Thursday, 22 June 2017

Weeding, Wedding Gardens and Wildlife

Loving the lime green of the Alchemilla mollis in the cafe flowers this week

So what does this week hold? Plenty of weeding though the rain has stopped play for several days so it's been a bit start and stop where weeding is concerned. The weeds of course are enjoying this alternating warm and wet weather, growing back as soon as I turn my back, or so it feels.

Bracken approves of the new rug,
and has now decreed it as a dug rug,
not what I had in mind

Iris 'Silver Edge' looking fabulous this year
in the nursery gardens

There is so much colour now in the nursery with Geraniums, Thalictrums, Iris, Hosta foliage, fresh green ferns, Astrantias, Chives and Nepeta. The gardens and stock beds are also alive with insects and the bees are loving the sun and bee friendly plants. The main entrance bed is a late summer flowering border but at this time of year it still has plenty interest thanks to the foliage of Rodgersias, Ligularia 'Britt Marie', Hostas, Matteucia and Thalictrum 'Elin'. The wildflower bankings are a riot of colour with Ox-Eye Daisies, Ragged robin, Campion, Yellow Rattle and grasses. There is so much to see, come and visit. If you have a gap in your borders at this time of year, now is the time to come to the nursery and see what is in flower that would fit into your plantings.

Geranium 'Mrs Kendall Clark' in front of the office

In the tunnel thing are ticking over, the annuals are all out for sale and now it's the turn of mid-summer bedding such as Osteospernums, Chocolate cosmos, succulents and Pelargoiums to take up the space. I'm also in the middle of potting up perennial seedlings for next year. There's a bit of an Aquilegia fest going on, I hope they all do ok and I'll be able to see what variations I have next year when they flower.

I've always found plenty frogs and toads of varying sizes in the tunnel, but this week there was great excitement when I found two palmate newts. They have very yellow bellies and a yellow stripe down their backs

Bracken the nursery dog inspecting the herb garden, not so much wild life as 
doglet daftness

The Nasturtiums are beginning to flower in the herb garden

June flowers in the nursery, Saxifraga 'Spotted Dog' , Iris sibirica 'Silver Edge', Astrantia ‘Ruby Wedding’, Ranunculus acris 'Citrinus', Geranium 'Sirak', Euryops pectinatus

A relaxing corner in the nursery to sit and enjoy the view and the sound of the water in the pond

A creative use for an old bain marie from the kitchen

On Saturday night we headed just along the road to have dinner with our friends Deborah and Colin. They run a beautiful B&B tucked away beside a river on their small holding. We had pre-dinner drinks in the evening sun while having a wander looking at all their animals and gardens. A lovely mix of hebridean, soay and shetland sheep, goats, pigs, horses, a donkey, chickens, ducks and geese all have their home here where they are spoiled. Dinner was fabulous, cooked by Colin and the company and conversation excellent. A late night on a work night too tut tut, but much enjoyed.

Some of Colin and Deborah's sheep in the evening sun

The end of the Herb garden in more ways that one

On Sunday we finally finished the herb garden / wedding garden when I got the copper beech hedge planted in the boxes. I have under planted with white Love-in-a-mist along the front to fill in the gap for this year and give some colour interest through the summer and of course white flowers for the wedding. The two beds are full of silver leaved household herbs such as Artemisias and Helichrysum italicum and white flowering annuals, more white Love-in-a-mist and Cosmos. Lots of white as this is where the wedding ceremony will take place. We have enjoyed the challenge of creating both the scented and herb garden this year but we are glad it's finished. The new garden's will be open to customers after the middle of August so keep an eye on our Facebook page for news on that.

Geranium 'Sirak' looking good at the entrance to the nursery

Bakers twine now available in the nursery

Cauliflower fritters from one of my Ottolenghi cook books,
 I'm sure they tasted better because we were able to sit outside again in the evening sun

A herbal bouquet from the garden

When we were emptying one of the compost heaps on Sunday we uncovered a nest of baby shrews, we quickly made a new nest for them right next to the compost heap in the hope mummy shrew would find them. So far so good.

On Monday I had an extra day off to catch up and go shopping! Time to tackle the wedding shoes or lack of! After trailing around all the shoe shops in Livingston twice I eventually found a pair I liked, whew! I also managed to buy a dress and a CD before the shoes lol. Home to clear a lot of outstanding tasks, paperwork and house cleaning during the day when I have more energy. Hopefully I'll go back to the nursery on Wednesday caught up, re-charged and more focused after an extra day off.

Tuesday and it was David's birthday and happily our day off too. After an appointment at Peebles registrar to do all the paperwork and legal stuff for the wedding we headed off along the Tweed Valley towards Jedburgh. The weather was lovely again, we've been lucky with summer so far, it's been great to have hot weather for a change and be able to wear summer clothes, it is Scotland after all. We ended up at Woodside Plant Centre for lunch, they have a lovely cafe where dogs are welcome outside and it was very pleasant to sit out in the sun having lunch.

The birthday boy

Old plant labels in the walled garden at Woodside

Happy pansies, I love pansies they are such cheerful flowers

Like us on Facebook:

The quirky Bird Gardener                    Quercus Garden Plants

Our web site:

Follow us on Instagram @quirkybirdgardener


You can now sign up for our monthly newsletter on the facebook page or by emailing us to be added to our mailing list

All contents  and photographs ©  Rona, unauthorised reproduction & use of these images is strictly forbidden

Monday, 19 June 2017

In a Vase on a Monday - a Herby Bouquet

June is a wonderful time in the garden, everything is still so fresh and lush with so many plants coming into their own. The predominant pinks, whites and blues blend together beautifully in the garden and in a vase but I thought I'd go for something a wee bit different and focus on foliage colour. 

A bouquet of herbs for the kitchen

The herb garden is buzzing with bees, colour and scent and so much colour from foliage. Up here in the Scottish hills flower colour in the herb garden tends to be later so it's good to make much of the different forms and colours of leaves.

A culinary delight

I have put together four different mints; Mentha × piperita f. Citrata "Eau de Cologne", Mentha suaveolens, "Apple Mint" (my fav for cooking), Mentha suaveolens 'Variegata', "Pineapple Mint" and Mentha x gentilis 'Variegata', "ginger Mint". Two Origanos make an appearance; Origanum vulgare 'Aureum Crispum' with it's golden crinkled leaves and Origanum 'Country Cream' a great variegated form.

A lovely variety of colour form and colour

I have taken a liberty with the Artemisia as it's not really a cooking herb, but is Artemisia absinthium, responsible for the active ingredient in the drink Absinthe. Also featuring is purple Fennel, a striking tall herb much loved by bees and hover flies when in flower. Lastly purple sage and common Thyme are tucked in for those beef or pork joints on a lazy summer Sunday.

Pots of herbs at the back door for easy picking

Origanum vulgare 'Aureum Crispum'


Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting In a vase on a Monday. You can visit here blog for more inspiration and vases.

Like us on Facebook:

The quirky Bird Gardener                    Quercus Garden Plants

Our web site:

Follow us on Instagram @quirkybirdgardener


You can now sign up for our monthly newsletter on the facebook page or by emailing us to be added to our mailing list

All contents  and photographs ©  Rona, unauthorised reproduction & use of these images is strictly forbidden

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Summer Time and the Living is Manic

Loving the summery colours of the cafe flowers at this time of year, straight from the nursery gardens

Going a bit bugs eye view jurassic park under the Matteucias while weeding today

After a meeting with Heather, Val and Dee it was on with the cafe flowers on Wednesday and then weeding in the nursery gardens. I did the shade borders down the west side of the nursery drive and all the borders around the stream and nursery entrance. The weeds are growing so fast with this warm, wet weather. I'm sure they grow over night where I weeded the day before! I filled in a few gaps in the borders with plants and placed some labels David wrote at the weekend. I spent the last hour planting annuals in the herb garden, Nasturtium, kale and parsley filled in some more gaps.

Home to tea with youngest son, just the two of us for the next couple of days as David and Bracken are away doing a series of bat surveys up north. Needless to say the cats are making the most of the dog being away and taking over the house again. This is Milly the night fury making herself comfortable where the dog usually lies!

There's not much to say about Thursday apart from the torrential rain and politics. The rain meant I got a lot of potting done, finally getting the "A's" in the stock beds tidied, weeded and potted. A lot of the plants that were stripped back and rescued last year and potted into liners are now ready to be moved up into bigger pots. I will be very glad to get the last of the stock beds tidied for this year then it's just the odd spell of weeding every so often. As for politics, more upheaval for the country I fear before things settle. With the results of brexit and the US election in recent times, we shouldn't be surprised at a hung parliament and all the results from last night. We live in a crazy world and a country that's in a bit of a mess right now. We have to work forward for our kids, the old and sick. It's the nasty gloating I can't abide. I'm glad I work with plants, if they're any trouble they go in the compost heap.

Looking good in the nursery this week, wonderfully scented Dianthus, Allium 'Purple Sensation', scented Primula alpicola and Dianthus gratianopolitanus. I  love scented plants, you'd never guess given we've just built a scented garden and herb garden and the sales area is full of scented Dianthus, Primulas, roses and herbs.

I was excited to find Echium vulgare
growing in the wild flower bankings
Also looking interesting is the
 tree onion in the herb garden,
Allium cepa proliferum

Looking good at home are Iris pdeudocorus 'Variegata', Astrantia 'Buckland',
Nectarascordium and Thalictrum 'Album'

This week I've been dodging the showers and potting when it does rain and then weeding the borders when dry. At the weekend David and I concentrated on finishing the herb garden. We've enjoyed creating the new gardens this year but it's been a mammoth task in amongst the nursery work and David's job and getting it all ready for August but it is well worth it. I dug over the last border and planted it up with silver foliage herbs including Artemisia and Helichrysum italicum and white flowered Gaura, Cosmos and Nigella. David put down the last of the gravel and finished building the last of the hedge boxes. We're looking forward to seeing the plants grow and fill out.

The herb garden is almost finished

The checkerboard and hedge boxes

More looking good plants in the nursery this week
Primula viallii, Astrantia 'Sunningdale Variegated', Aquilegia 'Black Barlow',
Diathus 'Grans Favourite', Chives, Dianthus 'Houndspool Ruby'
Aquilegia formosa, Allium fistulosum, Geranium 'Sirak'

Dalkeith Country Park

Life is busy busy at the moment, keeping the nursery running and getting everything done, keeping home life ticking along, it's David's silly busy season with his business and organising the wedding so our Tuesday's off together are even more important at this time of year.  On Tuesday I had a very relaxing couple of hours in the morning getting my hair done (more wedding prep). Afterwards David, Bracken and I headed to Dalkeith Country Park to visit the Restoration Yard. We'd been recommended to visit by a couple of friends and enjoyed a lovely lunch in the cafe with views over to the massive tree house. 

You can sit out in the courtyard,
enjoy good food,
and browse through the shops
Maybe I need these for
 our wedding

The tree house

Dalkeith House sits in an imposing position above the river

After lunch and a browse through the shops we took Bracken for a walk through the country park, plenty Georgian architecture to go along with the big hoose, big bridges, bandstands, stable courtyards etc.

One of the bridges in the country park

A very nice but very expensive light shade in the shop

Have you been to the Restoration Yard? What did you think? Have a great week and enjoy the good weather that is forecast.

Like us on Facebook:

The quirky Bird Gardener                    Quercus Garden Plants

Our web site:

Follow us on Instagram @quirkybirdgardener


You can now sign up for our monthly newsletter on the facebook page or by emailing us to be added to our mailing list

All contents  and photographs ©  Rona, unauthorised reproduction & use of these images is strictly forbidden

Friday, 9 June 2017

Bracken explores Scone Palace Gardens

A couple of weeks ago we headed north to Perthshire and Scone Palace on our day off. Having never been there before and with an Itison voucher to use we made the most of a lovely warm sunny day off. We opted not to go into the palace but enjoy some lunch in the cafe and a wander around the grounds with Bracken the dog. A big paws up for Scone Palace from Bracken which allows dogs access to all of the grounds except the maze. After lunch we retrieved Bracken from the car and followed one of the trails on the map we were given at the ticket booth. 

The cherry blossom was almost over, leaving a carpet of natural confetti on the ground

Bracken reckoned peacock for lunch would be good, the peacocks had other ideas,
him being on his lead kept him in check no matter what he thought 

An albino peacock looking like filagree lace

Moot Hill and chapel

Moot hill where kings were crowned, opposite the palace is Moot Hill, the traditional mound
 of soil where Scottish kings of old were crowned. A small chapel now sits on top along
with more peacocks!

It wasn't just peacocks beside the chapel, there were woven willow deer too

Another peacock enjoying the sun

A replica stone of destiny outside the chapel

From Moot Hill we walked down the road to the track that took us through to the arboretum and walled garden. There was plenty of Forget-Me-Nots under the trees along with ferns and Cow Parlsey. The path ends at a pavilion dedicated to David Douglas the plant collector who was born in Scone village in 1799. Douglas was responsible for bringing many of the plants we now grow in our gardens back from far flung corners of the world.

Forget-me-Nots in the woodland

Bracken and the Douglas pavilion in the pineatum

We diverted away from the pineatum briefly to look at the walled garden. It seems to be split up and you can actually only walk around the first area where there was nothing happening. We left by a side gate and made for the next area of the pineatum. Its wonderful to in among soaring Sequoia and Western Hemlocks, craining our necks to see up those huge trunks.

White Thalictrum in the walled garden

A door to where? I loved the old wood and weathered brick, they made a feature on their own

An almost Quirky Bird blue door!

An impressive avenue of Tsuga heterophylla, Western Hemlock, nature's cathedral

We meandered through the grand old trees of the pineatum, eventually coming to the path next to the maze. We decided not to go in and doglets aren't allowed any way, instead we enjoyed the blazing colours of Azaleas and Rhododendrons in full flower.

Wild garlic growing under the trees

Huge Rhododendrons covered in flowers

Big balls of Rhododendron flowers

Rona and Bracken enjoying their day off

These deciduous azaleas were scented too

gorgeous deciduous azaleas

David and Bracken in the old arch way to Scone Palace

I spy a doglet

Tree Paeoias in the grounds of Scone Palace

We had a great visit and I'd recommend it especially at this time of year when the Rhododendrons are out. The fact dogs can come too gets a big paws up from Bracken and us. Have you been to Scone yourself, if not watch out for another entry voucher online.

Like us on Facebook:

The quirky Bird Gardener                    Quercus Garden Plants

Our web site:

Follow us on Instagram @quirkybirdgardener


You can now sign up for our monthly newsletter on the facebook page or by emailing us to be added to our mailing list

All contents  and photographs ©  Rona, unauthorised reproduction & use of these images is strictly forbidden