Most mornings I take a very short stroll down the garden while my boiled egg is boiling and my toast is toasting.
Three things from the garden this morning:
1. I do not have many strawberries, but the few that I have are very tasty. They are now well protected. I like to savour one or two most days.
2. The garden really did need a drop of rain. The weather here has been very dry for many weeks and there is a six-week hosepipe ban in effect. The rain arrived overnight, together with accompanying thunder & lightning. The image below is Sorbus aucuparia Rafina.
3. We bought this for the dogs. We thought they might like it, but it is not nearly as interesting as other things, such as the cat on the wall or the blackbird. However, I am leaving it where it landed. It reminds me of cancelled sporting events that are in lockdown limbo.
Three jobs that need doing (soon):
Continue the BEP bindweed eradication programme. Now in my third week, I am determined to defeat this nasty undercover agent.
Watch to see when seed pod is ripe on the Acer Red Flamingo. I’d like to attempt growing a replica, knowing full well that I will be quite old by the time it grows tall.
My November 2018 article about Acer Red Flamingo is one of my FAVOURITES. Well worth a click, even if I say so myself. Plenty there: funny story, the tree & its symbolism, American mid-term elections and some of my thoughts about The Trump.
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
The logical deduction is that I can now buy more plants and still save money.
Hebe ‘Rhubarb and Custard’ is a compact, bushy, evergreen shrub with small, glossy, oval, pink-flushed, dark green leaves with irregular cream to pale yellow margins. Leaf tips and margins turn deep reddish-pink in cold weather. Compact, dense, racemes of violet flowers bloom in late spring and early summer.
Take cuttings in August, as follows: Remove sideshoots of the current season’s growth from the main plant using sharp secateurs. Trim them to 10-15cm lengths, cutting just below a node. Removing the lowest leaves and soft tip, then make a shallow cut, 1-2cm long, on one side of the stem base. Dip the cutting base in fresh rooting hormone powder, ensuring that the cut is well covered. Tap off excess, and then insert the cutting in a pot of standard cutting compost and put in a cold frame. Water in well. Ensure that the compost remains moist, but not wet, until the cuttings are well rooted. During the winter check and remove any fallen leaves and dead cuttings, watering only if the compost feels dry. Harden off the cuttings gradually the next spring before potting them up individually.
This plant had been on my wish-list since last year. I held off because it was priced at €12.99 or thereabouts in several garden centres. Finally, I bought three of them in April at €5.99 each. The logical deduction is that I can now buy more plants and still save money. Also, if I were to grow a few dozen cuttings I’d make my fortune before turning seventy.
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.
Monday, 1st June, shortly after 7am: I am shocked to witness the sheer brazenness of our resident blackbird, as she munched through the very first strawberry of the year. The early bird had no interest in worms. I watched the entire episode, mesmerised yet unwilling to interfere. Lesson learned though, and netting was put in place within hours. Weather: very hot 25C.
Tuesday, 2nd June: The weather continues to sizzle and my plants are thirsty. Unlike me, they cannot move into a cooler place when it gets too hot and they become reliant on me to take care of them. Thankfully, they respond very well to just one form of care: water. All living things need water, and if dehydration is not remedied there is only one outcome.
A few weeks ago I put a layer of bark mulch on several of my patio potted plants, including this one. The idea was to keep the soil cool and prevent the water from evaporating. Naturally, I did not realise that is would be scattered by the bird who knows that the worms are just beneath. Today is the second day that the bird seems to be in charge. Weather: very hot approx 25C again.
Wednesday, 3rd June: Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) It’s good to have a plant that finds the perfect spot and thrives there. Nothing to do with the gardener knowing where best to plant it. I had its parent planted in the rockery nearby two years ago, and it has since passed over to Compost Heaven. Last summer I was thrilled to see that it had seeded itself in several places, mostly in small cracks between the patio slabs. It flowered very freely last summer from its new home, and I liked it very much. This year, there are many more seedling plants among many more cracks, and they seem to be growing very happily. Weather: cooler 16C.
Thursday, 4th June: According to mother nature, Green is a primary color. I do love a bowl of mixed lettuce leaves with lunch so I need to make sure there’s enough planted. A row of mixed seeds is usually enough for about three weeks. With a bit of luck, I get five or six different varieties. Today, I set my third crop and with such active growth at this time of year they will be ready to eat in about three weeks time, and the process continues again.
Friday, 5th June: Clematis is great to cover a fence or an unsightly spot. This one is Clematis Cezanne.
Clematis is a symbol of motivation, intelligence, peaceful thoughts and mental beauty. Clematis will guide the inner self to purpose, meaning, interest and focus. It is a symbol of warmth and ingenuity. It forebodes safety for travelers.
What I’d like to know is who writes this stuff? There’s probably even a World Clematis Day.
Saturday, 5th June: My usual morning or evening walk on the Greenway brings me past a notable tree. It is a mature Copper Maple, and it is exactly 29 years old. I give it a nod and a Howya doin? The reason this tree is special is because we bought it shortly after we got married and it lived with us for a year. We then realised that this tree was unsuitable for our small garden so we gave it to our neighbour. But we can still admire its beauty.
Sunday, 7th June: There is some BINDWEED under one of the fuchsia shrubs. Last year, I was too late in noticing it, and it proved impossible to control. This time, I’m on top of it! It’ll not thrive again! I refuse to photograph bindweed, so there!
Weather this week: Shorts, suncream & salad early in the week. Jacket & hat on Friday and Saturday. Rain urgently needed.
This article is mostly a combination of my daily Instagram posts. I am hoping to make this an occasional feature here on GrowWriteRepeat. If you are an Instagram user you might like to have a look there too.
Fun to finish:
Man to florist: ‘I’d like a bunch of flowers, please.’ Florist: ‘Certainly, sir. What flowers would you like?’ Man: ‘Er.. I’m not sure…Ummm..’ Florist: ‘Let me help you, sir – what exactly have you done?’
Being my first Six on Saturday effort, my homework for the past few days consisted of making myself familiar with some scattered guidelines offered (not prescribed) by The Propagator. I did realise there’s a possibility of me making a dog’s dinner of it, in which case I will rely the very best of all homework excuses offered to me during my 35 years as a teacher. Furthermore and fittingly, I will redeem myself by promising to do better next week. Always works!
I discovered only last week that Six on Saturday is a thing. There’s even a #hashtag. There’s some lingo to be learned. I mean, whatever will my sister think when she hears that I am SOSing? Ar eagla na h-eagla (Irish phrase: Just to be on the safe side…) I’ve brought the subject up with my wife, who says that SOSing is ok.
Will it be every week?, she wanted to know.
All depends, I say.
I think you’ll like this SOsing thing. In fact, you’ll be a grand SOSer, says she.
A garden needs somewhere to sit, relax, read, plan, think and snooze. Here’s my six this week:
1. I start my day at the Breakfast Seat during warm weather spells, and scan the garden. Scanning can be done while eating boiled egg and toast.
2. I got the Bockety Supervalu Seat using coupons at grocery store in 2002. It is now unsafe to take heavy loads, but I will not discard it.
3. The Long Chairs are my favourite. They are comfortable and in a suntrap, although this can be a dangerous combination. As you will notice, they are matching black.
4. The Winter Seat is in the glasshouse. It has been demoted from the suntrap because one leg is shorter. Ideal for a frosty morning, reading the paper or kindle. No boiled eggs here.
5. There’s a raised area that cannot be seen from the house. Here, the Secret Seats are best for late evening sun. Excellent also for Summer dinner together. Apart from this, I go there to escape hoovering. These Secret Seats are a match with number 3 above. They can be moved towards the house when friends arrive for Socially Distanced coffee (SDC). In such a situation, they lose Secret Seats status.
6. In order to complete this Six on Saturday, we purchased the brand new 2020 Shiny Black Seat. They are a good match with the two Long Chairs, but incredibly more shiny. The good lady who wants the hoovering done intends to make soft cushions, so I may have to pull my weight.
That’s it for this week, friends. Have a good one, and if in any doubt, why stand if you can sit?
About the author: Pádraig is the author of Grow Write Repeat. He photographs and writes about his garden in Ireland. He loves garden seats, Instagram and this Six On Saturday thingy. He also likes breakfast outside, but not at the bockety old Supervalu Seat.
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.
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.
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.
I have fond memories of Mike who always took the time to speak with customers at Blackwater Garden Centre, and always gave great advice. I asked him for suggestions for the area where we had grass and he came up with a lovely simple planting scheme involving roses, heathers and these beauties for the foot of the rockery wall. They are Heucheras and they are doing very well there. The flower is nothing to write home about, and the plant traps falling leaves in autumn. This is no bad thing, I suppose, because the plant is kept insulated from winter weather.
Gardening has been a very important part of my life for many many years, and whenever I choose to combine gardening and some writing, it always seemed to be my magic bullet.
I have benefitted hugely from writing. It has helped me dig deep into my thoughts, helping me celebrate good times and get through difficult times… and then I stopped.
Introducing my new rebranded look… New website, new feel, fresh start again…
My previous blog was called Petals By Páraig. This one is called Grow Write Repeat. The rebranding process took place over a few weeks and I feel motivated once again to get back on the wagon.
As part of this new look, I have matched my Twitter and Instagram accounts to fit in. I decided that there will be no Facebook. My reasons are many and I am happy with the omission. Many thanks to Mr. Blogger over at the Google place in Seattle. I have enjoyed my time there. And now I am here.
Why did I change to Grow Write Repeat? I had something to record my gardening but wanted something that reflects the importance of the writing process. There’s a cycling phrase used by the professionals. It is called Eat Sleep Repeat. I tried it but I’m too old to be a professional. However, my interest in gardening, and my knowledge of my inner workings, leads me to an understanding of how important writing is for me. So I changed the cycling phrase to suit my purposes. What are the three important elements?
Grow: the garden needs a helping hand
Write: record for reading in my 80’s in order to keep my 60’s head in a good space.
Repeat: do it regularly.
That’s it from South East Ireland for today. I’m off to the plot to check on the strawberries.
Note: I have imported articles/posts prior to this one from my previous blog. there may be (likely plenty) references to the old blog name and older Twitter & Instagram accounts, so links may be broken. I’ve little time to be fixing such things because I need to get out to the garden.
Final tbought: “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