Sunday, 23 July 2017

So Summer You're Going so Fast

Lets get the weather out the way first shall we? At the moment it's a dry day, a wet day, a dry day, a bit warmer, but no consistency or stability. Still at least it saves me lots of watering at the nursery. 

One of the lovely things about this time of year is the abundance of fresh herbs from the garden,
mint, basil, parsley and tarragon for a potato, courgette and goats cheese quiche

A gorgeous summer evening and the view from the back garden

Adding herbs into the garden meets wild flower mix for the cafe flowers this week

I've been a bit under the weather with a lingering cold, hay fever and the effects of working six manic days a week since the beginning of February. With less than a month until the wedding (yikes!), the nursery still being very busy (a great thing), the worry of my sister's worrying health and so much to do I have been taking lots of tonics and cold remedies to try and get my energy levels back up. Some sleep would be cool too. I'm aiming to also take every second Monday off and try and catch up at home and relax (ha ha).

Does any one else feel they are always peddling furiously and never just coasting along?

Although I was weeding it was nice to
be doing it in the sun while listening to the
crickets in the long grass

A place to sit in the sun and enjoy the scent of the sweet peas in the scented garden

Cutting the first sweet peas, it's ages since I've grown them so I picked my favourites to grow here in the nursery. Left to right 'Beaujolais', 'Old Times' and 'Wiltshire Ripple'. The scent is fabulous.

David has now finished the stairs between the herb garden and wildlife garden and the path through the wild life garden, so we are well on track for the wedding now. Everything is looking fab we just need sun and I have to keep on top of the weeds. One thing I've noticed while working in the nursery gardens are the amount of bees buzzing about. It's reassuring that our small corner has a good number despite country wide declining numbers.

Busy bees in the garden

This week has mainly been weeding and the usual nursery jobs. I've got all the borders apart from the stock bed borders done, but the weeds grow again as soon as I turn my back! The downside to opening up new ground. There are lots of summer interest plants making their way from the tunnel to the sales area. Penstemons, scented Pelargoniums, lilies and Salvias for summer colour.

David has turned our farm auction sieves into
a feature in the nursery, I've planted a Clematis
in front to climb up it

On Monday I headed to Innerleithan to meet with our wedding photographer to finalise the details. It was a scorching day, so good to see the sun and blue sky. After the meeting Bracken and I climbed up to Pirn hill fort above Innerleithan. Once at the top there are great views in all directions along the Tweed Valley and north to the Moorfoot Hills We extended the walk by walking along the forest path to the golf course and back.  

Four paw drive makes hill climbing much easier

Looking north from Pirn Hill fort to the Moorfoots with Lee Pen on the left

We parked on Leithen road jut off the main road through Innerleithan in the car park on the right side of the road. From here it's a quick walk heading north along the road to the sign pointing right for the hill fort. Walking between the houses you cross a lovely old stone bridge across the Leithen Water. Once across the bridge follow the path up to the right to the info board and map. 

If you look at the map please note the "you are here" pin is in the wrong place. To walk to the fort take the path to the right heading up hill and turn left at the blue marker. From here you follow the path around the hill and take the rough grass track at the back of the hill to the summit. The way down takes you down the other side and back to the info board where we carried on to walk to the golf course. 

Bracken the adventurer

The view over Innerleithan

Yeh! Up a hill

Lee Pen hill

Grasses and wild flowers with Lee Pen in the back ground

Walking through the woods towards the golf course

Sambucus racemosa in the woods

It was lovely to get an extra day off, just what I'm needing at the moment to get my energy back and catch up. On Tuesday David and I went shopping which is always regarded as an necessary evil. We needed to get some final wedding bits and pieces and things from the DIY store to finish of several projects at the nursery in time for the wedding. We had some lunch out and managed to tick everything off our to do list for the day. The weather was lovely again and it was nice to wear summer clothes and sandals and get out of my work boots for a change. In the evening David, Dan and I headed into Glasgow to meet up with Granny, Ben and Jamie to celebrate Jamie's 21st birthday. We had a lovely meal in Prezzo, an Italian restaurant and finished off with surprise birthday cake and candles. I have mummy rights which mean I can embarrass my children at will.

Jamie, another son reaches his twenties!

Architectural detail on the canopy of Queen Street Station, Glasgow

Sunset on the way home from Glasgow

Sunset in the mirror

A wee quick round up of last week, the time is going so quick, I think I must write a blog and then realise I haven't done the week before. Hey ho.

Hope your week is going well and you've got better weather than us.

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Monday, 17 July 2017

In a Vase on a Monday - Summer Roses

I've not got many roses at the moment as we are between gardens and one of these is growing in the garden of the house we are renting. Unusually I only know the name of one of these, the multi headed semi double red on the left, which is Rose 'Eye Paint'. It's still flowering madly in a pot next to the back door.

A vase for a sunny summer evening

I'm running out of vases to use as most are packed away in the attic, while we rent for a while. The thought of venturing into the attic to look for my vases fills me with horror, so it won't be happening. I've had this old stone bottle for years, in fact I can't even remember where it came from, it sits on the dresser usually, just waiting for it's moment of glory.

A scented bouquet of roses for mid summer

This lovely white rose is growing in the garden, 
I've no idea which variety it is but it produces plenty flowers 

The single pink is on a huge head of tiny flowers and I suspect it's a root stock of a cultivar that's grown from the base. The long, very spiny branches it's flung out this year certainly suggest it's a briar of some kind. The gorgeous, heavily scented dark purple on the right again has no name as it came with a piece of bamboo in a pot from a friend.

Rose 'Eye Paint' enjoying some evening sun

Mixing in a couple of ferns for foliage interest,
 Athyrium felix femima 'Frizelliae' and Athyrium felix femima 

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting In a vase on a Monday. You can visit here blog for more inspiration and vases.

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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

A Visit to Branklyn Gardens

A few weeks ago in that spell of glorious weather that made it feel like a real summer here in Scotland we went to Perthshire. After visiting Scone Palace we headed back into Perth and stopped off at Branklyn Gardens which is run by the National Trust of Scotland Garden. It's a very long time since I've been there so it was interesting to go back and visit. The gardens were first created by John and Dorothy Renton in the 1920's around their arts and crafts inspired house. With a combination of plants and seeds brought back by plant hunters and their flare for creating a very unique garden they have left a garden and plant collection that attracts plant lovers from all over the world. 

Walking through the dappled shade of trees and shrubs

For me one of the attractions of Branklyn is the way the mature trees and shrubs have enclosed the garden, making it feel like a total escape away from the busy roads and town outside. Here you can lose yourself in the narrow paths that wind their way under big Rhododendrons, Acers and Magnolias searching for those special plants the gardens are well known for.

The rockery
Once into the garden proper you descend down a set of steps into the rockery where it sits in a pool of sunlight amongst the surrounding trees. Here many miniature gems are nestled in amongst the rocks, from miniature conifers to tiny Saxifrages they form a constantly changing pattern of form and colour through out the year. I feel Branklyn has a little bit of everything, a sample of Scottish gardens at it's best, a rockery, peat garden, pond, trees, woodland, bulbs, perennials and herbaceous borders.

Amazing Acers!

Colour doesn't have to come from flowers alone, I'm a great fan of foliage colour through out the year and these Acers didn't disappoint. The purple filigree foliage of the Acer palmatums contrast beautifully with the tall golden Acers and evergreen foliage is provided by many Rhododendrons, Embothrium and pines.

Big show off deciduous Azaleas in full flower

Calanthe tricarinata

Sometimes the most interesting and beautiful plants and flowers are the ones hiding away. While the riotous Rhododendrons and Azaleas shout here we are and there's is no missing them, sometimes it's worth getting down to ground level and searching out the more curious and hidden ones. The Calanthe above is a hardy Japanese species which was quite at home in the damp leafy soil under the trees.

Embothrium coccineum or Chilean Fire Bush

Visiting a NTS garden is like re-visiting the very beginning of my horticulture career thirty years ago. I spent the first three years of my career in NTS gardens first as a sixteen year old on the NTS YTS scheme then on the two year diploma course at Threave School of Gardening. I re-discover the first plants I learnt the Latin names of and plants I came across for the first time. Plants, like scent and music take me back to where I first met them or worked with them and more often than not it's Inveresk, Threave and Crathes. Names that roll off the tongue..... Enkianthus campanulatus, Humulus lupulus 'Aureus' and so on.

Enkianthus campanulatus with it's bell shaped flowers
hence the name from campanula or little bell

Thalictrums and Azaleas provide a profusion of colour with a confetti layer
 of petals on the path below

Can you tell I loved the Acers? I took a few photos!

Acers again

May is the perfect time to visit Branklyn with the Rhodoendrons and azaleas in full flower and early summer perennials starting to do their thing and then there is the Meconopsis. There were many groups of the blue Himalayan poppies through out the gardens, enjoying the dappled shade and rich soil.

Meconopsis 'Merit', an outstanding clear white 

Meconopsis with candelabra Primulas in the
 background making a fabulous combination

Perfect Himalayan poppies

Oooops Acers again!

Primula seiboldii

I hope you have enjoyed a wee wander around Branklyn Gardens as much as I did. I definitely hope not to leave it another twenty years before I make it back again. To plan a visit yourself see the website here Branklyn Gardens

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Monday, 3 July 2017

In a Vase on a Monday - Pretty in Pink

Pretty in pink

As I stepped out the door to cut some flowers the first that caught my aye was the huge honey suckle that rampages through the hedge on the west border of this garden. In the evening the patio is heady with it's scent and all day and night there is a gentle background hum of the bees going about their business gathering the pollen.

A hint of purple from Geranium psilostemon, to be fair the flowers should be magenta
but the shadow of the evening has turned them purple!

I find this time of summer a bit in between in the garden, do you? All the early summer flowerers are going over and there's a lull before late summer colour gives us all those yellows and oranges.

Astrantia, Astilbe and Rose 'Eye Paint' supported by purple sage in the back ground

This is where long lasting flowers such as Astrantia and grasses come into play along with coloured foliage such as Purple sage. They add another dimension to flower arrangements both with colour and texture. I love using herbs in vases, not only do they look god but the smell is wonderful too. Sanguisorba menziesii is the first to come into flower and is just going over now, this is the last of the flowers on the left with it's bottle brush look

A jug from my collection of Chef ware sets of the arrangement, giving it a real summer feel,
despite the heavy rain we've had this week

Astrantia 'Buckland' and Rosa 'Eye Paint' make a lovely couple. This rose flowers well into November in my garden here at home

and lastly that gorgeous scented honeysuckle which I can smell
on the breeze as I write this blog

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting In a vase on a Monday. You can visit here blog for more inspiration and vases.

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Saturday, 1 July 2017

A Well Watered Catching up Post

Some weeks I have plenty ideas of what I want to chat about in my blog, lots of things have happened and I have lots of photos to share. Others weeks I just ramble on about random things (you'll have noticed) and sometimes it is quiet and things are just gently trundling along. Although it doesn't feel gently at the moment, it's a bit hectic at home and in the nursery as it all seems to be weeding and wedding, which are both almost the same words too, interestingly. There wasn't much of interest to talk about last week and now suddenly it's this week so here I am on a two week catch up post.

All mornings should start like this, a mocha and taste testing chocolate and
 beetroot cake in the Whitmuir cafe

The sunny hot weather of May and early June seems to have deserted us completely with temperatures falling by between five and ten degrees. The rain has also returned along with a northerly wind making it feel even colder. The rain was welcome to fill up the water table and refresh the plants and gardens but we would like that sun and warmth back, please, especially for August. When I say rain, it has really rained some days, cats and dogs, stair rods, it's been raining. Perfect for ducks, frogs, toads and gardeners ..... up to a point. Some days and nights it has fallen heavily and constantly. I considered building a boat or emigrating but finally decided at least the plants were getting a good water which saved me a job, though they might be in danger of floating away if it doesn't stop

Our wildflower bankings are in full flower now, the Ox-Eye daisies are spectacular this year along with Campion, yellow rattle, lots of different grasses, knapweed, Ragged Robin and many more. We have a selection of wild flowers for sale in the nursery so you can create your own mini meadow or wildflower border. When we bought the nursery two years ago we began a programme of strimming and selectively weeding the wildflower bankings. This is really paying off already with an increase in the yellow rattle and flowers and a decrease in the more thuggish grasses. We are also pulling out the creeping thistles and Epilobium as it appears and hopefully over time they will weaken. The yellow rattle is a parasitic plants which lives on grasses, thus diminishing them in the bankings and letting the wild flowers have more room. 

The cafe flowers in June and July are full of garden flowers
 and wildflowers, I love the rich combination of colours
at this time of year

Practising wedding posies
for August

Work in the tunnel is slowing down, I've potted up all the cuttings I did earlier in summer and am potting up seedlings as required. There are more cuttings done and the summer interest plants have all made their way to the sales area for this year. Most of the potting is done, just a few batches in the stock beds to do on wet days. It's a nice time of year when the hectic pressure of late winter and spring are done and we can take time to enjoy the fruits of our labours in the nursery and gardens. Until the next lot of weeds appear of course!

Cerinthe are a great plant for summer interest and good for flower arranging too

Another summer favourite we sell is chocolate cosmos,
 when you can get your chocolate fix without putting on the calories

Now my youngest is on school holidays he has been coming in every so often to sand down and re-paint all the garden benches we have in the nursery. He's making a great job of them too. It's also nice to have his company and gets him out the house for a while. A couple of the benches we got at auction so it's nice to see them finally being renovated and getting a new lease of life.

The nursery gardens have really filled out this year and our visitors are surprised when they hear we've only been there two years. Clay soil might be difficult to work but it is full of nutrients for the plants. As I frequently say to customers the key to a successful garden is to plant the right plants for your garden. Every garden is it's own little micro climate and it's worth watching what way the wind blows and circulates around the garden and where the sun falls, or doesn't.

Hostas have also been enjoying the rain

Wedding rings have arrived, another tick off the
W-day task list

Last Monday Val and I went for a walk in Cardrona forest, just along the Tweed valley from Peebles. I took Bracken and Val had a friends daft collie so the two dogs had great fun while we walked and talked. Afterwards we went to Kailzie gardens to meet the gardener there, have coffee and cake and a walk around the gardens. A lovely way to spend a few hours on a Monday. On Tuesday it was heavy rain again so we took youngest and headed to Livingston to do some shopping, we ticked a lot of things off the to do list and kitted Dan out for the wedding.

Cardrona Hotel from a different angle

Roses in the gardens at Kailzie

Kailzie gardens

Felicia in the greenhouses at Kailzie

A giant butterfly bred by the gardener

Meanwhile at home the gardens are looking neglected, I haven't had the time or energy to deal with them when I get home at night, and they are a serious embarrassment for a proffessional! I do enough to keep it tidy and presentable and I have sorted out some of the borders nearest the house (we're renting for now). In the greenhouses however all is good and growing. My Pelergoniums have recovered from their severe haircut and being re-potted and the cacti and succulent bench is full of exotic flowers. Also looking good is my pot of Eucomis bicolor or Pineapple Lily as you can see in the photos below. This is the most flowers it has ever had and has been flowering for nearly three weeks now.

I always think this is an inbetween time in the garden, early summer flowers are going over and we aren't quite there with the late summer autumn ones yet. It's worth looking past the fading flowers to plants who's foliage is also interesting or colourful and equally as interesting as flowers. Rodgersia and ferns look great at the moment, as well as Hostas and Ligularias. Grasses are coming into their own and evergreens are producing new foliage.

Thalictrum 'Elin', one of my favourite plants with it's ridiculously tall flower stems to over 7 feet tall. Ideal back of the border plant or even in the middle to make a statement as I have done here in the nursery. It flowers from July onwards on dark stems and copes with our cold exposed conditions and clay soil very well.

Knautia arvensis or field Scabious growing in the nursery gardens is a great adition to wild flower plantings. With it's pale purple or lilac to pink scabious flowers through July it is useful for flower arrangements and for attracting insects to the garden.

Iris foetidissima, the stinking iris, an evergreen iris with glossy rich green leaves and small, yellow-tinged, dull purple flowers which are followed by large pods opening to show bright orange-red seeds, which persist into winter, probably it's most distinctive feature.

Acaena microphylla in flower and looking stunning. This is a great ground cover plant which will grow pretty much anywhere including poor soil, sun or shade. It is what I call an enthusiastic plant so give it plenty space. It will also take some foot traffic at the side of paths or inbetween slabs. This plant in the nursery is making its way across the track and will soon be in the Whitmuir kitchen with Val and Shaz if we're not careful.

The finished herb garden, with a month to spare. now to keep on top of the weeds!

This week's day and a half off have mainly involved ferrying sons to and from train stations and hospitals. But in between I have managed to deal with the weeds in the patio and paths at home, finish re-doing the alpine troughs which I started about two months ago! I've cleaned the car and cut back some Geraniums, cleaned the manky hoose and ticked a few more things off the wedding to do list. 

I've been working hard on my instagram account and the nursery facebook page, please follow the links below and join me there too. Look forward to seeing you.

How has your week been? Hope the weather is being kinder to you, bring back the sun.

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