A Good Home, Cold weather dreams of gardening, Garden

Ciaran’s Irish Garden

It’s February and a gardener’s thoughts turn to spring.

Not because we expect it any time soon – this is Ontario, Canada, after all — but because it’s at least another two months before flowers start popping up from the soil.

So – courtesy of Twitter — I head to Ciaran de Buitlear’s garden in the south of Ireland where flowers are already blooming.

Blog Photo - Ciaran garden - Hellebores spotted

In fact, Ciaran’s first crocus bloomed weeks ago, while we in the frozen north were enjoying snowdrifts, and I got a serious case of garden envy. 

Blog Story - Ciaran first Crocus - Spring has officially sprung

Then came the daffodils and hellebores.

Blog Story - Ciaran Daffodils blooming

Ciaran says he loves gardening in part because it’s “very different to the day job of working with databases in the cloud for large insurance companies.  I think gardening is very Zen.   It is like a meditation but without the stillness, and also gets you fit (and there are flowers).”

Blog Story - Ciaran Early Spring flowers

His love of gardening began in childhood.

“I gardened as a small child with my mother.  I only recalled this recently when I saw episodes of BBC ‘Gardeners World’ nearly 50 years old.  I remembered watching them with my parents as a small child.”  

Ciaran is passing on his garden love to his own children. While his partner Fiona “does not have green fingers”, sons Zack and Sam love to help out in the garden. 

Blog Story - Ciaran's son Zack will grow sunflowers, carrots etc

“They do weeding, grow plants from seed, like to make things out of wood for the garden.  Zack can spend hours in the garden helping me. Sam is 11 now and can get more stuck into computer games than the garden sometimes but he still does help from time to time.”

Blog Story - Ciaran and Fiona sons reading 

The family’s garden is not huge, but it’s prolific. Last fall alone, Ciaran planted 500 bulbs around this tree.

Blog Story - Ciaran garden - just planted 500 bulbs

He grows many favourite plants.

Blog Story - Ciaran ferns

“I love ferns — freshness, greenness, kind of other worldliness, they are so magnificent in spring.

Blog Story - Ciaran Japanese maples

“Japanese maples – they look great from up close and far away.  The leaf detail, different colours and textures of foliage, the way they act as foils for other plants.”

Pots are also filled with spring flowers:

Blog Story - Ciaran Spring flowers in 3 pots

And there’s a greenhouse to help protect tender plants till it’s time to put them out in the garden.

Blog Story - Ciaran Greenhouse 2

As gardeners know, it all takes work, but a garden is a gift that keeps on giving.

Blog Story - Ciaran and garden supplies

The hellebores are blooming in different colours.

Blog Photo - Ciaran garden - Hellebores deep red

But in the weeks ahead,  hosta will unfurl, hardy geranium will bloom, flowering vines will put on a  show, as will the roses in the de Buitlears’ garden.

“You can never have enough roses, all kinds (but not the ones you have to spray).  I treat them well, feed the soil with well-rotted manure every year. If they do not thrive, I yank them out (this rarely happens).  Long flowering season, lovely blooms, use as cut flowers, colours!

“Then there are coneflowers, rudbeckia, agapanthus, allium… I could go on and on and on…   I guess I am a plantaholic.”

Aren’t we all? Thanks for sharing your garden, Ciaran. It brightens up a northern gardener’s soul. 



A Good Home, Cold weather dreams of gardening, Dreaming of spring and summer, Red bee balm flowers

Flowers for Dale

For my friend Dale, some red flowers to melt the ice this winter:

Blog Photo - Garden - Red begonias in pot2

These flowers are to remind you that spring follows winter and summer follows spring, and you’ll be able to stroll in the garden and smell the flowers.

Blog Photo - Garden - Lawn Bee Balm and hosta

I hope.

Blog Photo - Verandah - Bee Balm Single

Dale – like many other Canadians this February – is bravely but unhappily bearing up under the brutal cold and snow.

Blog Photo - Garden - Red fernleaf peony

“Yup…. snowed under.

Frozen as the brass balls on the proverbial monkey — effing February.  

I did take time from shoveling, freezing and ranting to note that you didn’t make it here this month.  Not surprised.  There’s a reason bears hibernate.  

It all makes me want to eat donuts and I don’t even like donuts! ”

Cheer up, Dale!

Blog Photo - Garden - Bee Balm Splendour

These red Bee Balm are meant to be a balm for your winter-weary spirit.

Blog Photo - Garden - Red Bee Balm and purple clems

But I think Dale may have already lost her sense of humour over this winter weather:

“Today the sun is shining but ‘extreme cold warning’….

I wish those people on the radio would piss off…. we know it’s cold… enuf already.  

Remind me:  why did you leave Jamaica??” 

Blog Photo - Garden - Red Wiegela

Dale, thanks for making me smile. I hope these flowers do the same for you. Deo Volente, better days are ahead!

Blog Photo - Garden - Begonias and Muskoka Chairs 23 006


Dedicated to Dale and everyone who is trying to get through this cold weather.