Saturday, 3 September 2011

End of month view August 2011 (erm a bit late)

Buddleia davidii, the butterfly bush, laden with bees, not flutterbys is finally flowering this week!
Well Janet's inspired me to do an 'end of month view' blog for the garden which came about originally through the wonderful monthly blog by the Patient Gardener. And like many, I'm often thinking I've not much to put out there, I've nothing 'unusual' or really of note in my garden, but, why not, eh? And, it really will also help me keep track of when my garden does what, as being 'way up north' seasons are a bit different up here. We normally get there, but often way after the others, battling our way through gales and cold weather, erm, we're often a bit late anyway so we'll join in late too! I've alot to be thankful for, as I plodded out there with the camera, I'd noticed the Buddleia coming into flower a couple of days ago, but I hadn't really 'looked' at it, so it was my first stop and I'm so glad I went, it survived the nasty gales last week and is now in full bloom. I think its quite a late species, or it does appear to be up here anyway. To my surprise its was covered in bees, between them flitting about and the wind, I'm surprised we managed a 'bee on buddleia action shot', but we did - how pretty are these bees, the flowers not bad either!
Buddlei davidii and bees a late summer source of nectar in Orkney.
Now, I know the gardens now not the field I moved into last year, but I always feel I've nothing to share. Here we go then, I've found a flower, off to see what else I can find, probably a bit wind battered and a bit random, my end of August view of the garden and its slow progress. The daisy bed I put in originally has done OK this year, not brimming and overflowering as I'd hoped but having been attacked my maurdering chickens several times and battered to death in the wind, its doing grand. I like the daisies on the stones of the byre. I've been deadheading them all summer but they're soldiering on.
Ox-eye daisy, Orkney

Ox-eye daisies are one of my favourite flowers, however, don't get too close to it as a cut flower, it smells strongly of cheese - I'm not joking, it really does!
Another thing that's made its own way into this bed is Achillea milliefolium, wild yarrow - looks quite pretty, when it arrived I wasn't sure if I had the wild one or a variety, being white I'm assuming its the wild one, very pretty nevertheless.
After the daisy bed by the byre, we of course plod past the chickens, all in their summer enclosure, half time out free range, maurding with intent, supervising polytunnel construction, half time in here to keep my sanity.............thier enclosure is about 5m by 6m at least, chicken wired half way up, and despite having cosy beds to sleep in, up a ladder into the byre, they prefer to roost in the only tree we have here, an Elder. This is the second summer the chickens have been in this enclosure and the tree clearly loves it, its far bigger than last year.
And, I've discovered this year, chickens don't like nettles, its one of the few things they don't eat. Next year I'm making this into another vegetable garden, the chickens will move and I'll enjoy a richly manured, improved soil to work with thanks to my chicken chums! Well done chaps, I don't compost anything at all, it all goes into the chicken coop, whlst I might be missing a trick by not composting - they are pretty efficient and the soil in there is amazing. I can't decide if I keep doing my 'composting' like this or do it properly. I have to confess, I've never composted at home, I have always just used chickens to turn everything into lovely eggs and soil under foot. Be interesting to hear if I'm missing a trick by doing it this way?
Now a hop and a skip over the elder hedge by the chickens is the area of  'non' garden, where my polytunnel is going up - its a bit of land by our track which my landlord is happy for me to use for the tunnel. I guess when its up, we lose that view out the back door - but I do get to see a lovely tunnel.....started last week - one pole in. This time next month, there better be alot more progress there! You see I thought this would be a useful thing to do, shame myself into working hard all month!
Horsing on around to the other side of the garden, the wonky fence is still up, I planted willow cuttings late on (end of May 2001) and they're up, but not brilliant. The fence post has newly been concreted in after being dislodged by a bit of not paying attention BRB driving which ripped up most of the fence. I've cable tied (industrial strength) a honeysuckle to the upright washing pole, I don't hold much hope for vertical growth in the garden but maybe once the newer hedge is established (willow), the shelter that gives might encourage a bit of honeysuckle action. Honeysuckle is native here and often is found in ditches etc, so you never know. Next plan here - one gate!
The older willow hedge put in March 2010, is over 7ft high - but unfortunately falling over in places due to summer gales and quick heavy upright growth. I'm going to cut this back by 1/3 soon I think. That way it can be battered about during the winter gales and not suffer so much being shorter. I'm holding off doing it too quickly at the moment and I'd love to get some cuttings out of it when it ripens. But, 3-4 are already down elsewhere in the garden, so I might need to cut it back sooner rather than later. Orkney gardens are about shelter, shelter and more shelter.
As you can see elsewhere in the garden, the willow has been blown over - we had 50 mph gales last week, they were cruel and even the bendiest of willow, sometimes doesn't manage to get back up.
The raspberries in Pavlova Avenue also got a battering and they've not done well at all - I've had a hand ful of fruit, although I didn't expect much as it is their first summer, but they have socketed, fallen over and I reckon if I leave them out there, they will eventually die. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon. They've been earmarked for going under cover. I had thought they might be OK, but wasn't convinced, now I'm not going to chance it anymore for them, I'd like raspberries - there fore they can go into the cosy polytunnel land.
Wind socketing in wet soils during gales is common enough up here, plants become unstable and eventually either fall over, as they have here, or uproot. Bah!
And whilst we're here, by this bed, I can show you the cunning scheme for recycled materials I had for here. Black plastic mulch mat went down, bin bags would easily do as well, if a few holes are stamped in them to let the water through. By one of the old byres old slate slabs from the roof were all lying about abandoned and broken. Thinking cap on - came up with flagstone crazy type pathing, with beach pebbles gathered up from the shore, we didn't take many but I think it works well. The veggie bed is a muddle of recycled wood as well, so this all appears to work well. OK, railway sleepers would look even cheerier, but hey - nowt wrong with what you've got lying around you - and these old scaffolding boards is what we had in the shed.
 Going for beach stones obviously means a bit of BRB driving, just you know to keep him busy. Accompanied by a boy child and a peedie dog, our dash down to the beach was indeed very productive and got that bit of the paving finished (finally!)
 The BRB does sometimes even do 'mowing' but not that often I have to say, he's more of an 'all rounder'
I love using natural materials, there is so much of interest in there - and whether wet or dry, they look lovely in the garden. There are bound to be a few wet and windy days ahead, so at least the paving/gravel will be something to look at! The veggie bed has been moved twice and now I'm happy its staying put. Everything in here went in late, during the summer at the beginning of July. I wasn't expecting too much to come quickly but the flat leafed parsley, cabbages, kale, sea kale and brussel sprout/kale cross are doing well. Last year we had no veggies, so this is an improvement!
The onions have been a bit disappointing elsewhere I've grown them this year, and these aren't great, although they went in really late. The leeks are doing 'OK' but I hope they beef up a bit. Classically, the mediateranian red geraniums I've plonked in here, haven't done very well - but they are hanging on in there!
The netting is to deter birds, rabbits and peedies - who like to invade this bed on a regular basis. Not much else to be talking about, as there isn't much else in yet. The trusty ladies mantle down the edge of the house is just that, trusty and delightful, looks ace in the wet - just as well really. Also appears to be far hardier in the wind than I imagined, hardly any noticable wind damage, big tick there! And, my trusty bucket, I'd hardly be without it, finally its got into a picture!
Other stars at the moment - Ajuga repens - whilst this was blown to bits in the winter - down to bare soil, I I did wonder if it would survive but its come back amazingly. I do like it with a bit of beach stones........
I want a lavender hedge (stamps little size 4 welly) - fat chance outside here, really no hope of that -too wet, too windy, I grow lavender as an annual, often indoors only - it can be in the tunnel next year - so my subsitute for that is to have a Nepeta faassenii 'six hills giant' hedge instead. From a distance, if you squint a bit, it will look the same. Its coming along - it got battered and bruised down to ground level several times over the summer, but its still there and I've big hopes for it for next year.
 It does look a bit sad and pathetic, but we've had some flowers and when it got mangled in the wind, I managed to take oodles of cuttings - of which I've still loads, if anyone wants any (in the UK) get in touch and I'll post you a couple well rooted jiffy 7 cuttings down to you.
Another thing I love, but will lift before the winter arrives is Rosemary - given the damage other things sustained over the summer I'm surprised at how its faired. However, this garden is prone to being a moat when its very heavy rain and Rosemary won't like that much in the winter - so it can go in a pot and probably end up living, where? OK, you've guessed it in the tunnel!
 I'd also got a few 'pink' strawberries at a local charity fair - anyone any idea what they are 'Florian'?
They appear to be doing OK, I can't decide if I like the colour or not! But, finally a bit of an indulgence, my beloved Cerinthe major 'Purpurescens' - after an onslaught by maurding chickens - they've survived (well two of them have) and I've happy I've found them - nestled in between mint 'Chocolate Peppermint' and the Lonicera involucrata.
And finally, my trusty marigolds a bit battered and war torn, they've hung on, albeit a bit sideways after that storm - but next year we'll definitely have a pond there instead and find a better place for the calendula - to save them being battered by gale force winds.
 Who knows, like many things in the garden at the moment, they might end up 'in the tunnel' - first post and its graffitti'd initials/paw prints from the culprits helping!
A bit long and convoluted, sorry about that! But thanks for letting me join in my first 'end of month view' - a fair few lessons learnt in how my garden works and what I need to make it a bit better or withstand gale force winds even in August - progress is slow and not much in there of a 'special' nature, but I'm going to concentrate on very hard, local, perennials to get an outside border and garden established and next year work on a more specialist garden indoors, in that pesky tunnel. For in there I can indulge myself a bit more. But, I'll still be trying to find cunning ways around the wind out there in the main garden.


  1. You have done so much work, it all looks great. I am never again going to compain about our little bit of wind, they are breezes compared to your storms! Just one question, what on earth is a peedie? x

  2. Your BRB looks very familiar. What brand is it, and do you like it? I'm in the market for one....

  3. your pictures of your flowers are lovely, especially the daisies. you have done so much work and it looks great. lavender in the polytunnel will smell wonderful.

  4. Can I ask a question aboot your chooks and compost? What do you do with the bedding when you clean their shed out? We put ours in the compost bin... It's a bit too rich to go straight into the borders.
    Love the flags withe beach stones.

  5. Janet, they roost in the tree so most of the droppings ends up in their pen, which means the straw in the nesting areas not get mucky, so when I clear them out the straw goes straight into the pen - which they like rootling about in, as it's clean it just goes in there. In the winter when they were in the shed the straw was spread outside, more to help soak up some of the fields 'soggy' grass. Hope that makes sense? I love Orkney flags, they look grand with the beach stones! Ta

  6. Jts - it will won't it! Thank you.

  7. Kris brb is ace. Our last garden had 2 acres so we needed a sit on. I love him, not because we mow much but he's a real mini tractor ours is a jonseed second hand it was £600 from our local argricultural merchants, we inherited the trailer, which is a god send and makes him multipurpose.

  8. Fran thanks, Ach the wind keeps the midges away! It doesn't feel like much, but I guess things have moved on a bit! Ta

  9. Wow! Just WOW! Everything looks smashing (if a bit windswept in places!), how soon before the Polytunnel goes up?

  10. The stone walk is fabulous! What a great resource in the old roof stones. And the daisies STILL look pretty-- I like the idea of the compost going to the chicken yard. It will make for an awesome garden space. Loved the previous post too, with dog and chickens supervising the tunnel construction, very important to have a crew like that.

  11. "The wind keeps the midges away"!!!! I love it :)

    And I love the paving and the beach stones too, how absolutely beautiful, I remember your little adventure down to the beach to get them, I'd no idea it'd look like that. Very artistic - your landlord must be thanking the stars for the day you moved in.

  12. Found you through EOMV, and I have to say I'm very envious of your yarrow... I keep trying to encourage it into my meadow - it flourishes on the far side of the wall - but with no success at all. I shall definitely keep trying; that looks lovely. And so does the rest!

  13. The yarrow is beautiful Fay, as is the daisy border and the lovely slate crazy paving. You really have started creating a garden, hats off (well it is rather windy after all) you don't exactly have it easy. And you veg garden looks wonderful! Mind you, I think your polytunnel is already full...

  14. Janet thank you, the garden, well reclaimed field is slowly coming along :) I think you are right the tunnel sounds quite full already and it's not up! Nice to see you x

  15. Bean genie, yarrow here is something you see alot, think it's the damp, hope you have better luck with yours, nice to see you here :)

  16. Jan, I hope he does. Everywhere you look in Orkney are slates, stones and beach pebbles, I love them, nice to have some 'under toe' in the garden :)

  17. Linnew, the crew here are very helpful, glad you liked the stones, mind you I envy your trees :)

  18. Tempewytch polytunnel, well probably a while to get the frame up, my son and I are slowly picking away at it as a mother/son project. Then of course like planticru's Janet said, getting a calm warm day here for the cover will be a challenge!!

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