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We have for some years now been keeping trees in pots. It is practical for anyone who does not own their garden, who move around a lot or simply do not have a garden at all. Almost any species can be grown in a pot as long as they get enough light, water and nutrients. Some of them are kept outside all year round and some stay indoors for the colder months and get a holiday in the garden each summer. We have had some of them for 20 years or more.

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The name Bonsai comes from the Japanese words, bon, meaning a tray or low pot and sai, meaning a planting or tree. When a tree is restricted by a pot it stays small and easy to manage. We like to prune ours quite hard in the spring as you can see in these pictures.  When you prune the tree back it reacts by putting on more, smaller branches and bushier growth. The main growing season is in the summer and any new branches that get too long are clipped again throughout the growing season. We have had this particular Japanese Zelkova for close to five years and when we bought it we estimate it was four years old. It is a good tree for indoors and easy to look after for a beginner. Just remember to water it regularly. We like to soak our pots in a bigger container of water for some time so the tree can drink from the roots.

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This year we decided to try something a little different outdoors and bent some reinforcement-bars into nice curves. We acquired some bare root red oaks that we potted up in November last year and in February it was time to have some fun with them. The re-bars were anchored deep in the pots and the stems of the trees bent and tied to the re-bars with twine. We will leave the re-bars on for a year or two and then remove them. The stems will stay in their positions and have a very unusual appearance. They put on a lot of growth over the summer and we think they look quite lovely now. This is a very cheap and easy way to get a special feature in your garden. Many different varieties of trees can be treated like this.





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This was an unwanted hawthorn that was dug up in a friend’s garden and bent into this umbrella shape about 25 years ago. We prune any branches that try to grow upwards by pinching them out when they are very small. It is beautiful when it flowers in spring and also when it has nicely coloured leaves in the autumn. It is grown on a big rock with a slight hollow in the middle for holding just enough water to sustain it. We added a lot of little stones to the composition and some roots are exposed. It is the first part of our rock garden that we plan to create when we have some more time so you have to excuse the mess round it in the pictures.

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Our Bonsai give us a lot of joy. They are beautiful to look at and pruning them is a very meditative, calming process. It is much easier than many people think to keep trees in pots. We plant our cut offs from pruning in some seed and potting compost with added sand or grit and a lot of them take and grow onto new little trees. We had three very long ones growing two years ago and we decided to plait them and now we have a lovely little tree with a partly joined plated stem. If you have never grown trees in pots we can highly recommend it. There are many books on Bonsai so it is easy to get going.

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The sky is the limit.

sky blue

We are nearing the completion of our extension build. It has been a long laborious journey, hundreds and hundreds of hours of digging drainage ditches, filling tyres with soil for the retaining wall and stripping bark of the logs for the main construction. We have also managed to finish the whole mosaic floor, the only thing it needs now is a final layer of grout to smooth it out and a polish. We are happy with the results and will write a bit more about it and show you some more pictures after the final polish.

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A grand day out.

We live only a few hundred meters from the Mayo border and yesterday we decided to stop building, harvesting and weeding for a day and go exploring in this beautiful county. Our destination was Achill Island, the largest island of the coast of Ireland, reached by a bridge.

Achill island dubh

The first stop was stunning Keel beach where our puppy, Dubh, saw the ocean for the first time. She loved it and since the beach was practically deserted she could come off her lead and race along the surf. At first she barked loudly at the waves but she soon got used to them. We walked for a long time, played on the beach and had a picnic. We remembered the cheese but forgot the crackers.

Achill island running

Achill island kelp

Achill island beach

Achill island dubh

Achill island writing

Achill island write

Achill island run

Our next stop was a megalithic tomb. We reached it after a rather steep climb up the side of Slievemore, a most beautiful and impressive mountain. We were quite tired when we reached the tomb but it was defiantly worth it.  We found a very peaceful place where we all rested for a while.

Achill island tomb

Achill island Slivemore

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We then went on a little bit down the road and reached the deserted village. There are more than eighty ruined houses here.  It is a place of tremendous beauty but it also has a feeling of sadness. Walking around the village you can’t help but think about the people who lived here once and how difficult it must have been to be forced to leave home and set out on an uncertain journey. The village was abandoned during the famine, in 1845, and while some people only moved to another village by the sea, others were forced to emigrate. In later years and up until the 1940s the village was used as sleeping quarters in the summertime by teenage boys and girls bringing the sheep up the mountain to graze.

Achill island house

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Today the only inhabitants of the cottages are sheep and they graze where the potatoes and other vegetables once grew. You can clearly see the old ridges, called lazy beds in the fields, made to make the soil a little more fertile and we are certain seaweed was brought up from the beach to further enhance fertility.

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Achill island baaa

Achill island thistle

Our outing was a welcome change to our everyday routine, we spend most of our time close to home and it is energizing to get out and away sometimes, if only for a day. Achill Island is a beautiful place, full of history and interesting natural sites. We can thoroughly recommend a visit. At this time of year it is quiet and peaceful , a big change from the summer months when thousands of tourists visit the island.

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What September brought.

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When we look back on the month of September we remember a lot of sunshine and warmth. Maybe it was only an average month, but after the cold and wet summer September felt like a very welcome change.

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We continued to harvest potatoes, courgettes and broad beans. All our onions and shallots that we harvested at the end of August dried out in the shed and are now hanging in inviting bunches from the ceiling.

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The garden has taken on a more muted palette; some gold, copper and brown amongst the flowers and shrubs.  Because of the warmth and sunshine many plants have been putting on new growth. All the pollinators made the most of it, filling up their winter reserves. Our ferns have also benefited from both the warmth and the rain.

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september garden ferns

Our espaliered apple-trees have only been planted less than three years but a couple of them have already provided us with lots of apples for tasty crumbles. We notice a remarkable difference in yields between espaliered and un-espaliered trees. Considering the space you save and the way you eliminate congestion and bad air circulation, we cannot recommend espaliering enough. You get both higher yields and healthier trees.

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september apples

In our circle the plants are still looking good, unfortunately we do not have a picture of what it looked like last year at this time but as we remember it, there were a lot less plants a year ago and they also finished flowering sooner. A blog like this is not only a tool to share our successes and failures with the world but also an important record for us. By looking back through the posts we can see how things develop and change throughout time. We do not have a lot of readers but we do very much appreciate the ones we have and we hope we are making a few small changes, ignite some sparks and inspire people to plant and create something beautiful things in their lives.







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We are looking forward to the remaining days of October. We hope to finish our extension this month and move into it. We will tidy up the garden and bring our Pelargoniums inside for the Winter months. There is a lot of weeding and tidying up to attend to in the garden. We think we will be quite busy. September brought us a lot of joy. We hope October will too…


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september garden