The Amazing Sunflower.

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. 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!

tuckedawaycottage

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.  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!

 

 

Orchid Lover.

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I Love Orchids and here are my top tips for keeping these oriental plants in pristine condition. This is my repotted version above. I had numerous plants that just didn’t look great when on their own as they bloomed at different times of the year, and then looked a bit stalky for the rest of the time. So what I did was bought a bag of orchid compost, found a really nice bowl shaped pot and replanted them. It worked a treat and my orchids have loved the company!! Now if you think that they look a bit stalky from the picture, I will tell you that these stalks have lots of buds just waiting to be born! And there was an accident that involved a really heavily blooming stalk and an elbow, lets just say the duct tape surgery didn’t work.

So my top tips are:

  1. Feed your orchids during their blooming time of year, I personally buy the Baby Bio brand but any brand will do.
  2. Find the perfect spot and they will thrive. These plants are from oriental climates and love heat and humidity but never direct sunlight. They would have lived under tree canopies and in around rocks and ferns.
  3. Moisture is a real no no for the Orchid. If you over water and leave them sitting in a pool then they will die. In their natural habitat they clung in and around rocks and soil. The water would have naturally drained away through the rocks so they just don’t cope well with a swamp!
  4. They do like company so if you have a few group them together or repot them like I did above.
  5. Give their leaves a bit of a dust every once and a while – its like orchid grooming, showing them you care!!
  6. Enjoy your beautiful, regal and amazing plant.

Saving urban tree’s from strangulation!

tree ties

I have a huge problem and I need all of my green following friends to help me save urban tree’s from silent strangulation. When a young tree is planted – mostly by local county councils, government agencies, landscapers in estate common ground etc. – they are tied to posts using a rubber tree tie. The problem is – nobody comes back to loosen these tree ties and the tree effectively grows around this tie, consuming the rubber band and deforming the trunk!! It is a very sad sight to see.

You can help save these tree’s by just acting. Simple as it may seem but just loosen the tie or if the tree is no longer at the mercy of the wind and is well established then the tie can be cut off and even recycled…If everyone looks out for these tree’s they will not be subjected to this needless occurrence.

You can always wear your green cape and goggles – you might just be a green super hero for a day 🙂

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.  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.

 

The Mighty Wheatgrass….Popeye stuff!

Popeye1

Ever wonder about Wheatgrass, what is was and what it can do for you…well wonder no more, I will let you in on everything you need to know about WHEATGRASS!

It is grown from the common wheat plant, more specifically the cotyledons of the common wheat plant. The cotyledons are a significant part of the embryo within the seeds of the plant.

The health benefits of wheatgrass has been highlighted more recently because of our ever increasing desire to become healthy with a very convenient quick fix shot, like that of wheatgrass and also the rise of juice bars! Wheatgrass is juiced fresh or you can purchase tablet form. The fresh pressed juice is the more desirable form.

It provides chlorophyllamino acidsmineralsvitamins, and enzymes.

Chlorophyll: If you want more energy, supplement with chlorophyll! As Dr Janet Star Hull always says: ‘what works in nature, surely works in man’.

Amino Acids:  builds and repair cells and tissue, carry oxygen and are part of the enzyme system. There are also many other body functions they perform, including regulating every biochemical reaction.

In the 1930’s  Charles F. Schnabel began experimenting with wheatgrass in the hopes of increasing its popularity. He carried out experiments on hens that were dying and his results were startling. Not only did the hen’s recover but their egg production and quality became superior to those other hens not included in the experiment.

There are ranging health benefits to wheatgrass that range from detoxification, aids digestion and blood flow and also has been trailed as a placebo in breast cancer research. All I know is from researching this little green plant it seems to have a lot of bang for its buck!!

My local vendor of Wheatgrass is The Happy Pear in Greystones – they have an online store and sell a really affordable wheatgrass juicer for €35. Check it out here 

I am sure your local health food store will be able to assist your every wheatgrass need if you go in and ask for a little. Wheatgrass gives you strength is the new buzz word, never mind the Guinness!!