Archives for the month of: October, 2013

I am an American living in Ireland for over 13 years. I’ve been here long enough now that some of my habits have definitely changed over to Irish ways. I now like my tea hot as well as cold and cannot fathom having a ‘hang’ sandwich without a cup of tea. I now plan on taking a shower or bath as it takes 45 minutes for the water to heat up – no instant gratification here, that’s for wusses. I use the word ‘indeed’ far too often and usually unnecessarily. I also often begin a sentence with a growl of a noise that sounds like Air-ahhh!


My trellis is over the rainbow

But one thing that has taken on a life of its own is talking about the weather. I listen to the full weather forecast on RTE1 at 7.55 (on purpose). When I arrive at work, it is the very next subject to come up after, “Good morning.” When I’m at work, I’m looking outside to see what it’s like outside. When there’s a downpour I’m thinking about which route to take home so as to avoid possible floods. When I’m home I gauge what I do by the weather: must do outside gardening and other jobs if the weather is good, inside jobs can wait till it rains. That’s why my house is such a sty now; the weather was far too good this year for staying inside. Even more detrimental to my housework was that my inside jobs very often are polytunnel jobs. The tunnel is much more tidy than the house. I’d put a bed out there for myself but I’m afraid I’ll wake up puckered and shrivelled because of the red spider mites.

That was quite a diatribe about the weather. But as you can see from the photo above (the rainbow only just visible above the tunnel but below the trellis), the weather can be variable. I typed that very drily (no pun intended) in case you couldn’t tell.

More rainbows

More rainbows

I don’t have much focus today. Just a little ramble through the weather. Maybe we’ll have a look at the front of the house. I’m planning to put a porch on. The house is very small and so a bit of extra space would be very welcome. I do a lot of messy work in my kitchen (one thing that springs to mind is potting up seedlings). A covered porch would be perfect for this. It won’t be enclosed, just covered though I do plan to put up trellis and have climbers growing around it. I’d like to be a little further along with the job, but I’m having trouble sourcing 6×6 inch posts that are at least 10ft long and treated. Times like this I wish my dad was here.
Front of the house

Where the porch will be

The porch has to go on the front because it is south facing. I have moved all of the plants that were in this bed to new beds at the side of the house. It has been great weather (aaragh!) for moving plants around this autumn. Here’s a photo of the plants (most have been duly divided and shared out) in their new home.
New side beds

Newly dug beds, newly moved perennials

There are a lot of things to say about this picture. Firstly, you can see the chicken wire I have to throw over areas to keep off the… yep, you got it… chickens. I put a few crocus bulbs down in the closest corner of this bed. The manure bags in the background are full of gorgeous Big Garden horse manure mixed with straw and shavings – the best mulch ever. And finally you can see my practice wattle fence at far right. It helps to have a steel fixer living with you; I have a never-ending supply of steel rods at my disposal. I just hope I don’t trip and impale myself on one of them. I promised more on the wattle fence but I’ve decided to do this later on as I’m not going to cut the willow until the leaves fall off completely.

That’s it for now. It’s raining now so looks like I’m stuck doing housework, at least until it stops…

Next time… update on the porch and other ramblings I’m sure.


If you hadn’t been in Ireland in the past few weeks and you walked into my house, you would know the weather has been exceptional. The house is a wreck: dishes are left unwashed, clothes are all over the place, shoes left under the table and by the front door, and don’t mention the state of the bathroom. Who can clean house when there are millions of things to do outside and the light is fading fast? This is especially true for the gardener working full-time (and by that, I mean at a job other than gardening). Pretty soon we’ll be confined, stuck in Folsom Prison and there will be plenty of time to clean the damned house. But for now, it’s outside for me.

Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea purpurea ‘Rubinstern’

I love this Echinacea purpurea above. It is called ‘Rubinstern’. It’s not flowering at the moment but I like the photo. I never have much luck with Echinacea, probably because it’s not very ‘prairie’ around here. But I got this plant from Caherhurley Nursery. They are at a lot of the big plant shows around the place and I love getting plants from them. The plants are really hard and really healthy; they are grown outside in Clare, so they have to be tough enough. And they are often not in flower when you go to buy them; a laminated picture of the plant in flower is there for you to take a look at. I think it’s a great set up and the plants are great value for money. I’m hoping my Echinacea will survive since it comes from them.

Rudbeckia lacianata 'Herbstsonne'

Rudbeckia lacianata ‘Herbstsonne’ again, this time with friend

And speaking of coneflower type things, the Rudbeckia above is still in full force. I just need to remember to stake it next year. Maybe there’s a little bit of prairie here in the west of Ireland after all. My friend Tom always did call me half-pint…


Sunflower from saved seed, a feast for the finches

My friend came over yesterday and helped me clear out my polytunnel. This is part of my big plan to eradicate my new most hated foe, the red spider mite. I spoke to Fruit Hill Farm about the best plan of action using the biological control Phytoseiulus persimilis, which is another mite that will eat the red fella. So the idea is to clear the tunnel out of all plant material. This is almost painful for me because I always grow things overwinter and fear that this is the part of the deal I will be unable to stick to. I’ll need to wash the tunnel down well over winter. I can plant crops in early spring as usual but in March or April, when the daytime temperature is regular reaching 21 degrees C or so (I think that’s 70ish for Farenheit folk), I will introduce Phtoseiulus. I refuse to use a chemical bug killer because they kill the nice guys as well and that is just stupid. So this is the plan and I shall report on results in future.

Helenium sport

A confused Helenium flower

And finally, I leave you with this funny little Helenium ‘Moorheim Beauty’ flower who is thinking of reverting to the mother colour. I’m assuming this is a genetic blip called a sport (kind of like a freckle), but it could be from a virus. Whatever it is, I like it for being different and sticking out in a crowd.

Wattle fences can wait til the weather turns… for now, I’m going outside!