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Six-on-Saturday – Here Comes Summer

In a former life, I regarded the 1st of September as the start of the year, but since 2013 I’ve reverted to normal. Today is the start of a different New Year for me. That’s because I am starting on a second year of Six-on-Saturday. I’ve been so taken with the concept that I haven’t missed a deadline since the first week of June last year. Why wasn’t I told about it earlier?

Warm weather has arrived and my mood has lifted further. So too has my attempt to mix gardening, writing and a bit of quirky wit. Herein, you’ll read about The Long Tale, a school memory, a troubling conundrum and banana stickers. Yes, there are six garden items featured but there’s a bit of extra padding this week.

Here we go again around the Saturday Mulberry Bush…

1. The “Seomra”

Velo coffee in sunshine.

“Seomra” is the Irish word for a room. I think we built this in 2009 as a  separated addition to the house. For a short while, we had armchairs and other home comforts. Then, gradually, it changed. I moved the treadmill from the house. I even got myself a Turbo as I attempted to secure a part-time professional cycling contract in my early fifties. Marion expanded her crafting to include quilting and bit by bit my fitness section became an intrusion. My ambition to cycle for a living in France was over. In gentlemanly fashion, I evicted myself as I could see the writing was on the wall. The Seomra is now affectionately known as Marion’s Seomra. Many happy hours are spent there, and I visit regularly to admire projects in motion. There is WiFi, Roberts Internet radio and a large stock of everything, from a needle to an anchor. It’s a little slice of paradise and I’m happy that Marion has her away-from-it-all space.

Strangely, we have no photographs of it being built, but I think it was 2009. The gallery below starts with two photographs, the first in 2008 when the glasshouse was where the Seomra now stands, the second in the very bad winter of 2010. Click and swipe.

2. Splendid

I had arranged an early morning cycle last Tuesday and as I prepared my kit the night before I wanted to confirm that the weather would be dry. While checking my three weather apps, I noticed that sunrise would be at 5:16am. The following morning I got up just a bit earlier to get a photograph for the start of summer.

One minute after sunrise.

Splendid is a word not used in Ireland. We’d have a hundred similar alternatives. We’d say mighty, or grand or even “fair good”. I do notice that the word splendid is used more frequently in England, and it’s used regularly by some in our comments.

Anyway, the point I’m making brings me back to my teaching days. It had been my habit to give a weekly spelling test, and “splendid” was one of the words on a particular Friday. One little girl announced that it was silly to be learning words that we’d never use. Fair pointless, as we would say.

I’ve a feeling that she may have been echoing her mammy, but in fact she did have a very good point. Several years later, I taught special needs pupils and it would have been good general practice to omit words like splendid in favour of words such as farm, tractor or silage.

I’m aware also of the phrase “splendid isolation”, used as British foreign policy in the 19th century. Honestly, I very much enjoyed the splendid isolation of my garden during this past lockdown year, but its now time to have friends over. I hope it will indeed be a splendid summer.

3. It’s A Long Story

I have two composting sections behind the glasshouse at the far end of the garden. I only use plant materials together with uncooked kitchen waste. Most regularly, I use vegetable peels, teabags, fruit and clean kitchen paper. Some teabags contain tiny amounts of plastic to seal the bag, but I purchase only plastic-free bags.

Blackbird has been foraging.

Anyway, to make a long story boring, I do not venture all the way to the faraway composting area with just a teabag or a banana peel. Sensibly, I have a bucket near the back door, and I half-fill it over several days before the long trek. I have a piece of timber that almost covers the bucket, and I’ve developed a perfect aim while dumping a crinkled apple, a few mouldy carrots or a banana peel. However, our blackbirds check the contents every day. They duck into the bucket via the small open space. Yesterday, we had strawberries and the tops were put in, together with kitchen tissues. As can be seen, the birds are experts at flinging out anything that hinders the search for nutritious nibbles. Literally, they do fling things out through the small opening! They know that I tolerate their mess, and they continue to rummage for juicy bits. An apple is a feast that can last all day. They are wary of the two little Yorkies, but everyone exists in harmony. They scoot out of the bucket when I open the door to go out, yet they know well that I’m either just passing by or else replenishing supplies. They perch on the fence and return almost immediately.

This long bird-in-the-bucket tale is not finished yet. On occasion, I add to their workload. If there are bits of paper or banana peels strewn on the ground, I put them back inside, knowing full well that they’ll repeat the fling-out once more. It’s a game we’re happy to play. I get to smirk smugly, and they get to perfect their fling-skills.

In case there are social media advisory comments from the just-my-experience-of-bananas-brigade, yes I do know that they are slow to degrade, (the banana peels, that is!) and yes I do remove the circular banana-identifier sticker. All will be well. Even the blackbirds know that they are bananas, so why a sticker is put on them is beyond me! Fair pointless.

4. Old Lavender And New

Three-year-old lavender

I’ve managed to learn about the correct time to prune Lavender. If left unpruned, it becomes scraggy and weak. I’ve also learned about taking Lavender cuttings. As you can clearly count (of course you can count…) there are seven babies below, taken from the parent above.

Seven babies.

Both pots are directly beside the step of Marion’s Seomra. It’s her favourite place to sit when the sun shines, and the scent of Lavender is overwhelming.

5. Conundrum

The bench may need to be moved, and that may be a problem. You see, I’ve planted two Surfinias in the window box behind using my swapping technique. The Sparaxis were there two weeks ago, in pots within the planter. Last week I replaced them with Petunias, but then realised that they are an upright variety, so I swapped again. To clarify, Surfinias are a variety of Petunia that are trailers. Trailers are plants that trail downwards. (Note: gardeners know that trailers trail downwards, so please understand that I’m writing inclusively for quilters, cyclists and banana-sticker operatatives etc). Happy with all my swapping, I enjoyed some Velo coffee while sitting here, but a thought happened! It went like this: Later in the summer, those Surfinias are going to get big and will trail down behind me while I’m having more Velo coffee and I will be unable to sit back into the seat without the back of my head being accidentally pollenated.

I glanced back to look at them both and confirmed to myself that the thought was troubling, but I resolved to continue with a coffee-cup-half-full-attitude. The answer will emerge over time. Note: Conundrum is another word best left off general spelling lists!

6. Garden Tour

YouTube version

As you know, it’s the first Saturday of June. However, this video was shot last Monday, the last day of May. It was a harsh, cold month, but finished beautifully. Things are several weeks behind, yet even in since last weekend I can see that the catching up process is underway. Here’s hoping for a June that breaks all the right records!

This Time Last Year

At the risk of repeating myself, my writing is for me. My aim is to record my garden and some little thoughts about stuff from time to time. I want this record in order to look back on things. As I’m now into my second trip around the sun doing this Six-on-Saturday thingy, I’m including a link at the end of this article which was written this time last year. I’ll not be in the least miffed if readers choose not to read it. Happy Saturday 2020! Here goes…

Why Stand If You Can Sit?

June 2020.

Short excerpt: 6th June 2020.

I discovered only last week that Six on Saturday is a thing. There’s even a #hashtag. There’s some lingo to be learned. I mean, whatever will my sister think when she hears that I am SOSing? Ar eagla na h-eagla (Irish phrase: Just to be on the safe side…) I’ve brought the subject up with my wife, who says that SOSing is ok.

Will it be every week?, she wanted to know.

All depends, I say.

I think you’ll like this SOSing thing. In fact, you’ll be a grand SOSer, says she.

Marion

The Week That Was

Not garden-related, this is merely to keep a record of events for future reminiscing.

  • The cease-fire in Israel/Gaza is holding firm. Fatalities are incredibly multiplied on one side of the conflict. I know where I stand on the matter.
  • Coronavirus is mutating faster than a Sam Bennett sprint. We could be in for a sharp late-summer shock!
  • Mam was here for dinner on Sunday. She picked out a quote from a little book: I’m not old. I’m suffering from Youth Deficiency Syndrome.
  • As per tradition, shorts, t-shirt and sandals have been donned.
  • Perfect weather for the bike. 180km is decent. Recovery week upcoming.

Sin a bhfuil uaimse don seachtain seo. I’ll be back again next week with another Six-on-Saturday. Thank you for reading, and to Jon for getting us all together every week. Have a good week. Slán go fóill.

Pádraig.

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  1. fredgardener

    Nice overview of your garden. I watched the video and was impressed by the many pots you have here is there. And interesting thing to have used wood logs around the beds.

    1. Pádraig

      I’ve got many friends who supply me with pots. I take everything I’m offered, and get rid of ones that are non-standard or too small. On other hand, I’ll buy perhaps two large elegant pots each year.
      The wood logs soften the scene, I think. Presently, I’m trying to think about more garden ornaments, but I’m in no rush. Happy gardening to you, Fred.

  2. barefootlilylady

    Loved the little walking tour of your splendid garden. What an amazing array of plants and so many ideas to glean from your expertise. We had a similar wet and cold month of May, but June is getting downright toasty. I hope you have a wonderful month of June!
    ~ Cindie
    P.S. LOVE Marion’s Seomra. What a beautiful place to retreat and be creative.

    1. Pádraig

      A hobby is a wonderful form of personal expression, Cindie. I’m so grateful that our different loves bring us joy. It’s a mutual admiration society!
      I’m delighted you like the little tour!

  3. Lindylou

    Hallo Padraig, here is a Dutch tip for you with your banana peel. The peel contains large amounts of potassium and roses love and need potassium for healthy abundant flowering. I cut our peel up into about 3″ pieces and sprinkle these around the root area of my roses. They are taken up by the soil fairly quickly I find. My husband Ruurd eats a lot of bananas so it is an ongoing ritual here in our garden. We have a great many roses too. Well done keeping your blog going and achieving genuine followers, that is “fair smashing”

    1. Pádraig

      Lindylou, you’re a star! Many thanks for the tip about the roses. Marion will think I’m asking things too far if I get the scissors to the banana peels, but I’ll keep you updated.
      This is also why I love SOS. I’m learning so much from others. Best wishes, a chara

  4. Love the video – I’d go as far as calling it splendid.

    The lavender cuttings look good. As does the parent plant, for that matter!

    1. Pádraig

      I think propagating lavender may become an annual event, as it is a challenge to keep the old plant tidy!

      Glad you like the little tour, Andrew. A month sees such a huge change, so I think I’ll keep it going.

  5. Sel Calderbank

    I could do with a Seomra (but am I pronouncing it correctly in my head? I fear not). I teach too, and have a Spanish student who uses the word marvellous a lot, I was going to tell her it’s a bit old-fashioned, but it makes me smile every time she says it! Let’s keep it, along with splendid. Well done on the lavender, a glorious/splendid/marvellous plant!

    1. Pádraig

      Seomra, proounced as “show-mra”, (a as in cat). In reality the large 7×3 metre garden shed is my Seomra, and the glasshouse too!
      About half of the cuttings I took last September have rooted and are now fine little things, and the lavender was the star of the show! Seven out of nine! Splendido.

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour of your garden. Using the logs to hide the pots is very clever, although it’s best that I do not to try that here for fear that snakes would love it as a place to hide! The Selma is great! Ideal for creativity having views of the garden! Marion’s quilt is stunning.

    1. Pádraig

      Hope you have a great gardening week, a chara. I’ll burn the logs in the stove in winter and replace with new ones. Amazing the amount of wildlife that hides behind. It’s a super habitat! And of course, the fairies live there too.

    1. Pádraig

      Thank you, a chara. Lavender is well worth trying.

  7. Paddy Tobin

    I still think anybody who gets up to take a photograph of a garden at dawn has serious issues but that’s fair obvious when you hear the same fellow goes and cycles 185Km. There’s no hope for you at all.

    1. Pádraig

      No hope at all at all. Best time of the day, occasionally!

  8. theshrubqueen

    I have been wondering where the fairies live in your garden. A splendid place for them, the logs and you recycle them in winter, wonderful. You seem to like chartreuse plants as much as I do.

    1. Pádraig

      I’m missing something. Chartreuse plants?
      I must have a think about featuring the fairy door again, but I need their permission! 😜

      1. theshrubqueen

        I like pale greenish yellow flowers and foliage and see it in your garden too. One must keep a good relationship with the fairies.

        1. Pádraig

          Ah, thank you for the clarification. I live and learn!

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