What to do in August

What a summer we have had! Many  have had to spend it here in Ireland for the first time in years!

The great thing is that being present has made many more aware of their garden potential and what they had been missing.

There is no such thing as no maintenance,(that includes me), but it is the job and rewards we receive that make it all worth while – flowers, food,wildlife and vitamin D.

Keeping on top of jobs – weeding, pruning and keeping the lawn edges sharp can take away much of the pressure.Now is the time to start –

  1. Tidying up borders. Don’t chop everything, allow littler creatures to have protection, from the elements and other predators and enjoy the seed heads of Crocosmia lucifer, Agapanthus for many more months- but no harm to take way the really decaying bits.
  2. Turn your compost into another bin in preparation for refilling.As leaves fall start collecting, black plastic bags with holes can be useful to store this valuable product.
  3. Trim your low hedges (box) and  get organised to trim the larger ones in late September or before the first frosts.Prue lteflowering shrubs.
  4. Keep dead heading your annuals such as  sweet pea, cosmos until you decide to leave to set seed which you can then later harvest for sowing either in November or next year.Also dahlias, if you decide to lift them, mark the tubers with a marker by colour,so maybe you can plant by colour next year.If you leave them in the ground, cover with an organic mulch and remember to pull it back in February before the slugs wake up. Again dahlias  can keep going until the first frost. – October depending where you are.
  5. Tidy up strawberry plants and remove any old straw from around the plants to improve ventilation and reduce the risk of pests and diseases. Strawberry ‘Skyline could be worth investigating as it is a climber a great idea for small space.Pot up strawberry runners beside parent and when own roots established you have your new fresh plant to start off for next year. Strawberries are at their peak year3 ,so time to replace for year 4.
  6. Aphid  attack on cardoons, sweet pea and lupins- lots more , use a soapy solution in a hand spray (hose could be too strong) rhubarb leaves boiled in water, use the cooled water as a drench as it contains oxalic acid which is highly toxic to humans and aphids.Aphids can be  brown,  black, green and white. Ants have a symbiotic relationship with aphids by providing nature for  aphid eggs in return for their a sugary food produced by aphids.
  7. August – Autumn,  time to start planning for spring( happily winter takes care of itself). BULBS, great selection coming into garden centres now. The last bulbs to plant are tulips- winter job.
  8. Also opportunity to take cuttings. Select green, non-woody stems for taking tip cuttings. Newer growth is easier to root than woody stems,but we re coming into “Hard wood season”.Locate a stem that has a node, the spot on the stem where a leaf is or was attached. It looks like a joint on the stem and it is the area that will generate new roots. Use scissors or a razor blade that has been sterilised in alcohol/boiling water, to make a clean cut, just below a node. The cutting doesn’t need to be very long, a single node with a couple of leaves will be fine. Before taking any cuttings, get your pots and supplies ready. You should get the cuttings trimmed and planted immediately after removing them from the donor plant.Cuttings do best with consistent moisture, so  plastic rather than terracotta  pots , since terracotta  dries out faster. But, if you can check on your plants every day, terracotta is better as it is breathable.Also making a little tent over will help to contain moisture, along with  a little bottom  can speed up rooting.
  9. To help guarantee flowers on your Camellias next year, check to make sure they do not dry out in the next couple of months, as flower buds are set now and can be dropped during a dry spell.
  10. Take lots of photos, to remind yourself in February, of what the garden looks like now, nd you will be delighted with what you have achieved.

Black Spot home spray.

Black Spot Spray, 

500ml water,

3 tsp. Baking Powder/Bicarbonate Powder,

1 tsp. Vegetable oil,

A dash of eco soap (non eco soaps can have unfriendly chemicals)

Mix all together into a spray bottle. If the roses are very dry ,give them a good watering before applying spray.Cover leaves well with spray, will need to be repeated.

What to do in March


  • Sow lawn seed when the ground is dry and rain is expected.
  • Lawns need feeding in most cases at this time, especially those that grew poorly last year and have a lot of moss.
  • Mow when conditions are correct, ie ground not too wet, not too low.


  • Planting of new perennial flowers and lifting and dividing of established plants can be carried out if necessary, but do not delay, and make sure the plants are watered until they re-establish fully.
  • Spring bulbs can be lifted green in full leaf, just after flowering and moved to other areas.
  • Gladiolus corms can be planted directly outdoors from the middle of the month.
  • Lily bulbs can also be planted out or potted up for summer flowers.
  • Hardy annual flowers such as calendula and candytuft can be sown now and will flower in late summer.
  • Start off begonias and dahlias in pots of compost.
  • Re-pot house plants that are pot-bound and falling over.


  • Onion sets and shallots can be put in now too.
  • Potatoes should be ready and if conditions are right plant.
  • If new fruit trees and bushes plant now to benefit of the best growing part of the year, also coming to the end of Bare Root season.
  • Apply some potash to fruit trees or a fruit fertiliser to improve growth and yield but not rich compost or manure when tends to promote soft growth and diseases. Fertiliser potassium is sometimes called “potash” .Potash ores are typically rich in potassium chloride , necessary for flower formation leading to fruit.
  • Pruning of apple and pear trees and blackcurrant bushes should be completed in early March because the buds will be already opening.
  • Weed around established herb plants to ensure they are weed-free as new growth begins.Weed your paths, etc and you will be glad later on.

Some summer flowering bulbs to consider

Some Spring Planting Bulbs (Summer Flowering)

Crinum flowers.

  1. Begonia Tubers   in a container protected from frosts
  2. Dahlia Tubers   in a container protected from frosts
  3. Crocosmia Corms   choose something like Lucifer as the orange one I love is very invasive and a bit of a nuisance at times.
  4. Lily Bulbs -plant only if the soil is not too wet, lilies look great in pots.
  5. Zantedeschia  (Calla Lilies ) again think of pots
  6. Crinum
  7. Eucomus
  8. Gladiolus Corms   (Symbolising strength and moral integrity, gladioli also represent infatuation, with a bouquet conveying to a recipient that they pierce the giver’s heart with passion. Striking and colourful with towering stems, this August birth flower and 40th wedding anniversary flower evoke the drama of Roman gladiators)
  9. Canna
  10. Liatris spicata 

December Gardening

Happy Christmas every one and a Fruitful New Year

Just a few thoughts for now, what you could  or might do.

  1. Feed the birds and don’t forget they like to drink.
  2. Get all those leaves off your lawns the grass will suffer underneath.
  3. Clean your tools
  4. Finish planting your bulbs, they don’t do very well in brown bags!
  5. Decide now and make a list of any seeds you would like to grow.

I think this enough, remember imitate our garden at rest and do the same. Looking at books filled with beautiful plants and gardens will inspire you. The best and nicest Irish book of course is Jimi Blake’s book “A Beautiful Obsession”. Many of the photos were taken by Bernard van Giessen who has also photographed Mornington Garden.One  more thing, Fumbally Christmas Market on Sunday 15,  Green Vegetable Seeds, will be there with the best organic seeds you can get.


How to prepare for the winter         

with  Klaus Laitenberger                 21 September 2019

How to prepare for the winter – green manure, seaweed, covering with plastic etc.  Growing winter crops – garlic, broad beans and winter salads. Using your tunnel or greenhouse in winter. Planning for next year.
Ants in the Garden

Up coming May Workshops


Natural Pest and Disease Management

Saturday May 25 No need ever to use Chemicals.


Ingrid Foley

 Your health starts in the garden and Ingrid will show you how to avoid toxic and dangerous chemicals. She will demonstrate how to keep your garden healthy and protect your plants from pests and diseases with an emphasis on prevention! Learn how to deal with problems from slugs to wireworms, from blight to other fungal diseases. Get advice and help on how to prevent problems. All other mechanical and biological controls will be explored and various antifungal and antibacterial teas, brews and sprays will be introduced. The course we believe all gardeners need to do, but often shy away from.

10am – 4pm

You can book here.

Dee Crofts will help you capture flowers and foliage in plaster by creating your own “fossils” from Mornington Garden. Using potters clay to make your mould and plaster of paris to create a unique art piece.


The best and worst thing about gardening is that time does not stand still, and I suppose neither do we.Gardening is about life and the desire to live.

Really enjoy every day of May as the country side and our gardens push up new growth, the leaves on the trees, so fresh and vibrant, the Cherry, Apple blossom booming, drink in the fresh air which we are now beginning to realise we cannot take for granted. 

The combination of our non toxic gardening will have a benefit , encouraging bio-diversity where it is difficult to exist in other places,  such a natural thing in our gardens, on our balconies where ever we can encourage flora and fauna to thrive.

May Day was born from the industrial struggle for an eight-hour day.For a gardener as the days stretch we have the opportunity to extend our time in the garden — no May Day for us, but then is it work?

May  the beginning of summer, the seeds were sown in spring, new life really starts to be seen in the garden.The apple trees are in full bloom bearing fruit in the autumn, completing their cycles of life, with the production of seed to continue on.

The soil is beginning to warm up as the days grow longer and generally in most parts of the country around the 20 May we can start planting out our more delicate plants without the worry of frost.The protection we gave the soil  in the autumn and late winter will now begin to pay dividends, without good soil we are lost.

I suppose the best indicator that things are happening is the growth of weeds, and  so keep hoeing. Weeds are flowers growing in the wrong place, so you choose, as dandelions are still one of the best sources of early pollen for our precious bees.

For me May brings back many very happy memories of my Holy Communion picnic on the shores of Lough Corrib with the Hawthorn in full bloom. Enjoy.

1 Plant up your tomatoes into the best possible compost, plant them deep.

2 Early flowering shrubs when finished, such as  Forsythia, now is the time to prune as they will produce their flowers again on this years growth.

3 Mow your lawn often keep short and allow the grass to stay there helping to feed the soil.

4.Dead head Tulips and Narcissi ( daffodils) as they finish, allow the leaves to die back naturally, as they are feeding the bulbs for next year, this can take 6 weeks 9 mid June).

5 Keep a good eye out for slugs and snails, they are most active int the evenings. Set up beer    traps for them, hoeing in the morning also helps to reduce baby slugs.

Get those summer containers Hanging now

Next Sunday 28 April I will be getting my summer pots and baskets ready for the new season of SUMMER

This will be a morning of plant selection and planting so bring along your Favourite pot ,container basket and let’s get going.

We will start at 11 with a cup of coffee and now that the nettles are still young some nice teas.

You can book on line or contact me on 087 2256365  look forward to meeting you

Top 5 Gardening Tips for March

Top 5 tips for March

Fleece covering pelargoniums

1.  Pot on seeds now ready, those with true leaves about two whorls high into a potting mix which will give them nourishment.Such as found in John Inns no 2 Also lots more seeds to be sown now, check your existing seed packets and sow what you want and can.

2. Divide clumps of Galanthus sub. ( snowdrops) and place in an area where you wished they were and also will not be disturbed when dormant.You can still divide clumps of perennials and most importantly cut back grasses before they really take off with growth which would make it extremely  difficult later on.

3. Keep hoeing paths and beds with an Osslating Hoe ( I have some here for sale) my favorite  tool .By doing this you are preventing weed development, also churning slug eggs to the surface making a delicious meal for birds. Also check to see if you have frog spawn in buckets ponds etc and treasure it. Frogs are very  beneficial in a garden.

4.Cut grass if dry. If the ground is wet wait as a heavy lawn mower will form ruts and compaction. If you have a lawn with obvious edges ( unlike mine ) consider a robot lawn mower lovely and light.

5.Keep an eye on the weather,protect vunerable plants with fleece or straw, especially  tree ferns. Potted plants group together and  shelter. Also it can be drier than you realise so check potted plants for watering, even though they don’t need much water, growth is about to begin so demand will increase.

5 Things to do in February

5 things to do in February

1. Cut back ornamental grasses  such as Stipa gigantia, Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’  Grasses such as Stipa tenuissima – Pony Tail grass, Stipa arundinacea better to pull your fingers through and remove spent fronds.Better to wait until the soil warms up before dividing clumps of grasses and there is better new growth.

2.Prune apple and pear trees whilst they’re still dormant. Leave plum , cherry  and apricot trees until the early summer as pruning these fruit trees now will make them susceptible to Silver Leaf disease.As soon as they start to open their leaves, good time to prune as their sap is now beginning to rise.

3  Plant bear rooted trees and roses .I prefer to plant my roses when in flower so that I am sure I have what I want – labels can get mixed up.Using a Mycorrhizal fungi can add dividends creating that bridge between root and soil.

4 Check out all the fabulous scented shrubs now such as Daphne, Viburnum x bodnantense, Witch Hazel – Hamamelis x intermedia and Wintersweet Chimonanthus praecox.

If you have these shrubs already once  they have finished flowering ,carry out a light pruning.

5 As the weather has been very mild,the soil is not too cold — well here in Dalkey. If you haven’t mulched do so immediately. You can use piles of leaves. shredded compost, manure, and compost such as Enrich.This acts like a blanket, surpasses weeds, protects the soil structure and also if we have a drought again next summer you will be glad you have done this, as it will act as a water retentive sponge in your soil.

Now the cold has arrived, how quickly we had forgotten how it can feel. Plants like tree ferns are not totally hardy so invest in some horticultural fleece and wrap them, making sure the wrappings are secure and will not blow off.

As the cold is necessary for lots of plants and seeds to develop  be glad it has arrived. Wrap up, and enjoy the light – welcome to Spring 2019 and  the the rebirth of the garden.