A moment to acknowledge that ‘this’ is tough

Hi there! You are very welcome to my blog. I did not intend to skip a few weeks. I thought I was doing well and handling O.K., the news that Covid-19 was still in full control of our lives. But I guess that wasn’t truly the case, and I needed time to re-adjust. I have found ‘this’, the whole situation around Covid-19, to be tough. I have tried to not beat myself up about being a bit down and not getting everything on my ‘to do’ list done. I am actually getting through everything on the list, just at a much, much slower pace. Even with this post, I thought it better to talk about what is really on my mind than force a gardening topic.

So, have you hit a bit of a wall like me? Are you having a hard time with these long term restrictions? Please don’t get me wrong; I understand why we have the restrictions and I have no intention of breaking those restrictions. But it is much harder, mentally, to adjust to continue on this way well into 2021. Mainly, it is the fact that I can’t travel to visit my family in the States. That’s very frustrating. I am still quite thankful that my family here are all together and everyone is doing well. I think everyone is looking forward to real live people contact again, whenever that will take place.

Thankfully, my book club is meeting again, albeit on Zoom, and the timing could not have been better. Our meeting fell just as we were realizing that this latest set of restrictions were going to last much longer than first anticipated. Our get together was just what we needed in these tumultuous times! We are all so different and it is simply wonderful to chat and get everyone’s perspective and of course to enjoy that feeling of community. Despite living within three miles of each other, we haven’t seen each other for ages! (Where the crawdads sing, by Delia Owens, which I loved, was the book we read this month.) That Zoom call really helped to lift my spirits.

Another ‘lockdown’ activity that I recently started participating in is an ‘Instagram live’ gardening program with two Irish gardening experts. It is called Garden Conversations with Diarmuid Gavin and Paul T Smyth. Their current ‘course’ started last week and runs Monday through Friday at 7 PM for an hour every week and it really is a bit of ‘craic’ – as the Irish say (it is a bit of fun). They started doing it way back in March, but I’ve only learned of it recently. It is a wonderful distraction! They talk about different gardening topics and answer questions from us. They’ve covered soil composition, trees, pruning, aspect, and they’ve talked about garden design. It is great to pick up bits and pieces of interesting information in a fun atmosphere – there is a lot of banter between them. This is definitely not a classroom setting type of course! It is a great service that they are providing to the gardening community. 🙂

One thing I learned on Diarmuid and Paul’s program is that when the ground is as wet as it is now – and boy have we had lots of rain (if it squishes when you walk on it – and the mud sticks to your boots when you walk in it), it is best to not work in the garden as you’ll do more harm than good. There is always plenty of planning to do for the garden, anyway. This is a great time for me to focus on garden design!

I hope you have been taking care of yourself, too. It’s gonna be a long haul. Good thing we’re in it together!

Stay healthy and safe.

In Peace,
Dana

Sunny Frosty DAY view of playhouse

We’ve had plenty of hard frosts so far this winter (more than usual). It turns the grass white – and produces a substantial ‘crunch’ sound when walked on it!

Snowdrops mid January

Life continues on in the garden! The Snowdrops have pushed through the soil and are blooming!

Frilly Isabelle hellebore January

Not all of my hellebore plants are blooming just yet. But this Frilly Isabelle is. I have to say that this plant had more flowers on it at this stage last year. We have had a very wet time of late, though, which I am going to blame!

ornamental grass frosty morning blue sky

I do like ornamental grass, no matter what the color! Better still when the backdrop is a beautiful blue sky.

Primroses

I have used some floral therapy recently. Small purchases of flowers which always brighten my spirits! Aren’t these primroses lovely?

Primroses in snow

And they don’t mind the snow!

birch trees sunny frosty Jan morning

I am so delighted with my new birch trees! This sunlight is mid morning as it comes around the back of the house.

Afternoon sunlight on playhouse January

Like so many people, I’m working from home. So I make sure to go outside a couple of times a day, even if for just a few minutes. I especially like taking pictures when the sky is blue! This is late afternoon.

fluffy chicken bums in snow

This is what my girls show me when I ask to take their picture… They sure have fluffy bums!

chickens-in-snow-1

The girls are fine in the cold. The snow usually melts before the end of the day. I give them more pellets to eat now, too. The rain is more of a hassle than the cold!

open field with blue sky

I try and go for a short walk in the afternoons. It is terrible how sedentary I’ve become since working from home! I am now much more aware and make an effort to get up and move every day! This picture of one of the fields I pass just reminds me of the ‘pick me up’ I got from my blue sky walk!

Lidl roses on desk

Here is another example of my floral therapy! For just eight euros I bought these two dozen roses from Lidl! They are sitting right in front of me on my desk and without a doubt they make me happy! I possibly could have gotten away with just getting 12 for four euro (but I’m so glad I went for 24!).

Winter scene of playhouse blue sky mid January

My favorite scene to photograph right now is our playhouse! This was still early morning sunshine, as there is still frost on the playhouse roof. I’m so thankful for the days that have the sun and blue sky combination!

It really is the little things that bring us joy.

Thank you for visiting. Please feel free to say hello! I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Take care!

It’s O.K. to make mistakes

anemone mr fokker

Anemone ‘Mr. Fokker’ blooms all winter

Hello there! You are always welcome to my Mom in the Garden blog, where I’ll chat about the garden, or my chickens, or anything at all, really! Something happened this week that just had me thinking about some personal struggles that, thankfully, I’m slowly getting over. It was an email ad, actually, that my husband had received from a huge international company, advertising a new breakfast special. But the price was a pound, and we live in the Republic of Ireland and we don’t use pounds, we use euros. Sure enough, a little while later my husband received another email ad, with an ‘Oops!’ and a correction of the price from pound to euro. Not a big deal, really, just a mistake.

I’m going to back up a few years, to my life prior to going back to work. I was a stay at home mom for 16 years. Loved it. Did lots. Never bored. Then the time came, and I returned to work outside of the home. I won’t even talk about how different the world was from when I left the work force, but I had changed. I was now holding myself to an unreasonable standard, where mistakes were simply unacceptable. Holy cow, the pressure I put myself under! Even writing an email had my palms all sweaty (What if I said the wrong thing? or didn’t ‘cc’ the right people?). It was debilitating. And it took a long time to learn that everyone, and I mean everyone, makes mistakes. And that is O.K.! You deal with the mistake, you learn from the mistake, and you move on from the mistake. End of story.

So I had to laugh when my husband told me about the email ad. Just another reminder that even the marketing departments in big, international corporations make mistakes.

I’m getting better at moving on after mistakes. There is still room for improvement, but I’m in a much healthier place than the impossible ‘mistake free’ mentality I had.

I hope you are having a mistake-free day – and that if you do make a mistake, you’ll know it is O.K.. 🙂

In Peace,
Dana

two chickens ashes dirt bath

My two girls, Daisy and Rose, underneath their house, having a dirt bath with ashes.

two eggs and two chickens

Our girls provide us with two fabulous eggs, nearly every day.

Cat on wall in sun

This is Kitty. She doesn’t like to look at the camera, but likes to be in the picture.

Frilly Isabelle Feb

This hellebore, Frilly Isabelle, is one of my favorite shades of pink, and is covered with blooms.

wild fennel in February morning sunlight

Wild fennel in morning sunlight

Playhouse in February morning sun and frost

The morning sunlight was simply magical here – the side of the playhouse roof – the fronds of the ornamental grass, the fields – the lighting was amazing!

Who’s got your heart?

two chickens in front of beech hedge

Rose and Daisy in their run

I always think of February as the month of ‘red hearts’.  🙂 O.K., maybe it has become somewhat commercialized, but I still see it as ‘the month of love’ for giving Valentine’s cards, maybe a small gift, but definitely showing appreciation for those we love.

January was a really busy month in our household. Holy Cow it has been crazy! Honestly, the schedule isn’t really slowing down much this month either. Thankfully, my husband and I are still able to manage a teeny, tiny bit of ‘down time’ to recharge, every once in a while. I’d be lost without that. We all would be! It is so much better for everyone, when we can recharge. I’m especially thankful because my husband makes it a priority that we both get the time we need to keep the work/life/family balance.

My kids are growing up – 21, 19, and 15 years old – so I really appreciate whenever I get to spend time with them. They are so different from each other! It is a joy to watch them grow into the wonderful people that they are. Those everyday moments can be quite special.

It seems we are too frequently reminded of how fleeting life can be. There are, sadly, no guarantees. It really is important to make the most of every day and to be the best version of ourselves. (That’s not always easy, but it is always worth it.)

I hope you are surrounded by the people you love, and who love you right back.

In Peace,
Dana

Winter sunshine hellebore

Winter sunshine hellebore (in January)

My three top performing hellebore plants are shown in this post: Winter Sunshine, Frilly Isabelle, and Double Ellen Red.

Winter Sunshine hellebore

Winter Sunshine hellebore in full bloom

We have just a couple of rose flowers in the garden – at the very end of their lives.

Ancient Mariner David Austin Rose

Ancient Mariner David Austin Rose

James Austin (David Austin)Rose

James Austin rose (from David Austin)

Double Ellen Red Hellebore

Double Ellen Red Hellebore

Hellebore Double Ellen Red up close

Hellebore Double Ellen Red

I enjoy taking pictures in the fog…

Nootka Cypress tree in fog

Nootka Cypress tree on a foggy morning

Frilly Isabelle Hellebore

Frilly Isabelle Hellebore

Frilly Isabelle Hellebore

Frilly Isabelle Hellebore

Frilly Isabelle Hellebore

Frilly Isabelle Hellebore

Ornamental Grass sunny

The ornamental grass, in the beautiful sunshine, is laden with raindrops

 

 

A lifting of spirit as spring nears

Hi there! It has been a while since I’ve written here. I was still posting pictures on my instagram and Facebook accounts, but I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for writing here. I recently realized, as the weather improved and the days “lengthened” (being brighter for longer), that my overall mental health hadn’t been great. As the sun was shining more, I could feel the weight being lifted from my shoulders. I’d say that since November, I have had a feeling of being run-down. It is funny to notice that now that the weather is improving, I can feel a “lift” in myself.

Daffodils in an Irish made Belleek vase

early blooming Daffodils in a Belleek vase

There is always something to do in the garden, and as is my way, I do a little at a time, and by golly it eventually adds up to a job well done! Or, at least, it is “good enough”! 🙂

Who needs straight lines when you can have wonky?

This very odd shaped bed is my favorite at the moment. The odd shape is due to the location – it is right in front of our shed. The choice is to either have the odd shape or have a straight line and anything that I plant in that space will be run over by the mower when it is put in/out of the shed. I’ve opted for the odd shape! There is a hellebore plant (frilly Isabelle) in this bed that has just been beautiful all winter. The hyacinth are just popping up now. The lilac shrubs are full of little buds, as is the hydrangea plant. The iris and hosta are still sleeping, but they have plenty of time yet. And last to bloom, at the end of summer, will be the asters. It is still a work in progress, but I love this strip of garden!

lots of pink!

Hellebore Frilly Isabelle

There are two beds of garlic which I’ve also made sure to keep neat and tidy. I really like having something growing over the winter. They should be ready to harvest in July. I’m going to try and grow some flowers down the middle of the beds this year.  We’ll see how that goes!

Our two garlic beds are looking good

garlic up close

garlic up close

The rose bushes were also pruned. I discovered that I am somewhat wimpy at this job, as I probably should have taken off much more than I did from each of the plants. Part of the problem was that I left it rather late, so the plants had loads of buds and growth on them and I just didn’t want to take them off! Note to self: prune earlier next year.

lots of growth on some of the rose plants

There are signs of spring all around the garden. My tree peony has had a rough time in my garden over the past few years. I moved it to a location which I think it prefers to its former home. I’m hopeful that we’ll have more pretty flowers this year!

tree peony showing signs of life

tree peony showing signs of life

open snowdrops

open snowdrops

We must not have had an insect/slug issue this year, as my snowdrops were in top form. They are so tiny and sweet looking!

tree in fog

I took this picture on an early morning walk

I have to admit, the past few months were hard. There were many times when I would have normally gone into the garden, but I just couldn’t (energy, desire, time, …). Even when I did get back into the garden, I’ve had to keep it at a “small job” level. That’s life, I suppose. I’m thankfully feeling better now, although still taking it easy on myself. Things will get done when they get done. 🙂

compost "heap" March 1

Compost “heap” March 1

And some things, like my compost, can work on their own! Although it certainly helps to turn and rotate it, the breakdown of the garden materials takes place even when you “just leave it”. The birds love it for all of the worms. Kitty loves it … to get close to the birds.

Hellebore plant Frilly Isabelle

Hellebore plant Frilly Isabelle

I’m so glad to be feeling better, and getting back into the garden (and writing again!).

Happy first of March!

In peace,
Dana

Fabulous Flower Friday: Hellebores

Hellebore

Hellebore

The star of this Fabulous Flower Friday: Hellebores!
Botanical name: Helleborus sps.

Hellebore

Hellebore

I’ve written about Hellebores before, but I thought it would be nice to have some detailed information about them. I even learned why mine aren’t flourishing …  😉

Hellebore

Hellebore

Hellebores are perennial plants which flower in late winter, being mostly frost resistant, and early spring.  They have been referred to as Christmas or Lenten Roses due to their flowering period.  Their appeal is not only for their lovely delicate flowers but their foliage as well.

hellebore deep purple

hellebore deep purple

Spring time is the ideal time to plant.  They like rich, well drained soil (bingo! that’s one of my issues …).  They are hardy plants and do especially well in shade.  My second problem is that they don’t like strong winds.

 

Hellebore Winter Sunshine

Hellebore Winter Sunshine (with most of the leaves cut away)

I usually add our organic compost to the plants in the fall.  I think I’ll be taking the advice of the Royal Horticultural Society though, and I’ll also add some general-purpose fertiliser this spring at 50-70g per square metre (1½-2 oz per square yard).

Hellebore

Hellebore: the flowers usually hang down

When to prune: late winter or early spring.  For me, it was obvious because my plants suffer from hellebore leaf spot.  For this fungus based disease, simply cut away the affected leaves and ensure that all diseased leaves are removed from around the plant. This is the best defence to keeping the plant healthy. Cutting away the leaves will also help to open up the plant and make the flowers more visible and also more available for insects.  This eases the pollination process, which is good for future seeds.

Hellebore

Hellebore (a deep purple)

The weather has been quite gray the past few weeks. I’d still go out into the garden, though, in search of something nice and it was delightful to see all of these beauties.

hellebore side view

hellebore Frilly Isabelle

Interesting fact from Wikipedia: The scientific name Helleborus derives from the Greek name for H. orientalis, ἑλλέβορος helléboros, from elein “to injure” and βορά borá “food”.[2] Many species are poisonous.

Hellebore Frilly Isabelle

Hellebore Frilly Isabelle

I bought the Frilly Isabelle last year while on a garden tour with my ‘gardening girlfriends’.   What a lovely day that was, and now I’m reminded of that day every time I see this beautiful flower!

Hellebore

Hellebore

There are so many varieties to choose from.  I have hellebores gracing 4 different flower beds, and I’m still collecting…

Susan's Hellebore

Hellebore from Susan’s garden

I hope you’ve learned something new about Hellebores today!  Maybe you’ll give them a try in your garden, too.

In peace,
Dana