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

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.

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.