Happy Wife Policy

Until I retired in 2013 I had lost interest in my garden. The love of gardening that was there 30 years ago vanished amid the stress of work.
Now, I’m back in full flow and loving the time I get to spend a few hours pottering. Some days I’ve got a plan in my head but most days it’s a case of seamlessly moving on to what I notice needs doing. Of course, there’s also a helluva lot more time to relax, have a coffee or take a nap.

In all this, my good (best) wife Marion leaves me to my own devices. She sees the satisfaction it brings me and likes what she sees. She did have two long-term requests: a water fountain and a Budda. So, in line with my Happy Wife Policy (Rule 1.1.2b), we added both during Covid-19 lockdown. We are happy together.

Better than a dripping tap.

Link to the YouTube version.

Pádraig,

8th October 2020

A is for Alterations

The patio pots brightened my heart all summer. I loved making almost weekly changes, adding pots here and there and moving things around just for fun. I also moved pots away when flowering was finished. The exception to this were the spent lilies, because the upright stems added height.
Yesterday I started the transition to Autumn. Many pots were taken out and nearly everything that was left was rearranged. Many more were added in order to get a good sense of Autumn close to the house. It’s not quite finished yet, but I’m very happy with how it’s shaping up. Now that I see that in writing, it’s never actually finishes because as the autumn/winter progresses changes and additions will be made.


I highly recommend this form of musical-chairs gardening. It is time-consuming in the height of summer as constant watering is needed. Also worth considering is keeping the smaller pots on the most shaded side. I’m lucky that the garden is south-facing and so the smaller stuff is facing me and also helps to graduate the entire structure gently. By the way, the Fairy Door is still there! It has moved once more. They’ve been so careful to stay out of sight that I doubt you’ll see it.

Many plants that I had purchased during the summer when garden centres reopened after lockdown had been minded in their pots in the Holding Area, and several are suitable for this Autumn patio project. Likely, some of these will be permanently planted in the ground at some stage. But now it’s time for to relax.

Here’s a link to my article about musical-chairs gardening back in July. Note that there’s detailed account of the problems caused by them fairies.

Click first picture to commence step-by step gallery.

Have you tried something like this? I’d love to hear of your efforts.

Pádraig,

6th October 2020

Six on Saturday – Naked Ladies and How’s-your-father

Monty Don has described Mount Usher as one of his favourite gardens anywhere. I am quoted as having said that it is staggeringly beautiful.

There are thirty-one days until the US presidential election. This week I am attempting to link my Six on Saturday with important wider world events. In other words, I am featuring things that are important in my gardening head ceann and expressing my thoughts about the bigger picture, that rosy world-garden that we all want. I know which candidate is more likely to be a better world-garden caretaker. If you have no interest, I understand.

Uno:

During the week I visited Mount Usher Gardens in County Wicklow. It is regarded as one of the finest gardens in this small country. In several locations throughout, there are memorial plaques to the head-gardeners of the past, thanking them for outstanding service. Specific phrases used include love, passion and care. We all tend our gardens in such a manner. We are fulfilled and the world is a better place. We expect no less from our leaders.

Evidence of passionate caretaking

Dos:

The Maple Walk is beginning to show the beauty of Autumn colours. Americans call this The Fall. In Irish, we say An Fómhar. Countries worldwide have endured an unprecented Covid-Fall. Economies are on the brink, heading towards a winter crash, and many may not Spring Forward for many years. I am thinking particularly of the horrific effects on the less well-off who are suffering more than others.

Nature is adapting

Tres:

Clean water uisce is the basis of all life. Here, you see a section of the Vartry river. The garden is built around it. I spoke to the assistant gardener who was working on a section of the man-made lake. I was somewhat shocked to find out that there are only two full-time gardeners, and when I asked, she estimated that four more would be needed. However, in these strange times, she smiled and said that they just do their best. Their best is about preserving and improving this world-renowned garden for future generations.

Vartry River

Quatro:

I think someone may be able to identify this. I do not know what it is, but I do know that seeds of future beauty are stored within.

Unknown beauty

Cinco:

I did mention The Fall earlier, so I was shocked to see this. Colchiums are like crocuses and I am learning that they flower right now, as you can see clearly. There is incredible beauty, even at a time when much of the natural world is in seasonal decay. What a wonderful world we live in. Here’s a section of the Wikipedia entry: Colchicum autumnale, commonly known as autumn crocus, meadow saffron or naked ladies, is a toxic autumn-blooming flowering plant that resembles the true crocuses. The name “naked ladies” comes from the fact that the flowers emerge from the ground long before the leaves appear.

Naked Ladies

Seis:

This is the fruit if the Cornus kousa tree. Here is an edited excerpt from the Wikipedia entry:

Cornus kousa is a small deciduous tree 8–12M tall. Common names include kousa, kousa dogwood, Chinese dogwood and Korean dogwood. Widely cultivated as an ornamental, it is naturalized in New York State. (Bolding is mine.) 
Berries are edible but not recommended

Note from the garden website: Mount Usher is one of Ireland’s greatest gardens and a world-class example of a so-called Robinsonian garden, with relaxed informality and natural layout. Monty Don has described it as one of his favourite gardens anywhere. I am quoted as having said that it is staggeringly beautiful. I can be quoted thus, because it’s true.

On Thursday last, I wrote about my visit to Mount Usher, and I include here again a snippet of my imagined interview with the garden itself:

I've witnessed revolution, war, a fair share of how's-your-father, and latterly, a booming economy... and the latest is the virus that arrived this year. 

I drove back home mid-afternoon, very content. I knew it was one of those important days.

Six Other News Items

  1. My winter bike is cleaned, serviced and ready to ride. New lights installed, and a hooter!
  2. The extra glasshouse shelving is complete.
  3. Meabh has her Racing Life Creations website live. Please give it a once-over.
  4. The first Autumn storm is brewing. It’s a French one, Alex. I’m not sure is it a male or female one.
  5. I watched a horror movie on CNN last Tuesday. They billed it as a debate, but that was a lie.
  6. I did not find any election ballot papers in a bin anywhere.
Read my lips

The Greek philosopher Diogenes was said to have wandered the streets of Athens with a lantern searching in vain for someone to speak the truth.

Margaret Sullivan, The Washington Post

Six on Saturday is a world-wide idea started by The Propagator in England, and I am a proud participant. You can find out more about it by browsing the Participant Guide. There, you will find no mention of our political world, but equally, there is mention that writers may choose to plough their own furrow. Within this freedom, I value enormously the power to express myself through my garden.

That’s my lot for this week. I shall be spending some time continuing the Autumn tidy-up by day, and reading other SOS updates when I can. Wherever you are, have a great week.

Pádraig,

3rd October 2020.

Tomato Workaround

It’s October already. Seize the moment, my friends. Yesterday I figured out that because of all the seed packets I ordered, I’d need more shelving. Without further ado I ordered blocks and timber, and both were delivered a few hours later.

The tomatoes are still producing, so I needed to build around them, and I’m almost finished. There’s another shelf to be constructed tomorrow. Seven tomatoes needed to be eaten during the construction process. All the seeds to be grown here between now and spring will be very cozy!

Here’s the video from YouTube

Never Enough Shelving

I’m participating in an Instagram challenge called My Garden This Month. The idea is to post something each day according to a given prompt. The link is here. If you’re an IG user, do consider joining in using the hashtag #mygardenthismonth

Storm Alex is arriving from France over the weekend. I am reminded of my reaction in October 2018. The scouts taught me to “Bí Ullamh”. In the case of this one, it may not be severe as Met Éireann have issued no weather warnings. That could change.

Pádraig,

1st October 2020.

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 160km

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