20 December 2015


Hedge-bandit, song-bomb, dart-beak, the wren 
hops in the thicket, flirt-eye; shy, brave, 
grubbing, winter’s scamp, but more than itself – 
ten requisite grams of the world’s weight.
Carol Ann Duffy The Wren Boys

The year turns at 04:48 (UT) on 22 December this year. As always it can't come soon enough though there's no doubt that this year the incredibly mild autumn and winter have helped shorten the journey into the shortest day.

Without the delights of growth and abundance to attract--or maybe distract--the eye, there's the time and space to notice different things.

One Saturday morning, we look out to see a wren walking on water... almost. The pool near the house is thronged with pondweed elbowing aside the water lilies and keeping them confined to their own end of the pond. All of these are strong enough to bear the weight of one small wren who delicately balances on the Canadian pondweed and pecks through it for tiny invertebrates that we can barely see. 'Dart-beak' indeed! We're surprised and delighted.

Other birds in the garden at the moment are more raucous (starlings), more noticeable (wood pigeons) or more infrequent in their visits (greenfinches, mistle thrushes), but all are equally welcome. The whirr of wings, the squabbles, the flitting movement scarcely seen, the tossing aside of leaves and twigs in the quest for grubs and worms, the gathering around the feeder: a winter garden with birds is a lively place; without them it's so much more dull and lifeless. We've had a severe reduction in the number of birds over the last couple of years, mainly down to neighbours' cats. I do wish that those who share their homes with cats would keep them indoors... I've no problem with what I think of as 'food chain predation': it's not pleasant to see a magpie or a sparrow hawk take some sparrows or robins, but they do it to feed their own young. Well-fed suburban cats simply do it because it's in their nature, and that sort of hunting upsets the balance very quickly in the tiny ecosystem of a few suburban back gardens.

Only a little bit away from the garden, on a another walk, I catch a heron taking flight on a grey winter's afternoon, disturbed by one small grey schnauzer rummaging on the banks.

Heron on the Slang 

Heron on the wing
And along that same stream a few days later, a thrush sings in the pre-dawn darkness, easily raising its refrain above the monotone of the traffic hum from a nearby road.

Late autumn and early winter have been warm, but oh the rain! We've had nothing like the flooding in the west of the country, but the rivers have been swollen and the skies leaden.

Swollen river after the rains
This morning we had some brief respite with only showers to worry about and some sunshine to light our way on a beach walk.

A shower heads up the Irish Sea
Low winter sun casts a beautiful light on both organic and inorganic objects:

Ochres and umbers in the winter light: a seaweed holdfast and a bicycle chain cassette
That division into organic and inorganic was the first bit of 'science' that I remember discovering... When I was about seven or eight or so, we had a book in school called 'Science from the Beginning' which showed early on in its pages how everything could be divided into 'alive', 'dead' and 'never alive'. I remember very clearly reading this and, in wonder, starting to go through all the things I could think of one by one in my head, classifying them and realising that yes, this could make sense of the world. That was probably the first step to finding my way into a study of science. Something that I'm so glad to say has been taken on by both my sons too.

Speaking of science, here's a new word I learnt on Twitter of late: cladoptosis (cladop = branch; ptosis = falling). After Storm Desmond swept through these islands, I noticed--as always after a winter storm--that many of the trees in the park had dropped small branches and twigs. I've always considered this as a sort of self-pruning and indeed it is! While some of the branches we see on the ground have broken in storms, many of them are shed cleanly by the tree, leaving neat abcission scars behind. A bit like the leaf-shedding of deciduous trees, though writ large. It ensures that the tree sheds the weaker branches which will include those that are not displaying their leaves in the optimum display (to catch the most light possible). All of this helps the tree remain strong and healthy and it's such a neat process.

Branches as well as leaves are shed in the autumn and winter
By the way, here's what an optimum arrangement of ivy leaves looks like, it's a view from above, as a bird would see it or, crucially, as the sunlight would hit it. No I didn't employ a drone or climb up a tree... it was another casualty of the storm, now lying horizontally on the ground.

A bird's eye view of ivy leaves with just the right arrangement to get as much light as possible
And speaking of sons, as I was a couple of paras ago, this week I'll be welcoming both of them home and we'll celebrate the turning of the year with friends and family. Here's the wreath I made, with bits from the garden, to welcome them home:

Happy Solstice all.

16 November 2015

Night Vision

In a week when my second fledgling left the nest, 'Night Vision' came to mind again. This is the song I used to sing in my head (I spared them any rendition of mine out loud :-)) when both my sons were little and indeed as they grew up. It was one of my parenting anthems, if you like; it's surely what any parent wants for their children:
I would shelter you
Keep you in light
But I can only teach you
Night vision
(You can find the lyrics and a list of all the writers of the song on this site.) You can listen to the song here:

Rumour has it that both much-loved sons, and their wonderful girlfriends, are doing well in London and Montréal; long may you stay in the light my dear ones.

Empty nest or not, day-to-day life goes on. Warm temperatures over the weekend meant a lot of tidying up in the garden. I don't overdo it--listening to wise admonitions from other gardeners to leave overwintering places for the beasties who share my patch--but there does come a time in the year's turning where I have to acknowledge the oncoming quietness of winter. For me, some judicious cutting back of dead and dying perennials helps that along. I think that many of those who advise us to leave the garden as is, allowing nature to take its own time etc. etc. probably garden on much larger patches than mine. I can see just about all of the garden from my back window, and the horizontal asters, collapsed grasses, slimy ends of Maianthemum, and raggy, burnt-looking leaves of Rodgersia eventually get to be too much to bear. It's not a scorched earth policy, by any means: I don't cut them all the way down but leave about 8cm or so to provide some winter shelter for the plant. I also don't do it all on one day (the garden isn't that small or maybe I'm not diligent enough), but there is something very satisfying about, as my father used to say, putting a bit of smacht on it.

Fallen stars: the asters gave in to Autumn winds a couple of weeks ago
And so the garden is looking very bare and rather dreary now, but Autumn has of course brought some wonderful colours. Just a couple of weeks ago, I gathered this small selection from a tidy-up of my dad's garden:

Autumn flowers and berries light up any room
And a few weeks before that, in late September, I brought together some flowers and foliage for a friend whose mother had just died. It was the first time I've made what's called a coffin spray and it includes the colours and some of the plants her mum loved, gathered from her mum's own garden, and from my garden and that of a friend, supplemented with a few plants bought in the Dublin flower market. It was an honour to be asked, and I should point out that the rather jaunty looking upside-down blue trug was not part of the arrangement! It was just a handy thing to stand the spray on while I was working on it in the back garden.

In memoriam Marcella B.
Some things I learnt while working on this:
  • a few hours' work doing something you enjoy just flies by (well we all know that one, right?) 
  • I enjoy making things that not only have aesthetic value but also have some meaning: this was especially important in this case, and there's very little that made it into the spray that didn't have some significance
  • ivy is a *great* filler
  • it turns out I do love colour 
  • undertakers find colour in funeral flowers 'interesting' (by which I think they meant, surprising)
Thanks again to LB for asking me to do this and being okay with my writing about it here.

My progress on the birch tree has been s-l-o-w. There has much hand wringing on my part about composition, and while that was going on in my head I was also trying to get the colours right for the changing autumnal leaves:

Still having trouble getting value as well as colour
(any arty friends reading this, feel free to comment here or on facebook with helpful hints!)
Raggedy leaves are more interesting to draw...
Yellows are tricky
All coloured pencil (Caran d'Ache Luminance and Faber-Castell Polychromos) on Fabriano Artistico, for those who wonder about such things.

To finish, some lovely worldwide webbiness. Looking at the picture of the asters, while I was compiling this blog, I thought of fallen stars (aster,  ‘a star’): via Latin from Greek astēr ‘star’.)
and that brought Frost's Star in a Stone Boat to mind. While looking for a link to bring you the poem, I found this piece by Kevin Keller; you might like to listen to it while you read the poem, which I've included below... you'll only need to take about seven minutes out of your day:

A Star In A Stoneboat
For Lincoln MacVeagh
Never tell me that not one star of all
That slip from heaven at night and softly fall
Has been picked up with stones to build a wall.
Some laborer found one faded and stone-cold,
And saving that its weight suggested gold
And tugged it from his first too certain hold,
He noticed nothing in it to remark.
He was not used to handling stars thrown dark
And lifeless from an interrupted arc.
He did not recognize in that smooth coal
The one thing palpable besides the soul
To penetrate the air in which we roll.
He did not see how like a flying thing
It brooded ant eggs, and had one large wing,
One not so large for flying in a ring,
And a long Bird of Paradise's tail
(Though these when not in use to fly and trail
It drew back in its body like a snail):
Nor know that be might move it from the spot—
The harm was done: from having been star-shot
The very nature of the soil was hot
And burning to yield flowers instead of grain,
Flowers fanned and not put out by all the rain
Poured on them by his prayers prayed in vain. 
He moved it roughly with an iron bar,
He loaded an old stoneboat with the star
And not, as you might think, a flying car, 
Such as even poets would admit perforce
More practical than Pegasus the horse
If it could put a star back in its course.
He dragged it through the plowed ground at a pace
But faintly reminiscent of the race
Of jostling rock in interstellar space.
It went for building stone, and I, as though
Commanded in a dream, forever go
To right the wrong that this should have been so.
Yet ask where else it could have gone as well,
I do not know—I cannot stop to tell:
He might have left it lying where it fell.
From following walls I never lift my eye,
Except at night to places in the sky
Where showers of charted meteors let fly.
Some may know what they seek in school and church,
And why they seek it there; for what I search
I must go measuring stone walls, perch on perch; 
Sure that though not a star of death and birth,
So not to be compared, perhaps, in worth
To such resorts of life as Mars and Earth— 
Though not, I say, a star of death and sin,
It yet has poles, and only needs a spin
To show its worldly nature and begin 
To chafe and shuffle in my calloused palm
And run off in strange tangents with my arm,
As fish do with the line in first alarm. 
Such as it is, it promises the prize
Of the one world complete in any size
That I am like to compass, fool or wise.  
Robert Frost
In a week where it was brought home to us once again how some of us choose death over life, fear over love, and ignorance over learning, it's good to remind ourselves that 'such resorts of life as Mars and Earth' are rare and precious and we need to treasure all lives as best we can.

27 October 2015

...and fallen leaves

Betty came by on her way
Said she had a word to say
About things today
And fallen leaves
from River Man, by Nick Drake

Have a listen to this new rendition by American singer Lizz Wright:

A mild and virtually wind-free October has meant that the leaves seem to have hung on for a lot longer than usual this year. A mild October feels like some sort of blessing, shortening winter as it does. But the last day or two have brought a change, and a southeasterly wind--and the rain borne on it--have brought us fallen leaves...

Japanese Maple in the garden, going all 'drama queen' about losing its leaves:
overnight the ground is covered

Rain and wind bring down glowing beech leaves near the stream
Maybe it's my appalling memory, I don't know if this happens to you dear reader, but every single year I am delighted anew by autumn leaves. On dull grey autumn days, the yellow-gold radiance of a stand of ash trees, the honeyed glow of a pile of damp beech leaves, the ruby fire of the Japanese maple -- all of these are a marvel to me. And while I'm singing Autumn's praises, may I put a word in for the joy of cycling? The route I take brings me over the Dodder river on a different bridge now than the ones I used to use and being on the bike means that when this gorgeous scene caught my eye the other morning, I was able to pull in and take a pic to share with you all. Even without the phone pic, I would have stopped. Couldn't have done this from a bus or from a car. Love the aul' bike.

Autumn on the Dodder river
Autumn in the garden means tidying up (though not tooo much: down to natural indolence on my part and leaving nice habitats for small beasties) and that includes the greenhouse. The tomato plants have been consigned to the compost heap and the last of the tomatoes themselves are being eaten now. I've tried to sort out some of my alpines in the hopes of getting them through the winter. But I've left the Shoo-fly plant alone:

Nicandra physalodes still blooming in the greenhouse
I just love how its surprising green-ness and its almost violet-blue flowers continue to whisper summer, while autumn is everywhere else. And its flower buds and later its seed pods are gorgeous things: you can see why its specific name is Nicandra physalodes: those seed pods look very like Physalis. Come the first serious frost it will succumb, even under glass, but that's okay, I'll enjoy it while I can. You may remember I tried out an #inktober drawing of one of its seed pods recently:

Seed pod of Nicandra physallodes

Far from fun #inktober sketches, the *real* paper awaits: Fabriano Artistico Extra White 300gsm. I've to get a portrait of the birch tree onto this. And make it look convincing, and maybe beautiful too. Oh dear.

Fear of the blank Fabriano page looms large...
After much displacement activity over the weekend (including house-cleaning, which will give you some indication of how scared I am) I worked on composition. I'm currently getting some great advice from my resident photographer and from artist friends. Some day soon I'll have to, you know, put pencil to paper. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, go well all.

18 October 2015

Querulous rooks

They have learnt patience and silence
Listening to the rooks querulous in the high wood.
Derek Mahon, A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford 

Travels this summer brought us to friends in Kilkenny, Westmeath and Donegal. In the 'van we went to Clare and Tipperary. In spite of the rather awful summer, the journeys--short and all as they were--brought home to us once again what a lovely country we live in. Though it's a country that sadly shows traces of rural de-population at many's the turn.

Close to our friends' house in Kilkenny, a farm lies deserted, left to someone who won't be living there. Sheds crumble and weeds take hold, and always the rooks circle through and around the spreading oaks and high sycamores, landing in tattered raucous groups only to rise again. The shed brought to mind Derek Mahon's well-known poem. I don't understand the depths of some of Mahon's work, but he has written many beautiful and accessible poems, some of which work on many levels and resonate even for those of us who don't have a classical education or a well rounded literary background. His poems will turn up here again for sure.

Deserted farmyard, midsummer

Disused shed, midsummer
You'll hear some rooks here as well as blackbirds et al. Fintan O'Brien again. Great stuff. 

eh... did I say summer?

Iz keeping watch as one of her humans disappears into the sea (Donegal)

Spot the schauzer - Burren Karst (Clare)

It wasn't all gloom - there were some sunny days; view from a campsite in Co. Clare
Glen of Aherlow (Tipperary), seen from a walk near another campsite
The reason we went to Tipperary was to visit Birdhill Nurseries to see the original of Betula utilis, var. jacquemontii 'White Light' (I hope I have that right). It's one of the plants that features in the new project being run by the ISBA, this time in conjunction with the Irish Garden Plant Society. A series of Irish heritage plants will be celebrated in paintings and words and brought together in a book and exhibition next year. I was assigned the birch and I'm delighted and daunted. The tree is a cross between B. jacquemontii and B. costata, with the beautiful white bark of the former and the autumn colour of the latter. To my eye, 'White Light' also seems to have more plentiful and more 'stretched out' lenticels on the bark than the jacquemontii has (I've three jacquemontiis in my front garden, so I've something to compare with!).

We found Birdhill Nurseries without too much trouble but only to discover that, sadly, John Buckley died just over a year ago. But Mrs Buckley very kindly welcomed us to the garden and let us stay to photograph and sketch the tree (and others in the garden), which we did. In the rain. I ended up with a few very spattered sketchbook pages and some very rough sketches. Mrs B also let us take away some small branches with leaves as well as some of the beautiful bark and said we could come back any time to check up on it. I've found this before and it was lovely to discover it again: when you're doing a project like this, so-o-o many people are kind and interested and helpful. I've had another member of the IGPS posting photos of his 'White Light' birch (thanks PT!) and I know I've an open invitation to visit the tree any time. Lovely stuff.

So, have I been making good use of all this good will? The rolls of bark are still on my desk, I've drawn the leaves and branches. I've done some messing about with colours. And I've hassled other artists (at the ISBA support days in the Bots) about composition. Now all that's left is the Terror! I'm going to have to, you know, do a portrait of the tree.
Nervous. Very nervous.

Starting to look at colours

Practising on Bristol Board

Trying out bark sketches on Fabriano paper

Sketch sketch sketch 
And again on the Fabriano paper
Did I mention very nervous?

Okay, enough of the nerves; I'll finish with a smile:

Oh, was it only me who found it funny? You aren't rocking with laughter; this should be slated; you don't give a schist; if you're laughing, it's just to be gneiss?

Sorry :-)

Go well all.

13 October 2015

Blue hills and a buttermilk sky

Out there in the real world I asked a friend (and loyal reader of the blog) recently if I should get back to blogging and she said yes... Was she was just being nice? Quite possibly, but I took it on face value (thanks lb!).

I'd been thinking about the blog quite a bit over the summer: on the one hand there's been a lot of 'oh I'd love to mention that garden/plant/hillside/fox-sighting in the blog'; but on the other it has been nice just letting myself enjoy the various sights, sounds, sensations without having to record and share. Though if truth be told, I've been sharing it via facebook. It's the lazy woman's way: just select the phone pic and share. And yes, there's an awful lot of sharing going on in here on t'internet, so why add to it by getting back to the blog? Partly because I've enjoyed the diary aspect of it; and the discipline of it was fun when I started: I wanted to prove to myself that I could write weekly and did for two years. It also takes more commitment than pressing 'share' on a phone pic and that's not a bad thing.

But I'd become concerned that the blog was getting too repetitive: I set out to show that a small garden and an interest in nature can provide lots of wonder, and they do. The problem with confining myself to just those is the fear that things become too repetitive (in the garden's case) or they carry the expectation of being too depressing (in the case of writing about nature): loss of biodiversity, pollution, climate change, destruction of our peatlands... all of these things inevitably come to light once you take an interest in the natural world and to ignore those issues as I have seems Pollyanna-ish, but honestly I get exhausted by so much gloom.

Always I've wanted to share some sense of wonder, some sense of exploration. Sometimes the exploration is of nature and gardens, sometimes of place, sometimes of trying out new things such as drawing. So, I'll continue with those but overall, this will be a mixed bag. It is a bit risky: so many blogs seem to be very focused on Just One Thing (gardens or plants or drawing/painting). Those who focus on the one thing are then very good at that thing, so the theory goes, and the readership builds up accordingly. But my mind is a bit like a pondskater on a summer's evening, dashing from one place to the next, not even scratching the surface. I can't stay on just one thing: while I admire the skill and knowledge of those who do, it's not for me. I get entranced by a drawing and then I get pulled into a poem. I am delighted by a piece of music and then I marvel at birdsong. 'Nature' is the common thread to much of it, though not all.

So, if you come along for the ride, I hope you enjoy it, but I can't guarantee it will interest you *all* of the time; I only hope you'll find something some of the time that causes you to pause for thought. Thanks dear readers.

Here's a start then:


by Sarah Simblet, from the New Sylva; you can find more here.

A diary bit

It was cycling through the suburbs only a week or two ago, on my way home from work, that the blog came to the fore yet again. Even in the 'burbs, the surroundings can be delightful: on that evening, the Dublin mountains (hills really) were a gorgeous violet-indigo blue and had a pale buttermilk sky behind as the sun had just set. Ah Autumn!

While enjoying the colours, the contrast, the hills pulling my mind out and away from the traffic, the noise and the fumes, my mind immediately also connected to a song, and I thought the blog would be a nice place to record all that.

Some music

It was of course the buttermilk sky that brought this song into my head, although it was the wonderful Freddie White, not Mr Carmichael, who was singing in my head. While searching for the song, I found this next piece of music which is very different, but lovely too; take some time out (it's just over three minutes) and have a listen while you think of some blue hills you know with a pale sky behind.

The birdsong:

While searching on soundcloud, I found recordings by this man, an Irish cabinetmaker who loves to record birdsong. How serendipitous and great is that? Do you have time to take 10 more minutes out? Immerse yourself in the night song of Thrush Nightingales in Estonia:

The gardens:

After what can most charitably be described as an indifferent summer, we've had a wonderfully mild autumn. The colours are still beautiful; here's how my own patch looked last weekend:

Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg
The garden in autumn -- asters, sedums, agapanthus and grasses. Oh, and a photo-bombing Verbena bonariensis...
And a rather more expert gardener looks after this:
Caher Bridge garden in August


We finally got a campervan: old and much loved. We've been gallivanting a bit:

Displaying Herald.jpg
The van in the Wicklow hills. Beautiful autumn weather and the heather in bloom. 
And I've been exploring with ink. Lordie, drawing is hard enough, but with ink, the safety net of the trusty eraser is gone! Scary but fun once I stopped worrying. I just go for it and see what happens, with ballpoint pens, ink, felt-tips, whatever. All part of the #inktober meme. Yes, the internet can be an okay place. 

Spot-the-schnauzer sketches done with metal nibs in ecoline

Nicandra physalodes, also in ecoline, brush and pen
See you here again soon I hope. 

25 April 2015

The arty one

Some of you more dedicated readers (bless you) will know that drawing is one of my current interests - as well as gardens, plants, natural history, words. I've been spending the last few months (though only for a few hours a week) getting into some of the basics of drawing, with the help of Sam Horler at The Drawing Studio and the very classical Bargue Cours de Dessin.

I have been enjoying it enormously, which is not to say that there haven't been moments of teeth-grinding frustration... But all in all, the learning has been great and the taking time out to wield a pencil with some sort of serious intent has been very satisfying. It's a real 'in the zone' activity for me, which is wonderful in itself. The results are mixed but my hope is that it will help me draw better the things I love. Time will tell!

So, here's what I've been up to during this time of very traditional and classical training, it's a mixed bag of drawings and some of the things I see in these drawings make me wince a bit on looking at them now, but that's all part of the process. Dodgy phone pics all, but you'll get a sense of what has been going on.

The planty one

April comes and it's as though Nature has flipped a switch. Within a couple of weeks the garden and the woods have started to, well, burgeon is really the only word.

Back in February, I gathered these two photos together to remind myself that winter *would* eventually yield to spring and then to summer.

All change! Knocksink wood in winter and summer
But I don't need that reassurance now, the change is here ...

Malus ... perfect.
This year, I (and some helpers, thank you guys) did a lot of work simply splitting and moving things around in the garden. It's the sort of thing that more committed gardeners do regularly: splitting the perennials, ringing the changes in different parts of the garden, trying new things out. But it's really only over the last year or so that I feel I now have the time to do this sort of thing. And I'm loving it.

So: all the plants in and around the witch hazel and the Enkianthus in the back garden (one of my 'woodland' patches) were split and shifted around last autumn and this spring. The birches in the front garden now have an array of bleeding heart, Smilicina/Maianthemum and Pachyphragma macrophylla mixing in with all the spring bulbs that are lighting up that space too: narcissi and daffodils, anemones, scillas, that sort of thing... I love the space now and am hoping that the interest will continue with alliums, lilies and campion throughout the summer.

Spring under the birches in the front garden
Earlier in the spring I went to the annual GLDA seminar (thanks B!), and had a most enjoyable day listening to such erudite speakers as Thomas Rainer and Verney Naylor. I was a bit disappointed with the level of debate on the day, but the talks themselves were thoughtful and inspiring, even if the scale of the some of the work (e.g. Keith Wiley's Wildside Garden and Le Jardin Plume) was so daunting. My own patch looked very, very tiny on my return home. (Have a look at Le Jardin Plume: *one* of their squares is the same size as half of my back garden). Interesting thing too: since I've used Valentia pebbles and flags in my garden I asked B to paint the wooden fence--that he put up a couple of summers ago--what I thought would be a low-key purplish-slate colour. Here it is, in March, behind the rather bare and recently re-organised bed.

Hmm, not sure about the colour of that fence...
I came home that day, fresh from seeing recommendations from Verney that the perfect background for plants, to contrast well with their green, is a sort of red ochre. She showed many lovely images that proved her point. But the paint we had chosen looked a much more bluey purple than I imagined and I was more than a bit taken aback. I went through the 'oh for godsake how on earth can I imagine I should be let loose in a garden at all, I can't even get a background colour right' thing. But all was not lost... a fellow gardener (and architect) suggested that at these latitudes the cooler colours are a better backdrop and as spring has worked its magic and the plants have grown at the foot of and in front of the fence I've come to like it better. We'll see how it works as time goes on. Better than bare breeze blocks anyway. Here it is today:

Fence settling in 1...

Fence settling in 2...
Apologies for the pics, btw, they're just phone ones since my camera is being mended at the moment.

In other plant news, the Dublin and Ulster Shows of the Alpine Garden Society have been and gone. Some of my plants even did well at both shows (in the Novices section, natch): I got some firsts at both shows as well as a couple of thirds at the Dublin one.

Here's a beautiful tulip that won me a First at the Ulster Group AGS show:

My Tulipa clusiana var. chrysantha (photo by catchlight.ie)
I also put a picture in the Artistic Section in both shows this year and it came first in both!

There are always lots of amazing plants at these shows: the results of painstaking effort on the part of their growers and nurterers. Here's one that won the much-coveted Farrer medal (well done Val!). It's Draba longisilqua, and is probably the parent of the Draba I was kindly given by another AGS expert a couple of years ago. Mine is still alive, but there hasn't been a single flower on it yet this year. Go figure!

Draba longisiliqua, grown by Val Keegan, winner of the AGS Farrer Medal in Dublin, April 2015
Spring weather has been a mixed bag here and this weekend was typical - sunny and showery; sunny and cold. A wet Saturday morning in Mount Usher gardens meant a quiet walk with few people around; not the best weather for visiting a garden, but even with the rain, there were moments of beauty:

Intricacies of a beech hedge in Mount Usher gardens

Fallen blossom in a rill in Mount Usher gardens
Go well all.