Sunday, 10 December 2017

Feeling Freezing and Festive

The weeks seem to be steaming ahead, Christmas is looming and yet I feel I am and am not achieving things. We had two days travelling and being at my sisters funeral last week, Saturday to potter, check the nursery and catch a breath at home before heading to Alnwick on Sunday for David's families annual Christmas get together. In three days my car has done just under 1000 miles! Barter books is the meeting place of choice these days, it's half way between us all in Scotland and David's parents in York. Who doesn't like a second hand book shop to browse, especially one as good and Quirky as Barter Books. Yes I did buy books, yes I do need to read the ones I got last year and I may have to create another pile! Hmmmmmmm. 

I love these light shades at Barter Books, no idea why, just random

This is one of my favourite places

Still it was a good day but good to get home for a rest. Unfortunately not so much of a rest as being struck down by a dreadful cold. I'm never ill, so not sure what this is about, it's a shocking cold and both David and I have felt rubbish. He always has colds but has said this one was a stonker even for him! Keeping warm and out of the rubbish weather out side, I've started updating the website for next year so all is not lost. 

Lots and lots of new piglets on the farm when we went to
check the nursery on Saturday

Awwwwwww, everyone say oink

Who you gonna call? Leaf busters

In nursery news, it's all frozen solid. The past few nights we've had -9 celsius, brrrrrrrrrrrrr. Hopefully all the plants will survive in and out of the tunnel, only time will tell. When it's not been frozen we've been making the most of sunny, dry weather. David has started strimming the bankings, a massive job, but keeps him out of mischief and they look so much tidier for it. I've started lifting the leaves in the sales area, always a horrible job lifting them of the gravel. But not this year, no this year I have a new toy. A super duper industrial leaf blower which is doing the job very well and saving me days of back breaking work yeh! So far I've done in one day what it took me four to do last year, more than well worth the cost of the machine. David has also discovered it's great for rounding up the grass strimming - double win.


Some Hawthorn berries gathered on a local dog walk

On Wednesday night we wrapped up and headed into Edinburgh Botanic Gardens for the Botanic Lights, this has become something of an annual outing for us and you can read about this years trip here 

Twinkly christmas lights

There's no getting away from Christmas now, I've started putting out the decorations and lights around the house and the tree will go up in the next couple of days. I need to finish shopping and get the truffles made, then we're almost there. We had a lovely festive dinner with friends on Friday night, it was lovely to sit around their log stove with wine, chat and good company and food, great for the soul on a freezing night.

Christmas lights at the window

A new bauble for the tree this year sitting in my gorgeous wooden bowl by our dear friend
Andrew from Wood Yew Believe it



What do you do with your empty Edinburgh Gin bottles? I've put mistletoe in mine and stuck candles I had in a drawer in them, and voila free festive candle sticks!



On Sunday I was in the warm at Whitmuir selling, mistletoe, gift vouchers and seasonal gifts. It was nice to catch up with people and make sales. It was bitterly cold again, with the temperatures down to -9C overnight! Brrrrrrrrrrrrr. I will be there again next Sunday, 17th with more mistletoe and gift ideas. There is also great food in the cafe and farm shop, gorgeous art in the Dancing Light Gallery and antiques and Christmas trees at Gladstonebag antiques and Vintage. The fire will be on in the cafe, so why not come along and do some Christmas shopping.

Selling christmas cheer

So that's another week and a bit gone, there is lots getting done indoors and out, behind the scene and in the nursery. I am behind compared to the last two years, but funerals, bad colds and motivation do that. I am really looking forward to having all my boys home for christmas and spending time with my nearest and dearest and the comfort there is in that.

Until next time, keep warm, keep festive and I'll go and work on more christmas ideas, website work and leaf lifting!






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Saturday, 9 December 2017

Christmas at Edinburgh Botanics

This has become an annual Christmas night out for David and I since the event started a few years ago. So far we've always been lucky with the weather, considering it's November or December, though luckily this year we were back in the car five minutes and the heavens opened. This year the light display and organisation was done by a different company, so we were interested to see how different it would be. 

Up-lighting trees

Arriving through the west gate this year, the entrance to the display was through the John Hope Gateway (allowing for shopping in the RBGE shop if you've still got Christmas shopping to do). It was definitely a lot quieter than last year, but that may due to it being on Itison as an offer last year. As in previous years the route is organised to wind through the gardens creating a trail of about a mile. There was a lot more food huts this year, with choices of hot dogs, burgers, waffles, mulled wine and coffee on the patio outside the terrace cafe up by Inverlieth House. Once we'd enjoyed waffles and a warming hot chocolate (David - driver) and mulled wine (me - medicinal for this cold of course) we headed over to the lawn in front of the house.

Squid Soup

Squid soup in red

and white

Squid soup was the instillation on the lawn in front of Inverlieth House and I really liked this. Balls on stalks that lit up and made a quiet tune, almost like they were talking to each other, quite eerie in the dark as you walked through it. From here you get a good view of the centre of the city with all the fun of the fair going on in Princes Street.

Inverleith House and squid soup

We followed the path down hill past trees decorated with giant Christmas baubles and dripping lights and then up into the woodland area to the choir of trees. With ropes of lights winding up the tree trunks you are serenaded through the trees and beyond to the fire garden.

Dripping lights

Giant baubles

Lit globes on the lawns, sometimes they're white

and sometimes red, then every colour in between

The tree choir

Walking up from the big pond towards the glasshouses we were mesmerised by the dancing flames of the fire garden. Lines of flames snaked through the trees and around metal Christmas trees topped with suns and moons taking us on up towards the palm house.

An alternative Christmas tree

The fire garden

I would like one of these

A light tree

The palm house

The palm house lends itself to a light display with it's beautiful architecture and back drop of dark night. A series of colours and combinations played over the building to music, very impressive.









Also new this year was the wall of light, a curtain of lights draped along the giant beech hedge! This was simple but quite spectacular in it's scale. The Pampas grass also looked impressive back lit by the hedge.

A wall of light

Botanic Cottage, a old new addition to the gardens

Hedge of light, palm house and the moon, new, old and ancient

Red trees and disco balls

From here we arrived back at the entrance where we had a wander through the shop and I saw a couple of books I'm going to add to my book list. We enjoyed our night out, especially as it's the first time we'd both been out of the house for three days due a particularly bad cold. I did enjoy getting a chance to use my new camera at long last.

Was this as good as previous years? Had the new company done as good or better as previous? I don't think so, I came away feeling a bit disappointed to be honest. There was none of the amazing theatrical light and sound productions as previously on the big pond or in the Chinese garden. It just didn't feel as exciting as before, but maybe that's just me. 

Find out for yourself, information on the RBGE website here

A tree of light

Time to go home


Read about a previous visit to the Botanic lights here




If you want to find out what's been happening in our garden at home like our Facebook page 
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Find out more about the nursery here - our web site: www.quercusgardenplants.co.uk


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Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Designing a New Border for Year Round Interest

This is a border I've planned to do all year, indeed I've also had most of the plants all year too. As the propagation and weeding duties tail off towards the end of the season here in the nursery and gardens I get a chance to design, create and develop more borders. This may sometimes seem a bit of an indulgence, a chance for me to play and try out new planting combinations, garden design and old favourites, but there is a business reason too, honest! 

In the beginning ......... there were lots of weeds
In the beginning ......... there were lots of weeds

Getting plants in the ground here in the nursery has several advantages:

~ I can propagate from them once big enough, meaning I am propagating from organic, healthy and hardy stock.
~ I can bulk up plants that I might only have a few of for use in the future.
~ Plants often behave quite differently in pots and in the ground, so this gives customers a chance to see what plants will do three, five or more years down the line.
~ Planting out borders and indeed whole gardens in the nursery inspire customers and encourage them to get creative and lets them see what can be grown and achieved in our often adverse growing conditions.

Progress, one triangle cleared and dug over
Progress, one triangle cleared and dug over and another to go,
you might notice progress in the fence at the back too as we go along

It's that awful clay soil again!
It's that awful clay soil again!

So what is this border about? It consists of two triangles, following the top of the banking around the edge of the grass stock beds. I've designed it to be a combination of shrubs, perennials, bulbs and annuals that will give interest all year round. You can find a planting list at the bottom of the blog. I've found at this end of the nursery, although the soil is clay, the plants do really well and grow amazingly quickly, despite being exposed at the top of the bankings. I've planted a Prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai' in the centre of the second triangle. This is one of my favourite shrubs and will provide height and bulk over time with it's spring flowers and fiery autumn colour.

Removing the "turf" and starting to dig over the new border
Removing the "turf" and starting to dig over the new border

One triangle finished
One triangle finished

Planting, always the exciting bit
Planting, always the exciting bit

A key design element I always try to incorporate in all my borders is keeping the garden interesting all year. Be it stem, leaf, flower, shape or scent, we can achieve something to look at in most borders throughout the year. Some of the perennials carry foliage all year, even in winter, the Digitalis and Aquilegias do this and so will provide some green through winter into spring, when the Tulips will flower. Followed by the flowers of the Aquilegia, Clematis and Alliums. Then we're into summer where a shrub rose will provide mid-summer colour and scent, under-planted with Sedums to extend the season into autumn. Persicarias will flower right through mid summer until autumn, accompanied by Dahlias and Asters. Or at least that's the plan.


More progress
More progress

The finished borders, just need all the plants to grow now
The finished borders, just need all the plants to grow now

Below are some of the plants I've chosen for the borders, some we have for sale in the nursery and others I hope to add to the stock list soon. 

Persicaria microcelhala ‘Red Dragon’
Persicaria microcelhala ‘Red Dragon’

Prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai'
Prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai'

Prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai'
Prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai'

Digitalis ferruginea
Digitalis ferruginea

Clematis alpina 'Columbine'
Clematis alpina 'Columbine'

Rosa 'Maidens Blush'
Rosa 'Maidens Blush'


Planting List
Agrostemma githago, "Corn Cockle" (annual)
Allium sphaerocephalon
Aquilegia atrata
Aster amellus 'Rosa Erf├╝llung'
Clematis alpina 'Columbine' 
Cleome hasseleriana 'Cherry Queen' (annual)
Dahlia 'Bishop of Leicester'
Digitalis ferruginea
Hemerocallis 'Catherine Woodberry'
Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firedance'
Persicaria microcelhala ‘Red Dragon’
Prunus incisa 'Kojo no Mai'
Rosa 'Maidens Blush'
Salvia guarantica 'Blue Enigma'
Sedum 'Carl'
Staphylea pinnata 
Tulipa ‘Ronaldo’




Other garden / border design blogs:

Creating paths and prairie beds
Creating a Scottish natives garden
From Weedy strip to all year round interest
Starting another prairie border
Creation of the nursery entrance
Native woodland and hedgerow borders
Creating the herb and scented wedding garden
Border at the top steps


If you want to find out what's been happening in our garden at home like our Facebook page 
                                                      The quirky Bird Gardener 

 If you to see whats new and looking good at the nursery like our Facebook page
                                                         Quercus Garden Plants


Find out more about the nursery here - our web site: www.quercusgardenplants.co.uk


Follow us on Instagram @quirkybirdgardener


You can now sign up for our monthly newsletter on the facebook page or by emailing us to be added to our mailing list



All contents  and photographs ©  Rona, unauthorised reproduction & use of these images is strictly forbidden, thank you