Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bare root season is here!

If you plan on planting a hedge or large trees or shrubs, now is a good time. Our bare root plants are now available. The plants are sold straight from the ground. They are cheaper this way and often healthier as the roots haven't been restricted in pots.
So save yourself lots of money and start planting now!

Evergreen Hedges If you want evergreen cover you can choose one or a mix of the following.
Laurel A glossy, dense, evergreen. Provides good wind shelter and looks great if trimmed annually.
Escallonia Also good, glossy, evergreen with the added advantage of pink/red flowers from July to October. Not good for cold exposed sites, however.
Griselinia Glossy, light green leaves. Suitable for the smaller garden, it's very attractive if kept trimmed.
Cotoneaster Interesting evergreen hedge with flowers in spring and berries in winter.
Holly Fabulous, though slow growing, looks good grown on it's own or mixed plantings.

Deciduous Hedges are always popular. Beech can be seen all over Wicklow and Kildare, especially large estates and Studs. Very natural looking, especially in winter when most of the leaves are retained to give a golden/coppery hue. Most popular is Green Beech but you can also plant Purple Beech which has a dark ox-blood coloured leaf in summer, and retains its dead copper leaves in winter. Sometimes a mix of the two is used, which is quite nice.

Whitethorn/Hawthorn makes a wonderful natural hedge. The red berries (to be seen everywhere at the moment) provide great winterfood for the birds! The blaze of white flowers in spring is wonderful. Mix some Blackthorn through and enjoy Sloe berries in the winter.

In a Mixed Hedgerow we use a mix of Beech, Hawthorn and Holly. Also add Eunoymus europeaus (Spindle) Rugosa Rose (for hips in Autumn), Dogwood, Hazel, Wild Cherry. This will not only look beautifully natural, but provide habitats and food for wildlife, especially birds.

Planting a hedge is all about preparation. For large areas dig trenches and line with well rotted manure or compost. Back fill with a little soil and plant away. All newly planted hedges will thrive if they are kept weed free and grassfree and, most importantly, watered well in their first year.


I have been a long term admirer of writing on the first world war, and given the month that’s in it with the ninetieth anniversary of the end of the “Great War” I suppose it was fitting that I should read Sebastian Barry’s “ A long long way” (Paperback: Faber and Faber: 10.80) For me the first world war poets have always been unsurpassed in their genre and I have been deeply impressed by several contemporary novelists’ treatment of the war; Susan Hills “Strange meeting”; Sebastian Faulks’ “Birdsong” and in particular, Pat Barker’s wonderful “Regeneration” trilogy. Barry’s novel however gave me a completely new perspective on the conflict as it follows the fortunes of Willie Dunne who joins the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in 1914 aged just eighteen and sees the whole course of the tragic war played out. Set against the backdrop of civil unrest simultaneously blowing up in his homeland, this book depicts Willie’s convincing naïveté about fighting in the Brinish army. As the son of a senior Dublin police officer Willie idolises his widowed father and for a long time is unable to question the rightness of fighting for the king.

Through the lens of Willie’s experiences we view the seemingly indescribable degradations of trench-life and are introduced to a series of beautifully drawn homespun heroes; Captain Pasley, the Wicklow man; Father Buckley, the stoic padre and Christy Moran, the rough diamond of a sergeant major. The reader is shown small and careful vignettes of the lives of Willie’s colleagues, whilst we glean a rich and deep understanding of Willie himself. Reading about this war has always proven to be a great philosophical leveller for me. I was reminded of this whilst marvelling at Barry’s phantasmagorical descriptions of the trenches during the torrential rain of August 1917- one of the bloodiest summers of the war. I recalled how we (me included) had all given out about our own miserably rainy summer- this helped me to put things back in perspective.

All the WW1 literature I have encountered has at its heart profound questions about belief and meaning, right and wrong. The particularly poignant message in this book for me was about belonging. It showed how a young soldier could be both stoned in his hometown as a “Tommie” and vilified in the British army as a “Sinn Feiner”. Ultimately Willie finds a sense of belonging through the friendships and relationships he forms within his regiment- how the men miraculously endure the unendurable together.

This was a tremendously powerful and important book which moved me to tears in several places. Barry is an exceptionally talented writer and it is easy to see why he has been short listed twice for the Man Booker Prize. I was reminded of the words of the song:

“ And young Willie McBride this is still no man’s land
The countless white crosses stand mute in the sand,
And for man’s blind indifference to his fellow man
There’s a whole generation who were butchered and damned.”
( From “The Green Fields of France”)



November 5th saw another delightful musical event at Russborough- a packed house in the saloon came to see the RTÈ Vanburgh Quartet. The candlelight and paintings provide a perfect backdrop for the classics as these highly accomplished musicians played quartets from Mozart, Schuman and Brahms. The house are continuing to run candlelit evenings and dinners throughout the winter, so it is highly recommended as a venue either for a couple, friends or a large group. The welcome is warm and the setting is magnificent. As a tip – book up early for musical events at they seem to sell out quite quickly these days….Watch the Bugle for updates on up and coming events.

Angie Thompson

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