Archives for category: Garden Club

What a strange feeling, to be wearing a t-shirt at the very end of September in the west of Ireland. I ate a strawberry straight from the plant the other day. All sorts of flowers are blooming… again. I’m enjoying the weather and wouldn’t complain about it. But somehow it just feels wrong. I’m sure it will rectify itself within a few weeks, then we’ll all be complaining about the cold and the rain.


Queen of the autumn, Rudbeckia lacianata ‘Sonnenblum’

I’ve been busy at home trying to tidy up the place a bit. My garden club friends came over last Saturday and we got a good bit done. The side of the house is getting a complete overhaul. Posts and windbreak had to be taken down. The windbreak was supposed to keep the chickens out (that didn’t work) and the only role the windbreak played was to shelter weeds. So out it came (thank you, Bridgette). Group effort moved the very heavy scaffolding board bed that I thought would be a good idea (it was not because it looked crap by the house and sat wonky on the ground). So out it went to be used as a bed for raspberries (that’s a whole other story for later). My French friend very nicely turned my compost heap for me in order to make use of the new extension. Now I have room to move compost back and forth to aerate it, plus have a bay that I can constantly add to. All in all, I was very happy with what we got done. Best of all were Caroline’s peanut butter cookies afterwards.


Stalwart of the autumn garden, one of the best Asters ever and he is named ‘Monch’

The Big Garden will be host to a car boot sale this coming Sunday. Actually, it will be held down at the stables. It’s the first time something like this has been done there. It will hopefully draw the local crowd and should be a bit of fun. There will be tea and coffee, a barbecue, plants for sale, homemade baked goods and jam, and all sorts of junk. It’s on from 11-3, 6 October if anyone nearby reads this.

Butterfly on Verbena

Cabbage white butterfly on Verbena bonariensis

Garden work at the Big Garden over the past couple of weekends has been bulb planting. The lady of the house just bought me a couple more Sedum ‘Matrona’ plants and 2 shrubs (Caryopteris and Perovskia). Just as a side note, I actually grew Perovskia from seed and it was surprisingly easy. Three years later and it is full grown. It makes a fabulous substitute for lavendar, which can be very unhappy in the Irish climate and conditions. A Perovskia walk doesn’t have quite the same ring as a lavendar walk, but at least you’d have lovely living plants, instead of poor sad things limping along.


When Nasturtium go bad, prisoners of Cell Block H

I feel as though I’m rambling, so that’s probably enough for now. Must get out there now and enjoy the weather… oops, I think it has started to rain…

Next time… willow wattle and tales of the triangle bed.


My garden friends were here at the Little Garden in March.  We just call it Garden Club, but we don’t sit in a cold, drafty hall and look at slides of every kind of Auricula or all the gardens of Italy that you will never get to see yourself.  No, we get down and dirty.  I think I’ve mentioned before that it’s a mini-meitheal.  There’s usually a big project to do or a few small projects.

Back border of Little Garden before edging done

Back border of Little Garden before edging done

I have created a large border at the Little Garden just behind the potting shed (which is really the boiler house, but potting shed sounds so much better…).  This border did happen overnight.  I’ve gradually been chipping away at it for about three years now.  The grass that tries (rather successfully) to creep into the bed drives me insane.

Big Garden Edges -- Rose Beds in Winter

Big Garden Edges — Rose Beds in Winter

So I thought it was about time to take serious action.  I decided that instead of putting in a wooden edge which will just rot in a few years, I would dig a sharp edge with a little trench to separate grass from border just like the ones at the Big Garden.  I have to trim the edge there about four times a year so I figured I could just do the same at home.

After edging done by Garden Club

After edging done by Garden Club at the Little Garden

The thought of making this edge on my own was rather daunting (read:  boring), so I enlisted the help of Garden Club.  All I had to do was mark the edge with a bit of line pulled between a couple of posts and away they went.  It was great and it took about an hour at most.  It was Baltic that day so I let them off easy so that we could go inside and eat chilli and buns and drink tea (the best part of Garden Club).

This is what the newly edged bed looks like in high season

This is what the newly edged bed looks like in high season

I’ve trimmed the edge once since then, but I didn’t really need to.  I had just done edging at the Big Garden so I would’ve felt guilty if I hadn’t done my own.  I’m looking forward to seeing how it looks once the beds are growing and the grass greens up a bit.  Watch here for an update…

A few years ago when I first got the polytunnel at the little garden, I received requests from several people to come and have a look at the new erection… What emerged from these visits was a garden club of sorts.  We started out meeting at the bar of a local hotel.  The venue quickly changed to our own houses so we could at least look at the gardens we were talking about.  Then, after about a year of garden visits, swapping plants and seeds, and talking about gardening, someone suggested that we meet and do a project at one of our own gardens.

Garden club at work

We haven’t looked back since.  Now, it’s less like a garden club and more like a monthly meitheal (to the non-Irish, this word is akin to a ‘barnraising’, or the idea that many hands make light work).

Garden club end result in veg patch

It’s amazing how much we get done in a couple of hours.  Usually there are six or seven of us.  We have two men and six women in the group.  Our projects have ranged from clearing ground for new polytunnels, constructing raised beds, making a willow fedge, sowing rows and rows of peas, clearing summer crops out of tunnels, the list goes on.  I was even cheeky enough to ask the group to come to the big garden to help me clear a very scary, overgrown shrub border.

Clearing out the tunnel

Sometimes we spend an hour, sometimes two.  The photos here show us doing the autumn clearout of a small vegetable patch and a polytunnel. This took us about an hour.  Regardless of the time spent, the garden owner always says, “I could never have done that own my own.  It would have taken me a week to do that.”  And the best part is, we get fed and watered at the end of it.

The polytunnel after clearout

I would encourage anyone interested in gardening to get a group of friends together to do this kind of thing.  I suppose there is a time and place for the type of garden club that looks at slides of flowers or foreign gardens.  But you’ll not find a more satisfying way to spend a Saturday afternoon than working together with friends in a garden.

Stone cairn at Rowallane

Next post… An unplanned autumn visit to Rowallane Garden in Saintfield, Co Down.  Here’s just a little taste of it above.