Gardening with Nature on the Edge of the Atlantic

An Indian Summer

This second flowering of Geum has produced a dramatic background for a mature Green Shieldbug. I don’t imagine that this is the safest place to be if you need to be inconspicuous, but it makes a lovely picture.

This has been a bumper year for Puffballs and Earthballs and they have expanded their territory to include the ground under the oak trees. There are literally hundreds of them. Enough to withstand the enthusiastic exploration by my niece when I showed her how they expelled their spore.

A mature puffball showing the recent split of the outer case.

Every year at this time I question my approach to the garden. Most of the gardens that I know are tidy and neat while some areas of mine such as the bank behind the house look rather hysterical as this early morning photo shows. The wild heather continues its march towards the garage and the Goldenrod is particularly unruly this year. Dotted about are tiny Sheep’s Bit that are dwarfed by this dominant duo. Every time I am tempted to ‘tidy’ up I have to remind myself that this is a haven for butterflies and other insects. In reality if I cleared this rocky bank of the wild grasses and heather nothing else would grow as the soil is just inch deep but if a garden is a reflection of our personalities I must have very many.

As usual my dilemma about the garden is sorted quickly. My second sighting of a grasshopper in a week and in my lifetime occurred when I was topping up the bird bath. I have no idea as to how this creature got into a bucket but he had no chance of getting out. I put him on a stone to dry out but he continued to seem dazed. I carried him to the ‘untidy’ bank behind my house and he hopped into the grass with alacrity. Who needs ‘neat and tidy’.

This week has been a marathon tomato sauce making fest. I can use my own herbs, garlic and onions but do not have the facilities to grow tomatoes and other sun loving vegetables. The sweet tomatoes grown by Lisheen Organics are perfect for the job. I seem to have cut off Bradley’s head but my excuse is that I was blinded by the unseasonal heat and sunshine.

I did not see many Cabbage white butterflies this year, but this is the second infestation of caterpillars. This is the brood on just one leaf and the plant is covered by many more. I had managed to preserve these Brussel Sprouts until now but there is almost nothing left. Experience has taught me that the plant is likely to continue to grow and produce some sprouts only to provide one of my dogs with a tasty treat as they mature.

I found this monster on my rocket plants but was not too concerned as I was sure that the bitter taste would not be palatable. I continue to learn!

The Rosehips were particularly plentiful this year and I was able to make enough cordial to last me until well into next year. I remove the seeds before I make it so the preparation is rather time consuming but the end result makes it worthwhile.

Some mornings the garden is draped in spider webs which coat almost every plant. The effort to create these must require a huge amount of effort especially as they seem to disappear by the end of the day.

The many varieties of cobwebs are fascinating and I presume they are the work of different insects.

I have a particular fondness for the double flowering hydrangeas and this Involucrata ‘Tokada Yama’ must be the most beautiful. It is in a relatively sheltered position but the quality of the flowers does not deteriorate as the year goes on.

Detail of the Involucrata ‘Tokada Yama’. It still has its original label and it cost me eight euro. Money well spent.

My second threshing machine wheel was supposed to have a place in the garden but I can’t bring myself to expose it to the elements. Moz at Moz’art has again produced a beautiful glass topped table and it looks impressive surrounded by my third-generation Turmeric plants. These are providing me with a bit of a challenge. They are as not as healthy as the parent plant and I am trying to find out why this is. An interesting piece of research for the winter.

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