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

Friday 28 March 2014

Community Gardening Update

The volunteer gardening group at Antrim Castle Gardens have been meeting regularly since last year and now with Spring here, there are lots of jobs to keep us busy. We're planning for the year and have lots of ideas and projects on the go. Many areas of the garden are still looking to be in a Winter slumber however there are some early perennials showing strong growth.

Left: and below: The main courtyard area with various flower beds that we'll aim to enhance this year.

This month we've been sowing seed in the greenhouse and hope to increase the plants we can grow from seed each year. We're growing some heritage vegetables, including purple tomatoes, and are excited about this.
Above: Some perennial plants begin to put on steady growth.
We planted various Winter annuals in December which have only more recently begun to flower. We also planted hyacinths and tulips amongst the annuals.
We have been busy designing a new area of the garden which will be a traditional 'kitchen style garden' with heirloom vegetables and herbs. Above we begin to think about the design aspects. We won't be using the wood boxes in this area as it wouldn't be in keeping with the Victorian style. However, the boxes were handy to help visualise our structure.

More updates over the coming months!
Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Spring Colour

Spring flowers are on display here, there and everywhere... along roadsides and decorating parks, houses and countryside. There are blocks of colour that show just how planting in bulk can be very effective. However, on a smaller budget, a few bulbs dotted around can still look good.

Left: Narcissus Tete-A-Tete planted last year, aren't as tall as many other varieties. With  Northern Ireland's windy conditions, these shorter varieties hold up better to the gales.
Above: A single Anemone Blanda comes up; planted last year.
Above: Some crocus beginning to fade, whereas others are still going strong.
Above: Gorse growing in the countryside - not a bulb - but a prickly shrub that flowers throughout Ireland. 
Above: Daffodils planted in bulk are popular sights this time of year amongst the countryside and parks planting schemes; photographed at Antrim Castle Gardens.

Long May the Spring Colour Continue!

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

Saturday 22 March 2014

Herbs - to grow from seed or to purchase?

Two types of thyme (including lemon) and oregano.
Herbs... plants I've more recently become interested in. Fresh herbs make a real difference to food so I've decided to expand on herb growing this year, and add a few new plants to my small collection. I used to think all herbs were much the same but there are many different lovely smells and flavours. I'm hoping to study up on herb uses this year... which herbs go best with chicken, beef (basically how to use them). This week I saw some bushy herb plants for sale 3 for £5 so decided to purchase these to add to my collection.
I'm wondering is it worthwhile growing herbs from seed?  The centre plant is thyme grown from seed last Spring. It is still quite small coming into its 2nd year, compared to the two thmye plants I purchased.
Lavender grown from seed a couple of years ago, looks a bit shabby but hopefully will fill out come Summer. 
Mint sleeps over Winter but will happily grow with warmer weather.
My star plant, Rosemary, purchased last Spring, and has stayed green all Winter. 
I was speaking to a well known chef today and he recommends the following herbs for cooking: tarragon, dill, thyme and fennel.  I will need to check these out. 
(The only one I have is fennel but I rarely cook with it.)

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

Thursday 20 March 2014

Spring is finally here!

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

Sunday 16 March 2014

Some Things Irish on St Paddys

St Patrick's weekend is generally the time I plant potatoes, however, I'm a bit behind this year so perhaps I'll wait until Good Friday.

Looking over my photos I thought St Paddy's would be a good time to show a few photos of the traditional side of the island of Ireland - some of the scenery and one of the reason why tourism exists!

Left: signage in Ireland is often photographed. When my brother visited from the USA he loved taking photos of the different signs, symbols and words used in Ireland and Northern Ireland to describe things.
Above and Below: Thatched roofed cottages. Traditional cottages aren't as common as they were 20 years ago, however, they do still exist. The ones pictured are now part of a museum in County Kerry.
Sheep, however, are very common in Ireland (North and South) - the Spring lambs are a lovely sight each year!
Above: A 'motte' located beside what was Antrim Castle, dating around the 1600s, however the castle was destroyed by fire in 1922. The motte is now a viewing mount with corkscrew path leading to the top.
Above: Photo taken in County Kerry.
Photo taken in County Antrim.
Both coastal drives provide fantastic scenery!

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

Monday 10 March 2014

Spring Bulbs are Real Beauties

Spring flowering bulbs like crocus and snowdrops are spectacular this time of year, so cheerful and bright! The little bulbs multiply under the ground each year making a bigger flower show as the years go by. I have them planted under trees, in wet clay soil and in drier areas of the garden and they seem happy in most locations. This makes them a really good investment.

This year I've added additional crocus to the garden. I have to admit the flowers are quite small in their first year of planting (no 1st year photos shown here), but they'll get bigger and better with each year to come.

Two of my favourite Spring bulbs!

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

Thursday 6 March 2014

Frosty Mornings

Its been a bit frosty over the past week. Last year it was bitterly cold on St Patrick's Day and I had to delay planting potatoes for a month. In 2013 we also had a big snow around 20th March - who knows what will happen this year. I do love photographing frost and snow! Its just so pretty especially on a bright, sunny day.

I've been holding off sowing seed but am starting to get the itch to sow!

Left: frost covered stone and fern fronds.

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

Monday 3 March 2014

Saving Disgarded Calabrese (aka Broccoli)

Last week I was at an allotment and one of the gardeners had pulled out all the calabrese because the leaves had been attacked by pigeons and he thought it was too damaged and too slow to grow. So, he pulled out the lot and dumped them. Me, being the person who hates to see things thrown out, took some plants to re-home them. 

So here are my poor little calabrese plants... saved from the bin... but maybe the roots have been disturbed too much and maybe they won't come to much? I kind of like the idea of waiting to see what happens. I have to admit I know little about calabrese and I had to do a google search to find out what the difference was between broccoli and calabese. Two interesting facts: calabrese is for Autumn use and are faster growing than broccoli.

Would anyone else try to save the discarded calabrese plants?

Above: My own, green leaved, pigeon-damage-free Calabrese plant which seems to be growing very slowly. It was planted as a plug plant in December. Will it ever produce?

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