I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love Peonies. There is something truly lovely about these gorgeous exotic visitors with their lush yet delicately fluted petals and finely filigreed leaves which last on into the summer after the flowers have faded and gone. They are intoxicating and demure in equal measure and I love the way that they invariably tumble and sprawl even when propped up by invisible twigs or more sturdy metal frames.
Can you imagine then, my delight at walking through a field full of budding peony roses, some 5000 in all, growing away in orderly rows and destined eventually for the local cut flower market. At the moment they are all ferny foliage and tight buds but in no time they’ll be flaunting themselves shamelessly in florists’ shops waiting to be turned into bouquets and given as gorgeous gifts.
The painstaking job of growing them is all down to Barclay and Lesley Bell from Moorfield Cut Flowers, whose also grow Stock, Sunflowers, Lilies, Alstroemeria, Agapanthus and Delphiniums on their farm just outside Rathfriland.
The day of my visit was a perfect spring day, all bright light and fresh breeze and I couldn’t help but think how great it was that the flowers in the field and in the tunnels were grown locally and destined for local shops and customers.
And these days, when we are all so much more aware of elements like air-miles and energy, that’s a good thought.
The power of the local is music to the ears of GIY Ireland who want us all to experience the joy of Growing It Ourselves. With over 100 groups established in Ireland and some 15,000 people “ walking the walk and talking the talk” - and growing their own fruit and vegetables - it was great to hear about the practicalities of the GIY Movement from Ulster rep Mick McEvoy who came into the studio ahead of Saturday morning’s launch in The Black Box. If you’d like to know more you’ll find all you need to know in their magazine or on-line at www.giy.ireland.com
If you’ve been in Belfast City centre recently you’ll have noticed the buzz of activity and burst of colour at the side of the City Hall.
Hidden behind hoardings until last weekend, the new Titanic Memorial Garden has now been opened, revealing crisp granite paths, soft green lawns and beautifully planted formal beds. And at the heart of the garden, framed and softened by the planting, are the raised dais which bears the names of all those who died and the original memorial statue which has been lovingly restored.
Pale lemon tulips, vibrant blue hyacinths, pale, elegant magnolias and slender silver birch are among the plants chosen by the designer Joy Hutchinson and the Titanic Memorial Garden is a truly lovely and most fitting tribute to those who were lost.
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