Monday, 30 January 2012

Charles and the art of weeding

looking out onto the front lawns from the walled garden
white tip butterfly in the hot bed

One day Jack asked me to help him remove a hive of bees from a lovely old hunting lodge in Tipperary.  I was foolish enough to go with him, forgetting that Jack is always secretly plotting and planning. By the end of the day I had helped Jack, gotten a tour of the gardens from Noel and somehow agreed to a  job working there as the third in line to the gardening throne!

Charles with weeding bucket in hand off to work in the sunken garden

King of the garden was undisputedly Charles. He was old, banjaxed, cantankerous and absolutely brilliant. I think he enjoyed bossing me around and pointing out my appaling lack of knowledge and experience.
Despite all the giving out I learned so much from him and we had some funny moments together. He was an old codger but there was still a gleam in his eye!

I spent 6 months on what I like to call my weeding apprentiship. Apparently I didnt know how to weed correctly when I arrived. I can still hear him in my head when I'm weeding telling me to get it right out! and I'm still paranoid about the position of the weeding bucket. Which is kind of funny because now I see some of my new recruits out weeding and say to myself  "Christ! they are hopeless, they cant even weed properly!!!

Verbascum in the hot bed
Anyway in between Charles roaring accross the lawns at me, fishing bats out of the watertank and hiding from Nellies breakfast rolls in the shrubbery I got a whole day each week to just deadhead flowers. The walled garden in particular was a haven of buzzing bees, day flying moths and beautiful butterflies. In the hot bed, between soaring heads of verbena bonarensis, pretty delicate white verbascums, spikes of exotic canna lillies and red hot dahlias with the wondrful backdrop of innumerable old scented roses I sometimes just stayed still to watch, inhale and adore everything around me. Here are some photos from those amazing days. I can almost hear Charles shouting MOIRA!!!!!! He might have been deaf as a post but man could he roar....RIP Charlie. Although I suspect wherever you are you are still shouting..!

the old glasshouse lost so many panes that Noel used to say on a wet day it was drier outside

how did I get any work done with sights like this?


Ken ring predicts a fine summer! yay!!
dasies on the roadside June 2011


I have been shopping and thanks to the kind voucher from my friends in Fedamore I am now rich in potatoes for planting. Three varieties of the first earlies are chitting away on the kitchen dresser with a fourth lot waiting to join them. I'm going for small quantities of different varieties this year to keep the eating part interesting. I'm even trying...shock..horror..a salad variety. What next? I'll never pass the Irish citizenship test if I keep this up!

First Earlies;
Home Guard, Red Duke of York, Epicure, Sharpes Express

Second Earlies;
British Queens, Catriona, Charlotte (salad potato)

King Edward, Black Bog, Maris Piper, Tibet and Toluca.

The lads on Ellen street told me about toluca. Like tibet its blight resistant. Its mexican and supposedly gives huge tubers with great flavour.After last years debacle with the mayan twilight that became a refugee camp for eel worms I can only hope this is a better bet!

Chitting; eyes up, bright place, no direct sun, 6 weeks before they are to be planted.