Friday, December 23, 2016

Storm Barbara

The storm has arrived. It's only our second storm of the winter, and it's called Storm Barbara. I've waited for it. Normally, I've attempted to get the latest article online by Wednesday each week. This week is different, though. I'm extra busy, but now that the wind and rain are all around, just two days before Christmas, I've taken time out from the busyness to sit and write. Time out from wrapping gifts, endless cycling, tidying my room and preparing sherry trifle while trying out the Baileys cream. There are thirty-seven other jobs that need doing, but right now I want to write during the storm.

The wind was so fierce, I took to Twitter.

Welcome #StormBarbara, but behave yourself! Leave my baubles intact. Thank you
— Pat Burke (@petalsbyparaig) December 23, 2016

No gardening today, but it's nice to be inside looking out.

Happy Christmas from Dungarvan,

Monday, December 19, 2016

Cheering Up My Monday #3

It's another Monday, and time to begin another week. In the garden, the temperature has moved wildly. This morning it's a very mild 8 celsius here in Abbeyside at 8am, and likely to hit 10C later. As against that, it dipped to minus 2 overnight on Friday.

These low temperatures are tough for plants. Most are able for the drop, and some actually revel in such conditions. I was out with the camera on Saturday to catch the cold.

Phlox subulata 'McDaniel's Cushion'


Osteospermum jucundum 'Blackthorn Seedling'   

This last one, known also as African Daisy, is staying wrapped up. We may think that plants don't have any sense. This may make us think again! Why would we go outside when we can wrap up in a warm jacket? It's the same with this little guy. The petals will remain tightly gathered to protect the core.

Note: O. jucundum is a perennial with aromatic grey-green leaves and daisy-like, white flowers, flushed purple with darker purple eyes in summer and autumn. I'm putting it on my list of favourite plants. Further info here (on my virtual welly footprint)

That's it for this week. Next Monday is St. Stephen's Day. Of course, I'll be waiting with excitement for a white Christmas, but not sure that these fellas will!

Happy gardening,


Friday, December 16, 2016

Things Come In Threes #2

Approaching the mid-winter solstice, my time in the garden is limited by cold and dampness. The work is done, yet it's rewarding just to walk around for a few minutes to see what happens. Yesterday, on my way to the shed to get wood for the stove, I met Mr. Robin on the bird-feeder. He was on it, I was not. We eyed one another up and down before he returned to feeding as I journeyed to the woodpile. 
This little fella accompanied me on my 5-minute ramble

Just before the woodpile (in the shed) I glanced down to the two rows of gypsophila seedlings. I had planted these back in October, and they are thriving. Well, they were thriving until very recently. Yesterday, most of them were cannibalised, a gourmet starter for Mr. Slug and friends, perhaps even starter and main meal. I'd be tempted to have a word with Mr. Robin, but I don't think he likes them either. There are about seven plants remaining, and this one seems to be head and shoulders above her siblings. The others have been beheaded.

One of the few untouched gypsophila

Finally, loaded to my chin with seventeen logs, I approached the kitchen window boxes. The pansies are in full bloom, defying wind, rain and cold. This particular one is so pretty, added to by a tiny spray of light mist remaining from overnight. Naturally, you'll understand that this photograph was not taken until I had unloaded the seventeen stove logs in the stove log basket beside the stove; and when I returned to the shed to get the camera (it was beside the log pile, you'll agree?), the delicate mist on the pansy was exactly as it had been one minute earlier.

I love the misty rain on top
  • Time in garden: five minutes. That's just about enough. I'll put on the kettle and set the fire while it boils.
  • Four minutes to set and light the stove
  • Four minutes for water to boil
  • Result: tea and accomplishment
  • Five minutes later on, warmed by both tea and stove, to to dickie up the robin photo
This is #2 in my "Things come in Threes" series, recounting a five minute ramble in the garden, and consciously seeking out three things of interest. Want to look back to #1?

Here it is: Things come In Threes #1

Happy gardening (or reading), wherever you are,

Monday, December 12, 2016

Cheering Up My Monday #2

This African daisy has been in bloom since May and brought great colour to the garden. Next year, I think I'll grow the white one.
Even now, approaching mid-December, there are still a number of flower heads despite five or six nights of heavy frost over the last two weeks.
It has very definitely cheered up my Monday.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Things Come In Threes

Winter may not be a time for active gardening, yet it's a good time to observe. Rather than the full-on effect of summer abundance, it can be the best time to notice the little things.

Three Today

1. On a micro-level, while photographing one of the few remaining rose blooms, my eye was drawn to a small slug sheltering between the petals. I did consider removing it,  but on reflection, I left it there.
2. The leaves of the columnar beech have all fallen. At a certain time of the day, the low sun glints through the boughs. It's time to appreciate the beauty even when the tree is bare.
3. The winter lettuce is thriving, despite some hard frost, and the first narcissus is in full bloom. That's crazy for the 2nd of December!

Narcissus Ziva (click for details)

Secret hideaway

However, There's A But

Interestingly, I find myself walking much more slowly. On the flip-side, this slow walking leads me to see small tasks that need attending to. Here's today's three:

  • thin the thriving winter lettuces
  • replace one cracked glasshouse pane
  • spray the window-box pansies for whitefly! I'd have thought that hard frost would have helped me out, but the buggers are still there

Task 1: Winter lettuce needs thinning
Task 2: replace the pane to stop draughts

Task 3: kill the critters the frost left behind!

I have resolved not to complete these tasks on the spot. Rather, they get added to my mental schedule for later in the day / week. Besides, my garden ramble is before breakfast, and the kettle usually is on the boil.

Happy gardening,

Monday, November 28, 2016

First Daffodil

I just had to record this! Can you believe it? First daffodil on November 28th. It's Narcissus Paperwhite Ziva

You can follow my garden updates on Twitter and Instagram @petalsbyparaig

Happy gardening,

Cheering Up My Monday #1

Pot Marigold: click for plant details

It's cold out there, but nonetheless, I hope you all have a wonderful gardening week,

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Christmas Rose

The Christmas Rose is blooming. It's an exciting time of the year! Helleborus 'Christmas Carol' is a clump-forming, semi-evergreen perennial with leathery, deeply lobed, dark green leaves and, from winter to early spring, upright stems bearing outward-facing, sometimes green-flushed, white flowers with green eyes and prominent yellow stamens.

Helleborus Christmas Carol (click for details)

The other plant that is usually associated with Christmas in many households is the very tasty Brussels Sprout. Mine will be ready soon. As recommended, I removed the tops just last week in order to divert the little remaining energy of decreasing sunlight to the ripening harvest.

Brassica gemmifera Roodnerf
I grew 10 plants back in May and thinned them out to the strongest three. Later, during mid-summer, I noticed that they were being attacked at night by the critters. Rather than try to win a midnight war, I played smart, by giving one of the plants to them and protecting the other two. I'm happy to say that it worked. I'd call it a win-win situation.
Recently, I wrote about my replica online garden. Therefore, in keeping with my decision to make online notes rather than notes all over the shed, here's the entry for Brassica gemmifera Roodnerf (aka Brussels Sprouts).

Chop off the heads for quicker ripening

Until next week, happy gardening!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I Found What I Was Looking For

When I was small, Shoot was a football magazine. Perhaps it still is, but I'm not!

Following a comment seen on my Facebook Garden Bloggers group, I investigated the online service SHOOT. Having registered for the free trial (a very tight 48-hour window) I discovered that it was something that would be very useful, and I paid the small subscription. Over the years, I've come across similar online sites, but none were what I wanted. I was so taken by this very professional service that I just wanted to tweet my thanks:

What is Shoot? 

"Forget rummaging through different reference books and notepads, with a My Garden Notebook you can keep all your gardening information in a single place."
Being an organised gardener (being an organised person) I created my garden, and over the course of a few weeks, I added most of my plants online. To say that it was time well spent is an understatement!

Why does it work for me?

  • It is my online garden journal
  • I can plan sections of the garden according to so many criteria
  • I have started my Plant Wish List, based on above
  • I keep track of everything (within reason)
  • I print off my plant list
  • I print off my monthly plant tasks that are automatically generated from my list
  • I get a Recommended Plant List based on my current list (great for companion planting)
  • I created an online autocad-like visual of my garden

Petals by Paraig back garden

What will it not do? 

Unfortunately, I still have to dig the vegetable patch in spring, together with all other tasks that involve actually going outside to the garden!

Of course, a service such as this will be a complete waste of (online) space if it does not serve a useful purpose, so do not be drawn in. It may not be for you. However, even if you do not subscribe to the garden journal service, the site is freely abailable as a search reference for over 22,000 plants. I think this section alone is on a par with the RHS website.

I still have a few notebooks hanging around. There's one in the shed, one in the glasshouse and one beside the laptop. I also scribble on the back of seed packets, and even put a few post-it notes where I cannot fail to notice them. But, the long and short of it is that Shoot will increasingly become my online garden. As we say in Ireland, "Míle buíochas dhaoibh!" Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Helleborus niger "Christmas Rose"

My garden blog post would not be complete without a photo or two to reflect either what's happening currently in the garden or even a throwback to the good summer. I have selected Helleborus niger "Christmas Carol", as it is just now coming into bloom at a time when very little else is. I bought it only last month, and it's a stunner! The entire helleborus family is known as "The Christmas Rose".

Helleborus niger Christmas Carol

To finish, here is my task list for November, week 1:

Time for me to stop writing, and get busy!

Happy gardening everyone.

Twitter and Instagram @petalsbyparaig 
Email: petalsbyparaig (at) gmail dot com

Bike blog: Burkes Biking 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Hotel For Insects

Today, I completed a small construction project idea that I read about online. The idea was to make some cozy winter hibernation places in various corners for ground insects.
Having completed the rainwater butt last week, I used a leftover section of guttering downpipe and cut it into five sections, each approximately 30cm long.

Next, using saved prunings from the two fuchsia bushes, I stuffed each with small twigs. Finally, I placed each one in a sheltered corner and covered them with leaves and old pieces of timber. The timber will keep the leaves in place.

Fuchsia twigs (blurred for effect)

So, let the winter cold and frost arrive. I'm sure many of the beneficial ground insects will discover these hotels very quickly. These  are waterproof  and warm. Each one has a front and rear entrance, great for chasing games. What more could they want? I'll be watching for comings and goings during the winter, and likely these garden creatures will be active much earlier next spring. There will also be lots of sex in these new modern accommodation blocks, and there will be a big increase in the population. 

Garden sex-shop
Summary of what is needed:
  • Rainwater downpipe
  • Hacksaw
  • Twigs 
  • Leaves
  • Old disused timbers
Time: approximately 15 minutes. The fuchsia cuttings had already been minced to size. 

Well-hidden, yet both openings accessible

Some beneficial insects include (taken from Wikipedia): 
  • Ground beetles
  • Lady beetles
  • Minute pirate bug
  • Earwig
  • Assassin bug
  • Damsel bug
  • Mealybug destroyer
  • Soldier beetle
  • Green lacewing
  • Syrphid fly
  • Tachinid fly
  • Ichneumon wasp
  • Trichogramma wasp
  • Spiders
Beneficial insects are so called because they usually eat the problematic ones. I do not know which of the above are in the garden, and which ones will take up lodging, but I'll keep a close watch. I'm told that planting  angelica, marigolds, coreopsis, dill, fennel, and yarrow will attract more of them. That's a follow-on project for next summer! The marigolds are there already.

Happy gardening,

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Geranium: An Excellent Garden Plant

I have bought geraniums most years, for as long as I can remember because they are one of my favourite flowering plants. I tried growing them from seed a few years ago, but they worked out quite expensive as packets usually contain only a small number of seeds. Additionally, the seed is classed as not easy yo germinate.

This year I bought three potted Geraniums, and they have provided very good colour from early June until now. I have moved them from their new large stone pot into the glasshouse in order to prolong flowering, and to protect them from the cold winter. I will watch out for any lingering whitefly or mould, and quickly nip it in the bud.

They are easy to grow, and easy to care for. Additionally, they are easy to propagate from stem cuttings. I checked for plant information on the RHS website, which is my online reference of choice, and here's what it has to say:

Family: Geraniaceae

Genus: Pelargonium can be perennials, sub-shrubs or shrubs, sometimes succulent and mostly evergreen, with palmately lobed or pinnately divided leaves and clusters of slightly irregular, 5-petalled flowers

Horticultural Group: Zonal pelargoniums are bushy evergreen perennials with fleshy stems, rounded, palmately lobed leaves often zoned with maroon, and single or double flowers in shades of purple, red, pink, orange and white, from early to late summer

Details'Cardinalis' is a bushy plant with rounded, faintly zoned leaves and long-stalked, large heads of single, vivid magenta-pink flowers 4.5cm across, veined with orange-red

How to grow

CultivationGrow in fertile well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. Remove spent flowers. To overwinter, grow small plants in late summer from cuttings or cut back old plants by one third and lift for storage in frost-free place to repot in spring when growth resumes

PropagationTake softwood cuttings in summer and overwinter plants in frost free conditions or take softwoodcuttings in spring

Suggested planting locations and garden typesFlower borders and beds City & Courtyard Gardens Coastal Cottage & Informal Garden Patio & Container Plants

How to care

Pruning / Deadhead regularly

Pests: Vine weevil, leafhoppers, caterpillars, thrips, fungus gnats and Aphids can be troublesome.Aphids are generally more problematic on over-wintered plants

Diseases: Foot and root rots can be a problem in wet soils. Grey moulds are often troublesome in wet conditions. A virus can often be a problem where cultivars are maintained by cuttings. Pelargonium rust can be damaging to zonal pelargoniums and associated hybrids.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The November Garden In Perspective: Crab Apple, Pinnochio and Dougal

Occasionally, I rise during the night for a very relieving natural break. It is a universal truth that we mortals have to pee, and gardeners are not exempt, but isn't it great that the body clock warns us (gardeners and non-gardeners alike) to wake in advance? Occasionally also, but not always to the point, we notice that the sky is completely clear, and the millions of stars are out to greet us on a true winter night that is crisp and cold.
In such circumstances a coffee is allowed. Alternatively, a cigarette may be one's choice of fix, all the while taking in the presented scene. Take some time, short or long, to stand and stare. Best spot for this exercise might be outside back door, just far enough away from house lights. Best apparel might be dressing gown, slippers and hat. Said hat could be conveniently placed for such impromptu opportunities. On occasion, deep thoughts can present themselves. This is natural, and we should not struggle to dismiss them. Savour the coffee and the moment.

Unplanned Eureka Moment 

Last night was one such night. At 1am, there was a clear sky, filled only with well-focused stars and dark spaces. As I looked down the garden and upwards, my eureka moment duly arrived. Immediately, I went in for more coffee (no point in going back to bed, because the moment needs writing!)

That's a lot of writing just as an introduction to this evening's gardening article. My preference is for a shorter post. I like my blog and others too, especially when the content is brief. Anything longer than a short story sees me skimming for the main points. It's also a lot of writing without a picture to draw the eye, in a way that a thousand words never will, so here's a night crab-apple shot in the moment. Petals by Páraig tip #1 for November nights: when the phone is still upstairs by the bed, have the real camera handy for crab-apple shots.

Crab-apple tree

Crab-apple 1cm: also available on far-away gardens, methinks

The Father Ted Effect

My suburban garden comprises smaller plants, in the main. There are taller shrubs and two trees, together with larger structures to provide perspective.

Sweet Pea 5cm: reproducing prior to death

In the larger scheme of things, I am somewhat bigger than most of my plants, yet much smaller than the columnar beech. I am, however, older and wiser. Yet, as I gaze upwards, with my coffee and cigarette in hand, coffee right, cigarette left, (but that's not important now), Mister Eureka makes me think of far-away gardens on planets circling far-away stars, and in the interest of balance, a particular scene from the TV series Father Ted brought me frantically back to earth. Ted is demonstrating some plastic toy cows to Dougal.

OK, one last time. These are small.... but the ones out there are far away. Small... far away.

There you have it! My little garden with the large crab-apple tree becomes rather small when taken in context. Very small compared to, let's say, Hyde Park, London; smaller still in relation to Central Park, New York, but insignificantly small when viewed alongside Mr Donald Trump's enormous nose. It's the Pinocchio effect, for the upcoming US presidential election.

20cm Alyssum Golden Ball Our little earth is merely a small ball

The Universe

It is further significantly smaller when looking to the night sky. Here's a little clip to summarise the place of my garden (sometimes lovingly referred to my be as my universe):

Futurism: Scale of the Universe Please be patient, as it can take up to 15 seconds to load the universe on PC. Run the flash animation, but not sure if these will work on phones? Phones are just too small to run something this big, perhaps. Feedback very welcome, especially if it DOES, in fact, run on your phone.

Here's a second one, equally enormous. Scale of the Universe #2

12 minor thoughts along the way:

  • If I were a plant, this clear sky would be an all-night affair
  • The Raffesia flower is the largest on earth, blooming to a diameter of approx. 1 metre (3 feet). It features in the first animation above, but not in Ireland
  • The following are in my garden, in diminishing size order: earthworms, ants, clay particles, hydrogen atoms (lots of these present), chlorine nuclei and high energy neutrinos. The latter is probably unproven, yet I'm going with it. These may even combine to form other interesting stuff.
30cm Calendula, commonly known as Pot Marigold.

  • I'm certain there's a garden like mine far far away out there
  • I'm wondering are there garden bloggers out there, sharing eureka thoughts on some universal social media? I'd love to make the connection, to share my crab-apple!
  • Garden plants and star names are normally in latin, and some share a common name eg Venus, cosmos, aquilegia (Lady's Finger)
  • By now, a second coffee might go down well

About my size: Acer palmatum

  • Father Ted is an Irish TV sitcom, produced by British independent production company Hat Trick Productions. The Irish do comedy, but it takes the renowned British to produce it!
  • November 2nd is known as all Souls' Day. I'm not religious, but I do believe in an after-life
  • My brother, Gary, is somewhere out there, and also very close to my earth garden
  • Is there an after-life for plants? Of course there is, in an altered state.  My deceased dahlia from 2012 is now changed to living soil
  • Burning the midnight oil, stargazing and blogging is best when retired and not concerned with the world of early morning work
Larger than me: Callicarpa bodineiri "Beauty Berry"

I really should have known that a post along these lines was on the horizon. I had been night cycling with friends, and we were all in agreement that:

  • it was a cold clear cloudless night
  • there were lots of very well-focused stars and things even at 8pm
  • night cycling is a terrific buzz, but that's not important now

I have included a satellite observation report of the route on my cycling blog. Interested gardeners who cycle will notice that it is very dark. The voice recorder data on the black box is turned off for privacy reasons. Also turned off is the weather data, so you'll have to take my word for it that it was indeed quite cold. 


  1. As an experiment in perspective, the six plants photographed are in increasing size order. 
  2. Raffesia website. This will blow your mind. Considered one of the rarest in the world not only for its gigantic petals but also for the putrid smell it emits to attract pollinators and prey, the genus rafflesia is endemic in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
  3. Hyde Park covers 142 hectares (350 acres) and Kensington Gardens covers 111 hectares (275 acres), giving a total area of 253 hectares (625 acres), making their combined area larger than the Principality of Monaco (196 hectares or 480 acres), though smaller than the Bois de Boulogne in Paris (845 hectares, or 2090 acres).
  4. Central Park is an urban park in middle-upper Manhattan, within New York City. Central Park is the most visited urban park in the United States, with 40 million visitors in 2013. It is also one of the most filmed locations in the world. The Park was established in 1857 on 778 acres (315 ha) of city-owned land
  5. In Lutheran Europe, the practice of "souling" is interesting. Bread cakes are baked for children who walk from door to door begging for alms or “soul-cakes”. For consumerist Europe, substitute sweets, and disregard the connection to honouring the dead.
  6. It was probably inspiration from the more “folksy” traditions among the Irish and Scottish immigrants to the USA, which generated the commercial Halloween which has been taken up so enthusiastically only recently by Europeans.

copyright Terry Gilliam
President of something bigger than himself? The universe should be worried.

Happy November gardening, wherever you are, no matter how large or small your universe,


“I am intrigued by writers who garden and gardeners who write. The pen and the trowel are not interchangeable, but seem often linked.” ― Marta McDowell (and adopted for Petals by Paraig).

Sunday, October 23, 2016

100 Words Challenge #1

Could I impart even a very small amount of my enthusiasm for gardening in 100 words? (20 used thus far).

World Mental Health day was on October 10th. Can gardening help with mental health? I say a resounding YES. Here's my top 3 thoughts:
  • A good garden MAY have some weeds. Akin to ill-health, weeds remind me of life's struggles. The trick is to ensure that the flowers dominate.
  • I frequently see one small job that needs doing, but after an hour of pottering about I have lost myself in harmony with the earth
  • Gardening is my therapy of choice

End of 100-word challenge #1.

Happy gardening, wherever you are, no matter how large or small your plot.

“I am intrigued by writers who garden and gardeners who write. The pen and the trowel are not interchangeable, but seem often linked.” ― Marta McDowell (and adopted by Petals by Paraig).

Monday, October 17, 2016

My Spanish Garden

I was away last week in Mallorca, and for that time the hotel grounds became my garden. There was no work involved, no weeding, planting, pruning or propagating. I simply spent a little while noticing little things.
Here are some of the beautiful plants at Hotel Playa Mar in Formentor near the north westerly tip of the island.

Lady in white

I nearly got myself into a spot of bother with this lovely shot, because just as I was taking it, I noticed a lady in the background staring at the camera! I'm sure she thought I was a bit dodgy.

I'll be looking forward to getting back to my garden patch for some serious autumn tidying. update coming soon.

Finally, i'm thinking it might be nice to include a quote about gardens & gardening.

“Sometimes since I've been in the garden I've looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast. Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden - in all the places.” ― Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden

And finally, I've selected the following as my "tagline". It will appear at the end of each post, until such time as I want to change it:

“I am intrigued by writers who garden and gardeners who write. The pen and the trowel are not interchangeable, but seem often linked.” ― Marta McDowell


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Could You Pull A Few Weeds While You're Here?

A recent conversation with my mam seemed to pose a dilemma. We were looking through the vegetable beds, eyeing the leeks and broccoli.
"Is that a weed?", she asked, pointing to what very definitely was a weed.
"I'm not sure", I replied, knowing full well that it very definitely was a weed.
"I think it is", said mam, as she plucked it out and dumped it into a bucket.

My view is if you like it, then it's not a weed. There are some that I definitely do not like. Some have a very long taproot and are difficult to remove. Some are very invasive, and can root themselves as they spread along the soil. But many "weeds" are not really all that harmful. Yes, they deprive other plants of some nutrients, but in the larger scheme of things they are not bad. If I notice them growing very close to my vegetable rows, I put them in the bucket, and anything clearly between rows can be managed with a small hand hoe. Simply by keeping the soil loose means that the weeds do not thrive.

If growing between annual flowers, the flowers usually win. Anything foreign in there is generally an annual weed, and some occasional weeding is sufficient.

My Goodreads website provides a wealth of quotes on the subject, and I include some of my favourites here.
  • When life is not coming up roses, look to the weeds and find the beauty hidden within them.”  ― L.F.Young
  • I have come to believe that there is more grace in becoming wheat than there is in pulling weeds.”  ― Michael FlynnEifelheim
  • “I've never written a quote I feel would be suitable for my gravestone. Wouldn't it be ironic if it were this one? Oh, and could you pull a few weeds while you're here?” ― Ryan LillyWrite like no one is reading
  • “When weeds go to heaven, I suppose they will be flowers.”  ― L.M. MontgomeryThe Story Girl

Many plants that would not be tolerated in respectable gardens are used for medicinal purposes. In older times and up to very recently, people who lived on the land had a very balanced view of things. Yes, certain plants reduced crop yields, but many unfavoured plants were known to be beneficial to humans and animals in certain circumstances. Here are some examples:

  • Dandelion: leaves can be eaten in salads, and root is used for liver detox medicines
  • Chickweed: great for skin irritation probems
  • Nettles: literally dozens of medicinal uses.
  • There are many many more. Wikipedia article about beneficial weeds (Note, that they are still called weeds, though!)

When the topic of weeds is discussed, there is a very strong analogy between good / bad, and even in human terms there is evidence that any person with undesirable characteristics is to be avoided, shunned, marginalised or even eliminated like a weed. In contrast, the wisdom of the ancient Indian tribes brings to mind that "mother earth" is all-embracing. I am happy to appreciate all that mother earth has provided in my garden. All plants and insects interact to make nature's magic. I do, however, reserve the right to tip some into the bucket when it serves the greater good.

In many respects, gardeners want to create an ideal replica of their view of the world. Generally speaking, cultivated plants are preferred to plants that thrive "in the wild". Hence, they try to eliminate anything they feel does not fit in. We are merely keepers of this earth, however, just passing through for a short while. Any garden that is left uncultivated for a number of years will revert to a natural state. Dominant plants (weeds?) will smother and kill cultivated weaker ones.

Successful gardeners are seen as those who have been able to change the natural state to an entirely artificial cultivated one, yet the gardener who can work with nature and bend it to his ways will appreciate both better.
What is the natural reaction of most people to the picture below?

Wicklow, Ireland
Likely, one of appreciation of natural beauty.

If it happened to be your garden, would you appreciate it for what it is, or would you carefully attempt to "weed out" the unwanted bits in favour of your version of an ideal world?

Happy gardening,