The art of the garden

The art of the garden

This delicate watercolour of the geranium Henry Joignot was painted by one of our Frameyard volunteers, Vivienne Johansson. Vivienne is a talented botanical artist and a Friend of the Society of Botanical Artists, London. She is also a keen gardener and her art work has allowed her to combine both passions with beautiful results. She “looks at flowers with a view to painting them”.

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From Free Soil to Warm Earth – New York to Cork

From Free Soil to Warm Earth – New York to Cork

It’s election time in the USA and while a  battle rages between the Democratic and Republican Parties our thoughts turn to things American. Perhaps this is a good time to look at the connection between a big house in County Cork and a big house in Geneseo, New York.

We can begin this story in another big house in London, where James Samuel Wadsworth and Mary Craig Wharton went on honeymoon in May, 1834.

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“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”

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.

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Clint Eastwood and the Talking Trees

Clint Eastwood and the Talking Trees

“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.

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You say to-may-toh…                                   I say poisonous mandrake!

You say to-may-toh… I say poisonous mandrake!

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.

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