Drought & Waterlogged

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

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

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

Three on Tuesday

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

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

Here’s what caught my eye:

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

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

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

Three jobs that need doing (soon)…

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

On a sad note:

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

Follow Me Around:

Pádraig,

Tuesday, 23rd June, 2020.

Six on Saturday – All Lives Matter

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

Pádraig, 13th June, 2020.

New Growth

Ah, would ya look at that! New growth again. I have to remind myself to look very closely and when I do, this is what happens. The geranium is getting ready to burst into life once again.

The small pink flowers will be plentiful in early May. The plant is growing on a shaded section of an east-facing rockery, sheltered by the garden wall. Later in summer, it will be in deeper shade when the apple tree and the fuchsia come into leaf. For now, I am happy to notice that winter is coming to an end.

Furthermore And Also: Short Days Challenge

Last autumn I had wondered what on earth I’d write about during the winter. It is easier when the garden is ablaze with life and colour. It is easier when there’s lots happening. I had thought that winter would be very tricky. I could not have been more wrong. Furthermore and also, the past two months have given me a dreamy insight into my garden and my appreciation of it.
Christmas has come and gone. I have always liked Christmas, and this year was different. It occurred to me only last week that, for those of us in the mid-northern latitudes, it has been created to occur just at the perfect time of the year. It is mid-winter, yet it is exactly four days after the equinox. Things are on the up. Farmers are looking ahead to spring and animal birth. Gardeners, like myself, are looking ahead to warmer weather, longer days and new plant life. Indeed, there will be rough weather ahead during the months of January and February (and perhaps March/April too, if last year is anything to go by). It was a tough time for gardeners, farmers and many others. Ireland nearly ran out of bread. Yet, just a very short ten weeks later Ireland baked in the long drought. The toaster was set to crispy. I cannot remember warm weather like the summer of 2018. It was astonishing. The spirit of the nation was lifted. It remained lifted despite a prolonged abortion referendum here in Ireland, or perhaps because of it. It remained lifted until such time as Ireland beat the All-Blacks in mid-November, and on a personal level, it remained lifted as I began my daily Short Days Garden Challenge. I wrote about it twice recently (here and here), so this final 2018 article completes the trilogy.

Thursday, December 20th: The geranium cuttings from mid-November are doing well. They look healthy, and likely the underground rooting system is underway. I will keep a close eye on these over the coming 6-8 weeks to ensure they thrive. Even in the glasshouse, there is the possibility of frost damage. I noticed yesterday that the thermometer (which gives maximum and minimum readings) recorded 1.1 degrees recently. The glasshouse is entirely free of draughts, yet I will remain vigilant. Páraig the Vigilant! If there are very cold nights ahead I may bring these delicate babies indoors.
Lovely weather here in Ireland today. I got some last-minute Christmas gifts sorted and enjoyed my usual full Irish breakfast. Not in that order, of course. Hope all my friends here are looking forward to a wonderful Christmas time. It can be a lonely time for some, so try to look in on an elderly neighbour, or simply spread a contagious smile. Little things can mean a lot.

Lookin’ good there

Friday, December 21st: it’s mid-winter, Solstice day. Warm sunshine before the rain arrived. It’s very mild too. I spent a short while doing a few small jobs, such as topping up all the daffodil pots with a shallow layer of gravel to keep weeds away and a very tiny pinch of bone meal to feed them. Also generous scattering of fertiliser around the roses. Come summer solstice in June I’ll be glad that I fed them. Having spent my few minutes in the winter garden, it was then time to go wife-shopping. How very necessary, and yet exciting. My wife rewards me so much more than my garden, so fair’s fair.
Have you anything/anyone more important than your garden?

Shortest day, sunshine and grey
Saturday, December 22nd: Here’s another shot of one of my favourite plants, Nandina Firepower, as it changes colour through the cold weather. It certainly brightened my journey this morning as I went for a very short walk before breakfast.
Afterwards, I cycled with Marion and other friends in dense fog to our favourite Summerhouse in Lismore for coffee and mince pies. This lovely bike-friendly cafe is very aptly named! The fog was very heavy but the mince pies were deliciously light and flavoursome. Finally, I returned to view the lovely Nandina amid mid-afternoon watery sunshine once again. I consider this a really good day, and a few Guinness with my friend later were very pleasant too. 
Nandina Fire Power again
Sunday, December 23rd: Today’s winter garden is as much my Sunday biking as anything. After a damp mucky ride I needed to wash the bike and overshoes. As I strolled down the garden to the glasshouse I noticed that the flashing lights on the heel of the shoes were still on. It’s all about being as visible as possible on the roads. Together with front and rear lights and an extra one on my helmet I know that I’m doing my best to be safe.
In this case the gardening connection is loose, but it can clearly be seen that the two grey pots act as a perfect bike stand, while the tiny tip of emerging narcissus can just be seen top right. You may need to go to Specsavers to get a clear view.
Good to combine two of my passions
It’s there, but barely visible, just below the centre in the pot.
Monday, December 24th: 

Tis Christmas Eve and Santa Claus
will bring his gifts tonight.
We’ll hang our stockings by the bed,
And wait until it’s light.
I wonder what he’ll bring for you?
And what he’ll bring for me?
Ah! There! It’s no use wondering,
You’ll have to wait and see!

An old man said to me, won’t see another one
Tuesday, December 25th: Happy Christmas from Dungarvan. It’s that wonderful time of the year. The fuchsia is still in leaf. Normally, it would be bare many weeks ago but we have had only three frost nights and it lingers on beyond its time.

Fuchsia non-denudendum

Returning to an attempt to connect gardening and my cycling, I received the most exceptional gift today. Not the love of the two great women in my life, which is hugely important and unconditional. My daughter gave me a miniature 5cm replica of me on my bike. Paraig ar a rothar! Complete with beard, exact Ridley bike replica, Fulcrum wheels and new DCC gear. Uphill drag about 2% but the Lady Belle (my favourite Guinness watering hole) is not far away! Go raibh maith agat, a stór.

Created by #minifigurescenes
Wednesday, December 26th: this time I am visiting Ballinacourty, Cappagh to view things from a different angle, and I come away with an extended wishlist.

Joan’s garden in Cappagh
Until next year, see ya around!
Páraig (also known as Pat) is the author of Petals by Paraig. He loves winter, summer and cycling in both. Furthermore and also, he likes Christmas, sherry trifle and an uplifted spirit, but not essential last-minute wife-shopping.

Short Days Challenge

This week I focus on a challenge I joined lately. It’s called Short Days Challenge. I briefly introduced it just last week. The idea is to note the little things in the winter garden and to publish one item every day between November and February on Instagram using the #shortdayschallenge hashtag. Now, I take a look back for this Throwback Thursday at the daily winter little things I noted.

Friday, December 7th: Today’s winter garden: Another journey starting. I loved cacti and succulents many years ago. Having visited Deep Route Gardening in Cork during the week, I returned with enough plants to kick-start my interest once again.

Thanks to Deep Route Gardening in Cork 

Saturday, December 8th: Today’s winter garden: I purchased a replacement thermometer for the glasshouse. The previous one fell into a barrel of rainwater about 15 years ago. This machine measures maximum and minimum and the humidity and well.

Temperature & humidity data log

Sunday, December 9th: Today’s winter garden: almost identical colour and petal form on two great winter plants: wallflowers and violas. Continuing #shortdayschallenge as I briefly log winter here in Waterford, Ireland. Time to focus on the little things.

Wallflower and viola

Monday, December 10th: Warm mid-morning sunshine. Small flowering plants at this time really stand out. These are smashers!

December sunshine 

Tuesday, December 11th: I put out a query as follows… “Can anyone I’d this plant please? It was bought as a trailing annual and has thrived to such an extent that it has rooted wherever it can. In fact, I’m now wondering will it survive the winter as three nights of frost seems to have had no effect on it.”

Glechoma hederacea variegata (Ground ivy) 

Speedily, the information came back from several sources:

plantbump
I  think it’s a variegated #groundivy 👀🌿

petalsbyparaig
@plantbump Many thanks. Indeed it is! The same info came through via #gardentags. Glechoma hederacea variegata.

Wednesday, December 12th: Today’s winter garden: It’s good to take a photograph from near ground level. Just another angle on things. Parhaps this is the everyday view of this section of the garden seen by our two Yorkies, Molly & Becks?

Ground photo. Nandina in foreground 

Thursday, December 13th: Today’s winter garden: Plants thrive in small spaces. Top left: nasturtium in a sheltered cul-de-sac. Top right: Geranium rozanne is now dormant but resurrection will happen. Bottom left: leaf shelter for the homeless creatures of the garden, and finally, another cranesbill rooted between wall and patio. Continuing #shortdayschallenge as I briefly log winter here in Waterford, Ireland. Time to focus on the little things.

Nasturtium, dormant geranium, leaf-shelter & a second geranium 

Would you like to join in? Simply use the hashtag #shortdayschallenge either on your blog, Facebook or Instagram to connect with many others noticing the little winter things that bring delight to these short days. Have you a favourite winter item in your garden, be it plant, structure or ornament?

Páraig (also known as Pat) is the author of Petals by Paraig. He loves his Yorkies and winter and low-angled photographs. He also loves post-winter resurrection, warmer temperature in the glasshouse and Garden Tags software but not exclusively. Shoot Gardening is his software of choice.

Geranium: An Excellent Garden Plant

I have bought geraniums most years, for as long as I can remember because they are one of my favourite flowering plants. I tried growing them from seed a few years ago, but they worked out quite expensive as packets usually contain only a small number of seeds. Additionally, the seed is classed as not easy yo germinate.

This year I bought three potted Geraniums, and they have provided very good colour from early June until now. I have moved them from their new large stone pot into the glasshouse in order to prolong flowering, and to protect them from the cold winter. I will watch out for any lingering whitefly or mould, and quickly nip it in the bud.

They are easy to grow, and easy to care for. Additionally, they are easy to propagate from stem cuttings. I checked for plant information on the RHS website, which is my online reference of choice, and here’s what it has to say:

Family: GeraniaceaeGenus: Pelargonium can be perennials, sub-shrubs or shrubs, sometimes succulent and mostly evergreen, with palmately lobed or pinnately divided leaves and clusters of slightly irregular, 5-petalled flowers

How to grow:

Grow in fertile well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. Remove spent flowers. To overwinter, grow small plants in late summer from cuttings or cut back old plants by one third and lift for storage in frost-free place to repot in spring when growth resumes

Propagation: Take softwood cuttings in summer and overwinter plants in frost free conditions or take softwoodcuttings in spring

How to care

Pruning: Deadhead regularly

Pests: Vine weevil, leafhoppers, caterpillars, thrips, fungus gnats and Aphids can be troublesome.Aphids are generally more problematic on over-wintered plants

Diseases: Foot and root rots can be a problem in wet soils. Grey moulds are often troublesome in wet conditions. A virus can often be a problem where cultivars are maintained by cuttings. Pelargonium rust can be damaging to zonal pelargoniums and associated hybrids.

Pádraig, 10th November, 2016.

Lady Rozanne in Blue

17th September 2016

While many summer plants are very much past their best, the gorgeous Geranium Rozanne is flowering still.

The fuchsia is losing lower leaves and while the patio containers are looking good with unusual combination of Busy Lizzie and Sweet Peas, it’s Rozanne that steals the show this week.

Geranium Rozanne is one of the top plants recommended by the RHS, and is merited with many awards.

Pádraig, 17th September 2016.