My Garden by Philippa Thomas

Is not Sorrento Park, Dillons Park, Our Vico Strip, Killiney Hill, Bullock Harbour, Dalkey Island, Hyde Park, Cuala – All our green areas, our parks, – simply THE LUNGS OF OUR TOWN WITH ITS  ‘VILLAGE’ ATMOSPHERE. MAYBE, ‘BEE’ THE DIFFERENCE, GREEN UP YOUR WALLS. Perhaps too, consider a small ornamental tree. A tree can bring so much to a garden adding scale, movement as well as helping to screen views in and outside, giving privacy and of course, providing a welcome perch for visiting birds.

March is one of our busiest months and is the month of new beginnings in nature and then, a time to welcome back some familiar faces. Our rising temperature literally brings our gardens alive… So, let’s get out there and shake off all those cobwebs off our gardening tools and maybe, even ourselves!  This is the perfect time for clearing away the withered stems from last year’s perennials, best to do so now before the new growth comes through. Then keep an eye out for plants that you can divide – look for any congested clumps of perennials such as Persicaria, Day Lilies, Iris. In fact, pretty much anything with lots of stems. Dividing plants keeps them generally healthier, too.

Pear and Plum Trees grow well and fruit reliably well here in Ireland. To get the best results, plant the trees now on a sunny facing wall or trellis and train them as a wall cover. The protection from the wall will help to ripen the fruit earlier and encourage stronger growth.  The best and most popular variety seems to be (my late mum grew it), –  Victoria, lovely plum coloured juicy fruit produced in abundance from mid July.  Blueberries are fun to grow, too. They are also fantastic to add colour from both flowers and foliage in any garden. You can even grow them in pots on your veranda. Just remember to use ericaceous soil and feed  the plants in Spring and Summer with slow release fertiliser, then you should enjoy picking them from June and September.  Another really worthwhile plant to grow is Rhubarb. Plant right now, Rhubarb is really easy to grow and will provide fresh red stalks for many years. ‘Timberely Early’ variety is ready for picking in late March, early April.

Everything that you do, starts with the First Step and if you only do one thing, in time it all adds up, ‘little by little, the bird builds its nest’.

Inside

Consider filling your house with flowers, bud vases scattered across a dining table, create the most magical Saturday or Sunday Lunch setting. In this way, our Season can be enjoyed and appreciated inside and outside. Maybe snatch the odd bloom in bud from the garden and watch it burst open.

Lovely things to pick from your garden:

For your vase right now to enjoy: I think it is totally invigorating and irresistible to look at one’s own flowers and admire from your very own lived-in space.

  1. Honesty, Wall Flowers and Hellebores; Hellebore faces can be dropped in a shallow glass bowl of water, they can look stunning.
  2. Rosemary with its stunning pale blue flowers, presently.
  3. Camellias, there are so many beauties out there.
  4. Flowering Quinces, Chaenomeles.
  5. Forsythia.
  6. Pieris, Forrest Flame.
  7. Some Daphne have exquisite scents.
  8. Kaffir Lilies, Schizostylis.
  9. Sarcococca, Sweet Box, just adore this plant.

Might do Maybe, March Jobs.

  1. The recent ‘Which’ tests are questioning if wood based composts are more beneficial? Wood, fibre, bark and coir did so well. By blasting apart these fibres, manufacturers can create a free – draining nutrient retentive material.
  2. Keep an eye out for slugs and maybe transport them elsewhere.
  3. Sycamore seedlings will grow very fast, pull them out when you spot them.
  4. Cut the old leaves off Hellebores to remove any foliar diseases and this makes flowers more visible.
  5. Prune Roses in order to encourage new strong growth.
  6. It really is beneficial to fertilise your soil, consequently in late Spring you will be able to achieve so much. Maybe consider some well rotted horse manure.
  7. Feed trees, shrubs and hedges with a slow release fertiliser by lightly forking it into the soil surface.
  8. Sounds cruel but best to cut out top rosette of leaves from Mahonia shrubs after they have flowered in order to encourage branching.
  9. Maybe install a water butt for the Season ahead and position it under a down pipe.
  10. Maybe, start a sowing and growing diary to keep track of which seeds you are sowing and where and when they were sown. It really helps later in the year.

 ‘A good book is like a garden carried in the pocket.’

Arab Proverb.

 “You need to walk a garden at all times of the day and Seasons and watch the light the way it hits a leaf with a particular texture or filters through…  you adjust and move plants to enhance that experience.  You have to use your eye the way an artist does.”

Beverly McConnell , Wall Street Journal, 2013.