02 Jul 2022

Keep enjoying those lovely gardens

Shirley Lanigan talks all things from the garden

There is so little else to do apart from gardening right now.
And don’t tell me to do a spring clean indoors. Recent research has found that it takes considerably more than a disease pandemic to raise an interest in house cleaning around here.
Add a few cold days and some rain to the menu and a kitchen declutter or an airing cupboard clear-out might begin to look attractive. In the meantime it is all gardening all of the time.
The result of all this attention beamed in on the usual very messy plot, is that it is beginning to look tidy. It is – in parts anyway – almost presentable. In consequence, a state of deep shock reigns. The place is almost, not quite recognisable. One pal said - over the phone - that at this rate, all my years of work aimed at producing a look of gentle neglect, will lie in ruins.
The weeds are certainly feeling the sting of the Evil Eye. No sooner do they break the surface than I am on them, like a hawk on a mouse. They do not stand a chance.
One particular corner that has been getting away with murder for the last year is about to be pounced on this week. It is an area plagued by ground elder. I will dig out the weeds and in a few weeks time plant it up with a mass of annuals – black and blue cornflowers, aronia, marigolds and pink and white cosmos among them.
This way, I will have a good summer show and even as the ground elder comes back, which it most certainly will, its return will not matter much, because at the end of the autumn, the annuals will be ready to be dug up anyway. At that point I will re-dig out the ground elder.
In deference to the request from the bee keepers of Ireland, when it comes to digging out weeds, I will ignore dandelion flowers. The bees are in serious need of that nectar at this early point in the year. The flower heads will be pulled however, once the seed heads appear. I don’t mind what I have but I do not need any more.
Apart from prowling about, looking for weeds, the time locked-up at home has so far, given me the time and energy to plant all daffodils that until recently lived in pots, into the grass.
I always loved the look of daffodils naturalising in grass and now I will have them. Lots of them. And into the bargain, there will be fewer potted bulbs to deal with.
On the subject of bulbs, I am making a note now – that will hopefully be remembered next autumn – to stop buying tulips other than yellow and white varieties. Maybe a few blacks too. Possibly some dark ruby and claret shades too.
But that is all. No more pinks. Definitely no more reds. And positively no more oranges.
Looking out the window now, the view includes a stubborn splatter of red tulips that I saw in a catalogue a few years ago. I bought them and planted them that spot and they have been coming back ever since.
Unlike many fancy tulips, they have come back in the same number as was initially planted. This is unusual and unfortunate - as I hate them. They are the same colour that they were in the catalogue. But for some reason, that colour that attracted me in October is not a colour that looks in any way attractive in March and April. They sit there, glaring in the window, all flash, sprawly and annoying.
The splurge of lime euphorbia beside them doesn’t help either.
The other tulips in the borders are all yellows. And they are all, without exception, gorgeous. They fit in. They look like spring. They are just the right thing. The red on the other hand is pure, shuddering urrgh.
There are plenty of pots of different mad coloured tulips around the place too but I pick the flowers as they are in bud and bring them inside to flower in the house. The remaining pots of greenery can be placed wherever a bit of nice fresh, lush leaf is needed.
So, the note to self must be – in future, if it is to be planted in the ground, it must be a yellow or white tulip. Try to tell me that in October as I dribble over gorgeous images of rich red and flame orange tulips.
We never learn.
In the meantime, play in your own yard, garden or window box - and wash your hands.

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