May

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.

What to Do Now in the Garden October

Top 10 things to do in
your garden now

1 Photograph your garden- it is amazing how we forget.

2 Visit garden centres to see what plants/shrubs  are flowering now to fill in gaps

3 Divide large clumps of perennials – we get more plants, free up space and allow for better growth next year.

4 Take hardwood cuttings – this is when this year’s growth has become harder – firmer in other words not soft.

Take care to choose a healthy parent plant free from pests or disease and use a sharp, sterilised secateurs or knife. Careful labelling is key and should include the date the cuttings were taken, along with the name of the parent plant, use a compost 50 / 50 sand in a pot. Plant around the edges of the pot. Also, there can be a low rate of success so take lots. Unlike soft and semi-ripe cuttings, hardwood cuttings do not require bottom heat or a moist atmosphere. If you have space you can also simply dig a slit trench half the height of the cuttings and fill the bottom with sharp sand or grit.

Insert the cuttings vertically, to a third to half of their length and back-fill the soil, firming them in. You can use a hormone rooting powder, but this is generally felt to be unnecessary. Water well and label the cuttings so you know what they are. A cold frame can be placed over the top to encourage faster rooting if required.

Hardwood cuttings are very slow to form roots, so don’t expect them to root fully until at least the next spring. If rooted well the cuttings will sprout strong shoots and grow away.

Ideal shrubs for hardwood cuttings are Buddleia, weigela, privet (Ligustrum), Philadelphus, forsythia and willow, but you can experiment with any woody shrub that takes your fancy. Taking cuttings is free, and if they don’t succeed, no harm will have been done. Others plants eminently suited to being propagated from semi-hardwood cuttings include many shrubby evergreens such as rosemary, sage, lavender, box, escallonia, holly, viburnum, hebe, camellia, ceanothus, cistus and choisya. Good luck.

5 Plant bulbs for spring – wait till November to plant tulips. Think also of indoor bulbs for Christmas such as Hyacinths, plant NOW for Christmas. Narcissi Paper White take 6 weeks from planting to flowering and have an amazing scent to fill your home at Christmas when they are finished flowering plant them out into your garden the same with your Hyacinths.

6 Plan your flower borders for next summer — look at midsummer magazines etc for ideas also include spring as it will help you choose bulbs. Come to Patricia’s Workshop on Saturday, November 3.

7 Get your leaf pile organised — you can’t buy leaf mould.

8 Trim lawn edges, scarify and repair lawn, use a low nitrogen law feed.

9 Cut your hedges before frosts – pruning at this time of year is for shape.

10 Veg garden plant garlic, onions, broad beans and green manures.

It is very nice to have a neat tidy garden with good structure but don’t forget to leave some areas for all the little creatures to hibernate in – so don’t be too tidy. Leaf and wood piles make great places for hibernation and shelter. I take down my hanging baskets and replace with bird feeders. Birds are essential for our gardens and they do need a helping hand. Containers with water can act as little ponds for frogs and of course sources of drinking water for our little visitors.

There are lots of other jobs to do as well, but try and get as much done now before it gets too cold to venture out.

Sunday, September 30.Gardening Workshop covering the basics.

The garden is now going to sleep, and now is also the time to plan your beautiful garden for next year.
Seed sowing at this time of year can give you a head start on Spring, roots develop and are stronger. Division of plants- making more, moving plants to better positions, planting bulbs for spring and summer. Feeding your soil, protecting it for the weather ahead- drought, are a few of what we will be covering.

Fruit Tree in Spring

What to do with Fruit trees in Spring

How to look after a 5-year-old fruit tree?

What is the primary purpose of a fruit tree? Well, I suppose the hint is in the name — fruit production.

I was asked this question on Spirit Radio the other day and immediately I thought of feeding, pruning forgetting about the primary purpose of the tree — edible fruit.

  • Pruning – extremely important  — remove all dead, diseased wood.
  • Shape tree, fruit is produced on new growth also you want to be able to harvest the fruit, so don’t it allow it to get to high and out of reach.
  • Remove crossing or rubbing branches
  • Check tree ties — many fruit trees especially young will need a tie with a stake for a couple of years as fruit — especially apples can be very heavy and the tree will bend with the weight. Therefore on a very young tree, it is recommended to remove most if not all of the fruit for the first year or 2.

As Mentioned the primary purpose of a fruit tree is to produce fruit.

  • In autumn and overall application of well-rotted manure, could be applied around the base of the tree. Keep it back from the trunk — don’t allow it to touch as the manure is still breaking down and you don’t want to include the trunk of the tree !! You can actually buy tree guards, well worthwhile with very young trees
  • In spring sprinkle a little extra feed of Potash – Potassium
  • Like tomatoes — which you are also growing for their fruit, you will need a feed high in potash. necessary for flower formation — flowers lead to fruit.
  • Potash is an interesting mineral.
  • It  has several sources,-Potassium  the K   in NPK  nitrogen  phosphate potassium
  • Potassium occurs abundantly in nature. It is the 7th most common element in the earth’s crust. Certain clay minerals associated with heavy soils are rich sources of K, containing as much as 17% potash. Large potash bearing rock deposits occur in many regions of the world deriving from the minerals in ancient seas which dried up millions of years ago. Most potash for fertiliser is derived from one of these potash rocks.
  • Excess potash can cause problems for plants that prefer acidic or balanced pH soils.

The woods from your fire added to your compost will have traces of the worthy ingredient. Most of the wood you burn in your firewood ash is mature or old therefore you will not have as high a concentrate as with young wood — but worth adding to your compost bin — make sure you mix it in as it can become a bit clogie — like the way grass can lump up in your compost.

Potash which literally comes from the rendering of charcoal which has been burnt down to ash at very high temperatures in a pot — hence the name potash.

Your kitchen compost — banana skins are a very good source. Adding pure mineral to your soil on occasion is ok but feeding your soil with well-mixed compost, well-rotted manure is preferable. Seaweed is another excellent source.

So to answer your question again

In spring add some extra potash (Potassium) to your soil – also good for all flowering shrubs – eg. wisteria to promote blossom.

Roses and their care

I was asked today on Spirit Radio about rose care.Not an expert on roses but I know with all flowering plants a good foundation in rich organic soil is the key to a healthy plant.

Coming into May they are should be growing well. To encourage flowers as it is all about the roses.

Pruning.

  • All dead and diseased wood.
  • Stand back and look at its shape.
  • Branches that are crossing keep the one that will allow the plant to grow out. You should be looking for a cup shape. This allows air to circulate, cutting down on a spore bone fungus called Grey mould.
  • If you didn’t get around to pruning in the autumn — this prevents the roses rocking in heavy wind and also aids shape development, prune lightly as the new growth will produce the flowers.
  • Check the ground for old leaves as they can harbour the spores of last years Blackspot. Don’t add these leaves to your compost unless you know they will break down very well.
  • Apply a mulch of well-rotted manure or simply an organic mulch which will prevent any remaining spores from splashing up not the new growth.
  • Hopefully with a good mulch at the base protecting the soil from evaporation yours should be ok but wind can be a feature of drying — remember how our clothes dry on the clothesline, well the same applies to our plants. Keep an eye-the plant will also tell you. Roses don’t like overwatering either.

Feeding

  • Some roses only flower once and the ones that repeat will need feeding during the growing season to encourage new flowers.This can be a foliar feed or a drench at the base of the plant.I will often give a second feeding just as the first big bloom starts to develop, and one more in the middle of the summer to promote later flushes.
  • Also, roses need to be watered during dry spells. The Alhambra in Spain is a scented garden with many roses, and it was the development of an excellent irrigation system by the Moore’s which allowed them to do so.Repeat bloomers, you can feed them several times through the growing season to encourage additional blooms.
  • Overfeeding can produce sappy growth which is open to aphid  attack – back and whitefly.Using a pressurised hose to wash off is one solution Aphids, do the same job to plants that mosquitoes do to humans, they introduce a virus.

Where to grow.

  • Lots of sunlight, growing in shady conditions they will not flourish to their potential.
  • Traditionally rose were grown on their own — they can look magnificent but also awful.The advantage is that you are able to keep a close eye on them, preventing black spot and also easier to feed at once.Plants like companionship, as in isolation any visiting predators have only the roses to feast on.
  • I like to grow mine in mixed beds, but I actually was received gifts of roses shrubs in memory of my sister Frances and ended up planting them together, but my intention is to fill up the space around them with annuals such as- Cosmos, bulbs Alliums, lavender Lavandula, Nepeta catmint, Alchemilla mollies ladies mantle, Dianthus pinks. Good companions also act as living mulches—suppressing weeds and lightly shading the soil, keeping their roots nice and cool, with their heads in the sun.

Companion planting with roses

  • Good rose companions are those that hide their bare legs. Traditionally, lavender (Lavandula), catmint (Nepeta), lady’s mantle (Alchemilla)great in an arrangement, and tall growing pinks (Dianthus) Alliums all make good partners. Good companions also act as living mulches—suppressing weeds and lightly shading the soil, keeping their roots nice and cool, heads in the sun.
  • Alliums including ornamental alliums deter aphids and other pests by confusing them with their strong scent. They also help roses combat black spot. While garlic and chives are most commonly recommended.That is why you will see roses growing vegetable gardens.
  • Yarrow – attracts ladybugs, which will then eat any nearby aphids.
  • Marigolds  (Calendula and Tagetes) — deter pests and help encourage strong plant growth.
  • True Geraniums  – repel Japanese beetles, aphids, and other rose beetles Another important insect in your garden is the wasp as they also feed on aphids.

Planting roses.

When buying roses, to be sure you are getting the colour you want, buy them in bloom.Although the best time is in autumn, then you might not get what you want.Most roses are planted on a rootstock, that of a wild rose, leave this exposed so that if you see the growth you can prune it away — if left it will take over.

•First, give the root ball a good soak in a bucket of water for 15 minutes before you plant.If the compost is dry, it will remain dry in the hole.

•Dig a hole around one 30 cm -foot deep and at least a 30cm-foot wider all around than the root ball of the plant.

•Add some organic matter generously; again garden compost or well-rotted horse manure is ideal, around the planting hole. You want the roots to search out nutrition and not remain happy in its spot.Also, try digging a square hole.

If you are planting in a position where there had been a rose, add some Mycorrhizal Fungi to the planting hole. Make sure the roots are in contact as they act as a bridge from the roots to the soil allowing for quicker and better root establishment. Where roses had been grown previously, the soil could be tired, another good reason to add plenty of organic matter.

In Kew Botanical gardens they have completely changed the soil in their rose garden as the roses had been performing for many years and it was felt the soil was completely exhausted. Our gardens would not have had the same pressure but a healthy well-fed soil will provide great rewards, not only for roses but for all your plants.

This is the tip of the iceberg concerning roses. One more thing, plant scented roses.

I hope this was of help.

Annmarie

"Potting On" at Dalkey Garden School,Dalkey

Gardening and Growing Herbs and how to use them as Medicine

General Gardening Class

April 21,22 and 28,   2018,  2 Saturday, 1 Sunday morning

10am – 1pm

Annmarie Bowring

An introduction to how to take good care of your garden. What plants to plant and how.

Including lawn care, pruning, plant supports, good bugs, feeds, soil testing, composting and tools. All materials are supplied.As the classes are small (max 6) we will have an opportunity to focus on your garden challenges.

Growing Herbs and using them as Medicine.

Saturday 19 May 2018

10am4pm

Joan Hanrahan and Annmarie Bowring

Growing Herbs and How to Use Them as Medicine

Morning and afternoon workshop

Growing herbs and seed sowing

Joan runs a busy practice in nutritional therapy and herbal medicine in Dalkey, where she combines nutritional support with medicinal herbs to optimise healing. Her teaching emphasises nutritional and naturopathic approaches to chronic diseases, and her clinical experience is a valuable resource for students. She is an expert on the digestive system and its relation to immunity, and the interconnectedness of body systems.

Joan trained initially at the Institute of Optimum Nutrition and then went on to gain a BSc. honours degree in Nutritional Therapy at the University of Westminster. She followed this with a two-year post graduate diploma in Herbal Medicine and is now practising in Dalkey, Dublin as a Medical Herbalist and Nutritional Therapist.

She is a member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy, Nutritional Therapists of Ireland, National Institute of Medical Herbalists and Irish Medical Herbalists Organisation.

Joan has a particular interest in the areas of stress, anxiety, adrenal fatigue and other chronic health and digestive problems and regularly attends medical and nutritional seminars. Her interest in environmental medicine has led to involvement with the anti-fluoride movement in Ireland. Joan, a keen gardener, is interested in growing her own food and using foods from the wild.

 

Lunch and notes included.

 

Garden in Autumn

Topiary – Cloud Pruning

Topiary – Cloud Pruning

Origin 

European topiary dates from Roman times. Pliny’s Natural History and the epigram writer Martial both credit Cnaeus Matius Calvinus, in the circle of Julius Caesar, with introducing the first topiary to Roman gardens. Pliny the Younger describes in a letter the elaborate figures of animals, inscriptions, cyphers and obelisks in clipped greens at his Tuscan villa. Within the atrium of a Roman house or villa, a place that had formerly been quite plain, the art of the topiarius produced a miniature landscape (topos- a Greek word) which might employ the art of stunting trees.

Cloud-pruning  The clipping and shaping of shrubs and trees in China and Japan have been practised with equal rigour, but for different reasons. The goal is to achieve an artful expression of the “natural” form of venerably aged pines, given character by the forces of wind and weather. Their most concentrated expressions are in the related arts of Chinese Penjing and Japanese  Bonsai.

Japanese cloud-pruning is closest to the European art. The cloud-like forms of clipped growth are designed to be best appreciated after a fall of snow.

A little bit of History

Since its European revival in the 16th century, topiary has been seen on the parterres and terraces of gardens of the European elite as well as in simple cottage gardens. Traditional topiary forms use foliage pruned and/or trained into geometric shapes such as balls or cubes, obelisks, pyramids, cones, or tapering spirals. Representational forms depicting people, animals, and man-made objects have also been popular.Topiary at Versailles and its imitators was never complicated: low hedges punctuated by potted trees trimmed as balls on standards, interrupted by obelisks at corners, provided the vertical features of flat-patterned parterre gardens. Sculptural forms were provided by stone and lead sculptures. In Holland, however, the fashion was established for more complicated topiary designs; this Franco-Dutch garden style spread to England after 1660. In England, topiary was all but killed as a fashion by the famous satiric essay on “Verdant Sculpture” that Alexander Pope published in the short-lived newspaper The Guardian, 29 September 1713, with its mock catalogue descriptions of Adam and Eve in yew.         In the 1720s and 1730s, the generation of Charles Bridgeman and William Kent swept the English garden clean of its hedges, mazes, and topiary. Although topiary fell from grace in aristocratic gardens, it continued to be featured in cottagers’ gardens, where a single example of traditional forms, a ball, a tree trimmed to a cone in several cleanly separated tiers, meticulously clipped and perhaps topped with a topiary peacock, might be passed on as an heirloom.

Revival

Beckley Park, Oxfordshire: cottage garden topiary formulas taken up in an early 20th-century elite English garden in a historic house setting. The revival of topiary in English gardening parallels the revived “Jacobethan” taste in architecture; John Loudon in the 1840s was the first garden writer to express a sense of loss due to the topiary that had been removed from  English gardens. The art of topiary, with enclosed garden “rooms,” burst upon the English gardening public with the mature examples at Elvaston Castle, Derbyshire, which opened to public viewing in the 1850s and created a sensation. “Within a few years architectural topiary was springing up all over the country (it took another 25 years before sculptural topiary began to become popular as well).”  The following generation, represented by James Shirley Hibberd, rediscovered the charm of topiary specimens as part of the mystique of the “English cottage garden,” which was as much invented as revived from the 1870s.

It may be true, as I believe it is, that the natural form of a tree is the most beautiful possible for that tree, but it may happen that we do not want the most beautiful form, but one of our own designing, and expressive of our ingenuity. The classic statement of the British Arts and Crafts revival of topiary among roses and mixed herbaceous borders, characterised generally as “the old-fashioned garden” or the “Dutch garden” was to be found in Topiary: Garden Craftsmanship in Yew-Taxus baccara  and Box – Buxus sempervierens  by Nathaniel Lloyd (1867–1933), who had retired in middle age and taken up architectural design with the encouragement of Sir Edwin Lutyens. Lloyd’s own timber-framed manor house, Great Dixter, Sussex, remains an epitome of this stylised mix of topiary with “cottagey” plantings that was practised by Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens in a fruitful partnership. The new gardening vocabulary incorporating topiary required little expensive restructuring.

Americans in England were sensitive to the renewed charms of topiary. When William Waldorf Astor bought Hever Castle, Kent, around 1906, the moat surrounding the house precluded the addition of wings for servants, guests and the servants of guests that the Astor manner required. He accordingly built an authentically styled Tudor village to accommodate the overflow, with an “Old English Garden”  including buttressed hedges and free-standing topiary. In the preceding decade, expatriate Americans led by Edwin Austin Abbey created an Anglo-American society at Broadway, Worcestershire, where topiary was one of the elements of a “Cotswold” house-and-garden style soon naturalised among upper-class Americans at home. Topiary, which had featured in very few 18th-century American gardens, came into favour with the Colonial Revival gardens and the grand manner of the American Renaissance, 1880–1920. In Northern Ireland,  Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Marchioness of Londonderry at Mount Stewart(1878 – 1959)  was busy recreating ancient Irish Mythical legends using Topiary. Interest in the revival and maintenance of historic gardens in the 20th century led to the replanting of the topiary maze at the Governor’s Palace, Colonial Williamsburg, in the 1930s.

 

Garden in Autumn

 

20th Century American portable style topiary was introduced to Disneyland around 1962. Walt Disney helped bring this new medium into being — wishing to recreate his cartoon characters throughout his theme park in the form of landscape shrubbery. This style of topiary is based on a suitably shaped steel wire frame through which the plants eventually extend as they grow. The frame, which remains as a permanent trimming guide, may be either stuffed with sphagnum moss and then planted, or placed around shrubbery. The sculpture slowly transforms into a permanent topiary as the plants fill in the frame. This style has led to imaginative displays and festivals throughout the Disney resorts and parks, and mosaic culture (multiple types and styles of plants creating a mosaic, living sculpture) worldwide includes the impressive display at the 2008 Summer Olympics in China. Living corporate logos along roadsides, green roof softscapes and living walls that biofilter air are offshoots of this technology.

21 Century  For me was seeing the very simple sculpting of the hedges of the Jardin Plume in Normandy, creating shape ,silhouette, an inspirational backdrop has led me to try and do the same with my own very old Privet hedge. If you are fortunate to have a mature garden with over grown shrubs, have a very good look at them as you can create, often interesting shapes, raising the canopy, allowing for more interesting planting, very simply adding to your garden without much effort or cost.

When to cut

The best time to trim Box -Buxus sempervirens  is on a dull day, sunny days can  scorch plants and a wet day Box  blight  could become  a problem. Feed after with a slow a general nitrogen rich fertiliser — compost, seaweed or manure.

 

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