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

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Corkscrew Hazel and Harry Lauder

The corkscrew hazel, also known as Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick – each year I love it and hate it!

It looks great in winter but rather bleak in summer. I thought about moving it this year but found it to be like a rugby player – very solid and rooted.

Why is it known as Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick? Harry Lauder, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, grew up to become an international entertainer and singer/ songwriter. I have to admit I’d never heard of Harry Lauder before purchasing the plant.

During the early 1900s Lauder, at one time, was the highest-paid performer in the world, making the equivalent of £12,700 a night plus expenses, and was the first British artiste to sell a million records. Winston Churchill stated that Lauder, " his inspiring songs and valiant life, rendered measureless service to the Scottish race and to the British Empire."* 

The walking stick name was in reference to one of Harry Lauder’s most recognised companions on the stage.  He would appear in public in traditional Scottish dress and carried a very distinctive walking stick, which was bent, twisted and contorted from the handle down to the tip. So it gains this name from the fact Lauder regularly appeared with a crooked walking stick.*

Above: photo taken Jan 2013.
Above: Photo taken  January 2011.
Above: Photo taken Sept 2011.
I must admit, since doing a bit of research on the corkscrew hazel, I think my tree is going to eventually get too big for the location it's planted. Bummer! 

Here are the pros and cons for the Corkscrew Hazel...

·         Hardy
·         Slow growing
·         Very interesting in Winter with its contorted stems
·         Catkins before spring foliage appears

·         It gets big – up to 5m (20ft) in 25 years
·         It sends up suckers
·         It looks rather ugly in Summer (strange crinkled leaves)

*Source for article on Harry Lauder:

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

Sunday 27 January 2013

Bird Watch and 1st Snowdrop

It was a very windy weekend. I took part in the RSPB Garden Bird Watch 2013 over the weekend from the warmth of the indoors. Pictured left: our resident robin. 

I counted the following birds this year:
1 robin;
1 crow;
2 magpies;
1 coal tit;
3+ great tits.

The snow melted this weekend and I spotted the first of the snowdrops with flowers forming, however, I managed to delete all the photos taken over the weekend from my camera so I'll have to show the snowdrop photos later this week when I take some new photos.The robin photo is one I took last year. Don't you hate it when you delete photos by accident!  

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

Thursday 24 January 2013

Snow Days

The snow that arrived on Friday, 18 January is still lying and hasn't melted yet. This is a bit out of the ordinary for Northern Ireland where locals generally describe our weather as 'mild' meaning it never gets too hot or too cold. (Northern Ireland's average daily high temperatures are 18 °C (64 °F) in July and 6 °C (43 °F) in January.) 

I've enjoyed the snow flurries and colder weather this week, however, we had nearly 100 schools closed, buses not able to get to rural areas, and many people basically snowed in. It's not that we've had loads of snow (as you can see in the photos), it's more that our country isn't set up to deal with the colder, icy conditions. 

Just a few photos of our lovely snow days...
As you might see in this photo, I never got round to removing the dead palm trees - shameful :) 
Above: Corkscrew Hazel, also known as Harry Lauder's Walking stick, is at its best this time of year.

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

Monday 21 January 2013

1st Snow

Our first Winter snow arrived! Friday, 18th January it started snowing and over the weekend we had a combination of snow, hail stones, sleet and slush. Mostly sleet and slush! Needless to say, it has been very cold. Curries and hot chocolate went down well this weekend.

Here are a few photos I took over the weekend...

A little rabbit ornament - snow defrosting.
The worst of the snow - Friday evening - photo of the house and the 'blizzard'!

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

Friday 18 January 2013

Potato cakes - yum

Back in September I harvested a good quantity of potatoes. I was careful to store some for using in December for roasties. Having some left at Christmas, I stored them in a dark place  and hoped they'd be usable in January after my holiday travels.
Left: the last of my potatoes - in a bad state! 

Would you eat rooted potatoes? 

They were quite firm, but rooting. I decided to 'waste not' and use them. So I made mashed potatoes; then added egg, onion, salt/pepper, spices and cooked salmon and made a dozen salmon cakes (pictured below). Lightly fried, they tasted great!

Variety: I grew Pentland Javelin and Maris Peer potatoes, putting them in the ground around St Patrick's Day, and digging the bulk of them up in September.

Food photography isn't my forte but they tasted good and are relatively healthy! 
Bon Appétit!

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

Friday 11 January 2013

Bird Watch 2013

Above: my resident robin.
For the past two years I’ve participated in the annual bird watch promoted by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). This year the event takes place in the UK on the 26-27 January 2013. Many bloggers have taken superb photos of the birds that visit their garden and I’ll be trying to do this once again. 

Bird watch is one of the world's largest wildlife survey events and the RSPB have a bird identification chart and counting sheet available from their website (link located above).

The Great Backyard Bird Count takes place in the USA  on 15-18 February and information is available from  (I’m not sure when other regions hold their events.)

Good luck taking photos if you’re taking part – I find photographing birds very challenging but so much fun too!

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

Thursday 3 January 2013

Planning for 2013

Happy 2013!

Happy New Year - here's hoping 2013 is a fantastic year for you and a really productive growing year!

I've been thinking about what I'd like to improve on and achieve in the garden this year. Initial thoughts include:

  • less slugs and snails in the garden (if that's possible);
  • continue to grow organically;
  • more vegetables especially carrots as I really enjoyed their flavour this year;
  • succeed at growing something new e.g. kohlrabi, asparagus;
  • more colour in the garden using perennials and annuals.
  • and a more tidy and productive garden (than the year before).
Well quite a bit on my wish list and lots of work cut out for me this year. I don't generally start working in the garden until March so January and February are months for planning, reading, and doing small jobs outside when the whether is good.

Hope you're getting on well with any plans for 2013 and will be sharing them on your blog! I learn a great deal from reading other garden blogs so thanks everyone for sharing your photos, tips, stories and dilemmas, etc. Hope 2013 is a really good year... for us all!

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