Archives for category: Winter Garden

One of the very best features of the Big Garden is… I won’t spoil it with words that will only fail. See for yourself.

and now for my close up

And now for my close up… Snowdrops at their best in the Big Garden

And more snow

And more snow

... and more snow.

… and more snow.

The show will be ending soon at the Big Garden, but the daffs are coming up for the next spectacle, and will hopefully be around for the Hunter Trials (horses, horses and more horses) in April. I must take a photo one day of the best manure heap in Ireland — if only I could get to it without having to risk my life getting sucked into the mud equivalent of quicksand.

Back at the Little Garden. We all know Ireland is famous for its rain…

Moat, in Galway not Westmeath

Inside the new porch, aka moat.

…but this is ridiculous. I can pretend like I have a moat around my little castle (thankfully corrected this week with one of those new-fangled inventions called a GUTTER).

Gardening undercover? My tunnel, which I usually call ‘Spain’ (as in “I’ll be right back; I’m going to Spain.”), has been redubbed ‘Venezia’ (I thought Venice was too obvious). If I was any good at graphics I would have made a little man in a boat singing ‘O Sole Mio’ and stuck him in the centre pathway of the tunnel.

will it ever stop raining?


But this was a few weeks ago and hope springs eternal. Buds are fattening, even bursting in some case (like the weirdly early willow I have at the very back of our place — the bees love it). As you drive along the motorway (which I unfortunately have to do twice a day), you can see big swathes of trees turning lovely shades of spring as if an artist has come overnight and dotted reds here, whites blushed with pink there. Remember to keep your eyes on the road or this could be detrimental to your health.

And just when you think you can’t take it anymore (the weather, that is), you can go into Venezia and pretend like you’re in South Africa…

One can always pretend...

South Africa! Well, that’s where Osteospermum grows like a weed.

Next time… Sow what?


Only a couple more weeks until Christmas, but you wouldn’t know if from the weather here in the west of Ireland. It has been very mild and even a bit dry for this time of year, although we did have a few light showers over the past week. It was so (relatively) dry that I was able to bring 40 bags of manure home from the Big Garden’s muck heap. This requires me having to squelch through some very mucky and usually sopping wet ground. A trailer would be great, but it’s nearly impossible to get anything with wheels to the muck heap without getting stuck. One of those bog tractors with the double-wides might work. But last week I could’ve driven my car to the heap with a little care and attention. Still, I ended up doing it all by hand. Actually, I got a hand getting the 40 bags to the van, which was great.

Black gold

Black gold

I’m a bit of a connoisseur of manure. I think it’s great stuff. I’m particularly happy with this manure because it has some lovely, dark, well-rotted manure that has been mixed up with newer stuff. The older stuff was mixed with straw and the newer stuff with shavings. By the way, this is horse manure we are talking about from the Big Garden stables. I like having the uncomposted shavings in the mix as they help make a really nice mulch. So I just dump the bags where I want and leave the little heaps until the new year. Any of the fresher manure will be worn down enough by planting time. I’ll let the worms and chickens do a lot of the work — those chickens need to earn their keep since they’re not given eggs at the moment. Come January or February, I’ll just give it a quick rake.

If I could get the whole muck heap to my house, it would be like winning the lotto! How sad am I?

Covered porch.

The porch is covered!

The porch is now covered. The incline downward is only slight as the height needed to be kept quite high due to very tall family members (that would not be me, I’m afraid, as I am cousin to Bilbo Baggins [without the hairy feet]). The concrete for the footpath will be next and some kind of guttering. It’s so nice and dry underneath and when the sun is out it is quite warm, even on colder days.
willow fedge

Willow fedge due for a haircut.

Depending on the weather, I may cut some willow today. Most of the leaves have fallen now, which is what I was waiting for. I’ve got a fedge and a wigwam that need attention; both are very overgrown. I’m going to collect the nicest, straightest bits of willow to make a little wattle fence to go on one side of the new flower beds to make a barrier between the footpath around the house and the beds.
euonymus seed pods

Euonymus seed pods or a blackbird’s dinner…

And finally, a little bit of colour to end. I saw these seed casings on this stone near the apple trees. I think a blackbird must have pulled it off one of my little spindle trees and took it to the stone to have a feast. Ha! What a romantic notion – a blackbird?? Well, possibly, but it was most likely one of magpies (who really think they own the place).

Next time… review the year and look forward. Happy and peaceful holiday to all!

The new porch is coming along nicely. I’m calling it a porch, but it’s probably not that fancy at all. It’s just a covered bit at the front of the house where the sun hits most of the day. The posts were put in on Friday. This is what it looked like:


It is now post time!

I was a little afraid when I came home from work and saw the posts sticking up out of the ground like big, scary, Easter Island statues. The posts are great. My very nice builder-in-law had to get them specially ordered because apparently it is quite difficult to walk into a place and pick up 5 or 6 6×6 posts that are 12 foot long. At first I thought maybe I had made a mistake agreeing to the bigger posts. But once the skeleton of the porch was put in place, all my fears were allayed.

porch bones up

Porch bones up

The options for how much I enclose it and how I enclose it are endless. I could put brick around the bottom or stone. I could put some kind of railing or trellis. The ends could be closed up, just leaving a half-door type thing. Then there is the idea of windbreak. My builder-in-law says they don’t have porch screening in this country. I suppose the wind would make shreds of it in no time. Some kind of way to roll up green windbreak might be an idea, or that plastic stuff that I have at the far end of my tunnel. The best part about it is that I have all the time in the world to decide what I want to do with it. If anyone has ideas (dad) or has built something like this I would be most interested to hear about it or even see a picture. I’m looking for more inspiration!

I’m slowly but surely emptying the tunnel of plants and hopefully red spider mite. I rescued my tarragon plant and stuck it outside so the cold weather could get to the red spiter mites sucking the life out of it and it looked better even after a couple of days. (I only hope the frost last night didn’t flatten it.) Yesterday, I opened up the tunnel to let the air move through it and I was greeted by this:



Two years ago a good friend had given me some snapdragon plants that she didn’t need. I brought them home and bunged them into a little planter. The only thing I’ve done to them is cut them back after flowering and every now and then removed mouldy-looking foliage. They have been in the polytunnel the whole time and wholeheartedly refuse to die. I thought they were annuals, but they’ve basically become like little shrubs in that pot. Just look at them now, lovely little things. I also like plain old geraniums (Pelargonium to the initiated). I just cut mine back and stuck them in a shed that’s not completely dark. I have found that mine really don’t like being in the tunnel over winter; they just turn to mould. So I’m trying a new tactic this year. I HATE having to buy them, even though they are cheap. They are too easy to propagate and I would just feel like a gardening loser if I didn’t keep my own. I have a lovely dark maroon one that was given to me as a rooted cutting from the plant of a fellow gardener who had passed away (the very best way to remember someone). I think I’ve had it for 5 years on my kitchen windowsill, and I make babies from it every year. I’ll get a picture of it when it’s in flower next year and I’m always happy to share rooted cuttings. That’s what it’s all about.

It must be winter if I’m talking about house plants… (my least favourite subject, mainly because I have nowhere to put them!).

One last photo to highlight the very changeable weather we are having and the fact that I am an American living in Ireland and am still awed by the frequency and intensity of the rainbows here.

Pot of gold in the hay shed

Pot of gold in the hay shed

Next time… update on the porch.