Mighty weather and great cycling for 165km. Kenmare is renowned for quality restaurants and it did not disappoint. @no35kenmare. Great accommodation with luxurious breakfast at The Twelve Oaks. @the_twelve_oaks_kenmare. Thank you Ann Marie.

Top of Healy Pass the second time.

Report from the captain: Nine cyclists from Group 4 took on the challenge of the Tour De Beara. Even though the event itself was cancelled we had a great welcome from the people of west Cork and Kerry. The weather conditions were perfect as we set off from Kenmare on a calm Saturday morning at a steady pace. Up and over the Healy Pass and onto Castletownbere for the first coffee stop. We then headed to Allihies and followed the very steep and challenging coast road to Eyeries.

Once completed all were ready for the lunch stop in Ardgroom. Harrington’s the local shop, post office and resturant provided a fine spread of soup and sambos which were very welcome at this point. Reenergised after the break we headed for Lauragh to take on the Healy Pass for the second time, a bit more difficult due to a headwind. All safely over, we headed to Glengarriff and after a slow drag some record speeds were recorded with the wind on our back on the descent to Glengarriff. A brief stop to refuel for the last climb over the Caha pass and back to Kenmare. 160Km done, a first for the some in the group with 2,200m climbing. Well done to all a great achievement and teamwork on the day.

Check it out on Instagram. Non cyclists are excused.

Pádraig,

14th September 2020

Latest Articles

Killing Two Birds

As a bald man, I’ve skinned my head badly on a regular basis when entering the glasshouse. The sharp lintel is just a wee bit too low and there’s a very slight lip at ground level so I’ve had a tendency to look down to avoid tripping. I’ve cut my head so many times down through the blianta.

Furthermore, the overhead glass triangle broke a few years ago. I had patched it with hardboard but it became warped and weather-damaged. De facto, in reverse: weather-damaged and warped. Yesterday, I killed two birds with one drill.

Firstly, I replaced the hardboard. Easy peasy. Secondly, I drilled a few holes and inserted three drop down alarms using plastic string, and knotted them for effect. Environmentalists will cringe.

Problems solved. After breakfast, I’m off to the safe glasshouse zone to check on new seeds sown last weekend. I’ve got pot marigold, lettuce and Sweet Pea. Clearly, the tomatoes are unwilling to ripen and I may remove them. It’s really sad, but sin mar atá.

Pádraig,

8th September 2020

Six on Saturday – National Garden Exhibition Centre

I’ve heard it said that men don’t do retirement very comfortably, and there have been times I’ve felt a bit lost, but by and large, I’m very happy not to be clock-watching.

For thirty-five years I returned to work during the first week of September. It marked the beginning of the new school year and put a halt to my summer gallop. My wife and I slowly stopped going places, we began the slowing-down process in preparation for winter stay-at-home coziness. This semi-hibernation lasted each year until the end of February, and although I no longer work for a living, our summer still finishes at the end of August. The first of September is like New Year’s Day.

Our only staycation this year was in County Wicklow the week before last, and I include memories here to look back on in thirty years time, using the nursing-home-supplied iPad. I’ll be 92. Come along with me on a magical journey to the National Gardens Exhibition Centre in Kilquaide, County Wicklow on the east coast near Dublin. As with the recent storm-force-Francis winds, I’m bending the SOS guidelines very severely as these images are sixteen days old.

1. Move along, move along…

Step from one garden into another, similar to moving from one season into the next. Life moves along and changes, sometimes seamlessly and at other times abruptly. There’s a step up this time. In other cases, life throws in a step down or even a steep drop.

Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one's exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one's reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance. - Yoko Ono

2. Let there be darkness…

We visited in mid-afternoon, following forty-eight hours of rain and wind. The weather was just beginning to brighten, yet there was a darkness very uncharacteristic of August. I am reminded that life brings such dark moments when we least expect them. Embrace life in all its strange times.

3. Think beyond…

On a more positive note, this little nook brings to my mind the beauty of looking beyond the present. There is light beyond the darkness. This time will pass.

4. Creating from nothing…

Whoever created this scene obviously started with the stone steps and planted around them. I’d like to think that the creator is able to see the beauty that has resulted. A vision to create beauty from within.

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.

Audrey Hepburn

5. Shade and Light…

I was struck by this scene. Life brings us moments of bright sunshine and darker times. The trick may be to realise that everything is constantly changing. Rotha mór an t-saoil. The wheels of life keep turning.

6. New arrival. ..

This is the Wicklow Budda. I’m told I should rub his belly every few days. Marion has waited a long time to find the right one for this spot. I did mention that a Fitbit would look good on his wrist but she knew I was only being half-serious.

7. On a personal note…

Throwback to this time seven years ago. My retirement clock. I’ve been #busybusy ever since. Busy also finding time to do the things I love. Cycling, gardening, writing and lots more. I’ve heard it said that men don’t do retirement very comfortably, and there have been times I’ve felt a bit lost, but by and large, I’m very happy not to be clock-watching. Here’s to the next seven. I’ll be 69. (Originally posted on Instagram. I’ve no time for that Facebook craic, and I’m better for its disappearance from my day.)

That’s my lot for this week, a cháirde. I’ll be back with more an Satharn seo chugainn. In the meantime, please visit Mr. Propagator’s garden blog where you can find many more Six on Saturday offerings from around the world, together with details of how to participate if that’s your thing. I’ll be spending some time today, tomorrow (or perhaps even yesterday?) reading articles by so many others, and I’ll not be clock-watching ar chor ar bith. I hope you have a great week, be it in the garden, the potting shed or elsewhere. Slán go fóill.

Pádraig,

5th September 2020.

September 2016

Four years ago today, I was a bit obsessed with taking cuttings. It didn’t just develop overnight.

Here’s the proof. I originally had this on my previous blog, so here’s a reminder to my older 2050 self that it was there too. I’ll be 92. I did love PetalsByPáraig but I didn’t love Blogger. I did like it at the time, but it was not love. Links may be out of date. Bit like myself, I suppose.

Note: Páraig is the shortened version of Pádraig, aka Pat, Patrick, Patsy and Paddy. My wife loves Páraig, and I love her too.

Looking back…

Looking back, three things I notice now:

  • The shed was much tidier.
  • There’s a very professional-looking dibber.
  • I was using very posh terminology: Pelargonium rather than ordinary-Joe-soap Geranium.
  • Blogger was not my favourite piece of software.
  • I loved Marion back then too.

Pádraig,

2nd September 2020.

Six on Saturday – Cut and Change

I’m going to cut to the chase, without further ado. Pronto, as it were. There will be no dilly-dallying or beating about the bush. I shall abandon the preliminaries and get stuck in immediately, foregoing the unnecessary preambles, because I’m eager to cut corners in order to get to the nub of the matter. Simply put, it’s the last weekend of August. It’s time for me to start making baby plants from cuttings. I’m cutting corners (twice) and layers of red tape to bring you my Six this Saturday. There are thirty cuttings and five rooted seedlings below. That’s thirty-five. Triocha-cúig.

1 and 2: Lavender & Fuchsia

I was kindly asked to stop using peat-based compost recently, and I gave the matter some thought. Not much thought, but enough. I rummaged in the shed to find that I already have an organic peat-free bag hiding behind the other ones, so I used it, mixed with some sand, to pot up some fuchsia and lavender cuttings.

9 Lavender & 6 Fuchsia

There is a growing trend (yes, a growing trend) to move away from using peat. I had known about it from my work in the local garden centre last year, yet it sometimes takes a little kick up the ar backside to make change happen. Likely, it may be a bit too nutritious, so I’m wondering is there a peat-free product specifically for cuttings and/or seed-sowing? I’m sure there is. I love answering my own question! I’m sure others reading this may also love answering my question.  I am learning so much from other gardeners and I’m happy to be more enlightened.

3. Hebe ‘Rhubarb and Custard’

I wrote about this only a dew days ago, and I’m not in the habit of repeating myself so go check it out here. The comments section highlights the gentle kick up the backside mentioned above.

Nine Hebe Rhubarb & Custard

4. Skimmia ‘Temptation’

I notice that some of the leaves of this (gift from my daughter for Christmas 2018) are cut. It’s not unusual to cut large leaves when taking cuttings. There’s a very good reason for it.

3 Skimmia

5. Leucothoe ‘Red Lips’

The common name has me smiling! It’s called Dog Hobble. Smiling is good as it helps exercise many facial muscles that simply do not get moving while sulking. Dog Hobble Red Lips. Again, I decided to snip the leaves horizontally for the same very good reason as above.

3 Dog Hobble

6. Helleborus

This one is not a cutting, but rather a few small rooted seedlings that had grown beneath the parent plant. It’s a plant that I really like. There’s an interesting story I’d like to share about this parent plant.

5 Hellebores
In 2018 we noticed that it was  being ravaged by whitefly after flowering. I wanted to deal with the blighters privately and Marion wanted the plant snipped to ground level, but I objected strongly. I returned home one fine day to find that it had been given a haircut. Number one. Later, peace was restored when I discovered that there were little seedlings seeding beneath. My wife is always right. I must write that seventy times. 

Other News

  • Storm Francis brought lots more rain last Monday night and very blustery winds on Tuesday. Very strangely, there were a few hours of lovely gardening weather in between. No damage this time. Sadly though, I got word that our friends in Santa Cruz have had to evacuate their home because of the raging fires there.
  • America has had very severe problems. Ireland had Golfgate. Both are horrific.
  • Our new Budda is in situ and I rub his belly every few days. It seems that lots of rain follows.

Get involved…

Has anyone got tips or tricks about taking plant cuttings? Or perhaps advice about what has worked or failed? Do please share. I am more than happy to get as good as I give.

That’s my lot for this week, a cháirde. I’ll be back with more an Satharn seo chugainn. In the meantime, please visit Mr. Propagator’s garden blog where you can find many more Six on Saturday offerings from around the world, together with details of how to participate if that’s your thing. I hope you have a great week, be it in the garden, the potting shed or elsewhere. Slán go fóill.

About the Author: Pádraig is the author of GrowWriteRepeat. He loves cutting plants, baby seedlings and Dog Hobble. He also loves the Buddha’s big belly, but not storms in August. More about him here.

Pádraig,

29th August 2020.

Six on Saturday – Fake Mexicans & Clever Italians

There is a distinctly beginning-of-Autumn feel about my garden as the fourth Saturday of August rolls along. There’s also a distinctly scary feel as the Coronavirus pandemic continues, regardless of the approach of the changing season. I’ve been reading about the history of pandemics and it’s very grim. As a species we are vulnerable. This time around, we have the benefit of science, but many refuse to heed advice. It’s a sort of Superman Syndrome, I fear.

My Six this week features four of my top ten plants that regularly do well in my garden. Included also is some information about Storm Ellen, blue pollen, enlarged testicles and clever Italians. To be clear, all are unconnected.

1&2 Fuchsia

Discovered in Haiti, Fuchsias are named after a German botanist, while some originate from New Zealand. All have the particularity of having blue pollen. This pollen was used by young Maori people to adorn their face, probably well before the official discovery of the genus. The plant is not known to have any medicinal uses. It’s just there to brighten up our lives, especially during pandemic times. The Smallpox Pandemic ravaged Europe on and off for centuries, but when it was brought to the Americas it killed up to 90-95% of the population in just a century. Smallpox was the first Pandemic to be completely ended by a vaccine.

“We’ll have a vaccine. Very soon. Very soon”, the Mexican fella said.

Fake News: He wasn’t Mexican.

Here’s a lighter brighter one.

Speaking of lighter… Have you heard the latest?

Maori 1: Will we put on the blue stuff?
M2: No, wait awhile. It hasn't been discovered yet.
M1: Righteo. Kakai.

3. Heuchera Binoche

Native American people used some Heuchera (Alumroot) species medicinally. The Tlingit native Indians used Heuchera glabra as an herbal remedy for inflammation of the testicles caused by syphilis. To the Navajo, Heuchera novamexicana was a panacea and a pain reliever. The Smallpox Pandemic (see above) reduced the population of Mexico from eleven million people to one million.

4. Nasturtium Alaska

I may have included Nasturtiums before, and I’m delighted to do so once again. This is Alaska and I like the flowers and the leaves. During the lockdown months since March so many amateur gardeners started to grow their own food. We know that the flowers of these plants can be eaten, usually in summer salads, and the leaves are a firm favourite with little caterpillars. This was not the case during the Black Death 1347, because this native Central American plant didn’t arrive on the scene until nearly two hundred years later. The Black Death killed an estimated two hundred million people in four years. On a trivial note, its very likely that several ego-maniacal tribal leaders lost power, simply because they thought it would go away. Meanwhile, it was at this time in Venice that the clever Italians had a clever idea:

At first, sailors were held on their ships for 30 days, which became known in Venetian law as a trentino. As time went on, the Venetians increased the forced isolation to 40 days or a quarantino, the origin of the word quarantine and the start of its practice in the Western world.

https://www.history.com/news/pandemics-end-plague-cholera-black-death-smallpox

5&6 Dahlia

Native to Central America, the dahlia was first introduced into Great Britain from Spain in 1798. In Europe and America, prior to the discovery of insulin in 1923, diabetics, as well as consumptives, were often given a substance called Atlantic starch, extracted from dahlia tubers. This knowledge simply was not there during the Plague of Justinian in 521. An estimated half of the population of the known world died. Justinian lost power in a flash. Perhaps he thought it would just go away.

This is a smaller, yet equally beautiful dahlia, loved by the bees and I. It’s hardly worth highlighting that there’s no blue pollen here.

Unseasonal Weather

  • Monday was a washout. There was a passing shower here last Sunday night, but it took 24 hours to pass along to somewhere else.
  • Tuesday was the only decent day for cycling. When I checked on Tuesday morning the roses were a soggy mess, the gladioli were hanging horizontally and even the lettuces looked miserable.
  • On Wednesday night Storm Ellen arrived with severe level-orange winds that blew the entire soggy mess into tidy heaps in several nooks. There was severe damage to the dahlias in particular. The Café au Lait above was levelled.
  • Thursday was wet so we headed for a staycation to Glendalough, home of my friend Kevin, in County Wicklow, known also as the Garden County.
  • Friday was wet again. We visited the National Garden Exhibition to meet old friends. Such a visit needed to me marked with a gardening purchase or two, so we bought a small Acer and a big Budda.

We are an expanding group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. I’ve been doing this since June and I enjoy nothing more than reading about and seeing other gardens from as far away as Canada, New Zealand, Tasmania, USA and Britain. Lest we forget, hundreds more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram. We follow the leader Jon and Jon follows us. You can find out more about it here. You may read and follow, or like myself, you may choose to write and follow. Either way, it’s great fun!

I do sincerely hope that no misinformation is circulating as I type. Primarily, I have used History.com as my source. Full article here is worth an eight-minute read.

Pádraig,

Saturday, 22nd August (Lúnasa) 2020