Six on Saturday – Raindrops

The garden really did need some rain. It needed a bit more than some. So, naturally we were thrilled to get a decent drenching overnight last Saturday. To be clear, the garden got the decent drenching while I slept, dry in my bed. Management, known also as mo bhean chéile, informed me that there was accompanying thunder and lightning and I take this on trust despite having no evidence. On the other hand, there is very clear evidence below that there was some rain.

Here’s my six this week…

1. Alchemilla mollis is a prolific self-seeder on Joe’s rockery. Dainty flowers right now, but it’s the way  raindrops stay on the curled leaves that I like best. Joe was my right-hand-neighbour and the rockery is named after him.

Alchemilla mollis, Lady’s Mantle

2. I’m not sure what’s the variety of this Geranium. Again, it’s a prolific seeder and I love it. The rain left many of the flowers in a sad state. Some were wet, soggy & droopy, while others escaped the deluge. Seems the one on top may have sheltered the lower one. All the while, I remained dry i mo leaba.

Geranium love

3. Leaf from Rosa Just Joey holds a few raindrops. I’m noticing that there is some munching going on. Likely the offender is beneath, sheltered from decent drenchings and downpours.

Rosa Just Joey

4. I return a once again to my friend Sorbus aucuparia Rafina, commonly known as Rowan or Mountain Ash. The slightly curled leaves capture and hold the drops tenderly.

Rowan (Mountain Ash)

5. This is one of my three lilies, about to burst into flower. I’d need to go to IcyBetter (my preferred alternative to Specsavers) in order to see the drops clearly. Obviously, I did go and I did see them. The camera did the rest.

Lily about to flower

6. Acer palmatum somethingelseius is in a patio container. Rain was more necessary for this small plant, as is the case with many that are potted, rather than planted. Scorch and drought damage can be seen along the edges.

Japanese Maple

That’s six, so I’ll leave it at that. If you like this article, you’ll be able to find many many more by visiting The Propagator. He is the instigator. I am a fan, together with the aforementioned many many more. Truth be told, you’ll be able to find them using the aforementioned link even if you don’t like my article.

Pádraig, 20th June 2020.

Japanese Maple Seiryu

My Seiryu is just turning three. Sounds vaguely like a proud dad informing his mates down the pub about his daughter’s upcoming birthday!

My Seiryu was bought in 2017. Technically it began life several years earlier in a nursery before moving to a garden centre. Life was good for little Seiryu. However, since I fostered it, she has thrived.

Spider in residence.

It now has good soil, sheltered location, other plants for company and is fed and watered regularly. On top of all that, I sometimes run my hand gently through the foliage. What more could little Seiryu ever want, except perhaps another Seiryu for companionship? Now there’s a tempting thought.

This lovely maple will grow to fill this section of the garden. It will rise higher than the fence and spread its wings.

The official name for this plant is Acer palmatum ‘Seiryu’. Full details about it can be got from Shoot Gardening, one of my online gardening services. I have recorded most of my plants in my virtual “garden”, and I am reminded monthly of what tasks need attending to. Also, there’s full details of my TWO online garden services here.

Learn something new today:

Here’s three things I learned about maple trees:

  • Baseball bats, snooker cues and bowling pins are generally made from maple wood
  • Bark and leaves are infused to remedy eye complaints
  • Maple syrup comes from a particular maple and has been harvested since the 1600’s.

Three questions…

  1. Have you a plant lore fact you’d like to share?
  2. Have you a favourite plant you’d like to see featured?
  3. Can you sleep through thunder and lightning?

Sin a bhfuil (shin-a-will) from the garden and The Google. I’ll be busy relaxing until my next venture at the keyboard. Stay safe.

Pádraig, 16th June, 2020.

Just Three Things

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.
  • Get the latest garden plant safely into the ground. I bought a lovely Carex oshimensis Everest,

And finally

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.

Have a good week,

Pádraig

Sunday, 14th June, 2020.

When Is a Weed Not A Weed?

The weather has turned a bit colder, yet not quite cold enough to hurt. I recorded no frost night this week, and the plants in the glasshouse are thriving. In total since September, there have been only three frost nights here in Abbeyside. However, the forecast for the week ahead looks wintery. I’ll be rooting out my thermals and garden gloves. However, before I look ahead, here are my thoughts on the week just finished. As always recently, it started with Monday.

Monday, 14th January:

An update on my recent purchase and planting of Acer japonica Red Flamingo. The leaves are gone but the bark becomes the interesting focus. It turns pink in winter, and the colder the weather the more pink it turns. As you know, it has been extremely mild here in Dungarvan. So mild, in fact, that we say it is wicked mild. It’s a Dungarvan phrase. Anyway, ar aon nós, the bark has turned pink and may yet deepen in colour as the remainder of winter weather continues. I noticed also that the plastic ties have become too tight and it is time to cut them loose. Then, in the interests of stability, I will re-tie the tree a bit looser. Akin to yesterday’s article, I’ll look for something other than plastic.

Tuesday, 15th January:

Today I am on the @waterfordgreenway once again. I am walking the section near Dungarvan. Actually, I’d be reprimanded for mentioning that, because it’s actually Abbeyside. Ar aon nós agus araile again, I need help identifying this plant. It is growing profusely on a steep bank and is now in full flower. I feel that it may be classified as a weed.
On the basis that it is a weed, I’m wondering why are some plants called weeds? I once came upon a definition that a weed is a plant in the wrong place. If this plant were in my suburban garden perhaps I’d not want it and therefore calling it a weed gives me permission to murder it. Simple really. On the other hand, when my mam visits my garden she usually has two questions: Is that new? And secondly, Is that a weed? (Seriously, can you actually imagine there being a weed in my garden?) My standard reply is: If you like it, it’s a flower and if you don’t like it, it’s a weed.
As a final thought, we might not appreciate the flowers as much if there were no weeds.
So, the questions remain: What’s it called and is it friend or foe?
Update: the Internet had spoken and clarified the conundrum. The plant is an invasive weed called Petasites fragrans otherwise known in Brexit English as Winter Butterbur. Apparently, it has a vanilla scent.

Wednesday, 16th January:

What could be more useful than a gardening book as a Christmas gift? I got not one, but two. They are entirely different too. The first is The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2019 by Lisa Leendertz. Intended as a “toolkit for connecting with the world around you”, it offers ways of appreciating the natural rhythms of the year. It is a book to be dipped into now and again. For example, the section relating to January includes details of the extra daylight from 1st to 31st, curious tales of Rastafarian celebration of Christmas on January 7th. Rastafarians believed Jesus was black and was born in Ethiopia. There is a beautiful section devoted to the mid-winter Snowdrop and songs relating to Burns Night, celebrated in Scotland on the 25th.
The second book is The Writer’s Garden: How gardens inspired our best-loved authors, by Jackie Bennett. It features 19 well-known authors and the influence that a specific garden had on their career. So, rather than start at the beginning, I started with a favourite author, Charles Dickens.
Receiving this book touched me because I have centred my writing around my small, humble garden. In many respects, I am my own much-loved author, as I find opportunities for gratitude in my garden and in my writing of it.

Thursday, 17th January:

Guess what’s for dessert this evening? This haul of fresh rhubarb is really a surprise at this time of the year. Regular readers will remember me moving Marion’s rhubarb to its new home on the raised bed. It was covered with a thick mulch of gladioli leaves and topped off with a horse numna. The weather has been so mild that the conditions for growth were obviously just right, and the growth was sufficient for a decent dessert for two this morning. No, we don’t have morning dessert. The growth was just right this morning, and there’s a theory going around somewhere that says fruit and vegetables should be harvested in the early morning. Out came the sharp knife, and off I went to the custard shop for yellow custard. What shall we have for dinner before it, I wonder?

Friday, 18th January:

I am returning to the photograph of 6th January to add the following…
Heather’s many uses were sufficient to earn it a place in the Old Irish Brehon Laws on trees and shrubs. This meant that the unlawful clearing of a whole field of heather was subject to a fine of one “dairt”, or year-old heifer.
Heather was also linked by some medieval scholars with the ancient Irish Ogham alphabet. Each letter of the alphabet was named after a different native tree or shrub, and the letters Onn or O and Úr or U were said by some authorities to be named after Heather. (Irish Wild Plants: Myths, Legends & Folklore by N. Mac Coitir p. 144)

Saturday, 19th January:

Just leaving this here today. I’m off cycling my first 200k of the year so there really isn’t much time for gardening or photographs or writing. The collage is a combination of each season taken using my bitmoji You don’t know about bitmojis? Every keen gardener is encouraged to create one. In this case I opted to wear the same outfit throughout the four seasons. But a close look through the following screens shows that I am wearing heavier winter wear. Met Éireann mentions that Arctic air will bring sleet showers and some snow on high ground early next week. I’ll be back from my cycling trip before it arrives.

Sunday, 20th January:

Won’t be long now! Spring is on the way. I did have daffodils earlier (in fact, they were in bloom for Christmas day). They were bought for indoor windowsill and bloomed so much earlier. Now, as with daffodils that haste away so soon, they are finished flowering just as the outdoor ones are getting ready to show colour.

That’s it for this week. Hope you enjoyed the journey.

Appendix

My Saturday bike ride was a bit special, so I’m adding it here:

There’s another Dungarvan. It’s in Co. Kilkenny and about 90k from the real one. Today (Saturday), it was foggy in the other one. I can’t say about my Dungarvan because I left it in darkness at 7am and arrived back in darkness at 5.30. I know it’s possible that it be foggy and dark at the same time. Truth be told I really can’t say. On the weekend Dungarvan Cycling Club launched its next-generation summer gear, I ramped up my miles quite considerably. My friend Declan and I toured Waterford, Kilkenny and just a tiny corner of Tipperary on our first 200k of the year. Mild weather, calm winds, good burgers and steady pace.

I thought about taking it easy today (Sunday). In fact, I did take it easy but on the bike again. The famous group five paced me sensibly to Lismore for sausage rolls, and the lovely Group 4 got me home at a brisk pace. Altogether, a great weekend ar an rothar.

Strava details or RideWith GPS details

Please comment:

  • Do you just hate weeds?
  • Do you tolerate them?
  • Feel free to comment on any other aspect of this article also.
Pádraig (also known as Pat) is the author of GrowWriteRepeat garden articles. He loves winter rhubarb (same as last week), Irish myths & legends and emojis. He also likes early daffodils and Rastafarian history, but not weeds that are not flowers.

Rhubarb And Trexit

Reading time 5-7 minutes. Video: 20 seconds.

Part One

My wife, Marion, grows rhubarb. For the past number of years she has had a good harvest from one plant in a very large terracotta pot. The pot is approximately 24 inches in diameter, and the rhubarb, although very tasty, is a bit lost in it. Last year, I entered into negotiations to secure exclusive use of the pot. There was a bit of horse-trading. That’s my term for having to do a few more house chores in addition to hoovering and taking off my muddy boots. Contracts were exchanged verbally, and my plans were put in progress. But, like planning permission that can lapse, Marion held on to the pot because I did nothing about it.
This week I did! Monday morning was very very wet, and I visited Country Life again. This time, I did not know what to buy, so I spoke for 20 minutes with Malachy. I explained I wanted something to add interest for the winter and I described the pot with hand gestures. “It’s about this big, and this wide”, said I. There were so many suggestions thrown at me, but I was decisive lest I lose the pot permanently.
I agreed to purchase three plants:

    All three plants were mature and expensive. I mean really expensive, so I put on my thinking cap and within twenty minutes my plants were in the very large basket and loaded into my very small car boot. The acer tickled my ear as I itched home excitedly. Normally, I am reluctant to buy very mature plants but my daughter said she’d buy the tree as my Christmas present, and Marion would buy the two shrubs. Finally, the days of Marion’s rhubarb pot were over, and the task of getting presents too!

    Step 1: remove the offending rhubarb. Tuesday morning was equally wet and miserable, but the afternoon was bright and sunny with only an occasional shower. It took me a while to dislodge the rhubarb, divide it into four plants and find a new home of Marion’s choosing on one of the vegetable beds. I thought it wise to hold off on mentioning that rhubarb is not generally regarded as a vegetable. (As t turns out, I was wrong, so best left unsaid!)

    Step 2: plant the shrubs and tree carefully using a mix of good compost and some soil robbed from the fertile vegetable bed. No evidence supplied, but I did break a sweat.
    Step 3: move the pot with its new plants to somewhere else.

    Step 4: admire from several angles, with coffee.
    Facing North
    View from the glasshouse
    Skimmia japonica Temptation

    One hour later my long-awaited project was complete and all that will need doing is to wrap it during Christmas week!

    Part 2:

    I rarely watch television. There are a few exceptions, such as whenever Crystal Palace win a match, or a good historical film. I also do like overnight election counts, so I watched CNN coverage of the US mid-term elections very early this morning. Over a cup of coffee before dawn, I once again checked my Christmas presents. Anti-the-Trump vote was coming in strong.
    As I continued to watch CNN, my mind harped back to my work the previous day. The conservative wing of the USA remained emboldened and loyal to the-Trump, but there were less of them. Women got revenge for two years of misogynism from the-Trump’s keyboard. At one point he declared the result “a tremendous success”. My garden project is an example of a tremendous success. My work, my decisiveness and my collaboration with the owner of the pot is a tremendous success. The-Trump would do well to visit my garden. He will see that I cannot hide my tremendous success behind falsehoods. It stands there for even him to see.

    I see, said the blind man. Shut up, said the dumb man; you can’t see at all.

    As dawn broke, I returned to the TV screen while reading the New York Times and the Guardian. Every now and then, I broke into laughter, particularly when a Guardian (UK) summary pointed out:

    If that qualifies as a victory, then England can celebrate several World Cup wins since 1966.

    Later when I remembered my beautiful Acer, the bark of which turns to a strong stripey pink in very cold weather, I googled for a quote about snake bark, and Friedrich Nietzsche jumped to the top of my screen:

    The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die.

    Malachy assured me that my terracotta plants will live happily together for at least 15 years before I’ll need to consider a bigger pot. The trick will be to buy the pot for Marion one or two years ahead of time! The-Trump barely has two years left, and perhaps less. His American garden is divided and plants will not work well together. The ying and yang is missing some yang. Trexit may happen.

    Balance and beauty

    Please Leave A Comment

    Tell me your “the-Trump” thoughts. I’ll not declare it fake news if I don’t like it. Have you a garden project that you are particularly proud of? Have you a garden blog you feel is worth sharing? Give me the link! I love reading garden blogs, and I quietly take some of the good ideas to mine. It’s not robbing, it’s admiration.

    Pádraig is the author of GrowWriteRepeat. He loves Marion’s pots, Malachy’s advice and makes very sure not to mix up the two. He also loves snake-bark and overnight election coverage, but he can see the wood from the trees.