My intention to link what’s happening in my garden to everyday life brings me to record my trip to the hospital in Cork yesterday. Suffice it to say that all is well. No kitchen tiles were damaged in the fall, the staff here are good, food is good and I’ll be cycling heading home shortly.
I’ve been very comforted by the fact that I’ve had to confirm my identity and date of birth upwards of a dozen times. Purely from a health & safety viewpoint, they want to be sure they send the right person home!
Readers will understand that the photo above is not current. I will be looking forward to tasting some delicious tomatoes very soon.
With time on my hands, my desire to find a positive slant to a negative event brings me back to my colouring app. I can’t go weeding, planting or gardening of any kind until tomorrow, but I pass away a few hours reading, writing this and also using my HappyColor. It’s called happy for a reason! I found an interesting flower.
Our lives, like our gardens, are made up of the crisp clear images we portray to the world, together with our darker blurred backgrounds.
Marylin vos Savant is very wise. She is an American magazine columnist, author, lecturer and playwright. She is known for many other things, one of which is that she rates as having the Guinness Book of Records highest IQ title. I am learning about her. She has said many wonderful and practical things. A selection of her various words of wisdom advises that you should:
be able to cite three good qualities of every relation or acquaintance you dislike
be able to decline a date so gracefully that the person isn’t embarrassed that he or she asked
be able to hiccup silently, or at least in a way not to alert neighbours of your situation. The first hiccup is an exception.
I have been practicing depth of field photography, and one of her quotable quotes makes the link I’m looking for.
The length of your life is less important than its depth.
Marilyn vos Savant
Enough of this in-depth introduction. Let’s get to the most important aspect of the situation deep down to the nub of the matter. Here I go again with my six this Saturday…
Uimhir a h-aon:
Buzy Lizzies and Privet stand out against the darker blurred background. Prizes for the first five who can identify the background plant on top right.
Uimhir a dó:
I do love grasses and this one has been catching my eye all summer with is tiny purplish tinge. There’s a lot going on behind.
Uimhir a trí:
The upside-down flower, Liatris spicata was featured on Instagram last week. Here it is again, one week on, opening further down. I watched a single busy bee stay on this plant for about twenty minutes a few days ago.
Uimhir a ceathar:
This is a rescue Acer. It had been in the neglected front garden. Now it is being tended carefully and the new growth has made the work worthwhile. Again, there are prizes on offer if you can identify the bike stand. Simple yes or no will suffice. The purpose of the bike-stand is two-fold as explained yesterday.
Uimhir a cúig:
The zonal pelargoniums are in focus amid the other varieties. Some dead-heading is required and these plants will need a long soak in the soak tray. After they’ve had a long soak in the soak tray, I will drip feed them from overhead. Likely, they will need to be checked individually because when potted plants are packed so tightly they suffer because of lack of air blowing through. All of these little tasks are on the early-next-week list. It’s Rule 42b for July and August.
Uimhir a sé:
Rosa ‘Korresia’ wafts its scent as I walk nearby. The flowers are short-lived, but new replacement buds quickly appear go tapaigh.
That’s my Six on Saturday. I hope you pick your favourite in the comments. Feel free also to win a prize or to outline any deep thoughts that come to mind.
Deep Saturday Thought
On the basis that depth of field photography highlights the foreground and blurs the background, would the image be interesting if the background was not there? Our lives, like our gardens, are made up of the crisp clear images we portray to the world, together with our darker blurred backgrounds.
Spoiler alert: The answer is 42. Don’t go there, unless you’re a fan of Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.
For easier browsing, why not take a look at what my gardening friends are showing this Saturday by visiting The Propagator? You’ll find details about how to participate there too. And now it’s goodbye from me, but the story continues next week. Slán go fóill.
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!
The ugly wall was built badly by my great neighbour and his friend. Lots of Guinness and whiskey went into the building of it.
There was birthday cake on Monday as I celebrated the beginning of my sixty-third trip around the sun. Steak and onions too, with a glass of red wine. The celebrations continued unexpectedly for most of the week, as I met up with friends for coffee (and cake), and had lunch and dinner out with family on Wednesday and Friday. Prior to all this I had been just skin and bone, and now there’s a bit of flesh on me! I’m told it suits me. Unfortunately, there was little time to think about my six this week, and so it is somewhat factual without the added extra bits. Anseo, mo chuid Sé ar an Satharn:
Ground Ivy is a handy hardy annual for a tub of summer colour, as the plant is primarily a variegated leafy one. I bought a few in 2018 and this year’s plants are their descendents. I will simply leave these in place over winter and get literally dozens again next year. They root freely and give a balanced look to several areas of annual colour.
Persicaria is a wonderful ground-cover plant that looks very uninteresting until the flowers emerge. I’ve got them tucked away under several of the shrubs on Joe’s raised bed, and it peeks through to surprise me. A native Himalayan plant, it is sometimes known as mountain fleece, smartweed or knotweed but not the dodgy dangerous one.
I was given this Astilbe as a gift last year, and it is nestled between two larger shrubs. I was unsure if it was in a suitable place, so rather than plant it, I left it in its pot just in case it would need to be moved elsewhere. Apart from having to drown it twice during the drought in May and early June, it is definitely happy where it is.
Lobelia cardinalis is one of my top ten plants. It will flower very shortly, and as soon as it does, you’ll know all about it! Once again, these remain in pots rather than in the ground. In that way I can move them wherever I want and move them away when they no longer look great. I have three, and they will be very suitable for dividing in early spring. Next year there will likely be nine, and at that point I will plant some in a pernanent position.
I rarely take photographs of the Agapanthus, and I know why. It just doesn’t present itself well for the camera. Indeed it is a beautiful plant to look at and is a definite addition to the rockery. It will remain in flower for a long period, and in addition to that, I leave the dead spikes in place through the winter. Perhaps that will be worth photographing.
This clinging Hydrangea was bought in an attempt to hide the ugly wall, which was built badly by my great neighbour and his friend. Lots of Guinness and whiskey went into the building of this ugly wall, so we decided to attach a wooden camouflage recently. The hydrangea doesn’t mind whether it clings to an ugly wall or a wooden fence attached to an ugly wall. In 2022 this will be a magnificent backdrop to the area, and in the meantime I will take some cuttings to multiply the stock.
That’s my lot for this week. I do hope you have a great week ahead, whether there be gardening or not. If you’ve a mind to, pop over to Mr. Propagator to read about many more gardeners writing their Six on Saturday. There may even be one or two who celebrated a birthday this week with cake, steak & onions.
Eating cáca milis and extending a birthday beyond a one-day event is very rewarding. I’m reminded that if weddings are becoming three-day events, why not go all out when one reaches the age of sixty-two? I did manage to write my daily garden challenge this week, which cut into my time. I’m glad I did so, though. Overall, it has been a very very good week. Here’s to more next week, but without the cake!
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.
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”.
It’s about being alive. About noticing all the little things, because no one ever knows if it’s the last time they’ll see them. (Tamara Ireland Stone)
Also known as Just Three Things or Three on Tuesday.
My morning inspection yesterday filled me with immense satisfaction for several reasons. My friend delivered two dozen double-yolk eggs, two of which will be enjoyed shortly. Two doubles, that is. Known also as killing two birds with one bite. You’d be forgiven for thinking this will merely be a Two Little Things article, whereas in fact this is the introduction to the two things that caught my eye and the one pointed out to me by my OH.
First, there is a fine strong sunflower which obviously seeded itself tidily from the bird-feeder. You’ll notice also that it is not exactly there only since yesterday. I did notice this three weeks ago and deferred adding it to my list of three until now. It is a late developer, and I’m not sure what height it will get to, so I shall do an update next month.
Second in my line of sight was the spinach. This is from my second sowing and very tasty it is too with my morning omelette on days when I tire of boiling eggs, be they single or double. I rarely have spinach with dinner. That’s just something about myself I’m OK to share.
Finally, take a very close look. The bindweed is not yet gone. It’s back to tempt me into cursing violently. However, I shall not do so. I’ve got it and myself under control. I will keep an eye open for surprise appearances of this troublesome plant and be vigilant in binning it carefully. It will not spoil my day. Curiously, it was Marion who spotted this. Even so, nothing could spoil my birthday.
Three Little Things that need doing:
List is unordered. Completion by time frame is suggested only.
Bin the bindweed (after breakfast).
Measure the sunflower today.
Sow a third batch of spinach later this week.
Readers interested only in gardening should stop reading NOW.
Theee Little Quotes about Little Things:
Two are from well-known names, the third longer and less so.
You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.
It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
You do realize the message of this play, right?” Tyler asked. “Sure.” My arm was still over my eyes. “It’s about life on a farm and falling in love and watching the people you love die. So, you know, that’s awesome.” He ignored the sarcasm. “It’s about being alive. About noticing all the little things, because no one ever knows if it’s the last time they’ll see the.”
My writing has been described as being deadly & peculiar. I know that’s only two, but enough is enough. Sin a bhfuil. (Yesterday, today and…)
Just Three Things (sometimes called Three on Tuesday, only if…yes you understand!) is a regular part of my garden writing. Today, I take the liberty of renaming it Three Little Things in order to remind readers & myself that it is in fact a virtual trilogy. That’s enough three thinking this Tuesday. Today.
Dear Reader: if you like peculiar writing, you’ll not regret following this blog-thingy. I try to be consistently peculiar. My gardening and my writing are specifically so that when I’m in the nursing home in 2050 I’ll be able to look back on all the fun stuff. Use of an iPad will need to be negotiated. That’ll be deadly!
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.
I have watched the long buds form slowly, and I’ve waited and waited for the first one to open. The Gaway Lily made me wait until yesterday.
We bought three lily bulbs two years ago and now there are four. Last year they were disappointing. This year they are amazing! The tallest is 2m20cm, followed closely by two more, but the baby one snapped when it was just 50cm. I’m not sure was it the wind or did something eat straight through it. I think it was something. They were bought in Clonmel Garden Centre but the maroon is definitely a Galway colour!
They are not staked, but are supported somewhat by being planted deep within a large pot. Since early April they have shot skywards on a perfectly vertical plane. Then, because of a nearby overhanging apple tree (Apple Tree Duff) the stems arched gently away as soon as the tree came into leaf. Nature is amazing. Come to think of it, if I were a Galway Lily I’d probably do the same.
I have watched the long buds form slowly, and I’ve waited and waited for the first one to open. The Gaway Lily made me wait until yesterday and the others will likely follow very soon. I will go back over my hand-written notes to find the variety name, and in the meantime I’ll enjoy these beautiful flowers. I’ll enjoy the scent, the colour and the slow pace of maturity on show today and over the next few weeks.
* Any further information or special tips from other Lily lovers would be very much appreciated.
I include here a famous Galway folk ballad written in 1979, remembering the savagery of The Famine in 1847. In recent years it has been adopted by many as a symbol of Irishness, a symbol of struggle against oppression. For anyone interested in the history of England in Ireland, the Wikipedia article about this ballad is very interesting.
Fields of Athenry
By the lonely prison wall I heard a young girl calling Michael, they are taking you away For you stole Trevelyn’s corn So the young might see the morn Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay.
Chorus Low lie the fields of Athenry Where once we watched the small free birds fly Our love was on the wing We had dreams and songs to sing It’s so lonely ’round the fields of Athenry.
By a lonely prison wall I heard a young man calling Nothing matters Mary when you’re free Against the famine and the crown I rebelled, they ran me down Now you must raise our child with dignity.
By a lonely harbour wall She watched the last star falling As the prison ship sailed out against the sky She’ll wait and hope and pray For her love in Botany Bay It’s so lonely round the fields of Athenry.
I thought it was wheat until my farm-raised wife upbraided me with a gentle “What would you know?”
My morning garden inspections continue. Most mornings I check it out just before 7am, while my boiled egg is boiling. Regular readers will know the story. I make a note of three things that catch my eye and take a photograph. In addition, I take mental stock of three tasks that need attending to, but without any deadline for completion.
1. Non-gardeners might regard the Chelsea Chop as some sort of post-lockdown haircut, but we know better. This Penstemon got it back in mid-May, which is the recommended CC month. It is in full bloom. Grown from seed last year, it’s doing very well in a good sunny spot, but will need some winter protection.
2. Here we have a general view looking down the garden, and in the immediate foreground is an ear of barley. I sowed a packet of mixed grasses back in mid-April, and there’s a fine selection of perhaps six different varieties including this. It’s likely the birds will feed off this when the time is right. Initially, I thought it was wheat until my farm-raised wife upbraided me with a gentle “What would you know?”
3. Cycling is very close to my heart. I love almost everything about it, including an occasional lung-busting time-trial, but cleaning my bike does not come easy to me. I got fed up of taking this bike-stand from the shed and returning it once a week (well, more like once a month). Finally, I decided to leave it in situ and attempt to disguise it as a garden feature. I was going to hang a flower basket on it, but settled for bird-feeder. It’s another win-win situation.
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, as I had written about in early June. 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? (Update: from Fred & Catherine. .. It’s portenschlagiana. Thank you both!). 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. Goodness knows, even the updated name is a mouthful!
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.
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 highlight this 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.
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 invocation: 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 recover.