The Old Man is Snoring!

Waterford, south-east Ireland. Saturday, 22nd May 2021

It was a week of ins and outs, of starts and stops of dark rainclouds and rain bursts, of wintery winds and occasional sunny spells – that last phrase sounded like the consolatory comment regularly added by the people delivering the weather forecast.

By Thursday morning we were under water. Of course, you will realise that I wasn’t in diving gear or anything of the likes but we do like to exaggerate our unwelcome weather conditions, to grumble a little and bemoan the inconvenience of rain but, of course, it is good for the garden but we can always ask:

There are two plants that I especially like in the garden, Rodgersia aesculifolia and Veratrum album. They did very well in the garden for many years but recent years has seen them struggling from early June onwards as the weather has been too dry for them and they really appreciate moist conditions. When they were planted, the trees near them were only saplings and made no unreasonable demands on soil moisture but over the years they have grown in size and in their needs and what once were relatively moist beds in summer are now sucked dry and conditions have changed from moist dappled shade to being very dry and much more light-deprived. The plants have survived but it is now a rare summer when they really thrive and look their best and this, thanks to all this recent rain, seems very likely to be one of those good years.

Primulas – P. pulverulenta, P. japonica and cultivars P. ‘Miller’s Crimson’ and P. ‘Appleblossom’ simply adore these wet conditions and are bursting out of the ground and into flower. The level of our garden is about a metre higher than the road running outside which means that and water which drains from the garden runs to the level of the roadside and creates wet to damp conditions right through the year. As the road verge faces north it is doubly suited for primroses and the bank to one side of our gate is home to a good planting of primroses which flower earlier in the year while the other perfectly suits the Japanese primulas and they thrive there, self-seed generously and get on with the business of growing with only the least intervention from the gardener.

The lower end of our garden is relatively damp though the trees we planted over the years lead to drier conditions in summer than previously. Nonetheless, there is sufficient moisture there for primulas to do well – along with hostas, orchids and Iris ensata cultivars which enjoy similar conditions and give interest and colour after the primulas.

In the middle of all this talk of rain and wet and dampness it is good to have a plant which brings sunnier climates to mind and the bright colours of kniphofia certainly do that. Our perception may be a little skewed as this red hot poker is a native to the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa and Lesothso where it grows at elevations above 1,000m most often in wet and boggy conditions – so the colours may be bright and sunny but this plant is perfectly at home in our present wet conditions. The plant was named for Johann Hieronymus Kniphof (1704 – 1763), a German physician and botanist.

This red-flowered chestnut tree is one of our favourites in the garden. It was grown from seed, some “buckeyes” sent by a friend in Maryland, USA, about twenty five years ago, under the name Red Buckeye, Aesculus pavia, and we have loved and enjoyed it ever since. Over the last number of years we have removed the lower limbs to raise the canopy which allows light to plants underneath and makes access easier.

There was a dash on Wednesday to get the lawns cut and in order for the forecast indicated that the next probable day which would be suitable for this work would be Monday. We have two small lawns in front of the house – these are called “lawns” because I treat them as such, applying a suitable lawn treatment in spring and again during the season as necessary and because I like them to be generally neater and tidier than the “grass” of the rest of the garden. Stripes and good edges are de rigueur here and leaving them without mowing for a few days upsets that maintenance. As luck would have it, I managed to not only do the lawns but the grass all round the garden so there was a feeling of having things tidied up and organised before the heavy rain arrived.

I’m sharing this blog with a group of fellow bloggers who contribute to a “Six on Saturday” theme which is hosted by “The Propagator”. To read more contributions go to The Propagator’s entry for today, scroll down to the comments and you will find other bloggers have posted links to their Saturday entries there. Lots to read!


26 thoughts on “The Old Man is Snoring!

  1. I do like Rodgersia… I hesitated to buy one last weekend at the garden centre. I can see that yours are under the big trees: I know that it needs shade ok, but it also needs a light soil?
    Are there not too many roots on the tree to prevent it from growing and is it spreading a lot?
    Nice photo of a blue tit, here my kniphofias will soon bloom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The rodgersias would prefer more moisture that they get at present because of the trees. They were planted at the same time as the trees and at that time the trees weren’t so big and didn’t dry the spot so much. Despite this the rodgersias cover an area 3m X 3m.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a definite squelch to walking the garden at the moment and just to stay in the mood I went to a bog in the mountains this morning – it really is a funny sensation standing on sphragnum and bouncing, gently, up and down.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The green green grass of home? We’ve had plenty – a deluge – of rain recently and growth has been luscious after it, weeds as well unfortunately.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved the cartoon, am going to share on my gardening group as sentiments here are pretty similar! Those primulas by the roadside look wonderful: as you say, some plants really don’t mind the rain. Great capture of the lovely bluetit on knifophia.


  3. Beautiful primulas. I’m going to have to try sowing some more seed of ‘Miller’s Crimson’ and ‘Appleblossom’ as they didn’t germinate last time. A newly mown and edged lawn is one of those instantly rewarding chores that makes the garden look better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The primulas self-seed very generously in wet conditions and, agreed, it’s nice to have the lawn neat and tidy to set off the garden.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello–
        I live in New York State and have been looking for a Primrose “Primula Julius Caesar”. Is there any chance of getting a plant or seeds sent to the house ? I am trying to complete a Family Garden with plants that contain the names of people in my family. ‘been searching for over a year and found this blog. Luv the pictures. Please Let me Know.
        Sharon L. Mistretta


      2. I’m afraid this primula will not come true from seed and sending a plant by post from Ireland to New York State is hardly a viable option. It’s a pity!


  4. I gave up on Primulas, Rodgersia and Rheum several years ago as the conditions had got far too dry for them to be happy in my garden. They’d be in their element at the moment. Beautiful pictures of your garden, as always. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed seeing the feathered wildlife in your garden. I can see why they were drawn in. I would be too if I lived anywhere near. Li

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The pheasants are almost tame as I have fed them for several years. They appreciate the food and are not upset by our presence quite close to them.


  6. What a wonderful selection of photos. I love the one of the blue tit and I did manage to spot the pheasant photo bombing too. Thanks for the info on the preferred growing conditions of the kniphofia. Hopefully all this rain will have done mine good too. They’ve always been a bit of a disappointment and I guess the sunny free draining spot I gave them isn’t quite to their liking.
    The primulas are fantastic. How great to have such a display in an easy to maintain border.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Rodgersia here have struggled in recent years, even though planted in a very wet border with no trees nearby. I had all but given up on them but as you say this year they seem much stronger. They have a long way to go before they get to a good size though. I love the primulas, I may have been tempted away from my yellow only rule!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s