Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

April 20, 2018

Spring has arrived

by Ciaran Burke

After months of wind, rain, frost and snow… finally we get to feel some warmth and be blinded by the sun!

Sitting down after work, sipping some Ethiopian coffee, listening to cattle munch in grass, bees hum and the distant drone of weekend commutes on the distant highways, I am happy that I have all these plants in containers here.

The golden shoots of Physocarpus ‘Diablo D’Or’ are ignited by the afternoon sun. This particular specimen was grown from a cutting and then trained into a standard, and is growing in a 40cm diameter terracotta pot.

I applied Fish, Blood and Bone fertiliser to all the pots a couple of weeks ago, this should keep them going for about another 6 weeks. Then I will reapply.

I pruned some of the shoots back on the standard trained Cornish alba, to make it more bushy, this plant has bee looking great all through winter with it red stems and branches.

I had a good sniff of the Viburnum x burkwoodii flowers: I love fragrance in a garden! While pulling a few weeds, I was treated to the smell of the balsam poplar, the emerging foliage release the most delicious scent.

The blossoms on the Magnolia ‘Leonard Messell’ are superb, they have rushed to bloom over the last week.

Between fragrances, spurting new growths, beautiful blooms and buzzing insects, the ten minutes has turned into an hour. If only every Coffee break could be so good.

Narcissus ‘Sir Winston Churchill’ has a gorgeous scent.

The new growths of Physocarpus ‘Diabolo D’Or’

Cornish alba is often grown as a shrub and valued for its red winter stems. I have found it to be an excellent standard specimen.

Viburnum x burkwoodii – such wonderful fragrance!

Magnolia ‘Leonard Messel’ – stunning blooms.

Forget me nots and wallflowers in the gravel at the base of the wall. Apart from our container garden, we have planted a strip of about 20 metres in length at the base of a wall.

May 24, 2017

An hour drifts by…

by Ciaran Burke

It has been a long day, and a long drive home, but the sun was shining and the air was warm. After having something to eat we wandered downstairs to have a look at the plants. Our collection of pots and the narrow strip at the base of a wall that we have planted gets us out for a bit of air, and we enjoy the beauty of the blooms and seeing bumble bees buzzing about.

Over the last few years we have been constantly adding new plants and pots to our collection. Where once we had an acre of garden to tend, now its the 180 pots, or there about, and the plants at the base of the wall that is our garden. We rent an apartment, an old converted oat loft on a stud farm. When we first moved in, there was little in the way of botanical interest, but it did not take long for us to make an impact. Potted specimens from our old garden were laid in position around two small wooden decks that we built. Then we tried out some plants in the gravel at the base of the wall.

The wall runs along a driveway that has to be kept clear for the occasional farm machinery, and our deck areas are north west facing. There are rather unsightly portacabin structures and great big ugly concrete water tank. Despite all this, we have our haven of plants. Unusual trees and shrubs thrive, and standard trained shrubs such as Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo d’Or’ and standard gooseberry add height and detract our eyes from the unsightly structures.

We walk outside and admire individual flowers, noticing the first new blooms of Hemerocallis citrina, a nocturnal flowering daylily, and bend down to sniff its delicious scent. Then some dead-heading is done, a few weeds are plucked, I decide to add some organic fertiliser to some of the trees, and then do some watering. Before we know it, an hour or more has passed. A precious hour spent amongst the plants, the stress from the day has gone, a new energy has replaced the weariness of the working day and a smile has replaced a frown. Such is the power of the garden, or in our case, a collection of pots.

Standard gooseberry

November 7, 2016

Autumn kicks

by Ciaran Burke


You can hear the light crunch, the shuffle of the fallen leaves, rustling into new formations as feet shuffle through the gold and bronze of autumn’s yearly fall. Kicking leaves and watching them fall again and hearing their rustling call, it is a simple joy.

Lonicera gymnochlamydea


Along the branches, shining globes of brilliant red, the fruit of the species, an invitation to the birds, to eat and enjoy; to spread the seed. Until then we can admire their construction, their placement and their presence upon the boughs.


Paths dappled with red and orange, the fallen leaves in late autumn sun are like fallen confetti, the celebration of the changing seasons. 

Crocus speciosus


And still there are blooms, unaware or just defiant of the onset of winter, their place in the seasons defined by their evolution. Reminding us that even as the days get shorter and colder, the garden still grows, and beauty lives; redefined, the colour of bark, the texture of a stem, the shade of a leaf and persistence of a fruit.

Acer griseum


Winter is coming, but the garden lives in, nature slows down but does not stop. And we should not stop enjoying the beauty of nature. Wrap up warm, go for a walk, visit a garden or work in your own,take time to admire the majesty of trees, breathe in the sharp crisp air band the embrace the changing seasons.

The photographs in this post were taken in Mount Usher, National Botanic Gardens Kilmacuragh and Birr Castle.

Here are links to each of the gardens;

http://www.mountushergardens.ie

http://www.botanicgardens.ie/kilmac/kilmvisit.htm

http://birrcastle.com/

October 25, 2016

5 Autumn blooming Perennials

by Ciaran Burke



I originally put together this short video featuring these hardy herbaceous perennials a few weeks ago. They are all still blooming well, thanks in part to the mild weather, no frost as yet.

The plants featured were photographed in two locations; our pot garden (Anthemis ‘Sauce Hollandaise, Verbena bonariensis, Erigeron karvinskianus) and where  I work with The Garden School at Marlay Park.

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. 

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