Herb growing Ireland – How to grow herbs – Herb growing workshop – Gretas Herbs Annascaul, Dingle

West kerry live magazine may 2016 October 30, 2016

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comfrey& phlomis

May was a cold, colourless month. The sunny days of June finally enticed the budding oriental poppies and lupins to display their beauty. I had to cut lots of bamboo stakes in an effort to reinforce their stance against the late gales! My Jerusaleum sage (Phlomis fruiticosa) is incredible and has spread itself flamboyantly on both sides of the bank. Overnight, it burst into a mass of rich yellow flowers and has cheered me up immensely. It contrasts brilliantly with the purple flowers of comfrey – this was a most exciting accidental liaison


The kitchen garden has again been a tedious affair – the alternation between extreme wet and extreme dry is definitely not good for vegetable growing. Cool night temperatures have also interrupted growth: even the lettuce seems to be standing still. I planted my all time favourite early potato ‘Home Guard’ in old compost bags in the polytunnel and kept piling any old compost in on top to encourage extra tuber growth. It has been an easy method which has proved surprisingly productive. I am enjoying a generous harvest of delicious good-sized spuds with no blight problems for once and very little scrubbing required. Of course the traditional butter and salt is a must but I also enjoy them with a blob of natural yogurt enhanced to perfection with freshly chopped Moroccan mint or spearmint. Coriander has almost come to an end – it always thrives better in the earlier part of the season. Any sowings that I make now seem to quickly run to seed. I will collect and sow some of this ripened seed in August with the hope that it may provide a late autumn or early spring harvest. My Greek oregano is so lush I end up using it in everything and anything: since my delicious dill died it has become my substitute flavour in egg dishes!

I have green and bronze fennel growing everywhere: it makes a superb ornamental foliage plant. Unfortunately I am not too fond of the flavour; anything aniseedy reminds me of liquorice and how I deplored it as a child. I found those long black liquorice shoelaces doubly disgusting: I could never understand how anyone would enjoy chewing on that rubbery substance! I do have a plant of liqourice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) in the tunnel: it is related to the pea and bean family but has never flowered. It is the root which provides the candy extract which unfortunately for me has a whole list of health benefits. I however prefer the cocoa bean extract. Give me chocolate any day!




Taste Kerry Rose Dome Tralee October 29, 2016

Filed under: Latest Events,Uncategorized — gretasherbs @ 7:00 pm

Giardini La Mortella February 3, 2016

Filed under: Published Articles,Uncategorized — gretasherbs @ 4:52 pm


I recently visited the renowned Italian garden ‘La Mortella’ meaning place of the myrtles on the Isle of Ischia in the spectacular Bay of Naples! In 1949 this exquisite coastal residence became the home place of the famous British classical composer William Walton and his Argentian wife Susana. She was a passionate and gifted gardener who with the aid of the well-known designer Russell Page created this incredible inspirational space. I was so captivated by its beauty it brought tears to my eyes! This wonderful garden reveals a heady mix of plants, music and art; all things I love!


It encompasses practically every garden feature imaginable and is home to a fantastic collection of plants – everything from orchids to Japanese maples. There are a series of amazing ponds and fountains both inside and outside. These display cheerful water lilies; one being the largest tropical variety, Victoria amazonica whose giant lily pads supposedly can float a baby. Strangely this pink lily only flowers by night. The garden is constructed on many different levels; the rambling pathways and steps are planted with many striking foliage varieties – too numerous to mention. The meandering style of the garden leads one through a variety of well-crafted structures from arches to bridges to pergolas!


My favourite plant had to be Passiflora ‘Incense’. This evergreen climber has large exotic lavender-purple flowers whose intricate design just took my breath away, another love affair began and I just have to get one! Its cousin P. caerulea has blue and white flowers and grows happily here in Kerry once provided with a south-facing wall.


A Greek theatre nestles neatly amongst this green paradise; a panoramic sea view forms a living backdrop. Symphony concerts are staged there during the summer and I sense the spirit of William Walton wafts through the pine trees on those occasions! There is also an indoor recital hall and museum where we met the sound technician as he was tuning up the grand piano for that evening’s concert. With dedicated reverence he led us to the sanctity of a secret room to show us the original piano used by the composer; it is not on public display, we stood in silence touched by its humility, it was by no means a grand piano!


The final highlight for me was ‘The Temple of the Sun’ which is an awesome, artistic tribute to this great composer. Gold bas-relief adorns the white walls with angels and phrases from William’s music. Rays of sunlight danced through the circular, ceiling windows and I felt completely captured in this ethereal world! However a cup of gun powder tea in the garden café brought me quickly back to earth! I could write forever about this most beautiful place. I would recommend anyone to visit – for me it was an elevating experience one which has enriched the archives of my memory!


Growing Begins March 2014 March 25, 2014

Filed under: The Herb Garden & Nursery,Uncategorized — gretasherbs @ 9:51 am