Wednesday, 31 August 2011

I do my garden thinking whilst standing on one leg, on the window ledge...........

Increasing my own self-sufficency, I've discovered, after a gale, that if you lean out of the window, with a flowery sweeping brush in your hand and *adjust* (bash vigorously, but without damage) the satelite dish on the side of the house, you restore your television signal nicely. Well done me, that saved a call to the local TV shop, who I'm sure are very busy fixing alot of that kind of issue after bad winds. However, it also leads to a different view of the garden, whilst perched on the windowsill, upstairs, trying not to fall out of the window. Therefore I stood there for a while, contemplating, stretching and thinking some more. A cellist entered the room and sat down, unphased by my window ledge, yoga-esk flowery brush wielding stance- 'Telly off again? Guess that was the wind, whats for tea?', shes very clever like that. Nothing much phases her, she returned to her book, the fall out of gales are pretty normal on an island, although not generally so much in the summer.

There you go something productive to come out of bad weather, a different view of the garden and an attempt at windowsill yoga. I guess gales and being trapped indoors like last weekend focusses the mind somewhat regarding the garden and leads to novel exercise techniques. You do spend alot of time trapped indoors thinking and looking at the weather and the garden and how its working or as, with my garden, not working very well with the wind. With the hind sight of last year, I'd removed the garden bird feeder during the storm, last year the feeder we had ended up in the hedge, thankfully not the house - but I didn't want to risk it again. Therefore I moved it, I'm thinking where it can go next and I will HAVE to concrete this in to avoid a birdfeeder/window encounter. Thats clear enough, twice in the space of a year, thats needing done.

It would appear, on the positive after the garden flooded/gale trashing incident, the 'pond' idea for the bed outside the lounge/sunny room is a great idea, as left to its own devices clearly it WOULD be a pond. Therefore after they've recovered a bit of vertical stature, kept flowering for a bit, or are blown away, the marigold bed will be dug out and a pond will replace it. I'm quite looking forward to this, I've never had a pond before. I'm going to have fish too - why not, and maybe a lily? How exciting! Thankfully we'd harvested the 'Potato onions' just a few days before, a new variety kind of like a shallot, but its an onion, but my onion harvest wasn't great this year, not sure why - too cold perhaps? None of the varieties I've grown have done very well.
The raspberries have taken a battering, currently at 45 degree angle in the garden. The water flooding hasn't helped and I've resigned myself that they need to go under cover. Its too exposed here, but it was worth a go, clearly an 'indoor' crop in this garden. The stems are very damaged, the plants are waterlogged and have socketed quite incredibly during the two days of wind, roots quite broken and exposed. In fact if they'd been any older, I think they really suffer more and more each year. OK, I can cope with that, they need to be moved and will be happier in the about to go up polytunnel. They'll crop better and I'll find it easier to cope with the wind if I don't worry about them. But what to replace them with........I had thought about shrubs, but this part of the garden, despite the hedge is just too exposed for shrubs outwith the shelter of the fence.

The hardy fushia (Fushia magelanica) and the hardy flowering currants (Ribes sanguinium) I had planted for shelter in the borders of the front garden, simply only work by the fence - I've lost 15 out of 20 of them (which I bought argh) and those which are surviving aren't exactly thriving - they aren't back to last years size when I bought them after the gales! Therefore they need the protection of the fence/windbreak and I'll move what's left of them. But what to replace them with? I'm thinking, having looked after the gales, of replacing them with a wholly perennial type planting the local Crocosmia which isn't as trashed as it should be in that wind and flowers nicely late on. I've alot of this on the track and in the waste ground by the house, I feel a bit of 'relocation, relocation, relocation' coming on for it, free plants which will thrive work for me! The photo is Crocosmia 'Lucifer' from Happy Valley, but the bog standard Orkney one, on my track is a nice one too, although a bit more orange, so I'll use that and maybe get a bit of 'Lucifer' for my new Orkney border......

OK so thats those bits taken care of. The new recycled gate  (made from a bunkbed) which was previously solid has blown off 3 times - its had a bit of a butchering now and is not solid anymore, I've knocked out several planks and its now more air-flowing-friendly. I've discovered, that letting the wind filter through is much better than trying to make it go around something. We'll see how that fairs.................or I'll reattach it for the 4th time..............well practice makes perfect eh?

Veggie bed doesn't seem to be too bad and is working well tucked behind the hedge, however, the willow hedge is not liking the gales at this time of year, I've had 3-4 of them blown over, which means I might have to cut it back each year. Gales in the summer can be worse due to the leaves and the heaviness of the trees.  To save them blowing over, I'll keep them trim in future - dreams of 10ft hedges of willow I think might be a bit of a pipedream - they've blown over at 7ft...................but hey you live and learn!

I'm also going to put in an 'Orkney' hardy perennial plant bed around the garden infront of the hedge - I think, to be fair, it will be my best bet for a bit of colour in the garden. Perennials which are hardy and survive here will work, I've my eye on many locally. OK, so the pallete might be limited and the plants might be restricted, but I've decided, whilst standing on one leg, hanging out of the window, gazing at the garden with a flowery brush in my hand, lifes hard enough without fighting with the wind. I'll work with the plants which work with the wind and dream about the others from the comfort of my chair looking at books! I know once the tunnel is up I can develop a more diverse palette of flowers in there. I've no issue using a bit of that space for a flower garden, in fact its compulsary! All, that thinking from being trapped indoors and fighting with the wind!

Oh, and a bit of news from the stripey island homestead - we've two new additons to the family arrived just before the gales - a couple of byre cats, I'm hoping will help with our rodent problem in the winter. 

Introducing Marmalade and Domino, byre cats of distinction and ratters in the making, extraordinaire. They have to be kept in for a few days to get use to their new patch, but are happy enough watching us out of the window for the moment, best place in all that wind! But, I'll have to tell them, when the pond arrives to leave the fish alone...............the winds bad enough!


  1. Oh they're lovely! And the wind yoga sounds ... innovative, lets say! But what a shame it limits you so badly .... still, once you get that polytunnel up, there'll be no stopping you :)

  2. I love "Lucifer" and have loads in my garden, as well as lots of other Crocosmia. Such a great, cheap fill in when you have lots of bare space.

  3. Look forward to your video for windowsill yoga... Your poor plants, they have clearly taken a real battering. The fact that even the willow failed to cope says it all really. The pond will look good though, and will survive the wind just fine, though you may have to stop the cats learning to surf on it...

  4. Janet, the DVD is in the pipeline, yoga on the ledge......
    I've had about a month of the calendula, I should be grateful eh? I'm beginning to wonder if there simply wasn't a garden here, cos, they tried and failed.

    Anne, I love it too :) thanks!

    Jan the cats send on their best x

    Great news today, first polytunnel post concerted in, with lashings of concrete!

  5. Limited restricted? They call that minimalism. And - sense of place. You will, in a few years, have a very special garden. Born of knowledge and experience.

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