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 23 December 2015

Happy Holidays

The gardening can wait.... there's baking to do!

I've been baking cookies for weeks and giving them to friends and family.
Needless to say I've been eating too many, and have already put on a few extra pounds! My New Year resolution will include eating healthier, lots of outdoor walks, and of course lots of gardening!
Whether you're baking or being healthy,
hope you have a wonderful Christmas and holiday period!
Some of the baking supplies!

Sugar cookies (Betty Crocker recipe) with icing made from icing/confectioner's sugar with a drop of vanilla essence and tiny bit of water and coloured with food colouring.

These are yummy! Sugar cookies decorated with melted chocolate, mini pretzel antlers and gummy noses.

The healthier option (?) - pretzels covered in dark chocolate and crushed candy cane, or pretzels covered in white chocolate and a walnut.
Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Thursday 10 December 2015

December surprises in the garden

Even though our 'winter' weather has been very mild, I haven't been in the garden much over the last two months. Daylight is shorter and I suppose I've been caught up with other things. 

There still hasn't been a hard frost, so some of the summer plants are still flowering.

For example, the white flowered begonia (pictured) hasn't yet died back. This is unexpected for this time of year. 
A trailing Summer bedding plant is still thriving (above). I'm not sure, but I think this is trailing verbena.

Another begonia still in flower, albeit looking a bit shabby.

Another surprise - this azalea usually flowers at Easter. It has decided to flower now! This hasn't happened before.

Lastly - isn't Pampas Grass quite striking this time of year - especially against a blue sky!

Happy December! 
Hope your garden has brought you some unexpected surprises this year!

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

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Late colour in the garden

We have yet to have had a hard frost where I live in Northern Ireland, so there's still some great colour in the garden (along with the leaves as they fall from the trees daily and litter the garden!). 

Many of the late  Summer flowers are continuing into Fall/Autumn. Some plants, of course, are looking tired each day,  and I continue to do a bit of deadheading - at least until the weather gets worse.

Here's a little summary of what has looked well in October, and is keeping providing some colour going into November...

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

Saturday 17 October 2015

Bug Hotel has vacancies

My little bug hotel was installed in June. It's supposed to attract bees, ladybirds, lacewings. So far I've seen a wasp fly out of it, and there seem to be spiders moving in from the webbing that can be seen. 

I'd love to see more ladybirds in the garden - if anyone has any tips on attracting ladybirds, do share any tips you may have!

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

Saturday 10 October 2015

Loving the Autumn Colours

So loving the colours of Autumn...

this is such a fab time of year with lots of red, orange, and yellow, as plants begin their seasonal change and there's a distinct feel and freshness of Autumn in the air...

as Summer begin to fade and flowers die down...

and plants soon slumber over Winter, only to emerge again in Spring.
Dogwood Shrub looking fab with berries, and leaves and stems turning a deep red. This is a great Winter plant.

Sunflowers finishing flowering,  making seed for collecting and sowing in the New Year.

Acer /Japanese Maple tree leaves looking fab with their Autumn colour.

Hostas  looking a bit tired and tattered as they turn yellow and die down for Winter.

Carex Bronze grass looking very Autumn like (however this one looks like this all year round!)

Hope you're enjoying all the Autumn colour! 

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

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Goodbye Giant Sunflowers

My 'Giant Single' Sunflowers, grown from seed, have been a cheerful addition to the garden over Summer, but they're sadly coming to an end...

The seed were sown around April, and they slowly and steadily grew over the first few months; then like the magic 'jack and the beanstalk', they sprung up to about 7 feet tall and starting flower in August. The most cheerful plant, I can think of, in the garden! 
October flowers are starting to fade, and will soon die off.

I tidy up the plant by cutting off the large seed heads as they finish flowering and place them where birds can feed on them.

I also collect seed (toward bottom left in photo) for growing plants next year.

 I so love sunflowers!

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

Thursday 1 October 2015

Late Summer Flowers Still Going Strong

We've had some glorious late summer sunshine, and the flowers are still going strong. Of course, things will change once the frost hits. In the meantime, the flower beds are looking fab and its been great getting outdoors in a t-shirt this week with jobs like deadheading, clearing leaves, harvesting veg and planning for the next season - I've started dividing perennials and moving a few plants.
Phormium 'Jester' looks fab with its bright red arching leaves. It's an evergreen shrub that gets up to 3 feet tall. It has looked well this year planted with begonia for Summer colour, and Sedum Autumn Joy for late complimentary colour.

A flower collage shows many plants still in flower, ranging from Sedum Autumn Joy to Cosmos, Echinacea, Dianthus, Shasta Daisies, to bedding plants. Of course, roses are great as they flower most of the year.

Bedding plants like Nemesia and trailing Verbena have made a great show all summer long.

I'll miss having all these plants around, however, by the end of October they're likely to be well on their way to dying down for the Winter.

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

Monday 28 September 2015

Flower Arranging From the Garden

Novice Class "From the Garden Shed"
The City of Belfast Autumn Flower Show took place this month with lots of inspiration on display amongst the flower arrangers. I particularly like the 'pastimes' garden theme they had chosen this year and the category "From the Garden Shed" for the Novice Class flower arranging competition.

Pictured is my favourite creation - wellie boots overflowing with flowers such as lavender, calendula, cosmos etc) and lots of little gardening items. Looks lovely!

This reminds me to add a few plants that are good as 'cut flowers' into the garden this year. Cut flowers are a great addition to any garden. There are numerous articles on the internet for information, including a 5 minute video by BBC gardener, Rachel de Thame. View Rachel's cut flower diary video by clicking here

Novice Class "From the Garden Shed" arrangement / display.

This is an entry under the Open Class, themed "A Pleasurable Pursuit".

Lots of events providing Autumn/Fall inspiration this month! It's great when fellow bloggers show their local shows, so do share!

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

Wednesday 23 September 2015

VegTastic Display

Leek dressed to impress!
The temperature may be dropping but there's still lots of harvesting to be done... 

apples are ripening, 
leeks are fat and ready, 
lettuces are still hearting, 
fennel is going to seed, 
onions are being dried, 
and there's still beetroot, kale and lots of other goodies to bring to the table. 

Over the weekend I visited the City of Belfast Autumn Flower (and Veg) Show.  It was quite a small show but lots of effort had noticeably gone into it. Of course it was pouring rain the day I attended, but I still really enjoyed viewing all the fantastic displays. 

Here are some of my favourite photos, from the Northern Ireland Vegetable Association (NIVA) display - and what a lovely display it was!
Lots of herbs, veg, and fruit displayed very carefully by the NIVA team!

One of the NIVA members made a 'market cart' to display their prize fruit and veg, costing £50 in wood (excluding the wheels) and excluding labour provided in-kind. It looked lovely! 

Eye catching preserves, edible flowers and herbs decorated the top of the display cart. 
Congrats to the Northern Ireland Vegetable Association (NIVA) on a great display and what looks to be a great harvest year.

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

Thursday 10 September 2015

Late Summer brings Fab Flowers

The flower beds are looking very cheerful this time of year with their late summer colour...

Grown from seed a few years ago, I have three lavender plants (bottom left in photo), two of which are still flowering strong (one has been cut back). They were slow to grow from seed (cuttings would probably be the quicker way to grow). They're one of most pleasantly scented plants I can think of, and the bees love them.

The yellow flowering Rudbeckia Goldsturm was purchased at a plant clearance sale and improves with age each year.

This white agapanthus is in its 2nd year. Last year I had two large flower heads, and this year there is only one - every year is different in the garden!!!

Hydrangea 'Magical Moonlight' is planted in a mixed cottage-style herbaceous border and seems to improve each year. The blooms aren't quite as big as their capability so my challenge each year is to get these long white hydrangea heads bigger and better! 

Echinacea Purpurea / Coneflower is still the plant of the week (if not the plant of late Summer). Its flowers look fantastic and they seem to keep coming.
 What are your favourite flowers this time of year?

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

Monday 7 September 2015

Harvesting Tasty Salads

I've had great salad crops all summer long. Grown from seed, the lettuces have been relatively pest free - however strange it seems! The slugs, snails, caterpillars and other pests have affected other plants (kale, beans, etc) but they've left most of the lettuces alone, which has been great.

Pictured is an organic mixed salad made up of: lettuce leaves (salad bowl red and green); onion; shredded carrot (the carrot is underneath so its difficult to see); cucumber and cherry tomatoes from the community garden; and coriander sprinkled on top for added flavour. I'll serve with olive oil or red wine vinegar.
Grown from seed, I harvested 'Chantenay Red Cored 2' carrots for the weekend. More of these to pull but I tend to leave them in the ground until needed.

I ate my first home-grown apple of the season this week from a self pollinating apple tree that grows in a large pot. I have 13 apples this year - equal to my previous record of 13 apples.

Today I'm joining Harvest Monday, hosted by Daphne's Dandelions blog. 

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

Thursday 3 September 2015

Community Gardening Update

Even though summer feels like it's coming to an end, there's still lots of harvesting (and deadheading to be done) with flowers, herbs, fruits and veggies still available and many plants thriving.

The community garden at Antrim Castle Gardens has looked well this year. We're a small group of volunteers who give a few hours each week to keep areas of the gardens 'under our care' looking good and productive.

This year our greenhouse contained several varieties of tomato, cucumber, and a grapevine - with our very first bunch of grapes! One of our volunteers made a sign, writing with chalk on a piece of slate, to help encourage donations from passer-bys in exchange for a plant. This has worked well as a way to raise some money for projects.
One of our members had an idea of a 'cut flower' bed so we developed this area earlier in the year, growing plants from seed. It has turned out to be an eye-catching area, which contains plants like sweet pea, cosmos, snapdragon, asters, and dahlia. 

Last year we noticed one of our flower beds was in a shadier section of the garden so this year we developed a 'Woodland' flower bed. Many of the plants were donated to our group from some of the plant nurseries that attended the Garden Show Ireland (Northern Ireland's largest gardening event). 

Above and below: The flower beds bring lots of colour throughout Spring, Summer and Autumn with their mix of perennials, herbaceous plants, bulbs and some annuals.

Above and below: This year we have also been fortunate to have obtained a polytunnel. This will allow us to grow more plants from seed, and soon it will be filled to the brim!

Our group never seems to rest and our current project is developing a Cottage-style planting scheme that will run across an area approx 30 feet by 10 feet. This well keep us busy over Autumn and into the New Year.

For more info on the volunteer gardening group, click here

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