The Boxing Baroness Courtesy of the British Museum
“The Barrymores, you know, really cannot be held accountable for their odd manners” … and the worst offenders were the Earls of Barrymore who partied their way through their fortunes in Regency Continue reading →
The common name for this beautiful maple is apt. Acer rubrum is one of the most widespread trees in eastern North America but this particular young specimen, planted in 2011, is growing at the entrance to FOTA House. It’s living up to its name “October Glory” and stands out among the other trees there, showing off at this time of year.
How can we attract more birds into our gardens? One way to do this is to put up bird boxes. The kinds of birds you attract will depend on the size of the box and the aperture in the front of it. Smaller birds, such as blue tits, coal tits and great tits are frequent tenants. For them the entrance hole at the front should be small. But larger boxes can attract sparrows or starlings. Boxes with open fronts will attract robins, wrens, wagtails and even spotted flycatchers.
October is national Reuse Month. The Southern Waste Region, through Cork County Council, along with Fota House, sponsored a bird-box making workshop in the Frameyard on Saturday, 22nd. In the spirit of recycling, we used wood from the old library at Fota House and gathered in the sun-filled greenhouse, under the guidance of Gerry Kelly, to put the boxes together.
What joy to find myself in the beautiful FOTA Frameyard on Saturday 3rd October. I was attracted to attend this programme for educators on planting native Irish Tree seed boxes because of my general interest in the environment. However nothing prepared me for Ecologist Tom O’Byrne’s inspirational talk on the native Irish Oak.
Our beautiful Ginkgo Biloba trees grow side by side in the centre of the Frameyard like a pair of Chinese vases.
At this time of year the fan-shaped leaves are turning a mellow shade of yellow. How can we not admire these trees? They survived the dropping of an atomic bomb in Hiroshima where almost all other plants were destroyed, they’ve outlived dinosaurs, they produce nutrients which are used in health supplements and they link us philosophically and botanically to both the past and the future.
We have many reasons to love our Ginkgo trees in the Frameyard. They stand elegantly tall in our walled space, provide us with beautiful colour and just last week our gardener Bernard remarked how they provide much-needed shade for our seedlings in Glasshouse No. 4.
On first glance you might be forgiven for thinking this plant is a weed, especially withoutits flower, as it does resemble a thistle. But this plant has so much more to offer and has an intriguing story.
Morina longifolia (Himalayan whorlflower) is quite the elegant plant and comes from the Himalayas. It originates from an altitude of about 3000m in an area from Kashmir to Bhutan. The genus Morina is named in honour of a French nurseryman, René Morin who issued the first printed French plant catalogue in 1621.
“I talk to the trees, but they don’t listen to me”, Clint Eastwood sang in the 1969 film Paint Your Wagon”. Maybe now we know why! It’s because they were too busy talking to one another. According to German forester, Peter Wohlleben, trees communicate with one another. He describes the “woodwide web” of underground arboreal communications in his book “The Hidden Life of Trees”.
“Trees are able to decide, have memories and even different characters. There are perhaps nicer guys and bad guys”.
Mr Wohlleben believes that trees have distinct characteristics. For example, Willows and Poplars are loners, while Beech trees can be aggressive towards other species.
Many people find autumn a melancholy time. Maybe it’s the post-summer blues (or reds and browns). We talk about the days shortening or the evenings closing-in. The Autumn Equinox happens when the length of day and night are roughly equal, usually around the 23rd of September. But it’s a bountiful and fertile time for nature. This late burst of production brings us a multitude of fruits, nuts and seeds.
In the Frameyard, in Pithouse Number 3, the tomatoes are ripening.
Among the varieties there are Sungold and Sweet Apperitivo, cherry tomatoes that can be eaten like sweets off the vine. Standing beside these vines, the wonderful earthy, tobacco smell fills the warm air.
Some say that this smell is a natural deterrent against insects or pests. (It’s suggested that one could pick the foliage, soak it in hot water and use it as a spray). According to the University of California, glandular trichomes are responsible for secreting a yellow substance that gives off that characteristic “tomato plant” smell (see explanation below). Whatever the scientific explanation is, some gardeners love it, some hate it. But the fruit is universally enjoyed nowadays, unlike the first reaction to tomatoes in medieval times.