11 Aug 2022

Gardening with Jo: Time to tidy the midsummer mess

With Jo McGarry of Caragh Nurseries

Gardening with Jo: Time to tidy the midsummer mess

Hydrangea Annabelle

I’m just sitting down to write this column a little later in the day than normal, as I’ve just had a marathon weeding and tidying session in my garden. The hot weather had meant I was enjoying the garden rather than pottering in it, but this cooler weather and some rain too has meant the weeds have started jumping out again, so I needed to get back on top of it.

I spent the day pulling the weeds — mostly they were only small enough and easy to pull by hand — and cutting back and deadheading lupins, delphiniums, foxgloves and salvia that had finished flowering so that the plant can put its energy into producing a few last flowers rather than into setting seed.

I also watered well all my hydrangeas that are in bloom; the mopheads, including my Annabelles and my beautiful blues, but also the paniculata that are only just coming into flower and so need plenty of water and a little feed before they flower.

Ian mowed the lawn while I cleaned the patio and the tiled floor of the garden room, as we have been asked to host a photo shoot in our garden for a popular Irish drink company. That is probably happening this week so we wanted to have the place looking as well as possible.

I also watered all my pots and topped up the water in my water bowls. One problem that I have in my garden is vineweed and it is the bane of my life. I will be doing a feature on getting rid of vineweed in the garden, taking advice from some of the best horticulturists I know, so keep an eye out for that.

I have been watering my bamboo regularly in my tropical garden. The cannas are doing really well as are the tree ferns. If you have a tree fern you will know that you have to water them from the top of the trunk rather than the bottom. I clipped my box, yew and bay balls — the hedges had been cut two weeks ago so they were all looking well.

I gave my outdoor furniture a clean down, and then what happened the minute I came in and popped a coffee pod in the Nespresso machine? The heavens opened and the rain came down in sheets and it still hasn’t stopped — thirty minutes later, I needn’t have bothered watering the garden!


We have one of our staff pick of their favourite trees, plants etc every week, and this week it is Angela’s turn.

Angela is our office manager and has been with Caragh Nurseries for several years now and is part of the glue that holds the place together. Along with her team in the office, they not only answer all your calls and emails but also keep the dispatch and planting teams running like a well-oiled machine.

Her favourite shrubs are hydrangeas and verbena bonariensis Lollipop at this time of year. The big conical shaped heads on the hydrangea Sundae Fraise are perfect to add a bit of colour into any garden and the Lollipop variety of verbena bonariensis reminds Angela of a wispy and whimsical cottage garden.

When we asked Angela her favourite tree there was not a second of hesitation before she mentioned liquidambar styraciflua Gumball. These trees have a great leaf shape and are something very different to add as a highlight to any garden.

Vines are another firm favourite of Angela’s. They are a great alternative to the popular olive trees to add a Mediterranean feel to a garden and at this time of year look fantastic.

Her favourite pot is the new Thistle Urn in our Atlantis collection. This pot is great for larger trees and shrubs like olives and vines, but also brings plenty of character to a patio or inside a home. Angela’s favourite piece of furniture has to be the Dunmore sofa set that she has in her own garden!

This collection has a beautifully curved shape, but is also so comfortable to spend a few hours on in the evening after a day on the nursery and practical with all her family. We still have several colours available in this outdoor furniture set in stock in Caragh Nurseries, this year.

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