bEAching ~ calm after the storm

Welcome to my new followers – it is lovely to have you on board – I hope you enjoy the journey.

We are at the cottage in Scotland now for a few days (for anyone who is new to my blog – you need to read the story of the flood under the tab Beach Cottage and when I say at the cottage for cottage read caravan)

On Tuesday DH and I met with friends of mine who happened to be on holiday up here and had lunch together at Castle Kennedy Gardens in the revamped tea rooms, one of my most favourite places – so loved by my family that my daughter held her wedding there in 2016.

After a lovely meal and a good old natter we said our goodbyes to my friends and popped down the road into Stranraer for a bit of shopping – when I say shopping we actually bought a bottle of gas for the caravan and a few groceries – nothing more exciting.

It was still quite mild and quite calm so we decided to have a walk on by the harbour, through Agnew Park and out on the Broadstones Road – which runs along the side of Loch Ryan.  This is a short stretch of some rather lovely big old houses with well-kept gardens and a view across the bay. There is often a lot of ‘remodelling’ going on as places change hands and I do love to have a bit of a nosy!Loch Ryan Everything is beginning to feel cooler and a bit grey as you can see from the photos – but I actually quite like this as it makes it quite atmospheric.Beach findsIt was good to be out, strolling along on the shore spotting bits of coloured glass and other things –is this is the new message in a bottle – message on a mobile?Broadstones

Broadstones

On the way back to the car the heavens opened and we had to make a run for it –  but it was nice while it lasted.

Wednesday was a bit wilder – I was expecting worse – we had battened down the hatches ready for the forecasted storm.   It was certainly blustery here on the Mull of Galloway and the sea very choppy, and although the caravan rocked a bit it was not as bad as the rest of the county – some places across the bay had no power and quite a bit of damage.

By the afternoon it had calmed down enough for DH to go outside and make a start on washing down the caravan ready for the winter – I believe it is called ‘winterising’  I even did half an hour weeding in one of the borders when the rain suddenly came lashing down and the wind picked up once again.

Then as quickly as it came it settled again and after tea we even managed a brisk walk – all togged up in my fleece lined Parker, woolly hat and a scarf and by choosing the more sheltered path to the village down the low road we kept relatively warm.  As you might expect the place was deserted – I expect most of the villagers were keeping snug and warm inside (very sensible).  Once back at the caravan I had a nice mug of hot tea and some ginger cake.

Today we were back to calm, very calm; the sea had hardly a wave and nothing stirring in the garden. We drove into Stranraer with a trailer full to the brim with bags of weeds from our last visit to take to the tip.  I also took a box of bits and bobs from my recent decluttering to the local Red Cross charity shop, bought some fresh rolls and milk and the Stranraer Free Press (to get the local news) then came home for lunch.  I have acquired a taste for Tesco’s fresh Cheesey rolls which we had with salad inside and I also bought one of their boxes of 5 assorted mini Danish pastries – five being an odd number for two of us we have to share the last one, or fight over it!

After lunch DH was back to washing  another side of the caravan and I started on the weeding again – pulling out a million tiny seedlings (I exaggerate not!) that have taken root since our last visit – but only after going down to the beach to take a few more photos. Luce Bay SeawedDriftwoodI can hear rain again now outside as I write this – who knows what we will wake up to tomorrow.  Just in case I cannot go out in the garden I have brought one or two projects with me to be getting on with.

Have a good day x

 

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bEAching ~ more good weather – more gardening

Garden Notebook

  White Foxglove

I hope I am not boring you with all this gardening but I have to take advantage of the good weather whilst I can even if I feel I will never straighten up again and my gardening boots are welded to my feet.

Talking of feet, what was I thinking – to come on holiday and not bring some cool open sandals?  Trainers and Sketchers are a bit warm this weather and my feet feel two sizes bigger – nothing to it but to plunge them into a bath of cool water.  I suppose with the sea only a few yards away I could go and have a paddle this evening but I think the thought of dodging the midges out there puts me off.  I will stick to a bowl of water.

It is unlike me not to be in the mood for gardening but today I did feel a bit ‘off’ but I think that is more to do with the weather being so unusually hot for days on end and having to continually move about the garden with the shade and not really getting any border fully completed.

Frustrating.

I finally settled for sorting out under the apple tree and clear around the base.  The gardening books all tell me that apples do best when the ground around the trees are kept free of grass and weeds.  The grass doesn’t grow there anyway (far too shady for it to be bothered) but obviously the weeds don’t read the same books and will insist on gathering around the trunk on mass!

After spending the morning crawling around underneath this and the adjacent Corkscrew Hazel I have cleared the spot once again and will spread some manure around in the hope it will help preserve some moisture and feed the tree at the same time.  This dry weather might make all the apples fall off while still tiny – fingers crossed they stay on the tree long enough to swell and ripen.

Of course the apple tree should have received a hefty pruning last winter to cut it down to a more manageable size but if you remember the visit when this was planned the country was taken over by the Beast from the East and we retreated to the warmth of the caravan all week.

Apple tree therefore did not get a good ‘going over’ and as a consequence is now another four feet higher.  Not sure why anyone would want to plant a half standard apple tree that grows up to 5 metres in height and doesn’t own a cherry picker.  Needless to say we inherited this tree with the garden but it does produce the most wonderful Bramley’s – but only at the top of the tree!

We went into town after lunch as we had to do another tip run with all the bags of weeds that I have generated –  they accumulate quickly and filled the trailer.  I also had a shopping list that went something like this:-

  • 1 large bag Compost
  • 3 bags Farmyard Manure
  • 3 bales Bark chippings
  • 2 pints milk

The milk being for us of course!

I would normally make my own chippings by shredding the pruned branches but there just isn’t time on this visit. So nothing for it we decided to buy some – it would be worth the money at the moment to keep on top of the bits of garden we have cleared.

There is not a lot of choice up here and the prices are more expensive than at home – there are no chain stores like B&Q only independently owned shops.  We did manage to find some 3 for 2 on both the manure and bark at the local garden centre which is easy parking when you have a trailer on the back and they do a good cup of tea and the most deliciously moist fruit loaf sliced and buttered.

Bobtail bunny is bobbing around the garden tonight  – his curiosity is leading him to investigate our pile of bonfire prunings.  A good job it is too hot to light it or one more ‘bob’ and he would be a roast bunny.

Back soon x

 

bEAching ~ down on the beach and down the garden

We’ve got Rag, Tag and Bobtail in our garden tonight chasing each other around in circles then stopping to eye up my plants.

The white one we named ‘Bunny No Mates’ (he seems to be an escaped domestic rabbit and the brown ones won’t play with him) has reappeared suddenly from behind the log shed – we thought he was definitely a goner and had perished during the freezing winter months.  I am quite glad he made it – I was a bit sad thinking he had come to an abrupt end.

Gentle HermioneChamomileIn between the weeding I went down to the beach.  Since the flood took away the little wooden bridge that went across the stream our neighbour has made these little steps to get down the banking.  I think they fit in very well and I love the Daisies growing on the treads.

Today I was in the garden at 9 o’clock to weed in the trellis border whilst it was in the shade and before the sun moved round – this is the very dry border as from ten o’clock it has the sun all day and is far too hot for me.

At the end of the summer last year we visited the Elizabeth MacGregor Garden and Nursery (click to link through to her website) in Kirkudbright and she gave me a whole tray of Valerian for my garden that she was getting rid of and for which I am so grateful.  Her nursery has some wonderful cottage garden plants all grown at Ellenbank and you can order them on the internet from her extensive catalogue.

I really like the look of the Valerian against the grey stony ground in the patch facing out to sea and hope it will seed around the sea-side garden.  I dug over a small patch and then had to accept defeat and move to a shadier part of the garden down in the jungle.  I will try again tomorrow and show you the results another post.

It is actually all looking a bit of a jungle at present – the result of going away to Italy at the exact time when we would normally be spending a lot of time in the garden before the summer.  But we wouldn’t have missed the wedding for anything even though we are struggling to get the garden back into shape now.   I have pulled out Campions that are 7 feet tall today.  I swear I can hear them growing as soon as I turn my back.

After lunch there was a welcome mass of cloud appeared in the sky– I haven’t seen clouds for days…and a breeze.  It certainly helped cool the air temperature down a degree but the patch I was doing before lunch now had midges circling ready for attack – so I had to move yet again.

This time over to the Pine tree border.  There is a slab of concrete just under the largest Pine tree which is the base for the old greenhouse (before the gales of 2010 demolished it).   We really must break it up one day and remove it – the tree roots have lifted and cracked the slab and the pine needles collect into a suitable compost that the Campion love to seed in.

It may look pretty but believe me I have learnt that in this garden you cannot leave Campion as pretty as it might be it will seed everywhere and then it chokes out the plants I have bought and planted.  I do have some wild areas but this border is not meant to be one of them.

This is after the clean up –  I had almost forgotten there is a path there.  I filled eight bags with weeds and sweepings for the tip just from this patch which is no more than about eight feet square!

The Foxgloves are allowed to stay – in my eyes Foxgloves are like the cows in India – sacred.  No matter where in the garden they decide to grow it is OK with me as they are one of my favourite flowers.

And (just for my follower Mary) these pictures below are older ones so you can see what it used to be like when we had a greenhouse.  To the left is the border with the three Olearia shrubs, newly planted, in front of the wind break – now the masss of Olearia is the wind break!

I remember this white patio table  – it was last seen in 2014 floating out to sea after the flood!!

 

 

 

 

bEAching ~ another day another border

It is twenty past ten at night here in Scotland and the sun is only just sinking on the horizon.  Each day seems hotter than the one before and today I really found it hard to work for any length of time in the garden even in the shade.

The lane beyond the blue gate is always shady so I decided to tackle the border that runs along side it.  At its widest point it probably measures 3 feet but the back of it drops down steeply into our garden below and it is heavily shaded by the two Hawthorns and a large conifer, which suffered with the salt spray from the sea this winter and is in recovery at the moment but still a sickly colour of brown.

Most of this strip is wild flowers  – pink campion and bright orange Crocosmia which grow and spread like weeds but nearer the gate I have pink Geranium, Aquilegias and Harts Tongue Ferns and I am slowly introducing Foxgloves.

Elsewhere in the garden I have a particularly pretty pale pink one so I will scatter the seed over this border when it has finished flowering.  I keep transplanting tiny Holly bushes into this border so that eventually we will not be quite so overlooked from the lane.

Meanwhile DH tackled the Daisy path with the strimmer – this is how the Daisy path usually looks…

But this is what greeted us when we arrived!

… this really was overgrown and I am surprised the postman has ventured down our path to bring our TV license reminder letter.  It is generally the only mail we get up here.  We don’t have a TV at the cottage but we still get a reminder once a month and sometimes the threat of an official visit – come anytime is what I say for I know for certain they will not find one!

Beside the Daisy path we have some very dead Escallonia bushes which formed a lovely hedge when we first bought the cottage but it died on us after one of the bad winters.  Only one of the bushes has sprung back to life and the others need digging out.  I am not sure what to plant here but it will need to tolerate sea spray.

This strong sun does not make it easy to take pictures. I will take a few more of the ‘transformation’ in a day or two.  Tomorrow I think we are having a day off and perhaps going out to see Castle Kennedy gardens.

Yesterday’s trip to the pictures in Newton Stewart didn’t quite happen.  I got something in my eye during the morning and by the afternoon it had not moved so we went into town to get some Optrex so I could try to rinse it out but the pharmacist insisted I should go and have it checked out at A&E.

The local hospital is quite tiny and only 3 of us waiting.  I must say I felt a bit of a fraud as it was hardly an accident or an emergency just irritating and my eye wouldn’t stop watering.  However, the staff were very pleasant and on first name terms with the locals sat in the waiting room quite different to our much larger and busier A&E in Huddersfield where they are very brusk at times and more matter of fact.  After a bit of a wait for the eye doctor he did manage to get out whatever was causing the irritation but by this time we had missed the film.

 

 

bEAching ~ day one in the cottage garden

Today was the first day in the garden at the cottage.  DH had set off to take a trailer full of weeds to the local refuse site where they compost it down.  We compost what we can but when we run out of space we bag it up and then when I run out of bags he goes to the tip.

The question as always is where do I start when everywhere requires attention – a bit overwhelming at first glance but beyond the chaos there are little areas that are quite delightful.

The David Austen English shrub rose Gentle Hermione, a present from my late MIL, is an absolute picture and must have really enjoyed the late pruning I gave it on our last visit as there are more flowers than ever and the fragrance is heavenly when you walk past.

I decided to make a start by the gate, mainly because it was in the shade (and with the weather being unbearably hot I needed shade) but also because it hasn’t been touched since I cleared it last year and planted a Hydrangea.     It is a very shady but sheltered corner that only gets a glimpse of the sun during the summer months at about tea time.

Not a pretty sight.

The soil is poor and it is not an ideal place for anything too precious so the choice of a Hydrangea with them being pretty easy-going, and having quite a long flowering period was a good bet and will fill the space on its own eventually. You might just be able to spot it amongst the weeds and wild flowers which have been growing there at an alarming rate.   I remembered I also transplanted a pink flowering geranium as well from another border but was not quite sure if it was still in there.

Nothing to it but to roll my sleeves up and get stuck in but as usual in this garden it is never a ten minute job.  The Alkanet although very pretty with its deep purple blue flowers spreads everywhere and  has tap roots that just won’t give in and they always win – I dig out what I can and leave the final bit in the ground knowing that at some later date they will spring up again!

After an hour or two of digging, pulling and tugging I decided on a welcome tea break!

Then more of the same followed by a light easy lunch – egg salad with a little cheese – we are definitely not putting the gas oven on at the moment as the caravan is hot enough.

By the end of the afternoon I had cleared the patch leaving the Hydrangea and the geranium (surprisingly still there) and trimmed back the Ivy.  DH nailed a piece of mesh in the gap beside the gate beneath the Ivy to prevent unwanted dogs sneaking in and leaving their calling cards.  I thought the Ivy would have filled the gap by now but it seems to be ignoring this space and deciding to be rampant in places I don’t want it to be.

After digging in a bucket full of manure onto the cleared patch and adding some much-needed water my first job was done and you can see the result above.

Meanwhile DH had cut the ‘posh’ lawn and trimmed the horseshoe privet hedge on the woodland side then removed the old bamboo plants from the two big terracotta pots.  I can hear him gently snoring as I write this.

Tomorrow we are planning a trip out after lunch to Newton Stewart.  There is an excellent Nursery there and we are taking a picnic tea so we can go on afterwards to the old local cinema which is something rather special and I will provide pictures on my next post.  They are showing a film called Edie with Sheila Hancock – I know nothing about it other than it is set in Scotland and I quite like Sheila Hancock.

back soon x