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Saturday
Jul212018

A trip to Western Ireland.

A few pictures from my trip to Ireland. I went together with my mom; dogs and husband stayed behind (I am happy to report Bruno did well without me). 25 years ago we went to Connemara in Western Ireland on a family trip and now the two of us returned to see whether it had changed (spoiler, it hasn´t really, but it´s definitely a lot more touristy). 

We stayed in this beautiful barn which I can fully recommend. It´s actually on the border to Connemara but turned out to be a perfect hub for exploring the region. It´s also just between Lough Corrib and Lough Mask, two very large lakes. The picture above shows the view from one of my morning runs up the Mount Gable and what you see here is not the sea, but the Lough Mask (I think. Maybe it´s the Lough Corrib though. I´m still not sure!).

Connemara is very beautiful I think, the mountains and the sea and the clouds, for me it´s the definition of an Irish Landscape. These pictures were taken in the region around Glassilaun Beach. 

Killary Fjord where we took a boat tour. 

The pretty village of Roundstone and Dog´s Bay. We were very lucky with the weather, like many other European countries Ireland is experiencing a very dry summer and we had a few beautiful sunny and rather hot days. 

There aren´t many gardens in that part of Ireland but we we did tour a few... this is Ashford Castle by the Lough Corrib which is actually a rather posh luxury hotel with a very nice walled garden. 

Kylemore Abbey is one of the major tourist attractions in the region, to be honest we were quite shocked just how touristy it had become. You can tour parts of the castle which has a newly renovated facade and looked a bit like something out of Disneyland (sorry).

But Kylemore Abbey also has a huge walled garden that has been beautifully restored over the past 20 years (this didn´t exist when we first visited Connemara!). For me this was the highlight of our trip. It´s absolutely stunning and the dimensions are just unbelievable. You´re standing in this HUGE, immaculate walled garden in the middle of wild and rough mountains, what a brave thing to dream up and realize.

Back in the day there were around 20 glass houses in this garden where all sorts of exotic fruits and plants grew (there was one house just for bananas, for some reason I find this just perfect). They´ve restored two houses so far. Very pretty.

On the last day we visited Brigit´s Garden which is small but has some very lovely corners. Also they serve excellent food and decent coffee (!!! Sadly still a rare thing in that part of Ireland) in their Garden Cafe. It´s all bit hippy-dippy but in a nice way, with a meditation hut and a tree of wishes. I really hope that plumber has finished his work by now!

Monday
Jul022018

Welcome July.

This has been such a diffcult year in the garden so far with the drought we´re having, the worst since we´ve lived here I think. It was pretty bad three years ago, but I think we got a bit more rain back then. I was ecstatic when it rained for a whole day two weeks ago, but since then we did not have a single drop and what is even worse, non-stop "desert wind" how I call it. Around here, it´s pretty standard that it´s very windy in June and July, for whatever reason. It makes the heat more bearable, of course, but the garden is drying out even more. We´re expecting a heatwave and I have zero water in the well... it´s going to be interesting.

Anyway. Count your blessings! The lavender is loving the weather. And the bees and butterflies are loving the lavender. So that´s good!

Let´s look at a few more lavender pictures because this beauty won´t last much longer. (Love the bokeh in the second picture).

It really did pay off to transplant all those tiny larkspur seedlings.

This is phlox paniculata "Blue Paradise" in the second picture - it´s the truest blue you´ll get with a phlox, and especially stunning in the morning and the evening. I love it and have planted it everyhwere. 

The veggie garden is mostly hanging in there, but is suffering quite a bit. It´s such a shame because everything looked so promising back in spring. Something is eating my beetroot and my cabbages (and is not responding to any treatment). The chard is barely surviving (Chard! The one plant I thought would survive the apocalypse! Turns out it´s not drought resistant though). My salad bed is non existent at this point because I can´t give it enough water, so the chickens ate what was left and I´ll re-sow once the weather cooperates. Many other plants are loving the weather though.... looks at my pumpkins and the corn in the second picture!

The larkspur though... look at this beauty.

 Lu says hi!

And the boys say hello too (see that red streak on Bruno´s ear? Heart eyes).

Last but not least! We got bees! Finally! This has been years in the making. My husband is now a proud beekeper, still lots to learn but so happy they´re finally here. After much back and forth we decided that we do want to have them in our garden (we were a bit concerned about the dogs and were originally planning to have them on a plot just opposite our garden). They now live in our chicken run, under our old apple tree. Long live the bees! Even if I got stung in the ear (!) yesterday, but that was obviously not one of our bees. Obviously.

Bye for now! I´m going on a trip to Ireland/Connemara on Saturday. Any recommendations? See you on the flip side with lots of pictures.

Monday
Jun182018

Mid-June.

Aaand as promised, another post with pictures from the weekend! The veggie garden is my pride and joy right now, so let´s start here. I successfully grew larkspur for the first time last year which turns out to be a prolific self-seeder - I had a whole bed of tiny larkspur plants this spring which I very carefully dug out and transplanted. It´s everywhere now and I love it. All the other flowers in this cutting bed - cornflower, two varieties of calendula, snapdragons and clarkia - are just starting to bloom.

I love the combination of the blue larkspur and that red climbing rose! Also my cabbages are off the charts this year; and the sunflowers are seemingly getting taller by the hour.

What remains of the poppies.

I am growing corn for the first time this year. Well I did a small trial last year which didn´t go super well, but that was mostly my fault. Anyway this year I have three or four different varieties, so far so good... I really love the height and structure of the plants.

Everything is growing pretty well considering the little water I am able to give the plants. Even the pumpkins are really happy. I really want to do a huge post of what I am growing in the veggie garden and why and how; hopefully I´ll find the time to put something together soon.

Just a minute of silent admiration for rambler "Raubritter" which is getting prettier every year.

My lavender is pretty happy this year as well. These are probably perfect conditions for lavender! Also Fred is photobombing :)

My newly planted perennial beds in the walled garden are filling in nicely. I mean they would all be happier with some rain but at this point I´m just thankful if I can keep them alive. That´s it for today! Two posts in a day, when did that ever happen. Talk soon.

Monday
Jun182018

Early June.

So this post was meant to be published last week, but i never got around to doing it! I have another post in the pipeline with more current pictures, but I wanted to quickly post these anyway - mostly so I have a record of my fantastic rambler (it´s filipes Kiftsgate) in 2018.

We have a very bad drought around here - it has rained twice since the beginning of May. While many other plants in my garden suffer, the roses have mostly been doing fantastic.

 Same rambler, different location. This one was quite sick last year with mildew, but not even a touch of it this year.

 So that I have a record of the year in which we fixed the roof of our barn. This is a bit of a longer story to tell. Maybe in another post dedicated to the subject - once it´s done.

This rose is always fantastic. No the chickens won´t probably notice.

Lavender "river" not yet in full bloom. 

The veggie garden is doing quite well this year despite the drought. Now I´m very grateful for this rather wet piece of land that we have! When we moved in seven years ago we seriously considered adding a drainage system in the back part of the garden since it was so wet. No more! Climate change is real.

Friday
Jun012018

Mostly roses, and hello June.

May felt a bit like a long summer holiday since it was unusually hot and I had quite some time off. I got a lot done in the garden but still feel like I am perpetually behind on everything. Ah well, nothing new here. It was a good but somewhat hazy month if that makes any sense. Anyway! The garden. Here are some poppies. If you are a long time reader you may remember last year´s poppy explosion in the walled garden. These are all self seeded from last year´s plants... funny enough they´re mostly this fluffy dark red variety but I am not complaining.

The white rambler on the wall is not in full bloom yet but I thought I´d take a picture in case there is a thunder storm soon and the blooms get destroyed before I can take a picture. Because that´s what happened last year and we can´t have that happening again, now can we. And yes I should have cut back those lavender trees way more, they look quite funny. 

Paeonies in the one bed in the walled garden that I left untouched. They are spectacular this year, huge and so fragrant. 

The yellow climber needs a little more time but I think it will be beautiful this year. Also yes we got a new bench as well. Before you are questioning my spending habits, the old one was four years old and falling apart. Also, burnt grass. Sad face. It basically didn´t rain all May around here. I am starting to get desperate. 

My favorite cute "Raubritter" rambler. I underplanted it with white astrantia last year which will take a bit longer to take off, but I think the combination will look lovely.

The bed with the old white roses and lady´s mantle is quite spectacular right now. Somehow I can never capture its beauty in a photograph, but trust me it´s very very pretty in reality. 

So happy with the new beds under the trees. 

Another rambler, this one is climbing up an old plum tree in the veggie garden. I don´t do red in my garden but I make an exception for this rose. And for poppies obviously. 

Bonus picture of the one and only foxglove in my garden this year. I had planted a lot of seedlings but the slugs killed all of them. Gardening can be so much fun. Happy June! Please let it rain.