Thursday, 29 October 2015

Late Autumn in the Garden

The glorious autumn weather we've been enjoying for the past few weeks lasted until the middle of this week and now we have winds and heavy rain, but the temperatures remain on the warm side. On the colder wetter days at work I've been adding new pages to the nursery website, four in the past week which adds interest and information for customers and browsers. It's always good to provide helpful advice and information to people looking to buy plants or sort out a problem area in their garden. You can visit them here or here, here or here. I have also started work on a catalogue and doing the plant list pages on the website.

Gentiana sino ornata is brightening up the patio
There isn't much nursery news at the moment, everything is sliding gracefully into late autumn and winter, blown along with the winds we now have. As I write this the rain and leaves are passing the office window horizontally! We still have some spring bulbs for sale and trees and shrubs for winter interest which you can read about here and buy the plants in the nursery. Evergreens will add lots of interest to your garden in winter, giving colour, structure and somewhere for birds to hide and roost.

Another thing I like about this time of  year is that sunset is when I am driving home,
so I get an opportunity to do some photography

There was some lovely light and cloud over Blackmount during the week

With the wetter, windier weather the leaves are really beginning to fall now, the nursery is covered in a blanket of beech and ash leaves. I won't do anything about lifting them until the trees are completely bare and I start the garden tidy up for next year. The leaves that are hanging on are still beautiful rich yellows and oranges. It really has been a glorious autumn and will make the winter feel a bit shorter. Despite having wrapped up the greenhouses for winter, I've got the doors open still as the temperatures are back up, even the night time temperatures are 8 to 11C! I 'm not complaining as it means the plants get plenty air and the cost of heating the greenhouse over winter will be less. I at last got the two new pieces of glass for the wee greenhouse, yes I know it's taken nearly ten months, but that's me. 

In which Bracken meets a pumpkin!

I took Monday off again, I feel it's important to make the most of the nursery quiet season to give me some time off. There will be no rest nest year once the busy season kicks off. Luckily the weather was good and I managed to get another day in the garden. The sun was shining and it was comfortably warm so I started by tidying the greenhouses. They don't need much at this time of year, but with everything packed in tightly, it is important to keep on top of dead leaves, mildew, etc. I touched on this subject in this blog here.

Olives developing on the tree in the greenhouse

An old favourite I rediscovered this year, Osteospernum 'Whiyigig'

I took out all the runner bean canes and stored them away undercover. As with the bubble wrap for the greenhouses, careful storage of these items every year means they last for years and years, so I really get my moneys worth out them. The sweet pea and bean roots were left in the ground to add nitrogen and everything else went in the compost heap. I made the most of the sunshine on the autumn leaves and walked along our road to get some photos before the leaves come down.

Sunshine through autumn leaves

Beautiful burnished colours

Looking along our road

I decided since it was dry and calm and there was a bit of woody garden rubbish lying about to have a bonfire. There is something quite right about bonfires in autumn, so while I was pottering about doing other jobs the bonfire got rid of lots of rubbish, and I enjoyed the smell and the smoke filtering through the trees and sunlight.

I love a bonfire

Smoke and sunlight

As the compost heap was full to over flowing, I decided to turn it over, it's the first year, so the second box is empty, making this a relatively easy and quick job. Now I have an empty box to fill once I start the garden clear up in a couple of months. Some quick weeding of the worst weeds in the back garden borders made the place look a bit more cared for.

Blue skies and autumn leaves

Winter is coming

Of course noting would be right without a fuzzy dog

Working my way back down the back garden, I tidied up my outdoor potting bench. Pots back in the shed, labels in to the kitchen to get washed and rubbish cleared away. Although I don't cut back plants and tidy borders until after New Year, I did do a bit of that with the moving troughs on the patio. The plants are crammed in so the smaller ones are a bit swamped with the larger leaves dying back. Some hair cuts of bigger plants and removal of leaves opened up the plants a bit more and will let air and light in. It's great to see so many plants have survived the move from my last garden, and hopefully they will continue to do so until they and I find a permanent home.

Clay pots on the outdoor potting bench

Troughs after a bit of a tidy and cut back

On Tuesday we didn't have a grand day out as we usually do, but caught up on some chores and shopping in Livingston. Banks, post offices, birthday present buying and lunch out. We then went to visit my Uncle and my cousins who are up staying with him for a few days. It was great to catch up and feel I do still have a family to be part of. We discussed ideas for his garden to make it more manageable for him and enjoyed some time together. Then it was home to dinner cooked by our resident chef again. How many 14 year olds cook dinner every night and do it really really well? We are very lucky.

Late afternoon light on the trees at the back of the house

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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Diary catch up, the week before, trains, sunsets and sushi

Woefully behind in everything but have caught up a bit over the past couple of days. I've been under the weather for the last few weeks, although only a cold, it's made me feel exhausted, I've been sleeping on the sofa in the evening, then sleeping all night (which is good) and really struggling to get up in the mornings. Those that know me know I'm usually on the go all the time, super organised and have lots of get up and go. Fortunately the last couple of days I've felt more energetic and have a bit more motivation. So now I've got lots to catch up on. 

Autumn in the borders

Modern day railway children (and Bracken)

We took Ben and Dan down towards Stow to the Borders railway to see the steam train go past as it finishes running at the end of October. It was another beautiful autumn day. We've been so lucky this year, the autumn colours have been amazing and lasted so long, and the weather has been lovely too. I've really enjoyed the tree colour driving to the nursery and back and when we are out and about. The colours around the house have been beautiful. More of that in a future post. 

There she is, nothing better than a steam engine

There's been some foggy starts to the day and of course I've made the most of photographing
 them on the way to work

Aconitum and Persicarias providing some lovely bright autumn colour infront
of my office

Helenium 'Riverton Gem' in the nursery, lovely hot colours for a late autumn border

A great mix of colours for autumn gardens in the nursery, from red leaved Cornus to blue Aconitums and evergreens 

Leaves are falling thick and fast in the nursery and the temperature is dropping, making it a chilly start to the day. I've been working through the potting, trying to get as much done as possible before the weather turns all together. I've also been catching up on paperwork and pacing myself until I feel a bit better. 

Another glorious sunset from the back garden

A different colour of sunset over South Lanarkshire

Last Monday I spent the day at home to catch up in the house garden, luckily the weather was good and I got lots done. I cut the grass (hopefully the last cut of the year) and edged the lawns and David did the back garden lawn. I also got the borders in the front garden tidied and weeded, the poppies stripped down and the seed heads stored in paper bags to dry out. I gave the greenhouses a tidy, started to dig over the veg patch and harvested what little produce there was.

Healthy version of a chocolate orange, waiting for me
when I came in for my lunch

A mini Cotoneaster in the alpine troughs with Gentiana Sino Ornata in the back ground

The chickens like to be up high and enjoyed
the company as I was tidying the borders next to
their run

Our carrot crop was enough for one meal, but they were very tasty

Darmera peltata, a favourite plant of the Quirky Bird Gardener, great for damp, wet
shady spots and great autumn colour too

Euphorbia characias subsp Wulfenii is doing well in the side border

Poppies and carrots

Our sum total of runner beans!

There have been successes and failures in the prairie bed, the enthusiastic poppies hampered everything in the left border
and the Gaura have done very well in the right border

The prairie bed has done well this year, despite the left border being a bit swamped by the poppies. You can read about creating them here. The Stipa gigantea and Echinops ritro have done well and hopefully in another year all the plants will have bulked up more. I will be a bit more prudent with sowing the poppies!

Autumn in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

On Tuesday we headed into town to meet up with Becky, David's daughter. We haven't seen her for ages so it was good to spend some time together. We went to Yo sushi for lunch, which we all enjoyed, watching the world go by from the restaurant window and enjoying trying different types of sushi.

Watching the world and sushi go by

Afterwards we did some shopping, which made a nice change, although the soap shop gave me a headache as usual

These amused me, I could use them and fill them!

I was impressed with some of the planting in the city centre, a more up to date approach with Verbena bonariensis
(above), grasses, Bergenias and other interesting perennials and grasses

We ended the day with mochas in Volvona and Crolla before Becky headed home and we headed back to the car, walking through Princes Street Gardens and then home.

Late afternoon in Princes Street Gardens

Edinburgh Castle

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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

My Falcon Experience, Quirky Bird meets BIG birds

This year I decided to put my birthday money together and treat myself to a falconry experience, something I've wanted to do for a while. After some internet research, reading reviews etc, I decided to book at Falconry Scotland who are based at Dalhousie Castle Hotel. I would thoroughly recommend them if you are thinking of doing something similar. The experience was certainly that and the two and half hours flew by (pardon the pun). Our falconer was great, he had lots of information, was great with the group (3 of us flying the birds) and the birds. It's certainly the best £85 I've spent in a while. So what did we do?

keeping a beady eye on proceedings

We had a general introduction to falconry, Falconry Scotland and the birds before walking over to the lawns at the side of the castle to see our first bird, the Kestral in action. We each got several turns of having the bird flying to the glove, encouraged by a tasty morsel of food, he was then happy to sit and eat on the glove so we got a really good look at the birds up close. The kestral is tiny compared to other birds of prey, as you will see later. 

Most of the birds out for their morning constitutional. All the birds are very well cared for

The Kestral approaching my glove

and landing

Dalhousie Castle Hotel

Once everyone had several turns of the wee kestral flying to the glove and seeing it fly to a lure we walked the short distance back to the centre and got the next bird we were to fly which was a Harris Hawk. As you'll see the birds get bigger as the morning progresses. I've seen a Harris Hawk before when I was in Arizona, but didn't get this close to it. For this bird we took it a walk past the castle and along the river side, back through an open paddock and eventually back to the centre. This part lasted about an hour and we were able to see the bird engaging in different flying techniques with plenty opportunities to have it flying to everyone's glove many times. 

Our Harris Hawk, enjoying his morning flying, having a rest in a huge Cedar tree

Watching for the next tasty morsel on a glove

Here he comes

A gorgeous bird up close and some impressive flying too

Falcons and castles

Incoming, you can tell I had a great time by the silly grin on my face in most of the photos

An autumnal scene

This was out next bird, a rather large Eurasian Eagle Owl

The incredible thing about the owl is how silent he is. If you look away while waiting for him to fly to the
glove you don't know he is approaching until you feel him land on the glove.

In flight

Now this guy didn't mind being stroked, he was quite happy to get the attention and liked a cuddle from the falconer too!

Me and my owl friend

Silent landing

David got a shot too

After a while flying the owl and experience the silent flight and his ability to swoop down and fly just above the ground we took him back and got our last bird of the experience. I told you they got bigger. Weighing in at a rather heavy on the arm 11kg was this magnificent Russian Steppe Eagle. We didn't fly him but got to appreciate his magnificence and weight at close quarters, not a bird to mess with when you see his beak and talons.

The Russian Steppe eagle

What a great experience this morning was

David with the eagle

Who you looking at?

Last but not least was the raven, this guy is rather interesting, especially if you are an Outlander fan like me, as he has starred in the TV series. It was mentioned he should have a third eye in his forehead too! These are very intelligent birds as are most of the corvid group, he can also speak, when in the mood!

The raven

Me and an Outlander series star

After a fun and fascinating morning David took me out for lunch to a lovely foody pub down the road from Dalhouse. We had lovely food finishing off with an interesting cheese board for David and Lemon Verbena Creme brulee for me, needless to say we didn't need dinner that night!

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