The trials and tribulations of April 2022

Hello! You are very welcome to my blog. I have so much to tell you. I’ll start with why I missed last week: we were away all weekend at the Irish dancing World Championships in Belfast, Northern Ireland. What a great two days we had! My daughter’s girls ceili danced on Saturday and my daughter and son were partners for their mixed team ceili on Sunday. Both teams did great and we are so proud of them. It was such a treat to watch them dance together. My son ‘retired’ in 2014 after his mixed ceili team *won* the World Championships (talk about going out on a high!). So it was lovely to have him back dancing this year and be able to partner with his sister.

Then, unfortunately, it finally happened: I came down with Covid. While I appreciate that really I am fine, at the same time I feel kind of miserable. I’m definitely over the worst of it, thankfully, but still have a bit more to go before I’m fully myself. This comes at a time when so much needs to be done in the garden! My husband has been a tremendous help, and of course whatever doesn’t get done, simply doesn’t get done. And while my handy dandy list is getting lots crossed off of it, new items are being added (daily!).

I am excited to show you what’s new in the garden this week! I showed you last time that we planted a border of Little Lime hydrangeas at the far end of our raised bed garden. We now have a small Rosemary border on the opposite side of the Little Limes, and a lavender border planted along the length of the garden. It is going to take a season or two for everything to fill in to its place, but I am so happy with it. The next step is figuring out a system for dividing the hoggin from the mulch, but my husband is already working on that. πŸ™‚

Another new item is on our playhouse: my husband made an ‘American red barn’ style window cover. This ‘window’ is actually a space that a slide came out of when the playhouse was used by our kids. But after we pulled the slide out, we covered up the space with plexiglass and I have disliked it ever since. You might remember that my son and husband put new roofing on the playhouse a couple of years ago. Now all we need is to give the house a fresh coat of paint and it’ll be looking brand new!

There’s more, of course: there’s the Stellata magnolia that had a last burst of a few new flowers before they all faded, and blooming tulips, and the last of the daffodils. It hasn’t been all good news, though. A bunch of my seedlings didn’t survive. I tried them in a new location and that just didn’t work out. I have done a second round of seeds, but I’m not sure if I’m too late or not. We’ll see! This week I’m joining The Propagator’s meme Six on Saturday.

I hope you are keeping well. Thanks so much for stopping by! Enjoy the tour πŸ™‚

In Peace,
Dana

View from top of garden down to playhouse, including magnolia tree and rainbow garden

1 – Tulips! I just love this photo, actually, as it has the Heaven Scent magnolia tree, the rainbow garden with tulips and the start of peony plants, and you can see the new cover on the playhouse. The white tulips are fringed and called swan wings. The pink ones are called Finola.

Tulip Finola in top photo and swan wings tulips in bottom photo

2 – New window cover. What’s not to love? It makes such a big difference to me!

View of the new window cover designed like traditional American Red Barn doors.

3 – The borders of the raised bed garden. It’s going to take some training for me to get used to not just walking through the plants. I prefer to have plants than to have a fence, though. I’m looking forward to seeing how it looks as the rosemary, lavender, and hydrangeas grow. The lavender plants are tiny, but I bought them that size before and they grew almost full size in two seasons. Getting the black weed mat covered is the next project.

View of the new border plants around the raised bed garden

4 – Stellata magnolia flowers. After all of the first flush of flowers had turned brown, I discovered a few pure white flowers and they just looked so pretty. I am now a huge fan of this magnolia!

Magnolia Stellata white flowers

5 – Apricot Parrot and Apricot Beauty Tulips. I know that not everyone likes parrot tulips, but I certainly do. They just have so much personality! They aren’t afraid to strut their stuff. These were a new purchase for me this year. I wanted to find some to match my pink parrot tulips, and these actually worked out really well. I mixed the parrot with the non-parrot, and I’m still on the fence if they’d all look better in their own groups or mixed in. What do you think?

collage of Apricot Beauty tulips and Apricot parrot tulips

6 – Double daffodils. These were planted this year, and I have to say that I really like them. I’m always torn about cutting flowers and bringing them inside, but these were too pretty not to. I am planning to plant some in a large container next year.

I so appreciate you visiting! Have a great week. I’ll leave you with a picture of my two favorite Irish dancers πŸ™‚

The excitement of what’s to come!

Hello, and welcome to my blog! Spring has truly arrived, with trees covered in buds and early blooming flowers totally showing off. What a glorious time it is, filled with hope and excitement as we watch everything unfold before our eyes. (It’s not just me, is it?!) No matter how many years I’ve experienced this newness of spring, it still feels magical every single time. And there isn’t even a need to wait until flowers are fully in bloom to enjoy their beauty – they are truly beautiful from the first sign of life! I see parallels in life, here. The only thing that is not fully aligned with spring is the temperature. At least here in Ireland it is still rather cold. No matter, I just bundle up and out I go (note the wooly hat in my picture below).

I think the most exciting thing in the garden for me this week is that we planted our ‘Little Lime’ hydrangeas. I bought these at Pergola Nurseries, in Virginia. Perhaps you’ve seen their videos on Instagram? They do lots of short, informative videos about so many different plants that the owner has become quite the celebrity! (And well deserved!) It is well worth a visit there – either online or in person. But back to my Little Limes, I’ve planted five of them to form a wall at one end of the raised bed garden. I decided to go with the dwarf hydrangeas because full size hydrangeas can grow quite big, and I didn’t want them blocking sun or taking over that area. I also went with Little Limes because they are supposed to be the easiest hydrangea to grow, and I really like ‘easy’! I’m excited to see how it will look as they grow.

I hope you have been enjoying the wonderful signs of spring where you live. In these times especially, it is really important to seek out the beauty in the world. I will be joining The Propagator again this week, for his Six on Saturday meme. Thank you for visiting, and have a great week!

In Peace,
Dana

Hyacinth Woodstock and Bleeding hearts

1 – These hyacinth are called Woodstock, from Farmer Gracy. I think the color is absolutely stunning. They are next to the bleeding heart plant (Lamprocapnos spectabilis, formerly Dicentra spectabilis) which will grow much bigger as the season progresses. This area is around our playhouse, where I also have a bunch of tulips planted – still waiting on them to bloom.

collage of tulips

2 – Tulips! These are new to me this year: the pinks are Finola tulips and the white ones are Swan wings (I think).

collage of double daffodils under the apple tree
hand held bouquet of mixed varieties of daffodils

3 – Daffodils! It doesn’t take many to make a delightful bouquet that can brighten your day! I love having so many different varieties. My plan is to add more in containers next year, as that worked really well this year.

Dana selfie at rose bed

4 – Things to come: I love how the peony plants look as they first throw out their new foliage. I know the flowers are the main show, but after the gloom of winter it is so nice to see the pretty shades of their leaves! This picture was an evening that I was weeding in the garden, and working in the last of the aged manure. Such a great feeling to keep the beds looking tidy – for now!

View of Little Lime hydrangeas freshly planted as a wall

5 – Little Lime hydrangea plants. Not much else to say about these cuties, and you can’t even see them in the picture! The five plants are between the black weed mat and the grass. We still have some things to figure out, like how to neatly cover the weed mat. But we’ll get there. πŸ™‚

6 – A view of the beds in April. We have our garlic growing (to harvest in July), and the raspberry plants have started to grow after getting a trim early in the winter. The strawberry plants (on the far end) are also starting to slowly look better after the winter. Nothing beats the blue sky, though!

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed your visit. πŸ™‚

The blessing of a stretch of good weather in Ireland – Six on Saturday

Hello, and welcome to my blog! It is funny how I have lived in a bunch of places where the weather was often the topic of discussion. In Arizona, it was remarkable when it rained – or if it wasn’t sunny. In Pittsburgh, the weather was typically overcast, and remarkable when sunny. In Syracuse, it was more snowy than sunny – averaging 100 inches per season! Zurich, well, Zurich’s weather was rather unremarkable because it was a reasonable mix of sunny and overcast (overall it was quite pleasant, actually). Now, Ireland’s weather is so often ‘unsettled’ – meaning overcast / windy / rainy – that it is remarkable when it is sunny and calm, and boy does everyone take notice then!

Sunny and calm is exactly what the weather has been over the past nearly three weeks. In fact, at this stage, we really need a good rain! I am thankful to have gotten a lot of gardening jobs done in March: trimmed the boxwood hedge, pruned the Russian sage, (the roses were pruned the end of February/beginning of March), cut the ornamental grasses, moved some plants: some snowdrops, hellebores and a peony (the peony should ideally be moved in September, but I’m hoping that getting it done before it had serious spring growth will be ok), and worked in a ton, figuratively speaking, of aged manure! Of course weeding was done along the way. Weeding is always being done!

A highlight for me, was creating a flower arch for my daughter’s 18th birthday. That was a lot of fun, as I love getting the chance to be creative. It all came together serendipitously!

I’m thankful for the joy that the garden brings to me. The flowers pushing up through the soil bring such a feeling of hope. Be sure to see the beauty that is all around you! I’m joining The Propagator for his Six on Saturday meme. Won’t you join me?

In Peace,
Dana

Playhouse with beautiful clouds

1 – Ornamental grass and daffodils. Here’s a look at the now cubed ornamental grass. The grasses should be cut low every year. I don’t want this one getting big and unruly, and even though it will quickly grow back, I quite like this look! I planted a bunch of primroses in this circle bed, just to give it some color for the spring. The two large containers of daffodils brought such color and cheer to the garden. I’m so glad to have added them this year.

Narcissus Dutch Master
Narcissus Double under the apple tree

Speaking of daffodils! The first picture is a close up of the daffodils from one of the containers, and are quite traditional if you ask me. They are called Narcissus Dutch Master, and their color really grabs your attention. The collage is of Narcissus Double, and they are super pretty and rather delicate looking. Unfortunately, they face the ground, which is a bummer. I have them under one of the apple trees.

Magnolia Stellata

2 – Look at this beauty! Magnolia Stellata is completely covered with fabulous white flowers. The flowers appear to be star-like to me, although I’ve read of them looking similar to water lilies. This variety should be planted where it won’t get morning sunlight (thank God for a tall hedge!) as they tend to bloom when it can still be frosty, and the morning sunlight on the frosted flowers will thoroughly kill that beautiful look. I am absolutely thrilled with this slow growing, mid-sized shrub which was a gift for our 25th wedding anniversary last year. It is in with my chickens, so I have it caged up for protection. Being chickens, they still try and eat the flowers, though. I am hoping to get something nicer to protect it, and that eventually they will not bother it!

View of boxwood cutting, trimmed Russian sage and aubrietia

3 – It was time to trim the boxwood hedge. I had my husband help me with this job, which was tough because he had a different idea of what I wanted. πŸ™‚ But all is good and I think it looks neat and tidy again. This bed is now fully ready for the season as the boxwood is trimmed, the Russian sage and roses have been pruned, the aged horse manure has been worked in, AND it has been weeded! The aubrieta is such a stunner and it seemingly comes to life all of a sudden. It is supposed to grow over and down the wall, but mine prefers to grow into the bed.

Aged manure and lots of worms!

4 – Did someone say horse manure? My neighbors gave me this garden gold. It’s not like me, but I didn’t take a picture of their beautiful horses when we picked up the manure. I’ll have to do that next time. The best part was seeing all of these amazing worms!

hyacinth woodstock, white and pinks

5 – It turns out that I have a ‘thing’ for hyacinth! I have pinks and white under the lilac shrubs (picture bottom left). New this year for me are the burgundy colored ones, called Woodstock from Farmer Gracy, which are under the birch trees. I *really* like their color! Those two beds where these hyacinth are have all been weeded and ‘manured’! Woohoo! πŸ™‚

Mom in the Garden's daughter under the birthday flower arch

6 – The birthday flower arch. Our ‘baby’ is 18! It truly doesn’t seem possible that the past 18 years have flown by that quickly. I’m so excited for what the future holds for her. I’m also so happy she liked the flower arch! My older daughter helped me out and made the ’18’, which I think made it perfect. So, the frame is made of bamboo and dogwood. My neighbor, a different one!, was doing major yard work and offered them to me for the arch. The timing was perfect, as I’d just mentioned to her my idea of making an arch. My husband helped me to tie the branches together and put them in my two pots of bamboo that I’ve had for years. We used two very heavy (and ugly, I might add) cinder blocks to hold the pots in place. The fake flowers were somehow all in my house, already! They’ve been used for different projects over the years, and this will probably finish out their lives. The six white painted allium are the only real flowers from the garden. I added ribbons, too, as I thought it was more festive with them.

And that’s a very full, Six on Saturday! Thank you so much for visiting, and I hope you enjoyed the tour. I leave you with one final picture, of one of the many lovely sunsets we’ve enjoyed of late. πŸ™‚

Evening sunset over the garden

We’ve had some beautiful sunsets, too, with this lovely weather!

The ebb and flow of the garden – Six on Saturday

Hello, and welcome to my blog! I was thinking this week about the ebb and flow of the garden – how the garden takes a time of rest in the winter, and well, is busy producing abundant beauty for most of the rest of the year. And yet, I don’t allow the same rest for myself! As I was struggling this week to get things done in the garden, I thought about my need to take it easy and not go full steam all of the time. So to help me during this ‘down’ time, I have created a list of the jobs I want to get done. I work through it at my slower pace. This helps me to manage the stress of having ‘things to do’ in my head. It also keeps me focused on my jobs in the garden. πŸ™‚

So what jobs have I managed to work on that are on the list? Well, I finally started my seed sowing. But I don’t have everything sown just yet. I’m planning that I’ll get the rest of the seeds planted this coming week. Trimming the box hedge is on the list – we made a great start to that today, I’m happy to say. There’s still a tiny bit more to do, but thankfully the majority of that job is done. All of the flowering summer plants need to get fed and have some extra compost placed around their base. I’ve started this in the order of blooming, beginning with the lilac shrubs. Still lots more to do there. I’ve also started to do a clean up of the garden, getting rid of the spent flowers that were left for the winter and weeding the beds as I do so. This is a pretty big job, and I’m not sure it ever gets completely crossed off of the list! But it is one of the most satisfying jobs in the garden.

I’ve put together a collection of pictures from the past week in the garden as part of The Propagator’s meme Six on Saturday. I hope you will enjoy a walk through the late winter garden.

Take care and be safe!

In Peace,
Dana

Collage of daffodils and ornamental grass that was trimmed

1, 2, & 3 – Ornamental grass, daffodils & cats. I decided to give the ornamental grass a severe trim. I actually had my husband do it as it was a very big job. Even he had a hard time with the electric cutters on it. I like how it has opened up the space, at least for now! Although the cubed shape is unusual for grass, I quite like it. I planted a bunch of primroses in the bed as they just seemed to fit in perfectly.

There are two cats in the bottom right picture. I own the white one. You know her by now, she’s Kitty. The black one comes frequently to visit Kitty. He is quite vocal, and super friendly. I call him Frank. I know better than to feed him, but I do give him attention, which he surprisingly likes.

It’s daffodil season! I am so happy to have filled two large containers with daffodil bulbs this past fall. Very few of my ‘in the ground’ daffodils are up, yet the containers are providing an abundance of cheerful color.

Magnolia Stellata

4 – Magnolia Stellata. This was a gift for our 25th wedding anniversary last summer. I have it in with my chickens, so we placed a fence around it so the girls wouldn’t destroy it before it had a chance to get settled in. There are so many buds on it! The pretty white flowers have started to bloom, and it is just so lovely.

Hellebore Anna's Red

5 – Hellebore Anna’s red. O.K., I’ve had this in quite a few of my blog posts of late. And that’s because it is an absolute star! Today I was thinking that if I had to pick a ‘plant of the year’, I think this one would be it. The coloring really stands out, the flowers are very pretty (and don’t fully face the ground), and it settled into the garden really quickly. A definite keeper.

Frosty view of the garden mid March

6 – A frosty garden. This one is just a reminder that the weather is 100% unpredictable! And look at that blue sky – I LOVE seeing the blue sky! πŸ™‚

Sunset over front garden March 19

This one is a bonus – Sunset over the front garden.

As always, thank you kindly for stopping by. It’s nice to know that others smile at my garden, too! πŸ™‚

One day at a Time

Hello there! Welcome to my blog. You might have noticed that I have been absent the past few weeks. I hope you know that I really enjoy writing about and photographing my garden. It gives me so much joy! But sometimes I simply get blue and it just isn’t possible for me to joyfully write about the garden. My blues could be weather related, news related, or just life.

This week has been tough because of the war in Ukraine. Really tough. I don’t understand how it could be happening. I’m upset that it is happening. I’m afraid of the outcome. I’m concerned for the future. So given the war in Ukraine, and how I was feeling, I wasn’t really sure about writing a blog post. But I am taking my lead from a dear friend of mine (thank you Lynn-Beth) who said to me “we cannot let evil negate our notice of beauty”. So although my heart is heavy for the innocent people of Ukraine, I share with you my garden, in the hopes that you too, will see beauty. (And I will share today’s post with The Propagator’s meme ‘Six on Saturday’ to spread the beauty even further.)

view of raised garden beds
spreading of compost in raised beds

1 – The raised garden beds. Well, this is what they look like now. They are mostly empty, aside from the winter garlic, strawberry plants and blueberry shrubs. We will be building a new compost storage area in the very near future. So my husband has been clearing out as much compost as is ready, so it won’t have to be moved to the new area. I think it is ok to spread the compost in the beds now, actually. The birds certainly think so! πŸ™‚ I still have to clear the one bed of the dead sunflower plants. It’s definitely time.

new flower bed
Helleborus Aspen High

2 – A new flower bed. Now this is exciting for me! I have created all of the flower beds in the yard. Most of the time I cover the soil for 4 or 5 months, and then dig up the sod. That is a big job. So this time, I tried something different. Here’s what I did this past fall: I laid down some cardboard, covered it with a lot of grass clippings, then I covered that with compost. Then I added more compost. And then I added some more compost again! The birds also love this bed, with all of those worms from the compost. I do hope they’ll leave some for the soil.

It is nearly impossible to see, but there are two very young hazelnut trees, and one dwarf burning bush (Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’) along with the well established cherry tree on the left. Today we added to the bed, planting the lovely white hellebore in the picture above. It is called Helleborus Aspen High. We also added a peony plant that we moved from another part of the garden. It wasn’t getting enough sun in the old spot, so I’m hoping that once it settles in, it’ll be much happier in this location. I don’t know the name of the peony, but it is a pretty red, and is always the first of all of my peony plants to bloom.

Since the evening was so nice, we continued on and moved two more very small hellebores that weren’t performing well in their homes. Fingers crossed that they will settle in and do well.

rose bushes in various stages of pruning

3 – Pruning roses. I try to get my roses pruned in February. While I made great progress last month, I still have a few more plants to get to – hopefully in the very near future. I want to show you the difference in these three pictures: the one on the left was just pruned. The one on the right on top, was pruned a year ago, and the one on the right on the bottom was not pruned last year.

I have to say that my confidence in pruning has increased over time. Practice makes perfect! One thing that I’ve learned is that when they say to cut off the tiny stems that are less than the thickness of a pencil, it is because if you don’t (which I previously hadn’t), the roses will be too heavy to be supported by such tiny stems. Also, there needs to be air circulation within the plant, and that is why it is best to prune the stems growing towards the center. Do I get it right all of the time? Probably not. But I do my best!

bowl of hellebore flowers
collage of hellebores

4 – Hellebores. How can I resist? They are still going strong! They are so lovely to display in a bowl. If you have them, you should definitely do so. I added a purple Mr. Fokker anemone into my bowl – which looks a little bit out of place. The bottom collage: Left: Helleborus Spring Promise ‘SP Frilly Isabelle’, top right: Helleborus Harvington Double Red, bottom right: Helleborus Anna’s Red (I love those leaves!).

Iris Reticulata

5 – Iris Reticulata. This little tiny plant has just really lifted up my spirits. It is so pretty. When we planted these in the fall, we also added allium to this bed, and they are all coming up, which is so heartening to see. Good things to come!

Frosty March view of playhouse and garden

6 – A frosty garden. We have had a few hard frosts this winter, but honestly, nothing too bad. We had a couple of days of snow flurries, but again, nothing substantial. As I have mentioned, though, we’ve had quite a few bad storms with high winds and rain. Right now I’m thankful that we’ve had blue skies a few times this week. Sun + blue skies = lifted spirits.

And that’s my view of the garden. I hope you enjoyed your visit.

When I sign ‘In Peace’, I truly mean it. May there be peace among all of us and may Ukraine stand strong against this evil war.

In Peace,
Dana

Snowdrops and Hellebores in a February garden – Six on Saturday

Hi there! Welcome to my winter garden, where the weather might not be the best, but you will still find interesting things to see. I’ve had a few people recently comment to me that surely I’m not working in the garden now. It’s winter! But honestly, there are always things to do. For my garden, I weed all year round to try and stay on top of it. I also might have ‘projects’ to work on for the garden – like an area that needs to be cleared or plants removed. Admittedly, I am a fair weather gardener, meaning that the weather has to be somewhat decent for me to venture out. But if the temperature isn’t too cold or the wind too blustery, I enjoy being outside working in the garden. Let’s see what’s happening in the garden as I join The Propagator for his meme of Six on Saturday.

snow drops and robin

1 – Snowdrops. I know it’s not much, but this little bunch of tiny white flowers brings such excitement, as they’ve pushed through the soil and bloomed in what is usually rather unpleasant weather (I’m being polite). I have another bunch, directly across from these, but their white flowers seem to have been eaten by something. Ideally, I will divide this clump after they flower (or at the end of the season in March), to spread the beauty next year. I have my eye on a new place for them, so stay tuned to see how that goes.

Helleborus orientalis 'Double Ellen Red'

2 – Helleborus Double Ellen Red. This plant bloomed very late last year, and with not a lot of flowers. Plants can be quite funny that way. It certainly looks beautiful, healthy and full of blooms right on time this year. The flowers face downwards, which isn’t great for pictures. I just prop the flowers up to capture their beauty. This Hellebore is five years old, and it’s taken this long to really establish itself.

Helleborus Harvington Double Reds

3 – Helleborus Harvington Double Red. What can I say, I like double reds! This one joined my garden last year, and so I’m happy to see the handful of blooms on it. There is another similar hellebore in this bed, bought the same time, and it doesn’t have any blooms yet this year. Hellebores are low maintenance plants and their blooms are lovely to see in the winter. They typically are used in woodlands, but seeing that I don’t have lots of trees in my yard, I simply planted them where ever there was room. πŸ™‚

Helleborus Winter Sunshine

4 – Helleborus Winter Sunshine. This hellebore would be my favorite if I had favorites. The leaves are a pretty blueish-green, and it is covered in blooms all winter long! The flowers start out white and turn pink over time. I planted this in 2014 and it is a really nice sized ‘clump’ now. If it gets blackspot (not uncommon), I just cut those leaves off and it will continue to bloom without issue. Isn’t it lovely?

sky views in morning and evening

5 – Winter skies. I will never grow tired of the beautiful skies we have the privilege of seeing. Even if nothing else in the garden is looking special, the sky can be spectacular. The top right picture is a sunrise, bottom left is mid-day sun, while the other two are sunsets.

Irish Robin

6 – Irish Robin. I distinguish this with ‘Irish’ because the American Robin, while similarly orange breasted, is much bigger and with a gray back. These Robins *love* to sing. They also love to keep me company when I’m weeding. Sure it’s no wonder they hang about, because when I turn the soil, they have easy access to the worms! I’m always glad for their company.

And that’s what is happening in the garden. There are a few more hellebore plants that will hopefully be blooming over the next few weeks. And then it will nearly be time for daffodils! Winter will be gone before we know it. πŸ™‚

I hope you are keeping well. Thanks so much for stopping by. I’d love for you to say hello in a comment!

In Peace,
Dana

Gardening thanks for ‘Six on Saturday’

Hello, and welcome to my blog! This week I’d like to take a moment to reflect on what I’m thankful for in relation to my garden. This seems appropriate now, as Thursday is Thanksgiving in America. I’m so glad that our family still celebrates Thanksgiving here in Ireland, although it has shifted to the weekend to accommodate everyone’s schedules. It is such a wonderful opportunity to be with family and give thanks for our blessings. For today’s post, I’ll be joining The Propagator’s meme ‘Six on Saturday’ as I show you what I’m thankful for in the garden.

Dana & PΓ‘raic in the garden

1 – My husband. πŸ™‚ I have to say that my husband has always supported me, and the garden is no exception. There was basically nothing in the yard when we moved here and he has helped me to create what we have today. All of the heavy lifting in the garden is done by him, as is a lot of the planting – and replanting, and without complaint! He also built the arch (above his head in the picture) for me this year, based solely on my request for an arch to hold pumpkins. I am very thankful for him!

Pumpkins and squash growing on arch

2 – Pumpkin arch. This was such a joy to work with this year! We really weren’t sure if it would hold the pumpkins, or if the pumpkins would hold up, but it sure did and they sure did. They grew about 2/3 the way up the arch, so I’m hoping to get them all the way up next year (of course!). The Red Kuri squash are a fabulous color to have in among the green Hokkaido squash and of course the orange pumpkins, although they are green for most of the growing season. The arch is actually four arches, along with fencing and stakes to secure everything. It was quite a job to create, but as I mentioned above, my husband did a great job.

New vegetable beds
The new beds filled with sunflowers, sweet peas and squash

3 – The new vegetable and flower bed area. This was another project that started as an idea in my head and came about with my husband’s hard work. I had learned a tremendous amount from the similar raised bed set-up which we previously had in this same spot. We decided to make a clean go of it and had the area totally dug out. Ah, a clean slate! We mapped things out based on what I like to grow. One of my favorite new things that we did this time around was to have thicker (eco-friendly) sleepers. They just look nicer. Also, the Hoggin, a compactable ground cover, has worked out great around the beds and I really like the way it looks. We’re not completely finished with this project, but hopefully we’ll get the last bits done over the coming year. I’m delighted with how well the sunflowers, sweet pea, and squash did here!

apple tree flowers
Apples, pears and blueberries

4 – Our fruit trees and shrubs. Is there anything nicer than home grown fruit? We have eating and cooking apples, pears and blueberries. We have a fig tree, too, but I’ll save judgement on that until we actually get to eat a fig. This year we managed to figure out a decent way to cover the blueberries, keeping the birds out for most of the season. I’m sure the birds were disappointed as they’ve enjoyed the blueberries over quite a few years! There are a few different varieties and I can say that the small blueberries are just as tasty as the great big ones. As for the pears, we had two delicious – and huge – pears this season. That is down from the start of the season when we had more than a dozen of them. I’ve had a tough time with this pear tree, unfortunately, but we’ll keep trying. Thankfully, the apples are very low maintenance and provide plenty of delicious apples for us to enjoy.

birch trees in different seasons

5 – Birch trees. This was a big decision on my part last year. In the past, I’ve done things in small, incremental ways. So the decision to have five tall trees planted here was challenging to me. But I am so thankful that I did it! The bark of the Birch trees is such a pretty color, and their tall structure is something the garden needed. This also gave me the opportunity to create another flower bed (you can never have enough flowers!). I have managed to have flowers blooming here throughout the entire year, from hellebores, to iris, poppies, rudbeckia and persicaria.

Chickens and eggs

6 – Chickens. Having chickens as pets is such a treat for me. It is something that I waited to do but it was definitely worth it. I’m glad that they have a large run and that they can hang out under the hedge, too (there is fencing in the hedge which should keep them safe). They are chatty and friendly and generally easy to manage. Oh, and of course they lay eggs!

There’s so much more to be thankful for! But I’ll stick to the ‘six’ for the meme. πŸ™‚ I hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it. As the Covid cases go up, and life gets a bit crazy again, I especially hope that you are doing well, and staying safe and healthy.

In Peace,
Dana

The show isn’t over yet! for ‘Six on Saturday’

Hi there, and welcome to my blog! The garden has not quite given up yet, despite it being mid November. We’ve been lucky with very mild weather, and a healthy serving of sunshine, too. This really makes a difference when getting the garden ready for winter. I raked leaves today because it was so still (a rare occurrence for us). How easy it is to pick up leaves when the wind isn’t blowing them all around! I’m still planting bulbs, too. I made the mistake of ordering and planting my fall bulbs timely this year. Which left me extra time to order more! I’m sure it’ll be lovely in the spring, but right now I’m wondering where I’m going to put them all! πŸ™‚

Never mind, I’m sure I’ll find someplace nice to plant them. In the meantime, I will be joining the Propagator for his meme ‘Six on Saturday’. Let’s see what I have this week to show you!

Blueberry leaves, Rowan berries, cherry tree leaves to form a flower

1 – Garden whimsy. I worked/played/hung-out in the garden most of today. It’s my happy place, so that’s a good thing. After I’d done a respectable amount of work, I decided to have some fun. I discovered *one* single sunflower bloom (it is really tiny) and decided to use it as a center piece of a flower. The beautiful crimson leaves are from my blueberry shrubs. They are just W.O.W.! I also had some berries from one of our Rowan trees, and some cherry tree leaves. There were much nicer cherry tree leaves, but I’d already raked them up earlier in the day, not realizing I was going to be playing with leaves later! Just a little bit of fun.

Fall vibes pic at playhouse with marigolds and pumpkins
Marigolds

2 – Marigolds. I don’t know the variety. I planted a bunch of seeds around the blueberries, but only a few seeds took. But boy did they take! I’ve never had such tall marigolds. I think them blooming late has worked out great. It’s nice to have a big splash of color now when the other plants have all finished their show. I cut a large bouquet of them and took some pictures in front of our playhouse. I still have the pumpkins, too, as I really like orange in the garden in November!

figs on a tree

3 – Ficus carica (Fruiting Fig tree). So we bought this lovely tree in 2019 and this year is the first we have fruit. Now, I’m not sure if the figs will mature enough to eat before the weather turns frosty. We’ll see!

Cliona and Buckbeak (chicken)

4 – My daughter and Buckbeak (a Bluebell chicken). Sometimes, it’s nice to take a break with the chickens! Buckbeak loves to interact with us. She’ll either jump onto our laps or if you are anyway bent over, she’ll jump on your shoulder/back and chat away to you. We find her to be very sweet, as is my daughter!

New birch trees sunset

5 – Birch trees. I had five birch trees planted last November. Unfortunately, two of them didn’t make it. So I’ve just had two replacement trees planted. We’re now back to five birch trees. This was the evening that they were planted. I went out to water them and was treated to a beautiful sunset. I was so glad that I had to go outside, or I might have missed it!

Fall garden view with playhouse

6 – November view of the vegetable garden. I just caught the lighting right for this picture. Shortly after I took this picture, the rains came and stayed for the entire day. My take away? Seize the moment!

Would it be too much if I hope that the weather remains mild? At least until I get the rest of my bulbs planted! Do take care of yourself.

In Peace,
Dana

A visit to Powerscourt House & Gardens for ‘Six on Saturday’

Hello, and welcome to my blog! I had the pleasure of visiting one of Ireland’s beautiful country estate gardens a few weeks ago. It was my first visit and I can assure you that I will be back again as it was simply a wonderful experience. It is no surprise that National Geographic Magazine has rated it one of the top 10 gardens in the world. I traveled with my friend Susan down to Enniskerry, County Wicklow. We made a day of it, topping it off with afternoon tea at the Powerscourt Hotel (located adjacent to the gardens). I’ve decided to share my reflections on the day as part of the ‘Six on Saturday’ meme as led by The Propagator. So let’s begin!

Powerscourt House & Gardens Italian Garden
Dana and Susan with Italian Garden and urns with geraniums

1 – The Italian Garden. I like the orderliness of the Italian garden. Everything is neatly in its place, with formal lines and symmetry. I find that peaceful (and funny enough, the opposite of my own garden). October 12th happened to be mostly sunny and mild, which was perfect weather for walking the gardens. I was a tiny bit obsessed with the geranium planters. Firstly I really liked the foliage of the geranium. Some of the urns had sweet cherubs, facing in to the plant. But with the plant overgrown, it quite looked like they were hiding their faces. Some of the urns had devil-like faces and always with horns (a symbol of strength). Very interesting to see these on innocent flower planters. We also enjoyed the views of the Sugar Loaf Mountain, as can be seen clearly from here. As a note of interest, the terraces were designed in the 1840s by architect Daniel Robertson, taking more than 12 years to build.

Japanese Garden at Powerscourt House and Garden
Japanese Garden at Powerscourt House and Gardens, Dana and Susan

2 – Japanese Garden. As far as our timing, we were probably a couple of weeks out from peak foliage coloring. But we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the trees as they were in their transition state. The Japanese garden, created in 1908, has lovely, sometimes hidden, pathways. We meandered around the paths, taking it all in. It was so interesting to capture the views with different perspectives, as there are many different levels in the garden. This is a much more intimate feeling space than the Italian garden.

Images from the walled garden at Powerscourt Gardens
flowers from the walled garden at Powerscourt Gardens

3 & 4 – Walled Garden. This one definitely deserves two counts! I totally lost myself in the Walled garden, among ‘Ireland’s longest herbaceous border’. There was simply an abundance of color, shape and texture! Dahlia’s stole the show for me, but there were many supporting flowers. I have to add that one of the workers, who was busy weeding the beds here, was so kind and patiently answered our questions, even going out of her way to point out to us her favorite flowers. I spent a lot of time gawking. I loved the palate of colors, and with the mostly clear day, the mountains were a pretty backdrop.

fresh flowers in the entrance of Powerscourt Hotel
Afternoon tea at Powerscourt Hotel

5 – Afternoon tea at Powerscourt Hotel. Sure why not? What’s not to love about having delicious food in a beautiful setting with a dear friend? I have to confess that my love of flowers has me scrutinizing hotel lobbies, seeking out if they have fresh flowers. Powerscourt Hotel did not disappoint! The flowers, in shades of purple and pink, were quite showy and absolutely gorgeous! Our own dining table had a beautiful orchid, looking so delicate in a glass bowl. And sweetly, there were tiny flower petals on our sandwiches. I usually drink my (decaf) coffee in a heavy pottery mug. Drinking out of a tea cup made it feel that bit special. It was a treat that we both thoroughly enjoyed!

Triton lake at Powerscourt House and Gardens

6 – Triton lake. I’m always drawn to water. I usually find it soothing, especially fountains. This fountain is based on the one in Piazza Barberini, in Rome. It is a quite a focal point when looking out across the lake.

There were so many beautiful plants, trees and ‘things’ to see at Powerscourt House and Gardens! I’d highly recommend a visit, no matter what month it is. I’m sure the gardens are equally as lovely throughout the different seasons.

I hope you are keeping well. Take care!

In Peace,
Dana

Autumn vibes for this Six on Saturday

Hello there, and welcome to my blog! This fall has been filled with amazing colors, and that’s even before including the beautiful sunsets and sunrises. It has truly been non-stop beautiful. We’ve had mild weather for the most part, so far. I’ve been pottering about the garden, getting little jobs done here and there. The garden still looks good, thanks to fall blooming plants (fall bloomers), the changing colors of leaves and lots of pumpkins! I’ll again be joining the Propagator for his meme ‘Six on Saturday’. Let’s begin!

Dark pink asters

1 – Dark pink asters. No official name on these, but they are still going strong, even after my ‘light pink’ asters have long faded. They are a fabulously vibrant, fuchsia color and just shout ‘look at me’! They are quite tall, at least three feet, and *really* get blown around a lot (we live in a windy spot). A super easy plant that provides lots of color.

Princess Anne David Austin Rose

2 – Princess Anne rose. This David Austin rose shrub, Princess Anne, has been covered with bright pink roses all summer long and is continuing now through the fall. The flowers are also fragrant, which is a lovely bonus. The color is striking and can be seen from across the garden. This shrub does tend to get blackspot easily, unfortunately. But that’s my only complaint!

sunflower stem with multiple flowers

3 – Sunflower – Claret F1. This is probably one of the very last of the sunflowers to bloom. I had one plant in an extra bed which I needed to clear to plant some winter garlic. There were just two stems on the plant, so I cut them off and brought them inside. The teeny, tiny little blooms growing up the stem did indeed bloom after a few days! It was nice to have a bit of the garden inside. By the way, the wreath in the background is a hydrangea wreath that I made a couple of years ago. I’ll usually keep them until their color fades. This blue one hasn’t gotten the boot yet!

4 – Dahlia CafΓ© au Lait. I think the back of this lovely lady is as pretty as the front! OK, so I didn’t know you are supposed to cut the main stem of the dahlia shortly after it starts to grow, so that it will then have multiple blooming stems instead of one main – too heavy – stem. Erin at Floret Farm happened to have a video mid-season explaining all of this, and while she said it wasn’t too late to do this, I think that in Ireland it probably was too late. Anyway, with the weather being unpredictable, I brought the dahlia inside and it has continued to bloom, beautifully I might add. I am looking forward to getting it right next year!

Japanese Anemone dark pink

5 – Japanese anemone, dark pink. I have loads and loads and loads of the light pink variety of Japanese anemone (they spread like crazy)! But this was my only dark pink variety, stuck in the middle of all of the light pinks. I am not quite sure if I’ll manage to single it out to ensure it will multiply instead of the light pinks, but I really should try as it is very pretty.

I hadn’t realized that I’d picked mostly pink flowers for today’s post! Next week I will have to show you the blueberry shrubs and their amazing red leaves, which are providing some fabulous color in the garden. But back to pinks, check out this sky!

Sunrise blue and pink sky

6 – Sunrise over the garden. What can I say? It is such a treat to get up and see the sky like this! It really lit up my pumpkins, too. They have all turned orange, and just in time for Halloween! (Although I’m likely to keep them on for fall harvest decorating, instead of jack o’lantern use.)

Sunrise with moon in sky

One final look at the garden with the beautiful sunrise and visible moon. I hope you have had a beautiful October, too. I think we’re spoiled with all of this beauty to help us get through the not quite as beautiful winter months. That works for me! Take care!

In Peace,
Dana