A plague of greenfly, garlic water and mystery plants: this week in the garden

Its heading to be a great summer season but so far 2017 is the worst year for green fly I've ever seen.  Usually they get stuck onto the tulips but don't seem to harm them and that's that.  But this year, my gods. They are covering any and all new growth on the roses.  They don't seem to be affecting them too badly (yet) and haven't attached themselves onto any other species (yet) but its time for them to go.  I don't use any pesticides so I've been picking them off and squishing them by hand and then spraying with soapy water but this has had little effect.  So this afternoon I sliced an entire head of garlic and put it in a pot with just boiled water from the kettle to steep.

I left it for a few hours and then bottled the garlic water to spray onto the roses after removing as many greenflies as I could.  I'm going to add another spray tomorrow and might have to keep this up fortnightly but if it works, great.

Aside from that, I haven't been too …

Cásca i sa ghairdín

We were away for a week over the Easter break.  Whenever I return home (and truly, nil aon tinteán mar do thinteán fein) I am immeasurably grateful when: 1) the house is still standing and whole; 2) the garden isn't a complete disaster area; 3) I can still manage to pay all my bills.  Gratitude, hey?

We might get to take a break but the garden doesn't.  I arrived back to find the grass in desperate need of a cut along with roses beset by green fly (aphids) and weeds coming up throughout some of the beds.  It took me the better part of two days to knock it back into shape but hard work is good work and the effort has paid off.  The last big job I have now is to get more veg seeds sown in the planter boxes, which should happen later this afternoon.

I am absolutely smitten with aquilegias (columbines) which I've never had before but now have in flower boxes in the front garden.  The blooms and later seed heads are stunningly, delicately beautiful.  I'm told they are prol…

Its About Time

I love living in and walking through Dublin.   Not only do you not need a car in the city centre, you don't want one.  From the eclectic vibe of Portobello to the authentic Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese restaurants on Parnell St.  From Capel St over River Run to Parliament St, the back alleys of Dublin Castle bringing me through to George's St.  Taking a short cut through Trinity College's campus, hearing the Campanile ring, noting the queue of pilgrims to see the Book of Kells then walking between the pitches and going out the secret door onto Nassau St.  The smiles, nods and little winks as you meet and pass the citizenry of Dublin.

Don't forget to look up - there are many architectural delights to be found but also the clocks! Oh, the many timekeeping clocks! You can walk through the whole of the city without needn't to check your watch or phone once.  Most of the outside time pieces are from Stokes of Cork, the alpha and omega of horology in Ireland.

While …

Onward, SPRING!

The lingering chill of winter may still be upon us but there are signs of the warmth and light that beckon just around the corner.

Tá sé early Spring i sa ghairdín and the daffodils, hyacinths and tulips are all right on time.  Every year I forget how striking the front garden border is with the spring colours bursting forth from the beautiful winter bleakness.  Every season I think, "This is my favourite season",  and when the season changes I am left, once again, spellbound by the beauty that is the next season.

Spring excels in a burst of colour and shape where we have become accustomed to none.  I am pleased that the narcissi are continuing to spread and the hyacinths, which haven't performed very well in the four years we've lived in this house, seem to be on the up.  I don't bring up my tulips and I'm very happy with how they continue to perform and divide.  This is the fourth year these bulbs have been in the ground and they appear no less impressiv…

Medieval Irish Monks: Mayhem and Murder

Over the Winter holidays I sat down and read Dr. Barry W. O'Dwyer's "The Conspiracy of Mellifont, 1216-1231" (Dublin Historical Association, 1970), which a fellow historian kindly gifted me some 20 years ago and has regrettably sat mostly idle on my bookshelf ever since.  
Essentially, the paper looks at the Irish Cistercian monasteries just after the arrival of the Normans and the influence the Norman conquest had on Irish ecclesiastical reform.  From a modern point of view, I would tend to assume ecclesiastical reform takes the shape of much discussion and argument amongst religieux albeit in a somewhat civilised manner.  Not so, gentle reader, not so.  
Dr. O'Dwyer recounts how the French Cistercian mother-house & general chapter's desire to reform Irish Cistercian houses & communities was met with much resistance and outright violence.  In 1216 a reform visitation to Jerpoint, Co Kilkenny was prevented by the abbot calling "out his whole commun…

Beannactaí an tSéasúir!

Nollaig Shona daoibh agus Athbhlian faoi mhaise daoibh!

Well its been a mild Winter here so far in Dublin Bay North.  But a busy one! Especially the last two weeks, where active parenting, getting the house ready for Christmas, volunteering (at my daughter's primary school and Fighting Words) and getting the odd day of work in when the parenting schedule permits...whew! I've barely had a chance to sit down the last two months, never mind write.

But now...its Christmas Eve and all the house is quiet.  I absolutely love this time of year.  I've written before that there is no place better than Ireland at Christmas and that is true.  The lights, the festive atmosphere and everyone in great form for the entire month of December.  It is something to behold.  For me, everything turns on the Solstice and gets a bit quieter.  The light is absolutely spectacular right now and although we are in the depths of winter, there are always signs of Imbolg agus Spring.

Tulips are sprouti…