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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 😉

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

Irish Gardening Books and Shops

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As one can gather… I have quite a vast and varied gardening book collection. But recently I have found it quite extremely difficult to buy anything that could be considered original. Even more difficult than that is to find anything at all original and Irish.

I did email hughes and hughes. I also emailed easons. For those outside of Ireland they are probably Irelands biggest retailers of books. I queried who selected the books for the gardening section…. it was some time ago now but I got no answer.

Once again, I was in Waterstones [not the most Irish] book shop on Dawson Street. Yes folks, when I’m not scouring the aisles looking for nouveau paraphernalia I am looking for new reading material. 😉 Waterstones deserve massive applause. They don’t know me. I don’t know them…. but we have more books in common than other book shop in Ireland.

A lot of them are specialist, or coffee table style books – but a higher than others percentage are Irish, written and referenced.

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There are two main issues. Or two things I look for when choosing a book. The first is, is the book of any use or is it just a rehash of something that has already existed. Most recently, you will find that has appeared in the ‘organic’ or ‘grow your own’ department. Formerly it was simply called growing fruit and vegetables. But en vogue labelling obviously sells.

The second issue, after I narrow it down to a book I like is, as I can gather, is that most books are published for the UK market. That’s absolutely fine. But when it comes to the reference bit at the back… they are all UK companies. If for example it is to do with recycling…. it makes the book of very little use.

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I know there are great books out there. I know there are great independent book stores out there. I am not all wishing to knock here. I am I suppose hoping it may [at the very least] improve the quality of what is for sale on the market at this moment in time. To those who don’t have grandiose garden book collections… it’s very akin, to analogise, to only being able to buy Stock, Aitken and Waterman music.

Whilst I am on the subject, there are always those a little more amazing and unique at their job…. If you do know one of them… go ahead and give them a mention.

If this post makes a difference, a publishing house wishes for me to review their garden books… a book shop wishes to put their message out in response to this – I am more than happy to do so. From this maybe we will all gain…. All you have to do is contact me.

Below is Waterstones gardening section….

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Top 20 Green Influencers to follow on Twitter

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Niall and Lauren did something similar over on Simply Zesty

But whilst this list refers to those only green – it is here I must side step slightly….

For it seems in Ireland, in the horticultural department at least…. we really do not get the online gig. And if ‘we’ do… it’s not done terribly well.

I found it extremely difficult to get to the Irish ten mark. And I basically had to give up after….. I could not find 10 Irish & green twitter accounts that I would recommend one follow.

I’m not saying there aren’t 10 green related people on twitter….. I’m talking 10 that use it for what it was intended and for what you wish to use it for…. Not the numbers game, not some company or politicians pimping themselves because some social media guru said so…. but for the exchange ie.  a two way street of useful information…..

That’s the thing with social networks – it’s meant to be a conversation – not a megaphone!

In that context I had to travel outside of Ireland…. and here’s what I ended up with. I’ll borrow the simply zesty disclaimer for this list and save myself the hassle. The list has been compiled based on my own personal opinion of using Twitter over the last year and is by no means the definitive list. There will be some who feel they belong on the list (add yourself in the comments and I may turn it into a top 100 soon) and there will no doubt be a couple that I have completely forgotten and how I follow everyday and who will be offended, I apologize in advance.

*click on the persons @ name to go to that account

1. @PatFitzgerald

pat

pat

based in kilkenny, Pat is a master grower of a mildly different range of plants in an Irish context… I’ve known Pat for I dont know how long, created I dont know how many gardens with and even managed to meet on the odd occasion for a few cups of tea. With over 85% of his products exported, this plant grower, plant breeder and part blogger really does get the online gig. Top that off with simply being a really nice guy. visit: the myplant website

2. @RepakRecycling

I worked along side the repak boys [and girls] on their recycle week 2009 launch garden… but it is the little trinkets of information that come out of someones head a couple of times a day that make me smile. visit recyclemore.ie

3.@PowersFlowers

jane

jane

A garden writer, journalist, with the Irish Times since 1995 and an actual garden lover who simply loves the great outdoors. Jane has gardened since she was a small girl, at first sowing and growing the usual suspects: lettuces, radishes, spring onions and nasturtiums. She now lives and gardens in Dun Laoghaire. She has a sixth of an acre, which she gardens organically, and with respect to the rhythms of nature, as much as possible. read Janes article every Saturday in The Irish Times. 

4. @IrishAllotments

run and managed by Thomas Cowderoy based in Cork. Surprisingly Tom is not a gardener…. this is something he runs in his spare time. Another one of lifes good guys. Visit Irish Alltments website

5. @BordBia

with the amalgamation of bord glas [the green board] and bord bia [the state ‘food board’] into one there really is no alternate to these guys. In that context I may disagree and equally agree. But, if you wish to know what’s happening in Ireland in the green department, here’s your answer. visit Bord Bia‘s website

6. @WildIreland

Described as Ireland’s wildlife and nature in 140 character burstsand that pretty much sums it up. New-ish to the scene but very much one to watch. No website to date.

7. @DoneganGardens

yip thats me. 😉 stuck on numbers at this point and so I’ve got it to 7. Onwards and upwards………visit Donegan Landscaping blog

8. @The_RHS

RHS

RHS

The royal horticultural society on twitter? I neraly fell off my stool when I found the oldest gardening society was embracing technology.

I even blogged it – but credit where it is due these guys really are one to watch and use the online medium to its maximum. It took the Irish equivolent a few years to catch on to this one and check out the date of announcing online [via online] ticket sales. Vist the RHS website

9. @GreenOptions

Green Options describes itself as ‘a community and network of blogs dedicated to helping you figure out what sustainability means to you. Pick a channel above or browse around.’

And that’s exactly what it is. What I choose to do is the somewhat the opposite… I keep an eye, sometimes, on the tweets and – if – the post interests me, I’ll give it a browse over. Some interesting stuff in there! Visit The Green Options Website

10. @ShawnaCoronado

shawna

shawna

I reviewed Shawnas book a short while ago now. Not a gardener all her life but now she is and loves every second of it. A consultant, author, columnist, and wild woman. Loves life, health, greening, the environment, and digging in the garden. Visit Shawna’s blogs here

11. @OrganicLife

Organic Lifestyle Magazine is a digital publication dedicated to organic lifestyles, alternative health and green living. I’ve never bought the magazine but like @greenoptions at number 9 some interesting pieces in there well worth a read. visit organic life website

12. @grow_green

an Irish one that almost slipped by there. Not too sure who grow green, due to the fact only that there is no website linked. That said, the answer seems to be someone who loves the great outdoors. With messages explaining that weeding was order of the day all weekend and most recently this little nugget… 😉 love it! No website to date.

Just joined 10:10 – the project to cut UK carbon emissions 10% in a single year. http://1010uk.org: an idea whose time has come. #1010

13. @treehugger

Links, Ideas and Conversation from the TreeHugger hive mind, the latest in modern green. Visit the tree hugger website here

14. @ecopond

Ecopond helps you play a part in keeping our planet green. Visit ecopond website here

15. @sweetrebecca

rebecca

rebecca

Landscape Designer, Garden Coach, Blogger, Live-Eat-Breath anything garden related, mom of 2 wonderful teenagers. Life is good!! – is how Rebecca Sweet describes herself. There’s not a day goes by that she’s not talking plants with Pat Fitzgerald….  Her blog site Gossip In the Garden is well worth a daily read

16. @interleafer

The musing of California based Laura Schaub all in one bite sized nugget. A award winning landscape designer, writer and photographer and now on the staff of the San Francisco Garden Show. Is there anything this girl hasn’t done. Oh did I mention she was also really nice.Visit The Interleafer website

17. @GardenInTheDark

the green thoughts of freelance writer and journalist Sandra Dark. New to gardening…? follow Sandra her little trinkets are just genius…. 😉 Read Sandra’s gardening pieces here

17. @cop15

cop15

cop15

I’m holding at 17 here…. zero interaction but – a useful one to keep an eye on….. moving on – United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen (COP15), brought to you by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

Well worth watching noting and paying particular good attention to… you’ll read this and wonder why carbon credits exist in the first place.  All bundled up into 140 charachters. Visit Cop15 website

18. @LifeOnTheBlcny

Fern Richardson writes her blog 99% about container gardening on balconies and patios. The reason why I actually pay attention and it seems so many others do to. Videos, images, reviews and anything else you reckon you couldn’t do in a small space….all rammed into 140 charachters and one whopping blog site!Visit Life On The Balcony Website

19. @bbctreeoclock

Meet Kate from the BBC Breathing Places team and make your pledge to plant a tree for Tree O’Clock. They’ve already smashed the world record for number of trees planted by 100 people.

All their trees count towards the UN Environment Programme’s Billion Tree Campaign. Hoping this one is simply gonna continue…. it might just start a trend elsewhere. Visit the BBC Tree O Clock website

20. @TheWoodlandTrust

wasn’t best pleased to see a little of the twitter numbers game being played byt then who I am I to argue. But then I’m an individual and not an organisation. That said Sharon from the Woodland Trust Digital team along with a few colleagues from around the organisation  do actually keep you posted on what they do and what you can do 😉 I’ll give them credit for that. On another note – If there is a variation of this in Ireland… I’ve yet to find out about it. As a twitter account it works and really well. Visit The Woodland Trust Website

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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.