Kilmacurragh Botanic Gardens

With my sincere thanks to Paddy, An Irish Gardener. Please send on more good recommendations, a chara.

Kilmacurragh Botanic Gardens is a two-hour drive from Dungarvan. I simply cannot believe that I haven’t been there before, but I surely will again.

I don’t believe it.

Victor Meldrew, (One Foot In The Grave)

Featuring a remarkable selection of plants and trees, the oldest of which is 600, the garden is the historical home of the Acton family. The original Mr. Acton was a lieutenant in the army of a certain Oliver Cromwell. Going back further to the 7th century, there was a Christian monastery, presided over by a fella by the name of Mocheallóg. Apparently, the ruins of the monastery, dissolved by the much-married Henry 8th, were used to build the smallish Acton family home. We made the journey there yesterday, and I feel the day is worth recording. Rule 38.2.b comes into play.

Pádraig, digital manipulator

Memories of our day-trip include:

  • Warm sunshine throughout
  • A badly-bruised toe, the second on my right
  • Brambles café is quaint and the food is good
  • Angela gave us a very interesting guided tour
  • Entrance and tour were free, thanks to OPW, paid for by my taxes
  • I was rushing home for yoga
Combined age: approx 568

Next time I’ll devote a full day and soak it all in slowly. My sincere thanks to my garden-blogger friend Paddy, also a Dungarvan native. Please send on more good recommendations, a chara. Is iontach an aoibhneas to be had on a stayanta-saoire day-trip, escaping the four garden walls.

This is a first for Kilmacurragh. I’m sure of it.

Gallery:

Click/touch first picture, and swipe your way through.

One For The Road

Love is… digital manipulation

Pádraig,

23 September 2020

Cold Frame v. 2.0

I’ve been saying it for many years and I’d been thinking it for a few years prior to saying it. Now is the time to do it, and hey presto, it’s done in two days.
It’s my Cold Frame 2020 v. 2.0. Timber bought, measured, cut and varnished yesterday. Assembled early this morning and now my many cuttings have a sheltered warmer home for the winter. I intend growing winter salad as well, and it will be a mighty advantage in getting vegetable seeds started much earlier in Spring. In April next year it will be used as a half-way-house between the glasshouse and the garden for delicate seedlings because I’ll be able to leave it wide open during the day and closed at night.

7-9am this morning. Breakfast well earned.

It’s a deluxe Cold Frame, with two separate WiFi-controlled hinged vents and stylish teak knobs. I decided to place it directly on the concrete walls of my raised bed but it can easily be moved to the next bed or even further along the bed. It will not be needed between May and August and the area will be needed for vegetables, so I may just move it away to a quiet corner. Why on earth did I not get this sorted years ago? Note: it’s not WiFi-controlled!

I did have a Cold Frame back in the last century, but now I’m bang up-to-date again. However, I am looking for advice. This frame is west-facing and gets sunlight most of the day, and importantly from midday to 4pm it’s direct sunlight. Will I need to shade it? Will cuttings survive inside? If it were WiFi-controlled I’d be able to pull a blind remotely.

Baby, it’s hot inside.

As I mentioned up top, this was in my mind and on the tip of my tongue for ages, yet it was only when I saw a friend of mine showing his gorgeous updates on Instagram that I was prodded into action. Bit of maths, trip to Topline, gloves and paint, wine & sleep, and finished the job before breakfast. I might toast my efforts with a further glass or two of Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva. Would that be good advice?

It is highly likely that this super-duper high-tech project (and the contents within) will feature over and over again in future articles. I am excited, and in a strange way, looking forward to some cold weather! Having said as much, I sat in the gáirdín this afternoon in warm sunshine. Felt like about twenty. The thermostat in the Cold Frame measured 28.3C just before 4pm.

“Why isn’t it called a Warm Frame?”, my daughter asks.

Sky above and cuttings below.

Credits:

  1. Míle buíochas to my brother Ray for his willingness to donate two teak windows to the project. There will be a half dozen plants winging his way in 2022.
  2. Christopher, my Instagram friend from Belfast, who got me started.

Pádraig,

Thursday, 3rd September 2020.

Acers in Autumn

It’s overcast here in Dungarvan and there has been light overnight mist. Seems like a good time to continue with a few more cuttings. Today it’s Acer time. I’ve got 15 little babies in the making, three of each. That would be 18, you say… However, two of the images within the collage are from the same plant, but which two?
Have you any recommended Acers? I’d opt for Seiryu, Orange Dream and two unknown ones, simply because that’s what I’ve got!

These cuttings are safely tucked away in a shaded corner and I’ll keep a close eye on them. Ideally, I’d prefer a cold frame. Maybe I’ll tackle that before winter. Time now for late breakfast. Bricfeasta.

Acer cuttings & others

Late update…

Two days later… It’s DONE. I’ve completed the Cold Frame in double quick time. Here it is.

Pádraig,

1st September 2020.

Double-jobbing

My bike-stand has served me well. When it’s not in use for washing my rothar, it doubles as a bird-feeder prop. Included also is the warped & wobbly deadwood, varnished to extend its death-life.

This bike-stand, although not used as a bike-stand as often as it should, has served me well. Last night was proof of the cleaning when I participated in my club 20km time-trial. My personal best back in 2017 was 36m30s and I clipped 34 seconds off that, coming home in 35:56. Time to clean the bike? Not yet, I’m thinking. Time to relax in the gáirdín and enjoy the summer. Every time I look at the bird-feeder I’ll do so with satisfaction!

Pádraig,

Friday, 24th July 2020

Flying Ants Day & Birthday Celebrations

I have started into my sixty-third orbit of the sun, and to mark the occasion I include here excerpts from my Instagram write-about-my-garden every day challenge. Each day’s entry is written to a given theme. Luckily, there was plenty of cake to inspire me. Here’s my garden week:

Monday: Birthday Blooms

It’s my breithlá and I relaxed in the garden on Monday morning.
The beautiful blooms, assembled using YouCollage, are… Lily Trumpeter, Rosa Just Joey, Cornflower, Geranium Johnson Blue, Strawberry Red, Begonia, and mixed grasses. Although last one is technically not a beautiful bloomer, I’m taking liberty of adding it, coz it’s my birthday.

Tuesday: Three Little Things

I’ve completed a separate article because I had wine. It’s a bit long, and it’s “deadly”. You don’t know what deadly really means? Have a read and pay particular attention to the comments!

Wednesday : The Scent of Summer

I’m half way through the month and actually enjoying this challenge to write something about my garden (mostly my garden) every day.
My good friend Tricia shares a birthday with me, and we celebrated it for a few hours together with her lovely children on Monday, and I was given a brand new mug to start off my 63rd year. Today, as I sit at the breakfast corner, with my toast, double-yolk egg and coffee, I get the scent of Lily Trumpeter from a distance of ten metres. The coffee smells good too.

Thursday: Mismatched

I’m the gardener and OH is the crafter. Therefore, there is a craft room and a garden operating side by side, in aice a gcéile. It’s a mismatch, but one that actually helps us be together. A mismatch made in heaven? I wouldn’t go that far, but we have toiled here for thirty-two sun orbits. Neither puts in on the other, despite varying interests.

7pm update: The seagulls are circling as the flying ants leave their nests to find a new home. It’s a feeding frenzy, but I suspect that enough of the little girls will survive. Surely, they know that they’ve been through a battlezone, and will settle into their new homes, grateful that the natural urge to run the gauntlet has been successful. On the other hand, surely the seagulls are taking it easy now that they’ve had a feed of protein other than fish. Bit like Christmas Day for them.

Friday – To Shop Or Not To Shop

If it’s a choice between the two, I now choose NOT TO SHOP. My garden is in good shape, probably the best it’s been for quite a long while. Also, given everything that has happened this year, many folk have come to the conclusion that we can live gratefully without spending.

Most summers I draw a line somewhere in June. After that, the garden is there to enjoy & relax in. The summer annuals are in. The bulk of the work is done and only small maintenance jobs are on the agenda, such as watering and some weeding. No further purchases are needed until tree & shrub planting in November. That’s also the beginning of seed catalogue browsing, which will lead to shopping. There’s a commonly used phrase “Shop till you drop” and I now amend it to “Drop the Shopping”.

Pádraig,

13th-17th July 2020

Six on Saturday – Packed Patio Policy

It has been very dull for the past few weeks. In fact, my wife went so far as to suggest that it was boring. Bland, lacking a little je-ne-sais-quoi and indeed just very… dull.

The weather has also been dull, yet that’s outside even my wife’s control. On the other hand, the bare patio needed just a little something, and she requested that I draw up three plans for her consideration. I am so happy that she put the hosepipe to my head because the hard work is now done and the patio is not even the slightest bit boring!

My six plants this week are being classed as one tightly-packed group. Management needed policies & safe practices to effect a solution to an issue I encountered after buying lots of plants recently. I have a central area on the patio which changes in appearance regularly. In it I have some permanent containers, together with some annuals. The last step in the process is to pack my newly-bought plants tightly in and around the others until I decide in Autumn where to plant them.

Generally, they are placed on the sheltered side so that they do not suffer too much from the heat of the summer sun. Included at the moment are…

  • various ornamental grasses
  • Spiraea Red Carpet
  • Ilex crenata Golden Gem
  • three Euonymus Emerald Gaiety
  • six Emerald Gold
  • and a Fairy Door

About once every six weeks I rearrange the plants, give them a decent soaking in a tray and add the new ones that I was unable to resist at the garden centre checkout till.

Anyone who remembers my post from a few weeks ago will know also that the fairies are in residence and the Fairy Door can be seen by zooming. No, not that kind of zooming! Continuous zooming will bring the nameplate on the door into clear view. “Fairy’s Live Here”.

Top Fairy left me a cryptic note last Thursday. I couldn’t make head nor tail of it, but clarification arrived after I appeased her with the promise of more plants to disguise the main entrance. Ar ndóigh, it appears that some of the wee clan want to sign up for this Six on Saturday thingy hosted by PJ, but frustration has set in because my WiFi does not reach within their door, and I am reminded to get it sorted… Or else… My boiled egg will be rotten, my rothar punctured or the bindweed will return.

There’s no longer anything dull on the patio, nor within the hidden micro-residences. My wife is pleased. Top Fairy is onside again and I’m off to spend a long day in the gáirdín. I hope you all have a good week, and that there may be some gardening involved.

Pádraig,

Saturday, 11th July 2020.

Píosa beag Gaeilge:

  • rothar is a bike
  • gáirdín is very obviously garden
  • and “ar ndóigh” apparently means exactly that!

Hebe ‘Rhubarb & Custard’

The logical deduction is that I can now buy more plants and still save money.

Hebe ‘Rhubarb and Custard’ is a compact, bushy, evergreen shrub with small, glossy, oval, pink-flushed, dark green leaves with irregular cream to pale yellow margins. Leaf tips and margins turn deep reddish-pink in cold weather. Compact, dense, racemes of violet flowers bloom in late spring and early summer.

Take cuttings in August, as follows: Remove sideshoots of the current season’s growth from the main plant using sharp secateurs. Trim them to 10-15cm lengths, cutting just below a node. Removing the lowest leaves and soft tip, then make a shallow cut, 1-2cm long, on one side of the stem base. Dip the cutting base in fresh rooting hormone powder, ensuring that the cut is well covered. Tap off excess, and then insert the cutting in a pot of standard cutting compost and put in a cold frame. Water in well. Ensure that the compost remains moist, but not wet, until the cuttings are well rooted. During the winter check and remove any fallen leaves and dead cuttings, watering only if the compost feels dry. Harden off the cuttings gradually the next spring before potting them up individually.

This plant had been on my wish-list since last year. I held off because it was priced at €12.99 or thereabouts in several garden centres. Finally, I bought three of them in April at €5.99 each. The logical deduction is that I can now buy more plants and still save money. Also, if I were to grow a few dozen cuttings I’d make my fortune before turning seventy.

Information above about this plant is copyright Shoot Gardening, my virtual online gardening. All my garden plants are stored there, and they tell me when to do what.

This Week in the Garden

Monday, 1st June, shortly after 7am: I am shocked to witness the sheer brazenness of our resident blackbird, as she munched through the very first strawberry of the year. The early bird had no interest in worms. I watched the entire episode, mesmerised yet unwilling to interfere. Lesson learned though, and netting was put in place within hours. Weather: very hot 25C.

Tuesday, 2nd June: The weather continues to sizzle and my plants are thirsty. Unlike me, they cannot move into a cooler place when it gets too hot and they become reliant on me to take care of them. Thankfully, they respond very well to just one form of care: water. All living things need water, and if dehydration is not remedied there is only one outcome.

A few weeks ago I put a layer of bark mulch on several of my patio potted plants, including this one. The idea was to keep the soil cool and prevent the water from evaporating. Naturally, I did not realise that is would be scattered by the bird who knows that the worms are just beneath. Today is the second day that the bird seems to be in charge. Weather: very hot approx 25C again.

Wednesday, 3rd June: Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) It’s good to have a plant that finds the perfect spot and thrives there. Nothing to do with the gardener knowing where best to plant it. I had its parent planted in the rockery nearby two years ago, and it has since passed over to Compost Heaven. Last summer I was thrilled to see that it had seeded itself in several places, mostly in small cracks between the patio slabs. It flowered very freely last summer from its new home, and I liked it very much. This year, there are many more seedling plants among many more cracks, and they seem to be growing very happily. Weather: cooler 16C.

Thursday, 4th June: According to mother nature, Green is a primary color.
I do love a bowl of mixed lettuce leaves with lunch so I need to make sure there’s enough planted. A row of mixed seeds is usually enough for about three weeks. With a bit of luck, I get five or six different varieties. Today, I set my third crop and with such active growth at this time of year they will be ready to eat in about three weeks time, and the process continues again.

Don’t ask me why I love it, Cos I just don’t know, Endive tried lots of them. In truth, this is Rocket fuel.

Friday, 5th June: Clematis is great to cover a fence or an unsightly spot. This one is Clematis Cezanne.

Clematis is a symbol of motivation, intelligence, peaceful thoughts and mental beauty. Clematis will guide the inner self to purpose, meaning, interest and focus. It is a symbol of warmth and ingenuity. It forebodes safety for travelers.

What I’d like to know is who writes this stuff? There’s probably even a World Clematis Day.

Saturday, 5th June: My usual morning or evening walk on the Greenway brings me past a notable tree. It is a mature Copper Maple, and it is exactly 29 years old. I give it a nod and a Howya doin? The reason this tree is special is because we bought it shortly after we got married and it lived with us for a year. We then realised that this tree was unsuitable for our small garden so we gave it to our neighbour. But we can still admire its beauty.

Sunday, 7th June: There is some BINDWEED under one of the fuchsia shrubs. Last year, I was too late in noticing it, and it proved impossible to control. This time, I’m on top of it! It’ll not thrive again! I refuse to photograph bindweed, so there!

Weather this week: Shorts, suncream & salad early in the week. Jacket & hat on Friday and Saturday. Rain urgently needed.

This article is mostly a combination of my daily Instagram posts. I am hoping to make this an occasional feature here on GrowWriteRepeat. If you are an Instagram user you might like to have a look there too.

Fun to finish:

Man to florist: ‘I’d like a bunch of flowers, please.’
Florist: ‘Certainly, sir. What flowers would you like?’
Man: ‘Er.. I’m not sure…Ummm..’
Florist: ‘Let me help you, sir – what exactly have you done?’

Heuchera

I have fond memories of Mike who always took the time to speak with customers at Blackwater Garden Centre, and always gave great advice. I asked him for suggestions for the area where we had grass and he came up with a lovely simple planting scheme involving roses, heathers and these beauties for the foot of the rockery wall. They are Heucheras and they are doing very well there. The flower is nothing to write home about, and the plant traps falling leaves in autumn. This is no bad thing, I suppose, because the plant is kept insulated from winter weather.

Pádraig, 1st June, 2020.