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

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!

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