Six on Saturday – Moments of Joy

This week there’s been a bit of everything: chiropractor, haircut, wedding anticipation, a shameless off-piste plug for my daughter, barbecue, plenty wine, some sleep and just a little bit of gardening. Therefore, in keeping with above my garden six this week attempts to duplicate the mix.

I would not usually think of including the heather because it is not in flower. Despite this, it’s a great all-year-round plant. There were originally nine plants here, now reduced to seven, and with a little imagination you’ll clearly see that it is an outline of my County Waterford. You may need to turn the image until you see it, and I’d suggest it may be easier to turn your device. If you’re not geographically familiar with my county, there’s really no need to go any further in your search for accurate salellite images or professionally drawn maps.

A very very close zoom into my county will bring you to my garden, and a further deeper inspection shows the lettuces. This year, I made a very conscious effort to sow seeds every three weeks since mid-April. I am so glad that I did, as I have enough to fill my lunch tortilla every day. Thus far I’ve munched through about a dozen varieties. The plan from now on is to sow every four weeks as the growing season shows very small signs of slowing down. Discuss: Does northern-hemisphere Autumn begin on 1st August as I was taught in school? There are arguments for and against. Extra marks for explanation of viewpoint, beyond a yes/no reply.

This Penstemon was grown from seed last year and grew happily in the holding area until last May. This is its second flowering flush, having been given the Chelsea Chop in mid June. Until recently, I’d not known about this, but akin to Covid underground barbering, it’s a thing. Freisin and also, I will be taking a dozen cuttings from this beauty after the wedding.

Here’s another heather that I like. Lighter in colour, it enjoys its cozy spot at the base of the raised vegetable bed where the lettuces live.

The Buzy Lizzies have been great so far this summer, yet they will begin to look bedraggled soon enough. I’ve got a selection in the front garden that have rotted to a slimy mess, so it’s very important for me to appreciate these good ones. They are slightly rain damaged, yet they fill me with joy every day. Of course, there are other things such as wine & a barbecue that have the same effect… moments of joy, I mean, not rotting to a slimy mess.

This is my first year growing courgettes. To be more precise, a courgette. It’s called Courgette Ann Moloney. She gave it to me and I dare not neglect it.

My Welsh courgette-guru friend reminded me that the “male flowers are definitely necessary – until they’ve done their job! The female ones are fewer and have a small swelling behind the bud which will be a new courgette if the flower is pollinated. You can help things along by taking a male flower, tearing its petals off and applying to the female flower. Or use a cotton bud. There are fewer female flowers and they are rarely out at the same time, hence fewer courgettes than you’ll actually get. Male flowers fall off, female ones stay on. I believe the pollen will survive for a few days on a cotton bud so work collecting some if you have a female flower that’s not open yet.” Am I on my way to being a cotton-bud-weilding guru?

In Other News

Purist garden readers should stop reading now. All others should read right to the bitter end.

Me: I love you.
You: Is that you or the wine talking?
Me: It's me talking to the wine.

Finally, I’m going just a bit off-piste, as I include a plug for my daughter. One of her very many talents is animal sketching. Her new Instagram account is HERE, so feel free to take a look.

  • Looking is free.
  • Spreading the focal is very much appreciated.
  • Send a DM for enquiries.
  • Purchasing is optional.

That’s it for this week, a cháirde. Get yourselves over to The Propagator to find many many more weekly gardening stories, and until next week, I hope that all will be well in your world. Slán go fóill.

Pádraig,

8th August 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.