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Yay, it’s time to go shopping! Depending on your gender, this is either a cause for celebration or a reason to run away - far, far away – and hide until the danger is over. If you’re a bloke, don’t worry, it’s not clothes (or even worse, Things for the House) – it’s September and time to stock up on spring flowering bulbs to lift the spirits and bring colour and cheer to the garden after the grey dreary days of winter.
At this stage of the week I hope the hangover has eased if you joined in the celebrations on Sunday – and Monday – and Tuesday….although I’m sure the sense of euphoria throughout the city and county will last a good while longer, and rightly so. As the champions prepare to return to their well-deserved welcome in the City of the Tribes, as well as towns and villages throughout Galway, the green-fingered might like to consider showing their appreciation in a horticultural way. After all, flags and banners in the county’s colours of maroon and white have fluttered from windows and decked our streets for weeks. Why not include our window boxes, hanging baskets, front gardens and even roundabouts – all areas where the hard working members of our Tidy Towns groups do so much to cheer up and beautify our streets for everyone’s benefit.
Do you ever find your garden is lacking in late summer colour? Sometimes June and July can be the best months in the garden and by August and September, there isn’t much happening in the borders to bring colour and movement. Early flowering perennials have gone over and most flowering shrubs do their thing in spring and early summer, leaving them green and unexciting for the rest of the year.
If there is one kind of tree most of my clients ask for, it’s an apple tree. If you’re lucky enough to have the space for an orchard, there are many magical ways to incorporate such a wonderful feature, but even much smaller gardens can accommodate a fruit tree or two with careful planning.
As summer draws to a close, now is a good time to look around your garden, taking note of what worked and what didn’t, and planning for the rest of the year and indeed the year ahead. As everyone with school-going children knows, the rain soaked Irish summer tends to give way in September to calm, sunny weather just as the new term starts.
In Tralee last week for the Rose Festival I noticed a great many beds of roses in full bloom throughout the town, well looked after and flowering freely. Many Irish gardens feature rose bushes in one form or another, and the brightly coloured shrub roses, floribundas and hybrid teas brighten the front gardens of our towns and villages throughout the summer. But it’s the climbing and rambling roses that really seem to appeal to the romantics. Many of the clients who call me in to produce garden plans have visions of softly coloured roses tumbling over an archway leading into an idyllic cottage style garden, or gracefully clothing an old stone wall – pretty and nostalgic, it’s an image that’s hard to resist and it’s a great pleasure to help them achieve this.
We like our hedges in these parts. Maybe it’s because a healthy green hedge is such an attractive backdrop for more colourful garden inhabitants – or maybe it’s the sense of enclosure it gives, the sense that our home is our castle and by enclosing it with a wall of green, it marks out the boundaries of our territory and somehow makes the space more our own. A well chosen and well maintained hedge can certainly do these things, as well as giving us shelter from prying eyes and chilly winds, so it’s no wonder they are a fixed feature in many of our gardens.
At this time of year the kitchen garden is in full swing with warmer, longer days allowing edible crops to mature and ripen. There’s still lots of work to do though to keep your plot productive and ensure a succession of edibles right through the summer months. If you’re lucky enough to have a designated kitchen garden with raised beds, brick paths and maybe even south facing walls for ripening fruit, you’ll have room to grow pretty much anything you like and lucky neighbours probably benefit from plenty of edible presents just now!
Lawn mowing can seem a never-ending task at this time of year. I suppose the rain responsible for our lush forty shades of green is what encourages the grass to grow like Usain Bolt sprinting towards an Olympic record. Imagine if you could just press a button and close the roof like they do on Wimbledon’s Centre Court....
Have you ever brought home those little pots of herb plants from the supermarket, arranged them to great effect in fetching containers on your kitchen windowsill , and thrown them out a week or two later, wilted or covered in greenfly? Yep, me too.