Category Archives: Gardening

Plant-it-ary Disaster

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I know it is meant to get very cold this weekend, below freezing. It might not happen, just like the last big snowstorm went right over us on the Atlantic coast and dropped on the west coast instead. Pooooooor Dublin.

Me, surprised to be feeling positive in spring, decided to get some seeds going. First I had to sort through the massive, and I mean massive, quantity of seeds that I have. Hubby needs to stop buying me magazines with free seeds!

Nearly every pile has more than one variety – for example, seven kinds of poppies, eleven types of sunflowers. I had other piles of that I definitely wanted to plant, might want to plant, two groups for himself to choose from, and a discard pile. These are just the flowers; I didn’t get into the veg seeds yet (zipper bag still in the shoebox).

I’d already set up a mini greenhouse a few days earlier. Brand new, but had been boxed and unused for a couple of years. I had new seed trays, new soil – not for seedlings, unfortunately – and a sunny day to enjoy.

I’m not gonna list everything I planted now. It was a lot, and quite a few ‘best before 2014’ ones I planted for the hell of it. All carefully planted according to depth, needing a cover of light soil or none, and labelled with species and number of cells planted with each variety.

I’m not going to list them because it doesn’t matter.

I no longer have the faintest idea of what seeds are in which cell. The whole greenhouse went face-down yesterday in wind that wasn’t there…until it was.

Couldn’t even get to the front zippers. This happened when I left the house for 15 minutes. I rushed home from the shop because I accidentally locked us out of our bank card, found this, and started to cry.

Hubby tried to help me over the phone with the card, and told me to go sort out my plants until he called me back…I couldn’t, it was pouring rain! Then when I tried, one of the important plastic bits on the greenhouse shattered in my hands. I screamed bad words and threw greenhouse parts at the innocent grass.

Phone call from himself let’s me know that I have to drive to another town to sort out the bank card…bank closes at five, it’s ten to four now… deep breaths and make sure the car has enough petrol to get there as it is low, and we have no cash. As soon as the downpour stops, I go out to see if I can make it.

Rain stops. Out to the car and see that I left the windows and sunroof open as I was in a panic sweat that needed cooling when the bank card didn’t work. Back inside for towels to hopefully save the electronics. Drive to other town. Realise on the way that it is late on Tuesday and I needed to do something pretty important on Monday, but forgot. Struggled for parking, more panic sweats.

The bank closed at 4! Defeated, I went back home (on petrol fumes) to try to salvage my seeds. I had to take the greenhouse apart bit by bit and carefully try to poke dirt and seeds back where they came from. Not so bad for two trays on the lower levels. Very bad for the upper two – the ones I really wanted to grow!

My only hope for one tray is that as I used a seed packet, I turned it upside down on a pile. One label stick remained in place, so I can get it right one direction or the other, hopefully?

On the plus side: years ago I found some seeds on the ground at a local, beautiful, garden and they are growing. Not all is lost.

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Experiment Win!

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Orchid pot v2.0 had some slight problems, but I am sure the next one will be easier still.

After talking about my first attempt in the comments of the last post, I came up with a few new ideas.

Just assume I fixed the five problems I found the first time; now we have new complications!

I found a new outer pot to work with my already-perfectly-sized inner pot. It is a fully glazed, smooth, no-hole-in-the-bottom useless as fuck decorative pot. I love the colour, but I never use pots with no drainage holes; they are the best way to kill any plant.

I made my concrete in measured batches. Two small ones with the same measure of water to mix. I did have to make a third batch as I was still underestimating how much I needed, but this time the mix in all three were actually measured and not eyeballed.

I taped up my corks (shaved down, a full size cork would let all the growing medium run right out the holes). I hot glued them to the tape on my perfect size interior pot, so it can be used again.

Those corks need to be smaller still!

Here we go! I think I forgot to mention I used veggie oil last time to make pot separation easier. I used a lot more this time, as I didn’t want to destroy that lovely useless pot. I know, I know: I hoard. But this is why! I found a use for a useless thing! It takes me being unable to go to work and to be bored to finally use my useless crap.

You can see the oil at the surface here, and the concrete is still wet. A worry. The next day it was so bad I dipped a paper towel in it to soak up the excess oil.

Weighed down. I brought it inside later, before it got chilly out.

Inside pot pulled out with help of pliers. There was a very thin sheen of ‘crete at the bottom, but it easily chipped off. The inside pot, between the corks pulled up most of the bottom. Not all the way, and no cracking at the bottom. I did it perhaps a bit too soon. Or maybe the corks were too big as I already said. In any case the bottom is thin.

Next problem was how to get the concrete out of the lavender pot. I’ve already given a spoiler with the two pictures above that proves I did it. How? I ran the sink full of hot water and let it soak. I made sure not to get the ‘crete wet, and after 10 minutes I turned it upside down, gave it a couple of thumps with my hand and heard a welcome clunk when it fell out. Whew! Thermodynamics, baby!

Pretty damn clean in there! Yay! The little bits left washed out easily.

My timeline is all screwy now, sorry!

I used these to make the holes in the sides. A very dull scalpel (an X-Acto blade would also work, in the same rounded shape) to start the hole. A not-too-pointy pocket knife that we don’t care about to do most of the hole drilling. I did have to sharpen it five times. Lastly a crappy battery powered drill that had no charge and likely had the wrong drill bit on it.

I made a bunch o holes! When it was working well, it took me about 5 minutes per hole.

Overexposed. But by now the cats were waking up from their 3-hour nap and wanted to see what I was doing.

Not too shabby!

Immediately planted up one of my unhappy orchids. Lots of root rot and suffocating moss in the original plastic pot. I even poked some of the roots out of the holes for stability. Let’s hope they like their new homes.

March Flairs

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I do have some flowers!

Our snowdrops have been blooming since January. I’m very pleased with how just a few bulbs planted years ago keep spreading. We had -4C temps recently, and I was sad to see all the ‘drops were flat on the ground. Tough little plants, they perked back up in two days and a week later still look this good!

The daffodils and narcissus did the same flattening and same perking up, but they aren’t blooming yet.

My crocus. Eventually I plan to have that whole awkward patch of grass filled with them. I’m a little worried about how much moss is in there, though! Any tips on removing or killing moss without killing bulbs?

My gerbera daisies. I keep them indoors, but they were in four shallow pots and several years old. I repurposed a tall container, put holes in the bottom and some rocks for drainage, and used an identical container as a water dish. They now take up less windowsill room and have so much more space to grow. Four plants turned out to be nine, as well – they couldn’t be separated since they were so root bound. I know I did the right thing as I have so many blooms coming up! One seems to grow at least a centimetre a day.

Some Orchids

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I’ve managed to get my oldest and tiniest orchid to bloom again this year. It cost me €.50 and came in a nice purple votive candleholder. I figured that even if it died, I’d have a candleholder.

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The blooms are about thumbnail sized! Very damn hard to photograph.

I’ve got two others still in bloom, and more spikes up and coming.

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Looks more yellow when the blooms are fresh. Also dammed hard to photograph.

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Likely my favourite. It’s been around a couple of years but I got it going this year!

Hope you enjoyed and sorry for the lack of detail about them. I’m struggling to do fun things lately!

“Stapelia gigantea, its smell is terrible”

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And it is.

My carrion flower has bloomed again, this time with some hilarious results.


Monday. About to pop open, but no seams visible. I did warn Himself…


But as usual, he didn’t hear me, somehow. Can’t imagine why not, we’ve only been married 12 years… 

This is his version of the same bloom, with quote: “Went to shut the blinds & was greeted by this! Yes, I shrieked, it wasn’t open this morning! It’s our carrion plant. Smells like death! Yes, really! (You have to put your nose into it, else there’s no scent at all thankfully) HDR photo for scariness ;)”

I don’t really see the ‘scary’ difference, except he turned our white windowsill purple! But I do find it hilarious that it might have something to do with the fact that I’ve been feeding him Stephen King and he actually did make an unmanly sound when he saw it last night. 

For size comparison, the plate that the plant sits on is a side plate; it is not a dinner plate. Maybe what, about 8-10 inches across? I’m not getting close enough to measure the bloom! I’m a super-smeller and to me it smells like bad meaty cat breath. Urgh. Pretty, and pretty strange, however! 

Spheksophobia

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Hope you don’t have it!

Spheksophobia is the fear of wasps. 


I still have strawberries growing – and apparently they are super sweet! I haven’t been able to find out about the last few because something else has been eating them first. 

I knew it wasn’t slugs, or beetles, or birds, or even earwigs. Wasps are eating my strawberries, and loving them! 

Oh well. If they are fat and full they won’t bother sour old me, at least. Not that I’m afraid of them: I’m very much live and let live unless one is in the house and one of the furry ones is about to get stung. Then there might have to be an emergency squishing. 

Tigridia Time Again

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You know I love these. Last summer I meant to post a gazillion of them, but Spot got sick and I haven’t really been the same since, to be honest. It is a hard thing to associate a flower that I love so much with the death of my best boy, but it is now a ‘thing’ for me. 

Keeping with the maudlin theme, I think that if I ever decide to have an actual grave and not ask that my ashes be spread between Ireland, Florida and maybe Cleveland, I would like my patch to be planted in Tigridia. They always begin to bloom around my birthday, and like life itself they are both beautiful and temporary.

I’m actually not depressed, I promise! How could I be with these beauties saying hello every day?

I Need a Dahlia Expert, Help! 

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I have about eight different dahlias, and I left every last one outside over the winter. But this one…

It was planted late last year, never did much, and I knew it wasn’t planted deep enough at the time. I did have a go at digging it out, but it didn’t want to come so I left it.

It is in a deep pot with tulips and ornamental variegated ivy (unknown variety, I found a bit on the pavement/sidewalk that had broken off from a planter, and made it mine) . The tulips did naught but one bloom this year, but I didn’t expect them to. The ivy was going crazy last year, but looks horrible this year.

The dahlia, however, looks like maybe it has a virus?


Lower leaves and stems look normal, but the budding bits of recent weeks look diseased.


So, should I chop all the icky looking parts off and hope new growth is healthy? Or is this entire plant for the bin? 

Other dahlias in pots, thriving and budding within less than a foot of this one are just fine.

Sunshine Today

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It was lovely!

Morning view
Lilies are opening up. This is the view from where I sit in the morning with my coffee. 

Big damn gazania
The gazanias are loving the sun, too! This is a two year old plant, and is truly enormous. Grown from seed, and is just stunning. 

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Gazania close up shots. The little white specks make me think of bird feathers. 

Hope you have had some sunshine, too!