An adventure to Huntington Castle and Gardens for a Cut Flower demonstration

Hi there! Welcome to my blog. You might have noticed that I’ve taken a liking to creating flower arrangements, especially if you follow my Instagram – you do follow my Instagram, right? 🙂 So I jumped at the chance to go to a cut flower demonstration with my dear friend, Susan (my gardening adventure friend). The venue was the beautiful Huntington Castle and Gardens, which I’ve never been to before. It is in Clonegal, County Carlow, so of course we made a day trip out of it, stopping off at Avoca in County Wicklow on the way down, for some food and flowers (definitely worth a visit to Avoca).

The demonstration was by Fionnuala Fallon, who spoke about incorporating sustainability into the floral industry. Fionnuala and her husband run a sustainable cut-flower farm, and she gave great tips on plants to use, care, arranging, and helpful information on best resources to get started.

As it turns out, I made another flower arrangement this week! And I’d incorporated a number of the things Fionnuala talked about. Once you learn the tips and tricks, it makes life a little bit easier (like using chicken wire and floral frogs).

While I didn’t exactly make the ‘Saturday’, I’m none-the-less, joining the Propagator’s meme ‘Six on Saturday’.

Enjoy the tour!

At Huntington Castle and Gardens, Clonegal, Co. Carlow
Fionnuala Fallon at flower demonstration

1 & 2 – Cut flower demonstration with Fionnuala Fallon at Huntington Castle and Gardens, Clonegal, County Carlow. This was such a wonderful day out! Fionnuala created this beautiful arrangement in no time flat, from two containers of flowers (that honestly, didn’t look like much on their own). The huge take away for me was to grow dahlias. I kind of knew I wanted to go in this direction, and now I *really* know! They are just spectacular. The main question we all had regarding this was if she dug them up for the winters, and the answer was ‘yes’. It just has to be done. Another favorite take away for me was to use the whole sweet pea vine, not just the stems of the flowers (which is what I would usually use). What a difference it makes to the arrangement! You can see in the arrangement above, the flowing light pink sweet pea, hanging down.

For those who don’t know already, she also mentioned how bad ‘floral foam’ (or oasis) is for the environment. *Really* bad. Chicken wire is an alternative, used with floral frogs (small, heavy circle with pins to stick the flower stems in), and taped in place.

She is a proponent of ‘some-dig’ gardening, as opposed to ‘no-dig’. I’m definitely with her on this one, too. You have to do whatever works for you.

It was a helpful and informative talk, which we really enjoyed, followed by a tour of the gardens. The place is just lovely and certainly worth a visit! Even better to bring along your bestie! 🙂

Line of flowers: dahlia, sunflowers, butterfly bush flowers, Russian sage and sweet pea
Dahlia tam tam, sunflower mix, Buddleis BUZZ ‘Dark Pink’ Butterfly Bush, Russian sage, Sweet pea
sunflower flower arrangement with butterfly bush, Russian sage, sweet pea and dahlia.
Sunflower arrangement with purple butterfly bush flowers, sweet pea, Russian sage and dahlias.

3 & 4 – Sunflower arrangement. This one is definitely worth two slots! This is my first sunflower arrangement of the season! I made this the day before the talk. The sunflower stems are really short as there were lots of blooms still forming on the stems and I didn’t want to cut them off. It worked well with this container, too, to have them short. With all of the work my husband has been doing with building fruit cages, I had already taken and put aside some chicken wire for arranging. This container was perfect for experimenting with. I used two floral frogs to weigh it down (I hadn’t thought of taping it, which would be a helpful solution).

Adding colors to the garden that complement the colors of the sunflowers is what I’m now working on. The dahlia’s I’ve planted are exactly for this. The beautiful reddish colored one (called Tam Tam) is the first to bloom. Hopefully I’ll get to do more arranging with them as the season goes on.

And really, I don’t know why I don’t see more butterfly bush flowers in arrangements, they smell so sweet and are a lovely addition (dwarf varieties)!

Russian Sage

5 – Russian Sage – Perovskia atriplicifolia Little Spire. This guy is just showing off at this stage. Beautiful shape and color. I used a few stems for the above arrangement. The bright pink rose next to it is England’s Rose from David Austin.

coleus plants

6 – Coleus. These guys were planted from seed late and then when I transplanted them to these containers, they stopped growing – for weeks! They have finally started to look like decent sized (small) plants. Maybe by the end of the season they will fill the containers. But I love having them, and I love their different color combinations.

I hope you enjoyed the tour! Have a great week!

In Peace,
Dana

Pumpkin arch finale for ‘Six on Saturday’

Hello and welcome to my blog! It’s the start of a new month, and a great time to take a quick look back at what’s been happening in the garden. I have finally cut down my pumpkins from the ‘pumpkin arch’. They’re all lined in front of it now, posing for the many pictures I’ve managed to take, and will probably continue to take! It was a lot of fun watching the pumpkins and squash grow and make their way up the arch. Hopefully, it’ll be as fun next year, too! I’m joining the Propagator’s meme of ‘Six on Saturday’ today. I think it’s a super and succinct way to cover what’s going on in the garden. Here we go!

Persicaria backfield with Rudbeckia goldstrum

1 – Persicaria backfield with Rudbeckia goldstrum. Persicaria is a new plant to me. This past spring I was buying the black-eyed Susan’s specifically for under my birch trees, when the Persicaria was recommended to me (thanks Darren at Nature Works!). There are many different varieties. But this one, with red spires, fits in perfectly with the Rudbeckia and birch trees. I like the different shape of the spires compared to the other flowers in the garden.

Coleus full grown with flowers
Coleus plants up close

2 – Coleus plants. I planted these guys from seed this year and I’m so please with them. There are so many different looks to them and they are all fabulous: solid burgundy leaves with a very fine trim of chartreuse around the edges, to a mix of fuchsia, burgundy and white leaves with chartreuse trim, as well as a thick edging of chartreuse and designs of burgundy within! They also bloom tall spires of tiny lilac flowers. I will try and overwinter them this year, but I think I’d also like to try growing some more. 🙂

Red Astilbe

3 – Red Astilbe. This single flower is all that grew this year from the single plant that I planted at the end of last season. It is lovely, so I hope it eventually settles in, makes itself at home and spreads!

Compost in a tumbler

4 – Compost! The compost in my tumbler is *perfect* at the moment! It is full of worms, is somewhat crumbly (it is moist, though) and doesn’t smell. I’m so pleased with it and have been working it into different flower beds. It is somewhat awkward getting the compost out of the tumbler, but otherwise the tumbler works well. I have two tumblers for food waste, the rest of my garden waste goes on open compost ‘heaps’. The system works for us, and I get a lot of compost from it all.

Dana with Pumpkin arch and squash
Pumpkin arch October 1st

5 – Pumpkin arch. Ta-da! I think we’re at the end of the pumpkin arch now. I have cut off all of the pumpkins and there are just 3 Red Kuri squash hanging on. I’m quite pleased with what we’ve grown (all of it from seed). I’m already planning for next year, of course. I’m hoping to start earlier to get them over the top of the arch! 🙂

Full view of garden from above

6 – Full view of the vegetable garden from above. It’s nice to get a bird’s eye view now and again! The asters and pumpkins really ‘pop’ in this picture, along with the Rowan tree! It was a really good season with the sunflowers, sweet pea, squash, pumpkins, coleus, blueberries, (and two pears!). I’m grateful to be able to do what I love to do – spend time in the garden!

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have enjoyed some quality time doing what you love to do, too!

In Peace,
Dana

24 July 2021 Six on Saturday

Hello and welcome to my blog! We have been enjoying some super summer weather for a few weeks now, and boy does it show in the garden! The forecast is for some unsettled weather to head our way, so I’ve been spending as much time in the garden as possible. It has been so wonderful, I’ll be sad to see the good weather leave! I’m joining The Propagator’s meme of ‘Six on Saturday’ again this week. It was really hard picking just six as so many plants are showing off in the garden at the minute. But alas, here are the six I’ve picked:

Buddleis Buzz 'dark pink' butterfly bush

1 – Buddleis BUZZ ‘Dark Pink’ Butterfly Bush. I *love* the scent of these flowers! They are so sweet! This butterfly bush is non-invasive and will only get about 4 feet tall and wide. Deadheading the flowers will encourage more flowers, so it’s worth the work. You can give them a hard prune in the spring, which means a later blooming time, but it also means an extended season for pollinators. The color is a fabulous magenta.

Butterfly bush lichfield angel California poppies Potentilla

I think this is a lovely combination of flowers and colors: Buddleis BUZZ ‘Dark Pink’ butterfly bush, Lichfield Angel (cream) David Austin roses, (orange) California poppies, and in the background (yellow) Potentialla.

Rainbow garden butterfly bush

This is another view of the butterfly bush. It’s in my Rainbow garden and this is definitely a banner year for it. While I do like to keep my colors to a minimum in other beds, I love that I have every color in this bed. The big messy green plant on the right is a mock orange. I’m not sure I’m going to keep that, though, as it doesn’t really produce a lot of flowers and it is just so messy!

Sweet pea hand held bouquet

2 – Organic Sweet pea ‘Old Spice’. This is another scented flower that I *love*! I’ve grown sweet pea for several years now, simply because the scent is so beautiful to have in the garden and in the house. They make very sweet bouquets, too. My Sweet pea fence is shorter than usual this year, and I think I’ll have less flowers because of that. But so far I am getting a nice full bunch every couple of days!

Sweet pea on fence

The sweet pea is really nice to have in the garden not only for its pretty colors, but for its sweet scent!

Pink Coleus

3 – Coleus ‘Rainbow’. I am somewhat new to growing flowers from seed. Although I’ve been growing sunflowers from seed for a number of years, some flowers just seem much more delicate. This was a pretty successful year, though. These coleus took their time growing, but now that they are nearly full grown, they are lovely!

young flower seedlins

I will have to show you the Cock’s comb flowers (on the left, back) next week! The Coleus took their time, but they look very well!

Coleus three in a row

This is what the coleus looks like today. Only the one plant is coming out a strong pink color. I plan to bring these three containers inside this winter so that they are ready to go next spring.

dark sunflowers with blue sky

4 – Sunflower Claret F1. I know I showed one of these guys last week, but they have really come into their own this week! They are just spectacular! This one has yellow, orange, red and brown in it, while some are a chocolatey brownish red, and some are brighter with more orange and yellow. They are tall (180 cm / 5.9 feet). I’m glad our bed frames are wide so that I can stand on them to take pictures!

Full Sunflower bed 21 July

5 – Full sunflower bed update. The sunflower bed has completely filled in and although the first batch of sunflowers bloomed a little early and are now fading, they are producing small little offshoots that are providing more color. Those short yellow flowers are supposed to be 6 feet tall! I guess they didn’t get the memo, as they are all equally short! There is one more layer on the far side of the Claret flowers that have not bloomed yet. They are dwarf sunflowers and I thought the slugs had completely eaten them after I planted them in the bed, but they actually rebounded and I only lost one of the six plants.

This is a picture of my seedlings early on in the season. This is definitely the most I have ever done in one season! I’ve had some successes, and some failures. But overall I’m really happy with what I have! I do need to work on a better system for keeping track to who’s who, though. Thankfully, it’s usually pretty easy to tell in the end.

Pumpkin Arch update 24 July

6 – Pumpkin arch update. The pumpkin arch is filling up! I have a few Jack O’lantern pumpkins, and a lot of Red Kuri squash/pumpkins. I think it will be nice and colorful! I am enjoying the orange squash flowers and all of the greenery while it lasts. The Claret sunflowers on the right are continuing to bloom, too.

Full view of garden incl raspberries 22 July

I took this picture from above in my daughter’s bedroom window. Everything is green and lush (haha! except our grass and the fields of barley!).

Full garden view from above 23 July

Here I’ve zoomed in a bit.

Full garden update July 24

And here we are back on the ground! I’ve enjoyed watching as the pumpkins make their way up the arch. I’m looking forward to watching it continue!

I hope you have enjoyed my garden tour! Feel free to join me on Instagram, too. I’m a big fan of using ‘Stories’ to give updates on the garden and my chickens.

Enjoy your week!

In Peace,
Dana