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

Saturday 30 August 2014

Veggie Challenge

This year growing vegetables seems to be more challenging. We've had warm weather  which seemed a good thing (for Ireland high 60sF or low 70sF is warm), however as I grow from seed and grow organically I've had lots of problems with pests eating emerging seedling. After re-sowing seed 3 times or more, I finally have late crops that look good. In this bed: Turnip Milan Purple Top, Dwarf Bean Purple Queen, Lettuce Little Gem and Pak Choi. (Unfortunately the Pak Choi bolts very quickly and I've not had much success with it.)
Above: Courgette Tondo di Piacenza - a few days away from the garden and suddenly these round courgette can go from golf ball size to big melon size!
Some courgette are now starting to get blossom rot / mildew (small once pictured at bottom) so they get picked off and discarded.
Beetroot Boltardy and Beetroot Chioggia - they have been a great addition to summer salads (grated and with red wine vinegar). The round shapes look good, however, the pear shaped ones definitely wound't win a prize!  
Even with the challenges of growing veg, it's fun and worth it!

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

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Wicklow and Wexford Gardens 2

Just a few more photos of Irish gardens from my trip to County Wexford and County Wicklow over the summer. What beautiful countryside! Wicklow has named itself the 'garden of Ireland' and indeed it is a beautiful area with lots to see.

I must try to visit each year as its only a few hours drive from where I live. Here are a few photos of Irish inspired gardens...
Above: Gardenworld Kilquade County Wicklow - the numerous garden design displays are open for public viewing, free entry. Lots of ideas and inspiration. I like the shady planting with the wood painted white to brighten the area.
Above: More mature planting with a metal statue of a boy reading a fairy book beside a large pond.
Above: A Feng Shui garden brings peace and harmony in its design.
Above: Of course every garden needs lots of tea breaks and areas to enjoy a cuppa. This teapot makes an interesting ornamental - not sure it deserves pride of place but then the Irish do love their tea!
A few of the great places visited  in Wexford and Wicklow - more holidays in Ireland are on my list of places to see!

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

Friday 22 August 2014

Wicklow and Wexford Garden Trails

In July I headed to Ireland's County Wicklow and County Wexford (just south of Dublin) to visit some gardens. Wexford's Garden Trail map highlights 21 destinations and Wicklow's map has approx 35 places of interest to visit, many being gardens and stately homes. I discovered some of the recommended places on the Wexford 'garden trail' were garden centres but it was all quite interesting - and some of the garden centres do offer the best tray bakes (cakes) and tea! Here are a few highlights of my trip...
Above: Mount Usher in County Wicklow is a fantastic woodland garden with over 80 trees, a riverwalk, wildfower beds, garden shop and delicious cafe. The family home is in the middle of the gardens and offers a picturesque setting to walk through.
Above: A day trip to Glendalough Park in County Wicklow offers lovely walks for all abilities. The nature trail walk over bog land offers a leisurely stroll. Above is a cottage house that provides an information point and wildlife museum for visitors.
Above and Below: Johnstown's Castle in County Wexford. The castle itself isn't open to the public but might be open for tours in the future. There are a range of walks in the grounds, and a fantastic museum, Irish Agricultural Museum, that offers information on the Irish famine and what it was like to live in Ireland before, during and after the famine. The museum also has a collection of restored tractors, carts, ploughs and machinery. 
Above: Gardenworld in County Wicklow. This is a garden centre that houses a range of award winning garden designs that seem to have been re-housed on site after their exhibit in various garden shows. It is free entry to walk around the gardens and a good day out. Of course the garden centre offers a lovely restaurant and lots of interest in the  plant nursery and shop.
Above and Below: Wells House and Gardens in County Wexford offers a fantastic guided house tour that was one of the highlights of the trip. It has a Victorian Terrace Garden designed by renowned architect Daniel Robertson. A German family now live in the house and have opened it up to the public in order to help pay for the upkeep of house and grounds. It is worth a visit and worth paying for the tour.  
Above: At the end of the Wells House and Gardens house tour, the guide gave everyone a little pack of 'Victorian Seed Mix' seeds which was a really nice touch. 
There's so much to see in Ireland. 
I'd recommended July or August for a garden tour visit.

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

Tuesday 19 August 2014

The Tomato Challenge

A good learning point for a gardener is to label plants. I usually do this but sometimes plant tags go missing or maybe I forget to make a label. However, I think this tomato is 'Red Pear'. Grown from seed, initially I was labeling the plants 'red bear' (that was a laugh when I told a friend I was growing red Bear tomatoes!

We're well into mid-August and my tomatoes are developing but no sign of turning red yet. I've pinched the tops and I'm pinching side shoots. There are still lots of flowers so maybe more fruits will develop... or maybe I'll run out of time as it is getting chillier at night. Either way suppose I'm sure to get some cherry sized tomatoes at some stage soon.

Below: Various tomato plants growing in pots outside. Not in a greenhouse as I've done in previous years but better results than I had expected.

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

Friday 15 August 2014

August Flowers - Blogger's Bloom Day

On the 15th of every month many bloggers from around the world share photos of what's blooming in their gardens, hosted by May Dream Gardens.

Its been awhile since I participated in Blogger's Bloom Day... glad to be back... here's what's looking good in the garden...
L-R (top): Echinacea; Leucanthemum Snow Lady.
Majoran in flower, Dianthus.
Above: Astrantia, Verbena Lollipop, Penstemon.
Above: Hydrangea 'Magical Moonlight'. 
Above: Agapanthus
Above: Lobelia, yellow flowers - Echinacea I believe.
Above: Dianthus doing great in a pot.

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

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Veg Update

The good news - I'm harvesting a few things - mostly salad crops, courgette, a range of herbs and beetroot. The bad news is - it hasn't been a good year in terms of growing veg. Firstly, I got a late start sowing seed (end of April), and late planting onion as well (top left corner of photo). Most seed sown direct into the ground were eaten (devoured more like it by pests). My 2nd sowing was devoured. Third time lucky? The bed pictured above has survived, however, my other two veg beds must have an extended family of slugs, snails and other pests that seem to manage to eat anything that's planted. The trials and tribulations of growing - and trying to grow organically!
Above and below: Beetroot Boltardy and Beetroot Chioggia. The leaves have been nibbled by caterpillars however the beetroot are growing well and are quite tasty. The Chioggia, an Italian heirloom variety, don't seem to bleed as bad (when harvesting / preparing) as the Boltardy. 

Above: Courgette All Green Bush - lots of large healthy leaf growth - however not as many courgettes as I'd expect.
Above: This year I have 3 apples on my self fertilizing apple tree.
My best year was about 13 or 14 apples. Its a small pot grown tree.
Above: Tomato, I thought were Purple Cherry, however I'm not too sure as I took seed up to the community garden project and the plant labels all got mixed up. This year the tomato plants are outside so they're slower to develop but hopefully will still produce some fruits. (All plants, except apple & onion, were grown from seed.)

It's great to be harvesting (suppose a little is better than none).

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

Sunday 10 August 2014

Bees and butterflies

Echinecea are flowering and looking fab this month, and the bees are loving them! Saturday was a bright sunny day and I took to the garden to take a few photos. I spent ages photographing bees.

It was a great day to be outside (today the rain is pouring down) and I did a bit of weeding and harvested salad leaves and two beetroot, which I grated, added a bit of red wine vinegar and served with caesar salad. It was very tasty!
Above: Majoram flowers are attracting lots of bees.
Above: White butterfly pictured on lavender. They seem to be everywhere! 

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

Friday 8 August 2014

Best and Worst Plant Award

Worst Plant - Hosta.
If I was giving a best & worst plant award this year....
There are a minority that have come to be on my 'black list' -plants I wouldn't purchase / plants I want to move out of the garden. One of these is hosta (pictured left). What I don't like about hosta: (a) slugs and snails love to eat them therefore they are almost always nibbled on and unsightly looking, and (b) the flowers are rather bland. One good thing about hosta is that bees feed on them, but there are other plants that bees like better. I plan on digging out hostas this year and giving them away.
Best Plant - roses have been great this year and bloom for such a long season. This is a plant I purchased last year from B&Q. The tag said it was a Rose called 'Birthday Celebration'. However, the picture on the tag is a light yellow so I'm convinced this is some other rose variety. I really like the colour and wish I had more of them. 
What would be your best & worst plant of the year?

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

Tuesday 5 August 2014

August Flowers

There's been lots of colour  in the garden over the summer and it's been great to see the bees buzzing away happily day after day. I've added a few new plants to the garden this year - astrantia, achillea, veronica, lobelia, polemonium and have found them all great additions. The only minor complaint I have is that some of the plant labels on them indicated a colour that turned out to be different than what I got, however, suppose this could be down to the soil, etc. So I'm happy enough. Suppose a garden centre wouldn't really take a return based on 'the colour didn't quite suit'! (that would be an interesting conversation)! 
Top L-R: Penstemon 'Hewell's Pink Bedder' (perennial); Dianthus (annual). L-R: Polemonium (I think); Rose.
Top L-R: Gaillardia Arizona Sun; Coreopsis 'Early Sunrise'. L-R: Rose 'Arthur Bell'; Leucanthemum Snow Lady with Gaillardia Arizona Sun.

Top L-R: Leucanthemum Snow Lady (perennial); Hydrangea 'Magical Moonlight'. L-R: Campanula 'medium Canterbury Bells'; Astrantia pictured with Verbena 'Lollipop'.

Top L-R: Astilbe Fanal; Achillea 'Terracotta'.
 L-R: Sweet pea; alpine Sedum.

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