Saturday, July 27, 2013

trees at birr castle

There are many old old trees at birr castle demesne. Many were originally planted in the 18th century. Some are unusual and some are just wonderfully mature; oaks, beeches, limes etc. The planting has continued over the years right up to current times, with many well labelled. Here's just a couple;

metasequoia glyptostroboides  dawn redwood

forgot to check the name, I think it's a cedar

a very large beech, fantastic trunk

Friday, July 26, 2013

hole in the wall

This is a large 'hole in the wall' built into an old stone wall, in a very seamless way, which has aged well and will only improve as the bricks weather more.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

old glasshouses

These glasshouses, although slightly worn and shabby, had a really authentic quality about them. I could imagine the volume of plants that passed through them during their lifetime, the watering, the potting on, the deadheading, the hours upon hours of tending plants.... polytunnels are just not the same.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

the formal garden at birr castle

On a hot sunny day this formal garden was fantastic. No flowers, just greenery and pathways. All the growth was healthy and luxuriant. The hornbeams have matured superbly since my last visit maybe fifteen years ago. It illustrates to me that shape and form in a garden are it's most vital elements. Flowers really are secondary.

hornbeam cloister walk

formal box hedge

gravel and lawn

shady walkway

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

flowers at birr castle

Because the gardens are set out in the landscape style there really were that many flowers to see. But, in any garden, there are always some...





rosa rugosa


Monday, July 22, 2013


In the 1840's this was the largest telescope in the world. It remained so until the 20th century. On the day I visited there was a large shrub in bloom on the gable wall. It turned out to be a Cornus kousa.

leviathan !
large cornus kousa on the supporting wall

close up of the flowers 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

tree house

This has to be the coolest tree house I've ever seen... The kids really loved it and I'd have had a go myself except it seemed a bit inappropriate for a lump like me to be playing on it. But I'll be back some quiet morning for a scramble through it;

Saturday, July 20, 2013

birr castle

I recently visited Birr Castle and had a very enjoyable afternoon stroll around the grounds. Having grown up close to Birr, I was always aware that Birr Castle was famous & important, but quite why I was less certain. There is certainly a great sense of history; castles, telescopes, walled gardens and large mature trees. And it's a modern place too with a science centre and a very cool tree house...

historic birr castle and current family home of the parsons family

Friday, July 19, 2013

busy insects

bumblebee on self-seeded green manure phacelia tanacetifolia
ladybird on comfrey

Monday, July 15, 2013


Weed or Wildflower? Either way they look good in the sunshine.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

potatoes in flower

The potatoes are really going well, especially the British Queens. The mulch matting has worked well to keep the weeds down and conserve some moisture. The Sarpo Mira are not doing as well, although their beds was better prepared. They both could do with some water at the moment.

British Queens
Sarpo Mira

Saturday, July 13, 2013

snapshot of the garden

The first area that was planted is one of the most prominent areas of the garden. The planting here has an important functional role. The view from the camera position is directly up the road and without some barrier planting here the back yard would feel very open. The birch are growing well and very bushy thanks to the nipping back of all the leaders. The purple hazel is also quite strong and really filling out. Some evergreens have been planted to ensure cover in winter, although the bed is so deep even the deciduous plants will screen well. They all could do with some water but I haven't managed to get a sprinkler set up yet.
all doing well despite the dry weather

Friday, July 12, 2013

maple seedlings

I finally saw germination of some of the Japanese Maple seeds sown back in January. An ebay purchase, they were stratified in a zip-lock bag for two months under my bed and  then transferred to the fridge for another 3 months. The colour looks great if it holds and the leaves look fairly well cut. I'll keep some to grow on as trees and maybe select some as bonsai.
Japanese Maple seedlings

Thursday, July 11, 2013

hot & dry

This has been the warmest week for a long while. The temperature has been in the high twenties and it's been continuously sunny. The tunnel has been really scorching with a maximum recorded temperature of 51.2C on wednesday... lots of late evening watering so.
it says max 51.2, min 6.6.



Thursday, July 4, 2013

yamadoris - mixed results

At the start of the year I collected several, mostly small, yamadoris, pine, birch, spruce and one large whitethorn. The latter has taken fairly well, given it's large size and relatively small root. The pines were a mixed bag and it's with these that I had most casualties, mainly due, I think, to a lack of shelter from cold winds in late spring. All the birches remain alive although I'd have expected more growth. The spruces are doing fine.

some fresh shoots, the cut reveals some deep cracks running down the stem,
 probably from the original site clearance
strong straight stem

background shows the largest pine collected,
one of the failures in the front

it was great to see some buds finally open and a few candles appear