Strawberries and Roses galore!

Hi there! You’re very welcome to my blog. This week’s summer solstice coincided with what finally felt like the start of summer in Ireland. Not to get too excited, but we hit 23 degrees Celsius – which is 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Not overly hot, but better than what we’d been having! 🙂 This was great news for our strawberries. A little bit of warmth was exactly what they needed. We’ve had several great harvest and the strawberries are so sweet.

June is typically the month for my roses to start showing off, too. The rose shrubs have been covered in buds and now those buds are finally open flowers. The bed is a beautiful mass of pink! Although I was quite late in applying it, this year I have used Uncle Tom’s Rose Tonic to help keep them healthy. It is a nature-identical plant food. A few of the plants tend to suffer from black-spot, which I’d love to prevent. We’ll see how they do. (Just a note that the product is pricey.)

The peony are still hanging on! My Sarah Bernhardt and Bowl of Beauty are the last two varieties in bloom. I couldn’t resist, and I created a large arrangement with them this week. I was quite pleased with it, with the added bonus of it smelling lovely, too!

I am joining The Propagator’s meme Six on Saturday. Feel free to have a visit of the other contributors, too!

Enjoy the tour!

In Peace,

1 – Strawberries! Remember when I said I’d give this bed one year to prove itself? Well, it did. We’ve had more than these three hauls and the strawberries have been large, firm and delicious. The covers that my husband built were great to keep the birds out and light enough to easily take off. Strawberry plants do take work: the runners need to be kept in check, you need to keep a balance of old and new plants, and they need to be weeded – all of which is hard on the back. It is why I wanted to make sure the work would be worth it with LOTS of strawberries. I’m so glad this is the case. My back-up alternative plan is to have a bed full of peony plants, which isn’t too bad either.

2 – A peony, poppy & rose arrangement. This was fun to create! I love it when I am able to collect lots of flowers for an arrangement. The different shades of pink are fabulous, but what I think makes the arrangement are the coral colored poppies. The deep pink roses are Princess Anne, and there are some mid-pink The Ancient Mariner roses, both are David Austin varieties. In the center, there is one small Kansas peony (it’s a deep pink), along with Bowl of Beauty and Sarah Bernhardt peonies. And finally, I added some lychnis Coronaria rose campion, just to have some flowers that were a little smaller. The only thing I was missing was sun to photograph it! 🙂

3 – Princess Anne, David Austin roses. This shrub is covered in deep pink flowers and is just show stopping! I’m glad I have it on the outer edge of the bed. It is also sweetly scented. This is one of the plants that suffers from black-spot, badly. We’ll see if this new treatment can perhaps help that over time. I have used the milk/water solution in the past, after the black-spot appears. It is quite a lot of work if you have many plants to do. Stay tuned!

4 – The Ancient Mariner, David Austin roses. This beautifully scented shrub just seems to be a tiny bit ahead of the others with the amount of flowers it has. It is spectacular! But because it has other rose shrubs around it, I can’t fully get a perfect picture of it. But this one isn’t bad. 😉

5 – Bowl of Beauty peony. This peony, like a bunch of my other ones, had to be moved last year. We ended up dividing it into two plants. Not surprising, it only had a few blooms this year. Like all the rest of my moved peonies, I’m hoping with feed and time they will settle in and increase the number of those flowers.

6 – Boxwood. A rather unglamorous picture! But I wanted to try and capture the work that went in to tidying up the boxwood plants. I did a lot of weeding of the boxwood, and then gave it a good feed. These plants were all grown from our cuttings a few years ago and they are really doing great! I also weeded the rose bed, although I’m still debating about pulling those poppies out. We’ll see.

And that is my Six on Saturday! Thank you for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed the tour. See you next time.

In my tasty June Garden

allium purple sensation is now “finished” in the garden

When it comes to the garden there are changes going on all of the time.  Just like in life, time moves forward whether we are ready or not!  The garden has moved from showing off spring flowers on to growing our fruit and veggies and showing off some early summer flowers. We live in County Louth, and although other parts of the country have had rain, it has missed us for the good part of 4 weeks.  I can really see and feel the dryness in the garden.

A very dry veggie and fruit garden

Look at that grass! Granted, we don’t pay any attention to the grass other than mowing it (probably too short, I might add), but it is usually *green* and not yellow.  Anyway, this is an early June look at our pumpkin and zucchini (courgette) plants, along with our blueberry and strawberry plants, and our pear tree.

organic zucchini (courgette)

The organic zucchini plant was given to me in May.  Actually, I did a little bit of a swap, and traded sunflowers for zucchini.  It is great to find someone who grows organically and likes to share! We mixed in a good amount of our compost when we planted them.

organic pumpkin plant

The picture above is of one of my pumpkin plants.  Pumpkins LOVE compost.  We worked in as much compost as we could into this bed.  The seed for this plant is actually from the pumpkins I grew in 2016.  While I did try to grow from last year’s seeds, they didn’t produce anything.  So I then tried the seeds from the previous year, and “Bob’s your Uncle” – they grew! 🙂


The blueberry plants are overladen with berries this year and the berries are growing to a nice size!  I am still trying to figure out if my soil has enough acidity for blueberries, as some years they do well and some they don’t. I’ve given them lots of my compost early on in the season, and I’ve kept them watered during this dry spell.  We’ll see how it ends up!

green strawberries

The strawberries are still *very* green, and not very big.  They, too, were lucky recipients of our compost (there is never enough compost, so I have to pick and choose which plants get it!).  I’ve also made sure to water them, so again, I’m hopeful that over the next week or two we’ll get some nice color in them (and a little bit more growth!).

baby pears in early June (strawberry beds in the background)

Our pear tree is doing well again this year.  It is only in the past few years that it has produced fruit, but boy was it worth the wait!  These guys are teeny tiny right now, and only the width of a small finger.

This picture is of our pears in September 2017 (they were delicious!)

another look back at our fall garden of September 2017 with sunflowers, pumpkins, pears, and blueberry plants which have pretty red leaves

a full bed of sunflowers early June 2018

I have tried a new location for sunflowers this year.  I’ve alternated garlic and potatoes in this bed over the past few years, so it was time for a change.  We apparently didn’t dig up all of the spuds last year, as there are some growing up between the sunflowers…  These lovely plants are all grown from my sunflower seeds from last year. My father-in-law kindly started them for me in his greenhouse.  They have really shot up over the past number of weeks, and look to be quite happy!

You have to be sure not to wait too long to collect the sunflower seeds as the birds LOVE them and will clean out the entire flower heads before you know it! (sunflower from our garden Fall 2017)

I really should write a post just on compost, because it is so beneficial!  I’ll put that on my to-do list.  Here’s a look at our “summer” compost heap:

Compost heap (top layer is all new season grass) with a fab overhang of Elder trees!

Underneath all of the new grass is aged compost from last season

It is worth digging the good stuff out from underneath the grass!

I have a separate tumbler for food compost, but I think I will leave that picture for another post!  Thankfully, no one can really see our compost heap, and the sight of it certainly doesn’t bother me given how good it is for the garden!  But I really don’t want to end with pictures of my compost.  I’m going to first show you a picture of tulips and our Hawthorn trees when they were beautifully in bloom with white flowers.  This year I really think the flowers came and went too quickly!  And then I’m going to end with a picture of an early summer plant (peony).

Queen of the Night tulips with a backdrop of Hawthorn trees in flower

Paeonia Bowl of Beauty – all four pictures are different flowers but from the same plant

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of my June garden. Anything tasty or pretty growing in yours?

In peace,

Growing the easy stuff: Strawberries

fresh strawberries

fresh strawberries

Strawberries: growing this fruit in the garden works for us.  When we first moved into our home and looked out onto the open space of our lawn, my husband and I both saw potential for “growing our own”.

This is our side garden in 2010 right after we planted our two apple trees.

Our side garden in 2010 with only the two apple trees we planted. They are to the right of the very ugly sewer pipe (which I yarn bombed last summer).

Getting the garden ready to “grow our own” would require a little bit of work!  It is now five years later and we can really see a transformation.  There has been quite a bit of learning involved, too. Learning, making mistakes, learning, making mistakes: you get the picture.   We’re not done with either the transforming or the learning!

a look at the beds in May

a look at the beds in May; on the left is asparagus, on the right are strawberries

The above picture isn’t the same view as the one above it, but it is the same space, just all filled in! (Note that we have since moved both apple trees, a perfect example of learning, making mistakes, learning!)

June view of the beds (extending the stone pathway, too)

June view of the beds (slowly extending the stone pathway, too)

We’ve decided to grow veggies and fruit that are the least amount of maintenance because like everyone else in the world, time is precious and always in short supply.

our newly added, this year, third strawberry bed

our newly added this year, third strawberry bed

It is important to do what is right for you and your family.  Right now, this is right for us.

A look down the garden in June

A sunny view in June. On the right are blueberry plants, on the left is garlic

Strawberries do require a bit of work.  In the fall the plants should be thinned out and divided to provide a mix of mature plants and new plants. Those new plants, formed from the  “runners”, really do run rampant, so you’ll have plenty to share with friends, family and neighbours!

lots and lots of strawberries

lots and lots of strawberries

It is good to have space between the plants, too, for air circulation.

a tiny detour from topic with a pic of one of the sunflowers about to bloom

a tiny detour from topic with a pic of one of the sunflowers about to bloom

For some reason, basically family life,  we weren’t able to work in the garden at all last fall.   That made for a messy strawberry patch this winter.  Very early this spring my husband divided the plants and cleaned up the beds.  I was worried we’d left it too late, but thankfully that was not the case and we have plenty of strawberries.  Our beds this year are more full than I would have liked.  (Did I mention that my husband is in charge of the strawberry beds?)   🙂

We cover our strawberries with netting after the fruit has formed. It does keep out the birds for the most part!

behind the sunflowers are the covered strawberry beds

behind the sunflowers are the covered strawberry beds

I think they are a bit later this year, as usually June is strawberry month.  Our last bumper crop was two years ago, but this year is nearly as good as then.  Most importantly, they are incredibly sweet!  Some of them, well actually most of them, are not a deep red, but nonetheless taste delicious!

the sunflowers are slowly starting to bloom now

the sunflowers are slowly starting to bloom now

I posted a wonderful recipe for angel food cake during our bumper crop season.  That year we had neat and tidy beds, too! You can have a look here:

This picture was taken this morning. I see a little more yellow coming from the sunflower plants!

This picture was taken this morning. I see a little more yellow coming from the sunflower plants!

I would highly recommend growing strawberries!  You don’t need a lot of space as they can even be grown in containers.  What’s the point of my post?  To encourage “growing your own”, because it is much easier than you think, and so tasty!

Happy Planting!


Organic Colleen Spuds … Delicious!

Vegetable gardening is still new to me. I am learning so much!  But I’m delighted that some things have turned out really well, despite my not doing things perfectly correct.  Take our spuds, for instance.  The early organic variety called Colleens were our first potatoes we planted and we were so excited.  But we had more potatoes than allotted space in that bed.  So we squeezed them in.  Yeah, I know, that was silly.  But we’ve just started eating those Colleens and oh wow! They are delicious! Have you ever dug a spud fresh out of the ground and had it for dinner?  If your answer is “no”, then you haven’t lived.  🙂  And this coming from a girl who really was not a fan of potatoes before moving to Ireland four years ago…

(For our second planting of potatoes we used more space, by the way.)

Our rainbow chard is finally coming along.  We’ve had it a few times for dinner.  I sneaked it into some pesto last week.  Otherwise I just saute it with garlic and olive oil.  I’m still waiting for our peas. They are so pretty, but not quite ready to eat.  I have lettuce in planters on our deck.  I really like that the kids just pop out the back door and pick what they want for their sandwiches.  They also like to raid the strawberry patch, which I am perfectly O.K. with! I’d rather them be eating the fruit than those darn slugs…

My parsley is really doing well. I picked some tonight just to see if it was fragrant.  I wish I had a scratch and sniff app on my blog! It smelled so nice!  I am going to have to find something to cook tomorrow that calls for parsley.  The other greens in the pictures below are my parsnips, and some carrots.  Slowly but surely, vegetables are growing.

Ireland has had a very wet summer, so I’m lucky that the veggies haven’t just floated away!  I hope you’ve had nice summer weather where you live and garden!


It was so easy to dig the potatoes up. One plant has enough potatoes for dinner for our family of five.  I am so hooked!

My two potato beds. The early organic Colleen variety are on the right, and main crop organic variety Sarpo Mira on the left.

The peas are so pretty, but not quite ready to eat. This organic variety is called Karina.

Rainbow chard with garlic & shallots in back of bed.

Organic Rainbow Chard on the chopping block.

The parsnips are doing really well.

We usually eat parsnips with carrots (more carrots than parsnips), both of which I’ve planted. But only one row of carrots have taken while three rows of parsnips are thriving!  There will have to be some creative cooking this fall!

Italian Giant Parsley grown from organic seed. Can you smell it?

From organic seed Buttercrunch lettuce on our deck.

We have a couple of containers of this lettuce on our deck. My father-in-law started them from seed for me and then we put them in these containers. I find that they do better here than in the beds, and it’s easier (for the kids) to quick get some to eat!

These are a few of the uneaten strawberries from our garden. It’s hard to keep them long enough to photograph!

Black Velvet Nasturtium which we grew from seed.

This was my first year growing flowers from seed, so I was happy with the result … flowers!

Black Velvet Nasturtium grown from seed.

You might notice that almost all of the pictures have water droplets in them!  We’ve had so much rain, but thankfully there is usually an hour or two which is dry and sometimes even sunny!  Such is weather in Ireland – it packs everything into each day!

Black Velvet Nasturtium grown from seed. (not sure how this non-black velvet one got in here!)

A summer peak at the garden: Peas, Potatoes, Parsnips, Carrots, Cukes, & Chard!

When the weather is nice in Ireland, the weather is super nice in Ireland!  We were finally free to spend a full day in the garden!  I love working in the garden, everything about it: pulling weeds, gathering rocks, planting, weeding, watering (ok, this doesn’t have to be done so much here), getting rid of slugs, more weeding.  I just love being outside and being a part of a living, growing, and changing garden.    We’ve been “growing our garden” over the past two years.  It is in a continuous state of change and development!  There have been some learning experiences, too.  I have a few plants & trees that aren’t happy where they are and I need to find out what will make them healthy again, possibly just changing their location.

Our raised vegetable beds are starting to look productive.  I think the veggies are slow growing this year.  We could use more heat, for the plants and for me!  My shallots are the happiest! They at least look impressive.  Our potatoes are growing nicely, too.  I’ve taken some pictures of the baby growth of what I have so far.  I like tracking it from a young stage to full bloom.  You should see carrots, garlic, onions, and parsnips.  My other beds have zucchini & pickling cukes in them, but they didn’t get photographed.

Walking away from the raised beds will bring you toward another part of the yard,  what we fondly refer to as the Fruit Orchard.  I was happy to see the start of apples and, for the first time, pears!  Our two year old blueberry bushes are also looking very good, and are full of fruit.   We’ve put a net over the strawberries in the hopes of keeping out the birds. I’m not sure if it is good enough for this job, but time will tell.    We’ve added bits and pieces on to this garden continuously!  I think it is almost at the right size.  Our plans include a  few more changes over the next year, and then it will be “done”!

Although called the Fruit Orchard, we do also have vegetables in this section.   We have Pacific Purple asparagus, but only 4 plants have survived over the past two years.  So we just expanded that section by adding 10 Grolim white asparagus.  I know it’s a long slow process with asparagus, but hopefully it’ll be worth it!  This year my husband planted peas for me.  He used some chicken wire and bamboo sticks for the plants to grow on.  Slugs love pea plants, by the way… I visit the plants every evening to save them from being someone else’s dinner!  We are attempting to grow some watermelon this year.  Ireland doesn’t have the best climate for this fruit, but I guess I have to prove that to myself!

The final set of pictures are just showing my boxwood hedging.  I finally cleaned them up a bit.  They really needed some trimming.  Actually, I just had to take some pictures of the beds that I had spent hours weeding!  My star flower of the moment is my Allium (purple sensation)!  I love it!  I’m afraid that the garden it’s in is not thriving. My hydrangea is only now showing signs of life after some compost shock treatment, and my Japanese Maple has been ruined by being in the line of our (gale force) wind path.  Big sigh, lots more work to do!

I hope you are enjoying steps of progress in your garden, too!


These are pictures of  our back yard, including the raised beds and potato beds. I have to say that the kids have really helped in expanding the stone pathway. It’s a tedious job, but I love how it looks! (and it’s character building, right?)

Here are some pictures of the vegetables growing in the raised beds: shallots, garlic, rainbow chard, onions, carrots, and a very fuzzy picture of parsnips.

Pictures from our fondly called “Fruit Orchard”: starting with apples, pears, blueberries, and strawberries.

Pictures of our Pacific Purple asparagus, and peas.

Picture of trimmed box wood plants (in Rose garden, which will hopefully have roses soon!) Followed by pictures of Allium (purple sensation).