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After the snow has gone, March 18th

Jo Perry


Spring suffered a major setback due to the recent snowstorm commonly known as ‘the beast from the east’. Here on the coast in West Cork I think we came off very lightly. Nevertheless, we had more snow than I have ever seen since I moved here in 1989. Our grandchildren, who live in the village, were delighted, never having seen real snow before. But I was really pleased that it only lasted three or four days.


Coming so late in the winter we were lucky that we haven’t had too much damage. Crocosmia, or Montbretia as it is known here, was badly knocked back as was the Calla lily, just coming into flower against the wall along our drive. We have a lovely double flowered nasturtium ‘Hermine Grashoff’ which I thought was safe in the tunnel. It had come through the winter without a hitch but it won’t recover from this. Luckily I had taken a good few cuttings in the autumn which were also in the tunnel but safe on a heated pad under a cloche. The ground though, is still sodden from the wet winter and then the deep snow.

Just as the snow started to melt and there seemed to be a prospect of gardening again, my 90 year old mum had an accident and has been really poorly since. My sister and I are caring for her and thankfully have full support from the Community Nurses and Home Helps. But at the moment she cannot be left on her own. So, as it was my stint on Saturday I found myself desperate to find something useful to do indoors. I found a box of used plant labels, a brillo pad, and a bowl of hot water and proceeded to clean off over 600 labels ready for reuse in the coming weeks.

Yes, I did feel very virtuous but also nostalgic. I was reminded of many plants I no longer grow or have lost in the garden. How could I have forgotten the lovely little wild Californian poppy, Eschscholzia caespitose Sundew. I grew it year after year and it worked particularly well in pots directly after the tulips. Then there were tomatoes that I used to grow but have discarded in the pursuit of even more unusual varieties. Rose de Berne and St Pierre, two of the first heritage varieties that I grew and they are actually still very worthy of a place in the tunnel. And so much more. I can feel yet another seed order forming in my head.


Reinventing the Iris Garden, February 2018

Jo Perry

 The old Iris Garden

The old Iris Garden

Work is progressing in the Iris Borders. Initially all the clumps of Iris were dug up and set aside, we will use some of them either back in the border or in other parts of the garden. The soil looked very poor and many barrow loads of compost have been spread as a mulch.

The silver birch Betula utilis var. jacquemontii give a wonderful structure to the border with their striking white bark and lovely dappled shade, but inevitably they also take goodness from the soil. I’m hoping to keep the beds covered with small layers of compost mulch throughout the summer to help improve the structure and fertility.

 Tilly & Edie

Tilly & Edie

Then we had some fun. My two little granddaughters helped me lay out dozens of plants, placing and moving them around running backwards and forwards trying to make a good display. So far, all the plants used have been grown here, either from seed, bulb or division of established plants in the garden. One pretty mauve primrose, dug from another border, was gently pulled apart into thirty six new plants. They all rooted well and now line the paths under the birch trees. The girls were even able to take a couple home for their own garden.

I love propagating plants. It gives me great satisfaction growing from seed or cuttings. As I get older I am sometimes daunted by the more physical demands of the garden, and thank goodness I have Rachel and Tad to pick up those pieces for me, but hopefully I will still be sowing seeds and pottering about inthe tunnel making new plants into my dotage.

In the last week we have sown about thirty pots of perennial flowers, twenty five varieties of tomato, pepper and aubergine seed, peas and mangetout and lots of salad. The tunnel is already filling up. I love this time of the year.

 Pretty mauve primrose

Pretty mauve primrose

Spring Preparations in the garden, February 2018

Jo Perry

In writing this blog I am attempting to chronicle this year in our gardening life at The Glebe. Because of one thing or another we are just getting back into action after a long hard winter. Many routine jobs are carried out over the winter and we are now sowing seeds thick and fast, but the Herb Garden and the Iris garden are our two major spring projects.

February, Monday 19th

With icy showers and wind roaring outside it is hard to imagine that spring is just around the corner. However, lots of bulbs are already in flower and they really lift the heart and we can hope that warmer, calmer weather is just around the corner.

Herb Garden 2017

So with that thought to sustain us we set about work on the Herb Garden. It is hard to know where to begin and it’s proving to be quite a major project. Having grown the herbs through gravel for about the last ten years it really is time for a change. I was initially thrilled with the gravel as it suited many of the Mediterranean herbs such as lavender, thyme and sage, but over time the strongest self seeders have swamped the more delicate plants and many treasures have been lost.


What finally persuaded me to make changes was the damage and debris left after we staged a play in the Herb Garden last August. It seemed the obvious place for the play, after a very wet month had left the rest of the garden unfit. Everyone loved sitting amongst the scented plants, but the next day flattened plants laid strewn everywhere.

While we were trying to decide on a new plan Peter said to me ‘What worries me is that you will never be satisfied with the garden, you are always making changes.’  I did have a pang of guilt but it soon passed. I tell myself that gardening is a learning process and occasionally it is important to realize when something isn’t working. But I do agree that it makes sense to think carefully and put in some permanent structure, so that even if the planting changes we won’t have to start from scratch again.

Before we make any changes we are lifting any plants that can be moved, raking all the gravel into piles out of the way and clearing the ground in preparation for the new beds. Then we can start to be creative, I’m looking forward to it.