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 26 May 2014

Chelsea Photos part 1

My first time at the Chelsea Flower Show in London and it was a great way to spend the weekend. 

Getting from the underground to the show grounds was relatively easy. Walking down the street, there were a few eye catching displays like this one with the welly boots!

I noticed the weather in London was much better than Northern Ireland (less rain and more sun in London!).
The signage in London is great! 
Above: The first area I went to within the Chelsea show was what they call the 'Artisan Garden' area. These are gardens designed on small plots to engage visitors with a naturalist approach using traditional workmanship and skills. This garden is called Togenkyo - A Paradise on Earth and received the award for Best Artisan Garden. I was amazed at all the moss used in the show gardens at Chelsea. Ireland is full of moss and I usually try to get rid of it!
Above: A main show garden called 'Vital Earth The Night Sky Garden'. This garden was packed with plants and features like seating areas, pond, etc. Meadow planting and planting to attract wildlife seemed popular at the show, which was good to see.
Above: This is one of the main show gardens called 'Hope on the Horizon' and it was chosen as the People's Choice public vote for best garden. The garden is designed to represent the process injured servicemen and women go through on the road to recovery. It was a lovely garden with attractive planting.
Purples, blues and whites seemed to be the popular plant colours and they looked well. Some of the show gardens even featured weeds such as buttercups! Something I only discovered halfway through my visit, was that each garden design had staff handing out a description of the garden,the design and a list of plants they used, which I thought was very useful to take away.

More on Chelsea later. I must sort through the 500 or so photos I took!

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

Thursday 22 May 2014

Favourite May Colour

This is a beautiful time  of year with plants putting on lots of growth, herbaceous / perennial plants coming to life and bees and butterflies fluttering about.

There's lots of Spring colour about and not long until a sunny summer (well, hopefully we'll get some sun)!

Here's what has caught my eye this month in the garden.

Left:  Bergenia flower.
Above: Heuchera Midnight Rose - looks pretty with raindrops. 
Above: Native Cherry trees have been in flower this month - lovely blooms!
Above: Pinks are attractive with Heather giving a long flowering season.
Just beginning to flower now - Aquilegia / Columbine plants. This is one plant I would like to see freely self seed around the garden but it doesn't seem to.

Soon I will be off to Chelsea Flower Show for the 1st time - very exciting! Two women from Northern Ireland have received a Silver and a Bronze in the floral categories so I must check out their displays at the show!

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

Sunday 18 May 2014

Veg Inspiration

Garden Show Northern Ireland Display Bed
This little display of veg growing in little squares and rectangles caught my eye, firstly because I like the idea square foot gardening and I like the idea many gardeners have like Alys Fowler of growing closer together. It also looks neat and tidy, yet artistic and rather ornamental. There was a sign describing this little display, and it wasn't until I was going through my photos that I actually read it (below) - it's quite inspiring (pity I don't have the author).

Have a good weekend in the Garden!

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

Thursday 15 May 2014

Garden Show Ireland Photos (2)

Just a few more inspiring photos from the Garden Show Northern Ireland last weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed the 3 day event (I was there two full days!). On the last day I bought a few plants marked down. My purchases...

1 x Arizona Sun Gaillardia
1 x Early Sunrise Coreopsis
2 x Rudbeckia
(4 for £10)

1 x large sweetpea tripod for £10
Above: The lovely sweetpea display was a big hit at the show. I saw more people carrying sweet pea through the show than any other plant. Of course I bought one of the large sweet pea containers (the sweet pea was already about 3 feet) for £10. It is being hardened off this week before planting at the weekend.
Above: A great way to recycle, be creative and bring insects, bees and butterflies into the garden.
Above: A closer look at the carpet in the 'kitchen garden' (thought to be herbs) this is green manure of mustard and clover. Very clever!
Above: In one of the kids display areas, I discovered what looks like cress growing in little hand decorated eggs shells. Another creative idea!
Some group members who worked at the Plant Creche over the weekend to fundraise for our gardening group.
May seems to be the month for garden shows and events with the Northern Ireland Garden Show, the Southern Ireland Garden Show Bloom coming up on 29 May and the hugely famous Chelsea Flower Show starting on 20 May (and many others). I would love to go to all of them but two will have to do this year.

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

Monday 12 May 2014

Garden Show Ireland Photos (1)

Over the weekend, gardening was the buzzword alongside the Giro d'Italia world cycling race, both taking place in Northern Ireland. It was a great weekend and the colour pink popped up everywhere to support the race... even at the garden show (left).

The garden show took place at Antrim Castle Gardens, the location where my gardening group volunteers so we had the opportunity to work the plant creche at the show and had a super time. Here's a little snapshot of what I found interesting, eye catching or inspirational...
Above & Below: ‘The Kitchen Garden’ - really creative and fun with an herb/edible checked floor and lots of kitchen drawers stuffed with plants. This design is a Team Garden Challenge by South Eastern Regional College and supported by the Enkalon Foundation.

Above & Below: This luxury 5 star garden is called ‘Family Today’ - superb looking and cosy; however, I don’t think I could afford it! Some great ideas that could be incorporated into everyday gardens. I adore this garden! Part of the Ulster Television (UTV) Show Garden Design Competition, designed by Ryan Magee.

Above: ‘A Room For All Seasons’ this isn't my garden style but it looked sharp and had some great features. Part the Ulster Television (UTV) Show Garden Design Competition designed by Michael O’Reilly and Garry Foran. 
A lovely, cosy country garden - just my cup of tea! This design is called ‘Think Thyme’ designed by Marie Lavender and landscaped by Reconnect, a charity helping those with acquired brain injury.
So much inspiration and creativity at these shows! In the coming weeks I'll be going to the Chelsea Flower Show - very excited about this!

If you want to compare this year's Garden Show Ireland designs with last year - click here.

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

Saturday 10 May 2014

Garden Visit Islandmagee

The good ole Irish countryside... it's great to visit other gardens and earlier in this month I went to an open garden event in nearby Islandmagee. This is a beautiful rural garden that looks like it requires quite a bit of work based on the amount of land, but somehow the owners keep it maintained and they also run flower workshops using their own home grown cut flowers in a lovely onsite restored barn. Just a few photos from the day out...
The sign at the entrance to the cut flower field.
Above: Some of the cut flowers grown in a polytunnel.
A view of part of the farm property, perhaps 1/3 of the land that is maintained.
A little fenced in area where perennials and annuals are mixed with  shrubs. The wood is painted a lovely shade of blue.
These wood cold frames were full of plants and indicate that lots of  plants are grown from seed and probably the owners do a fair bit of propagating as well. 
A few flowers for sale, a sign written on slate.
They had painted a long wall bright pink which really looked well in the middle of a field in the countryside, with fruit trees planted alongside the fence.
I enjoyed my visit to Kilcoan Gardens. Great atmosphere, with lots of creative flair around the gardens. Of course the visit & tour ended with tray bakes and a cup of tea!

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

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Edibles in the Garden

It would be great to have lots of edibles at all times in the garden, however, at this time of year I'm quite limited. I've only a few things I can eat but this will change soon as I've many seeds growing strongly and it won't be long until I'll have a daily supply of organic salad amongst other things.

Here's what's edible in the garden right now...

Left: Calabrese (purple broccoli) - I've had limited success with this in past and present years however I'll keep trying. I've been using what I have in stir fries and soups.

The plant behind the Calabrese is white stemmed chard. It was grown from seed last spring, over Wintered well and is giving me lots of Spring leaves to eat. 
Above: Chard growing strongly. I enjoy it in soups and find it cooks well in the slow cooker. It is good stir fried too. I imagine it will begin to bolt soon so I need to get eating!
Above: Perpetual spinach, grown from seed last Spring and coming up after lying dormant over Winter. Something is eating on it (not sure what).
Of course I've herbs that can be used daily as required. Many of my herbs are in the new herb box above. More on this can be found by clicking here. Below: Mint is thriving and begging to be used! Maybe some minted potatoes or mojitos soon!

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

Sunday 4 May 2014

Ornamental Cherry Tree

Spring weather brings Spring flowers... and there are currently lots of bulbs in bloom and flower blossoms on trees. The white and pink coloured flowering cherry trees are beautiful this time of year. 

I inherited this tree with the house and I assume it is some type of miniature cherry tree. I've tried to improve the shape of the tree (photo below) but have had only limited success so far. I'm not too sure how to bulk it out or if it's even possible at this stage, but the flowers are nice and I like the tree.
The best way to admire this tree is lying down in the grass looking up!

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

Friday 2 May 2014

New Cottage Style Plants for the Garden

The weather has been sunny, dry and warm (apart from some chilly evenings) and the garden centres have been packed out! I had some compost to get and of course I ended up buying some new plants (varieties pictured).

I've been wanting to add some new cottage-style plants to the garden so I bought a few small plants (which I think are all perennial) to add the the borders. I seem to have gone for mostly blue/ purple/ pinks and a random splash of yellow with the Achillea; they were 5 for £10 ($17 US dollars). These have all been  planted into a border and growing well. Its great to see all the growth this time of year! The slugs and snails are active too, and I've noticed lots of green aphids - so I'm patrolling my plants regularly. 

I've also manged to get some seed sown. I've sowed quite a variety of salad seed, carrot, chard and others direct into the ground and some seed sown in a greenhouse (peppers, tomato, etc). It seems the perfect weather for seed germination! Lots to do this time of year! Enjoy your weekend in the garden!

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