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Archive for the ‘garden’ Category

I popped up to pay Paul and Mark a visit at their home, in Dublin, the other other day. The two of them have been hard at work getting their garden in order, over the past year. They both laboured long and Mark is the maintainer and pretty much spends a lot of time their during the summer months, checking plants are doing well and adding constantly to his collection.

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We’ve been having a very wet summer so when the sun eventually shines, the flowering plants make full use of it and immediately put their energies into blooming. And that’s how their garden is, in full bloom.

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They live in an area close to Dublin city centre which I’d consider urban/suburban, and seeing their garden really confirms what you can do in a nominal amount of space.

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They have a wide range of plants and flowers. I’m jealous of these flowers, since Mark said he only sprinkled the seeds on the soil. We brought these seeds back from the US (Beekman 1802 seeds), in May. We never planted our ones, so I’m sure you feel our envy.

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This tiger lily is absolutely gorgeous.

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Their plum tree is fruiting generously. Won’t be long for these to be fully ripe.

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Mark couldn’t resist some garden work while I was there. You can tell it’s more his baby.

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A little oasis in Dublins Fair city.

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My green-eyed monster broke out when I saw his newly purchased Wisteria already planted and readied for training up the back of their house. I went and bought two of them myself.

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And this lily. Cut back every year and this pops up every summer.

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The garden isn’t only gem where they live. They have a 2 year Bernese Mountain dog called Charlie Brown and new addition in the form of a very tiny (almost toy) kitten called Woody. How cute are they.

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Charlie is protective of Woody and will even pick her up and put her back to bed. Both of them are female, though you wouldn’t think it by the names.

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They get on adorably with each other.

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Every year we cut this bad boy back to its butt and every year it replenishes itself and starts to slowly creep its way around the conservatory with ambitious take over plans. This Passion plant wouldn’t grow normally in Ireland but the heat in our conservatory sustains it. It get so large and overbearing that we’ve nicknamed it Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors.

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We really don’t do much with it. We might water it every now and again but I think it gets most of its moisture from outside. It’s planted directly into the earth in a corner of the conservatory so the roots may even be below the foundation line.

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It’s miraculous how nature can seem to be beat and still come back for subsequent battles. We do our best to train it along the roof beams, but like unruly hair, it definitely has a mind of its own. Seems there’s no chance of fruit here. I’ve tried pollinating between the flowers. I think I might need another plant for that.

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It’s only now how much of an appreciation we have of it. Audrey II owns his spot, a rather big spot, but his pretty wildness is hard to deny.

Here’s the extent if his dominance.
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I snapped this pick in the Cabinteely Park, opposite where I work. At the start of the year, they cleared a large piece of open space and rotovated the soil. I initially thought they were preparing for a new games field or possibly tennis courts. But no, I’m very jealous! They now have a wild flower meadow. No just a beautiful display but brimming with bees, butterflies and insects. Not many wasps, thank god.

Richie and I bought a load of wild flower seeds to sow amongst the trees of Woodhaven but got lazy and never planted them. So you can see why I’m envious. I look forward to having a similar display to this, next year.

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Behind the Green Door

A while back we were clearing out the junk from the garden sheds and other ‘rubbish’ dotted around the place. As part of this we cleared out the old small building we call the Boiler House, because it contains an ancient oil burner that was used rather inefficiently to heat Woodhaven.

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We had to trawl through numerous cans and tins of used paint. Richie and I would be of the opinion to keep all the useable paint but since we were taking no prisoners, I had to remain strong and force him to throw out a lot of stuff. He hoards away things like a squirrel with nuts for the winter, except the stuff he keeps will never be used. There were a few unopened and never used paint cans and one of these was a Dulux Hawthorn Green – Gloss. I remember buying it for an old clock but never bothered with the project.

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Richie said he’d use it again and I made him question his decision to keep it. ‘I’ll use it on the door to this place’, he said with a satisfied look. Not a bad idea, I thought.

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While we were still rummaging and dumping, Richie asked Mark (Laura C’s boyfriend) if he wanted a little task to while away an hour or so. Mark accepted and ended up spending most of the day sanding and painting the door of the Boiler House.

I figured the brass fittings needed a new lease of life and broke out the Brasso and some elbow grease.

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Didn’t it turn out well? One more thing on the ‘to-do’ list done.

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The changeable weather has limited our time outside and getting to things that really need to be completed. Richie has used every opportunity to keep the lawns down. And fine job he’s doing of it.

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I’ve managed to pot some flowers too. Though we joined forces for our window boxes.

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We’ve become more American and erected a Mailbox. There was a debate on whether the postman would actually use it but we came home after day one and the little red flag was pointed skyward.

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Logs, logs and more logs. This is one thing we need to get on top of. We want to have them all chopped and dry for the winter, though we’ve been lighting the stove and it’s the height of summer. That’s how cold and miserable it is this year.

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Some of us are able to laze around still though. This is Yoda, a new addition to Woodhaven. Richie’s cousin is moving away and need to give Yoda a new and welcoming home. There was a bit of stand off with Victoria but they’ve found a mutual respect now.

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And we still have a few noisy neighbours, popping over to the fence for the odd cup of sugar. Check out the wig on this one.

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Over the past few nights we’ve been hearing a strange noise coming from the adjacent cemetery. We assumed it was a fox or fox cubs or possibly a weasel and our immediate thoughts were to the safety of our ducks. But since installing the electric fence, they’ve been as happy as ever and after receiving the punch like impact to my index finger, I knew the fence was doing its job.

Last night we decided to do some more investigation. There seemed to be two animals making the same sound, as if calling to each other. It sounded like a whistling screech. A quick search on google and youtube pin pointed what it was for us. It definitely wasn’t a mammal. I recorded the racket for compassion to any youtube clips. Turns out we have two young Long Eared Owls, hungrily calling out in the night sky for their next meal.

Long Eared Owls are one of few owl species in Ireland. They don’t actually have long ears, just tufts of feathers that look like them. I don’t know why we didn’t even think of an owl initially, especially since a night last week. We were sitting outside as it turned twilight and something caught our eyes flying through the trees and rapidly swung away into the back field. If we hadn’t of seen it, we wouldn’t have heard it! It was an adult owl and it stealthily swooped over our heads like an F-117 Nighthawk, ready to drop its payload. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen an owl out in the wild, and it’s beyond me why we didn’t think that it would have nearby chicks. The internet tells me they like to nest in large conifers. Well that’s what the graveyard has plenty of. I must say, I’m delighted we have another unique visitor to Woodhaven. Our list of wild animals is increasing all the time. I should probably mention that we have bats too. At dusk they take flight and zip, zig and zag across the navy blue sky, snatching at insects they’ve echoed on.

As an aside, my boss reported a strange noise in her back yard last night. It sounded like sawing wood and continued for an hour. I could tell you the whole story, but she never found out what it was and it didn’t seem as though a neighbour was doing some very late night carpentry. Google told us both that it was a Leopard or Panther. I wonder???

Image courtesy of Bird Watch Ireland
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A gloomy cloud has descended over Woodhaven. Linda has been killed. The life of one of our ducks (Linda) was taken by a dog while we were away.

Our ducks have always had the free reign of Woodhaven. They even leave it, to the surrounding fields, but always come back home. Linda has been brooding the past few weeks and we worked it out that her clutch wouldn’t hatch until we came back from New York.

The poor girl was dishevelled and exhausted. Whenever she left her eggs for some food or to freshen up (as if she had her own powder room), Hank (the drake), would attack her. It was almost like he was forcing her back to his offspring. I condemn domestic abuse, so there was a few times he nearly got a kick in the arse from me. The other wives of his harem were protective of Linda, to an extent. I noticed they tried distracting Hank. It was either they were protecting her or just glad they weren’t the brooding mother.

Back to the point though! The murder happened during the day time. It was quick and could not have been avoided. The dog got loose from a nearby house and did what dogs do, I guess. The young Husky cast a large, dark shadow over our content home, that day. I’ve pictured in my mind what ordeal Linda went through. I hope she put up a good of a fight, as she did whenever we came too close to her. And where were the rest of the flock? The lucky four were in a back field, rummaging in the undergrowth for food, oblivious to the heinous crime that was being committed.

The two Lauras and Mark made a valiant attempt to save the eggs. They had friends arrive with chickens in the hope they would adopt the eggs and complete the hatching but sadly that wasn’t meant to be. They even tried to get an incubator. What they did next, I was most appreciative of. They buried Linda in the garden. But not only Linda, they placed her brood beneath her, together in the end and forever.

So what have we learned from this? We got complacent. The ducks are free spirits but they are going to have to be more restricted now. We bought a 50 metre electric fence for their protection. They’ll still be happy. The area is large and their safety is number one after all. I wouldn’t want another episode like this to happen.

Here lies Linda and her brood. RIP.
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