Wednesday, 13 August 2014

End of Month View - July (Month 2)

 As LinneW rightly reminded me, its generally acceptable to have at least one chicken in the house at any given time. So this is the chicken I'm training for kitchen duty. So we've had a lottery and drawn this lucky lady 'Greta'. In truth, she was getting bullied by the other girls so she's off holidaying it around the garden. She seems happier, although taunting the others by running past their coup, not so charitable. Where she goes at bed time though, no one knows. That's a mystery we can never find her. Perhaps she's off down at the local castle talking with the bats?
Cabbages and petunias, herbs, reduced campanula's and crazy coloured 10p a pack verbena, sitting by the kitchen door brightening up the day.
Erysium 'Bowles Mauve', Lavender Hidcote planted in kitchen bed.
Erysium 'Bowles Mauve', Lavender Hidcote planted in opposite kitchen bed, same plants, same spacing, shoddy gardeners lack muscles means its a bit behind. Be brave and catch up guys.
Boots and pots. Tree peonys, geraniums, Hecheras, pansies, tomatoes and my favourite Abutilon 'Jermyns'
Abutilon x suntense 'Jermyns'
Pots of dalias, cosmos, feverfew, scented geraniums and another favourite piggy back plant (Tolmeia menziesii) mainly gifts, lucky girl.
Fishboxes planted with herbs, climbers and veggies.
Logs and pots, beans, tomatoes, blueberries, willow and parsley. 
Sweetcorn thriving in edible alley, chilli's tomatoes, cukes, courgettes and beans, sweetpeas all rampaging away quietly, disturbing no one in particular and hiding the boiler nicely.
Cucumber doing its thing on the boiler. 
Fishbox gardening works a treat.
The 'de-honesuckled bed' with path and sheep flock all of its own.
How it looked a few weeks before. Rampant. Glorious. Captor of dead trees.

Anyway back to the garden, these were supposed to be for my first End of Month View joining in with Helen and Janet but here we are almost half way through. Maybe I'll join in late as usual. So two months since we've moved and the decimation, erm I mean progress is slow but steady. Oddly the one thing I'm loving about arriving in a garden in late May is that by 'going for it' nothing is as it should be. But we discussed this remember. This is to be a productive garden, so different rules apply. Which rules I'm not sure, but different ones. My rules mean the garden can clash and I'll call it productive. If you see any holes in things, we'll call that 'organic'.

The planting combinations in haste and with often reduced/bargainous unknown plants are surprising, eyewatering and clash in a pleasing and a perverse kind of way. There are edibles rammed in willy nilly where they can be. As late to the garden as we were, I wasn't sacrificing another season. So a rammy (odd mix or a riot) of pots and vegetables, flowers and herbs are festooning the 'terrace'. Terrace a much nicer word than patio, I've decided.
Now the bed by the kitchen door, rubble filled and took days to extract, a few miners and a St Bernard to revive me is looking braw. I love the lavenders form and the Bowles Mauve perennial wall flowers colours. And the snail of course. 
However a life lesson indeed. This bed was planted immediately. The matching (longer, more rubble than a skip situated on a glacier) bed was only planted weeks later. Spot the difference in growth. Silly girl. It will catch up but lordy its not as lush as its pals is it. The bees are delighted by both beds, which you'll be pleased about. I'm scared of bees, kinda shot myself in the foot there eh. Lavender is edible so this beds still productive and wall flowers are a type of cabbage I hear. Yes really.
So more pots of rumble up stuff. I've been really lucky as most friends have arrived or sent me home with armfuls of plants from their gardens. I quite like the mix of them so I've lobbed them all into pots (with or without veggies). However, one plant I've managed to have since I was working at the nursery in Fife is the delicate purple Abutilon x suntense 'Jermyns' a gorgeous plant. 
Can you spot the purple theme coming through there, it matches my old purple wellies too. Infact that plant is the colour I was hoping to match when I wanted me boots. Its survived the harshest of winters in Orkney. By being tucked in or actually IN the house. I must propagate from it after its finished is second flowering. I love it so. You'll get a proper look at the delicate flowers here. Bored yet? No lets take a wee peek at the steps.
The Lucifer has been rampaging with colour pretty much since we got here. I wasn't sure of it but I do like it. It will move, as being of a short stature, I currently can't see over it, or around it and into the garden so I think it will need to move somewhere where its doesn't stop my view! Pots of dalias, cosmos, feverfew, scented geraniums and another favourite piggy back plant (Tolmeia menziesii). I've got the green version of this again a salwart in Orkney, great indoors and outdoors. Aside the scented geranium no edibles in here, missing a trick I fear!
Anyone who knows me even a bit knows for sure I'm largely motivated by my belly. So when faced with a large empty terrace and no veg garden ready, there was only really one conclusion. Edibles and lots of them. Combined with a few decorative flowers like Cerinthe (again good for bees) and Petunias, its looking bonnie, sweetpeas are a climbing and flowering plants are a flowering.  I'm really chuffed with my 'fishbox garden' Purple so goes with Yellow, it does. OK so its all a bit random and recycled by why not but hey we're by the sea, its kinda coastal. Its provided lettuce, strawberries and bush tomatoes (Totem) for the hungry masses and that's productive.
More terrace and more pots. Logs getting stacked by the house for the winter months. As plants arrived, gifted, reduced or stolen (don't worry they're not really stolen) they have been thrown together in pots with no real notion of 'matching' or colour co-ordination. I tell myself its very bohemian, lack of time, choice and veg garden space is largely the driver here, but lets pretend its eclectic and bohemian. Bohemian gardening is very trendy isn't it.
Now in the UK its been an exceptional summer, so whilst the wee terrace is a sun trap of epic proportions I'm under no illusion the plantings from this year might be safely repeated. Sweetcorn in pots, cucumbers in window boxes, tomatoes, courgettes and chilli's thriving outside is not, I fear, normal in a 'normal' Scottish summer. Unless of course it would like to become normal, then that would be lovely. The cucumbers agree.

The 'tother' end of the sitting area, with resplendent fish box, is quite cheerful as you walk in the side gate. Lettuces, cabbages, strawberries, cup and saucer vine scampering away. Tomatoes and basil languishes at the sides. A bit of lobelia intersperced into the mix. I do think that edibles and flowers look good together. And so lush. I know its a bit random but I'm going for bohemian here, remember.......
At the rear of the fishboxes, pots waiting for homes. Its kind of like a waiting room. I play music for them and everything although I hear the magazines aren't up to much. Blackberries, Gooseberries, Mints, Fushias and wee bargains or gifts from friends loiter with intent. They'll get a wee place of their own soon. Everyone has a corner like this I'm sure. Its the 'twilight zone' of the garden where anything can happen. Just you see. For now they're making friends.
Tomatoes in window boxes - I've decided, just work and the deeper the better. This summer they also work outdoors. Whilst the sprawly growth of 'Tumbling Tom' doesn't suit everyone's demeanor, I like its stroppy, sprawly demented growth. And, as we've discussed countless times before, I don't 'do' tall tomatoes. Diva's the lot of them. But, I do love growing bush tomatoes for cooking and two to a window box works a treat. 
The cabbages are lobbed in where ever they fit. And, you'll be happy to know I'm nuturing a crop of baby cabbage white caterpillars for the hens. I know I've wiped and squished them this summer til the cows came home but there you go. We STILL have caterpillars so leaf by leaf as they appear to be happily munching I'm feeding them to the hens. So really I'm growing two types of food there aren't it. You see a positive outcome all round. And let me tell you two cabbages to a window box is a bit cramped but they're thriving for now. Next year of course they're going to be happier in the veg garden, under a net. I promised them. And remember holes means they're posh and organic. Nae chemicals here, far too expensive, I've chickens to feed.
So if you're still here BRAVO! We're off the terrace! Under the apple tree to the newly moved shed. Notice anything strange. Yes the humungous honeysuckle is now tempered and cutback to the fence. It had a footprint of 4 m diameter.  It was also holding what appeared to be a dead cherry tree to ransom. Bad honeysuckle. It took 4 car loads to shift the blighter too. Menace, but it will be trained on the (about to be painted) fence when its resprouted and we'll all be happier.
A graceful old thing with a beautiful scent but its needed a hard haircut. It will stop its sulk soon and grow again. But, dear hearts I can now see the fence. And, yes, it needs painted. Oh well, more jobs. Other shrubs missing from this large border are moved or sadly in the big compost bin in the sky. You know what, I found a path under it all, and a sheep. Who knew we had either of those. Haggis was also shocked.
And up the garden we go to the petal munching hens moving swiftly past all weedy beds. They're settling in well, good change of subject there right? You knew hens loved flowers right? Scoffing rose petals as I type. They're doing a grand job of clearing the first quarter of the veg patch. Clever girls. These as you know are rescue ex-commercial for the chop hens, which I've been fortunate to have from a local rescue charity.  Feathers are growing in nicely.
The other hen, 'Greta' as she's become known, teases them by shaking her new tail feathers at them on the open side of the garden. She's a handful. I'm training her to peck my toes, to get rid of any joy riding slugs. That's also working a treat.
And if you were wondering if all we did was feed chickens flowers and pot up cabbages on the terrace, fear not. We've been hard at work. Laburnum now removed, the area behind the shed is huge, so the greenhouse has been moved to the space. Nicely tucked by the shed, waiting for action. Still ample room for chooks, washing and logs. Braw. Yes its empty but sheesh, gies a bit of time eh. :)
However, you know what its like. To do one job you have to move/rehome/organise another. So as the bark is lifted up to make way for the greenhouse, the matting needs lifted too. Its all going to be reused elsewhere in the garden. But, I have to say I've never seen quite so MUCH mulch matting before. I think the previous owners might have been scared the garden was getting cold, its so wrapped up.
Its a bit like a merry-go-round. Eventually all this will stop I'm sure. In the mean time, lifting and drying matting seem to be the job of the day. Lucky there's more bark (with matting underneath) to dry things out on.......I'm ignoring the poplars at the moment but they know they're coming out soon.  I can hear them muttering, but tell me this. WHO pollards a poplar at 10m and expects anything but scraggy growth. 
So that's a rampage around the top of the garden, greenhouse in, bark and trees out. The sheds getting well used and the garden is becoming more open. In the short term, I tell myself that's a good thing.  Edges and paths we can now see, its a start. I know I'll cover them up soon, but for now we have and idea of edges.
There's plenty to do but for now the chicken and I take a walk back down. Past the Budleja and the bees, down to the apple tree.
The winds have shed some of the apples, but for now, its a happy tree full of apples ripening red. Perfect. I've read about cider making from windfalls so we'll see if we can get that going.
It does need a bit of attention, badly needing pruned but thankfully that's a winter job. 
For now Greta's more interested in those caterpillars on me cabbages, so its back to the caterpillar breeding area we go on the terrae. And, if you've survived this far, I guess we'd both love a cup of tea just mind all those random pots on the terrace and take a seat. You've earned it.

Progress this month, two months in.

Greenhouse up
Honeysuckle pruned back hard
Fushia canopies lifted.
Bark half moved from one area, matting drying
Vegetables in pots thriving.
Terrace looking lush.

Lots and lots of Work In Progress but we'll get there. Jobs a good un. Quite a few changes but mainly hacking back and lobbing things in randomly, erm I mean in a bohemian fashion. No rules remember. I did visit some open gardens a while back with a chum, whilst bonnie, not exactly my style. I plough my own furrow clearly. Greta agrees as she washes up the tea cups ready for a brew. What you having?

Garden first week here.
Garden third week here.


  1. LOL, a veritable chook and chucklefest. You're certainly getting into your stride with everything. Much impressed and the teensiest bit envious ;o)

    1. Sir Intense, a pleasure. Don't be envious, your views are second to none. I'm glad Greta provided you with some chuckles. The problem with my manic gardening is that things change quickly and all of a sudden its war and peace (or Carnage and fleeces) to update you poor folks. I'm getting my best people on to it.

  2. I love this posting and the variety of plants in their various pots! Does the "piggy back" plant grow wild there. It's everywhere in the mountains here. One can get as much as one wants in certain areas. It's wonderful.

    1. Hi there Paula
      Piggy back is native to red wood forests in USA I think. Its mono-typic (the only one in its genus as far as I'm aware) not wild here but it does well in and outdoors.

      You're kind with the pots, its an assault to my eyeballs but once you get over that fact, its quite nice watching them all jostle about in their pots with unfamiliar bed fellows. Small price to pay for moving in late May and not losing the whole season! Nice to see you and thanks for popping by.