sEAsons…Autumn it is then

Cow ParsleyThe Autumn Equinox is official this weekend – I was really sorry to see summer go but I have to admit it has felt so much more like autumn these past few days than it has at this time in previous years.The weather has been so unpredictable – one minute sunshine, the next rain interspersed with anything from a light breeze to a howling gale.  In the calmer moments I have been out and about capturing the hedgerows turning I love the varied mix of vibrant green and red at this time of year, the colours echo those of Christmas.Virginia Creeper Before we left for Scotland I had already switched over to my warmer clothes and these last few days I have been snuggled up in my Parker and woolly hat before venturing our for an evening stroll down to the village and back – well more of a brisk walk really as there is rather a bite in the evening air and a shrill wind blowing off the sea – so we have not lingered – tonight we took the torch with us too as it was dark quite early.Rosa RugosaI did not go in the garden at all today, DH finished the ‘winterising’ of the caravan and then the garage door and I sat inside attending to our finances.  I had a heap of receipts to log, statements to balance and a new budget to set- after all this is not a holiday I still have chores to do!

We have been making more and more cooked evening meals too recently – curries, Cauliflower and Broccoli bakes, nut roasts and baked potatoes – always my favourite – and salads have now been reduced to lunchtime only.FernI was amazed at the colour still in the garden here in Scotland – the pictures were taken yesterday –  but then we are in the Gulf Stream and many of the plants are quite sheltered.

The Valerian – still protected with netting from being eaten by the pesky bunnies are doing well.  This was the tray of plants given to me by Elizabeth MacGregor when we visited her nursery in Kirkudbright at the end of the season last year.  Having such a large garden you have to think of planting in threes or fives to get a good swathe of colour and mass so a whole tray full of around twenty plants was wonderful – an instant garden – thank you Elizabeth!

ValerianThe Chamomile self seeds all over but it is very welcome here on the seaside garden.Chamomile

LavenderThis Fuchsia and Lavender were both one of those cheap plants from Morrison’s – I bought them to fill a bit of a gap in the border when the other shrubs were small and newly planted. They definitely like it here. FuschiaI am not even sure where this white Agapanthus came from I don’t remember buying one but it has sneaked into the border under the Viburnum.White Agapanthus The trailing Nasturtiums flower well into November and are a lovely burst of colour on a grey day.Nasturtium The wild Fuchsia by the pond still providing a little colour now all the summer flowers are over.Wild FuschiaBelow is my dad’s hydrangea taken from his garden after he died – it stands majestically in a central position on the edge of the lower woodland walk. Hydrangea And lastly the Bramley apples – they have been abundant this year and much rosier now than when we picked some on our last visit.  So many windfalls – …we have been giving them away and will probably put some outside our gates for the walkers to take. Bramley ApplesDo help yourself!

 

 

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mEAndering…Glenwham Gardens and my garden

Yesterday we were both feeling a bit creaky and decided that a day digging in the garden would be a weed too far so we headed off to one of my favourite gardens around here called Glenwham.

I won’t go into much detail here other than to say this garden was created out of boggy moorland over 30 years ago when Tessa Knott and her husband bought 103 acres of land unseen and over the phone then subsequently on a visit to see the land discovered the ruined farmhouse.

You can read more of the fascinating story of how this garden was transformed here.

On one of the two small lochs they created they have a wooden cabin with a springboard attached to the jetty to jump into the water and a little boat tied up at the side.

Dotted along the banks of the Loch I noticed this dwarf variety of deep blue Agapanthus which I have made a note of in my notebook and will perhaps buy from their nursery another day.

Agapanthus

We had a very relaxing time just wandering up and down the many winding paths through these gardens.  It is quite a sheltered place and very peaceful even with other people wandering around.  There is a wonderful sense of calm and in one of the woodland glades there is a stone Buddha and a string of Buddhists prayer flags fluttering between the trees.

We have seen it develop over the last fourteen years and some of the shrubs and trees are quite large now and I noticed they have had to cut a few things back down to ground level and many of the borders have been overtaken by the more vigorous plants.  We have the same problem in our garden trying to keep everything in balance.

Revitalised after our day off yesterday we were back in our garden today.  I spent a good hour dead heading the rose and removing the dead leaves of the Fatsia that get caught amongst the branches.

Once I had finished I turned my attention to the patch of garden that we cleared last summer down by the stream bank in the lower wood.  It is a difficult corner that catches the cold winter winds and I have been nursing an old Holly back to life – it had growth only on one side due to a neighbouring tree starving it of light and which has since fallen down in the gales.  At last the Holly is sprouting on the bare side and will soon have a nice dense mass of branches and leaves.

The whole area has once again become overgrown with campion and nettles, so I set too to pull them out and clear the patch once again.  The trick of course is to get some plants in quickly and not to let the weeds take hold again but sometimes it is just not possible on a short visit.

I was so busy today that I forgot to keep taking photos – but DH did take a special one for Joy at Diary of a (retired) teacher who wrote about her thistle putting down roots in a pot of flowers… well this is my thistle Joy!!

I am not even sure what it is called – we get one or two each year they self seed so we never know where they are going to pop up next.  This year it has decided to grow out of a crack in the concrete paving just where we need to take the wheelbarrow round to the other side of the cottage – quite inconvenient but I wouldn’t chop it down we just have to work round it all summer and not get too close!  When we had the flood in 2014 there was a picture taken for the newspaper of our flooded garden and one of these giant thistle was the only thing still standing in four-foot of water.

If anyone wants some seeds just let me know.

Tomorrow we are homeward bound so may not post again until Friday if I have time before we travel up to North Yorkshire on Saturday morning to visit my mum and collect Little L for the week.  My internet connection has been a bit patchy here and I have not been able to read everyones new posts so I will have a bit of catching up to do along with the washing.

Back soon x

dEAr diary…leaving – tears and treats

How did last week slip by so quickly?  What a whirlwind it has been here.

Unfortunately Tuesday, not only my wedding anniversary day but my last day at work, started with a bit of a stand-off with the new lady – I was playing it cool, polite but not overly friendly (quite unlike me).  It was our first encounter since our difficult day last Wednesday and I was adamant she was not going to spoil my final few hours at work.  Not much had changed in her attitude but she got the message that I wasn’t going to pander to her whims on my last day when I threatened to put all of my reference files in the shredding bag if she felt I was wasting my time checking they were all updated to pass on to her – though as she already knows everything she shouldn’t need them!  Standing my ground seemed to make her more amenable for the rest of the day.

In the afternoon I was suddenly called to the training room for a meeting which  ‘surprise’ turned out to be a buffet spread laid out with Prosecco, party food and cupcakes and attended by all the staff and directors.  There were speeches and presentations, more bouquets, gifts and wonderful words of thanks and appreciation for my hard work over the last 18, almost 19 years.  So my house is full of beautiful flowers once again and my birthday cards had to move over to make room for my leaving and wedding anniversary cards.

I was really touched – it was certainly a good send off – quite unexpected and lots of goodbyes, with promises to keep in touch and a few tears.

Then after an emotional day it was back home to collapse.

Early on Wednesday morning we set off for Pateley Bridge and Studfold Park with fairy wings and birthday presents on the back seat and a picnic in the cool bag ready to celebrate Little L’s 4th birthday.

The only route for us was 2 hours on busy (A) roads through Bradford and Otley and then along some winding (B) roads but it was a pleasant enough run through the countryside – places I had not been before.  We all met in the car park at about 11am – the weather was very warm but luckily it stayed mainly overcast so we didn’t get burnt as we were hunting for the fairies.

Both Little L and her friend were far too excited to eat much of their lunch and only managed half the ice cream cone and a lick at the cream frosting flowers on the birthday cake.

Her main birthday present was a balance bike but she wouldn’t ride it until she was kitted out with the full helmet, elbow and knee pads.  Luckily the postman came with them during the afternoon and then she decided to keep them on until bedtime!

We had bought her a camera that takes real pictures and selfies which you can add cartoon features to.  I had as much fun with it as Little L and would add it to my Christmas list if I could!

After a lovely day playing it was then back home to collapse.

On Thursday morning up bright and early again it was all hands to the deck once more at my elder daughter’s house – DH sorting out new banister rails on the landing and me back on the gravel patch.

By Saturday with a bit of help from the men to lift some very heavy paving stones which formed a pathway and edging we finally laid the gravel.  Our daughter then added the finishing touches of the table, chairs and pots of plants to form a seating area.  It looked really good but I forgot to take the all-important picture – I will take one and post it soon.

After 3 days hard graft it was back home to collapse.

On Sunday morning DH and I rushed around packing clothes, food and tools for our trip to the cottage in Scotland.  We finally managed to get away at lunchtime and arrived at the cottage about 8pm to then unload everything again and finally fall into bed.

After a hectic few days we must have been so tired that we slept for 10 hours solid but at least now we are here our time is our own and we can go at our own pace for a few days until Thursday when our commitments begin again.

I love exploring the garden when we haven’t been for a while – so many changes and so many different plants in flower.  Our Bramley apple tree is full of apples – it must be a good year – each morning I am gathering up the windfalls, before we leave I daresay DH will give the tree a good shake.  I will have to give most of them away as our freezer is still full of apples from last year.   

The cottage garden has lost a lot of its summer colour due to the hot weather  – many of the flowers have had a shorter flowering period with the intense heat and lack of water but the Buddleias on the woodland walk are weeping with the weight of the blossoms this year and they are full of butterflies.

The Hydrangeas are also out in full bloom now – the one above was my dads, I have no idea what it is called but it is a beautiful shade of coral pink around the edges of the petals which fade slightly as they open.

The Rosa Rugosa hedge down the lane has huge hips forming already and the Agapanthus are just loving this sun.

There is plenty to do here – weeding, pruning and tidying but only one day left so I need to prioritise.  On our next visit which will be longer maybe 2 or 3 weeks we should have time to make more of an impact. Going to Italy this year certainly put us behind with the general maintenance.

I hope everyone is having a lovely summer – I have a bit of catching up to do with my favourite blogs.

Back soon x

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

 

 

 

 

sEAsons…summer garden catch up

Just a catch up.  Due to my lack of blogging I haven’t done an update on the garden – both here in Yorkshire and the one at the cottage in Scotland.

Starting in Scotland –

During the winter months we set about clearing some of the dead branches in the upper wood and pruning a few self seeded Elders whilst the undergrowth lay dormant. Milk crates we have found are a necessity in a big garden – they have a multitude of uses!  You may see it featuring in a lot of my photos.

Below in comparison is the same view on our last visit at the beginning of June now the trees are in leaf.

We hadn’t been to the cottage since the end of March and this is what met us – a lovely wild flower garden however, this is actually lawn or should I say grass as it is nowhere near lawn quality and sadly it had to be cut.

Remember the stream to the sea after the flood when part of the banking was washed away with the little bridge.

Below is the same banking last year  – the grass has started to grow on the bare earth.

This is what it looked like at the beginning of June – such a big improvement.

The wild flowers are coming back and providing little pockets of colour.  I am hoping the large yellow flag Irises will take root again.

And soon it will be back to how it was except of course a lot wider than before the flood.    If you want to read about our cottage and the flood go to the menu bar above.

Anyone who is a regular reader of my blog will know about my beloved pond and the excavation work that has been going on to uncover the buried stones.  This is what I found last April.

We added a plank to the top of the old posts to form a seat and planted some Primulas here and there which are nicely self seeding around the pond.

And this is what it looked like when we visited at the beginning of June – flanked with Rogersia and Aconitum, wild yellow Iris and Primula it is looking quite lush.  It is one of my favourite spots and if ever you can’t find me in the garden always look here first!

 

And now in our tiny Yorkshire garden – at the moment this is my favourite little corner – it is the shady side of the garden – Viburnum Tinus, Escallonia (I am not sure of the variety but it is deciduous) dripping in sprays of tiny pink flowers and forming a beautiful canopy over the corner.

The large fibreglass dish beneath was my dads and he had it planted with annuals and grasses but I like it empty and will probably fill it with water when our water butt is back in action and we have some rain.

I was really excited to see the Peony I bought two years ago has at last produced a flower – I can’t even remember the name so if anyone can identify it do tell me.

The black ironwork stand above was another item I brought from my dad’s garden  – it is not really my thing but it reminds me of dad and it has actually grown on me and when planted up with annuals and trailers it stands in the corner of the patio  and gives the arrangement of pots some height.

The Sweet Peas or rather the would be – no flowers to be seen yet and still a way to grow unless I have got a dwarf variety.

I have had to dismantle the display on the patio to put the pots into a shadier place in the garden whilst we are away.  Fingers crossed they don’t dry out in the heat.

And lastly do you remember we have been waiting all winter to have the house re-pointed – I thought the weather was never going to stop raining but at last it happened on the weekend of the royal wedding and then DH cleaned up the brick work with water and a stiff brush – it looks like a new house again now.

So that is the update – and we are now about to embark on another gardening marathon at the cottage so stay tuned.  We never know quite what to expect when we go up and it has been a good three weeks since we were last there.  On the Mull 3 weeks is a very long time and the mild micro climate means everything grows really quickly including the weeds.

back soon x