Six on Saturday – Plants That Struggle

Keep a close eye on your struggling plants. Value them as you would the scented rose.

Reading time: 4 mins approx.

Last Saturday, at 5.44pm the gong marked the Summer Solstice. Every TD&H knows this was the longest day of the year, and now it’s downhill until late December. It’s a time of year for celebration as our Northern gardens are in tip-top shape. Not really a time associated with feeling depressed. I choose to highlight this aspect of The Longest Day and make some sort of a link to my garden. I worked as a volunteer with my local Samaritans’ Centre for three years after I retired. In light of this, my six this week will highlight plants that do not thrive. They struggle along, despite my best attention to them. They are definitely not the star of the show, not the top dog in the border nor the scented rose. Their struggle becomes almost invisible to those of us who do not look beyond the joy of pleasing plants.

Here’s my six this week:

1. This Vinca is in the wrong place, in deep shade under a large Acer. It was previously in another wrong place in full sunshine, so I don’t know what’s best. Perhaps the soil is not right? Anyhow, ar aon nós, it continues to hang in there. I resolve to give it more attention through the coming weeks and months.

2. Flowers of the stunningly large Dahlia Café au Lait can be up to 15cm in diameter. Not this one, I fear. It is struggling this year because I moved it into a pot, and either I’m watering too much or too little. I moved it in order to have more space to grow vegetables. If this Dahlia could talk, it would ask severe questions of my  motive for dislodging it. Some people have very good lives, suddenly thrown into chaos by a life event. Some have coping skills whereas others sink deeper into a constant struggle for survival.

3. Weeds are plants too. I have been moaning about bindweed these past few weeks, because it is doing damage to other plants. It is causing plants to struggle so I need to get rid of it. No photograph, as I abide strictly to my Bindweed Photography Policy. However, many weeds are harmless and can be left in situ.

4. I have planted French marigolds in several areas of the vegetable patch. They give off some sort of vibes that deter insects from chewing through what’s going to be my lunch. The lettuces & spinach would struggle without this intervention. This is actually a win win situation, because the vegetable patch will have a bit of colour other than shades of green.

5. The taxus baccata Fastigata is in serious trouble. I bought this only last year, to add some delight to my garden in winter. It is an evergreen, but something is seriously wrong. I do not want it to die. Be that as it may, plants do die after a long or short struggle. I’ve lost several real favourites and some that I liked less. The only difference with these plants is that they do not choose to die. Humans who choose to die are no less human. Suicide was a crime here in Ireland until 1993. That’s why the term “He committed suicide” was popularly used rather than the now preferred “He died by suicide”. I hope my taxus will survive.

6. Old age is a bitch. The struggle before death can be very difficult and particularly difficult to watch. These conifers are old. They will not be there in five years time. They are beginning to suffer and the beauty is fading year by year. Incidentally, this is from my front garden, an gáirdín ós comhair an tí. At present, I have very little interest in this part of the garden, but that’s not the reason for the decline of these once lovely conifers.

Footnote:

On June 20-21st last year I cycled 400km with my friend Declan, along with support from the local cycling community for sections of the journey. We cycled for 19 hours, 3pm on Friday until 3pm on Saturday with a dinner break, a chipper/pizza delivery at 2am, a breakfast break, a lunch break (in that order), and a two hour codladh sámh, through The Longest Day, helping raise funds for Waterford Samaritans.

The Longest Day is our symbol of constant struggle. The new day does not always bring comfort. Keep a close eye on your struggling plants. Value them as you would the scented rose. Keep a close watch on friends or acquaintances and be there for them with a listening ear. Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine.

Ah shur, trying to keep the good side out. (Man quote)

Follow Me Around…

Pádraig,

Saturday, 27th June, 2020.

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.

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.

Why Stand If You Can Sit?

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.

Boiled egg. Which are you? One or two?

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.

The Ugly Wall Behind : By spending time sitting in winter, I can plan a project.

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.

Hoovering-free zone

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.

Pádraig, 6th June, 2020.