Six on Saturday – Fading Light & Black Gold

Today is World Mental Health Day. I received a notification on my phone during the week reminding me of a short piece I wrote four years ago today. I thought and thought (while planting peas and composting compost) about how I might link WMHD to things going on sa gháirdín ar chúl an tí. The 100 Word Challenge linked above is also added as text at the end of this article. This may sound very confusing, but I do hope you’ll be able to get past the fog.

Monday

Days are shortening and that means nights are longer. Yin and yang. It’s a time of the year when people’s mental health may be affected by lower levels of light. Studies suggest getting outside more often. Today, I did get out and I started the Patio Pot makeover. By 2:25pm it was time for me to have a late lunch. My recommendation today is to do your best to get things in balance.

Tuesday

Getting outside is one important part of self-care. But the trick is to do it over and over again. With this in mind, I added a few finishing touches. The bird-feeder will bring me great joy over the months ahead. Close comparison between this photograph and yesterday’s shows that there are four minutes less daylight. What words of advice would I give to anyone struggling today? Watch the birds!

Wednesday

I got out again on Wednesday just to top up my vitamin D levels. Apparently, this vitamin is important in regulating mood. To be sure, by 3:02pm my mood was upbeat as the Patio Pot feature is almost finished. In reality though, chun an fhírinne a rá, I’ll keep adjusting it every few weeks. Speaking of adjustments, there’s an extra four minutes of darkness since yesterday. In the Northern Hemisphere we are slowly tilting away from the sun. Mantra for today: get out there, even if you do have to wrap up more.

Thursday

Just after midday, I fortified myself with coffee and sugar. I’m advised that coffee is not ideal to regulate My Mental Mood, but hey… life is for living! I had spent several hours finishing the glasshouse shelving, planting peas outside and shredding apple tree branches for the compost heap. My advice today is to do what makes you happy.

Friday

There’s a side we present publicly and another we present only to ourselves. In light of that, here’s my messy composting corner, being outed publicly. I accept also the messy corners of my mind. Look on the bright side… this heap of rubbish will transform to “black gold”.  The World Health Organisation has solid advice about self-care. Small things make a big difference. Here’s my tip for today: Limit screen time.  There is an off button. Doing this may allow time for reflection and acceptance of your private thoughts.

Saturday

I’m late uploading my garden thoughts as I wanted to get a photograph watermarked with today’s details. Today is the day. It’s World Mental Health Day. I do hope it’s a good day for you. In the past I’ve been affected with seasonal depression, yet strangely mine appears in April. We are all different. I have good coping strategies in place and I know that they work. Gardening and writing work well for me. Then, I like cycling, reading, cooking one new meal each month (sometimes very successfully, I’m told!), meeting friends for coffee & sugar, meeting friends for no coffee, and lots of other little pleasures. For me, life is very good and while I’m grateful, my thoughts go out today to those who are struggling. Would I have some words of comfort today?

  1. People who lift you up are a blessing. Stick close to them, particularly when you just feel like being alone.
  2. Don’t get caught up in small details such as noticing that since last Monday there is less daylight here in South East Ireland amounting to 18 minutes.
  3. Get your hands into the earth.
7:49, 10-10-20

100 Word Challenge October 2016

Could I impart even a very small amount of my enthusiasm for gardening in 100 words? (20 used thus far).

World Mental Health day is on October 10th. Can gardening help with mental health? I say a resounding YES. Here’s my top 3 thoughts:

  • A good garden MAY have some weeds. Akin to ill-health, weeds remind me of life’s struggles. The trick is to ensure that the flowers dominate.
  • I frequently see one small job that needs doing, but after an hour of pottering about I have lost myself in harmony with the earth.
  • Gardening is my therapy of choice.

End of 100-word challenge.

“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 by GrowWriteRepeat).

100 Word Challenge 2016

Why not take a look at what my gardening friends are showing this Saturday by visiting Jon The Propagator? “Six on Saturday. Six things, in the garden, on a Saturday. Could be anything, you decide.” 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.

Pádraig,

10th October 2020. WMHD.

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.

Six on Saturday – Pears and Pancake Mix

Manchester United 1 Crystal Palace 2. It took us thirty years to beat them at Old Trafford last year, and then we go and repeat the feat again. Repeat defeat!

Reading time: 5 minutes + 1 minute spent looking closely at photographs. That’s Six on Saturday.

I’ve been saying it for several weeks. It’s Autumn, and now it’s officially Autumn. The past few weeks have been very dry and warm, so the garden is looking great. The cold nights and dininished light are adding the expected colour changes everywhere. The diminished light and cold nights are not bedfellows, as nights are generally completely dark. For the sake of Autumnal clarity: The diminished daylight hours combined with the cold nights are turning my garden to Autumn gold.

When I’m not gardening I’m playing with my phone or cycling. This week I skipped the midweek cycle, but spent a few cúpla euro to buy a gimmicky little camera app that applies filters to photographs. The hands are not mine and neither is the phone. They belong to someone else who got paid a nominal stipend to allow distribution. I think they are not gardening hands. This is a photo of a photo of my Six this week. Read along with me in reverse alphabetical order:

1. Strawberries

My strawberries had been in pots and window boxes this year, but I’ve been driven demented as mo mheabhair watering and feeding them. I seldom seemed to get it right, so I purchased four hanging baskets and loaded each one with twelve plants. I have one basket left over for something else.

Competition: How many plants altogether? If each plant produces one hundred fruits and the birds get 10% how many bowls of twenty will I have? Ceist eile: What might I put in the remaining basket? I’m reminded of a classic conundrum…

Classic!

2. Pear Tree

Hiding among the two fuchsias is my new pear tree, which is actually two pear trees, and a close look at the second photograph grianghraf clearly shows where the second one has been grafted on to the main plant. The first is Williams and the other one is Buerre Hardy. Perhaps it’s the other way round? This will grow to 3m wide, so I will need to consider very carefully where to plant it.

Which is which?
Pear Williams & Buerre Hardy

3. Onions

During the week I got stuck in, and completed the job of getting the onion sets into the ground. They are protected by netting and surplus shopping baskets. Don’t ask!

4. Feverfew

This little guy is flowering again. Feverfew, sometimes known as Bachelor’s Buttons, is a great little addition to the garden and I’m happy to see it seeding itself in nooks and crannies among the patio slabs. Along with the little flowers, I love the lime-green foliage. This was featured among my very first Six on Saturday articles in early July.

Bachelor’s Buttons

5. Begonia

My begonia-love is changing, as is the case with true love. There are still six in the garden, constantly being moved around for visual variety, a few are being dried out in the glasshouse and finally, a few have been added to the compost heap. I never thought this would happen. Love does not normally discard, yet I’m adapting… Some of the trailing begonias do not suit my garden. They are best viewed from a height of 10 cm, and I’d need to be a miniature Yorkie to really appreciate them. Could I use the leftover hanging basket? In any case, recently I have been influenced by many SOSers who have espoused the virtue of dumping unwanted varieties rather than keeping them simply because they have been purchased with hard-earned cash. My previously-loved Begonias are now in the process of returning to the garden next year via the compost heap. The hanging basket is still available.

6. Acer

A beautiful plant in summer, this comes into the limelight from now until the end of October. The diminishing daylight hours and cold nights are in no way connected to limelight. I wonder where did the word originate?

Acer limelight

SOS – Only One Garden Here

  • Royalty cheque for $200 arrived from Fashion Artist. It’s a decent stipend, and we feel happy to authorise our wide distribution. Top tips indeed.
  • On Paddy’s recommendation (Paddy, An Irish Gardener) we visited Kilmacurragh Botanic Gardens in Wicklow. It’s a wonderful place, and I’ll be back. Beidh mé ar ais.
  • Sam Bennett was on the brink of finishing the TDF in the Green Jersey last week, and on Sunday last he  sprinted to a double victory in Paris. Chapeau Sam!
  • Manchester United 1 Crystal Palace 2. It took us thirty years to beat them at Old Trafford last year, and then we go and repeat the feat again last Saturday. Repeat defeat!
  • Separate Yoga and Chiropractor sessions have me bouncing 360.
  • I enjoyed a nostalgiac photographic back-look to this week in 2015 when we visited our daughter in Thirsk, Yorkshire. I double-jobbed by cycling the Moors including Sutton Bank and Rosedale Chimney. In reality, I escorted the bike on foot for much of the latter.

That’s my lot for this week, a cháirde. I’ll be back with more an Satharn seo chugainn. In the meantime, please visit Mr. Propagator’s garden blog where you can find many more Six on Saturday offerings from around the world, together with details of how to participate if that’s your thing. I’ll be spending some time today reading articles by so many others. I hope you have a great week wherever you are. Slán go fóill.

Pádraig,

26th September 2020.

Six on Saturday – The Snip

It has been a wonderful week for gardening. Warm and dry. Ideal weather for a t-shirt, be it red or otherwise.

While tidying the shed a few weeks ago I came upon a New Garden Product. I had known it was in there somewhere but it eluded me for many years. Truth be told, I had come across it during the last recession but had no interest in using it so I dumped it at the bottom of a bosca. It is a Rooting Globe. However it can no longer be called a New Garden Product. My Six on Saturday this week features this Old Garden Product six times. There’s only a faint glimpse of plants, but for the record they are:

  • Rosa Just Joey
  • Acer x2
  • Fuchsia

Full instructions are included, together with website and even the bar code. I shall do an inspection in mid-November and report back.

The kit consists of five globes, three small ones, a medium and a large. Obviously, the small ones are for small branches, and the others for medium and large respectively. I just thought that was worth pointing out.

The First Step is to cut and peel off a short section of bark, as below. This is Step Two on instruction sheet above. Don’t worry about the lack of synchronisation.

This is the Acer, together with attached globe. Looks cool, I think. Nature will work its magic and hopefully there’ll be roots in eight weeks, at which point I will sever the branch, hide the globe at the bottom of a box in the shed and plant the new Acer in the Holding Area.

Rosa Just Joey also got the snip, and I await the results. Propagation of the species will continue despite methods that imply impossibility.

This is the large globe attached to a larger branch. Unfortunately, I selected a branch that was a bit too small and the globe was not secured tightly against the cut. Nevertheless, despite a ghastly appearance, some tape and a cable tie did the trick. Very close inspection of the reflection in some photographs will show that I’m wearing a red t-shirt but not in this one. I’m wearing one and it is red, but it just cannot be seen because the tape is not reflective.

Where To Find It

Cutting Globes are available from Amazon or your local garden centre. They may also be found hidden at bottom of a box in an untidy shed. If you’ve a box in an untidy shed, it might be worth your while checking before purchasing. Red t-shirts are ten a penny and can be got everywhere.

Request for advice: Have you used these? Have you any tips? Would non-transparent be better? I’ve a feeling that rooting would be easier in the dark.

Weather

It has been a wonderful week for gardening. Warm and dry. Ideal weather for a t-shirt, be it dearg or otherwise.

In Other News

Last Saturday’s epic 160km cycle was… epic. I did write a bit about it here. What else stood out for me during the week?

  • Sam Bennett is on the brink of finishing the TDF in the Green Jersey
  • I rearranged the glasshouse shelving, updating it from two to three-storey. That’s big!
  • My super-duper labelling machine has arrived and surely I’ll be writing about it just as soon as I figure out what’s what.
  • Covid-19 second wave is intensifying, as too many fools are endangering themselves and others.

That’s my lot for this week, a cháirde. I’ll be back with more an Satharn seo chugainn. In the meantime, please visit Mr. Propagator’s garden blog where you can find many more Six on Saturday offerings from around the world, together with details of how to participate if that’s your thing. I’ll be spending some time today, tomorrow (or perhaps even yesterday?) reading articles by so many others, and I’ll not be clock-watching ar chor ar bith. I hope you have a great week, be it in the garden, the potting shed or elsewhere. Slán go fóill.

Pádraig,

19th September 2020.

Six on Saturday – Dibbers And Pringles

Which photograph takes first place in my garden competition this week? It was a private affair and I won easily. The prize is a two-night trip to West Cork.

Summer weather has returned and I’ve been basking and cycling in warm sunshine (not at same time), but September is a working month so I’ve continued the daily garden tasks as needed. In the meantime, there will be lots to savour. Here are just six. In fact they comprise this week’s Six on Saturday from last Thursday.

1. Many of the Begonias have put out new flowers as they bask in the same warm sunshine. This is a blurred yellow one.

2. There’s a very small Fuchsia that I keep forgetting about. It’s a mere 30cm in height and it is almost hidden between a fern and Bergenia. Rest assured it will be reduced in height as I intend taking three cuttings. These cuttings bring my total to 102. By end of the month I estimate there will be 126. After that, a second Cold Frame 2.0 would be required.

3. Strawberries are in reverse mode. They looked spent a month ago and now there’s a flush of flowers and a few small fruits. I neglected feeding so they won’t taste great. Likely, with colder nights and slower growth, they may not fruit at all.

Bitter rhubarb made sunny-day strawberry face the realities of life- and taste all the better for it. (Judith Fertig) 

4. Feeding the Osteospermums also fell by the wayside, but they are surviving. There’s just a few flowers because I also neglected dead-heading. I normally do not like purple but this is go h-álainn. What’s in between purple and pink? I’m artistically colour-blind.

5. When I went shopping for pringles and pasta I added this variegated Hebe. It seemed a shame to leave it behind. It was in a sad, very over-watered state so I tidied it up and placed into the Holding Area until I make room for it somewhere. I’m tempted to pop it into a large patio pot, but will most likely wait until March. Three cuttings will be taken, but to give them a fighting chance, I’ll wait a few weeks as it settles into its temporary home.

6. Persicaria and Campanula are peeping through on the rockery under the tall fuchsia. This photograph took first place in my garden competition this week. It was a private affair and I won easily. The prize is a two-night trip to West Cork. Social distancing and hand-washing will be a top priority. Some Guinness will provide essential protein after cycling.

In Other News

We’ve jumped the gun already, as we are in West Cork for a few days. I’m cycling 160km with friends, while Marion is buying plants and dibbers, but not pasta. Likely, I may be on my rothar even as you’re reading this. Truth be told, if you’re reading on Saturday, I’ll be on it long after you’ve moved on. Naturally, I thought to grab some garden photos midweek, put a few words together in advance and set everything to auto-post. That way I don’t waste Guinness-time.

My wife and I have completed a list of six garden visits which we hope to make between now and the end of winter. Each has a nice café/restaurant for lunch nearby and each has some interesting local loop walks. If weather is good we may even bring the bikes. Drive to X, cycle for an hour or ninety minutes, have some lunch and browse for a plant or a new dibber. Home then to a cozy warm stove.

West Cork Museum, Kenmare?

That’s my lot for this week, a cháirde. I’ll be back with more an Satharn seo chugainn. In the meantime, please visit Mr. Propagator’s garden blog where you can find many more Six on Saturday offerings from around the world, together with details of how to participate if that’s your thing. I hope you have a great week, be it in the garden, the potting shed or elsewhere. Slán go fóill.

Pádraig,

12th Seprember 2020.

Six on Saturday – National Garden Exhibition Centre

I’ve heard it said that men don’t do retirement very comfortably, and there have been times I’ve felt a bit lost, but by and large, I’m very happy not to be clock-watching.

For thirty-five years I returned to work during the first week of September. It marked the beginning of the new school year and put a halt to my summer gallop. My wife and I slowly stopped going places, we began the slowing-down process in preparation for winter stay-at-home coziness. This semi-hibernation lasted each year until the end of February, and although I no longer work for a living, our summer still finishes at the end of August. The first of September is like New Year’s Day.

Our only staycation this year was in County Wicklow the week before last, and I include memories here to look back on in thirty years time, using the nursing-home-supplied iPad. I’ll be 92. Come along with me on a magical journey to the National Gardens Exhibition Centre in Kilquaide, County Wicklow on the east coast near Dublin. As with the recent storm-force-Francis winds, I’m bending the SOS guidelines very severely as these images are sixteen days old.

1. Move along, move along…

Step from one garden into another, similar to moving from one season into the next. Life moves along and changes, sometimes seamlessly and at other times abruptly. There’s a step up this time. In other cases, life throws in a step down or even a steep drop.

Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one's exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one's reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance. - Yoko Ono

2. Let there be darkness…

We visited in mid-afternoon, following forty-eight hours of rain and wind. The weather was just beginning to brighten, yet there was a darkness very uncharacteristic of August. I am reminded that life brings such dark moments when we least expect them. Embrace life in all its strange times.

3. Think beyond…

On a more positive note, this little nook brings to my mind the beauty of looking beyond the present. There is light beyond the darkness. This time will pass.

4. Creating from nothing…

Whoever created this scene obviously started with the stone steps and planted around them. I’d like to think that the creator is able to see the beauty that has resulted. A vision to create beauty from within.

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.

Audrey Hepburn

5. Shade and Light…

I was struck by this scene. Life brings us moments of bright sunshine and darker times. The trick may be to realise that everything is constantly changing. Rotha mór an t-saoil. The wheels of life keep turning.

6. New arrival. ..

This is the Wicklow Budda. I’m told I should rub his belly every few days. Marion has waited a long time to find the right one for this spot. I did mention that a Fitbit would look good on his wrist but she knew I was only being half-serious.

7. On a personal note…

Throwback to this time seven years ago. My retirement clock. I’ve been #busybusy ever since. Busy also finding time to do the things I love. Cycling, gardening, writing and lots more. I’ve heard it said that men don’t do retirement very comfortably, and there have been times I’ve felt a bit lost, but by and large, I’m very happy not to be clock-watching. Here’s to the next seven. I’ll be 69. (Originally posted on Instagram. I’ve no time for that Facebook craic, and I’m better for its disappearance from my day.)

That’s my lot for this week, a cháirde. I’ll be back with more an Satharn seo chugainn. In the meantime, please visit Mr. Propagator’s garden blog where you can find many more Six on Saturday offerings from around the world, together with details of how to participate if that’s your thing. I’ll be spending some time today, tomorrow (or perhaps even yesterday?) reading articles by so many others, and I’ll not be clock-watching ar chor ar bith. I hope you have a great week, be it in the garden, the potting shed or elsewhere. Slán go fóill.

Pádraig,

5th September 2020.

Six on Saturday – Cut and Change

I’m going to cut to the chase, without further ado. Pronto, as it were. There will be no dilly-dallying or beating about the bush. I shall abandon the preliminaries and get stuck in immediately, foregoing the unnecessary preambles, because I’m eager to cut corners in order to get to the nub of the matter. Simply put, it’s the last weekend of August. It’s time for me to start making baby plants from cuttings. I’m cutting corners (twice) and layers of red tape to bring you my Six this Saturday. There are thirty cuttings and five rooted seedlings below. That’s thirty-five. Triocha-cúig.

1 and 2: Lavender & Fuchsia

I was kindly asked to stop using peat-based compost recently, and I gave the matter some thought. Not much thought, but enough. I rummaged in the shed to find that I already have an organic peat-free bag hiding behind the other ones, so I used it, mixed with some sand, to pot up some fuchsia and lavender cuttings.

9 Lavender & 6 Fuchsia

There is a growing trend (yes, a growing trend) to move away from using peat. I had known about it from my work in the local garden centre last year, yet it sometimes takes a little kick up the ar backside to make change happen. Likely, it may be a bit too nutritious, so I’m wondering is there a peat-free product specifically for cuttings and/or seed-sowing? I’m sure there is. I love answering my own question! I’m sure others reading this may also love answering my question.  I am learning so much from other gardeners and I’m happy to be more enlightened.

3. Hebe ‘Rhubarb and Custard’

I wrote about this only a dew days ago, and I’m not in the habit of repeating myself so go check it out here. The comments section highlights the gentle kick up the backside mentioned above.

Nine Hebe Rhubarb & Custard

4. Skimmia ‘Temptation’

I notice that some of the leaves of this (gift from my daughter for Christmas 2018) are cut. It’s not unusual to cut large leaves when taking cuttings. There’s a very good reason for it.

3 Skimmia

5. Leucothoe ‘Red Lips’

The common name has me smiling! It’s called Dog Hobble. Smiling is good as it helps exercise many facial muscles that simply do not get moving while sulking. Dog Hobble Red Lips. Again, I decided to snip the leaves horizontally for the same very good reason as above.

3 Dog Hobble

6. Helleborus

This one is not a cutting, but rather a few small rooted seedlings that had grown beneath the parent plant. It’s a plant that I really like. There’s an interesting story I’d like to share about this parent plant.

5 Hellebores
In 2018 we noticed that it was  being ravaged by whitefly after flowering. I wanted to deal with the blighters privately and Marion wanted the plant snipped to ground level, but I objected strongly. I returned home one fine day to find that it had been given a haircut. Number one. Later, peace was restored when I discovered that there were little seedlings seeding beneath. My wife is always right. I must write that seventy times. 

Other News

  • Storm Francis brought lots more rain last Monday night and very blustery winds on Tuesday. Very strangely, there were a few hours of lovely gardening weather in between. No damage this time. Sadly though, I got word that our friends in Santa Cruz have had to evacuate their home because of the raging fires there.
  • America has had very severe problems. Ireland had Golfgate. Both are horrific.
  • Our new Budda is in situ and I rub his belly every few days. It seems that lots of rain follows.

Get involved…

Has anyone got tips or tricks about taking plant cuttings? Or perhaps advice about what has worked or failed? Do please share. I am more than happy to get as good as I give.

That’s my lot for this week, a cháirde. I’ll be back with more an Satharn seo chugainn. In the meantime, please visit Mr. Propagator’s garden blog where you can find many more Six on Saturday offerings from around the world, together with details of how to participate if that’s your thing. I hope you have a great week, be it in the garden, the potting shed or elsewhere. Slán go fóill.

About the Author: Pádraig is the author of GrowWriteRepeat. He loves cutting plants, baby seedlings and Dog Hobble. He also loves the Buddha’s big belly, but not storms in August. More about him here.

Pádraig,

29th August 2020.

Six on Saturday – Fake Mexicans & Clever Italians

There is a distinctly beginning-of-Autumn feel about my garden as the fourth Saturday of August rolls along. There’s also a distinctly scary feel as the Coronavirus pandemic continues, regardless of the approach of the changing season. I’ve been reading about the history of pandemics and it’s very grim. As a species we are vulnerable. This time around, we have the benefit of science, but many refuse to heed advice. It’s a sort of Superman Syndrome, I fear.

My Six this week features four of my top ten plants that regularly do well in my garden. Included also is some information about Storm Ellen, blue pollen, enlarged testicles and clever Italians. To be clear, all are unconnected.

1&2 Fuchsia

Discovered in Haiti, Fuchsias are named after a German botanist, while some originate from New Zealand. All have the particularity of having blue pollen. This pollen was used by young Maori people to adorn their face, probably well before the official discovery of the genus. The plant is not known to have any medicinal uses. It’s just there to brighten up our lives, especially during pandemic times. The Smallpox Pandemic ravaged Europe on and off for centuries, but when it was brought to the Americas it killed up to 90-95% of the population in just a century. Smallpox was the first Pandemic to be completely ended by a vaccine.

“We’ll have a vaccine. Very soon. Very soon”, the Mexican fella said.

Fake News: He wasn’t Mexican.

Here’s a lighter brighter one.

Speaking of lighter… Have you heard the latest?

Maori 1: Will we put on the blue stuff?
M2: No, wait awhile. It hasn't been discovered yet.
M1: Righteo. Kakai.

3. Heuchera Binoche

Native American people used some Heuchera (Alumroot) species medicinally. The Tlingit native Indians used Heuchera glabra as an herbal remedy for inflammation of the testicles caused by syphilis. To the Navajo, Heuchera novamexicana was a panacea and a pain reliever. The Smallpox Pandemic (see above) reduced the population of Mexico from eleven million people to one million.

4. Nasturtium Alaska

I may have included Nasturtiums before, and I’m delighted to do so once again. This is Alaska and I like the flowers and the leaves. During the lockdown months since March so many amateur gardeners started to grow their own food. We know that the flowers of these plants can be eaten, usually in summer salads, and the leaves are a firm favourite with little caterpillars. This was not the case during the Black Death 1347, because this native Central American plant didn’t arrive on the scene until nearly two hundred years later. The Black Death killed an estimated two hundred million people in four years. On a trivial note, its very likely that several ego-maniacal tribal leaders lost power, simply because they thought it would go away. Meanwhile, it was at this time in Venice that the clever Italians had a clever idea:

At first, sailors were held on their ships for 30 days, which became known in Venetian law as a trentino. As time went on, the Venetians increased the forced isolation to 40 days or a quarantino, the origin of the word quarantine and the start of its practice in the Western world.

https://www.history.com/news/pandemics-end-plague-cholera-black-death-smallpox

5&6 Dahlia

Native to Central America, the dahlia was first introduced into Great Britain from Spain in 1798. In Europe and America, prior to the discovery of insulin in 1923, diabetics, as well as consumptives, were often given a substance called Atlantic starch, extracted from dahlia tubers. This knowledge simply was not there during the Plague of Justinian in 521. An estimated half of the population of the known world died. Justinian lost power in a flash. Perhaps he thought it would just go away.

This is a smaller, yet equally beautiful dahlia, loved by the bees and I. It’s hardly worth highlighting that there’s no blue pollen here.

Unseasonal Weather

  • Monday was a washout. There was a passing shower here last Sunday night, but it took 24 hours to pass along to somewhere else.
  • Tuesday was the only decent day for cycling. When I checked on Tuesday morning the roses were a soggy mess, the gladioli were hanging horizontally and even the lettuces looked miserable.
  • On Wednesday night Storm Ellen arrived with severe level-orange winds that blew the entire soggy mess into tidy heaps in several nooks. There was severe damage to the dahlias in particular. The Café au Lait above was levelled.
  • Thursday was wet so we headed for a staycation to Glendalough, home of my friend Kevin, in County Wicklow, known also as the Garden County.
  • Friday was wet again. We visited the National Garden Exhibition to meet old friends. Such a visit needed to me marked with a gardening purchase or two, so we bought a small Acer and a big Budda.

We are an expanding group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. I’ve been doing this since June and I enjoy nothing more than reading about and seeing other gardens from as far away as Canada, New Zealand, Tasmania, USA and Britain. Lest we forget, hundreds more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram. We follow the leader Jon and Jon follows us. You can find out more about it here. You may read and follow, or like myself, you may choose to write and follow. Either way, it’s great fun!

I do sincerely hope that no misinformation is circulating as I type. Primarily, I have used History.com as my source. Full article here is worth an eight-minute read.

Pádraig,

Saturday, 22nd August (Lúnasa) 2020