Thursday, 28 May 2015

Plants, Paint charts and kids coming home for summer

Monday was a busy day in sunny weather. I washed and cleaned out my car, yes I did, all hoovered and tidied out. It's had more washed and tidies in the seven months I've been off than the four years I've had the car! I weedkilled the garden, just the weeds though it's not that bad, honest. Then I walked me and Bracken, we didn't get as far as the village as the farmer was moving his sheep, still three miles is a fine walk. In the afternoon I went with David to inspect a tree in Edinburgh for bat roosts, it was nice to be driving about in the sun. We then drove through to Kilsyth to buy some "buy me now" plants for the nursery next week. It was strange walking around the wholesaler buying plants for my own business instead of tagging along for a look with a previous employer. While there we met Belinda from Shades of Green Garden design. She does a lot of work with hilly, exposed gardens, turning them into interesting and great looking gardens. Her before, during and after photos on Facebook are always interesting. It was good to have a quick catch up chat.

Some lovely flowering plants for the nursery

Last time I was in the DIY store I picked up a pile of paint colour charts for the shed / office / shop at the nursery. I love turquoises, pale greens and duck egg blues, so am drawn to pale versions of those, I know the look I want and am excited about creating it, though that will probably be an autumn winter job.

Colour, colour everywhere

Love these colours

Tuesday was sunny again, though I spent the morning indoors cleaning the house, well it won't do itself unfortunately. In the afternoon I escaped the house and at last got the bean poles up in the veg bed at the top of the garden where they will get plenty sun and light. It was great to get a bean wigwam up again and the two varieties of runner beans planted. This year I have grown 'Scarlet Empire' and 'Painted Lady', to be honest I grow them as much for the flowers as the beans! I also planted sweet peas amongst them, 'Beaujolias' and 'Cathy' for some colour and scent.

Putting up the bean poles

Getting in a knot

Twisted beans

All planted

I earthed up Daniel's tatties and watered the greenhouses, it has been quite dry for a while so I put the sprinkler on the moving pots and troughs. At last I got the Gaura lindheimeri seedlings planted in the prairie beds, I'm looking forward to seeing this in flower through the summer, with their red marked foliage they make a great addition to any border. I also took quite a few photos of plants coming into flower and new leaves emerging.

Anemone trulifolia

The large Rhododendron in the front garden

Dodecathion meadia

Well I guess two days of sunshine was not bad and on Wednesday it was back to rain, and lots of it. It was much needed though and it was that great soaking rain which is great for the plants. I did the ironing in the morning and then David and I went food shopping in the afternoon. We met eldest son to pass on some paper work for selling his motorbike, now he's passed al his tests, he is buying a bigger one! Gulp, worried Mum moment.

Echinopsis chamaecereus in the greenhouse

Epimedium pinnatum ssp. Colchicum foliage

Ferns and whitebells

Thursday was all about sunshine and showers, and when it rained it really rained. I had a lazy morning ready a really good book then after lunch drove into Glasgow to bring middle son and all his "stuff" back from his student flat. Can't believe that's his first year at uni over already, it took seven trips up and down two flights of stairs (my exercise for the day) and we were really stuffing things in the car at the end, but it all fitted and we made it home to then have to unload it all at the other end. I always love having my boys home, even if they bring masses of washing and stuff with them.

You can always tell when a student is home!

It's been another busy week, we got lots done but it has been frustrating too as the nursery sale is not going to be through for next Monday when we hoped to take over. Hold ups with lawyers, paper work and so on, so frustrating, and at this time of writing we have no idea when we will take over. But onwards and upwards, more time to plan and be ready to take over, we've got so many exciting ideas. Tomorrow we are away to do a weekend of bat surveys on a site on the west coast, leaving our trusty house sitters in charge of the animals, or is that the animals in charge of the house sitters? It's a fascinating site I visited with David last autumn, but I'll leave that for a blog next week. There is no WIFI, limited internet access so I'll be offline for a few days, that sounds quite good, back to basics.

Have a great weekend and I'll leave you with a few more plant photos from the garden.

Hosta 'Minuteman'

Pulsatilla vulgaris

Double Ranunculus

Riot of colour in the greenhouse

Monday, 25 May 2015

A weekend of Gardening, Long Lies and Lists

Saturday dawned bright, sunny and warm which was a nice change, it almost felt like summer. After a nice long lie (I am very aware these will be a thing of the past once I start work at the nursery) David and I had a quick breakfast and then headed over to the nursery. The guy who is selling it to us has said we can go and potter about, even though the contract of sale isn't signed yet. He knows we as keen to get on with it as he is to sell and move forward. We figured, even if we do some weeding it's a bonus to us when we take over and will help the plants too.

Sunshine through Acer leaves

We spent five hours weeding, clearing and tidying the front of the sales shed, measuring where the shade tunnel will go, making more lists and making more decisions. We started weeding the long bed up the side of the track which is already planted. There are lots of lovely plants there and will look very striking once they have grown and spread out and especially once the weeds are gone. The plan is to put bark on the beds once cleared to help weed control, The place is a bit untidy and very weedy so it will be a bit of work to pull it back and get it off the ground, but exciting and fun too hopefully. We decided to treat ourselves to a take away on the way home. This will not become a habit, as we won't be able to afford it, but just this once we did, Chinese for us and haggis supper for Ben.

Geum 'Karlskaer' looking good in the sun

Geum 'Nordek', a pretty orange

Some shuttlecock ferns we found amongst the weeds in one of the already planted borders

After and before, we started weeding one of the previously planted beds, you can see the hold the weeds
have already, so we need to be quick before it becomes and impossible task

The nursery specialises in unusual perennials and plants that grow and survive in Scottish gardens, especially at height. The nursery is at 850 feet above sea level (the same height as my last garden!) so these plants will be tough. There are also a selection of grasses and ferns, Scottish fruit trees and I plan to introduce more plants as time goes on.

Bigger piggies having a snooze on the farm

On Sunday we cut the grass, it was long over due, so we made the most of the dry weather. I did the front lawn and David did the back. While he was doing his bit I planned to strim the boundaries and around the trees, but lo and behold the strimmer wouldn't work, frustrating. Instead I watered the greenhouses and pots on the patio and did other odd jobs. It was good to have some dry weather again. In the afternoon we went across to the nursery to put up some old signs we'd modified to let people know the nursery is re opening soon.

Walking up behind the nursery

We took a walk up the farm track behind the nursery to explore our new surroundings, and found the old quarry. It was full of wild flowers growing on the bankings and rock faces in the dappled shade of the beech trees. There were wild violets, Oxalis and golden saxifrage amongst the mosses and ferns. There is also a small waterfall trickling down over the rocks at the back of the quarry.

Wild violets


View from behind the nursery

Campion growing next to the chicken field

It was then home for dinner and to say good bye to eldest son as he went back to granny's and hello to youngest coming back from his dads! I have put all the lists I have been compiling for the nursery on the laptop, that way I can alter, cut and paste to my hearts content and not be scoring out and re writing and throwing out paper. 

Friday, 22 May 2015

Some gardening and making the most of my last weeks off

It's been a pretty normal week, well as normal as normal get in this house. I've been busy writing lists, then lists of lists and plans, ideas, buying lots of stuff, carrier bags, gloves, internet browsing for ideas, bridges, willow wattle fencing and so on for the new business so we can hit the ground running as soon as everything is finalised. So far we are on target to take over on the 1st of June, so not long. 

Scleranthus biflorus growing in one of the alpine troughs, a lovely tiny plant

On Monday it was the usual domestic cleaning, tidying and organising day and then in the afternoon once David had cleared his desk we went on a wee shopping trip to buy some things for the new business. As we were in the area I went back to my previous place of work, Binny Plants to buy some shade lovers I want to plant here. After that we dropped some bin bags of clothes at the cash for clothes place, another £6 in the savings jar and then we went to the local tool shop to get some new work boots and tools, it's nice doing some shopping, especially when spending some one else's money. This is all part of our budget and cash flow planning for the business, I'm not having a mad blow out, lol, honest. We popped into the DIY store on the way home to pick up odds and ends and colour charts for the office / shed / shop. I'm thinking a duck egg blue turquoise with darker blue highlights. In the evening I had a night out with an old colleague, it was great to catch up and chat about all my plans for the nursery. 

Big sky view from the local village on our walk

Tuesday, unsurprisingly, was showery, there's too much of that at the moment and not enough heat and sun. However it brightened up as the day went on and Bracken and I got a walk, the 4.5 mile circuit up the hill to the local school and back, I am really going to miss our walks when I go back to work. The walk blew away any cobwebs, but reminded me that this lingering cold is still there and tiring. I went along to the local town to pick up some more essentials for the business, coffee, biscuits, etc. for the workforce / volunteers / drafted teenagers, gotta keep them happy. The sun came out and I enjoyed the drive there and back listening to a new CD. I watered the greenhouses and Daniel and I potted up his courgette seedlings into 9cm pots and moved them to the wee greenhouse. We also did a potato inspection, lots of nice new leaves poking through the soil.

Another big picking of rhubarb from the garden

Wednesday was warm, dry and sunny, at last (it didn't last beyond a day though). Despite still being under the weather with this cold I went out and hoed all the flower beds, those dandelions are not giving up! It is great to see all the plants I planted in the new beds last year coming on, see here, here, here and here, there are a few nibbled by slugs so I have used some pellets to help them along a bit. I moved a lot of the veg seedlings out of the greenhouse to harden up a bit more, hopefully the cold nights are behind us now. Next week Daniel and I really need to get them planted before I go back to work and they get too big.

Runner beans and sweet peas hardening off

I hoed the veg patch on the patio and put some netting up around the edge to keep Bracken out, he seems to think it's his own personal toilet and that won't work with sowing veg seeds and planting out the seedlings! Having cleared a few things out the wee greenhouse I could then move cuttings and seedlings into it from the big greenhouse. It's a constant merry go round of plant moving at the moment. I got some of the hardier plants in pots onto the patio, including my Acer 'Bloodgood' which is looking stunning this year. Once the bench is cleared in the wee greenhouse in a few weeks time I can start sowing the huge pile of perennial seeds I have. Many of these will probably end up as stock for the new business.

Acer 'Bloodgood' about to be moved out the wee greenhouse

Next lot of seedlings and cuttings in the wee greenhouse

The temporary fence to keep Bracken off the veg patch

Some sunflowers planted at the back of the veg patch

Veg seedlings waiting to be planted

Thursday morning and we had another meeting and a look around the nursery, my list of things to do once we get there is growing, and every time we go over I notice more things and have more ideas. In the afternoon I took myself off to Livingston for some retail therapy, a few things for me, birthday presents for my nephew and brother in law, things for the business and the food shopping. There were lots of yellow sticker bargains to be had in the supermarket, which were shoe horned into the ridiculously small freezer we have to use in this house. Frustrating for a cook, baker and bargain hunter with lots of people to feed.

Our neighbours at the nursery

Friday was a bit lazy, trying to get rid of this cold, slept on this morning for two hours and then pottered about catching up on paperwork, trip to the local post office to post a parcel and came home with strawberry tarts, yum. Eldest son came up on his motorbike, having passed his final test this morning and then granny came up in the afternoon. We took them and youngest over to show them the nursery and exactly what we have let ourselves in for. They were impressed and interested, Granny even started pulling a few weeds. There was a beautiful sunset tonight, I could see it through the trees, I really miss my open views from the last house where I could photograph sunrise and sunset with nothing in the way. 

All in all apart from the cold it's been a good week. Have a great weekend, happy gardening, enjoy what ever you get up to.

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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

This May I am

Pelargonium scented 'Pink Capricorn'

Making: Plans and lists, more lists, to do list and shopping lists for the new business venture

Cooking: Rhubarb, a great crop this year, pies, crumbles and with custard

Drinking: Too much coffee

Reading: Piet Oudolf books, my favourite garden designer

Wanting: this cold I have had for 3 weeks to go away

Looking: Forward to being my own boss and a new chapter in my life

Playing: The Outlander series Soundtrack, love love love the music

Wishing: My eldest had something lined up after he finishes college in two weeks

Enjoying: The last couple of weeks of not working

Loving: the craziness of life

Smelling: My Auricula primula flowers

Wearing: jumpers and scarfs still! It's so cold for May

Anticipating: A lot of hard work to get my new business up and running

Buying: lots of things for the new business, tools, coffee cups and plants

Disliking: Waiting to get started

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

Planting: Vegetable and sunflower seedlings

Marvelling: just marvelling

Wondering: At how the future will turn out

Feeling: Excited and terrified about our new venture

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Another new road to travel

Euphorbia polychroma

Oh heck, I can't wait any longer, I've got a job, I'm terrified and really excited!!!!

As many of you know if you read my blethers and havers on here, I took a year out starting last November, to do me stuff and see what I wanted to do with life. I was going to be open minded about what I might end up doing and signed up for a course in botanical identification.

As you may also know from here my life in recent years has meandered and lurched and changed from one path to another and so much from what I thought it was going to be, so it 's no surprise to me now that another unanticipated road has appeared over the horizon in the last month.

It's not just a job though, David and I have bought a plant nursery!! Yes I know I said it was something I'd never ever do, but you know when so many things just feel right and slot perfectly into place? Well this was one of them.

The nursery is only 15 minutes from home and has been trading well for several years. The site needs a lot of work to tidy it up and there is lots of potential for selling more plants and planting up gardens. The farm it is on also has a great farm shop, gallery and restaurant so we will already have customers passing by.

I suspect the Quirky bird will be doing a lot of blogging from the nursery as well as the garden here at home. If you are local I hope you will come and visit and if not follow us on facebook and our website once I get it up and running.

I will put full details of where we are, opening times, website and Facebook once we get the keys on 1st June, hopefully.

It will be a lot of work, but hopefully fun too. Exciting times ahead.

Melica nutans

Meanwhile other news, well there's not much happening in the garden, its still to cold to get the veg seedlings planted out which are getting huge. I have spent most of the last month working out cash flow forecasts, making lists of things to do once we get the nursery, things to buy, things to do here at home before I am too busy working. The sun is shining at the moment but showers are forecast and a cold wind is still blowing.

Looking forward to sharing our news and progress with you all over the coming months.

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Monday, 18 May 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day May 2015

The weather continues to be wet, windy and chilly, with a couple of frosty nights, meaning the emerging potato shoots have been frosted, I really must get them earthed up. The early spring flowers are beginning to fade but the cold weather is holding the next wave of flowers in check. We are so desperate for some dry sunny and especially warm weather up here, come on early summer where are you?

Anemone trulifolia

Calceolaria 'Kentish Hero', this chap is still in the greenhouse and will be until the nights warm up a bit more

Corydalis ochlorureum, this one is in one of the alpine troughs, but does seed around in a well behaved manner

Epimedium x warlyensis, one of my favourite genus of plants

Euphorbia 'Wallenberg Glory'

Euphorbia polychroma

Melica nutans, a lovely fine grass that gets to 18" and moves beautifully in the breeze

Primula veris

Trachystemon orientlalis

Uvularia grandiflora

Violas and Tulips adding some colour

Meanwhile in the big greenhouse it's a riot of colour with my Pelargonium collection. Many of them are flowering already, including the new ones. Oranges, reds, whites, pinks and every colour in between compete to be the brightest and best.

Pelargonium 'Dolly Varden'

Pelargonium 'Rio Grande'

Pelargonium 'Westdale Appleblossom'

Pelargonium ardens, this is my favourite

Pelargonium scented 'Pink Capricorn'

Pelargonium stellar 'Arctic Star'

Pelargonium stellar 'Rookley'

Pelargonium stellar 'Vectis Glitters'

Pelargoniums in the big greenhouse

Echinopsis chamaecereus

Thanks as always to May Dream Gardens for hosting this gathering of blooming gardens.