Sunday, 27 September 2015

Potting, digging and Inverness

Hello, we've had some pretty good weather recently, dry and even warm. There is still lots of colour in the nursery with the trees and shrubs taking on their autumn tints and late flowering perennials still with lots of showy flowers. I've finished re potting all the trees and shrubs, still lots of perennials to work through though.

There is still lots of colour in the nursery, Mints and Pelargoniums are still flowering

I've been making the most of the good weather by getting on with the entrance to the Secret wildlife garden in the nursery. I'm digging over a bed on either side of the path leading to the arch and planning to plant them up with native plants and some small trees. The ground is stony and full of perennial weeds and grass but over time we'll get it cleared out and will add in organic matter to improve the soil. I'm looking forward to seeing this area finished and then we'll move through the arch and start on the wildlife garden. I've also got a honeysuckle to plant over the arch and will add some roses and clematis for summer colour and scent.

Digging new beds at the entrance to the wildlife
garden in the nursery

Thursday was a bit of a stressful day as my car went in for a service and needed a lot done, I didn't get any change out of a £1000! So it's bread and water for the rest of the year. I also arrived at the nursery that morning to find something had turned over a lot of the newly potted up plants in the stock beds, so a morning wasted putting them all back in pots, sweeping up compost and re potting. Still my car is running a lot better, smoother and has brakes, always look on the bright side!

We've had some great sunsets and I've discovered if I walk up into the sheep field at the back of the house
I can get some great shots down the valley

Part of the bucket list

I had some old friends visit the nursery last Sunday, I used to work with them and it was lovely to catch up with Ron and Jane and wee Indie and treat ourselves to some coffee and cake in the cafe. Daniel, my youngest has been cooking dinner every night, if it's not ready for me getting home from the nursery, it's ready soon after.  He is a star at 14 and doesn't let his aspergers hold him back. There is a hint of Gordon Ramsay when Daniel is in the kitchen cooking, but the food is spot on and presented beautifully too. I am also working on my huge bucket list, I've done a lot on it, but not for a while, so I am ticking of the easy to do things. I don't want my life to be completely taken up with the nursery. I want to own it, not for it to own me as I have seen happen to so many other people.

Interesting sky driving home during the week

Lots of lovely squashes for sale in the shop at Whitmuir

David has been busy helping when he has a spare hour or so, it's nearing the end of the bat season so he is especially busy. But he has renovated an old bench for a corner of the nursery, I love the colour of it.

Newly renovated bench by David in the nursery

On Tuesday, our day off, we headed off on a train trip to Inverness. A bit of a way for a day trip but David had a survey to do on an old school so it made sense to go by train as it was in the city centre. It is ages since I've been anywhere by train and it made for a very relaxing day, as we headed north over the River Forth, through mountains and across rivers. We got good views of the new road bridge being built, enjoyed a picnic lunch as we travelled through Aviemore, chatted and read books.

Crossing the Forth Rail Bridge

The river Forth from Fife

We had to change trains in Perth, so had a wander around the station while waiting

Ben Vrackie from Pitlochry, I've climbed that one

Inside the school being surveyed, reminds me very much of
my old primary school

Some of the art still hanging in the school

The self seeded Budleias in the school grounds were covered in bees

Flaking paint on huts in the school grounds

An imposing building 

Rowan berries in the school grounds

After doing the survey, we still had a bit of time before the train home, so we did tourist stuff. We climbed up to the castle and enjoyed the view along the River Ness to the mountains in the west. We did some shopping and enjoyed coffee and cake.

Inverness Castle, a Georgian creation built on an ancient castle site

Views to the west and fond memories of mountain climbing there

The evening sun on the hills as we headed home on the train

It was a great day out, I am enjoying our days off as we make an effort to do something and go out so it really feels like a day off, going by train really made it relaxing even when we nearly missed the first train in Edinburgh in the morning!

Lights on the new forth Bridge as we crossed the River Forth

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Monday, 21 September 2015

Late summer sun, the beach and a garden visit

Autumn is definitely on its way, not that I'm complaining, it's my favourite time of year. There are lots of lovely colours on the trees, a distinct coolness in the air in the mornings along with heavy dew. Fortunately we've had some really lovely weather in the past week or so, not quite making up for the lousy summer but enough to feel all is not lost! 

This rather fine gentleman lives in the field behind the nursery

We have a selection of trees and shrubs sporting some glorious autumn colour. From Acers to Blueberries and Cercidiphyllums in reds, yellows or oranges, this is the time to choose plants for autumn colour. You can see how well they colour and it is an ideal time to plant as the soil is still warm and there is time for the plant to settle in before winter.

Acer capillipes

Acer capillipes, which also has great bark, being one of the Snakebark maples

Another one of my favourite plants. They are great year round plants with pink shaded foliage in spring, white bell
shaped flowers in summer, berries in autumn which never make it to the kitchen in my garden and fab
autumn colour

One of my favourite trees, again lovely spring foliage, an ideal tree for small
 gardens, glorious autumn colour and that elusive candy floss smell as the leaves drop

I am lucky these days that my commute to the nursery is only 15 to 20 minutes and through some lovely countryside, I love it. About five minutes after leaving the house I have climbed out the valley and there is a great view towards Biggar, the Biggar Hills and Moffat Hills beyond. Coulter Fell, Broad Law, Gathersnow Hill, Dun Rig, and many more, I've climbed them all. Luckily if the sky or light is interesting for a photo there is a car park at the side of the road to stop and do some photography.

Morning view of the Biggar Hills on the way to work

Harvest time on the farm at Whitmuir

In the nursery we're still re potting everything before winter arrives, I've finished the trees and shrubs and back working through the herbaceous perennials. It is so satisfying seeing them weed free, re potted and growing in new compost and rowed up neatly. Next year we will have lots of lovely healthy, happy plants for sale.

Looking back across some of the stock beds in the late summer sun

Our day off last week was quite relaxed, the weather was lovely and sunny so we decided to grab the chance to go to the beach. The last few weeks have been wet on our days off or we've had other stuff to do, so this was the day. We went to Niddry Bents in East Lothian with views of Edinburgh and Fife. As soon as Bracken saw we were on the beach he was beside himself, like us he loves the beach. He got off the lead and ran in HUGE circles over the whole width of the beach before chasing sticks in the water. We walked for a while heading east throwing sticks for Bracken, picking up bits of sea washed glass and enjoying the late summer heat. It was good to feel the sea air and get some photos, I do love the beach.

Bracken retrieving a stick

Many colours of seaweed

Looking over to Fife

The soon to be demolished Cockenzie Power station

Marram Grass on the sand dunes

It's my seaweed stick, no it's mine

Sea Buckthorn

After coffee and cake in a wee tearoom in Gullane we headed home but decided to stop off at Inveresk Lodge gardens. A lovely garden in it's own right, belonging to the National Trust for Scotland, this garden has special memories for me. Back in the day before going to study horticulture at college you had to do a years practical experience, I did mine with the National Trust for Scotland on their Youth training Scheme at Inveresk Lodge Garden. It was a wonderful year, not only getting to work in a lovely garden with a great gardener, but some independence, a wage to spend, experiencing lots of new things, meeting new people, it was the mid eighties and I was 16.

The patio, Inveresk Lodge garden

Looking up to the house, Inveresk

The House, glasshouses and yew tree, Inveresk
Some borders are fenced off as they are under reconstruction or being studied to understand the soil and water problems. I enjoyed the walk around the large pond in the paddock full of Bull rushes and with lovely views back to the house and garden. The house itself isn't open to the public but commands a lovely view over the lawns and makes a great back drop to the garden and the huge yew tree still standing in the top lawn. I remember trying hard to get those lines straight in the lawns using a huge, heavy 36 inch wide Ransom petrol mower. Those things were beasts ans would have you through a border if you weren't careful!

Humulus lupulus 'Aureaus', golden hop in the gardens

Inside the glasshouses, Inveresk

Autumn colour creeping into the gardens

We had a lovely walk round the gardens, with me reminiscing, looking at the changes and enjoying the autumn colours and late summer flowers. It is sad to see the gardens not quite up to scratch but with financial cut backs the Trust struggles to man these and many of its gardens. A sad state of affairs all too common these days. Visit the gardens and help keep them open at £3.50, it's not bad in this day and age.

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Thursday, 17 September 2015

Last week, a trip south, new piglets and flowers

I'm still a week behind, this is last week, it's been another busy week. Late summer flowers are still looking lovely, and we have a great choice for sale in the nursery. Sanguisorba, Heleniums, Monarda and grasses really add something to the garden at this time of year. At home in pots on the patio Agapanthus are looking fab with their startling blue flowers adding a bit of exotic along with Eucomis and Cautleya.

Agapanthus 'Glen Avon'

Pelargoniums are doing their thing in the greenhouse, this is one of my
favourite, P. sidoides, a specie and very striking

I've also been photographing poppy seedheads as they dry

Although there are still plenty flowers to choose from in the gardens and nursery I decided to go with a real autumn colour theme this week. Runbeckia, Solidago, Crocosmia, golden Oregano, Sanguisorba and Leucanthemum work really well together as you can see below.

A bit of autumn bling on my desk this week

Other news on the farm at Whitmuir are two new sets of piglets, this is the first litter that were born last Friday, a pile of orange spotty piglets, they are so cute.

Piglet pile up

Cuteness overload

Mum and her babies

On the terraces in the nursery the wild flowers are really going over now, leaving lots of seed heads which look great amongst the grasses. I really like Daucus carota, the wild carrot. I like the way the flower heads curve in on themselves as they begin to set seed. I managed to get some photos earlier in the week.

Daucus carota, wild carrot

Daucus carota, wild carrot beginning to set seed

In the nursery progress to get the new poly tunnel up before winter is underway. David has all but six ground tubes in, the plastic and other bits n pieces are ordered and the track into the tunnel has been started too. We need to have it up before winter to get young plants under cover.

Putting in the track into the poly tunnel, it will sit between the fence to the right and the farms tunnels (in the photo)
Last Tuesday on our day off, David and I headed south to the Four Oaks Trade show, mainly to give David an idea of what is available in Horticulture. It's ok for me, I know like the back of my hand, but its all a bit new to him. We had a good journey south, stopping off at Penrith and finally getting to the architectural yard where we picked up some great finds for the nursery, more of that later.

The sun was shining over Shap

We spent a few hours wandering around the show, had some lunch and enjoyed rummaging in the Indian antique centre. The we were homeward bound, this time stopping at Tebay services for something to eat. Of course appart from being one of the best services you also have to visit the Farm shop, look at the pies and cheese and buy the pies and cheese!


Sunset over Dumfireshire

So what did we buy in Penrith? This little lot here, I've put them together in a little display with some flowering and foliage interest plants. I am really pleased with the results.

A barrow, a milk churn and a a beer crate  that hasn't made it into the picture yet

Flowers against a rare blue sky

Two miles of string in this lot apprently

The beer box which still has the sectional insert, ideal for holding 9cm pots of Molinia!

That's been our week, the weather has been very mixed again, but I've plenty potting and website building to do when it rains and work outside when the sun shines. I  am enjoying meeting the owners of The Edinburgh Larder who are now running the cafe, Eleanor and her team have some great plans and ideas and I'm looking forward to working together with them on some projects. There are also wedding plans afoot ........Have a great week.

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