No I am not regressing in my old age to potty training just it seemed an apt title to describe a fascination for pots which has stayed with me in almost forty years of gardening and which still leaves me a sucker for an unusual pot whenever I come across such in a garden centre usually in my local Glenconnor Garden Centre where Chris and Sharon in recent years have developed a love affair with beautiful ranges of pots .
Growing plants in pots is not the best generally for the plant but if you look after them with regular watering in dry periods and an annual feed in Spring with some osmacote , a slow release fertiliser , they won’t suffer unduly and will even thrive especially if you choose your plants well … I have grown hostas in pots throughout the years where you can get a great show particularly in shaded locations from April through to November and lately I have had good success with tender shrubs such as melianthus major which can actually do better in pots as it is not comletely hardy in the ground .
I am always on the look out for unusual pots or containers both for here and for the garden in Croatia that I look after and back in 2005 when riding a scooter through a mountain village on the Dalmatian coast above Makarska I came across an old , olive oil storage jar hand carved out of a solid block of granite over two hundred years ago and which now looked abandoned outside a derlict house . I made enquiries and got in touch with the owners , two young people who had inherited their grand parent’s house and had no use or interest for the storage jar , we agreed a price and I hired a truck with a lifting device to carry it to the garden in Gornija Podgora where I tried various plants none of which lasted through the winter until I hit on the idea of planting a small olive tree in 2013 .
Now this brings me back to my point that pots are not the best for a plant and over the years since then I have come to realise that the olive tree was imprisoned with no room to expand it’s roots and was in fact suffering so a few weeks ago I dug it up and replanted it directly into the soil in the newly built top terrace garden … next year I will plant a combination of sempervivums and sedums in the oil jar and hopefully in time the olive tree will thrive and produce a crop in the not too distant future but at least my conscience is now clear that I am no longer making a prisoner of the olive tree !
In the garden here in Clonmel I love bright colours in pots and they brighten up the winter months and in the gravel garden we have built up a sizeable collection as Snezana loves primary colours and is good at finding pots in forgotten corners of garden centres and it is my job to site and fill them with suitable plants a la right plant right place !
The new patio area in the Lower Field is slowly coming along and this month I built a stone raised bed around a conifer which stood alone in the grass area , an ideal location in full sun , I sourced the stone throughout the garden and the earth came from what was left over after edging the paths in the top garden topped up with two bags of John Innes potting compost and the initial planting will be ground cover geraniums , some purple heucheras for all year round colour and in October I will plant miniature daffodils , tete a tete variety in groups of fifteen / twenty while next Spring a grey leafed hosta halcyon and some bedding annuals will finish it off nicely … this is my normal planting selection for raised stand alone beds and one which does well here .
This is what happens when an adult bambi comes into the garden for a snack and decides an eight year old silver birch sandwich is just the thing … breaks my heart next morning when I happen on it but after gardening with the ever threat of deer for the past fifteen years I am getting used to it although this is the first time they have destroyed a fairly adult tree … I will chop it back to the base in the hope that it might grow back as a multi stemmed silver birch … and perhaps get a hunting rifle and develop a taste for venison !
Although September is a lovely month weatherwise both here in Ireland and in Croatia I must say I don’t like seeing the evidence of the onset of winter in the garden that really starts to kick in at this time when the exhuberant growth of summer has stopped and plants start to fall apart , the lawns retain the wet and generally everything is dying , morbid huh ?! I much prefer when things are definite in the garden and from November onwards you can enjoy the sparseness and the winter outlines of trees and shrubs … it is this half state I don’t like just between the seasons in late September and I took this photo of wild mushrooms today … I love seeing the huge variety of mushrooms here but would never trust eating one unless guided by an experienced forager and even then I would hesitate knowing the fate of my favourite author , Nicholas Evans who wrote the Horse Whisperer among other great books and who with his family ate poisonous wild mushrooms in Scotland and almost died and all now have had kidney transplants .
But it is organic I can hear my vegan friends say and my answer is that I don’t believe all this hype about eating organic which is fine if you get your eggs from a local farmer but for me any industry (and the term organic is a huge global industry) that has business and big bucks involved is corrupted , short cuts will be taken , growth promoters added and personally I have no faith in it , I source my vegetables in the local supermarket and shy away from anything with the word organic attached and indeed you only have to look at how chickens are caged for egg production and how legalities are tweaked in terms like barn raised , free range etc. to realise how cruel we have become in the production of food … all caused by human greed … OK rant over !
However staying on the organic / vegan theme Darina Allen , the most famous and best cook Ireland has ever produced , has a new book just published , a 600 page work called “ Grow Cook Nourish ” which is a combination of grow your own guide coupled with her own recipes encouraging people to grow their own veggies in anything from a cardboard box to an allotment plot , I haven’t read it yet but can recommend absolutely everything Darina Allen writes and if you want just one cookery book then go for her last book “ The Ballymaloe Cookery Course ” . The trend nowadays is to distrust the big multinational food companies and as Darina says “we have totally handed over the power of our food choices to a few multinational food companies ” to the extent that there is a huge movement in the US of all places being the home of fast food , to use even abandoned derlict sites for what is called guerrilla gardening where vegetables are grown .
That said and although I believe that intensive factory farming by the multinationals has degraded world wide the quality of the food we eat , I have never grown my own vegetables as I have always found it to be too labour intensive ( all my time is taken up with shrubs and plants type gardening and have you ever tried to weed an onion bed ?! ) and when growing your own everything comes in together and you have to deal with a mountain of lettuce and tomatoes which you end up giving away … but I am moving towards building a few raised beds perhaps in time for next Spring where perhaps I can manage some summer salad vegetables and a few outdoor tomatoes , the only type worth growing as the glass house varieties taste like cotton wool .
September colour in the Garden
Keen eyed readers will have noticed that Toby acquired a new friend three months ago when Jessica the kitten joined the household and he has became her best friend and protector … we thought we had lost her this week to the foxes that also regard the garden as home but luckily she turned up two days later starving and complaining loudly that she had followed me down to the Lower Wood area and I had come back without her !