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Margaret's Blog









This is just a low fat, healthier version of regular coleslaw with all the taste and flavour of it's full fat relation! 




  • 1/2 small coleslaw cabbage

  • 2 carrots, coarsley grated

  • 6 spring onions, chopped

  • 2tsp rapeseed oil

  • 2tsp white wine vinegar

  • 2tsp wholegrain mustard

  • 2 tsp natural yogurt

  • 2 tbsp low fat creme fraiche

  • 2tbsp orange juice

  • salt & pepper





  1. Finely shred or chop the cabbage and mix together with the grated carrot and chopped spring onions
  2. Mix the remainder of the ingredients together and add to the cabbage mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.



The Garden Mum – Chrysanthemum!

This 'garden mum' is as tough as any mum out there and rises to the challenge made by our weather. Chrysanthemums survived the last two arctic winters very well. These Yoder Garden Mums are considered the most hardy and long-flowering of all of the garden mums. They offer superb autumn colour each year and stay a perfect ball shape that will enhance your garden and add that little touch of autumn elegance!

Garden Mums can be grown in containers and pots, as well as in the ground. I really recommend that you try these – I guarantee you will absolutely adore them just as much as I do!



'Hollywood' Comes to Your Garden!


Heuchera 'Hollywood' This hybrid Coral Bells selection has outstanding foliage as well as showy flowers. The scalloped leaves are silvery with a patterning of darker veins, remaining evergreen. Chubby spikes of bright coral-red blooms appear in late spring and continue for the entire summer. Trim off any tired old leaves in early spring. Best blooming will occur with at least morning sun. Flowers are attractive to hummingbirds. Excellent for cutting.


The most important thing with Heuchera is to plant them in stoney soil to allow for good drainage. Heucheras look really nice in pots and containers and will help attract a variety of birds and butterflies to your garden.



With new introductions of miniature and columnar trees, it's easy to grow apples, even in the smallest of gardens. These can even be grown in pots!


Where to plant your apple tree:

A nice cosy position, away from that biting cold easterly or north-easterly wind. A sunny position would be great, but preferably not early morning sun, as this may scorch spring flowers after a frost. The easiest way to choose a position for your fruit trees is on a windy day. Walk around your garden and where you feel coziest will be the best place to plant your potential food supply for the next 20 years or so!


Growing in a Container or Pot:

Of course, choosing the correct pot is a key factor in the success of your apples. From my experience, square pots are best as they are very sturdy on the ground and tend to resist toppling over better than round base pots in high winds.


The Birds and the Bees – Pollination of Your Apple Trees

There is often confusion about planting apple trees. How many do I plant? How do I get them to pollinate? How do I get some apples on those trees? A lot of questions, but in reality, it's not all that complex. Basically you buy apple trees that will flower at the same time, thus attracting bees and, hey presto! Your pollination is done for you! Now, of course, to make the bees come in the first place is another job – they simply won't come unless you have an inviting abundance of flowers for them to choose from.

Underplant your apple trees with things like heathers and primroses, which should flower at the same time as your apple trees blossom. A sunny position will be help as well, so choose a nice, cosy, warm spot away from cold easterly and north-easterly winds. A position that does't get early morning sun will help as well, because your apple blossoms will get scorched after a nights front if exposed to early morning sun.


Family Apple Trees: Where space is limited, a family apple tree is ideal!

The fact that two varieties are on the one tree will solve pollination and will save on space (as well as looking really cool!) Imagine having the choice of red or green apple on the same tree.

There is also a dwarf tree that is self-pollinating, which means you only need one tree in your garden different from the family trees, on which you will have a choice of apples!

kaffir lily_schizostylis_coccinea



October is a month festooned by spiders' webs and in this mellowest time of year the garden can seem suspended between the seasons. A typical day can start as winter, proceed to a summer's afternoon before slipping into a cool autumn evening. These conditions suit Schizostylis coccinea'Major' beautifully. The copper red flowers start the day weighed down by dewdrops before opening to face the midday sun.

By evening the flowers close and nod again like a ballerina taking an encore. This sequence is repeated over several weeks. These South African flowers, members of the Iris family, are commonly known as Kaffir lilies. They grow naturally in wetter parts on the eastern side of the Cape, in stream beds and cliff edges, where summers are warm and wet and winters cold and dry. They also seem to love our Irish climate too, as they need moisture to flower well. They are the best in a mixed border. I find they are wonderful with hydrangeas, ferns and autumn crocus. The pink varieties are great planted with Agapanthus. With this combination you will have colour from mid-summer through the winter.


In South Africa, schizostylis keeps its linear grass-green leaves throughout the year. But in most gardens, schizostylis dies back and then reappears in late spring, so marking its position is a good idea. It is very hardy and has withstood even the worst of winters!


Schizostylis is slow growing and takes many years to produce lots of flower spikes. But it's worth the wait. Once established, each stem will produce between six and 12 flowers or more.

There are many forms of Schizostylis coccinea. The copper-red 'Major' is the most readily available and a very good performer. There is a pure white form, 'Alba', which has narrower petals and seems to flower later for me. The two best varieties are Pink Princess and Finland Daybreak.




Kids just want to have fun in the garden. They want to get their hands dirty - they have the instinct to know this will make them feel good, and it does! When we are in direct contact with the earth, soil or mud, a natural chemical is released in our bodies - this is commonly known as 'the happy chemical'. It makes us feel good it is a natural anti-depressant.

Children from an early age want to be outside climbing trees, exploring in rock pools, kicking up leaves and jumping into water puddles. They love it, but usually parents or guardians interfere and stop their children from all these activities. Yet at the same time they don't mind their kids looking at the television for long periods because it's a great way to keep them quiet! Essentially, what this means is they don't function, don't ask questions and don't get any exercise, but it's great to keep them quiet, as is the Nintendo and Playstation etc.


How many of us have a garden that encourages kids to be creative, use their imagination and have fun exploring? How many parents have given their children the chance to experience growing and eating their homegrown food? Do many children know anything other than over processed food? Are we content to allow this to continue?


May I ask you to do one thing? Go out and buy a head of lettuce from a supermarket. Now at the same time go to your nearest allotment and ask some-one for a head of home grown lettuce. Take both home and see which lasts longer, the home grown lettuce will be fresh for one day, the supermarket one can last for 2 weeks - is this natural? It has been laced with sprays to keep it fresh. Are you happy digesting all these chemicals? Well, we must be because we all buy from these supermarkets. We must ask ourselves, is it great for our health, and for our children's health?

As a parent have you spent time with your children looking for frogspawn, planting a snowdrop bulb, digging for worms, making a tree house, building a nesting box or picking blackberries? I think as we are  post celtic tiger era, its time to do all these things with our children. If space is an issue, use pots and containers, use wall space, every area should be utilised to grow some thing! Start today - you will have great fun and your kids will thank you for the great memories. Come on, this weekend get out and about and get those hands dirty…it will make you happy!

Leucothoe Scarletta



The Leucothoe Scarletta makes an excellent ornamental groundcover shrub.  It has long, slim and glossy leaves which are a burgundy-red colour, as the plant matures, the leaves turn green and they take on a stunning bronze tints during the autumn months.  The leaves of the Leucothoe Scarletta are shiny, and have metallic effect created by the sunlight shining onto them. It has dense dark green foliage that is rich red when young and also in winter . From mid to late spring small white bell like flowers are held under the foliage.


As a woodland plant, the leucothoe scarletta makes a brilliant shrub to be planted alongside rhododendrons as it thrives in low light levels and acidic soils.

Scarletta makes truely striking groundcover under shrubs where it will add interest and colour especially in winter





Acorus 'ogon'


This dwarf cultivar of grassy-leaved sweet flag (to 10 inches tall and 6 inches wide) has linear fans of semi-evergreen, glossy, pale green and cream-striped leaves that have an overall golden effect. This is a perennial with showy foliage that looks really well all year round but especially in winter,it loves our winters with plenty of rainfall, it does not like dry conditions so its definitely a great plant for that 'wet spot' where you can't grow anything else.



Japanese Azalea


Japanese azalea 


Who can't resist an azalea in flower, with its vibrant flowers in Spring that flower for quite a long time,this plant will flower quite happy in shade, but it does like lime-free soil, because of its short root system even if your soil is limey by adding ericaceous compost you will be o.k. with this, azaleas like a moist soil though not too wet. Not much happens them in the way of pests or disease, so all in all an easy plant to grow. Lots of people find azaleas die easily, I think this is because they get dry in Spring especially in the easterly wind,so to avoid this you need to mulch your plants in winter, you can use a mulch of your choice be it compost, grit or slate mulch, the main thing is you need to keep moisture in the ground. Azaleas like any other spring flowering shrub must avoid early morning sun, so not east facing.




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