What a difference some sunshine makes

Ruby_autumn colour

Posted on: 5th October, 2015

Category: Home, Garden & Environment

Contributor: Ruby Harte

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 a wonderful start to September with ‘sunshine’ offering a much-needed reprieve from our soggy summer. What a difference it makes, planting up the start of our spring beds in positively balmy conditions. We have made a start on sweet William, honesty, foxglove and campanula, we put a thick layer of grass mulch on the beds, which helps retain moisture, acts as a weed suppressant and helps condition the soil. We put up supports for cloching during the worst of the winter and this give us a head start with earlier blooms in late spring and early summer. Late summer sown sweet peas, stock, calendula, ammi, cornflowers and Icelandic poppies have all germinated well; they should have been potted up last week but with weddings and wedding fairs and weddings, it hasn’t happened – there goes my moon planting regime out the window. I’ll be hoping for a mild October to give them a chance to bulk up but at least most of them will be planted undercover for spring sales and most importantly spring weddings. Joining these in the tunnels will be anemones, ranunculus, fressia, and scented narcissus including paperwhite ‘Ziva’, erlicheer and Winston Churchill to name a few. (I must have scent, especially in spring) also muscari, which flowers so much earlier in the tunnel and the added stem length is wonderful, it helps extend our cutting season giving us that pretty blue from early March right through early May, having them planted inside and out.

I’m super excited to see all our new gourmet edible flowers that we will have next spring although they are only little green clumps now but come next spring…oh the anticipation!

One last manic weekend to go with two weddings and a two-day wedding fair in the middle. Hoping for a little R&R after that and to be able to catch our breath working at a more leisurely pace, a regular ‘9 to 5’ ha! Chance would be a fine thing.

Two of our tunnels were badly damaged in storm Darwin and have been slowly disintegrating with each passing one, so it’s a big job for the Autumn redoing plastic clearing, cleaning and total replanted; I love looking back at the finished product but to be honest I’m not relishing doing it at the end of a very busy season.

How things change from year to year – we were cutting lavatera and feverfew with a vengeance right up to mid October last year and filling wedding orders too, but this year it barely got to September before they were reduced to a soggy mess. My biggest disappointment was my beloved godetia – we hardly got a decent cut from it – I have to get a few rows in the tunnel next spring. It’s so difficult to gauge each year with all the variables but that is part of the charm, no two bouquets are ever the same and no two seasons are either.

Tortrix moths only became a problem on the roses towards the end of August; loads of cutting prior to that and the Dahlias escaped thankfully so we are making progress – we will cut everything back and clear all debris away and hopefully all the over wintering pupae with it. I feel it helped enormously this year so here’s hoping for next year.

I’m still gushing over our chickens. Two of the mom’s are still with their chicks although almost fully grown now, it’s oh so cute and get this, they are all female, fifteen and counting (because ‘Moma’ is on her second brood) not a cockerel to be seen – maybe that’s the secret to the harmony! Harold and Elton (our resident cockerels) will be beside themselves in the spring. I’d love to hear your stories about your chickens (I’m a little bit in love with mine).

Swallows and all our summer residents have gone south now, we wish them a safe journey and with the cooler temperatures it will be no time at all before we see our winter visitors of red wings and field fares.

We have a wonderful edition to our ever-growing family, a beautiful hound called ‘Sally’, who appeared in to us about six weeks ago, a little thin but full of life; we were only keeping her until the rescue centre had room for her but she had other ideas, ‘Gracie’ our traumatised rescue has adopted her and it has been the making of her – to say they love each other is an understatement and the rest is, as they say, is history. Oh boy a puppy, I’d forgotten the work involved, every thing chewed, toilet training…I’m so glad we’re heading in to winter not summer.

My biggest job for this winter is to get a planting plan down on paper utilising our space better, I’m very disorganised and plant whereever there is space without a thought to harvest. Subsequently I walk miles in the height of summer, cutting. I really need to put something in place with space divided up and sorted according to season – sounds great and makes perfect sense but get back to me next July and see did I manage it. I love to plant a bouquet in a bed but it needs to be more utilitarian to ensure easier harvesting, that’s all very well for a home cutting garden but I definitely need more discipline.

We have the pleasure of meeting some wonderful people and have been involved in some amazing collaborations we are truly grateful for all of these and sincere thanks to all involved.

One of those is ‘Stetsons and Stilettos’ due to be aired on RTE in October, still not sure of the date but do look out for it.

For more info on us, go to Rubyharte.com. Enjoy.

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