Ruby Harte (a.k.a Mags Riordan) has been a professional florist for over 12 years and has completed a course in horticulture and worked in garden centres, wholesale nurseries, and private gardens. Ruby runs a family owned nursery, Bumble Bee Farm in Castledonovan, Drimoleague and is deeply concerned about the protection and cultivation of nature and its habitats.
What an amazing burst of life there has been; it seems only a few short weeks ago I was so excited with the first buds and now it’s a veritable feast for the eyes and nose. The roses smell exceptionally delicious this year. The second run of sweet peas are the longest length ever, godetia is ready to burst (I’m so glad I decided to give it tunnel space this year), tunnel dahlias in bud, astilbes, lavatera, achellis and shastas are almost there. The ranunculus and anemones are ready for their first cut, considering the damage and tunnel losses, where we were two months ago and the floral abundance that greets me every morning now, I’m really impressed. Which is probably just as well with all the weddings we have lined up for June, plus we are supplying an amazing floral designer in the city too.
Our edibles are fast becoming the stars of the show for us this year, my salads really are a ‘feast’ for the eyes, as well as the taste buds, I love all these new colourful editions and am having a ball experimenting with new varieties and recipes. It’s a whole new world.
I wish I had photographed the early infestation of greenfly on the roses to give you an idea of the virtues of bio-diversity and to encourage you to create a healthy ecosystem. I will admit it was so bad that I panicked a little and did get some organic garlic spray but I needn’t have worried. As if on cue, the lacewings appeared and the ladybird larvae started munching and honestly within a few days they had cleaned them up. Yes, there are still the odd few but you need them to keep up the food chain but best of all is no damage to the roses. We have been harvesting beautiful blooms by the bucketload for weeks now, both as edible and cut flower crops, the odd few that have blown off are being dried as floral confetti so no waste.
It’s different in so many ways for us this year because of tunnel damage; its strange not having antirrhinums by the bucketload, we have only just started harvesting sweet William and calendula and irises won’t be ready until mid June.
All the hard work with planning and planting schemes are really paying off now — with one crop finishing we are ready with the next to take its place. The changes we have implemented have made such a difference; they have cut down on harvesting times by a third which at this time of year is huge. We still have a lot to do but we are really enjoying the improvements.
While we are almost finished with this year’s plantings we are getting ready for next year by sowing biennials (on June 5 next new moon) with a vengeance and when mid summer plantings have finished in they will go. I can’t emphasise enough the virtues of these guys, late spring and early summer would be all the poorer without them. Our staples are foxglove, Canterbury bells, sweet William, honesty and hesperis (short lived perennial that we treat as an annual).
We regret to say, due of work commitments, we are unable to have our annual open day this year. We remain closed to the public but our flowers are available in Organico Bantry and we are back to Schull market with our flowers and a limited amount of plants.
On the wildlife front, the fox has ravaged us by taking nine hens and Marley Emilia’s son — he was turning in to quite a character. There are some very well fed fox cubs this year. So it’s babysitting them every night to get them to bed safely. Momma and Missy, bless them, have decided to share the three chicks that hatched between them and are now safely tucked up in a run together, our chickens don’t do things by the book.
We had a sedge warbler nest with us for the first time this year, what a racket they make but it’s a very pleasant one. They’ve fledged now and I hope all are well.
Our first baby robin, blue tits, wrens and blackbirds are all gathering insects so wishing them all successful broods and safe fledglings.
It’s all happening around us and it’s really a joy to behold. I hope you all get an opportunity to enjoy this fine spell…we certainly are.