Archive for July, 2016

July 8, 2016

Little South African enjoys pot in Ireland

by Ciaran Burke

Bulbinella hookeri


Bulbinella hookeri,  an unassuming clump of short grassy leaders emerged in the centre of the pot in Spring. There is no label, I study the leaves, a minute passes as I try to recollect, then it comes back to me,”the yellow lad from South Africa”. Bulbinella hookeri, the name returns to me, this is a yearly spring ritual which ends with me saying that I must label it.

Now the flowers are almost over, the pot still unlabeled, and I have enjoyed the understated elegance of this beautiful bulb which is native to South Africa.

This plant has travelled with me from my first garden in Dublin, it travelled west to Mayo, in both places it was happy growing in well drained soil in a sunny position. Now it resides in a pot in Kildare, sitting on a garden table, cheerful and happy, a cheer that is infectious, making me smile with admiration. Admiration for its beauty, resilience and grateful for its willingness to survive without much attention. It seems all it needs is some praise and affection for its blooms when they appear in summer. 

July 4, 2016

Fine foliage

by Ciaran Burke

Foliage adds interest often otlasting the comaparable fleeting presence of flowers


As the blooms open and fade, early summer blooms give way to the later summer show. While the often fleeting beauty of blooms enthrall us, foliage can command our attention over the seasons. New growths of Pieris japonica burn bright and cool to smoldering bronze before the green calm of green returns for winter.

Pieris japonica seedling


In our collection of pots, this Pieris japonica combines with other foliage plants to provide a foliar screen of an oil tank and together their colors and shapes mingle to create a leafy composition of beauty through the spring, summer, autumn and in some cases winter too.

Cornus alternifolia ‘Variegata’


The silver variegated foliage of Cornus alternifolia ‘Variegata’ creates a soft fuzzed backdrop, it’s potis placed on a garden table to elevate it so that it distracts the eye from an ugly oil tank. A beautiful large growing shrub will take time to achieve its full height of 4-5 meters.

Salix magnifica


I love the big leaves of Salix magnifica, it is so unlike most willows. The bluish green leaves can be as big as rhododendron or magnolia foliage. It’s new growth is reddish tinged. It is a vigorous plant that can grow into a fair sized tree. Like other willows it responds well to hard pruning, so we should be able to keep its size manageable.

Pyrus communis seedling


The pear seedling is one of two, this one is the less vigorous of the pair of pears, both have attractive copper new growths and shiny leaves. We await the first flowers, but that may still take a number of years. 

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