Rock’s Peony, In Full Bloom, In Thurles Co. Tipperary.

If you are a flower lover and you happen to be in the Thurles area of Co. Tipperary over the coming days, a visit to O’Driscolls Garden Centre; [latter the home of rare trees and plants], situated on the Mill Road, Thurles, is a ‘must visit’.

Rock’s peony in bloom in Thurles. In reality, this photographed bloom is the size of a small coffee saucer and the photo does it little justice, in displaying its true beauty.
Pic: G. Willoughby.

The Paeonia rockii, or Rock’s peony, latter a woody species of tree peony, was named after Austrian-American botanist and explorer Joseph Rock (Josef Franz Karl Rock).
It is one of several species given the vernacular name ‘tree peony’, and is native to the mountains of Gansu and adjoining provinces in China.


Beautiful Magnolia.

Beautiful Magnolia.

Magnolia Flower.
Pic: G. Willoughby.

Beautiful Magnolia.

Poem Courtesy Canadian Poet William M. Wismer.

Oh beautiful Magnolia, you’re blossoming again.
It’s early Spring and there you are, like you have always been.
Your glorious Spring time beauty is wondrous to behold,
But it is such a little while until your blossoms fold.

It only seems a day or two from when you’re in full bloom,
That petals start to flutter down and leave me with sad gloom.
The reason I feel gloomy is that just once each year,
I see your gentle beauty, then wait another year.

Upon this wondrous earth of ours are many lovely things.
In spring I marveled at the sights the kind your beauty brings.
Oh beautiful magnolia, you are by Heaven blessed.
Spring time has many wonders, but you’re one of the best.



‘Hydrangea Limelight’ On Liberty Square, Thurles.

Currently growing in the centre of Liberty Square Thurles, replacing what use to contain parking spaces, which in turn generated town centre footfall for once thriving businesses, we now find growing ‘Hydrangeas’. Same are of the medium-sized deciduous shrub variety known as ‘Limelight’.

Hydrangea Limelight‘, (Liberty Square, Thurles, Co. Tipperary).
Note: Because the street is now so narrow, due to poor planning; heavy traffic (In this case, more recently, a tractor and trailer) is forced unto the flowerbed in order to progress forward. (See also recent picture below).
Pic. G. Willoughby.

The leaves on this shrub are pale green, same attached to grey-green stems and from mid-summer to autumn their flowers display magnificent conical shaped panicles, emerging as a delicate ‘pistachio green colour’, before fading slowly to ‘death brown’ as it naturally drops its leaves.
An easy plant to grow and particularly beautiful; they will bloom year-after-year in the right location with little maintenance required, other than pruning them, once a year, enabling it to generate new flowering wood.

Hydrangea Limelight holds the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Award for Garden Merit.

Traffic forced to invade Liberty Square flower beds in Thurles town centre due to simply poor planning.
Pic. G. Willoughby.

It is a very important task, each year, to prune ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas, as they flower only on new wood (In other words the shrub develops its flower buds only on new growth), with annual pruning producing a flush of new stems to carry the future year’s flowers.
‘Limelight’ hydrangeas are commonly pruned between late fall and late winter, when the plant is most dormant, and before the plant sets its buds for the next upcoming summer.
With the shrub having lost its leaves; one can get a better look at its shape and also get easier access, to the branches, to make clean pruning cuts.

Sadly, the ‘Russian Sage‘ plants, sown on the outside, to frame these ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas, are not looking so healthy presently. Also a recipient of a Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Award for Garden Merit; this deciduous hardy plant, with its upright, bushy grey-green leaves, attached to tall silver-grey flower-stems, should this year produce violet-blue flowers, attractive to pollinators.

‘Russian Sage’ was chosen because of its tolerance to salt, and it is hoped Co. Council trucks spreading salt on the icy winter street surface, would shield the ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas, enabling them to survive.
We wait in eager anticipation.

Again, poor engineering plans and even poorer administration, will decide the future of these shrubs and the town centre itself, with the upper unfinished half section of Liberty Square, now threatened with the loss of an estimated further 19 car parking spaces, if and when it is decided to undertake this now long awaited update.
Sadly, soon we may have a deserted town centre, with little or no footfall, if misguided government officialdom is allowed to make its delusionary progress.


Yellow Witch Hazel Brings Colour To A Late Winter Garden.

The spidery flowers of Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) appear in shades of yellow, orange and red, and brings colour to any late winter garden.

Although slow growing, the shrub will eventually become larger, ranging from 2.5-5m (8-16ft) in height and spread. Potted in a large tub, and under-planted with yellow crocuses, or snowdrops, the Witch Hazel shrub is particularly attractive to the eye, while we await the full unset of Spring.

The leaves and bark of witch-hazel, for centuries has been used in folk medicine, herbalism, and skincare decoctions* by Native American tribes.

Inside witch hazel’s leaves, its bark and twigs are medicinal chemicals called tannins. If you rub these chemicals on your skin, they may reduce swelling and fight bacteria. Extracts of witch-hazel have been claimed effective in the control of psoriasis and eczema; to prevent dehydration of skin; to cure insect bites and razor burn, although more research is needed in relation to these claims.

People have used witch hazel for centuries to soothe chapped, scraped and irritated skin. However, in 2017, please note, that one manufacturer of a skin care product which contained witch-hazel, was warned by the American Food and Drug Administration, having made unsubstantiated health claims, while not providing evidence that their products were safe.

The freshly cut stems from the plant continue to be used by those persons involved in water divining.

Here in Thurles, Witch Hazel shrubs are available at O’Driscolls Garden Centre, situated on the Mill Road east of the town.

*Decoction is a method of extraction by boiling herbal or plant material to dissolve the chemicals of the material.


Daffodils Set To Hail Arrival Of Spring.

Out on Brittas Road, near Thurles town, where the latter joins the junction with the N62, the daffodils (‘Lent Lillies’ or ‘Peter’s Leeks’) have been in full bloom for some weeks, “stretched in never-ending line” along the roadside, “Tossing their heads in sprightly dance”.

Daffodils ready to display their single flowers.
Pic: G. Willoughby, ©

In Thurles town gardens, despite the recent cold spell of weather, it appears later arrivals will again be, “flashing upon our inward eye”, well before the first day of spring, which is set for Wednesday March 20th, (Vernal Equinox), 2024.

Interesting to note that a substance extracted from daffodil bulbs, called ‘galantamine’, is used as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Extracts from daffodil bulbs have been used as traditional medicines for a wide variety of diseases, including tumours, for thousands of years.