plants you might like….



The audio was originally recorded for The SodShow, the gardening radio programme I present with Brian Greene on 103.2 Dublin City Fm. It was first aired Friday 11th March.

The first voice you will hear is that of Irish Times garden writer Jane Powers.

The second voice is that of Peter Martin from Living Shamrock. His company is responsible for the hydro gel that allows Irish shamrock grown in Ireland to be transported and exported, soil free world wide. More than that, is responsible for the Shamrock that is presented to The US President by the Irish Head of State annually on the 17th March.



The Ranunculaceae are a genus of more than 200 species of evergreen and deciduous mix of [not always but generally speaking] climbing plants, as one would generally know them.

In that context and to the climbing plants side of this family – some of these flowering beauties can reach upwards of 50′ in height, an error [?] in plant  you do not wish to make. They are generally self climbing and renowned for their almost wrap around corkscrew like self clinging attachments which it then uses to surge itself upwards.

The key to buying any climber, in this case clematis, is to suit the plant to the place. Mistakes in this department can often made in the early days for the sake of maybe saving a few euro’s. In my youth, the varieties most common were the Clematis montana – that can grow easily to 46′ long and therefore creates a very woody base, powering over and smothering almost anything that may have been planted nearby including trees, building and shrubs!

To this, I am offering you 6 clematis that are so much easier to care for and also that litte bit prettier. I have chosen these as, at this moment in time, it’s almost October and they are still in flower.

  • Clematis durandii – a late flowering, not self supporting clematis. It can grow to 6′ tall and its blue flowers with yellow anthers can grow to 3″ wide.
  • Clematis rouge cardinal – this rouge coloured late flowering clematis will self support and can grow to 10′ tall. Its flowers can grow to 4″ wide.

  • Clematis Mrs George Jackman – this one, I love. It flowers in early to mid and then again in late summer . The white flowers can grow to 6″ wide. Self clinging.
  • Clematis Nelly Moser – same as above, it is a self clinging double flowerer – It can grow to 10′ tall and its pink and white striped flowers can grow to 6″ wide.

  • Clematis proteus – this double flowering clematis can grow to 10′ tall and its flowers to 6″ wide. The second batch of flowers differing in colour by just a touch.
  • Clematis jackmanii – a single late flowering self climbing. it can grow to 10′ tall and its dark velvet flowers can grow to 4″ wide.

Some choose to plant on trellice. I personally wouldn’t. the problem is that the foliage canopy prevents moisture evaporating but allows it in and the wood quite quickly rots and falls apart. I prefer to use a strong timber support and galvanised wire. It means essentially it’s a one off installation and the wire does not rot or rust. Perfection.

Go forth. Buy. Consider. Enjoy!


Ilex – Holly


The aquifoliaceae evergreens and [unknows to some] sometimes deciduous shrubs, trees and [once again, possibly surprising to some] climbers are a genus of about 400 species. Famed for their berries and foliage, there is a lot more to these general stalwarts than meets the eye.

Take a listen to this ….

Their flowers are generally borne from spring to summer depending on type and climate. But it is after here that one should pay attention if anything more than that [ie. berry] is required, as the male and female flowers are borne generally upon seperate plants. ie they are monoecious/ they require a polinator – or – in more simple terms, the male and female come as seperate plants. That said, they can also come as dioecious ie. having both male and female flowering parts.

The problem with this is, should one purchase the wrong [?] plant, ie. the male, one will never see a berry at all, as they do not produce them. If one does buy a male – to go with the female, or a plant that is both male and female…. take your time and read back if you must, one should see berries – the reason, most likely for which you bought the plant.

I personally recommend the following:

  • Ilex Gold King [female]
  • Ilex JC Van Taol [dioecious]
  • Ilex Aureum Marginata [dioecious]

The great thing about Holly’s  is, that should one follow the basic rules…. ie. buy once and buy well and plant it right – one has, in simple terms, a plant for life. Personally, I like the fact that there’s a male and a female in the garden together. A happy couple, sort of…. And that makes me smile. 😀

They’re in berry all over St Stephens Green at the moment…. I bought the last 2 potted, but it is coming into rootball season and I think I’ll be getting a few beauties for my own garden this year. What about you….?

For more gardening news – listen to the #sodcast


Pronounced Nip-hof-e-a [I like the k in as a almost semi silent] Famed commonly as the red hot poker, in the more common varieties it is easy to see why it picked up the name. But not all can be labelled as such ie. by their appearance. These plants of the Asphodelaceae/ liliaceae are a genus of about 70 species and are also commonly called the torch lilly – seems to make a lot more sense to me when you look around….?

They can be considered perennials, evergreen or deciduous. Bet you not everyone knew that ? But generally, they are a clump forming plant used more often in herbaceous borders. That said, it not always how I have chosen to use them.

They are a hardy enough plant that can grow up to 6′ tall – I’ve rarely seen that – and tend to die back in the winter months. In this they can look a little unsightly

The yellow variety is Kniphofia Bees Lemon. It can grow to 3′ tall and 2′ wide. It flowers late summer to autumn. Better looking than the one above…?

I particularly like the kniphofia for the fact that they can be propagated by division. It’s pretty much plants for free if you get the right variety. Personally I don’t like the ‘red hot poker’ I much prefer the ‘torch lilly’ – does that make sense ? And I am not one generally for using the non-botanical names.

If you are thinking of buying some plants to touch up the garden, these are a great investment. You’ll have free cut flowers and free plants to swap or give away once you get past the first season.

It is October, almost, watering is not really something you will need to worry about – make life easy on yourself and the plant you are investing in, buy some of these guys, get one of the odd[er] varieties if you can and brighten up your days for next season. You’ll thank me for it, I promise! Go forth and start planting.

Apparently Autumn and Winter [and spring of coursre] are the quietest time in the gardeners calender…. not likely. Not if you are extremely wise 😉

Robinia Pseudoacacia Frisia


I had an email in today reminding me that October was just around the corner…. And it is. With that comes tree planing season. That said, this photo was taken last week and there is great potential for me to end on an entirely different subject-ish 😉 My idea here is just to get you thinking of what is merely weeks away….  Plan now for when you will essentially be buying a twig, stick or dormant plant and you will reap the rewards.

Imagine if everyone in Ireland planted just one tree how beautiful this country would look….

This however is the Robinia pseudoacacia ‘frisia’.

Leguminosae/ papilionaceae. The Robinia’s are a genus of about 20 deciduous species and grow pretty well in Ireland. ‘The books’ note that it may upset your tummy if you eat any part of the tree. On one hand, who eats trees anyway. On the other, better safe than sorry and I tell you in advance.

To it’s name; Psuedo meaning false, and acacia being an entirely different tree, this is often commonly known as the false acacia or the black locust. It’s attractiveness comes down to its foliage which is almost like the sweet pea or pea’s that I have grown in my garden – but then it is Leguminosae [legume] which is essentially the pea family.

This variety of Robinia can grow up to 50 feet tall. It’s golden foliage turns to a more green in summer and to a more orange in autumn. I love it also for its perfumed [although I can’t smell diddly] white flowers than grow in little hanging clusters or racemes* in summer time.

They also remind me slightly of these Gleditsia – funnily enough, they are commonly referred to as the honey locust. Well, you learn something new every day. Go. Buy. Enjoy. Let me know how you get on.

*raceme: [def] a cluster of flowers along a central stem