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the umberella plant…?

My oldest brother came home from college one day with one of the little arrangements you get at Christmas time. My oldest sister bought it one day with her friend. 😀 anyhoo onto the plant….

I would have been about 9 years old I’d guess. Anyhow, the wee thing grew too large for the wee pot it was in and in the process it needed to be repotted.

At the time, I lined the inside of an old timber box and filled it with some compost. 23 odd years laters….my Mom gives it back to me!

The compost was absolutely spent and inert. It was merely a brown granule. The plant had grown long legged and the leaves fell off at a mere draft touching it.

It needed a new lease of life. I gave it one.

I ‘was told’ it was the umberella plant. I disagreed. I looked up the umberella plant in some of my reference books and came up with Schlefflera actinophylla…. so not far off the mark to be quite honest. But that’s a little akin to asking for ‘a Donegan’ and taking the one you thought looked like me – but it’s not ‘Donegan Peter’…. I hope that makes sense.

This plant is the Schefflera Gold Capella.

The foliage/ leaves are glossy green/ yellow variegated and palmate compound with 7-9 leaflets. Height & spread is a max of 10′. It rarely produces flowers.

They will grow in partial shade or good light and can survice well with irregular watering [if you are of a forgetful nature]. If you do need to repot should do so whilst its not producing new growth. Propagation is generally done by cuttings.

It’s a little naked at the moment. It’s just moved house, been amputated, shook around, trimmed and snipped… so it looks a little shaken… but it’ll be fine. I promise 😆

UPDATE: since writing this post about 2 months ago the last three images show the new growth that has appeared since it was repotted… and all the old coffee grinds I have thrown out on the top of the compost.

March In The Garden

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I haven’t done an ‘In the garden‘ session so far this year. Mainly because, well… I guess the snow, the rain, the cold and in such abundance just got a bit too much for me. Anyhow, that aside, it’s time to get grooving and moving and here is why and what  I will be doing in the garden this month.

The lime trees [image 1] are the greatest sign for me that life for this year is almost there. The burning red new stems and buds are so pretty. Loosen the straps, check the stakes and remove all the dead or diseased wood. This goes for all trees including the fruiting varieties. As you can see from my olive tree [image 2] that simply needs a little tidy and some select pruning but its not until we get to the smaller plants that some real work is required. The large window box which fed me with salad for all of last year [image 3] needs a total clean out. Very simply grub out all the old plants, but don’t throw out all the compost. Simply replenish.

The easy plants are the 3 just above, in order, rhubarb, sorrell and chives. Not a whole lot for me to do here just yet. They come up year after year. I may decide at a later stage to divide the chives and the rhubarb, but for the moment it’s simply a little taster of what nature is going to give me to eat this season.

The greenhouse has been pretty much empty since last year. It’s got a little grubby. The 2 dogs use it as a sun trap type conservatory and its very quickly transformed. Then its to my store of seeds to figure what I wish to grow for this season.

Potting table at the ready… this one above I made myself from an old pallet. It’s really durable and well able to withstand the elements. The window boxes are refilled. I’ve sown some spinach in here direct, which is not my usual way of doing it…. but lets see how they get on. The seed trays [my preferred method] are washed and filled, pre-soaked and in here I have sown coriander and chives.

That’s not all I have sown…. there are also some broad beans in liner pots [image 2 above] and anything else you can think of. There’s probably too much of everything in fact but, I live in a rural farming village so a lot of this will be bartered for bags of potatoes and other veg that I won’t grow 😉 All things in order I just need to keep my eye on the max min thermometer for very low temperatures [early frosts] which may affect. As a by the way, I’m going to give it a little longer before I go and mow that lawn of mine.

Now I’ve got to go and give my chicken run a lick of paint. But that should easily keep you going for the next 3 weeks or so. See how you get on, any problems or queries you know where to come. Of course in gardening, there’s always an alternate 😉

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Fireblight

Two of the photographs above are of a collection of Sorbus trees that I had in my garden. They are now nothing but a pile of ashes. The sorbus you see are members of the rosaceae or rose family – the most of which are susceptible to a disease known as fireblight.

The first thing I noticed was that the leaves were shrivelled, dead and still clinging to the plant. [These photographs were taken the last week in January btw]. The buds were also dead but still held to the plant. When I checked inside they too were gone. Necrosis had set in and the stems were dying from the top down.

The cause of this is the bacteria Erwinia amylovora spread generally by the wind blowing, insects and rain splash. It is that simple.

The recommended method of control used to be to burn the plant and that was the route I chose. I guess old habits die hard 😉 But some books recommend the pruning of the plant well below where the fireblight can be found. I simply prefer the better safe than sorry route and the chances of it affecting some of the many other Sorbus sp. that are planted in my garden.

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December In The Garden

And what an end to November and a start to the month it has been…

Firstly to those affected in any way by the adverse weather conditions…. my sincerest best wishes to you all, I hope it sorts itself out as soon as possible. To those who chose to stand up to the Green Party politicos  [especially on RTE’s The frontline yesterday] more concerned with defending the amount of action groups who solve extreme weather conditions by sitting at a round table…. I applaud you. I also think Fionn has a point…

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But thats another days work…. and on to Gardens we go…. well, as best as is feasably possible….

You see gardening is a funny business. It’s not a subject that one can put off. The elements maybe against the preferred conditions – but if [for example] the bulbs aren’t planted in the garden this December… it’s now spring 2011 before you will see them pop up… you follow? If you put it off last month…. you’d better get them wellies on or be a very fancy dancer – one that can dodge rain droplets 😉

Despite the weather, I’ve still been working out there. You heard me 😆 It has to be done.

hedge cutting gardening-dublin landscaping-in-dublin-

first up is hedge cutting – some prefer to do it in the summer…. but if you have something like the forsythia which flowers on bare stems in and then goes into leaf – you’d be mad not to. Some say the best time is…blah blah blah 😉 I say, this when I’m doing my crataegus and my fagus. Its also when I’ve been cutting others escallonia… get the rakes, secateurs and the lopping shears out and go for it.

landscaping-in-dublin cutting back plants gardening-dublin

It is also a time for more select pruning. Maybe in this case the hedgecutters maybe a little too harsh. In this category I would add the removal of suckering growth – see the difference in leaves on the Corkscrew hazel [corylus avellana contorta – first image] ; the pruning back of smaller plants that have been let go a little – in this case the likes of the helichrysum [second image above – and similar in habit to lavender]; and also the pruning by hand saw of branches that have become a little elongated – almost tree like when it should appear as a shrub. Moreso, it is also to do with good garden hygiene.  

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But the biggest gig that most may possibly forget is the fact that it is tree planting season. The season when dormant and mostly native Irish trees get to go in the ground in their over wintering state. If you are looking for some ideas and names of, see this post on Irelands favourite native trees which can be planted now – I said now !!! Don’t forget the straps, buckles and tree stakes.

If you have existing trees – check the straps and buckles aren’t choking the trees – if they are – remove or loosen them.

Regarding your lawn…. you may get a cut in before the Christmas. Once again, the ye olde garden fraternity may suggest this is the wrong time – which is perfectly fine if it is the local croquet club… but if you are my Dad… well, you’ll be picking up the phone and telling asking me when am I getting my butt over to the house to cut that grass.

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After that – the bird feeders still need filling, the shed needs to be painted and I’ll guess you never did the new-ish garden furniture last month ….well don’t say I didn’t tell you 🙄

If you take my advice – sure get it all sorted – then go and buy some instant colour in the form of winter planters, window boxes and hanging baskets. Really brighten the place up…. God knows you deserve it. Now all you need to do is to go and get that Christmas tree 😉

Whatever you do and if you are doing it yourself… stay warm, dry and be careful. If you are getting the gardeners [at least for me anyways…!] in…. put the kettle on and give ’em a nice cuppa and a mince pie. If ever I wondered what a kite must go through…. recently is the closest I’ve ever come to realising it 😆 Oh and in case I forget…. do enjoy 🙂  

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Lavender

The Lavandula [labiatae/ lamiaceae]

A genus of about 25 species, this fragrant beauty is an absolute must in any garden. Particularly high in nectar and therefore extremely attractive to bees, the answer from a domestic point of view is to be careful where exactly they are planted. A case of beneficial versus pest, possibly?

Often used in rockeries, as low hedges, in herb gardens, en mass planting or as a border plant… they really are [once again] a must have/ no garden should be without plant.

My main note of advice if choosing to plant lavenders is that they are cut back every season. The problem is that when they aren’t, they do go leggy, the flowers and foliage only appearing on the lasts couple of inches of the stem and the lower [soft] wood becomes almost like a moist cardboard. This leaves them very prone to a soft woody fragile rotting at the base which breaks then quite easily….  which is great for garden centres and people like me…. but not for you 😉

To cut yours back, use a good, clean sharp secateurs. Grab a good tuft of the plant and cut straight across. In a two year old plant for example this will remove the most recent seasons growth.

Of course this all depends on the variety and the varying external conditions. But as a general rule cutting a plant back to half height is no harm. When you’re done give it a good ruffle. Trim up the loose ends and clean around the base of the plant.

However you chose to do it…. even though it might look like a sheep shearer just gave you a bad haircut [at the time] but it is well worth it in the long run 🙂

If you are thinking of cropping the flowers for pot pourri, do so before they open fully.