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I have moved my blog to gardenjewels.ie.  I hope you’ll come and visit me there.  Jools

Rudbeckia 'Moorheim Beauty'

Rudbeckia ‘Moorheim Beauty’

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I was going to write about seeds this week, but Lord knows there is plenty of time for that!. Instead, I’ve decided to write about my little trip to Bellefield last Saturday to the Spring Plant Sale. I say trip, but it was only just a few minutes over an hour’s drive for me to get there.

Baton Rouge

Cornus ‘Baton Rouge’, a purchase from Bellefield Plant Fair

I love little trips like this and, while I enjoy the company of friends on such trips, there’s something very peaceful about going for garden visits on your own. A cup of coffee in a paper cup, an apple, a banana, an orange, a cheese sandwich, directions written in very large print (no GPS gadgets for me! Vive la map!), a camera and appropriate clothes for the weather — that’s all you need to enjoy your little trip. Oh, and most importantly, very strong shopping bags (mine are the ancient Tesco ones that hold absolutely loads) to carry your plants in — you always know the plant sale aficionados because they are carrying empty shopping bags as they come in. Five euro notes and 1 and 2 euro coins come in handy as well.

Upon arrival, do a quick sweep of the plant sellers. Don’t buy anything on your first go round (unless you absolutely cannot resist and there’s only one of what you want). Have a look at it all and don’t be shy to ask prices if they are not marked. Then go back and buy what you like. I’d give the advice not to buy things that you don’t have a place for at home, but I won’t say a word about that because I never heed my own advice. If plants are your true love, then buy anything you like, space be damned.

Hellebore

Hellebore at home

Bellefield has a very nice garden. It’s a funny time of year to go for a garden visit. But if you like snowdrops and early bulbs, hellebores and the like, it’s a great time for you to be out having a look. I’m more of a galantholiker than a galanthophile. Looking at different green markings on the white petals of a snowdrop is akin to trainspotting, if you ask me. But some people go crazy over snowdrops. Daffodils were just coming up; Iris unguicularis was flowering and hellebores as well.

Helleborus foetidus

Stinking hellebore at the Little Garden, grown from seed

Hellebores are lovely. I have one very large specimen of Helleborus foetidus I grew from seed and I have a dusky maroon-coloured one. Both are as sheltered as they can be in my garden. If left out in the wind, they go to tatters. And you have to cut last years’ foliage off in the early spring so that it does’t detract from the flowering.

Lupin

Lupin wakes up after winter

If I didn’t have my own garden to tend to and another very Big one, I’d be out and about every weekend visiting gardens.

Next time… final touches on vegetable bed? Sowing seeds? Polytunnel ready?

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!

Rainbow

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.