Monday, 9 July 2018

Sunshine is the best medicine - We're feeling grand

Who else can't believe the weather we are happening? Hay fever, sunburn and the constant watering of plants aside, it is glorious to have a real summer, to not have to carry clothes for every weather when we go out and to be able to eat out in the garden every night! Almost feels like being on holiday abroad - at home. Keeping with the holiday feel we've been experimenting with new dishes for dinner, lighter for summer, lighter in calories and very tasty too. 

Grilled pork with curried cous cous and salad

This summer is set to be very busy at the nursery and at home, with lots of events lined up. So far we've had our first walk and talk event at the nursery, a sales table at a garden opening near Traquair (see below), a birthday and the first art and craft fair at Whitmuir. Still to come are another birthday, David's mum visiting, An introduction to herbs talk in the nursery (see facebook to book a place), a stand at the Biggar show, An intoduction to wild flowers in the garden talk in the nursery (see facebook to book a place), a talk to a local group, a college reunion (eek), a stand at the peebles show, an afternoon visit with WRAGS to Portmore garden, two days away in yorkshire for our wedding aniversary in a tree house! yay, a walk around the nursery talk and walk, an art in the garden event in the nursery with Dancing Light gallery WHEW!

Iris 'Gerald Derby' in the garden at home

Iris chrysographes and Dactalorhiza at home

Trollius europeus at home

At the nursery the main job at the moment is keeping everything watered. I don't like watering during the day in heat like this but to ensure everything gets some water every day, that's what has to happen. We are consistently busy with customers which is great, word is getting out there. I am still plodding through the shade stock beds, which are very weedy having not been weeded until now, but they are looking better and it's great getting plants potted, sorted and fitted into the stock beds so everything is easy to find. The nursery gardens are looking fantastic, despite the winter and the lack of water recently. I an so pleased with how they are coming together so quickly and seeing all my ideas and plans working and seeing people enjoying them. I'll post more photos in my next blog.

Old watering system at East Rushton in Norfolk

So what can we do to help our plants in this heatwave and save water at the same time?

  • Water in the early morning or at night so as little water as possible evaporates.
  • Standing plants in saucers or trays of water helps to retain any water that might run off and be wasted. It also helps create a moist atmosphere and is a better way to water plants who's foliage might suffer from too much water or scorch on the leaves.
  • When using water buts as a source of water use a pipe as a siphon to reduce endless trips with a watering can, or invest in a small pump attached to a hose to push the water out of the water but and through the hose.
  • A leaky or perforated hose is good for running through a very dry border where it can soak the ground where needed with little wastage and the plants draw that water up as required.
  • For pots and especially hanging baskets use a gel that absorbs water, some composts already have this added.
  • Mulch borders and the tops of pots, this retains moisture in the soil and stops it evaporating. Use bark, gravel or any decorative mulch material to suit your garden.
  • Try to get the water into the compost or soil under the plant where it is most needed. Water the foliage doesn't achieve much and can sometimes cause scorched leaves.
  • Save water from the roofs of houses and sheds in water buts.

What ideas do you use yo save water but help your plants in dry conditions?

In the herb garden, nasturtiums and sage

I've got lots of plants to get in the gardens but I don't want to until we've had some rain and the ground is not so dry and rock hard, otherwise I'll have even more to water in different places. It's all about patience as always with gardening.

Sunlight through the sale area plants

Knautia and Zelcova in the sales area

Chionachloa in the scented garden

Nepeta parnassica in the scented garden

Like our new house? Seriously it's not, sadly, but I did spend the day at the beautiful Glen House garden open day on the 1st of July with our Quercus pop up garden shop, kinda day off and I was in the shade all day which was lovely (who's think we'd ever say that? I sold plants, chatted to loads of people, handed leaflets out and had a look round the gardens. All in a day's work. Big thanks to David and Bracken for looking after the nursery.

Our pop up shop at the Glen Garden

Some views of the The Glen gardens

I mentioned a birthday, my youngest turned 17 last week! How did he get to be that age and that size lol. He has already sent away for his provisional licence, help. What did he want for his birthday tea? Pizza and lots of it, so pizza we had, out side of course. Meanwhile I spent the day catching up at home, enjoying having Mondays off again and even got a bit of gardening done at home.

Happy birthday Daniel

Our day off last week was a treat for Daniel as well as a day out for us when we headed over the border into Northumbria where we visited Ford and Etal villages and the railway at Heathershall. The weather was glorious again and we had a lovely time out together. We had lunch at the cafe at Heathershall and then fish and chips on the way home sitting on Lauder common with a beautiful view from our rug.

Dan and I on the train

Dinner on Lauder common, great sky, great views and a dog wanting chips!

I think he's in the huff, my job here is done

Looking to the Eildon hills from Lauder common

Until the next time, enjoy the weather and happy gardening

 If you want to find out what's been happening in our garden at home like our Facebook page 
                                                      The quirky Bird Gardener 

 If you to see whats new and looking good at the nursery like our Facebook page
                                                         Quercus Garden Plants

Find out more about the nursery here - 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, thank you

#summertime #etalandford #heathershallrailway #daysout #quercusgardenplants #quirkybirdgardener #scottishgardens #heatwave #savingwater

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Heading into a second Heatwave!

I've managed to get my orchid to flower for a third time!

As I write this the temperature is crazy hot for Scotland, it was 28C during the day at the nursery, which is mad and hard to work in! The temperature has been gradually rising from the storm and cold weather of the week before. In the nursery I have finally finished the spring clean of the main stock beds which became a summer clean, as I was so late starting due to all that winter weather. I'm now working through the shade stock beds, there's a bit of potting to do so it will take a while longer, but looking so much better already. Did you know we have a page on our website for dry shade plants? Find it here Dry Shade.

Stachys, chives and catmint in the stock bed borders

I haven't had a chance to take many photos recently, but the gardens and nursery are looking fab with lots of colour and interest. We've still got some veg and annual seedlings available and annuals herbs including dill and coriander. Perfect for flavouring salads and for BBQ's and alfresco eating in this lovely weather.

Herbs in the herb garden in the nursery

Elsewhere in the nursery I am potting perennial seedling as they germinate in the tunnel, there are lots of new plants coming into the sales area next year and I'm looking forward to sharing them with you. I'm also doing lots of cuttings and bulking up batch quantities, I never lose the love of creating new plants. 

Plenty seedlings waiting to be potted

I've started clearing another area that I started two years ago and never got back to. I planted a thuja hedge there too and the poor thing has been totally overcome with weeds. I have all the plants I want to plant in this new border so I am determined to get it cleared, dug over and planted over the summer. The theme of this one will be pink, in between box cubes. 

Starting to lift the weeds for the pink border

On Sunday I did my first walk and talk event in the nursery. I had 7 people turn up and we had a lovely walk around the gardens and nursery where I explained what we're doing, what we've done and about our conditions and plans for the nursery. We had lots of lively discussion and great questions, and it was lovely to get great feed back too. 

You can come along to our next event, An intoduction to herbs in the garden, see link for details

In the garden at home there is plenty colour in the portable garden. I'm impressed with how well plants are coping into their forth year in their pots and troughs. The Astrantias are in full flower, highlighted by Trollius, Dactolorhiza and Irises. 

With the return of the hot sunny weather we've been eating outside a lot and eating lighter, easy to prepare meals. Just whats needed after exhausting days at the nursery.

Bang bang chicken

Balsamic beef and beetroot salad

Despite sunbathing appearances in these photos the doglet and I  had a busy day on Monday. Two doctors appointments (me), the house cleaned and all the front garden borders and patio pots tidied (under doglet supervision), 4 loads of washing done and dry. Planning to get my Mondays off back so I can get back to just working 5 days a week and not the 6 I've been doing since February, now that the super busy propagation and nursery work period is over. I don't mind hard work especially when I can see the results, bu tthere are limits to my energy levels too, so I have to be sensible too. 

Our day off on Tuesday saw us head to Penrith in near 30C to visit Lowther Castle and see Dan Pearson's gardens in the ruins. It was a lovely but hot day, but more of that in a seperate blog.

 If you want to find out what's been happening in our garden at home like our Facebook page 
                                                      The quirky Bird Gardener 

 If you to see whats new and looking good at the nursery like our Facebook page
                                                         Quercus Garden Plants

Find out more about the nursery here - 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, thank you

Friday, 22 June 2018

Autumn come early, Argentinian connections and awesome flowers

Last week it looked like our early summer had been blown away by storm Hector and left the nursery looking more leaf strewn than it does in autumn! What a mess and so much work to tidy up. After all my hard work tidying the stock beds over the past month or so there are plants everywhere and leaves in amongst everything. Friday's first task was to tidy up the nursery and gardens. No structural damage, just battered plants and a lot of leaves and branches down off the trees. It was like early autumn. Never thought I'd be using my leaf blower in June!

Once the storm blows through,
who ya gonna call? Leaf busters!

If you are looking for something to do join me on
Sunday for a walk around the nursery and gardens

There are lots of events through out the year here at Whitmuir, have a look at our events page and see individual businesses for details: Events Page

This week summer has left with the storm taking the sun, blue sky and warm temperatures with it. The weather is now making up for the lack of rain through May and June and seems determined to catch up in one day! At least our water supply will be replenished and I don't have to do any watering! The temperatures have dropped to 10C, brrrrrrr.

Other than the weather, news from the nursery is all about early summer colour in the gardens. The Irises, geraniums, Astrantias and Thalictrums are all looking fantastic, the winter and late spring has if anything made them more stunning than ever! If you are looking for inspiration to fill gaps in your garden after spring, now is the time to visit and see whats flowering. 

The wild flower bankings are in full summer colour with Ox eye daisies, campion, yellow rattle, grasses, ragged robin and spotted orchids.

The herb garden is also looking fab, with lots of colour and ideas. Considering this is just it's second year, I'm impressed with how established everything looks already. The annual herbs are planted and the nasturtiums are beginning to colour up too. 

I'm loving this colour combo with Kale 'Scarlet'
and Nasturtium 'Tip Top Apricot'

I've finished spring cleaning the main perennial stock beds and am now working through the shade area. There are new plants being potted and put out as I go and it's filling up nicely. If you have a tricky garden area you can get help and information on our website here Quercus Garden Plants

Propagation has slowed to a more gentle pace now in the tunnel. I'm working through the stock list doing cuttings where required and potting up perennial seedlings as they are ready. Lots of exciting new plants coming to the nursery from the tunnel next year.

The stream garden gets better and better every day

Georgina and I, catching up after 30 years

Last Saturday I had a day off so I could catch up with an old college mate. We haven't seen each other for 30 years! It seems like only yesterday that we were leaving to explore the big bad world of work and real life. Me to work at Hopetoun Gardens and Georgina to do a course at Wisley but had to leave early. One of the reasons we've never had a chance to meet up before now is that Georgina comes from Argentina, so is rarely on this side of the world. She is over for several months visiting family and friends. It was amazing to catch up and find out all about her and what she's been up to. All too soon it was time to take her back for her bus after visiting the nursery, but we're hoping to meet up again before she goes home.

Pelargonium 'Nicola Buck', P. 'Copthorne', P. 'Gray Lady Plymouth', P. 'Ardens', P. cucullatum 'Flore Pleno', P. unique 'Voodoo', P. cordifolium var rubrocinctum, P. 'Cys sunburst,  P.  stellar 'Rookley'

Pelargonium 'Rimfire', P. 'Dolly Varden', P. 'Rogue', P. 'Glacis', P. 'Imperial Butterfly', P. 'Arctic Star', P. 'Tornado', P. 'Stadt Berg', P. 'Tip Top Duet'

Pelergonium trifidum, P. 'Aztec', P. 'Deer Wood Lavander', P.  'Morwena', P. 'Ashby', P. 'Meon Maid', P. 'Pampered Lady', P. 'Attar of Roses', P. 'Yhu'

I'm not getting much time in the garden at home, it's a bit of an embarrassment really and I'm glad no one sees it! From one extreme to the other with the nursery gardens looking beautiful to this weedy mess here at home, hey ho, hopefully I'll get a few evenings soon where I'm not too tired and can get some tidying done. I did however manage to take some photos of my Pelargonium collection, as you can see above, plenty colour in amongst the 50 odd varieties I now have!

The Potting shed garden

On Tuesday we had a local day off, with me having a bit of pampering in the morning, getting my hair done then we headed to a local garden in Broughton open under the Scottish Garden Scheme. If you are looking for inspiration for what to grow at 900 feet above sea level on a hill in the borders, then this is a great place to visit (aswell as our nursery of course, lol). Established for 10 years it is a riot of colour, texture and views over the valley. A combination of planted bankings, walls and grassy paths leading you up the hill through trees and wild flower plantings to enjoy the views at the sitootery. Jane the owner is a customer at the nursery so it was lovely to go and visit her creation and see how well the nursery might look in ten years! The garden is open every Tuesday into July. 

Afterwards we went for lunch in the wee tearoom in Broughton and then took Bracken for a walk along the old railway line. A relaxing day off in our own back yard.

Alliums going over but still beautiful



Clematis close up

Foxgloves on the woodland paths

Velvety purple Irises

Views from the garden

Oriental poppies

Ox eye daisies with Coulter Fell in the back ground




Wild roses on the old railway

Walking along the old railway line

Bracken enjoying his walk

Who else is looking forward to the return of sunny warm weather? I know I am, see you soon.

 If you want to find out what's been happening in our garden at home like our Facebook page 
                                                      The quirky Bird Gardener 

 If you to see whats new and looking good at the nursery like our Facebook page
                                                         Quercus Garden Plants

Find out more about the nursery here - 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, thank you