Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Pretending to be Alys..............or Monty, or someone very the Highlands....

Thank you all very much for your kind words re the gardening in the windy north, you're all very kind and somehow or other we've got to 89 followers - a huge hello to you all, how exciting, folk actually read this! However, as kind as you all are, the real the art of garden photography it would appear, is to avoid the weeds and the slap-dash fencing and take photos of lots of lovely plants! Or, like today, just put up totally random photos of boats found on your adventures like the one above, taken at the Kyle of Tongue, an abandoned boat, a pot and a cuppa - bliss, more about that particular adventure in a moment! Although the native and garden plants we saw were very beautiful indeed! And, I even managed to get a bit of highland cow action, pictured above Achmelvich beach not fenced in, quite free in fact, photo taken when we had a sneaky paddle (not with the cows you understand, in fact with alot of jelly fish!) - how cool is that? I do find an adventure is not complete without a random sighting of a highland cow..............
This week, I have to say its been great, cold and dull, definitely a 'hat on' kinda week, with the odd nice day, but nevertheless its been an inspiring filled to the top bursting week. I've been having a very planty week, truth be told. Not that, that is in itself unusual, as I'm normally either thinking about plants (OK well always), chained to a computer writing about them or growing/eating them. However, this past week I've at least been doing all of those normal planty-worky things, I've even started my thesis corrections, go me (!) AND also been collecting plants for eating now (like salad and veg), eating in the future (elderflower cordial making, beetroot pickling) or being out and about collecting seeds (angelica and sweet cicely). And, attending at a local open meeting about community gardening in my local town, which was very well attended, locally made cordials and veg boxes and even biccies to entice folk along - great things in the future there, very exciting!

All pretty good stuff I'd say.
AND how beautiful is that Eryngium???? Growing here in Orkney, although NOT in my garden *yet*, I've managed to visit not ONE but TWO gardens this week (one in Orkney at Scorradale School House and the Walled Garden in Applecross, Wester Ross). I'll blog about both of them this week - thank you to my lovely visitor who inspired me to get out with her in Orkney looking at what's about up here! Its amazing what you can grow behind a 10ft+ high, very very wide fushia (magellanica, of course!) hedge it would seem, Janet (Planticru) is right, Orkney gardens are all about shelter/shelter/shelter! I mean, I get plants blown out of the ground, and this chap, less than 3 miles away has the most beautiful garden, behind a series of very large hedges. I'm acquiring shelter and willing it to grow! Inside his delightful garden also the same fushia but the 'alba' version of it, which I love, not quite white, a tiny hint of pink blush and not really quite as vigorous as the normal red/purple one, but quite good and just as hardy, my oh my, gorgeous isn't it? That is a very much, must have in my garden, in fact I even bought one, on the premise I'll have enough shelter by next year, honest injun I will!
And, the roses, climbing at that, not a bother of wind in the garden, all little rooms all carefully sheltered, my oh my, what hard work, but how gorgeously worth it! No idea what the rose was, wrote it down, somewhere - I'll blog that garden properly, it deserves its own page, if you're coming to Orkney, its a definite go visit!
I've also seen alot of gorgeous scottish scenery on a mad adventure weekend away gadding about the highlands (mainly looking at the plants of course and eating) and getting all inspired. There were beaches filled with sea asters, lochans filled with water lillies in remote glens and the rowans clinging to the cliffs and in the lower glens are beginning to shine with thier red berries, blissful and gorgeous to see it all!
AND I even managed to watch good old Monty Don on BBC Gardeners world, which I enjoyed until he began to say 'the garden is now at its peak at this time of year'. Slight pause at this end, um Monty you're ace and all that, but my garden is certainly NOT at its peak yet, or I'm either wrong, come on, my Calendula is ONLY just flowering, please don't tell my poor garden its at its peak, although probably sadly, it is and I'm badly in denial. He redeemed himself however, when he picked his 'first' tomato from a trial he's doing. We've been eating our tomatoes up here for AGES.............................., OK they are on a windowsill INDOORS, but hey if it works, and it appears to, don't knock it. We both dined on home grown tomatoes this week!
So I guess I've had a week of swooshing about engulfed in all things planty and gardeny pretending potentially that I'm a more mature, slightly less elegant, OK very much less elegant and minature rumpled, covered in mud, Scottish version of Alys Fowler (who's name, I'm sorry I think of as being far more apt as Alys Flowers) whilst foraging for exciting things in the Highlands. Hey well, one advantage to living up here, is the elderflowers are still flowering, so whilst I *thought* about making cordial months ago when everyone else sensible was, I forgot. However, as our elders are still flowering, I've actually managed it! Go me, go the length of time it takes this season of extraordinary shortness to get around to producing elderflowers - we've actually managed to lay down 6 ltrs of lovely home made cordial in the fridge for delicious drinks. YAY!

Totally inspired by getting out and about, looking and plants, collecting flowers and seeing other gardens, I've even got my base poles organised for the tunnel and have been attempting to put more thought into my own work for the future.

Flower power - you've got to love it!

I'm turning a blind ear to those folk out there 'brambling' or beginning too, ours are barely in flower and if we get any fruit, it will be a long time away yet, like the elders they will take a while to come ripe up here, but then again, that means by the time I've got round to thinking about collecting any, they might actually be ripe!


  1. That Fuschia is lovely, so delicate. I'm a real Fuschia fan. Well done on making the Elderflower Cordial, so delicious. I also made cordial from Meadowsweet using the same recipe. Really nice!

  2. your pictures of the flowers are exquisite. how encouraging to see this walled garden and to see the delicate flowers that can grow there. i'm looking forward to hearing more about it. :)

  3. Bridget I love fuchsias not so much the bedding ones, but the hardier types, the flowers remind me of ballerinas.

    Jts, thanks, I've been looking for online links for the Orkney one, with limited luck, amazing what you can grow with some shelter! As we swooshed about the highlands at the weekend, I did think of you!

  4. Bridget, how many flower heads did you use/what recipe? We've meadowsweet everywhere at the mo, love to try some cordial with that.

  5. Well another beautiful blog entry, no wonder you have so many followers. How fantastic to find a garden with shelter and able to grow lovely flowers, will you be trying to recreate that when your shelter grows? I cant wait to read more.

  6. I love that fuschia looks kinda ghostly. Lovely.

  7. Go you indeed! The fuchsia and the eryngium are stunning, sounds like you got loads of inspiration and good plant-time. The fuchsia might even convert me - give me a name and I may have to get one...

  8. I love that fuschia too ... I love the wild hedges of the native fuschia in Ireland (is it native? dunno).

    As one of the bramblers, I'm sorry! I wish you had enough shelter to do the things you can do over a *much* wider area.

    Looking at the plants you've photo'd - how does that sea holly propagate? There's some growing wild where some of my blackberries grow (oops) and I'd love to be able to collect a seedhead, if thats what you do.

  9. What a fun blog you keep here Fay! I love your crazy energy and all your interests. The land is awesome, so beautiful and so severe. You really must share a note or two about the cordial making... I have tons of blackberries coming. (They just naturally grow over everything here unless stopped.) I love the fuchsia-- I have one a little darker pink. They are easy-peasy to start from cuttings, they root immediately!

  10. Just found this blog and it made me :-) This is the second time in twodays that I've read about the Walled Garden in Applecross... the cafe sells gigantic homemade scones apparently! You are obviously full of fun and full of energy and optimism - long may it last! Jane Gray