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Helianthus

sunflowers...

sunflowers...

In a garden recently and I spotted this little beauty growing in a widow box….

It brought me way back to my childhood days. Dad used to have these old cavity concrete blocks running along side the oil tank. Every summer we’d go down to the library to get our free seeds and plant them direct into the hole. Well… I’d plant the seeds that I didn’t eat… 😆 It sounds a little silly in hindsight going out every morning to see if they had sprouted… 😉 The innocence of it all…..

Anyhow… the sunflower or helianthus of the asteraceae [compositae] family are a genus of about 70 species of annuals and perennials. The flowers can rage from 3″ approx in diameter to 12″ in the annual varieties. And surprisingly [possibly] not all flowers are yellow/ yellow brown.

The annuals are generally grown by seed sown in spring but the perennials may propagated by division and base cuttings.  

Prepare for it now and mark it on the 2010 calender. You can start growing them indoors around the end of February or outdoors at the ned of March. These little beauties will flower for you all the way from June to October.  Remember: plant only twice the depth of the seed.

  

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Horse Chestnut Tree

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The Aesculus [Hippocastanaceae]  or horse chestnut tree is an absolute all time favourite of mine. I don’t know how many years I spent hanging out of them or trying to harvest the conkers from them… 😉 Love it.

A genus of about 15 species, these are the ultimate in examples of palmate [hand like leaves]. Do be extremely careful if/ when deciding to plant one of these as they grow extremely large. The most common variety for example [that I know] is the Aesculus hippocastanum which can grow to 80 feet tall, its leaflets 12″ long and its flowers [spring – early summer] up to 13″ tall.

Don’t say I haven’t warned you regarding the space. These guys really are in the large but also the ‘greats’ category.

Want to grow some for free… watch out for the conkers [the brown nut like seeds usually found hidden inside those spkiy fruits].  Place them twice the depth of the seed below any type of soil and walk away… 🙂

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lawn problems….?

Last year from around the middle of May through June Bank Holiday weekend climates and weather almost mirrored that of  what we are having now.

With reference to lawns here are the articles that I wrote then:

**images 4 & 5 are a patch of grass I started to repair about 6 weeks ago. The rest of the images are from last year [2008]

One should really take the first article and read it well. The second of course being my sense of humour but still a very logic answer.

I have prepared lawns that have had full seed germination within 10 days. I have also prepared lawns where very little to nothing will happen…

  • as long as one of the factors required for the growth of any plant is missing
  • as long as it is not ‘logic’ for the seed to germinate
  • as long as we do not have ‘typical irish weather’

And the answer to that of course is when it comes to nature sometimes patience is the greatest asset. My own lawn prepared about a month before I wrote the above articles is clear evidence of that and hence where I got the photographs from, The lawn sown in the pebbles almost a better germination…?

One may have had the soil prepared and presented well when the contractor left the garden… the soil may have dipped and hollowed slightly… some may have the ‘sahara desert’ cracking effect… in some cases some stone has been brought to the surface… all in all it looks a bit rough. I assure you – unless one has a bottom-less supply of rolled turf, a fire hydrant on full blast over night where the lawn will take in the most water and a shaded [completely] garden – no green [or very little] will appear… Funny thing is, the weeds will most likely grow there first.

I have just re-read – again – my article from last year…. and I once again realise that not even a degree in horticulture will help one here… it didn’t help me. It just helped me to understand better the why and why nots.

The truth is even when all of that is overcome…. the shelves of the supermarket gardens centres are brimmed with horticultural paraphernalia to help you and your lawn… and for very good reason. Clover, moss, weeds, fertiliser the list goes on *and* has done for eons…

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how to grow your own – from seed

free bird…

bird feeders...

bird feeders...

i have about ten of these bird feeders dotted around the garden. The ones on the right are good for the seed – but the larger birds seem to prefer the nuts… I’ll probably give it about a week and then I’ll put them back up again.

I tend not to put them near the berried plants like the cotoneaster and hollys mainly because nature has a role to play.

little gem..

little gem..

I bought the really cool silver ones [left] from the petsore in swords [i they they were about €10 each] and the lesser plastic ones in Dunnes Stores [i can’t remember how much they cost but their not very strong by the way… so i’ve lost some over time]. The seeds and nuts I bought in Fingal Farm Supplies in Ballyboughal.

Collins book have a gem book, a really simple book for bird identification suited moreso i might suggest to the nature lover rather than the bird enthusiast. Combined  with other really useful bird blogs like Craig Nash’s and you’re flying!

The reason I like doing this is because it’s easy, it’s relaxing and it make my house feel like a home. It really makes the landscape perfect.