Diary of the Plague Year: Day 46 30 April 2020: Pollarding

Blessed, blessed rain. It rained all night and this morning the garden was shining and varnished with wet. I had started to tackle the far corner – it has been a mess ever since a huge tree fell during Ophelia and the stump was overgrown with a plethora of crazy branches all growing inwards and crossing. So I decided a bit of amateur pollarding was in order. There was a pile of rotten wood in the corner by the wall so I just added any other bits I found and chopped up the cut branches too. Apparently bees and other insects love it. I also trimmed two hawthorns that were horribly ingrown – I could almost feel the relief. There are some fallen slates by the wall which look as if they could provide habitats so left them where they fell.

I have also given myself some DIY pollarding – the dreaded lockdown haircut. I have lopped about six inches off and had to stop as it kept getting shorter and shorter as I tried to even it up. I find that my nails need to be kept very short too for gardening and all the scrubbing and washing of hands generally.

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 41 25 April 2020: The mowing is finally finshed!


A cool, grey day after yesterday’s heat.  The front meadow around the fruit trees has now all been mown and the tough, dead, matted grass taken off. I am using the grass clippings as mulch around the trees. I read up a bit about this.  Apparently, this is a good thing if the grass has not been treated with any chemicals e.g. weedkiller. If treated grass is used it can also kill the trees. I can safely say no weedkiller has touched this garden for at least the time I have been here, two and a half years.

Lawn seed has been scattered along the paths and around the trees and now I just have to wait.  I have found that the best tack is just to ignore parts of the garden once the heavy work is done and then come back to it later. Last year it was just a patch of ground with fruit trees but now there is more coherence and creating the winding paths felt like drawing with a lawn mower.  I have a lot to do with very little at my disposal these days so simple sculptural solutions work best. This series of photographs is really for comparison for when the meadow gets going.

I have been reviving the fuschia hedges around the perimeter by cutting them right down and removing the ivy and undergrowth which has worked very well. However, I will be leaving most of the hedges round the orchard wild, they are full of ivy, brambles and wild flowers and it seems a shame to destroy what seems to already be a complex habitat. I have just cut back a few of the encroaching brambles and trimmed the top of the hedge. The bluebells are out and I have noticed that the garden is already buzzing with insects and butterflies.



The libertaria is doing very well in its pot.

The weather is on the turn and we are apparently in for some rain. Again.




Diary of the Plague Year: Day 32 16 April 2020: Wildflower seeds arrive!


Great excitement! The wildflower seeds have arrived. They are produced by DESIGN BY NATURE in Carlow, are EU Conservation standard and are an Native Irish Conservation Grade seed mix.  Germination takes three to six weeks.  I have sown them and am now going out to lightly rake over them. I had previously mowed the area to within an inch of it’s life. You are supposed to kill anything off with weedkiller first but I was never going to that. For one thing there are a lot of flowers that come up naturally I did not want to destroy.

We are due some rain in the next couple of days so that’s good.

This is the list of species which should come up (most of which I have never even heard of to be honest) and are all native to Ireland.

Birdsfoot Trefoil
Black Medick
Burnet Saxifrage
Corn Marigold
Corn Poppy
Field Cranesbill
Field Scabious
Kidney Vetch
Lady’s Bedstraw
Lesser Knapweed
Scented Mayweed
Ox-eye Daisy
Red Campion
Red Clover
Ribwort Plantain
Rough Hawksbit
St. Johnswort
White Campion
Wild Carrot
Yellow Rattle.