Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Garden - week 3 - 'finding stuff'

So here we are into our third week in the garden. Our first week, the one of 'discovery' is here, although its a bit backwards. So you'll notice that the mono-block is well weeded and demossed, no, well believe me it is. That was a bit epic, but its gone. One old fashioned bone handled butter knife fits beautifully in the gaps and a wee sweep later, bingo. Bonnie. There's also more plants, but being a plantswoman, you'd expect that, hopefully. We've been lucky and had many visitors bearing plants or posting them here. Thanks guys!
So lets start at the kitchen door. I found two empty beds, well full of gravel, but empty of plants. So we decided, lets have lavender and plenty of it. So we started here and we popped our lovely garden snail in here too, a chum made him years ago, and I love it. The volume of house rubble in that bed was epic, so you'll forgive me if the other side isn't finished yet. 
That's the next job. I need to find my pick axe, which would be funny if that wasn't true. Its back planted with perennial wall flowers (Erysium 'Bowles mauve') and will have a rose clambering up when I can decide on WHICH rose. I want fragrant and spelndiferous. Any suggestions please do say.
And as we talked about 'cluttersome messes' here some garden clutter. I bought a whole heap of reduced garden screening, willow (that species plagues me, driving it home on a wet Monday reminded me of the smell in the labs at work when we were baking willow). The shed I've decided is moving, we have three (seems a bit greedy) and its sitting in the place which gets the early morning sun. So its moving somewhere, where though I'm not sure. Fence posts for the new fence and plants to go in assemble here.
Now excuse this slightly mushy photo. This is my pondering place at the moment, a huge, large, delicious south facing wall. I feel fruit should adorn it. However, its attached to my neighbours house, holding their roof up. Now I'm not sure on the etiquette of drilling holes in other peoples walls and putting an orchard up it, so I'll have to ask I guess. Or come up with a fiendish plan. I'm not sure how often they paint it. The local walled garden has a whole rapture of fruit donning walls from Kiwi's to grapes, plums, peaches, apples, pears, damsons and so on. So that's what we'll do too. Just the 'how' to sort out. I'm determined I'm using that very lush south facing wall though, by hook or by crook.
Now, I mentioned this wee corner gets the morning sun (about 6.45 in the summer it seems). So a wee sitting bench for the morning cuppa would be splendid. So Mr Shed needs to move. The beds here are lush and full of Crocosmia 'Lucifer' a huge beast, very bonnie but given my height I cannot see over it and it swamps that bed. I think it should be rehomed elsewhere. Wondering about a wee pond here, parent agrees......once its flowered time to find a space I think. 
So the 'terrace', is now adorned with fishboxes, flowers and edibles. I'm trying to put edibles and flowers together to make a bonnie but productive garden. Its a rammy of plants but it means we don't lose a season.
Pots adorn all corners, willow planted with flowers and parsley, tomatoes and basil, bay ready to be planted, peas, beans and herbs all potted up in large pots. 
This bit is full of tomatoes, chilli's (8 varieties), peas, french climbing beans, corn, cucumbers and a wee Ginkgo biloba which has travelled around with me. A fairly nice wee tree, it lived happily in the bathroom in Orkney, now its outdoors and enjoying some sun. I'm trying corn outside, even if it doesn't do much, it might hide the boiler......although I'm hoping the same with the cucumbers sitting on top of the boiler too.
The fishboxes are a delight, whilst not to your eyes maybe but I love their bright functionality. Being in a coastal region means we get a lot of these as 'treasure' on the shores. I do love a good fishbox and they make lovely big (edible) planters.
So fishbox numero uno contains.......One Cobea scandens (cup and saucer vine, climber), 4 sweet peas for frangrant climbing, 2 cerinthe major for the bees and as a companion plant for the 6 strawberries (Honeoye), 5 mixed verbena to trail and look bonnie, one Surfinia peturnia for colour and scent. Window boxes x 2 tomato (bush) totem x 2, tumbling tom x 2, Geneovese large leaf basil (which might up the tomato production by 20% if what i read is correct). Front tub mixed salad leaves and a wee nifty pink brachycome for a bit colour. Edible and beautiful.
Fishbox numero duo. Cobea scandens (cup and saucer vine) and sweetpeas to climb up the back of the seats on trellis. Brachycome x 2 pink, Chives x 2, Strawberries (alpine) x 4, verbena mixed x 4, lobelia x 3, pale pink geranium. Window boxes x 2 tomatoes without basil (tumbling tom). Front window box salad bar - bonnie ivy leaved geranium pale pink and salad bowl mixed leaves (already cropped). Iced sorbet viola sown over the top of this for autumn flowers.
Many of these plants came from the botanic gardens in St Andrews, including a free nifty sign. The cup and saucer vine will soon swamp these wee frames out, but it will fill a quick gap this year. Grown as a half hardy annual, I think having seen what survives around here, it might do the winter in a pot then rampage up a big wall next year.....we'll see. Ever hopeful eh?

More edibles and flowers planted along the patio. Tomatoes (all bush varieties, but you'd expect that of me), courgettes, basil, geraniums, etc, all happy together.
The wall is a breeze block delight, so I've popped a bit of willow screening in front of it to try and stop the eyes being assualted by breezeblock and attempt to keep some of the gravel on the bed above and not in my toes.
The bed behind has an Acer in it and lots of herbaceous plants. Its bonnie to look at. Corn hiding at the back again to try and plug a gap.
The horticultural hound guards the post about to go in, there's a gate going here. Haggis seems to like to catch a toad of an evening and they both enjoy a good dig, so we'll gate the garden here so we can be sure we all get along nicely. I'm not a fan of digging dogs.
A wee gap between paving and some thyme popped in. I love how plants can fill the tiniest of gaps between things if you'll let them. The bees will love this too.
So the gate goes here. (You'll see the fencing spike sunk in there to the left, posts should go in very soon and then the dogs can be foiled of their digging exploits.
So we found a path at the side, mainly overgrown before, although it doesn't really 'go' anywhere, its nice to find stuff.
And, this is the biggest confession. I began to see the evil yellow shrub (Brachyglottis 'Sunshine') flower when walking around St Andrews. I looked at the huge one here and right enough flowers were forming. I have to say its one of the few plants I loathe. So in a late evening bid to do some 'quiet' gardening so's not to disturb the neighbours, it got chopped. The useless brute was not even good for shredding so it ended up in the council recycling. The stump is still there so it will regrow, I like its form through winter but not its evil summer flowers. So it can stay for now. However, it took up a 2m diamater in that bed so now its time to find other things in there, like Pieris, Rhododendron (another evil shrub), Choiysa and Fatsia seem happy its gone too, they never liked it.
Another confession. There WAS an Japanese laurel (Aucuba japonica 'Variegata') here, now there's raspberry (Autumn Bliss) and Alpine strawberries. The laurels just had a hard haircut and I think it will probably be moved, either IN this garden or OUT of it. I'm not a fan of  gold variegated plants, if you are please get in touch I'm happy to lift it and post it.
And talking about finding stuff. We found the edge of this side of the garden too - and a fence needing painted.
Oh and I forgot, did we tell you we hung the hammock? Its happy under the apple tree.  As this is a rather long post, I suggest we take five here and have a rest. This is a LONG garden, so we'll not rush things eh?
Relaxed and refreshed? Good, lets get back to that honeysuckle, its beautiful and half way over the garden. Further investigation seems to provide the answer, its started at the fence, but grown over a (now dead) tree. I suspect its actually murdered it with its beauty and vigour. 
This is a perplexing one. Keep the honeysuckle and enjoy its 'shrubby shape'. Or hack it hard and put it back on the fence (where it started) after the fence is painted. Pondersome indeed.
So lets not look at that honeysuckle for long. Back to the opposite 'edge' we found a dresser, oak, perfectly serviceable but its IN the garden. There's lavender, campanula and ivy happily growing in it too. However, its large and this garden isn't. I feel a wee rehoming coming on. As a quirky garden feature its perfectly pleasant for now, but I'm not planning on keeping my knickers outside in it, so its fate is likely for it to be shifted. Oak chest of drawers anyone?
Now this area is beginning to look a bit scruffy. Its the world cup and the 'boys' have been playing football alot. The lawn is coming along nicely.  A rather dull photo (its now 11pm) but I'm trying to work a new shape for the lawn. Beyond the curve is being changed to a vegetable garden. The flag is in the middle of it. 
Sometimes using something as simple as a mower we can try out new shapes in the garden. I think the lawn will end here on that curve. But, its a game of two halves so who knows!
'Tracey Island' has had a bit more of an excavation, I found some rocks and some nettles. I moved the rocks and stacked them and glared at the nettles. I don't like nettles, they have 'urticulating hairs' which are as sharp as hypodermics and the hairs are hollow, break in your skin and secrete a nasty acrid fluid into your skin. Which dear hearts is why they're so bloody painful. I'll be donning marigolds before I tackle those, they go through my normal gardening gloves.
Hen house at the ready. Its located currently on a part of the veggie patch. The 'plan' is to let them clear the ground under it and move them around the garden doing the same until the grass is long gone. We'll see if I can be that patient. The girls arrive this week, lets see how they like it eh?
And, talking of finding stuff, in every border and corner I look, I find logs, under plants, in the middle of borders on the edge of places everywhere, logs. So I've stacked them in log HQ for the moment ready for chopping. Now, I think as I've been on the isles for so long the novelty of abundant wood to chop might never wear off. So if you're short an able axe woman. Please call. Please, my axe is nice and sharp.
And, evidence of an evening log chop. Some for stacking. Now, here's the thing. That Laburnum. Well its bonnie for a week a year. However, its hugely toxic to chickens. This spot behind my potting shed I think is the ideal patch for a bit of an orchard and some chooks. However, the Laburnum and its pesky toxic seeds, are an issue. So I think, I'm sad to say, its for the chop. It goes against the grain to take out such a fine tree, but a toxic plant with a giant footprint, isn't really what I'm after. And, aside that, its yellow.
Its seeds have dropped for a couple of years now into the bark mulch under the tree, there's mulch matting too. So given that I want this area for chickens, I've slowly come to the realisation that I'm going to be lifting all the bark and moving it to a land free from chickens. Spade out eh.
It might move here as the path fodder for the new veg patch. The flag marks the spot where the middle feature of the garden will be. Its not like I've taken up golf or anything. Honest.
Clearing back shrubs means we find lots of wee plants which were hiding, here's a nice wee rose.
And, beyond the logs and the pesky laburnum, the washing line is now lurking at the back of the garden. I've created a good run line for when the jeans need retreiving too.
So here we are then, we've not taken up golf but there's a flag in the middle of the garden. The lawns half mown, the logs half chopped and the trees half pruned.
And I keep finding stuff everytime I move things, like bricks and logs. So I move them into neat (ish) piles until I fathom what to do with all the stuff I've found.
The veg garden will be a lavish affair of raised beds, arbours, arches, paths and we'll keep a long vista through the garden. By the time I get round to that though, the flag might have taken root.
I keep distracting myself with flowers and roses and bonnie things I keep finding like that Cotinus lurking behind the rose. Hadn't spotted that before.

So that's week three in the garden, finding lots, head scratching lots, wondering where to start really. A few ideas forming and a temporary veg patch around the patio for this year.

Eating from the garden this week.
Lettuce mixed leaves


  1. New gardens are wonderful, yours is really nice... so many little treasures hiding there. And so lush and green. I miss the green as we are in Spain and during summer its very yellow here (dry)... but after the autumn rains we get lush and green again too so I can't complain too much. Thank you for writing this blog, I really enjoy reading it.

    1. Thank you Jane! Lots of treasures and I appreciate you reading too!

  2. Such a good blog, I love hearing about your gardening exploits :)

    1. Its mainly haivers (talking nonsense) but I'm keen that's the main thing eh? Thank you for popping by.

  3. I remember that process of constantly finding stuff hidden in the undergrowth and then having to find somewhere to store it. We have piles of bricks, which have moved twice, piles of gravel waiting to be reused, piles of rocks for landscaping experiments... Like the sound of the vege garden plans, and of course you must move the shed! And get rid of the laurel and laburnum. I am already loving watching you doing actual gardening, without constant gales. The lavender and wallflowers is simple but beautiful, and you already have loads of munchables. Anybody would think you had been dreaming about having a proper garden for ages already ;-)

    1. Ah Janet its like a treasure hunt isn't it? I've moved the bricks just the once the now but the logs a few times. I've also bark and gravel to be rescued for 'later' what it will be used for is no ones idea the now but its being saved. A few canny hands helped us to move the shed. 6 folks a bit of wobbly direction but much easier than dismantling and reassembling. (Says the director) The area is noted for windy exploits but NOTHING like Orkney. I've a wee wind tunnel at the side so a 6ft gate will see to that nicely. Its like gardening on a different planet at the moment. Although the constant watering I'd forgotten about! I've been dreaming and dreaming that's for sure. Who knows how it will end up but I will enjoy the ride. The plan is to base work at home - looking forward to that. Immensely. I hope you're well. Must pop over to your patch and catch up.