Six on Saturday – All Lives Matter

Thinking cap on to look for an angle… Now where did I put that cap? If I could just find my glasses, I’d see it clearly.

I spent some time wandering in the garden, seeking an angle for another article. I try to write other than descriptive, and if I’m able to link my garden, my head and something going on in the world then maith-go-leor, (also known as fine-and-dandy or Bob’s-your-uncle) .
Each of my six plants this week is dedicated to a very special person. I have a very poor memory for plant names, especially the variety of a known plant, so I name some plants after people. For example, Penstemon Propagator would definitely remind me of Jon, the originator of this Six on Saturday idea. My family would say thay my poor memory extends beyond plant names, to things like misplacing my phone right beside me, constantly looking for my glasses (right beside me/out of eyesight) and missing appointments unless I send myself two phone reminders, on my misplaced right-beside-me phone.

Here’s my Six on Saturday:

1. The Sorbus Rafina is dedicated to the young Iranian 14-year-old recently beheaded by her father. The girl ran away from home with her boyfriend, but was returned by police officials, despite she warning them her life was in danger. Her death is recorded as an honour killing. The legal punishment is very light. Not a good country to be a young girl in love with the wrong person. I will care for this tree in her honour.

2. Fuchsia George Floyd was being choked to death by bindweed. I needed to take away all the ground cover plants beneath it and eradicate the evil that was killing it. It’s a work in progress.

3. Heuchera Mike reminds me of a gentle, chatty garden-centre owner who passed away in 2018. I have several of his plants in my garden. A very keen eye may notice that it is a petal-trapper. Last weekend was very windy and the roses lost many a bloom, only to find a cozy nesting place beneath.

4. Geranium Maureen. My mother-in-law loved geraniums. At her graveside, the funeral director placed one of her plants in this pot. At present, all my geranium plants are too big for this pot, so it remains symbolically empty. It is moved around the garden regularly.

5. Grassius Leeds United. I just love grasses. They are wild and hardy, carefree and free-flowing. My brother died at the age of 28. He died on the football field, playing the sport he loved. He was a mighty Leeds United fan. I am a Crystal Palace supporter so we had deep philosophical differences, yet he was Best Man at my wedding! Gary was best man to many many people. While I have this plant, his memory is ever-present in my back garden. Cherish the love you have; cherish the life you live.

6. Hebe M&M. This one is different in two ways. Primarily, it reminds me of two people, Martin & Miriam. They are very good friends of ours and, of course, very much alive! We gave them a Thuja shortly after they married and they called it the Pat-and-Mar tree. This hebe is my way of having them here with us, and is especially important to us right now. I bought them at Lidl during the height of lockdown in early April. This hebe is also different from the above five because I can remember it’s name very clearly. It’s called Hebe Rhubarb & Custard. How could I forget a name like that? But while it lives with us, I shall always call it M&M.

That’s my six this week. There are many things I forget, such as appointments and where my phone is. But I do not forget people. Rafina, George, Mike, Maureen, Gary, Martin & Miriam are remembered in my garden.

I joined this Six on Saturday last week, having read all about it here . New garden writers might like the idea. Old writers like myself too! Certainly, I received a very warm welcome and I want to express my thanks to everyone who read my article, commented here or on Twitter, encouraged me beforehand or just sent me a welcome message. It gave me the encouragement to continue. Thank you very much.
I am now following lots of similar Six on Saturday gardeners and virtually meeting some really nice people.

Finally, I’ve offered myself a suggestion which is undoubtedly sensible. I am a native speaker of the Irish language, sadly in severe decline (the language, that is, not me!). In an attempt to spread awareness, I’d like to use a simple Irish phrase in my articles ó am go h-am. Linguists will likely guess the meaning from the context, or may use An Foclóir for assistance. Others might like to use Mrs. Google, or perhaps not. As my life-motto would remind me: No worries, mate.

So onwards to next week… Thinking cap on to look for an angle… Now where did I put that cap? If I could just find my glasses, I’d see it clearly.

“I am intrigued by writers who garden and gardeners who write. The pen and the trowel are not interchangeable, but seem often linked.” ― Marta McDowell

Pádraig, 13th June, 2020.

Greenfly on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

I sure hope they’ll give me iPad or tablet when I’m in the nursing home 2050 so I can look back on my gardening.

Julie Andrews is almost 85. For her 79th birthday, she was asked once again to sing the very popular “My Favourite Things” from the 1965 musical The Sound of Music. She chose to change the lyrics to reflect long life and old age.

I was reminded of it today as I photographed my roses, one of which was bedecked with pretty greenfly, and rather than Raindrops on Roses my head immediately went into musical mode as I attempted to update the words with a gardening theme, starting with the very obvious “Greenfly on Roses, and blackbirds on strawberries…”

My composition will have to wait until it is complete (ie more than one line), so in the meantime I am content to include the adapted lyrics by Julie.

Just Joey

Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favourite things.
Cadillac’s and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favourite things.
When the pipes leak, When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad.
Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favourite things.
Back pain, confused brains and no need for sinnin’,
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin’,
And we won’t mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favourite things.
When the joints ache, When the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I’ve had,
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Korresia

Why is this even relevant here on my garden diary? Well, although I do like others to read my stories, primarily I write for myself. I sure hope they’ll give me iPad or tablet when I’m in the nursing home 2050 so I can look back on my gardening.

Start the conversation: Any tips for writing adapted version of a song? Any tips for moving greenfly to a neighbouring garden? Anything you’d like to share about your gardening or greenfly or roses?

Summary: Pádraig is the author of GrowWriteRepeat. He loves roses, musicals and new dental fittings. He also likes greenfly (as food for the good insects) but prefers them on other folks roses.

Pádraig, 4th June, 2020.

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.

The November Garden In Perspective: Crab Apple, Pinnochio and Dougal

My little garden with the large crab-apple tree becomes rather small when taken in context. Very small compared to, let’s say, Hyde Park, London; smaller still in relation to Central Park, New York, but insignificantly small when viewed alongside Mr Donald Trump’s enormous nose.

Occasionally, I rise during the night for a very relieving natural break. It is a universal truth that we mortals have to pee, and gardeners are not exempt, but isn’t it great that the body clock warns us (gardeners and non-gardeners alike) to wake in advance? Occasionally also, but not always to the point, we notice that the sky is completely clear, and the millions of stars are out to greet us on a true winter night that is crisp and cold.

In such circumstances a coffee is allowed. Alternatively, a cigarette may be one’s choice of fix, all the while taking in the presented scene. Take some time, short or long, to stand and stare. Best spot for this exercise might be outside back door, just far enough away from house lights. Best apparel might be dressing gown, slippers and hat. Said hat could be conveniently placed for such impromptu opportunities. On occasion, deep thoughts can present themselves. This is natural, and we should not struggle to dismiss them. Savour the coffee and the moment.

Unplanned Eureka Moment

Last night was one such night. At 1am, there was a clear sky, filled only with well-focused stars and dark spaces. As I looked down the garden and upwards, my eureka moment duly arrived. Immediately, I went in for more coffee (no point in going back to bed, because the moment needs writing!)

That’s a lot of writing just as an introduction to this evening’s gardening article. My preference is for a shorter post. I like my blog and others too, especially when the content is brief. Anything longer than a short story sees me skimming for the main points. It’s also a lot of writing without a picture to draw the eye, in a way that a thousand words never will, so here’s a night crab-apple shot in the moment. Tip #1 for November nights: when the phone is still upstairs by the bed, have the real camera handy for crab-apple shots.

Crab-apple tree
Crab-apple 1cm: also available on far-away gardens, methinks

The Father Ted Effect

My suburban garden comprises smaller plants, in the main. There are taller shrubs and two trees, together with larger structures to provide perspective.

Sweet Pea 5cm: reproducing prior to death

In the larger scheme of things, I am somewhat bigger than most of my plants, yet much smaller than the columnar beech. I am, however, older and wiser. Yet, as I gaze upwards, with my coffee and cigarette in hand, coffee right, cigarette left, (but that’s not important now), Mister Eureka makes me think of far-away gardens on planets circling far-away stars, and in the interest of balance, a particular scene from the TV series Father Ted brought me frantically back to earth. Ted is demonstrating some plastic toy cows to Dougal.

OK, one last time. These are small…. but the ones out there are far away. Small… far away.

There you have it! My little garden with the large crab-apple tree becomes rather small when taken in context. Very small compared to, let’s say, Hyde Park, London; smaller still in relation to Central Park, New York, but insignificantly small when viewed alongside Mr Donald Trump’s enormous nose. It’s the Pinocchio effect, for the upcoming US presidential election.

20cm Alyssum Golden Ball Our little earth is merely a small ball

The Universe

It is further significantly smaller when looking to the night sky. Here’s a little clip to summarise the place of my garden (sometimes lovingly referred to my be as my universe):

Futurism: Scale of the Universe Please be patient, as it can take up to 15 seconds to load the universe on PC. Run the flash animation, but not sure if these will work on phones? Phones are just too small to run something this big, perhaps. Feedback very welcome, especially if it DOES, in fact, run on your phone.

Here’s a second one, equally enormous. Scale of the Universe #2

12 minor thoughts along the way:

  • If I were a plant, this clear sky would be an all-night affair
  • The Raffesia flower is the largest on earth, blooming to a diameter of approx. 1 metre (3 feet). It features in the first animation above, but not in Ireland
  • The following are in my garden, in diminishing size order: earthworms, ants, clay particles, hydrogen atoms (lots of these present), chlorine nuclei and high energy neutrinos. The latter is probably unproven, yet I’m going with it. These may even combine to form other interesting stuff.
30cm Calendula, commonly known as Pot Marigold.
  • I’m certain there’s a garden like mine far far away out there
  • I’m wondering are there garden bloggers out there, sharing eureka thoughts on some universal social media? I’d love to make the connection, to share my crab-apple!
  • Garden plants and star names are normally in latin, and some share a common name eg Venus, cosmos, aquilegia (Lady’s Finger)
  • By now, a second coffee might go down well
About my size: Acer palmatum
  • Father Ted is an Irish TV sitcom, produced by British independent production company Hat Trick Productions. The Irish do comedy, but it takes the renowned British to produce it!
  • November 2nd is known as all Souls’ Day, but I’m not religious.
  • My brother, Gary, is somewhere out there, and also very close to my earth garden
  • Is there an after-life for plants? Of course there is, in an altered state.  My deceased dahlia from 2012 is now changed to living soil
  • Burning the midnight oil, stargazing and blogging is best when retired and not concerned with the world of early morning work
Larger than me: Callicarpa bodineiri “Beauty Berry”
I really should have known that a post along these lines was on the horizon. I had been night cycling with friends, and we were all in agreement that:

  • it was a cold clear cloudless night
  • there were lots of very well-focused stars and things even at 8pm
  • night cycling is a terrific buzz, but that’s not important now
I have included a satellite observation report of the route on my cycling blog. Interested gardeners who cycle will notice that it is very dark. The voice recorder data on the black box is turned off for privacy reasons. Also turned off is the weather data, so you’ll have to take my word for it that it was indeed quite cold.

Footnotes:

  1. As an experiment in perspective, the six plants photographed are in increasing size order.
  2. Raffesia website. This will blow your mind. Considered one of the rarest in the world not only for its gigantic petals but also for the putrid smell it emits to attract pollinators and prey, the genus rafflesia is endemic in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
  3. Hyde Park covers 142 hectares (350 acres) and Kensington Gardens covers 111 hectares (275 acres), giving a total area of 253 hectares (625 acres), making their combined area larger than the Principality of Monaco (196 hectares or 480 acres), though smaller than the Bois de Boulogne in Paris (845 hectares, or 2090 acres).
  4. Central Park is an urban park in middle-upper Manhattan, within New York City. Central Park is the most visited urban park in the United States, with 40 million visitors in 2013. It is also one of the most filmed locations in the world. The Park was established in 1857 on 778 acres (315 ha) of city-owned land
  5. In Lutheran Europe, the practice of “souling” is interesting. Bread cakes are baked for children who walk from door to door begging for alms or “soul-cakes”. For consumerist Europe, substitute sweets, and disregard the connection to honouring the dead.
  6. It was probably inspiration from the more “folksy” traditions among the Irish and Scottish immigrants to the USA, which generated the commercial Halloween which has been taken up so enthusiastically only recently by Europeans.
copyright Terry Gilliam
President of something bigger than himself? The universe should be worried.

Happy November gardening, wherever you are, no matter how large or small your universe,

“I am intrigued by writers who garden and gardeners who write. The pen and the trowel are not interchangeable, but seem often linked.” ― Marta McDowell (and adopted for Petals by Paraig).

Pádraig, 2nd november 2016.