Sunday, 7 June 2015

Rattle and Hum

Yellow Rattle (c.OOS)

After an absence of a few years, it was back to Kilmacurragh Arboretum, Kilbride, County Wiclow, an OPW property and a local gem, now, deservedly attracting and catering for many more visitors.

The plant list is quite impressive, with specimen Rhodos and much more besides. Many of the grassy, lawn areas have been converted into meadows which are predominately yellow at the moment with flowering buttercups, though in another few weeks the colour palette will broaden. However,  I did get a timely reminder on how to handle our own 1/2 acre of long, uncut grass. 

 The problem with meadows is that you are storing up a gigantic clean up operation at seasons end, with a hay crop to be mown, stacked and broken down and more often than not, some fairly plain vigorous grasses takeover  and reduce the spectacle to pretty much an over grown mess!  The meadows at Kilmacurragh are liberally sprinkled with Yellow Rattle: a hemi parasitic plant species that competes alongside the more vigorous grasses by attacking their lines of nourishment, below the soil surface.  That means an open meadow, less tall grasses, with an easier clean up in autumn and Yellow Rattle is easy enough on the eye too.. Seed should be dipersed on the autumn meadow after cutting, it takes care of itself thereafter.

The Yeats Garden at Bloom (c.OOS)
The focus was very much on plants over the last week or so: not surprising with the Bloom Show dominating our work schedules. It was nice to squeeze in a rest day in the Phoenix Park too, a chance to look at the show gardens and sample the foodie end of things.  

I enjoyed the more natural, wilder gardens, especially the Yeats Garden which was a gold medal winner.

The Meadow Look at Bloom (c.OOS)
How good it was to recognise show plants that grow locally in the hedgerows: Cow Parsley and FoxGloves in more than one garden and Birch trees providing tree cover.

Back at home, I am delighted by the blast of colour from the Columbines or Aquilegea, an easy come-easy go colonist that attracts bees to its bell like flower heads, a nice plant that is happy enough to extend its flower heads through the existing mat of perennials.. after the early May blast of colour, there can be a gap that this plant fills so admirably.

Bees make their way to the free flowering Aquilegea (c.OOS)