This is the journal of my endeavours to grow a range of fruit, veg and flowers from seed, grow organically, and my attempts to create a personal paradise with 1/2 acre of maintained gardens and 1/2 acre wild meadows. Northern Ireland's average daily high temperatures are 18 °C (64 °F) in July and 6 °C (43 °F) in January. Soil type: Clay

Monday 28 February 2011

Hail Stones and 1st Daffodil Flower

Sunday was a mixed day, one minute nice and sunny, a chilly breeze blowing... then rain, then hail stones! What a day. In the afternoon I told myself 'it's dry' and I need to take advantage of this. So I went out to do a few odd jobs... until my fingers and toes turned blue! A cuppa and a gardening magazine, better choice.
 Can you see the hail stones in the first 3 photos!?
Also spotted at the weekend... first daffodil flower (a solo show):
 And more daffodils to come...

Above: a clump of daffodils coming up at the back of the crocus. The greenery in the photo is either self sown wild foxglove or the parsley-looking plant is poached egg plant (it self seeds every year) - a nice little hardy annual that will be in flower about June.

Sunday 27 February 2011

Crocus and Snowdrops

The crocus and snowdrops are really showing off at the minute - beautiful and eye catching! Here are some photos captured from around the garden...
 The flowers are really pretty when they open.
Above: Looks like I need to spread out these bulbs a bit - although I do like clumps of colour. Snowdrops and crocus mix well together.
 A few white crocus have popped up.
 This one has a different colour than the others.
Below: Back in Dec you may remember I bought bags of crocus bulbs marked down to 25p (41cents).
Below is one of the areas planted - I'm not sure why I've all purple here. They did well in their first year. Each year they'll multiply.
Below, my favourite - snowdrops at flower.

Friday 25 February 2011

Irish Heather

I've mixed views about Irish heather. It's a low maintenance shrub that only really needs a wee trim after it flowers. I've bought a few tiny plants (2"x 5"L) in years gone by & in no time they spread to 2 ft wide x 1.5-2 ft tall.
Heather is native to western and northern Europe. It seems to thrive in cold weather and rocky soil - perfect for Ireland and the Scottish Highlands.
Pink & white photos above taken Feb 2010.
Rose with a backdrop of autumn flowering heather. Photo taken Sept 2010.
Below: photo, Feb 2010.
 I'm afraid my heathers are randomly stuck in the garden. Two of the pink heathers are pictured below.
 There are lovely displays of Irish heather on the following website: 
Hope this post didn't put you to sleep!

Wednesday 23 February 2011

TRee totaler...

Barking mad? or are there faces in these trees? I often go for walks and this time of year when the trees are quite bare, I notice the shapes & sizes more than usual. So, what do you see in these trees?

Left: This 'face' is very distinct, it featured half way up quite a tall tree - I did wonder if it was a piece of art commissioned, or maybe its just coincidence? Photographed at Belfast Botanic Gardens.

Cat in the Hat?
 Frankenstein's eye?
Mrs Potato Head?
A couple embracing?
Elephant's foot?

Sunday 20 February 2011

Pepper seeds sown & blog awards

I recently received "Mark's Veg Plot Chilli Award" and to mark the occasion I decided to sow peppers and hot chillis this weekend. I grew peppers last year for the first time and had reasonable success. Mark has inspired me to grow hot chillis this year. I hope I have as much success as Mark's Veg Plot. Northern Ireland has similar weather conditions as England so hoping for results. I do love hot chillis & can't wait to cook with them.

Variety: Pepper (Hot) Cayenne, Mr Fothergill's, 60 seeds, £1.89.
Variety: Pepper (California Wonder), Thompson & Morgan Seeds, 30 seeds, £1.50 per pack
Above: California Wonder Peppers. Photo taken 25 Sept 2010.
I also sowed the above herbs today indoors on a windowsill. It was extremely cold and windy outside today. Couldn't imagine trying to sow outside for awhile yet.
A couple of weeks ago I sowed Cress. Not the most interesting photo...  however, cress has the wow factor. It's so so peppery flavoured, really delicious. I popped one little leaf in my mouth and wow a burst of HOT. A new salad must. Rocket #1, cress #2.
Variety: Cress Fine Curled, Mr Fothergill's, 4,000 seeds, £1.65 per pack.
I'd like to thank Elly of Elly's Tuin for awarding me the 'Stylish Blogger Award'. Elly has a very beautiful blog; it's so therapuetic and soothing. Her site is

I'd like to thank Mark for his blog award "Mark's Veg Plot Chilli Award". His blog caputures the interest of many and it's always one I regularly visit. One of my all time favourite posts (I'd seen nothing like it) is

Thursday 17 February 2011

Holly Topiary

Quite a number of years ago I was given an unwanted holly tree, about 1 foot tall at the time. I stuck it in a little spot in the garden and as it grew I thought it was naturally shaping into three separate areas with some baldy patches. So... one day I started cutting & chopping... cuttng here, cutting there... it became a 3-tiered topiary tree. My first attempt at a topiary and although not perfect I'm kinda proud of it. Above: Holly topiary in need of a 'hair cut'. Photo taken Aug 2010.
Above: Photo taken Feb 2011.
Above: my garden helper at the weekend.

Monday 14 February 2011

Garden Reds

February is my blog's 6-month anniversary! To date I've had almost 4k blog hits. Blogging has been a good way to learn from others, meet knew friends, and keep a record of my progress over time. Another plus, less bits of paper scattered about (and hopefully the blog can't be lost?). To mark the day, here are some photos of the year themed "garden reds" (with a bit of purple)...
Do these count as 'red-ish'? Lupin grown from seed. June 2010.
Peppers 'California Wonder'. Seeds by Thompson & Morgan. Aug 2010.
Thornless blackberry. Sept 2010.
Sedum Autumn Joy. Sept 2010.
Photo taken at my local garden centre. Oct 2010.
Self fertilising apple tree. Oct 2010.
Impressive dogwood stems. (£6.99 at B&Q). Oct 2010.
Cotoneaster shrub / berries. Nov 2010.
My favourite red - an original 'Bowl of Cherries' painting by Egretta Wells.

Thanks fellow bloggers for your visits... I enjoy your words of wisdom, encouragement & humour.

Friday 11 February 2011

Rootin for Rhubarb

The rhubarb is emerging...

A friend gave me a piece of rhubarb years ago and it comes up annually without fail in abundance. I'm thinking about forcing it this year but will have to read up on this on the web. I see people forcing on TV... but I'm scared! What if i get it wrong & end up with no rhubarb?

Hmm, not the prettiest of photos...

I see several shoots coming up. Thinking I probably should have divided it and it's maybe too late. Looking forward to rhubarb pie, strudel & preserves. Yum!