High summer

After spending two lovely weeks in half of our family’s native country Sweden, we returned home to a garden full of life. There has been lots of rain while we where away so everything has put on massive amounts of growth, the flowers, vegetables and grass is all looking verdant and lush. It is nice to come back after half a month away and realize that the garden has not suffered at all in our absence. It is one of the positives we can experience from living in a climate with few droughts and no extreme changes in temperature. We think it can also be put down to the fact that we mulch all our plants well with cardboard, straw and just about any organic matter we can get our hands on.  This makes for a sustainable eco system in the garden where less intervention is needed to keep the balance right.

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A berry nice month.

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We are almost a week into August and it is time to sum up a very fruitful month in the garden. July brought quite a lot of rain but also some sunshine and our berries thrived. Ripening this past month were blackcurrants, redcurrants, gooseberries, worcesterberries and a cross called jostaberries.

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Kokedama moss balls with a twist.

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Last year we were given some lovely Pelargonium cuttings from a friend to add to our pelargonium collection. They all spent the summer outside, but when it got too cold they had to move indoors. They have been stored all winter in some plastic crates and were looking a bit worse for wear due to poor light and cramped conditions.

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The beauty of November passing.

 

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People often think of November as a dull, grey, wet and cold month. That November is something that has to be endured rather than enjoyed. We beg to differ. As the garden and nature in general slows down and moves towards a more restful time there is beauty everywhere. From the fireworks display of leaves and flowers to the stark forms of the remaining artichokes, if you look you will find it.

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Spring is often seen as a joyful, bright and uplifting time but is it really so different from autumn? We believe all parts of the wheel of time should be celebrated, enjoyed and looked upon in awe. Without the plants dying back, withering and resting there would be no spring spectacle to behold.  No new leaves unfurling or apple blossom to marvel at.When the sun comes out and shines its low rays across all the colours in our garden in November, it feels like a miracle not very different from looking at the first butterfly or bumblebee of spring.

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It has been very wet and windy over the last month in the West of Ireland and we have been busy indoors, finishing work on our extension, so the garden is in a state of some neglect. There is much planting, weeding and some moving of plants to be done. We always plant things as soon as we can and if something turns out not to thrive in its allocated position we move it later. A year of growth in the ground is almost always better than a year waiting around in a pot to be planted out. Our planting of ornamental grasses that we created in the spring is coming on nicely and is starting to fill the space.

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Spring

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Autumn

Our paths are in need of attention. We put down a lot of mulched Leylandii and thatch from an old cottage when we established the garden but after two and a half years the paths are getting worn down, starting to break up and have some weeds creeping in. It is now time to move all this old, rotted down material and use it as mulch around plants all around the garden. We will dig out the main paths quite deep, put in some drainage pipes and replace the path with maintenance (quarry dust). This should last a lot longer than the thatch and mulch. On higher ground, where water logging is not a problem,  we are planning to just have cut grass.

The rain over the last month has led to our stream being very full of water.

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Every month we show pictures of the garden taken from our main circle in the four cardinal directions. You can see how the garden changes and evolves over the year in the category elemental circle. The artichokes have mostly died back now and will be cut down shortly, shredded and used at mulch back on the bed again. We are looking forward to what next month brings.

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East

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South

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West

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North

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Roses in December?

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.

harvest broadbeans

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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East

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South

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West

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North

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

Flowers in August.

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As August draws to a close we are thankful for all the lovely vegetables we have harvested this month, despite mostly ignoring the kitchen garden this summer. The onions are so tasty grilled or baked and we are enjoying them on a daily basis.

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But to sum up August we would like to write about our flowers in the garden. We started most of them off as seeds two and a half year ago and we also bought quite a few of them as small perennial plants. Even if you are on a tight budget it does not take long to get your flowers growing big and strong. The first year, we invested in a few trailer loads of well rotted cow manure and it has really been worth while.  All our flowers and vegetables have really taken off and it is quite amazing how quick the garden has established. Each year we have added more flower beds and even the ones started last year are looking good. In autumn we do an all over weeding and add leaf mould to all the beds and that makes it easy to weed in the spring. Most beds do need another weeding in midsummer as the perennials are still establishing and filling in their allocated spaces.

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Flowers

In a couple of years we can start dividing the well established perennials and swap them with friends. We have already received lots of wonderful plants this way, shrubs, vegetables and flowers that had outgrown their spaces in friend’s gardens.

Gifted plants

Flowers are lovely to look at and create a colourful wonderland to stroll about in but are also highly beneficial. We have many edible varieties as well as bee and butterfly favourites. We grow them together with our vegetables for both a practical and beautiful approach. This year we have had a very cold and rainy summer but there are still lots of flowers and vegetables performing well, although a bit later than usual. Some vegetables come with the added benefit of beautiful flowers, like the runnerbean that was first introduced to Europe as an ornamental.

Runnerbean

pond

Our main circle has really put on a show this month with all the lovely red crocosmia in the south fiery section. The cardoons in the west have grown very tall and our willow fence we wove in early spring has prevented most of them from blowing over. We are happy with the grass bed we planted in the east section; most grasses have really taken off.

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East

South

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West

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North

crocosmia

Cardoon

Grass garden

All in all, perennial, biannual and annual flowers give a garden almost instant appeal, and do not be afraid to experiment. If something outgrows its space or if too many weeds pop up in the bed, rearrange your plants to suit the space. Most perennials do not mind being moved, but you should wait until autumn or early spring, when they are dormant. Take some photos in the summer to remind you what the bed looks like as it makes it easier to adjust your plantings. We love all our colourful flowers and cannot imagine the garden without them. Collect and scatter seeds about where you want more flowers or plant them into seed trays to grow on a bit first, before planting out or giving to friends. Some people plan their colour schemes very carefully but we do not fall into that category. In our garden there are a lot of happy accidents and we think it all looks beautiful.

Verbena bonariensis

Fishmint

Herbs