Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Wordless Wednesday - My week

Unexpected potting shed visitors.
Leftover tulips - not purple.
Bonnie new beech leaves.
Castles and puddles
Woodland scamps in wild garlic
Apple blossom - Kellie Castle
Honesty - Lunaria annua
Haggis at Elie Beach 
Greta the Great
Furniture tester
Rainbows and Herring Gulls in puddles
After work beach strolls.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Wordless Wednesday - Alliums (Wild Garlic and Three-cornered Leek) and a wee cheeky tea-break video.

Wild garlic or ‘ramsons’ refers to the leaves of Allium ursinum, a distant relative of chives.

Wild garlic is a prolific species which are often foraged in April and May.

Its cousin Allium triquetrum - the three cornered leek.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Desks, peonies and garden nonsense.

New desk, almost the size of a small car.
 I guess I should confess to a couple of things. I bought a desk. Well, that is to say, I was gifted a desk. And very bonnie it is too. We're now broadcasting from here looking over the bird table to my left, as lets face it this desk is so large, I can't currently see over it. And, barely when I'm standing.
Some of the 26 drawers.
It has loads of crazy drawers, which will I'm sure contain crazy things. I just counted. 26 drawers and various crazy cupboards of all shapes and sizes. It's officially awesome. Even if it is the size of a small country. I swear it grows before my very eyes. 

I've also been dividing up the garden and discovering surprises. I know you were wondering about that.  And its just as well, as lots of things I was given when we moved in still keep growing and some of them have flowered too. 
Striking tree peony opened this week, a gift from a friend and what a beauty.
Which means I'm not as bad a gardener as I thought. I'm great at propagating, its true, keeping things alive.....often not so much.
Tree peony - fabulous and the colour of deepest red.
Isn't this possibly the most bonnie tree peony you've ever seen? My friend collected it and gave me a baby plant when we moved in. It's stupendous and clearly quite robust. I really like that it was kind enough to compliment the Acer that was here already. And, no I didn't tidy up for you coming. This is a 'warts and all' garden.
The lasses border with all the donated plants and the Acer.
The bird table lives at the end of this border, it is filled with lots of visitors now. We've all sorts of things from green finches to blue, coal and great tits. I did make the mistake of sending himself a link to the latter at work. Who knew a wee passerine could block the work server........
The sittery-ootery bit. Cephalaria giganteaCardiocrinum giganteum, that crazy tree peony, and various perennials in pots. I never said it would be colour co-ordinated. We're going for 'yes you'll need your sunglasses' here.
Back to this garden dividing. We've now got two areas on the terrace. One for eating and one for sitting (and eating). So I guess we're focussed on eating down there. Beds are stuffed to bursting with a hotch-potch of donations from friends.  Lush is what we were going for.
Perrenial cornflower Centura montana - common as much but I love it and I think it compliments the blue hose nicely.
And, lush it is.
Trusty hammock and the lazy apple tree.
The apple tree dominates (even though its not quite flowering yet) the next area with a nice babbapapa shaped lawn and a skinny bed to the left (which turns out is pretty shady).  You'll remember that I dug up all the grass except this bit. Whoops. This is more than enough grass for me.  
Shady border - thinking this might eventually just be shrubs. Dicentra spectablis 'Alba' - hardier than it looks, another donation.
This skinny shrub bed opens up to divide the lawn from the veg patch. A larger bed here had alliums and verbena last year. The wind really hammered the verbena so we'll see if a wee hedge might work behind here, verbena won't work. Its too much of a lightweight to cope with the wind. I'm trying it on the terrace this year, tucked in. The Orkney rhubarb, sent down in a carrier bag from a chum (Thank you James!) is beginning to wake up. Lazy thing.
Orkney rhubarb sent by a friend and alliums. I counted 22 (alliums not rhubarb plants)
We've a second kidney shaped bed to the right which links to 'Tracey Island'. I painted the fence and planted more climbers. 
Scruffy perennials and the honeysuckle lives.
Tracey Island itself is dominated by a rowan underplanted with snowdrops, wild garlic and fox gloves. A few perennials also pop up to fill up the space.
Veg patch with autumn rasps looking very scruffy but hoping for an early crop before the main one.
                                           Veg patch with sleepers, still looks a bit bare. 
Work in progress for sure. The veg patch.
There's a gazebo to go in there, one day. Edges are bursting with fruit. Alpine strawberries, autumn raspberries on one side with a bit of a 'wedgy' in fence post until the re-concreted posts set. Its too windy for this kind of fence here. Roses, currants and holly dominate the other.
Breakfast bench. Sweetpeas will touch the roof by the end of summer.
Sheds are now nicely painted and the sweetpeas are planted to clothe the side that gets the morning sun. The perfect breakfast spot complete with bunting. Window boxes flank the bench with violas offering some early spring cheer.
A throw out viola - weeded seedlings saved from work.
Woodstacks and stores have been built. Largely from pallets, filled with pallet and scrap wood. I think we need more.
Perpetual spinach in its second year of being destroyed by chickens. Its tough that's for sure.

Green house I have to admit is underused. When lots of plants might need attention I'm busy at peak snowdrop season at work. So we'll find a balance eventually. The chickens use the perpetual spinach patch as a drop in 'salad bar' as you can see when they are out roaming, this is pretty much self service.
 The back of the garden has been worked on a little. I've used the stone that was here and plants heading for the scrap heap at work. The little blighters are the 'hospital cases' at work which were too small for commercial propagation. OK for me though. Its one of the perks of the job the desperate cases get to come home and be saved. New bed has various things I might never have bought, but for now, they're filling a gap nicely.
Cardoons and Ajuga reptans 'Caitlin's Giant' jostle for attention. 
Ajuga reptans 'Caitlin's Giant' 
It's new to me and a beauty. Think of the normal one, seriously on steroids and that's kinda where we are at.
The S bed. S being for 'so-what-if-it-doesn't-match-it-was-free'.
Where once there was acres of weed suppressing fabric, there is now a curvy 'S' bed. The washing doobry hides in there. All the plants here are of the 'robust' nature as the hens are out most days. Spreading bark all over my paths just to be useful.
We started with 8 rescue hens and now have only two. I'm sad they are gone, but happy they had a good two years with us mooching around, free of factory farming. One, Greta has clearly been eating more cake than the other.
The neighbour kindly changed the fence panel at the bottom of the garden and now I have a view out to the fields beyond our village. You'll spot our difference of opinion in paint colour for fences. I just think black sets the plants off better. One day we'll buy a gate.  Maybe even this year.
Isn't that bonnie.
So when we moved in we had only grass and 9/10 of the remaining garden covered in fabric/gravel/bark. Now we have 9/10 of the garden a potential weed fest, still a bit of a holding area for plants, who knows if they'll stay where they've been plonked in.  The odd beauty peeking through were I have bought something. Angelica gigas, the purple Angelica is a firm favourite with me, so I even bought a real baby one, not some scruffy work cast out.
So mostly its fish boxes and 'airport beds' holding plants until I figure out what goes where. Fish boxes are still very much in use to trial things too.
Shatsa daisy - might be X superbum, as yet to be identified, another cast off at work in a fish box until I can see how it behaves.
So its a motley lot of pass them on plants, compost savings from the bin at work and donations from kind friends. Some of them like that Peony clearly gems. One thing is for sure, its a work in progress. Aren't we all? As I sit at my new desk and stare at the bird table, I realise we've all come a long way.  There's finally a bit of life in this garden. Albeit slightly rampant. Its full of donations from friends which makes me feel as if they are here too, which feels nice.

As long as the desk doesn't start growing, we'll be OK.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Compulsive Gardening Disorder and Giant Chickens. And, model dogs.

It's been a while you might think. Me too. I have Compulsive Gardening Disorder. At this time of year, I blame the snowdrops. Galanthus, they look all innocent and pure face, believe me they are not. Someone told me once winter was a quiet time in the garden. I think not. In the garden who took me in last year, all of the snowdrops have held me hostage for as long as I can currently remember. You know the poem 'Remember remember the last time you saw a snowdrop....' or something like that. Well the last time I dug, sorted, counted and wrapped up a snowdrop (or a mere 100 of them to be precise) was today. I'm exhausted. And, of course, don't tell, rather muddy. No one has a tan this good from January through to April. Its mud I tell you. Very unseasonal I know. And whilst this beauty is called 'Grumpy' I'm remarkably not grumpy at all after my second snowdrop season, this year as 'snowdrop overlord in training'.  Its not as glamorous as I make it sound. Snowdrops are little devils. All cute and wanting to be planted like penguins at the pole. In huddles of hundreds.

I'm hoping we've sent the final 'snowdrops in the green' parcel out to its new home. Seriously I really hope its the last of it, for a few months anyway.  Delicately digging, sorting, mossing, wrapping, parcel taping and posting 150,000 snowdrops is a tad exhausting. And that's just the ones who left the estate. For every snowdrop sent, several more are replanted in the garden, its a very sustainable, if crazy venture. Next dispatch is in the autumn. Yikes.

Buying snowdrops, it seems, is a very compulsive pass time for some folks. And, although I hate to admit it, they are bonnie, even the special ones. (....who are a nuisance to pack, diva's I tell you, divas.)
Photo courtesy of
You can, it seem, never have too much of a good thing. And, they say gardening is relaxing. What do 'they' know. Its been a blast. Although I'm really glad it's all over. Even the Leucojums (Snowflakes) are glad to see me gone.  I dug up far too many of their friends and swished them into the post this year. Bonnie though eh? Much better than real snowflakes which are cold and not as pretty.
Photo from wikipedia
After the snowdrop frenzy, I went on holiday. To rest you know. In the snow, I like to keep the snow theme going. Although not a snowdrop in sight. Bliss.
After that! I finally saw my own garden in daylight again. You know in real life. And its woken up. I'll post some photo's soon. Although it went to sleep again, in snow the day I took the garden sofa out. This does not bode well. Garden sofa's aren't a lot of fun in the snow. Especially on your birthday. Birthdays at the end of April, do not require snow.  Snow is for holidays.

Anyway, after that unordered snow, I went into it and was surprised at how its survived the winter. And, how some of it didn't. Life's funny like that some things died, right beside the same thing that also lived. Very odd. There are other odd things in my garden, its also full of gigantic chickens. Like really huge. When Greta bounds up I'm actually quite scared. Never say though, you know give a chicken an inch, and they're in the kitchen before you know it they're helping themselves to tea and cake. I keep a safe distance and the cake tin locked. She's almost bigger than me, I don't think I'd wrestle a cake off her any day of the week.
Greta the biggest chicken I've ever seen in my entire long life. She's potentially turning into a turkey. Do chickens do that?
 Who knew taking a hen out of a 'factory farm' encouraged it to grow like Godzilla. Me neither. They're looking good on life out there without me, whilst I was captive with snowdrops. Aren't they? In other shocking news.......
Photograph by Annie Baker, who's clearly a dog whisper, with a good hairbrush. Yes that IS my dog.
In my garden absence Haggis decided to take a full-time modelling career. I never knew he could actually stay still, never mind find a brush. I never even knew we owned one. He's also been posing all 'moody' in the garden, the minute I pick up a trowel he's all 'plant me, plant me' or at least take my photo, that dog has issues.
Haggis looking like a plant pot. Nae brain that mutt. 
He tells me he'll be on a biscuit tin shortly with his amazing good looks, although I think he meant, IN a biscuit tin.
Who sulks in plant pots?
 Peedie of course remains, as always, unimpressed by his nephews antics wondering where that biscuit in might be.
Peedie giving the Primulas a tasty look.
 So Haggis found a new friend.
Aunty Claire's third dog. I think its a chameleon.
So with the sweetpeas in and the cerinthe germinated, guess its time to get out there and get on with some work in my own garden. I've dropped full-time (and some) hours for a three day work in a different garden/two day arrangement with my own garden. The three day a week job saw me dismembering Hellebores all week. Well, give a girl a bread knife and a mallet.........Just don't tell anyone I took it, OK? Me and a big knife? We all knew how that was going to end.
Not well. Not for me and not for the Hellebores. Bonnie though eh?  The flowers not the finger. I have very ugly hands, ask my husband. He married me for my ugly hands. He did really. Not my cooking. What can I say, he likes ugly hands.
As for the butchered Hellebores, they're all lined out now in rows, the last time I looked there was more than 100 of the pesky little suckers. All standing like soldiers. I had to buy a few, seemed only right I lost my finger for them after all. Ugly or not, again the finger not the flower.

And, here was I moaning about how buying snowdrops was compulsive. I think I need a new rule. No more buying plants until they're all in the garden.

If you see someone with a head torch in their garden, they're probably in the same predicament as me. No matter the season, we're out being all muddy.

Compulsive Gardening Disorder.