My mam is 89 (and a half). In recent years she has been afflicted with dementia, and she is slowing down mentally and physically. Her children have been her full-time carers for the past eight years, and she never fails to thank us. Her gentle spirit of acceptance that things are not what they were is inspiring.
My love of gardening came from mam, as she tended her small terraced garden. I can clearly remember her love of dahlias, roses, sweet peas and marigolds, and she somehow found time to keep everything looking good in between rearing eight of us. I wrote about Mam’s garden back in 2018. It does me good to look back to it.
In recent years she liked an amble around my garden, but that too has stopped. To be sure, my gardening days will come to a halt, but not yet! There’ll be plenty more Saturdays to present my selection of Sixes, and so without further reminiscing, here we go. Best foot forward.
Last Autumn I got a lovely delivery of tiny polyanthus from Jersey. One hundred and sixty tiny plugs fitted into a tray no bigger than 15x20cm. They matured well over winter and gave such great colour from February onwards. Most have finished, yet there are still a few in shady corners blooming away.
The Brexit fiasco has put an end to buying plants and seeds from England, and more is the pity. I would have bought a similar pack of annual begonias to arrive ready for summer planting, but it’s not to be.
I have a few pots of sparaxis, and while this single flower looks good, it lasted only for a few days. The spiky leaves looked best back in February and March but now they are badly damaged. I suppose the cold spring didn’t suit them. As with many of my plants, these are in pots that were placed into window boxes as soon as the daffodils finished. Straight swap. Next week, I’ll be moving these away to a hidden corner and replacing them with Surfinias. To be honest, I can’t wait. Life moves on.
Our recent visit to Lismore Castle Gardens was a joy. I picked up my Season Pass and enjoyed a leisurely stroll around. So many plants caught my eye but this one stood out. Paddy or Andrew will very likely be able to enlighten me. Is it Lamprocampos? Bleeding Heart.
Lettuces and spinach
This year I decided not to grow my lettuces and spinach on the vegetable bed. Instead, I’m using window boxes and a Tesco container that are in the shade of the Acer. The reason I changed is that the little munchables tend to grow too quickly in the full sunshine of the vegetable bed and they go to seed. Now they are happier in the semi-shade and an added bonus is that they are much nearer to the back door. I’m happier too.
You might notice that they are at various stages of growth. One container is now half-empty while another is just getting started. I sow seeds every three weeks in modules in the glasshouse and try to ensure that while there’s plenty for my plate, there are more to come along when needed. It’s the only way to keep me nourished throughout the summer ahead. Mam would have had no time for growing vegetables.
The exception to this plan is scallions, otherwise known as spring onions. They need plenty sunshine so I’ll continue to grow these on the raised bed.
Here’s an aerial view of my two vegetable beds taken last week. I built these back in 2018 and almost came a cropper in the process. Each one is three blocks high. However when cementing one wall, it collapsed against me. I made the serious error of filling it with soil before the cement was fully dry. The entire wall fell as one piece, trapping me until I could remove the debris. Seriously, it could well have ruined my cycling season. Happily, it was rebuilt the next day and all was well apart from a bruised shin and ego.
This week the early spuds are growing well and should be ready to harvest by the middle of June. Main crop spuds are just peeping above ground. Apart from that, there’s not much else on this left section other than my cuttings and some rhubarb which is not doing well at all.
The bed on the right is filled with onions, peas, broad beans, scallions and leeks. The bare section towards the front had been set aside for lettuces and spinach but as you’ve just read above, I decided not to put them here. I’m using it to grow seeds of annuals and perennials instead.
This little ground cover plant is Ajuga, commonly known as Bugle. It’s growing under the shade of a fuchsia, but disappeared almost completely last year because the fuchsia grew too large. Last Autumn I pruned the fuchsia by about half and it’s made all the difference.
Many of these types of plant flower early to ensure seed production in advance of the heavy shade that arrives later in the summer from overhanging shrubs. Nature is amazing. This little thing is a great food source for bees right now.
Six on Saturday is a world-wide idea started by Jon The Propagator in England, and I am a proud participant. You can find out more about it by browsing the Participant Guide. Writing here every week, I value enormously the power to express myself through my garden.
I was combing Mam’s hair during the week, and making a dog’s dinner of it. When I mentioned I’m not very good at it she replied:
Ah shur, you can’t be good at everything!
The Week That Was
Not garden-related, this is merely to keep a record of events for future reminiscing.
- Entire Irish Health Service hacked with ransomeware. I don’t want my taxes being handed over to Spider Wizards.
- Nearly 50% of population have received vaccination #1
- I’m calling my new bike High Nelly, or just Nelly for short.
- Jenny and Daire married on Thursday.
- More Covid restrictions have been lifted, but dining out still not allowed.
- More scams have come my way. The Department of Social Protection want to put me in prison.
About the author: Pádraig is the author of Grow Write Repeat. He photographs and writes about his garden in Ireland. He loves small plants such as polyanthus and ajuga. He also likes spinach and lettuce, but not when grown in full sun.