Iris Bowen

Garden Blogger

Last of the Summer Flowers


The last of the summer flowers

The last of the summer flowers

The garden in Clare has never  looked better than it has this summer. Right up until the 3rd of October. Delphiniums are attempting to bloom, again. Cosmos, Dahlias, Asters are flowering as if the summer will last forever. I’m afraid not, my pretties. The rain has come … Here’s to the memory of a wonderful summer.


Tiro and Cut Flower Bed by @HiggledyGarden

Tiro in the Blue Garden

Tiro in the Blue Garden

Or, should it be Tiro & Cut Flower Bed (Tiro, Cicero’s assistant, and the creator of the ampersand)?

Tiro is awaiting his mentor on the edge of the cut flower bed. Cornflower and Nigella seeds (by HiggledyGarden) sown in March and planted out in mid June.

Or, he could be thinking: Are those Nepeta flowers I see?  Sadly no, Tiro, those are lavender and chives. The Nepeta are in the front border and you’ve already had your fill of them…


Cosmos Bipinnatus: A Escaped Flower

Capturing the Cosmos from Iris’s sketchbook

Cosmos Bipinnatus, known as the garden Cosmos, or Mexican aster, is also referred to, rather unflatteringly, as an escaped flower. In North America, a weed? Funny that. Or not. In the west of Ireland it is cherished for its long-stemmed daisy-like flowers in cerise, mauve, baby-girl pink, and white.

Priests in Mexico grew Cosmos in their gardens and named it accordingly for the Greek word for Universe, aka Cosmos.  Grown from seed in a glasshouse in Ireland the variety known as ‘Sensation’ is to die for. It fills the hungry gap with its height and feathery leaves and its robust petals like an open upturned hand.



Summer Solstice Irish Bouquet

Irish cottage garden

An Irish cottage garden summer solstice bouquet — Christine Breen


Summer solstice bouquet in an Irish cottage garden can mean a jumble of delphinium, dahlia, cosmos, nepeta, astrantia, sweet pea, a candelabra primula, lavender, and a creamy-white arum lily — the most dependable flower for an Irish midsummer garden because unlike the country’s sun-deprived inhabitants the calla lily thrives in mild, moist conditions.


The vase is from Louis Mulcahy Pottery in Dingle…



Helleborus Hardly Ever Boring


Helleborus Hardly Ever Boring


Borage and hellebore fill two scenes,
Sovereign plants to purge the veins
Of melancholy, and cheer the heart
Of those black fumes which make it smart.

-Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy


Cheerful as the buttercup, another of the Ranunculacea family to which Helleborus belongs, Hellebores in the garden make me wonder why I don’t have more of them. Not buttercups! That would be mad. Speaking of madness Hellebores were thought to cure madness and counteract witchcraft. Planted by the front door it was said they could ward off evil.

They bloom outside of the natural rhythm of things, blooming in the winter. Perfect individuals! Non-conformists. Not boring at all.



Out and In the Garden

Primroses in Kiltumper by CBWilliams

There comes a time when balance returns.
The light outside becomes insistent.
The landscape awakens, its urging unquenchable.

Outside under the wooden canopy on the table the unplanted primroses anticipate the gardener who is still inside watching the winter rain easing.

They are looking at each other… she and the bird that has been knocking on the window, and the primroses wait.

“Come out into the garden green with spring…”

Marching into April

Silage Bales by CBWilliams

Marching into April
Toora ta loo rye aye.

Beneath the out of season hot blue sky
silage bales sweat, yet sweetly, in their plastic wraps.
Golden gorse scents the air with coconut.
And sheltered in the ivied stone wall
viola odorata and oxalis bloom.

Blackthorn spins its white lace-like blossoms.

While woodbine, downy-leafed twins with everything.

Toora ta loo rye aye

April comes…

Green is the Colour of Spring

As one of the great Irish singer/songwriter sings….

Green is Spring by CBWilliams

“…It’s not easy being green
But green’s the color of spring
And green can be cool and friendly like
And green can be big like an ocean
Or important like a mountain or tall like a tree
When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why
But, why wonder, why wonder?
I’m green and it’ll do fine
It’s beautiful and I think it’s what I want to be…”

The lyrics come from a fellow named Joe Raposo…but the version Iris likes comes from Van Morrison ‘It’s not Easy Bein’ Green’ on Hard Nose The Highway

Kamikaze Yellow Bird

Kamikaze yellow bird is pecking at the glass, again.

Kamikaze Yellow Bird CBWilliams

For days now he (for it must be a he) has not given up.  He continues to fly, crash, peck and tap at the window. Sometimes he sits on the out-door handle. Sometimes he sits on the skylight. He seems a harbinger – but what message does he bring?  The tiny smudges on the glass reveal just how intent is the yellow bird. Marks on the window are joining up like a Morse code, but obscuring instead of revealing. Perhaps Windex would deter him.

But never mind, I add his tapping rhythm to the sounds of Spring, to the hum and buzz gathering in the wet Spring air in my back garden.

I am reminded to feed him…

Love Day

Along the road honeysuckle twins
with ivy.
Birdsong married them today.

Chaucer wrote:
For this was on seynt Volantynys day

Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

Iris returned from a walk and found flowers waiting in the cabin on the wooden table beside the birdseed and the garden tools.  With a card…

Will you be my Valentine?

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