Back in an Irish garden

It’s good to be back and getting out into the garden again. Some of my plants found a home up in the Dublin hills and are doing quite well. This is a Whinhams Industry Gooseberry in a bucket which is now almost ready for harvest. It’s got deep red fruit and seems to have escaped the attention of the birds so far. The growing conditions up here are 3 to 4 degrees cooler on average, on thin acidic soil directly onto solid granite. It’s going to be a challenge but the blueberries will thrive. It’s a far cry from the light sandy soils and micro climate of Dundrum.

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I’ve a 5 year old grape vine which lives in a pot and is now in its 3rd residence. I  ruthlessly  pruned it about a month ago leaving 6 or 7 bunches on. It had gone a bit mad while I was away and the mother in-law was afraid to touch it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, it’s behind a bit for August. The strawberries planted around it in the large pot are now producing well provided I can get to them before the birds. Netting for birds is necessary up here.

At 350 metres altitude fruit does best. Tayberries, blackberries, and blueberries all do well. Vegetables are going to be a challenge.

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We’ve been out picking bilberries which are now in season. The South Dublin mountains are covered in them. The best bushes seem to be younger low growing specimens with red tipped foliage. The deer and the jays like them too. The high rainfall recently has meant there is a huge crop this year.

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There have been some big winds over the winter and a natural coupe has been gouged out running West to East nearby. The sitka spruce trees have become too tall for the thin soil to support them leaving a dramatic landscape of toppled trees. Shelters are being built in the base of these trees which have been known to right themselves suddenly.

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Below the scene of devastation is a forest track with a bank on the lower side of the slope. More open to the sky this has provided conditions for meadow grasses, soft rush, wood sorrel and the odd thistle to find a toe hold where the soils are deeper and not covered in pine needles.

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At the edge of the plantation a stream flows through a more open clearing of bracken, gorse and the odd rowan. It’s a peaceful place with the sound of the stream in the dip.

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I’m giving an elderly gardener a hand in Dundrum. We started by making 2 compost heaps. There is lots to compost. Should be cooking in a few days.

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Up on the hill there is a patch which has been won!

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