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

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

May Flowers

A good splash of colour around the garden now. I think May and June are favourite months as the lupins and delphiniums are really fantastic. (The delphiniums aren't in flower yet but it won't be long). The recent warm weather seems to have spurred growth. The clay soil is rock hard as we've had very little rain. However, I've been able to get most weeds under control. Here's an overview of what's in bloom...
Above: Aquilegia / Columbine (Perennial) - grown from seed last year. In their second year the plants seem bigger and more impressive.
Below:  Nemophila 'Pennie Black', (Annual). Last Summer the plants were tiny and I wasn't impressed but this Summer the plants have come up bigger and I'm growing fond of them.
Above and Below: Lupin (Perennial) grown from seed quite a number of years ago. I've read several articles that say lupin and delphinium only last about 3 years but I find they last longer.
Pieris / Forest Flame shrub co-ordinates with the lupin colour.
Above: A bee enjoys the lupin.
Below: A new Lupin plant - grown from seed last year. 
I've forgotten what these two are.. maybe:
Above: A type of Camellia or rhododendrum 
Below: A type of Azalea or compact rhododendrum shrub?
Above and Below: Poached Egg Plant / Limnanthes Douglasii, (Hardy Annual) self seeds in a border with roses and other plants. I believe the rose below is 'Arthur Bell'. 
Above: Rose (type I've forgotten).
Below: Antirrhinum (Snapdragon) 'Intermediate Mixed', (Half Hardy Annual), coming into full swing after not dying down over Winter, pictured with Silverdust (Annual) still going as well.
Above: Welsh Poppy are popping up in random places but seems to work.
Below: No idea but the cats love the flowers on this shrub. They put their face right into the shrub and get high sniffing the flowers.

Happy Gardening over the long weekend!

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Things that Invade

Things that invade the garden... starting with the creepy crawlies (and then moving to plants)! 

Left and Below: The wormy culprits doing damage to my apple tree. I know nothing about worms / caterpillars but don't these three look different?  I don't use any chemicals on the apple tree so I check it every few days and hopefully I'm getting the worms removed before they eat or damage the flower buds.
This photo shows a kind of cacoon in the middle of the photo. It involves the flower bud being stuck together. This is where the black worm lives. The green worms seem to hatch differently than the black worms. The green worms seem to be stuck between two leaves or a leaf folded over, rather than buds.
Worm inside a bud.
I've taken loads of worm / caterpillar photos - no idea why. I've picked off about 20 or so.
I just hope I get a good apple harvest by picking them off!

Other things that invade in the garden...
1. Crocosmia and Lucifer-type plants are on my invasive list. The bulbs multiply into bigger and bigger grassy clumps over the years and the bulbs can be quite difficult to dig out.
2. Vinca Minor Argenteovariegata (top arrow and close up below) - quite an invasive spreader but in the right place can be a useful plant for ground cover.
3. Honesty - I do like honesty but this year I'm seeing how it can push out other plants a bit.
Vinca Minor Argenteovariegata
Is this a type of Euphorbia? 
It appeared in the garden one day, and it's now popping up everywhere as per the photos below.
Above: Ajuja Bugle - creeps and creeps. I remove it and it creeps back where I don't want it. On the plus side, the bees like it.
Black Mondo Grass - I bought three tiny bits of root at a plant sale years ago and now I could supply a nursery! It must like the dry conditions where it's growing as it spreads like crazy. Difficult to remove.
Bugle and black mondo creeping in on my Armeria maritime / sea thrift.
One of the biggest creeper of them all - the dandelion. I read on a fellow blogger's post that one plant can produce approx 2,000 seeds per year. Wow!

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Flowers, Fruits and Tree Advice?

Summer weather has finally arrived! We usually get spells of sunny, warm weather in April /May but this year it has been rather chilly - until this week. We've a whole week of good weather forecast - maybe even ten days of warm, dry and sunny conditions. Yippee! I've been getting caught up on weeding and general garden work. I'm also hardening off plants, starting with the beans (cobra, dwarf purple queen and scarlet emperor), and then moving to pumpkins, courgettes, squash and kale. Many of my other seedlings are still quite small so I might grow them on a bit more in the glass house / sun room before planting them outside. Photos below are updates around the garden - focusing mainly on flowers and fruits.

Left: Lupin should be in flower soon. Two of my favourite cottage style plants - lupin and delphinium.
Annuals - Snapdragon and Silverdust grown from seed last year and still going (never died down over Winter). They're slightly straggly looking in places but I can't bear to pull them out.
Silverdust growing in the middle of...?
I was thinking bluebell but  bluebell flowers droop so not sure what the purple flowers are. Any ideas??
Lilac shrub is in flower. It's so pretty!
The self fertilising apple tree blooms will soon be finished. I'm still picking off green and black worms. More on this in a few days.
Thornless blackberry - I really need to take better care of it. It grows rather wild.
Above: Gooseberries are starting to form.
Below: Red Currant bush. Last year I didn't get any berries. I've been trying to rejuvenate some old plants. Maybe this year I'll get some berries.
Corkscrew Hazel / Harry Lauder Walking Stick - come Summer it will be covered in crinkled-looking leaves and becomes less interesting. Much more interesting in Winter.  
Above and below: Rowan trees are in flower.
Ornamental cheery tree - in need of pruning? I googled how to prune but I'm still a bit unsure. A fellow blogger pointed out that it would bloom better if pruned. I don't think it has been pruned in 15 years. Any tips on how to prune this tree? (I'd appreciate any guidance)
I've killed a few shrubs by pruning at the wrong time. I really don't want to damage this little tree.

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Veg and Flower Update

Eight little swans hatched! So cute. I was on a walk in County Down over the weekend and I came across two adult swans and their eight cygnets (chicks). I watched the adults preening for ages as the young slept. Later I googled swans and discovered 'cygnet' is what their chicks are called. Swans mate for life (although wikipedia says they occasionally 'divorce' following a nesting failure). Well this family looked quite content. Both male and female were standing guard.

Back at home, in the garden... things are growing (slowly)...
I'm growing pumpkins this year. The larger plants are 'Jack O Lantern' and the tiny plant is 'Mammoth'. Both varieties sown on 12 April 2012.
Another new plant - I'm growing squash this year for the first time. This one is 'Patty Pan' sown on 8 April 2012.
Beans 'Cobra' were sown 20 March 2012 and are now being hardened off (outside during the day, inside at night). The plants are getting too big and need to go outside, but we could get frost yet. I may risk it and plant them out this week. My first year growing climbing beans so maybe I started the seed too early. It's all a learning curve!
Carrots 'Early Nantes 2' sown in a container on 23 March 2012 and looking so very small!
Above: Parsley is turning into a giant - wondering if it's going to flower soon. Thanks to blogger advice (Sue) I have sown more but it hasn't germinated yet. Radishes sown under the parsley.
Above: Turnip 'Purple Top Milan' (the larger green plant) sown with mixed salad. I'm trying to remember to sow turnip every few weeks as I adore the flavour and want lots of it!

Flowering in the Garden...
Aquilegia / Columbine sown from seed about a year ago.
Above: Honesty is starting to produce seeds.
Below: Centaurea is starting to flower.
Above: Nemophila 'Pennie Black', (Annual) has self seeded, with Black Mondo grass in the back ground.

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.