January blues

Hi there! It’s the very end of January, and although I’m not a fan of wishing time away, I am happy to see it go. I chose today’s blogpost title with a couple of thoughts in mind. First off, January can be a tough month, can’t it? I find it easy to feel blue when I can’t work in the garden. We’ve had lots of gray days, too, which dampens my spirits. But the other meaning of ‘blues’ that I had in mind, was beauty through color. Just this week we had the most spectacular sunset with purples, blues, oranges, and yellow, creating an absolutely amazing show! I have been lucky enough to see quite a few of these beautiful sunsets and sun rises – all with hues of blue – this month. There is always something to be grateful for!

There’s been a little bit of progress in the garden, actually. A few of the hellebores are now really showing off. They look so pretty since I cut away their leaves (most had black-spot).

I have a flower situation that I would like to work on over the next number of weeks. Years ago we planted bluebell and daffodil bulbs along the hedge. Well, in truth, we seemed to have planted them under the hedge. So by the time the flowers are blooming, the hedge is covering them and their lovely blooms are invisible – unless you lower your head to look under the hedge… This year I’d like to finally dig them up and move them out from under the hedge. I know it will be worth it, it’s just a matter of making it happen!

Oh! And did I mention that something ‘big’ happened in January? I have jumped into (early) retirement! I’ve been processing so many emotions, but mostly I am very excited for what this will look like for me. I’m planning on traveling, visiting with family and friends, and lots more time in the garden.

This week, I am joining Garden Ruminations for the Six on Saturday meme. There’s always lots to see there, if you’re curious about other gardens from around the world!

Thanks so much for visiting! I hope you enjoy the tour.

In Peace,
Dana

Sunset with purples, yellow and oranges over the playhouse garden
Sunset of purple, oranges and yellow over garde

1 – Blues (purples) of January Sunset. This sunset was from Monday, January 23rd, the day I retired. It was a perfect way to welcome me into my new adventure!

Hellebore Winter Sunshine after cutting the leaves away

2 – Hellebore Winter Sunshine. I really do like the color of the leaves on this hellebore. They are a blueish green and very pretty – when they don’t have blackspot! But the plant is just so much prettier when it is full of buds and flowers and the leaves aren’t blocking the view. The collage shows the progression of the day, starting with the bottom left photo.

Hellebore Double Ellen

3 – Hellebore Double Ellen Red. The lovely flowers on this hellebore hang down. So for this picture I put my phone right under the flower. Awkward positioning, but I think it worked. I cut away the main leaves from this plant a number of weeks ago, and it is doing really well, with lots of flowers.

Hellebore Anemone Picotee

4 – Hellebore Anemone Picotee. This is the most delicate of all of my hellebore. It has taken a few years to get established, but it has been worth the wait. The flowers are so delicate looking, with interesting purple veins.

Bluebells or daffodils coming through the soil

5 – Bluebells under the hedge. This is going to be a bit of a pain of a job, but I know it will be worth it. I have ivy starting to grow under the hedge, too, so it really needs a good clear-out!

Dana and Susan celebrating at Strandfield Restaurant with Quinoa grain salad

6 – Celebrating with Susan! My dear friend Susan happened to stop by on my first day of retirement, so we decided to celebrate together with a trip to one of our favorite local cafes: Strandfield! It was such a serendipitous visit! The food at Strandfield is always delicious. We both enjoyed the quinoa grain salad which was as tasty as it was colorful! They also have a gift and flower shop, which is where I treated myself to my new favorite (and very pink) hat. We both left happily content!

And that’s a wrap! Although January was somewhat blue, I’m so grateful to have so many people and things to be thankful for to get through those blues. What about you? How did your January go?

Enjoying a beautiful winter color palette

Hello! Welcome to my blog. Every week, before I start writing a new post, I always go through my photos first. That is usually where my inspiration comes from. I go out into the garden all week long, at different times during the day, and I take pictures. Unfortunately, taking pictures is all I’ve been doing in the garden lately. I can’t wait to get started in some actual garden work, which will hopefully happen very soon.

What has really struck me recently, though, has been the colors in the sky. The morning sky has been beautiful shades of pink and purple on the far side of the house, while near the chicken run, we’ll see darker shades of orange, red and purple. It is amazing! And then, just like that, the sun is under a blanket of clouds and the show is over. I’ve learned to appreciate the sun whenever it shines, and to take the pictures right then and not wait for a better shot later!

I am joining in on the Six on Saturday fun again, hosted now by Garden Ruminations. It’s good to be back!

I hope you enjoy the garden tour. 🙂

In Peace,
Dana

hellebore: Winter Sunshine, Double Ellen and Anemone Picotee

1 – Hellebores. Mine are not really ready to be photographed just yet, but we’re getting there. The one on the left is Winter Sunshine. This is probably the best opportunity for me to use the word floriferous, as it is always *covered* in flowers. There are a load of buds on it at the moment. I do need to cut away those ugly brown leaves, though. While most of the green leaves are ok, some are showing signs of black-spot, so they also need to be cut away. The top red plant is called Double Ellen Red. Its flowers are especially pretty. The smallest hellebore, in the bottom right corner, is called Anemone Picotee. The flowers will be white with purple. It has a more delicate flower.

Primroses yellow, purple and pink

2 – Primroses. I have to say that I was a bit surprised to see these lovelies in the garden. I planted them last year just to fill the space. I’ve not had great luck with primroses returning, so this was nice to see.

morning view of the flower arch with a pink sky

3 – Daffodils pushing through the soil. Can you see them in the large front flower pot on the left? It is in high gear with loads of green growth. I’m not sure what the hurry is though, as they shouldn’t bloom before March. It is so wonderful to see what is coming next. It bring hope that there will be more to come. You can see that I have not yet taken away last year’s sunflowers or sweet pea. 🙂

Morning sunrise view over the chickens

4 – Sunrise over the chickens. I don’t really have much to add to this picture. The sky looks amazing. As the sun rose, though, the clouds covered everything and it was a rather dark day.

View of playhouse with pink sky

5 – Pink tinted morning view of the playhouse garden. I love mornings like these! It was a little foggy and frosty and was so beautiful with that sky! Just being in the garden on mornings like this brings a sense of peace. ❤️

collage of new bed view in frost and non-frost in sun

6 – Newest bed view. While the main view is of the newest bed, the dogwood off to the left provides a lovely splash of color! I don’t know the exact variety of cornus that it is, but if I had to guess, I’d say midwinter fire. It is a mixture of mostly orange but with some red. This new bed isn’t fully planted out yet, but right now we can see the cherry tree on the left, a burning bush (Euonymus alatus compactus) to the right of it, and then two hazelnut trees. There are some snowdrops starting to push through the soil here, too.

Thanks so much for stopping by! I have had to look outside the box to find beauty in the garden this January. But I think it is still there. Don’t you?

A snow covered February garden

Hello there! I hope you are keeping warm and cozy wherever you are in the world. We have had the craziest weather of late! Thankfully, I was able to get out and work in the garden earlier this month, which I always find helpful for my mental health. It’s too windy and cold for my liking at the moment, though. We even had snow! O.K., it was gone within a few hours, but it sure was pretty to look at while it lasted.

I have to say that I am very happy to have flowers blooming in February. It gives me such hope as I watch their progress. That goes for all flowers, actually. I think it is why a lot of us have gardens in the first place. I am conscious of not wishing time to go faster for more pleasant gardening conditions. I think it is better to make do – and make better – what is on offer during the ‘off’ months. You’ll see that I’ve been building my collection of hellebores. I also added an early variety of iris this year, that is currently in bloom. It is called Iris reticulata and its flowers are so pretty and delicate.

I hope you’ll enjoy the collection of pictures I’ve gathered, showing you my February garden and my chickens.

Take care, and stay safe!

In Peace,
Dana

collage of hellebore flowers

I had to start with these beauties! It is so wonderful having Hellebore flowers in a winter garden. They are very easy to maintain and while their flowers usually point downwards, they are beautiful none the less. There are ‘single’ and ‘double’ varieties, as can be seen in their single layer of petals vs. multiple layers of petals.

This collage’s hellebores:
Right three from the top: Anemone Picotee, Double Ellen Red, Anna’s Red.
Top left: SP Frilly Isabelle.
Bottom from the left: Harvington Double Red, Winter Sunshine.

collage of full hellebore plants

The beauty of hellebores isn’t just in closeups of their flower faces, the plants themselves are lovely in full view.

This collage’s hellebores include:
Right from the top: Double Ellen Red, Harvington Double Red, Anna’s Red.
Center from the top: Anemone Picotee, Winter Sunshine, Unknown variety (pink).
Left: SP Frilly Isabelle.

Iris Reticulata

Look how sweet these Iris Reticulata are! I brought one inside after it was bent over. I’m delighted to be enjoying the pretty coloring from the comforts of my kitchen.

weeding the hoggin!

This is a picture of one of the jobs I was able to (partially) do earlier in the month. I weeded the Hoggin! Hoggin is a mix of gravel, sand and clay that works really well for pathways as it allows water to drain through it. Turns out that it also needs weeding. You can see around the edging that I have a weed blocking sheet underneath the hoggin – and below that I also have cardboard. The truth is that weeds will grow despite your best intentions! These weeds were pretty harmless though, and mostly grass. I used a hoe-like tool and raked them up. It took longer than I thought it would, but I was happy with the results. I still have more to do, whenever the weather settles down!

view of the winter garlic mid Feb 2022

The weather on this day was super! I took this picture of my winter garlic after I finished weeding the hoggin. The temperature was mild and the sun was shining – perfect gardening weather! 🙂

snow garden with snowdrops, hellebore, fennel and garden arch.

Then the weather changed… Thankfully, most of the plants are O.K. with snow. I thought the dried fennel looked quite pretty completely covered in snow (bottom right picture). The Snowdrops, too, looked lovely. But the Anemone Picotee hellebore looks a little bit weighed down!

chickens in the snow

The chickens were not too impressed with the snow. They stayed under their house while it was snowing, and only ventured out after it stopped. Funny enough, they have no issue with wandering about when it is raining out! Here we can see the Bluebell (she is the only one I really call by her name, which is ‘Buckbeak’), Daisybell. and two Rhode Island Red hybrids. They’re still laying eggs, too!

View of the garden with and without snow.

Just like that, everything can change. I’m glad that in this case, the garden went back to ‘green’! Thanks so much for stopping by! I’d love for you to leave a message of where you’re visiting from. 🙂

Rejuvenating the soul with a weekend in the garden

Hello, and welcome to my blog! It is no secret that I have been struggling with this latest lockdown here in Ireland. I understand why we need it, I’ve just found it much harder to adjust this time. I am very happy to say that this weekend I felt an actual lifting of my spirits as I worked away in the garden over two beautiful days. My pace is slow and steady, which is good enough for me. I’ve also been practicing my mantra of ‘every little bit helps’. So over the past week I’ve managed to get a bunch of little things done around the garden, all from spending just a short amount of time doing small jobs. Of course it all adds up!

So what’s happening in the garden? I think the biggest job I’ve completed is pruning the roses. I struggle with this job only because I need to be ruthless and just get the job done, and I tend to over think it. I haven’t appreciated how many rose plants I’ve collected, until pruning them all this year! I have to say that I was more ruthless than ever before, so hopefully they’ll appreciate that. According to the gardening program I’ve been watching on Instagram, called Gardening Conversations, (I think I’ve mentioned it previously), you can do a hard prune every three to five years. Their advice was to get your worst enemy to prune your roses – to get the ‘hard prune’ that you hate to do! 🙂

Another big job we’ve been working on is creating a new flower bed. I had some sod removed back in November when we had our birch trees planted, and then my husband finished removing the rest of the sod last week. The bed looks really good because we (read: my husband) then added a very thick layer of our compost on top. There’s a good 4 inches of compost along with lots of worms. I can’t wait to get some plants in there! It will be a partly sunny garden, as I wanted a bed with some shade. Stay tuned to see what plants we pick!

Speaking of adding new plants: there are a couple of new Hellebore plants which I’ve welcomed into my garden recently. They are from Altamont Gardens, in Carlow. I’ve been meaning to visit Altamont for years! Sadly, I’ll have to wait a bit longer due to the lockdown. They were selling some of their plants via Instagram, though, and I’m delighted with the two I now have.

The other little jobs I’ve been doing have been part of my winter clean up. I’ve cut down dead fennel, aster, and sedum stems. I’ve also started to do some weeding. I want to spread more compost in the beds and I’d prefer to have most of the weeds gone before I do that. I want to feed the soil, not the weeds!

I’m so thankful that the days are brighter, well into the evening. It makes such a difference to my mood, and allows me some garden time after work!

I hope you are doing well and that you are enjoying the extended daylight, too!

In Peace,
Dana

collage of 2 hellebore plants
collage of 2 hellebore plants

I’m starting with the pictures with my two new hellebores, which I think are very pretty. They are Harvington Double Apricots and Harvington Double Reds. The Apricot flower can look a pale yellow as well as the apricot hue. The Double Reds seem more of a burgundy/pink color than red to me. I think they fit in perfectly! They are planted in the new ‘birch trees bed’ among the iris.

collage of hellebore flowers

Here are some of my other hellebore plants. The newest one is the Helleborus ‘Anemone Picotee’ which has purple veins on the petals (the three corner pictures). The Center picture is Winter Sunshine, and the top left corner is the SP Frilly Isabelle. The other pictures are from plants that were given to me, and I don’t have their names. They all add some lovely color to the garden at this time of year.

pruned roses
hard prune of roses

There was a progression with the roses. It took me a few days to completely prune one plant as each time I’d take off a bit more, and a bit more, and a bit more! I am happy with the hard prune that I eventually ended up with. I hope the plants are happy, too! 🙂

Pruned roses and pink anemone

Here’s another look at the roses, but I took the picture because of this single, bright pink anemone. Isn’t that color something?

collage of compost and freshly dug bed

Here’s a look at our compost and the newly dug up bed. The pallets which are the walls for our compost structure, have seen better days. This summer I’ll have to decide on a new place to have our compost, so the plan is to fix the structure then. The compost we’re using now is a year old (the pile on the far right).

view of garden at front gate

I cleaned this bed up over the weekend. The Pittosporum, Tom Thumb, in the right corner, adds wonderful texture. The lavender next to it looks much nicer when it is in bloom! The burgundy colored plant that lines both sides of the bed is Bergenia. The flowers of this variety of Bergenia are very bright pink. Otherwise there isn’t a lot going on in this bed at the moment!

Full rainbow garden view

This bed is ready for some more compost. I have a few new plants in here, which I can’t wait to see!

henhouse with flowers

I’ve added some flowers to the front of the girls’ house. I can look out onto their house and run while in our kitchen and this way I can see the flowers more often than I could when they were on the back porch. I always enjoy seeing flowers, so this is a win/win for me!

close up picture of hen

The chickens are so curious and will get very close to my phone when I’m taking pictures. It isn’t so easy to get good shots because they never stay still! I like this one, though. I can’t remember which hen this is, and I tell them apart by looking at their back feathers, so we’ll just have to guess! (My guess is Iris.)

Thank you so much for visiting! I hope you are keeping well, and safe. Take care! 🙂