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

Thursday 29 March 2012

March Garden Overview

March has brought longer daylight hours and some great weather! There's been loads to do in the garden this month... from planting potatoes to sowing beans and peas. However, most of my time this month has gone into tidying borders, dividing perennials and mulching. Still much to do - April will be another busy month!

Left and Below: Honesty - first flower spotted on 24th March. Honesty self seeds in the garden. When I first moved into the house I thought Honesty was a weed (it looked weed like) so I removed it when weeding. Then a friend gave me an Honesty plant and over several years it has self seeded and moved around the garden. A great little plant and easy to remove where unwanted.
Three tulips (late arrivals) will soon be in flower with the Honesty.
Crocus have provided super colour in March.
The borders are starting to come alive this month.
Purple flowering Heather in the background along the wall.
Muscari bulbs seems to be flowering in every paving crack! 
A splash of colour at the front door. The ivy I pulled from under a hedgerow in the garden.
Silverdust with Aubretia both grown from seed last year.
Perennials coming up include lupin, columbine, phlox, etc. Looks like I might have a patchy bit to fill.
Above and below: the dogwood was cut back this month (about a number 3 in hair cutting terms).

Geranium (tall hot pink variety) was divided and moved to various flower beds.
Sticks stuck in the ground as growing supports.
Broccoli continues to flower (seems to flower for months on end)!!

Monday 26 March 2012

Busy Bees

It's been warm and sunny (20C / 70F) at the weekend - the bees are enjoying the heather in the garden.
Above and below: Heather (seems to flower for months and months).

What a beauty! I had to share... photos of a beautiful Magnolia Dawsoniana tree. Photos taken at Rowallane National Trust Garden (not in my garden) at the weekend.
Spring is wonderful!

Friday 23 March 2012

Frost Damaged Cordyline Update

Just over a year later, the Cordyline trunk begins to crumble.
I'm a fan of Cordyline Palms. As long as they're kept tidy - ever see ones that have dead leaves hanging from them, such a bad look in the front of a garden! I like the 'warm weather feel' Cordyline provide (reminds me of Florida). And when Americans visit me in Ireland they always comment on the palm tree in my garden. Then in Dec 2010 the "big frost" struck and many a Cordyline Palm tree looked like death.

Here's a little update on my favourite warm-weather-look tree...

Two rotten trunks pulled away with no effort have been removed. I have a suspicion the other trunks are rotting too. However some new growth is appearing at the base so some hope for a baby Cordyline.
New growth at the base.
The Black Mondo grass is taking over where the palm trunks have been removed. Invasive little grass!
The Cordyline Palm tree pictured April 2011 after the Northern Ireland's "Big Freeze" in Dec 2010.
To view other posts on the Cordyline Palm:

More on Ireland's 2010 Big Freeze:

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Happy First Day of Spring

It's 20th March - the first day of Spring! It's been lovely weather and I spent the weekend tidying up borders, sowing seed, and planting potatoes on St Patrick's Day!

Our time changes this Sunday, whereas the hour springing forward already took place in the USA. It'll be great to have an extra hour at night to get out in the garden! Here's a little update...
Currently in flower - Bachelor's Buttons / Kerria Japonica - a great hedging shrub that produces amazing flowers this time of year. Plant Strengths:  Sun loving drought tolerant plant; all round tough plant suitable for problem areas; ideal for fast growing screening; tolerates cold exposed locations; tolerates heavy clay soils.

Above: Canterbury Bells Mixed, (Hardy Biennial), grown from seed last year. Over the weekend they were planted in the ground. The one in the middle is two plants that I didn't bother pulling apart.

Another plant grown last year from seed -Lupin to the right and Columbine / Aquilegia to the left/back. I didn't bother pulling them apart when I planted them. Now I'm wondering why I left them that way!
This photo was taken at a local garden centre. It amazed me how these daffodil manage to stay so straight as most of mine are wind battered and anything but straight and tall.

Happy Official Spring!

Thursday 15 March 2012

Blogger Bloom Day

It's Blogger's Bloom Day - the 15th of every month. Here's what's blooming in the garden...

Daffodil are taking over from the crocus now. The snowdrops are long gone.

Are daffodil and narcissi the same thing? A question I often ask (and don't know the answer).

Muscari keep going and going. Planted in an old chimney pot.
The crocus are mostly finished now. 
Vinca Minor Argenteovariegata (Perennial) keeps flowering but the little purple flowers aren't very noticeable. Aren't perennials supposed to die down? This one doesn't. And it spreads and spreads!
Heather flowers for weeks and weeks.
Aubretia 'Springtime Mixed' (Hardy Perennial) with Cineraria 'Maritima Silverdust' (Half Hardy Annual) - both grown from seed last year.
Forest Flame shrub in flower.
Poached Egg Plant 'Limnanthes Douglasii, (Hardy Annual). One of those plants that's a bit hard to get rid of as it self seeds. I like that it self seeds, producing a flush of flowers twice in a given year.
Tulips looking tirednot exactly 'best of show' however every splash of colour is welcome this time of year! Happy Blogger Bloom Day!

For more on blogger's bloom day and the flower parade, check out h

Sunday 11 March 2012

Veg Update (leek, celeriac, rhubarb)

Leek 'Musselburgh' and Celeriac 'Monarch'  
It was in the high 50Fs at the weekend and I finally got some jobs done in the garden - mostly weeding (and more weeding), dividing snowdrops and some light tree pruning.

I've been very bad and left celeriac in the ground from May/June last year until now. I've been waiting for it to reach a reasonable size. Something has been nibbling on it so not exactly 'best of show'. I don't think I'll bother with celeriac this year, think I'll stick with celery. Celeriac takes a long time to grow and I find it fiddly to clean and prepare.
Rhubarb is coming up. I always think about forcing but then I end up just leaving it.
Veg abandoned over Winter in the veg box. Spring Onion, Beetroot, and Parsnip I think. Wonder if the beetroot is still edible at this stage? I should have pulled it up but I keep forgetting. Don't think I'll bother growing beetroot this year; not too fussed and I want more room for container carrots.
Parsley 'Plain Leaved 2' - a staple for cooking.
I'm behind on sowing seed but will sow over St Patrick's weekend. 
And St Patrick's day is the day I plant potatoes!

Thursday 8 March 2012

Spring is in the Air!

It's less than 2 weeks to the official 'First Day of Spring' on 20th March. Already I'm noticing extended daylight, milder weather and loads of new growth emerging (especially on perennials). It's a busy time of year and the freshness of Spring is a great energizer!

Below are photos from Belfast Botanic Garden's Palm House. Some amazing colour and the smell of hyacinth in the glass house is amazing!
The above photo shows the Palm House - an amazing building. Photo taken Dec 2010. (Not much snow for Northern Ireland this year - I think England and Scotland is getting it all!) The Palm House is Victorian, made of curved iron and glass. The build started in 1839 and the dome was added in 1852.

Blogger Problem Update - I've had numerous problems with my blog ranging from not being able to add photos to not being able to edit blog text. All of these problems are hopefully resolved. The problem seemed to be that I had selected 'New' Blogger however there are several different aspects of New Blogger (template, editing, etc), I was still on 'Old' Blogger for editing and this wasn't compatible. Something like that. I still think blogger should have left things alone.  

Happy soon to be Spring!