Sunday, 30 August 2015

Glasgow Botanical Gardens, vintage and wild carrots

Hello, how are you, how's your week been? Busy as always here, the weather is as mixed as always and we are working away at the nursery making lots of improvements as always. We've had some really heavy rain, some sun and it is definitely getting colder. The highlight of the week was a trip to Glasgow Botanic Gardens, more of that in a minute.

I treated my self earlier in the week to a wee snack from the farm
 shop at Whitmuir the Organic Place
Healthy but very tasty treats this week, I've been feeling exhausted and lethargic so have gone back to healthy eating (still with chocolate treats though). I've been eating more and losing weight, but eating the right foods and I've lost 8lbs which is fantastic as its been a struggle to lose anything of the extra 1.5 stones over the past couple of years. I feel so much better, energetic and healthier, long may it continue.

We had some classy glamour visit Whitmuir today, a 1932 Rolls Royce and it's lovely
owners who were buying paintings at the Dancing Light Gallery

At the nursery I have finally finished re-potting and propagating all the shade plants and they are all together in one area now. We will have a good comprehensive range for next year which will fill the shade tunnel and more. David is musing about building a pergola to create a shade area for the plants, which would be another great project and point of interest in the nursery. Now I am back to working through the rest of the stock, re-potting and propagating the neglected stock we bought with the nursery. It's lot of work but we will have some cracking plants for next year and it is satisfying to see the plants lined up with a new lease of life. We've got some new trees and shrubs in for winter interest and bulbs arriving soon.

Another vase of Sweet peas are scenting the kitchen

The slugs have eaten through the stem of this sunflower so I've popped it in a
vase on the kitchen window sill

On Tuesday, our day off, we packed up the car with middle son's belongings to take him back to Glasgow for his second year at uni. He has a flat with friends, so was keen to get back and settle in.
Typically it was on the second floor so lots of exercise carrying his stuff up. After we left him to get unpacked we made the most of the sunny afternoon and visited Glasgow Botanics.

Climbing lots of stairs to a new student flat

The Kibble Palace, Glasgow Botanic Gardens

I've never, believe it or not, been to Glasgow Botanics, David was appalled. I am not really Glasgow orientated, I am much more likely to go into Edinburgh for anything. Luckily dogs are allowed in the gardens, so Bracken got a walk too, which he enjoyed as there were plenty people to say hello to. At the Eastern end is the Kibble Palace, a large round glasshouse with two side glasshouses. The first of these houses a very impressive and well maintained carniverous plant collection. David was in his element with all the mosses in there too. 

The carniverous plant house, Glasgow Botanic Gardens

The main house of the Kibble Palce, lots of great tree ferns, bananas and other exotics

Great tree ferns in the Kibble Palace

I like the combination of white metalwork, glass and ferns and palms

Elsewhere in the gardens there are herbaceous borders, a herb garden, vegetable plot, lovely Acers and other specimen trees and another greenhouse range with cacti and orchids, more palms. It is a small botanical garden but has plenty packed in and lots of grass areas where people were making the most of the sun and soaking up the heat. 

Echinacea purpurea

Felicia 'Santa Anita', gorgeous blues, loved by the bees

We put Bracken back in the car, which was parked up a shady side street and treated our selves to some late lunch in the tea room. Well I say lunch, but we had a high tea. I've been wanting to have one for ages and it was lovely sitting in the sun, stuffing our selves. Of course we went for the top option, it's our day off and we work hard, so we like to treat ourselves on our day off. 

High tea for two, don't mind if we do

Lots of lovely cake, we didn't bother with dinner
that night!

Lots of candy bright Pelargoniums outside the glasshouse

A cheeky chap also having his lunch in the Botanics

Bracken the dog, travelling home

Sadly the wild flowers are coming to an end on the terraces at the nursery, they have been stunning since we started contemplating buying and visiting the nursery back in April and then through the start of our journey creating the nursery as it is now. Starting with the Cow slips, then red campion (with some pink and white mixed in), Ragged Robin, Ox eye Daisies, lots of grasses, and now Hypericum, Achillea and wild carrots. One of my favourite wild flowers is the wild carrot, Daucus carota. I love the way the flower head folds up on itself once it has finished flowering. It is great for photographing and is a simple, beautiful plant. 

WIid Carrot

Eldest son is enjoying his new job, he's so much happier and back to himself which is great and relief for his mum, no matter how old your kids, you always worry about them. Youngest has settled back into school, I can't believe he is second year already, where does the time go? 

Cautleya bringing a bit of exotic to the patio

As for the house garden, it's a bit of neglected garden, my plans to bit in the evenings once I was home from the nursery haven't really happened as I've been so tired and had the house to keep on top of too. Tonight however the sun was shining and I was home earlier than usual so I headed to the greenhouses to give them a tidy and water. I don't think we're going to get any tomatoes either, they are just too small and green. Feeling good about getting that done I got the hoe out and hoed the tattie and bean plot, the sweet peas are almost over sadly. I've really enjoyed growing them again and loved having them in vases scenting the house. I'm definitely going to grow more next year. Feeling frustrated by the weeds growing between the slabs on the patio, I got the sprayer out and weed killed the paths, patio and drive, wow excelling my self now. Without really thinking about it or planning to I'd crossed several jobs off the to do list, woo hoo. 




Find us on Facebook:









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

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Garden Challenges: Dry Shade

An often challenging garden area is dry shade, be it under trees, against a wall or even a shaded banking. The ground is often shallow, lacking in nutrients and water and of course lacking in sunlight especially if North or East facing. Often it is not possible to dig in organic matter due to wall foundations or tree roots so in some cases plants have to cope with shade, poor soil and shallow root space.  But there are plants that will grow in these conditions and indeed will thrive, providing colour and ground cover all year round.


This is a shady banking at the nursery, under trees and very dry unless it rains heavily

The same banking from the other direction

Before planting consider removing some of the lower branches of trees to heighten the canopy and let in some light. Also dig in as much organic matter as you can to enrich and add moisture to the soil. This will give the plants the best chance to thrive.

After the hard work  comes the fun part: choosing plants that will brighten up your shady area. The space you have dictates the size of plants you choose and how many. I have put together a list of plants that will grow in dry shade, under trees, walls or on shady bankings. As always I have suggested  tough plants that will cope with our Scottish garden conditions and which are available in the nursery.


Epimedium 'Pink Elf'

The Quirky bird recommends the Genus Epimedium, one of the best perennials for shade and one of my favourite plants. Not only do they have lovely little flowers in spring, quite often the new spring foliage is colourful and they have great autumn colour, so a good all round plant. They aren't invasive but form good ground cover over time. Inter-planted with small bulbs they provide year round interest.


Epimedium grandiflorum nanum

Epimedium 'Lilafee'

Epimedium pinnatum ssp. Colchicum

Other plants that will tolerate dry shade and give you colour include Valerian officinalis, a tall perennial with pink scented flowers. It can seed around but I think that's a good thing if you have a tricky garden area. The seedlings are easily pulled out if not wanted. Valerian is a herb that has medicinal uses.

Valerian officinalis

Foxgloves also do well in dry shady places, again often seeding around

Brunnera are another great Genus for shady areas and will tolerate dry shade. They mainly have vivid blue flowers and are often referred to as perennial Forget-me-Nots. As well as B macrophylla there are numerous striking cultivars with veined and marbled leaves. Most commonly found are B. 'Jack Frost', B. 'Emerald Mist' and 'Blaukuppel'. They will flower over many weeks and are well worth growing in the garden. 

Brunnera 'Jack Frost'

As well as perennials some grasses will cope with dry shade. Deschampsia and it's culivars will do well. Clump forming with arching flowers stems they are hardy and occur naturally in woodland and meadows. They look lovely when the sun catches the fine flowers in dappled shade. Luzula sylvatica, a native and known as "Woodrush", is a lower growing grass with broad strap like leaves. It is great for ground cover or holding a banking together. Brown flowers appear from May to late June.


Deschampsia cespitosa


There are a small selection of ferns that will grow in this situation. Dryopteris and Polypodium species and cultivars will give all year round leaf form. I like Polypodiums or Polypody, especially the more interesting leaved forms. They are a native and you quite often see them growing up trees, clinging to the branches with their roots or on walls. They are evergreen, low growing and hardy, forming carpets of ground cover. Drypoteris affinis is partially evergreen and D. felix-mas which is deciduous, both will do well in dry shade. Both are hardy and do well in exposed gardens. 

Polypodium vulgare

Perennials
Ajuga
Alchemilla mollis
Anemone japonica
Anemone nemerosa
Aqueligia
Aster divaricatus
Astrantia
Bergenia
Brunnera
Convallaria
Dicentra bachanal
Dicentra spectabilis
Digitalis
Epimedium
Euphorbia amgdaloides var Robbiae
Geranium canabridgensis vars
Geranium phaeum vars
Geranium nodosum
Geranium machorhyzum vars
Iris foetidissima
Lamium maculatum vars
Liriope
Lunaria annua
Omphaloides
Pulmonairia
Tellima
Tiarella
vinca


Grasses
Deschampsia
Luzula nivea
luzula sylvatica

Ferns
Dryopteris
Polypodium vulgare

Bulbs
Galanthus

Shrubs
Mahonia aquifolium



Find us on Facebook:









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




Friday, 21 August 2015

This week, School is back, Sunflowers and Sweet peas

Firstly I'd like to say a huge thank you to Angie from Angie's garden for her lovely blog about her visit to the nursery a couple of weeks ago, you can read her blog here: A visit to the Quirky Bird

We've had some lovely sunny and warm weather this week, probably because the kids are back at school. I've enjoyed some warmth although it is probably too late for the veggies, they aren't going to do much now sadly. However we do have a sunflower! The shallots are on the very small side and I don't think there will be enough time for the beetroot to progress beyond marble size. Next year I would like to have a corner in the poly tunnel at the nursery to grow some veg, we'll see.

We grew a sunflower

The week started with good news in that eldest son has got a months trial with a local firm with a view to an apprenticeship, I'm really pleased for him and hopefully it will lead to more good things and a job. Well done Ben. Youngest son went back to school on Monday, so it was early morning chaos getting him up and off on the school bus at 7.30am, then eldest son starting his job at 8am, that will be a shock to his system. Middle son goes back to uni next week, so it's all change again.

A lovely vase of sweet peas from the garden, this year I have
grown 'Beaujolais', 'Cathy' and an unknown cream one
I brought back from Coll

Typically our day off on Tuesday was wet, not sunny as the previous couple of days had been or the rest of the week is forecast to be. We went to pick up some plants I'd ordered from a nursery in East Lothian and had planned to take the doglet to the beach for a walk. Instead we headed back to the nursery and dropped the plants off then decided to go to Dawyck for lunch. It's a lovely place to eat and the food is always good. We didn't have a walk around the garden as the rain was heavier but you can read about two previous visits here and here. We came home via Biggar to do a couple of errands and walk Bracken along the old railway line. It was great to get a  walk with Bracken, I do miss my daily walk with him now I am back working.

Sculpture exhibition at Dawyk

Great art at Dawyck

Allium vineale growing on the old railway line

Bracken being cute

Harebells on the railway line

There were plenty of wild flowers along the old railway line

Wednesday was a good day, the sun shone, it was warm and it was my birthday, these days they are happy days full of happiness and good times. After a lovely birthday breakfast I spent the day at the nursery enjoying working in the sun and I cut a new bunch of flowers for my desk as you can see below. I received lovely gifts, cards, good wishes from friends and family and had dinner out with David in the evening, but the best thing was having wonderful people around me, great friends and family. 

Flowers for my desk from the nursery gardens

Apparently there wasn't enough room on one cake for all my candles! Cheeky


I've admired this metal and wood conker for a month or so at the gallery at work,
thanks to David I now have one of my own, my gift from him for my birthday

Two or three months ago my grape vine suddenly died. The branches and shoots wilted and died and there has been no signs of life since. I was really sad as I've had it for 21 years and it was a good size when I got it, it always has grapes and is like an old friend. It was dug out of the ground and potted into a massive bucket when we moved house last year and coped with that no bother at all. I hadn't got around to moving it out of the greenhouse, as the pot and it are quite a size and heavy to move. Imagine my surprise when I was watering the greenhouses tonight and there were 4 good sized shoots on different parts of the plant. It must have suddenly shot away as there was nothing when I was in the greenhouse a few days ago. So there is life in the old vine yet, hooray.

The re sprouting vine

 It's been another busy week, they are going so fast, can't believe the kids are back to school and Jamie goes back to uni next week. The forecast for the rest of the week looks not bad, but I have a lot of potting up to do, new borders to create, I need to come up with a plan for the wild life garden and do some watering. Looking forward to friends visiting the nursery at the weekend and catching up.



Find us on Facebook:









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
















Friday, 14 August 2015

This August I am .......



I haven't done one of these blog posts for ages.

Making: Huge progress with the nursery as you will have seen in other posts

Cooking: quick, easy meals and the kids favourites while they are home for summer

Drinking: The best mochas from Whitmuir the Organic Place

Reading: Books about creating a wildlife garden, next project at the nursery

Wanting: to succeed

Looking: At how much we have achieved already

Playing: Still playing the Outlander series Soundtrack, love love love the music

Wishing: My sister didn't have breast cancer and have to go through so much

Enjoying: The very positive feedback we keep getting from customers

Loving: the positive people I am colaborating with at Whitmuir

Smelling: The sweet peas growing in the garden

Wearing: too many layers, such a cold summer

Anticipating: the future

Buying: books

Disliking: the unseasonally cold summer

Eating: Too much chocolate, it's a stress management thing :)

Planting: new borders in the nursery

Marvelling: at life's twists and turns

Wondering: just wondering

Feeling: worried about my sister, her operation and recovery

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Time for a diary catch up post

I haven't done a weekly catch up for a while, mainly because I don't want to bore you all with nursery, nursery, nursery, which is what life generally is at the moment. Over the last couple of days the prairie border at home has burst in to colour, mainly due to the poppies I sowed earlier in the year. I liberally cast the seeds I got from David's Mum all over the border and I think every single one has come up! I do love them though. I was expecting the usual pale pink of Papaver somnifera but was very pleasantly surprised by their striking dark colour as you can see from the photos below. The bees love them and the border is literally buzzing.

Deep coloured Poppies with bee friend

Bee close up on the poppies

A border full of poppies

We are getting so much done and have really made a huge difference to the look of the nursery to make it appealing to customers and it is certainly working. We get so many compliments from people who visit us. I really am loving it it but it is only natural to miss the freedom of going places for a day out, having time off, having a holiday and a life especially when you see everyone on Facebook away on summer holidays or weekends away and doing different things. I haven't had a summer holiday for two years and really miss that chance to get away for a couple of weeks and travel and explore somewhere new. Tuesday is my day off and although it would be nice to go off for the day, we didn't fancy driving around all day and wanted a relaxing time around the house. So the day went a bit like this:

A better night's sleep
A long lie, coffee in bed then a leisurely breakfast of scrambled eggs and good coffee
Errands done in the local town
A walk up Black Mount, our local big hill, been meaning to do it since we moved here a year ago
New pillows arrived and will hopefully improve my sleep
Lots of chores caught up on around the house
Some gardening done
Road tax paid
New chooks ordered and delivered the same day
Steak dinner cooked by Daniel with a lovely bottle of wine
The several week old ironing finished

I feel much better and on top of things again and it was great to get up a hill again, even if a relatively small one.

Bracken, king of the hill, on the trig on Black Mount

Coulter Fell in cloud from black Mount

Dead Heather, Black Mount

A dark peaty puddle

Everyone smile, at the top of the hill

Jamie on the trig

What about the new chooks? We've lost three old ladies in the year we have been here and I had promised Daniel we would get some more, especially the Light Sussex my Uncle has on Coll, which he took a fancy to when we were there at Easter. When I woke up at 7am on Tuesday morning I decided my first job would be to go ahead and order some as a surprise for Dan, I ordered two Sussex and one Black rock and waited on an email to say when they would be delivered. We went off for our walk in the afternoon and came back to a note through the door saying the new hens were shut in the hen house, now that is service. Here they are:

Buffy the cockerel inspecting the new ladies

The new ladies

I have had a bit of a lurgy, probably a cold combined with hay fever and not sleeping well which along with working six days a week and being busy busy has left quite exhausted. Although we are technically closed on a Monday I have been working to get everything done, but this Monday I decided to have a long lie and try to catch up on some sleep. I caught up on some chores, went down to the local town to fill up the car with petrol, has everyone else noticed the price is creeping up again? I bought a card and pressies to send to my niece for her birthday and then headed to work. The day was spent ordering new plants for next year (exciting) and dividing and potting (free plants). I find it really satisfying dividing and re potting the neglected plants, making more stock from a few plants for next year and watching them grow, invigorated by fresh compost, fertilizer and water.

Andrew who runs the wood shack built this lovely planter in the
car park and I've planted it up.

There are 2 litters of new tiny piglets in the field behind the nursery, they are cute

Everyone smile

We've not had much success with the vegetable growing due the even colder than normal summer here in Scotland. Daniel's first three varieties of potatoes have been good however. There is a promising courgette in the greenhouse and the kale is good. We are not expecting to get the beans, carrots or beetroot before the weather turns though.

Daniel's successful potatoes 


Find us on Facebook:




www.quercusgardenplants.co.uk



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