Six on Saturday – Celebrations

2020 Act 2, the first Saturday of the second half of the year and it’s Independence Day if you are American or Philipino. For those of us who are not, please note that it is my nephew’s birthday, born a little later than the first Saturday of 1776. In advance of multiple celebrations, I spent a while selecting my six for this week, so without further ado, let’s have liftoff…

My first this week is Feverfew, known to some as Bachelor’s Buttons. This one seeded itself in a small crack between patio slabs. I love it even before it flowers because of the attractive lime-green foliage. After you’ve read this blog thingy and other posts over at the Propagator’s HQ, after perhaps some gardening, coffee or other brew, you could return to this picture to count the buttons.

Next up is a shot of Begonia Corner. I went completely over the top with these for the last two years, having forty-two altogether. I mismanaged them last winter and now there are sixteen. They are not at their best yet, but I will enjoy them right up to the end of November.

Last week I described a struggling Vinca. In any case, this is a fine healthy one, planted into the Annual Trough, and blends well with Ground Ivy. Right now it boasts a single small flower.

Nothing speaks to me more of summer than petunias. The dry weather has suited them this year and they look strong.

Can anyone help me find the variety of this light-blue Campanula? I think it’s Milky Bellflower. It’s just past its best and will get a post-lockdown haircut next week or soon after. A good plant creeping up a dry stone wall in semi-shade, it seems completely unruffled by the large amount of slugs & smails that nibble on it most nights.

Finally, we move along to Geranium Corner. These ones wintered well and for that I am pleased.

That’s my six this week. For more, pay a visit to Mr. Prop. who started this going. I have to say I’m enjoying reading articles from like-minded garden writers from near and far. Tá an-áthas orm bheith ag léamh scéalta deasa scríofa ag garraíodóirí i ngar is í gcéin.

Independence Day

It’s America’s big day. Heaven knows, they need to celebrate because they are in trouble. I wish them well as they attempt to recover the high ground, and I finish with a quote:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.

Ronald Reagan

Regular readers will know by now that I cannot separate my garden from the world. In fact, I try to make a link. I have many very good friends and acquaintances in the US, many of whom have spoken to me about the brokenness of their country. It has always been the dream of Americans to find that they have Irish blood. Therefore I finish today with an incocation: May you once again feel proud of your country; may you realise that we Irish are suffering too, but proud of how we are dealing with tough stuff. Heads up high! Like the waterlogged Geranium, we will all recover.

Pádraig,

Saturday, 4th July 2020.

Drought & Waterlogged

Who would have thought that using this vibrant red pot would be a bad idea? Most of my pots are plastic with a few expensive terracotta in the mix, and all have proper drainage. I discovered the vibrant red while doing the twice-yearly shed cleanup. It looked good and I figured it would be a good candidate for the front of Geranium Corner. It was a good idea back in mid-June when there was a drought, because there was no drainage hole. I ndáiríre, there still is none. Unfortunately, when the wheelbarrow-load of rain dropped, I was so taken by how lush everything in the garden looked that I forgot to empty it. Today there’s several inches of water in it, and it is likely  the pelargonium is suffering and the leaves are showing the effects of prolonged water logging. But this is a hardy specimen and will recover.
I call this a geranium. I’m told that pelargonium is more correct. What do you call yours?

On a more philosophical note, I am reminded that my ENTIRE garden is a container, a very large 10×30 metre container. I have placed all my plants in this container over the past thirty years, and the heavens take care of the watering almost entirely. I am so grateful that the garden is naturally well watered.

The resident fairies seem to shy away from vibrant red, so I will leave the pot in place in recognition of Liverpool’s Premier League triumph after many years of adversity.

Hamlet Cigar & A Shocking Discovery

The fairy door has moved AGAIN. It had been behind the Alchemilla for the last few weeks, but the little devils relocated overnight.

There was a time when happiness was a cigar called Hamlet, until TV tobacco advertising was banned. How times have changed! In my case, I did enjoy a cigar every once in a while and yes, it was a Hamlet. Nowadays, other things do the trick very nicely.
I could write a book about the little things in my garden that help the happiness bug, and if I were to pick just one it would be my daily five-minute pre-breakfast garden inspection. I’ve written about it just this week.

“Fairy’s Live Here”

So what caught my eye today? I made a shocking discovery! The fairy door has moved AGAIN. It had been behind the Alchemilla for the last few weeks, but the little devils relocated overnight. Worryingly, they are nearer the house behind a large stone. I dare not get too close, and they will wreak havoc if I tread on their invisible meandering pathways. My boiled egg will be rotten, my bike punctured or the bindweed will return.

Unrelated to the Irish wee folk, I came upon this from Marcel Proust:

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

I have enough people in my life who make me happy, and I am grateful every day.

Finally, I return to the fairies and include here one of my brother’s favourite school poems by William Allingham. I have omitted the two verses not traditionally known as they are a bit offside.

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather!

Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain-lake,
With frogs for their watchdogs,
All night awake.

By the craggy hillside,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn trees
For my pleasure, here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite,
He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather.

Pádraig,

Thursday, 2nd July 2020.

June 2020

June was just fantastic. Glorious sunshine with temperatures in mid twenties until the 20th. Rain was badly needed and arrived in wheelbarrow-loads.

Highlights:

  • The fence is nearly done
  • Plenty ripe strawberries & salads
  • Regular writing to record the work

Plants that look good in June:

  • Roses
  • Begonias
  • Grasses
  • Geranium

Now that I’ve made a start with this summary of the month, I’ll be doing July in a bit more detail. Just so that I can look back on it when I’m OLD.

Pádraig,

Tuesday, 30th June 2020.

Three on Tuesday

First off, this is a bit of a cheat! I wandered the garden yesterday before breakfast. So really it’s Three on Monday to add to yesterday’s Cheering Up My Monday. No need to read that back again, coz it’s a bit garbled. The boiled egg was boiling as I grabbed the camera for a five-minute stroll through the garden. It was indeed looking very summery.

  • The Skimmia is doing well in the container. In fact there are two. Bought back in 2018 together with the Acer Red Flamingo, they are doing much better since I moved them to a more shaded spot. Correction: they get plenty sun, but critically the pot is shaded in front of a small wall. The original article about these is one of my favourites, and also includes my delight when Trump lost a lot of momentum in the mid-term elections. Here’s the link.
  • This grass is past its best. It has set seed and I am wondering will it come again if I cut it back hard? Must check that out. However, I very much like the heads and may decide to leave it in its natural state.
  • The bindweed is dead. I repeat, the bindweed is DEAD. It took me six weeks to beat the life out of it. Now, the bare space needs to be filled. That’s something for the jobs-to-be-done section below.

Three things that need doing:

  • Sow more lettuce & spinach
  • Water and feed the strawberries
  • Fill the bare soil where the bindweed lived.

There are many many more lovely items in the garden at the moment. After all, it is the last day of June and things are looking good. There’s been enough sunshine and enough rain. There are also many more little jobs to be done but right now my egg should be ready!

Link to last week’s Just Three Things.

Finally, I include for the first time a selection of three’s not related to gardening. This a trial to see if I am interested in continuing it. My thinking is that I may like to read back over this next year or in several years time. Or I may do it irregularly from time to time.

Family:

  • 18th birthday gathering for my niece. Cake also
  • Got a dog-walker for the old Yorkie
  • Visit to two garden centres with Marion. Such an exciting life we live

Bike:

  • Group Coffee spin to Kilmacthomas with Danny, Tony & Majella
  • Wednesday 20km time-trial
  • Sunday 85km, group of nine, very blustery, plenty hills

Ireland:

  • New government. Taoiseach Mícheál Martin
  • Restaurants open again!
  • 16 Covid deaths last week

Sport:

  • Crystal Palace beat Bournemouth but lost against Liverpool & Burnley
  • Liverpool won Premier League
  • Plans for December All-Ireland finals

Curiosities, courtesy of Irish Times:

  • 23 sitting TDs have hired members of their families
  • 6200 attended Trump rally, whereas they expected 100,000
  • Average price of a Dublin home is €438,000

Thanks for reading & I hope you have a great week.

Pádraig,

Tuesday, 30th June 2020.

Three on Tuesday

Rozanne is of the Geranium clan, and I’ve loved her for many a year.

My morning five-minute examination of the garden was damp today. We had a light mist for most of yesterday, and it continues.

Here’s what caught my eye:

1. The first Nasturtium is in flower. My wife doesn’t like nasturtiums very much, but I do. Yes, I know my she is always right, and I know I love her very much. However, these easy to grow plants will fill uninteresting corners and last right through until the first frost. Marion gets my number one vote and these guys are very close behind. Going forward, as the nasturtiums begin to dominate the area around the oiltank, I know it will be very important to tell Marion that I love her more than them.

2. Another of my favourites is Rozanne. Rozanne is of the Geranium clan, and I’ve loved her for many a year. Here, she is bows her head to shelter the important bits from the mist.

3. The forget-me-nots are finished for this year. I waited a full three weeks after the last flowers before pulling them. I did this to be sure they have a chance to shed seed for next year, before sending the remains to Compost Heaven. I am looking forward to to finding the new 2021 version in unexpected places. It always happens. Anyway, lo and behold, an gcreidfeá é, there’s one last late developer! Such a moment, and I’ll not forget it! Shall I show it to Marion? Yes, that would be delightful.

Three jobs that need doing (soon)…

  • Put fresh water in the birdbaths
  • Sow seeds of Sweet William and Aquilegia for next year
  • Move the Fairy Door to a surprise location. Marion loves this, and loves to be surprised

On a sad note:

My blue egg-cup is in the dishwasher, so I had to use the white one today. I do not like the white one because it is too big and the egg sinks right down into it. Despite this catastrophe, the day is a good one. I have completed the garden inspection, noticed some lovely surprising things and my to-do list is easy to complete after breakfast or maybe later this week.

Follow Me Around:

Pádraig,

Tuesday, 23rd June, 2020.

Hosepipe Ban

It was inevitable, really. Following very wet weather back in January and February, we haven’t had much rain since. April was dry, May was the driest on record, and the garden is very thirsty.

To the best of my poor memory, this is the earliest hosepipe ban. We’ve had a few down through the years but it’s normally in late July or August. The extent of the drought is evidenced by the fact that this ban will be in effect for six weeks.

I am reminded of my article about torrential rain way back in 2016. Memory not so poor after all!

So, along with Covid lockdown (thankfully being eased this week), I will need to fill buckets, barrels and butt’s before tomorrow. Partially defeats the purpose of the ban, but at least it will not be wasted watering a lawn. In the meantime, I’ll live in the present and enjoy today.

I’m off on my bike shortly. A great bonus in this beautiful weather.

Pádraig, 8th June, 2020.