Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A natural retreat

National Botanical Gardens, Dublin

It's been a while since I wrote about places to visit with the environment in mind but last week I was blown away by a visit to the National Botanical Gardens, Glasnevin in Dublin. I have seen the odd programme about them but there was nothing to compare with the real thing. The day was dry which of course made a difference but there are beautiful glass houses to wander around even if it rains with a cafe to pop in to as well. The rose garden was perfect and mu parents and I spent time sniffing many roses to see which were the best. Squirrels pranced about the paths not worrying about visitors at all and were happy to come very close to us. In fact we were reminded by signs that these confident rodents would bite and to be careful but they didn't bother us. The kitchen garden was my favorite with all sorts of mouth watering delicacies on show and I was comparing many of them to my own at home wondering how I had done. Of course I have long way to go yet!

Getting there may be an issue as it is not really walking distance from say, Heuston Station and perhaps a taxi is the best option but  no doubt if you ring up before hand you may get a handy bus number to hop on to.

Entrance is free and there is a car park, should you wish to drive, with a fee of €2.00 only for the day I believe  and should you wish to you could stay from the moment it opens until closing time, for as long as the weather is on your side I cant imagine why you would want to leave. To find out about opening times just click here and to ring them just dial + 353 1 804 0300

Here are some of our highlights from the day.

Mum and dad enjoying the sensory garden

The sensory garden with all its shapes, colours and patterns

Beautiful Glass houses containing some plants that have been around
 since the time of the Jurassic period!

Nothing like a water feature.

Monday, August 20, 2012

My own Olympic champions

A little chef for pollinators

I'm always wishing the weather was better here and we do seem to get such a lot of rain. This year of course has beaten the rest with some rotten weather and I have done my fair share of complaining. However, I have heard of some real disasters regarding the garden and on farms with many people suffering complete failures of potatoes from blight as well as other problems which must be so disheartening especially if you are only starting out. Our family did small amounts, mostly because of lack of space and it being our first time but as I type this I am reminded that when we went to get garden bits and bobs at our local centre this is exactly what the lady at the counter suggested. Too many people go mad and plant so much that when things go wrong they give up altogether.

Anyway I am rambling away from what I really wanted to say. All in all I am very proud of our efforts and have had some real successes in the veg patch even though the produce was in limited supply. In fact its been so rewarding that I am definitely going to try and grow produce over the winter months to keep some snack or two on the plate. It will take some real planning as I dont know where I will get seed at this time of year in Ireland as most people seem to grow summer veg as a novelty so I need to check this out.

For anyone who is like me and wants to start out on the path to sustainability (of some degree anyway) then I must recommend the "Grow it" magazine. Forgive me for name dropping but if something works for me then I believe in passing it on and apologies if I have mentioned it before (i dont remember doing it). This magazine is a little pricey at €5.98 but with 5 packets of seeds to try each time it really works out quite well and I would have been lost without it.

Here are quite a few pictures of what has been going on in our garden over the summer months despite the bad weather and what I believe were slug conferences on many occasions!
The Squash  Patty Pan having been put out in the soil
was looking well..
..and it continued to flower ..

Result! our first squash. The slugs attacked another plant
but this one held on and is now quite big

Our cold frame was adapted to protect the strawberries form birds and it worked . We now have trailers to get more strawberries next year.

Tomatoes looking divine on the chopping board

Tomatoes looking divine on the vine

Peas, mums favourite veg to grow
Mange tout size here but we have since picked a couple of full ones

Tasty little carrots 

Fabulously delicious potatoes which have since been eaten
Something for the wildlife