Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fota Wildlife Park

We spent today visiting Fota Wildlife park, a fantastic amenity right on our doorsteps.
It is visited by tourists and locals in their thousands each year, there is the wildlife park which is charged for but the gardens of Fota House and the Arboretum are free to visit just pay a E3 parking charge on the way out.
The entrance has been completely revamped since I visited last and these lifelike Giraffes greet the visitors

The interior of the Orangery in the gardens has been restored, when I visited first this was almost derelict.

The restored orangery which you spy through the trees

The sunken Italian garden

In the wildlife park, we spotted this Peahen with her chick

The peacock preening himself, no babysitting for him!

Not an African skyline but Fota!There are Giraffe, zebra, and oryx here.

There are 2 seals ,this one was out sunning itself

The beautifully restored Palm Walk.

Why am I depressed?

'Cos he got the sweetcorn!
There are islands in the lake where all sorts of monkeys live, swinging on ropes and trees.

A lemur and the G'kids eyeballing each other

Lemurs are free to roam all over the park, and are quite used to being near people.

The Flamingoes which to my eye looked distinctly orange rather than pink!


Why is the tastiest piece always just out of reach?!
We spent hours between the wildlife park and the gardens and saw much more animals than I have space to put here, it is just to give a glimpse of Fota.
If you are ever near enough to visit it is definitely worth it, especially if you have only seen exotic animals in a Zoo, to see them walking around acres of grassland is special.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Allotment Update

Sinead & Aoife with armfuls of Lavender this evening.I am going to try drying it in bunches this year as there is only so much I can do with the dried flowers.
I have one bunch already in a vase on the windowsill to see if it will dry there.
It struck me this evening while cutting it that there is a marked absence of bees around, last year I could hardly get near it as so many bees had taken it over each day.

White Ghost pumpkin,according to the pic on the label it has a white sheen to the top of the pumpkin.

Calabrese is setting nice large heads, we have cut 2 so far and they are delicious.I cut a cross on the stem after taking the head, it is supposed to encourage side shoots to grow.
I gave the whole brassica bed a dose of rhubarb tea which is recommended to discourage white fly as the smell is foul and it confuses them?!
It is made by soaking rhubarb leaves in water for a few weeks and the resultant sludge is rhubarb tea!

Remember my mutant beans? They have now been put out on the plot and are beginning to climb the canes.They are Blue Lake climbing french beans, free seeds from Garden News.

Lazy Housewife beans have been moved to a hen free zone and are showing signs of recovering from their hen pecking.

The carrot bed got a make over too this evening.I had enviromesh covering it but the parsnips were being squashed under it so I surrounded it instead to deter the carrot fly.The carrot fly is not supposed to be able to fly higher than 20cms so this should be more than high enough to stop him in his tracks!
I set more carrot and parsnip seeds a couple of weeks ago but germination is slow enough.I gave the bed a sea weed feed to help things along

Our courgettes are very slow to produce this year, due in no small way to the lack of heat and sunshine and the nights are fairly cool for this time of year.

Bok Choi, our first year growing this veg, I think it was under a bit of stress early on as I was not sure what to do with it!
After thinning it out and feeding it ,it began to look like the picture on the plant label.Some of it has gone to seed with these lovely yellow flowers.

Potatoes?! The foliage has turned yellow but there is no sign of blight either on the leaves or the potatoes which we are using daily.

We have 2 cucumber plants in the greenhouse and this one has little embryo fruit on it.
We will not have a tomato glut this year by the looks of things, lucky to have a decent supply at all.Some green tomatoes but unless we get some sunshine we won't be picking ripe red ones off the plants.

Onions,another disappointment this year! They have not grown to the size of last years and a lot are going to seed so I bent them over and we will just use them once they have dried out.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mallow Show Gardens 2011

More of the gardens at the Mallow Homes & Gardens show.
There are 25 permanent gardens which get a face lift and/or make over each year.This gold fish is around for quite a few years and is the last remaining one in the pool.They knew he was there but this year they put various pieces of garden sculpture around the gardens and a heron pouring water was put next to the fish pool.The goldfish spent the time swimming and dancing in the oxygenated bubbling water, much to the delight of visitors

A patio garden

The Hobbit playhouse, erected by a company who make and design unusual playhouses etc all over the world.

Courtyard garden with a vine growing for a few years it would be one of the permanent features which new designers have to work around.

In the sales area, a lavender tree?!

Unusual lillies

Off Our trolleys, a catchy selling idea.

Pots decorated in county emblems

Dunsland garden centre had by far the largest sales area full of colour and plants of all shapes and sizes, Prop. Peter Dowdall said he had sourced more frost and cold weather hardy plants after so many gardens had suffered so many losses in the very cold winter we had.

I had previously met this smiling vendor selling lillies at Bloom in Dublin

Strawbale house, made from strawbales just like the 3 little pigs!
It is circular in shape, cool in summer and warm in winter.

An old VW camper van ,now a playhouse in the garden. These old vans just go on and on!

The interior of the strawbale house,showing the living area and there is a mezzanine floor with a bedroom up the stairs.

Doghouse with the roof cleverly disguised with planting

The permanent trees and plantings can be seen in this pic, the fountain is also permanent, the plants are added to each year and annual colour added.
Back to gardening in the next post, I have gotten very lax at taking photos when I am out at the plot!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mallow Homes and Garden Festival 2011

We have been very busy for the last few days putting the final touches to the Hydro Farm Project for the Mallow Homes & garden festival which opened to the public on Friday for the most successful festival yet.
The unusual feature of this festival is,there are 25 permanent gardens and each year different people are invited to take over a garden and using the mature trees,shrubs, water features ,ponds etc already in place to completely invent a new garden around them.
We had 5 raised stone beds this year plus the raised deck area.
The great news is, we were completely bowled over to win a Silver Medal for our efforts!
Our cottage garden bed, planted with flowers & veg

The Feather garden with ducks,geese and a Cock & hen.The cock was very vociferous throughout the show and could be heard all over the showgrounds.
A Blueberry tree which has reached the grand old age of 45!It was imported from Italy by Peter Dowdall of the Dunsland garden centre.
It is hard to see the berries on it but it is covered in them!

Our International garden, it was to show people that over the last few years that not only can we now buy lots of exotic fruit & veg we can now buy the plants and grow them ourselves, obviously most of these would need a poly tunnel or greenhouse to grow on.

Wooden spoons for plant markers, these are often given away free with products or can be bought cheaply in discount stores.

Our strawberry bin and recycled umbrella frame to support the netting got lots of interested spectators.There is a length of 4 inch piping with holes bored through it sunk into the bin, this is for ease of watering.Pour the water into the pipe and it seeps out into the surrounding soil.

Our recycle garden, it was to show what can be recycled or repurposed in the garden.Our scarecrow Jedwina & planted toilet bowl.Vintage seed sower and the basket of veg is from one of our plotters, Charlie.

The raised deck which we made scarecrows for, it also had to be painted in nice bright colours.

The Medicinal herb garden with a short explanation of their uses on labels.

Spot the scarecrow! Grand daughter Gemma who came out for a day with Charlie, one of our plotters.

Elephant garlic in the cottage garden

The working windmill was made by a gentleman and it was placed in our section but fitted in quite well with our recycle theme.
Herbs are planted in this multicoloured bin

I took so many photos I will have to do a second post about the gardens & show but you could buy these 3 lovely lassies for your garden.

Up for the Match!
Committed County fans could have one of these in their garden!