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Kniphofia

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 😉

Onions

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The above is my crop of onions that I harvested on Saturday.

Some seem to suggest that I have a relaxed attatude to growing my own. But that’s just it. It’s mine. Also, I like to think that I just make it look too darned easy 😉 I know people who can’t grow. Who have tried to grow and failed at the very first hurdle. I simply hope this takes some of the myth and hypes out of what is essentially a very simple process.

I grew these from members of the Allium family from sets [tiny weeny bulbs for want of a better description]. I paid zero attention to the names and spacings. I just popped them in the the pots. Once again and the same as with any bulb [a store of food] the only thing to remember is that they are planted twice their own depth below soil level.

In conversation with Michael Nugent Snr the questioned suggestion was should one trim the foliage, bend it, or tie it over as one might do [I don’t] with a daffodil. I don’t, put simply. I think plants should be just that and sometimes they are allowed to look a little rugged or ragged. They also look really cool tied up in the kitchen.

Potatoes

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I grew these potatoes some months ago from seed. I think it was about €2.50 for a half litre pot of seed. I simply popped them twice their depth below the surface.

Mine came into flower and passed that point some time ago, but I had potatoes that I had got locally and so I didn’t bother lifting these at all. Until now. I was quite pleased with the crop. I didn’t mound the soil to get more or any of that molarchy. I just planted and left them.

I did run into one problem that was the common potato scab. It’s a scabby patch that appears on the outer skin which disfigures the spud. It’s not a major problem for me or the potato, although if you saw it in a supermarket potato I’d be very surprised. It’s caused by the mycelium producing Streptomyces scabies [the 2nd part of that name alone makes me shiver]. This comes as a result of light soils with a high lime content and also from low moisture levels  usually from a hot summer, which we had spells of this season. I’ll just peel them to be honest and next year I’ll plant a resistant variety.

After that, not much else I can add. It is very much a case of just pop the seed twice its own depth below the surface of the soil and keep well watered.

Of course if you have any questions, simply leave a comment below.

Boyle, Co. Roscommon

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St Patrick’s visit to the town in the year 435 was the first definite recording of Boyle’s existance. On this visit St Patrick noticed that there was very poor accommodation for travellers and he suggested to St Attracta, the abbess of Kilaraught, that she should provide a hostel. This she did and the town grew up around it. Boyle owes much to the fact that the great [Boyle] abbey was founded beside the town.

If ever there was a county in Ireland – nee – a town I would recommend one visit, Boyle is just that. My college head and nice guy from Kildalton Michael Conlon was from this town. I met his brother driving a Bus Eireann bus once. Long story. Nice guys. I can still hear Micks wry laugh when I told him. Not the reason I went there, but I think he’d be smiling knowing that I was visiting parks on my first ever summer holiday [albeit of 4 days only] as a horticuluralist. 😉

These are the posts I have done so far on the places I visited and can highly recommend:

What I wanted to get to [that I heard of but missed out on] and will return to see:

Necessary supplies and really kind people along my journey were found in:

  • W.J. Sloans [established 1863] hardware store on main street. You can literally find everything there. And I mean everything. I was camping – this shop is a mecca
  • Kellys Gala Express – vittles and culinary supplies. They do free range duck eggs here. The girl serving me on saturday had a smile and a laugh. I liked their window boxes too.
  • John Cryans Pub. erm… necessary supplies 😉 and an absolute gentleman. Also one of the nicest pints of guinness I have ever tasted.
  • Oliver & Peter of Loughkeyboats.com – they really did themselves proud and looked after this tourist. You can’t buy kindness and the stories Peter has in that brain are a million unwritten books combined. Go and say hello. Take a boat out. You’ll thank me for it.

That aside, the village and the peripherals are beautiful and well worth a visit. I’d reckon I spent a good four hours during the day, on each day, just pottering and wandering about and pondering the scenery.

The only thing I didn’t like…. the millenium water feature was turned off. Fix it lads. Doesn’t cost that much. Other than that 5* star rating. Love it. They say its the people that make a place. How very true. See you all again soon.

Anything I have missed out on or places I should visit…? leave a comment below and let me know.

Also, I loved the flowers in the town centre. There’s a chess players stone table and chairs right beside it. Next time I’m there, that’s were I’ll be seated. Happy days.

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View some more random images of Boyle

Boyle Abbey, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

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Take a listen….

Whilst I was in Boyle, Boyle Abbey was on my must do list of places to go. The reason is quite simple. This time next year the full restoration of the abbey will have taken place and I don’t want to be looking at pictures of the great work the OPW did – past tense.

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More than that – it was free in. Eugene, the gentleman who works there was an absolute gentleman and gave me a lot of history on the place. Thanks Eugene. I went to the park as you recommended 😉

BTW when it re-opens the entry charge will return. I’m told it should be about 2 or 3 euro’s. I’ll gladly pay it based on what I saw existing, in progress and in drawings for the future.

View more images of Boyle Abbey

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Courtesy Wikipedia

The Cistercian abbey was founded in the 12th century under the patronage of the local ruling family, the MacDermotts and is one of the best preserved in Ireland. It was colonised from Mellifont in 1161. The building of the chancel and the transepts with their side-chapels probably began shortly after this date, though the lancet windows in the east gable were inserted in the 13th century. There is a combination of rounded and pointed arches in the transepts and crossing. The existing large square tower formed part of the church from the beginning, though it was raised in height at a later stage. The five eastern arches of the nave and their supporting pillars were built at the end of the 12th century, and have well-preserved capitals typical of the period. Although built at the same time, the arches of the northern side of the nave are different in type, and have differently shaped columns and capitals. The three westernmost arches in the south arcade which have leafed and figured capitals, were built after 1205, as was the west wall, before the church was finally consecrated in 1218. Nothing remains of the cloister, but on the eastern side there are two doorways of c.1200, now blocked up. On the west side there is a two-storey gatehouse, which acts as an interpretative centre. The rest of the buildings surrounding the cloister are largely 16th or 17th century. The Abbey was one of the most important in Connacht, and was invaded by Richard de Burgo, Maurice Fitzgerald, and Justiciar, in 1235. In 1659, the Cromwelliansoccupied the monastery and did a great deal of destruction. Though mutilated during the 17th and 18th centuries when it was used to accommodate a military garrison, Boyle Abbey is one of the best preserved structures of its type, and attracts many thousands of visitors per year. A restored gatehouse 16th/17th century vintage houses an exhibition. The Abbey is now a national monument in state care and admission is currently free while restoration work is being carried out. There is a Sile na Gig hidden above one of the central Romanesque arches in Boyle Abbey. It can be seen from ground level, just at the top of the column, where the arch begins.

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