Sitting down on a fine Midsummer’s evening writing this article, I am gazing out on a group of lavenders; a spectacle of liliac splendour (Lavandula Stoechas), my mind is caught by the noise that breaks the beauty of this. The lavenders with hundreds of spiky scented flowers are home to dozens of bees. They twist and turn for nectar among the flowers and the air is filled with a distinct humming sound. Next door to the lavenders is Weiglea Florida Variegata and as the bees enter the trumpet type flower the buzzing sound is amplified. My concentration is broken, but by something beautiful to look at and to listen to.
Having seen this, I looked up a list of other plants that attract wildlife—bees, birds, butterflies, etc. and lets face it a beautiful garden can look sterile without these. The following are a list of suitable plants: Aucuba, Berberis, Buddleia, Chaenomoles, Cotoneaster, Pyracantha, Leycesteria, Ribes, Skimmia, Symphoricarpus, Syringia, Virburnum.
Continue regular mowing of your lawn. In dry weather mow less frequently and raise the height of your cut. Consider watering the lawn if the dry spell is prolonged.
Your bedding plants will benefit now from regular watering and feeding. Feed with any liquid fertiliser (Miracle Gro, Phostrogen, Algoflash, Tomato food, etc).
Roughly every 10 days–2 weeks. Also dead head any old flowers and leaves. Don’t forget if you are going away on holidays, besides getting somebody to mind the house and the cat, get somebody to water your house plants, hanging baskets, tubs, window boxes, etc if dry! This will avoid tears and having to look for replacements when you come back!
In the fruit garden, if your fruit trees have too much fruit set, thin out the apples and pears, roughly one fruit per cluster left. Strawberry plants should have any runners they produced removed and be weeded around them. In order to keep the fruit clean from rain splashing soil on to them, mulch around the plants with straw or hay. This can also be done to courgettes and helps the plants to keep clean and from getting Borytis (brown rot). Prune raspberries by removing the old canes when the fruit has all been picked, around the end of August.
The vegetable garden will be coming into its best now. Harvest all crops, spinach, scallions, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes, courgettes, radish, beetroot, etc. Watch out for pests, particularly greenfly, the caterpillar of the moth (green in colour), the caterpillar of the butterfly. You can spray with any insecticide to get rid of these. If you don’t wish to spray, use netting over the brassicas and spray the greenfly with tepid water and a drop of washing up liquid. Let it dry for a day or two then rinse greenfly off the plants with the hose. Spraying for potato blight during rainy weather will be necessary. Early varieties may escape without any spraying.
Sow parsley for winter use. Plant strawberry runners in August. Sow spring cabbage in late July–early August. Make final sowings of beans, peas, carrots and lettuce.
Many greenhouse crops come to fruition during this period. Careful watering and feeding and ventilation is required along with some sunshine.
In the garden, now is a good time to clip any type of hedge. Shrub pruning of flowering shrubs should only be done after they have finished flowering and only where necessary. Roses can be encouraged to flower well for the rest of the year by dead heading old flowers and feeding them.
This month’s tip if from a friend of mine who does flower arranging. Drop an aspirin in the water to prolong the life of the flowers! One headache less!
I find reading tips is helpful but that talking to some of the older generation you learn more. I have been lucky that in Lydican I have been the receiver of some of these peoples wisdom and enthusiasm, Willie Glynn, Jimmy O’Dea, Mrs. Walsh and An Seannacht le haidh na mílte seanfhocla a bhí aige san siopa. So listen to the words of the wise!
Finally, I hope everybody gets some sunshine for the summer and enjoys it. The last piece I have here is from an old fact sheet I found at home and I thought it was interesting on trees.
The worlds tallest tree is the Howard Libbey, a californian Redwood (Swquoiadendron Sempervirens) in Humbolt state redwood forest which is measured at 110 m or 361 ft. The oldest specimen was felled in 1934 aged 2,200 years. The tree is the largest living organism in the world. The general sherman (Sequoidendron gigantenm) in the USA is 272 ft tall–81m with a girth of 24m–79 ft wide and a total estimated volume of 1,415m³ or 50,000 cubic feet.
The oldest trees are probably the bristlecone pines, (PinusLongaeva) of the white mountains, California, with proven ages of up to 5,000 years. The oldest authenticated age for a sequoia is 3,200 years old. Several standing individuals are between 1,500 and 2,000 years old.
Half of all Irish trees are less than 50 years old. Conifers are generally harvested between 40 and 60 years old. Broad leaves such as oak can take between 150 and 200 years to reach maturity.
The tallest tree in Ireland is a Sitka Spruce in the Curraghmore estate, Co. Waterford, measuring 52m or 170 feet in height. The largest oak in Ireland, the Ravens tree inCallan, Co. Kilkenny was 30 metres tall before it was blown down in 1947.
Few trees in Ireland are more than 150 years old. However, a number of trees planted in the 18th century still survive. These include trees planted by Samuael Hazyes in Avbondale in the 1750’s such as silver firs and a spanish chestnut. The recorded age of the Ravens tree in Callan, Co. Kilkenny was reported to be 1200 years old. The oldest surviving tree in the Botanic gardens, Dublin is the Cedar of Lebanon planted in 1750.
The earliest recorded tree plantings were mostly of yew (Taxus Baccata) in Church grounds, e.g. Muckross Abbey, Killarney, planted in 1344.
The benefits of Trees in the Irish economy is estimated at 200 million to the economy and forestry employs 16,000 people. It is estimated that ten million visits are made to Irish forests each year, where there are 150 forest trails and picnic sites, open all year around and free of charge to the public. Irish forests remove the million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere annually. There is a 25% reduction of dust on a tree lined street while a 30 metre wide band of trees will completely intercept dust particles and reduce gaseous pollutants. Trees provide a cleaner and healthier environment and a recent study shows that visual contact with nature reduces stress and has a positive effect on emotional well being. A friend of mine, Jackie Moyode Byrne is a great example of this, ex-forester and beekeeper, he is one of the happiest men I know, always in good form.
Today Ireland has over 590,000 hectares of its land under forests—8%. An area of this size is being cleared every week in tropical rain forests. We import 70,000 tonnes of tropical rain wood annually. Over 80% of Ireland’s tropical wood imports are from Africa, the equivalent of 12 hectares of African forest are felled daily to provided us with tropical wood, most of it from unmanaged forests.
Globally, 31 million hectares are felled annually or 85,000 hectares felled or burnt every hour, the size of three football pitches. Scientists estimate an average of 137 species of life forms are driven into extinction every day, each hours six species go extinct. Half of all planted animal species in the world are found in rainforests. Three quarters of plants with anticancer characteristics originate in the rainforests. Less than 1% of tropical rainforests have been researched!
Food for thought there, a need for conservation or management of rainforests and a reason why we should plant far more hardwood trees here at home.
That’s it for now, happy gardening,
Bosco McDermott Jr., Glynn’s Garden Centre, Lydican, Claregalway
(As usual, Bosco has supplied us with a wealth of gardening information. I personally found his information on trees fascinating and it certainly would make one think—Josette)