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sunrise: 6:34 am
sunset: 6:44 pm


Time For Primrose Power

English Country Garden

“How many kinds of sweet flowers grow
In an English country garden?
We’ll tell you now of some that we know,
Those we miss you’ll surely pardon.”

Lyrics extricated from the song “English Country Garden”, by James Frederick “Jimmie” Rodgers.

Following on from the snows which arrived courtesy of Storm Emma last week, looking out through our kitchen windows we must admit that our gardens, with the exceptions of those few daffodils growing in one corner, are looking just a bit deadbeat and colourless.

However, this would not have been the case if we had planted some of the earliest of spring bloomers those delightful primroses, (Primula polyantha), which with today’s variations, offer such a multiplicity of form, size, and colour. Primroses, which range in colours from white, traditional creamy-yellow, cream, purple and blue, yellow to orange, and red to pink, have easily shrugged off the severe cold of Storm Emma, and will continue to bloom right into the summer, adding magnificent colour well after spring bedding plants have come into maturity.

Take Note: Right now, while stocks last, these colourful plants can be found right here in Thurles, in the O’Driscoll Garden Centre, Mill Road, Thurles, Co. Tipperary (Telephone: (0504) 21636).

Ten assorted, mature primrose plants will cost you a mere €12.50 (inclusive) for all 10 plants, thus offering spectacular value for truly extravagant colour.

This garden centre is renowned countrywide for all manner of garden lovelies, such as trees, shrubs, perennials, alpines, climbing plants, ferns and herbs and is an oasis for those anxious to locate that extremely rare and unusual plant.

The name primrose, of course, comes from the Latin ‘prima rosa’ meaning “first rose”.  These perennials (Perennial … meaning plants that remain leafy from year to year or evergreen), should be planted in a lightly shaded area with well-drained soil, preferably amended with organic matter. Set the plants about 6 to 12 inches apart with roots set 4 to 6 inches deep. Do water thoroughly after planting, trying not pour over the plants themselves. Good idea also to add a layer of mulch around each plant to assist in retaining moisture.

Suitable for planting almost anywhere in garden flower beds and borders, as well as in window boxes and other larger flower containers; once given proper growing conditions, these vigorous plants will multiply each year, adding stunning colours to your garden space.  Remember, primroses do appreciate a light application of organic fertilizer, throughout the growing season.

Like most other garden plants, the primrose will come under attack from slugs, snails and aphids, but these can be easily controlled using non-toxic slug bait in the case of the slugs and snails, together with soapy water in the case of aphids.
Of course, if these delightful flowers are simply left in the ground, when they have finished flowering this spring, they will sit happily throughout the late summer and winter, to once again burst into flower next spring.

Try Crystallize Your Primrose Blossoms
Primrose flowers are edible and while they do not exactly taste delicious on their own; when coated with sugar they can be transformed into rather a tasty decoration, with which to beautify your baking, e.g. cakes and even desserts.

  • Lightly beat the white of one egg with a teaspoon of cold water to make up an egg wash.
  • Make sure the flower blossoms are clean and if you have to wash them, allow them to dry on kitchen paper towelling, before continuing.
  • Dip or use a clean previously unused artists brush or a pastry brush to paint the egg wash unto the entire surface of each flower blossom, both back and front.
  • Pour approximately 1/4 cup of white or brown granulated sugar into a bowl, (Note: Icing sugar is not fit for purpose in this case). With the flower bloom now coated in egg wash, place it in with the sugar; coating as much of the flower’s surface as you can, before placing it face-down on a surface lined with greaseproof paper. Leave your blooms to dry for 1-2 days; until they stiffen up.

Once hardened, these decorations will decorate delightfully, your cakes, buns, and desserts.


The Blue Tit – A Gardener’s Friend.

Bird Watch Thurles

Not to be mistaken for our native Great Tit or Coal Tit; the Blue Tit is to be found widespread here in Co. Tipperary and throughout Ireland.

Its song, often heard before the bird is actually observed, is quite a high-pitched “tsee-hee-he-hee”.  Found in almost all Irish gardens, eating out where nut and seed feeders are located, they can be easily identified by their green back, yellow belly, a blue cap, with blue wings and tail. Their white cheeks display a dark line through the eye area. Its beak is short and stubby and its leg colour is also a bluish-grey.

Music “Puppet on a String”, composed by Phil Coulter / Bill Martin

Surely the monkey of the bird world; the Blue Tit is exceptionally acrobatic, easily hanging upside-down on branches to peck and foraging for insects.  It will often team up with other Tit species and Tree-creepers and are happy to use a nesting box if one is provided and suitably positioned.

The Blue Tit survives mainly on small insects, but also seeds and will readily use peanut feeders and take scraps from bird tables. They make their nests usually in cavities in stone walls or in hollow trees but have been known to make their homes in pipes or damaged letterboxes.

Note: Never feed peanuts to birds during their breeding season as a newly born hatchling can easily choke when being fed by its parents.

Quality nest boxes can be obtained from O’Driscolls Garden Centre, Mill Road, here in Thurles [(0504) 21636], and right now is the time to install same.

Do remember one important fact; the diameter of the hole in a Blue Tit nesting box should be 2.5cm in Diameter, any larger or smaller aperture, will be most often bypassed.


Which Are You, “All Wired Up” Or A “Palette Prisoner”?

Junk Kouture is all about creating fashion from recyclable materials of every sort. Its purpose is to encourage young future designers, in second level institutions, to create striking couture designs and impressive works of wearable art, from simple everyday junk that would normally find its way into our rubbish tips.

So, how popular is this competition? Well try to obtain a ticket for the Southern Regional Final in Limerick on March 9th next, and you will find the Venue is fully ‘Sold Out’.

This year once again a total of 6 young creative designers from Transition Year at the Ursuline Convent Secondary School in Thurles have taken part in the ‘National Junk Kouture Competition 2018’, sponsored by Bank of Ireland (BOI).

It is no secret that the annual National Junk Kouture competition aims to inspire and ignite passion in young teenagers, while at the same time subtly educating them regarding the importance of recycling and the reusing of what is too often regarded as waste materials.

Over the past number of years, Bank of Ireland’s Junk Kouture event has established itself as the premier recycling fashion competition for teenagers throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland; and in 2015, extended its creative platform, further afield; to the shores of Scotland.

Featured here are just two of the Ursuline Convent’s very imaginative, chosen dress designs, entitled “All Wired Up”, [modelled /designed by Miss Elena Quirke and design aided by Miss Alannah O’Donoghue and Miss Saoirse Quirke] ; and  “Palette Prisoner”, [modelled and designed by Miss Benita Wrochna and design aided by Miss Kayleigh Fogarty and Miss Kathelyn Egan.]

Congratulations! “Super designs and we wish all students taking part at the Ursuline Convent Secondary School, including those not featured here, the very best of luck”.


Make The Effort – Feed The Birds

With the current snow and cold weather being experienced across Tipperary and further afield, life has become extremely hard for our feathered friends. Do remember that most of last years berries, which had fruited on our trees and shrubs, are now depleted having been already consumed.

Video Music composed by  Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus

This currently exceptional cold weather has brought large numbers of the more uncommon of our bird species, both foreign and native, down into our garden space in search of shelter and feed, thus joining our more frequently observed and resident varieties of Tits, Chaffinches and Robins etc. in further competition for grub.

All local supermarkets and garden centres, like O’Driscolls, [Mill Road, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Tel: (0504) 21636], are selling wild bird food, e.g. seed, peanuts, suet balls etc. for small cost. This food can the dispensed in handy wire or plastic feeders suspended from tree branches or placed on bird tables.  With snow covering hopefully coming to an end, do cut an apple or two in half and spear them on tree branches or simply leave them in an area that will not get covered over. This type of food is particularly acceptable to Blackbirds and Thrushes, who have problems hanging out of wire or plastic feeders.

Other foods acceptable on bird tables or large window sills are:- Cooked and chopped bacon rinds, Oatmeal, Cheese (Latter if you want to attract Robins), Suet, Cooked potato, Cooked chips, Raisins, wet Brown bread, Melon seeds, and Stale cake.

Keep in mind that fat is a major source of energy for birds and melted fat from your frying pan or roasting tin when poured over bread or cake scraps, will be greatly acceptable.

Try to avoid giving them completely dry white bread and never feed them with uncooked rice or desiccated (dried) coconut, which will most likely end up swelling their stomachs.

IMPORTANT: Right now fresh water supplies will be frozen over and inaccessible to our feathered friends, so do leave out an alternative unfrozen water sources, such as a water filled soup bowl or saucer, remembering with low temperatures this also will freeze over and will require to be changed regularly.

Once attracted to your home and garden, these feathered creatures will give adults and children enormous pleasure, while also aiding to remove some of those nasty little gardening pests, one can expect to encounter in the months ahead.


Howling Beast From East Arrives In Thurles

The heavy snow falls over night here in Thurles and throughout Co.Tipperary have created extremely dangerous driving conditions, particularly on secondary roads. Main roads also around Thurles are reported as being dangerous, as, according to AA Roadwatch, are the roads around the towns of Nenagh, Clonmel and Cahir.

Light snow is continuing to fall here in Thurles, while the strong winds have abated.

However the status Red Snow-ice Warning remains in place for Munster, while the public safety advice to stay indoors has been withdrawn, with those out and about being advised to exercise extreme caution.