Gardening with Nature on the Edge of the Atlantic

Disaster on the Driveway

Disaster has struck my ash trees. This view of the top of my drive is one of my favourites. This photograph was taken in Spring when I started to plant some extra shrubs to give the birds better shelter when feeding in Winter. Sadly, once the foliage ’emerged’ or didn’t as the case may be, it became obvious that the Ash trees have developed ‘ash die back’. Even worse, all of the other ash trees in the garden are similarly afflicted. A total of forty trees in all. With the help of Grant from the Tree Company we have been developing a strategy to deal with this disaster and have decided to coppice the three worst affected. The next task will be to try to decide on replacement trees if needed. Not an easy task with the extremes of climate that we are experiencing.

Other parts of the driveway are looking very healthy. I planted the middle part with about twenty different varieties of roses and Nepetia ‘Six Hills Giant’. It looks a little higgledy-piggledy, but is a haven for bees and other creatures including the pheasants. The hedgerow on the other side provides shelter from the worst of the winds and has been taken over by blackbirds and a couple of singing thrushes. So much so that I have to be careful every time I drive past as they have a tendency to swoop down rather than up. Success all round I think.

The bottom of the drive is also covered in roses, but this time rambling and climbing varieties. Some of these have taken to the trees and cavort with the wild honeysuckle. This is Ghislaine de Féligonde a lovely deep peach rambling rose which fades to a creamy colour as it matures.

The large clusters of Ballerina showing the variation in colour as the flowers mature.

The wildflowers continue to flourish. Usually, this Germander Speedwell grows in full sun and makes a perfect companion to golden oregano. This clever plant has decided to flourish in the shade of some hawthorn trees and has done much better than its relatives who have roasted in the sunshine over the last few weeks.

After an unexpected ‘trip’ and a subsequent visit to Bantry hospital I have had the opportunity to see how much gardening I can do with my non-dominant hand. The answer is very little. It looks as if I will be using this bench quite a bit in the coming weeks.

This Kalmia latifolia ‘Ostbo Red’ (Mountain Laurel) is another one of those plants that did nothing for a few years and has now suddenly produced a multitude of beautiful buds and blossoms. The colour of the flower is a surprise after the deep pinks of the ‘crinkly bud’s’. It is a relative of the rhododendron and does well in semi shade. It is such an addition to the garden that I have been trying to source some more but with no luck so far.

This Cornus kuosa ‘Satomi’ has to be one of the most striking shrubs in the garden as well as the most successful. It has a very elegant shape and flowers for months on end. The flower colour changes from a deep pink to a light pink/white over time.

Details of the Cornus kuosa.

This is the smallest geranium in the garden and the flower is about the size of a five pence coin. It is as successful at attracting pollinators as the other varieties despite living in the shade behind the house. Even the bumble bees have sought it out.

I have just purchased The Birds of County Cork in an effort to understand their movements and behaviours. I very rarely see Starlings in the garden and usually it is a lone traveller. However, once the phormium start to flower flocks of them suddenly appear and between the wind and their antics the plants look like bouncy castles. They pay another visit once the seeds are ripe but in between they disappear from the neighbourhood and I have no idea where they go. I would also like to know how they know that I have these plants and that they are ready for harvesting. Do they send scouts or have memories from other years?

I call this collaborative planting. I provide the geraniums and the chives and the wildflowers do the rest.

Another joint project with the wildflowers. I am trying to disguise my gravel paths as much as possible. Although tiny these Scarlet Pimpernel reside very happily with Golden Oregano and Ajuga and only need a little help to retain their space.

A sign of hope on one of my diseased Ash trees. I am hoping that this healthy growth may mean that all is not lost and that the tree will respond well to coppicing.


2 responses to “Disaster on the Driveway”

  1. Hi, I will be very interested in how your ash tree coppicing plan works out as I and many others have the same problem. I enjoy your updates every 2 weeks. I hope you recover soon from your fall.

    Take care,


    • Thank you very much. I think that we will start coppicing very soon. I am also finding seedlings all over the garden and would like to think that some may be immune. Good luck with you trees. it is very sad to loose any.

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