The Amazing Sunflower.


I love Sunflowers they are the skyscrapers of the flower world, sunny by name and sunny by nature. They are bee loving plants and my lord have they some history and science behind them! These facts might help you out some time, somewhere and you might least expect it…

  • They were brought to Europe in the 16th century, and are native to S.America and Mexico.
  • They are the most economically important plants – Oil, animal feed, paper, latex – yes sunflowers produce latex!
  • The pattern of the sunflower’s florets (the circle containing small flowers crowned together) actually have a mathematical model, expressed in polar coordinates. This model was devised by H.Vogel in 1979.
  • There is a sun flower with the name ‘Irish Eyes’
  • In 2009, the tallest Sunflower stood at 8m in Germany and was recorded in the Guinness book of records.
  • The most astounding fact I discovered about Sunflowers was they are used for Phytoremediation to extract toxic ingredients from soils. Such as lead, arsenic and uranium.
  • And they were used to remove caesium-137 and strontium-90 from a nearby pond after the Chernobyl disaster and a similar campaign was mounted in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Amazing facts for an amazing plant.ย I love to teach children about nature, and for me Sunflowers are the best plants for showing children how versatile nature is. They also show children how plants grow and can introduce them to gardening in a fun way. You can also explain about bees and honey as the sunflower will attract bees from miles away.

I had a sunflower plant in my garden this year, I saved the heads and dried them out to preserve the seed. This will give me a free crop of sunflowers for next year saving me a few bob and giving satisfaction – once they grow!

Find out more about the Sunflower Here.

Gardening Tips that I have picked up along the way!


I am still getting into the groove in my garden and have yet to start my vegetable garden, but over the last year here are a few tips that I have learned and really work!

“Don’t be afraid of moving plants around, if they don’t work, or if you don’t like them in a certain spot – move it! Most of my plants think they have wheels…” – Hillary from Tucked Away House, Grassington in Yorkshire Dales. Hillary really had a fab English country garden, see picture above. She gave great advice and really got me interested in raised beds and different bee friendly plants.

“Your garden should have different, interesting places to relax and unwind” – I cannot remember the website that I read this from, but it really helped when we were designing our garden. We wanted to maximize the sun that arrived in a few spots from morning to evening, front and back of our house. So we created paved and stoned areas so we can put up a small two-seater table for breakfast time sun, a bench for relaxing in the mid day sun and a dinning table and chairs for dinner time.

“Things want to grow” and “I kept an eye out and learned through trial and error.” – Joanna Madden, Lady of the Manor at Hilton Park, Clones, Co Monaghan. Taken from an interview in IMAGE magazine’s September 2013 issue page 169. ย What good advice, things do want to grow and all you have to do is keep an eye out!

Happy gardening, I hope you all get those green fingers dirty!



Lavender Bounty…turned into Lavender Bags!

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It is that time of year when you can really enjoy the fruits of your garden. All the hard work id paying off, well I hope!

One plant that I wouldn’t be without in my garden is Lavender! I love everything about it. It’s smell is relaxing and uplifting. It’s colour is beautiful and in a garden it is one of those bee loving plants – win win all round. I have a lavender and rosemary border and it is one of my favourite areas in my garden.

If you do have lavender it is time to cut it back and dry it out.ย I plan on making some cute lavender bags and giving them as gifts. One of my favourite books that contains so many fab sewing projects is ‘Sew’ by Cath Kidston.

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Sewing is a skill that comes in handy time and time again and I would urge those of you with young children to get them interested from a young age, you never know where it could lead them!

The Lavender Bag project can be found on page 64/65 of Cath Kidston’s ‘Sew’ – I would really recommend this book for all sewing abilities. I have put in a picture of the instructions for any of you who can make it out – give it a go ๐Ÿ™‚

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Dermot O’Neill’s Secret Garden

I have always been interested in gardening. As a teenager I grew shallots, lettuce and drank Nettle tea. As a child, I was responsible for the family hens and family pets. It was an area I knew I would eventually have a very fruitful relationship – pardon the pun!

My husband and I bought our first family home one year ago this month. The gardens were as unkept as the house! BUT, we saw the potential in both areas and when we bought it we really knew it would turn out just as we visualised. Well, we are a year in and we have really worked hard and learnt so much and yes, finally things are starting to take shape. My husband took some Youtube tutorials and created an amazing patio and raised bed in the front – YouTube is full of amazing tutorials, don’t be afraid to get DIY’ing.

One person I have to thank for getting my gardens up and running is Dermot O’Neill. Dermot’s ย TV show – My Secret Garden. The show is easy to watch, very informative and the amount of tips you pick up are great… I am even planning on getting some Hen’s from the rescue centre in Wexford for Christmas!!

Gardening is hard work but so rewarding and once you strip your garden back and sculpt it into your personal space you can sit back and enjoy it ๐Ÿ™‚

Watch on RTE’s Realtime Player HERE

And you can also purchase Dermot’s Book – My Secret Garden – putting it on my Christmas wish list (a little early I know, but never too early for a hint hint!!)

Fun Questions to ask your child about Nature & Where things come from!

photo-4This one always amuses me no end. I have a three year old daughter and she is the first person to get interrogated about new ideas for books and just general how much children understand about the earth and nature and where do things come from.

So these are the questions Eabha got asked today, she is 3 and these are her answers:

Q. Where do carrots come from?

A. From Rabbits, No Farmers but I’m not a farmer I am a girl!

Q. How do clouds move?

A. ย When the rain comes out they move up in the sky. They are blue, no pink because that’s my favourite colour.

Q. Why do apples have seeds in them?

A. Because apples grow on tree’s and the seeds don’t go in your belly because then you will be sick. And the seeds will grow in your belly.

Try this out, sometimes the answers are pretty funny.