Lovely lavender

Well summer is here and, regardless of the rain, plants will still thrive and flower, some more than others in the wet though. One such plant that is familiar to most is the Hydrangea. I love them and have many different varieties in my garden. My particular patch of paradise is quite wet and boggy and when we moved here nine years ago they were the only plants thriving in an otherwise neglected garden. My massive enthusiasm back then blinded me and the realization that we had bought a boggy plot where the soil was more suited to pottery making (i.e. clay!) sank in very quickly after so many new plants died from continuous soakings. Herringbone style drainage all around the garden helped dry the place up to a large extent. But I still stuck with the hydrangeas..just in case! And I have just planted a new one, Hydrangea paniculata vanilla friase. It should have a profusion of big blousy pink flowers in time and I am looking forward to them. As the name implies, hydrangeas love water and need to be kept hydrated. I would advise against planting them in or around trees or in dry soil unless you are prepared to water them very regularly, notwithstanding our increasingly wet summers…particularly here in Cork. They are pretty happy in pots too so there are other ways of having them if your soil is very dry. Infact, I recently saw a garden where someone had a row of 7 identical pots with identical hydrangeas positioned in a row at the front of a wooded area, it looked fabulous.


I have been growing Lavender for a long time in a dry area of the garden and have just added Lavandula Madrid Blue. The name Lavandula is from the Latin, lavo, to wash. Lavender water made from the oil extracted from lavender has long been used as a fragrant wash. The plant itself is a beautiful aromatic shrub and makes for a gorgeous dwarf hedge or as edging. It will thrive on top of a dry wall or in any well drained sunny spot. I was unable to go to the Chelsea flower show this year and had to make do with watching the coverage every night on TV. Mary Berry presented Alan Titschmarsh with lavender biscuits made from lavender grown in her own herb garden. I searched the internet for the recipe, I could not find Mary Berry’s but came across one which I thought looked very easy, check out my website for the recipe.


In the vegetable garden…


-Ensure slugs and snails do not munch your runner beans, courgettes, pumpkins and lettuces

-Anything that has recently been planted out having been hardened off could possibly do with a liquid feed now.

-Continue to water tomatoes plants despite the rain. Pinch out leaves with no flowers too.

-New runners from strawberry plants can be pinned down if you need new plants. They will produce roots in a couple of weeks. You should replace your plants each year with your home raised runners as they give larger fruit and are less prone to disease.

-Sow main crop carrots for autumn.

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I am passionate about gardening and creating outdoor spaces that are gorgeous, adventurous, productive and fun. I have been advising and designing gardens for many years starting with friends and family as well as developing my own garden design in Cork near Crosshaven. I have been doing this whilst bearing and rearing our four children, who also garden with me and share my interest and passion, especially in the vegetable and fruit garden. I am the Gardening columnist for the Cork Independent free newspaper. I take all my own photographs for my articles on gardening and will also customise cards for clients using photographs taken in their home and garden.

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