Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

We are now in November, but on the last day of October I took a walk around the (very neglected) garden and this is what was in bloom.

I know we’ve had an extremely hot summer, but seriously so many of the plants seem to be so utterly confused as to what season it is.

Is it climate change, or is that all just fake news?






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A special tree

With a lot of the plants we have here, I can easily tell you where they came from, whether they were bought or given to us by friends or neighbours… and I love that, I think it adds more interest to the garden.  Even if it is only for me.

We have many apple trees here.  There are 13 apple trees in the woods beside us, one of which has the most gorgeous cooking apples you could imagine.  Then there are 2 very old varieties that were planted right beside the house a long time ago.

Then there is THE apple tree – a Gala Apple tree.

Gala Apple Tree

Gala Apple Tree

It came with us from Donabate.  Alfie had enjoyed an apple, it now seems like a million years ago, and decided he was going to plant the seed.

I, with my sound gardening knowledge, said “there is no point in doing that, it will never fruit, you have to graft apple trees”.  I was ignored.

The little pip sprouted.  It grew into a sturdy little plant, and by the time we moved down here it was probably about 2 feet tall.  It was left in its tub while we  Alfie decided where to plant it.

Eight months later.  Alfie has chest pains, not feeling well, rushed to hospital, sent home, told nothing wrong.  Local doctor thankfully wasn’t quite happy with this response, so decided to send him for a stress test.

Sent Alfie home until he made the arrangements.

Guess what Alfie decides to do????  Yes, you are right.  He decided it was time to plant THE apple tree.

Major hole had to be dug.  Guess who rings with details of the stress test while he’s down that hole???   Stress test was next day, so, of course, you must finish planting your apple tree.

I have to admit to still scoffing at the idea of expecting fruit off this tree.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, 3 years ago, I drive past THE apple tree and it was in bloom.

And this year it has provided the most amazing apples.

Homegrown Gala Apples

Homegrown Gala Apples

I have been proven wrong.


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It is the last day of April…. we’ve had 4 or 5 beautiful sunny days that made us all think summer wasn’t far off….

And right now there is torrential rain falling… I mean monsoon like… there’s probably going to be a huge surge of growth after all this rain.

I don’t know what put it into my head but yesterday while the sun shone I thought I’d do a little tour of what’s in bloom in the garden right now.

I should explain that I’m not really a ‘flower’ gardener.  I much prefer plants of the edible variety and spend way more time dealing with the vegetables and fruits rather than the flowers.  Most of the flowering plants have been gifts from friends or neighbours with only a handful being bought!  Hence there are quite a few I don’t even know the names of, and quite a few planted in completely the wrong place!  If you can identify them… I’d love to know.

Our ‘flowers’ are kind of divided between three areas….. there’s one bed that stuff was just plonked into and badly needs to be culled… way too much ‘grass’ type plants in it.

Yellow Flower

Blue Flower

Purple Aquilegia

Purple Aquilegia

Pink Aquilegia

Pink Aquilegia

On the other side of our stoop we have a rockery, but again there are plants in there that are really not suited to a rockery.



Borage is everywhere here.  I bought a plant once, thought I’d killed it, so bought another, and now during the summer I have a borage forest…. but hey, the bees are going to love it 🙂

Beautifully scented broom

Beautifully scented broom

We have two broom plants.  One doesn’t come into flower until later in the year, but the sweet scent from this is amazing.

Orange Flower

This stayed flowering all through the winter…. and has just come back in full force this past week.






And then down under the trees there’s kind of a wild garden section.



Wild Garlic in flower

Wild Garlic in flower

I’d love to do a meadow garden…. but that’s still only a dream.

How does your garden grow?


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This past weekend has been all about Bloom 2013.  Bloom is Ireland’s biggest gardening and food festival.

We’ve gone to Bloom every year since it started, 7 years ago.  This year we were extremely grateful to recieve a gift of tickets to go on Friday.  We’ve found in past years Thursday or Friday were the best days to go…. as the further it goes into the weekend the bigger the crowds.

So early start and off we headed to Dublin.

Thursday had been a scorcher of a day, so we armed ourselves with sunscreen…. needn’t have bothered the sun never shone on Friday but it didn’t deter us.  In fact it probably made it more pleasant to wander about.

This was as close as we got to sun 🙂


I love the Victorian Walled Garden.  It is such a lovely area.  The affect the weather has had on the growing season was really evident in the Walled Garden – so little flowers compared to last year.  I always use the vegetables in the walled garden as a barometer for how my plants should be!  This year we are all at about the same stage….. the courgettes up there are probably just a little ahead of mine.

Next up it was a visit to the show gardens.  I have to say we were both rather disappointed with the show gardens this year.  Maybe it is a sign of the times?  There seemed to be less gardens.  Woodies had a good display of 3 or 4 suburban gardens.  And, yes, of course there were some lovely elements too.

herbs and lettuce growing on pallet


Loved the use of old pallets…. and the perfume from all those herbs was amazing.

We loved the colour of this garden wall.  Should we paint our yard wall?  Or should we go with the lichen look?

Red wall

Or a lichen covered wall

Maybe I am becoming a more ‘experienced’ gardener, but one thing that struck me was that a lot of the gardens had plantings that were either out of season or would most definitely not grow outdoors in Ireland.  I know, I know it is all about concept…. but come on we need inspiration to be a little real and achievable.

Chillies & Kumquats growing in garden

Chillies & Kumquats

Kumquats and chillies growing outdoors in Ireland?????

I loved this water fountain…. but his nibs says you’d need some water pump to run it…. but I can dream can’t I?  I think it would be a lovely feature in the back yard 🙂

Water fountain

For us the postcard gardens were so much more interesting.  There were some lovely achievable ideas there.

Dee and Sandra

A lovely photo of Dee and Sandra from the Community Garden Network.

The highlights of the day for us….. catching up with friends, lounging on the Elephant seats and chatting with Dee from Greensideup (who was there with the Community Garden Network… look at their yarn wrap garden), and John and Colette from As Seen by C.  Meeting the ‘real’ people behind some twitter names – Peter from Donegan Landscaping and David from Beyond the Wild Garden.

The lowlights…. everything seemed to be crammed in this year.  I don’t know was there more exhibitors or less space.  It was so difficult to find things.

And the PARKING!  We wanted to park in the ‘red’ carpark as research beforehand had indicated it was closest to Entrance 1.  So silly us followed the ‘red’ carparking signs, to only discover that all the carparking signs were red and we had parked in the ‘yellow’ carpark!!! (By the way, there was nothing to indicate that we parked in the ‘yellow’ carpark – it was just a sensible car attendant informed us as such).  We weren’t the only people to be fooled by this… we met others who couldn’t find their car after the event as they too thought they had parked in the ‘red’ carpark!  Dear organisers – it would be simple to use the colour coding on the signage too!


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A couple of weeks ago our courier, who does the pick ups for our meat deliveries, arrived unexpectedly at the front door.  He was bearing a gift for me!  Doesn’t everyone love gifts that arrive out of the blue?

This gift came from a local company just 20 miles away – Spillane Sand & Gravel.  They had sent me a box of fertilizer pellets and a compost activator, asking me would I use the products and do a review.Bacteriosol

We did some research into Bacteriosol and decided that while it is not registered as ‘organic’.  It is allowable in an organic environment, and is manufactured in France by a leading company in sustainable farming.  I guess it could be best described as a ‘free-range’ fertilizer for the garden (or indeed, on a much bigger scale for farming).

Bacteriosol is made using vegetables and natural minerals, green compost, molasses with an addition of 2.8% nitrogen.  Some folks might object to using it because it is all mixed with ammonium sulfate (85 g/kg).

Our soil here is horrendous.  It is a heavy clay soil that compacts and/or cracks, and in certain parts has really poor drainage.  We have such an abundance of that silver fern-like weed with an incredibly long root, which is a true indicator of poor soil!  I have forgotten the name of this weed, but aren’t we lucky? 🙂

We have worked hard on trying to improve the soil both inside and outside the polytunnel.  Each year since erecting the polytunnel, we have added to the soil.  Last year it was a major layer of horse-manure, this year it was leaf mould.  No idea what we will add to it next year!

Onion sets planted outside

Onion sets planted outside

As anyone who gardens knows, this year planting of anything is way behind schedule!  It is only this weekend that I’ve been able to plant out peas and beans.  Even stuff planted in the polytunnel on 17th February is only coming into its own now!  We are finally able to harvest some salad leaves and radishes – a small step.

Salads finally coming on!

Salads finally coming on!

I have used the Bacteriosol in each bed as I’ve planted.  As of yet I am unable to say what the results will be.  There certainly has been good growth since I started using it, but then again the weather has also improved in the past 2 weeks.  So it could be either reason 🙂

However, in fairness to Spillane Sand & Gravel, with the growing season finally underway, I thought I should share details of their new product with you. Bacteriosol is available to purchase from Spillane Sand & Gravel and can be shipped nationwide at a cost of €10.60 for a 1.2 kg bag which covers 35 sq. metres.

Spillane Sand & Gravel Limited, Ardcroney, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.

Phone: 067 38271    Email: info@spillanesandandgravel.ie   @Bacteriosol on twitter.

I will keep you posted on how we progress throughout the season.

From a farming perspective – as it is available in bulk format – it has to be good that Bacteriosol reduces the need to spread nitrogen by c. 70% and increases productivity by 30%.  One of our farming neighbours is seriously considering using it on his land – so again I will let you know the outcome from his perspective.

I received the Bacteriosol and Bacteriolit (still not tested) as a gift from Spillane Sand & Gravel, Ardcroney, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.

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Friday Foto

Am so proud of how my cardoons are looking now that they are in full bloom!  No, I haven’t tried eating yet… they are just too beautiful. 🙂

Cardoon in full bloom

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Friday Foto

Am so proud of this…. home-grown in our polytunnel!

Kohl Rabi

And it tastes delicious too!

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Do you remember that horrendous song?  Just to drive you crazy, go on have a listen!  Creepy or what?

On the nicer side though for anyone who likes gardens and especially, tulips, make sure to get along to Bellefield House & Gardens on Saturday next.  Bellefield House is home to Angela Jupe the Landscape Architect, and has the most amazing array of tulips in the walled garden.

Saturday (21st April) marks the start of a week long celebration of the tulip.  It is the first ever such celebration here in Ireland so a wonderful opportunity for all tulip lovers to get involved.

Eric Breed – who takes the most amazing photographs of tulips will be in attendance to talk all things tulip – and I guess he knows a lot – his Dad, Kees Breed, saved many tulips from extinction.

I was privileged to sit in on a photoshoot over at Bellefield Gardens last week.  I must say I enjoy taking photographs of flowers – they don’t move about (well not much anyway) and you don’t have to keep asking them to smile!

Learning from the professional!

Learning from the professional!

Tulips would not be my most favourite flower but I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about them and taking the photos… so maybe I have been converted a bit!  To be honest I never knew there was such a variety!  For the technical details on tulips have a read of Fionnuala Fallon’s visit to the gardens.

Deep red tulips

If you are a tulip lover, a visit to Bellefield on Saturday next should be in your diary – there will also be guided tours of a townhouse garden in Birr and a Woodland Cottage garden just outside Birr.


  • Saturday, 21st April
  • 10 am start at Bellefield House & Gardens
  • Cost: €65 pp which includes lunch and afternoon tea
  • Guided visits to 3 gardens
  • Finish 4.30 pm
  • To book 0505 47766

Enjoy your tiptoeing! 🙂

Burgundy Border of Tulips

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My apologies, it has been a busy time and I just haven’t had the time to give you an update on how we are doing with the polytunnel.

Well, we’re doing fine.  And as the weather this summer has been so bad, it is probably just as well we have the polytunnel!  Everything that has been planted outside is just so slow and way behind where it would be normally!

Here’s how the polytunnel looks today…

a view of the polytunnel

I’m not sure if it can be ‘too hot’ in the polytunnel – maybe someone can answer that question? The temperature hasn’t been too high lately – it was incredibly hot in there in April when we had those few days of sunshine!

Watering is continuing a pace and we are currently harvesting chard, courgettes, salads and lots of cucumbers and tomatoes.

Swiss Chard with yellow stalks

We had our first corn on the cob last night.  The BEST EVER was the consensus.  Just even look at the colour….

Corn on the Cob

They really did taste every bit as good as they look! 🙂

And we have peppers, chillies and squash coming along nicely too.

Peppers coming along

And then the big surprise at the moment is the avocado that has sprouted!  Now what to do with that?????

Avocado plant

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Last Wednesday we took time out to go and walk around someone else’s patch!  Always nice to do!

We travelled to just outside Urlingford which is right on the border of Kilkenny and Tipperary.  I’m not sure if we were ended up was in Tipperary or Kilkenny!  No matter it was a beautiful meadow and wildflower space.

Thank you to Robert and his family for allowing 45 strangers traipse around their farm! They also have 2 mad brother and sister puppies who obviously have some English Setter blood in them….. they were so like our mad two!

We were greeted by Sandro Cafollo of Design by Nature, who is so so passionate about wild and meadow flowers.  Boy, the man has such a knowledge of the wild flowers of our countryside.  I was blown away!  We all take these so much for granted.  Walking by beautiful flowers in a hedgerow without giving them a second glance.  Sandro instead is preaching to anyone who will listen about how we should be preserving our wildflowers.  Well done!  Keep it up!

Sandro Cafollo in meadow

As someone asked what is the difference between a wild flower and a weed?  Well a weed is only a flower in the wrong place!


Corn Cockle with Corn Marigold in background

Ox Eye Daisies

I am sure my Granny called these guys Dog Daisies?


We also got to meet the ‘real’ people behind blogs, Facebook and Twitter profiles – which is always such a pleasure to do! We met Dee from GreensideUp, Stasia from Our Smallholding and Lily from Silverwood Ireland

We came home all fired up enough to go for a walk around the paddocks trying to identify what we had growing here.

I haven’t quite identified them all yet, but I am delighted we have Scarlet Pimpernel growing which is on the ‘endangered’ list!

I must take the camera out and photograph those that are here…. I will update this post later with photos from our patch.

Next time you are out and about – stop and enjoy the wild flowers! They are part of our heritage!

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