Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Wierd Weather, Antiques and Lifting Leaves

Wednesday was another cold frosty day with fog, didn't see a view all day. Most of the day was spent doing admin, plant lists, sourcing lists, blogs, uploading photos while sitting right next to the heater (I've moved it right next to my seat). I am getting through all the admin and planning tasks I set myself over winter, although as I score one off task off the whiteboard list, I seem to be adding another six on at the other end! I was going to go home early but ended up chatting to Brennan in the cafe and Dee in the gallery. Then David arrived on his way between work and picking up Adam, so we had a coffee before heading home. I spent the evening doing more plant lists for sourcing and food shopping.

We all need some cheering up, there were this weeks flowers I did  for the cafe

Thursday was another similar day of working through the paper work. I got to the point where I could order plants for during the year and have almost finished compiling a complete stock list of what has been stocked before, then I can archive all the old documents and work from one. I was doing well until the charger for my lap top went crackle crackle BANG and smoked a bit! So that was that, no charged lap top and I was frozen. I packed up and headed home to a warm cosy house and another lap top to carry on with work. At tea time youngest and I headed to his school for parents evening. After his fantastic report last week, there wasn't a lot else to talk to the teachers about. He is a star pupil, intelligent, good at his work, well behaved, keen to help and get involved in discussions and volunteer information, confident and capable of doing more than the next level up of work (proud Mum moment).

Dinner on Thursday was a potato and cheese pie and salad, with a whole camabert in the middle, melted and gooey

This cold lurgy thing is making it so hard to get up in the morning, despite the fact I am sleeping right through the night (very unusual). Once up and organised it was out into a surprisingly warm morning. The temperatures have shot up over night from -2C yesterday to 8C today! It was windy with it though and there had been a lot of rain over night and more flooding on the way to the nursery. The upside is I can turn off the greenhouse heater and save gas and money. I spent the first part of the morning doing the flowers for the cafe and catching up with Linda and Andrew. Before heading back to the office to do some emails. The weather dried up and I had hoped to get outside and do some real work in the nursery, it's been a while, but the wind was chilly. So I opted for potting up some plants that have been sitting since Christmas. Now they have de frosted, it was a quick enough job to get them into big pots and lovely fresh compost. They will be fabulous come spring and summer. After lunch David came over and we skived off to go on a shopping trip for the nursery, so technically work.

Lots of sledges
Strange the things you find in an antique shop

We managed to get the item we went looking for, a set of shelves for our bits and pieces of antiques n stuff to sell. We got it in the car just, but it will do the job and we got some money off it too, success. Once we have it in place and set up I'll share some photos. Then it was home for tea, oldest is away for the weekend and David's son is here, so one in, one out. Looking forward to a relaxing evening. The lurgy is catching up.

Flowers from my guy, the tartan ribbon is for Burns night apparently

Saturday was dry, so good to have a dry day at last. It was lovely to get outside in the nursery and get on with some tidying and work. Although I do't mind the paper work and admin on cold frosty days, I do enjoy being outside. I spent the morning finishing the first row of willow weaving on the lower terrace. Yeh! I'm really quite pleased with my first attempt at this, only the back row to go now! After lunch I started tidying the border in front of the office.  After removing several loads of leaves and plant debris I went looking for stones to edge the border. Nothing fancy, jut to keep the gravel out the soil and give it an edge. I'd spotted some stones on the terrace while willow weaving and some where the digger has levelled out the route of our new path to the tunnel. I just need to find another half dozen stones, put some fertiliser on the border and top dress with compost from the compost bins and it's finished.

From this on Saturday, border in front of office

To this on Sunday

On Sunday I spent the day lifting leaves in the sales area. Oh how I hate lifting leaves off gravel, but needs must. By the end of the day I had most of the job done and the worst of the leaves lifted. Another couple of hours should see it done. No doubt after the winds forecast for the next two days when I am off there will be more back where I've lifted them! David spent Sunday strimming the last of the bankings and terraces and it looks so much tidier now. Again he has a couple of hours worth of strimming left to do and then we'll have two jobs scored off the job list.

Lots of Chafinches and Gold finches have been coming to the
bird table now we've stocked it up again.

The in place to eat in this neck of the woods!

Gold finch enjoying some tasty morsel in the grass

The not so birdy visitor to the bird table!

Hebe popwellii in a trough at home

Hebe popwellii with the macro lens

This was supposed to be Helleborus 'Double Ellen Red', maybe not, very pretty all the same.

Hepatica noblis

One of my own selected Hellebore seedlings

Monday and a great long lie after a full night's sleep, unusual but much appreciated. The weather was very wet and windy all day so it was a day of keeping warm and dry in the house and catching up with chores. We've stocked up the bird table with food and when I got up there were over twenty five chaffinches and eight gold Finches, a couple of great tits and a blue tit. It was very busy and of course there was the squirrel as you can see in the photos above. Fortunately after a windy weather night everything is still in place at home. I'm hoping that all the leaves haven't blown back over the sales area again where I lifted them on Sunday! I got the house cleaned and several other things too before continuing with paper work for the nursery.

Abstract photos in B&Q!

Abstract photos in B&Q!

Tuesday was another very wet and windy day, but at least it's not so cold with this mad rise in temperatures. The plants are going to be so confused. We set off to Livingston to do some shopping and errands. I was after a nice big, smart bag for work, I knew what I wanted, finding it was not so easy, but perseverance (and patience on David's part) paid off and I got a bargain at £49, reduced from £149! To help David recover we went for a buffet lunch, which was nice, good food and watching the world go by before braving the weather again to do the rest of our shopping. Lastly we went to a DIY store and picked all sorts of things to let us get on with various jobs around the nursery. So a good day getting lots of things sorted, making me feel organised, especially as we have a lot going on over the next couple of weeks or so. I am looking forward to sharing all our plans and ideas we are working on for the nursery with you as they happen.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

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Wednesday, 20 January 2016

A walk around St Boswells and along the River Tweed

Tuesday is our day off when we usually try and get out for the day, this week we headed to the borders to do a walk around St Boswells and the River Tweed. We parked the car at Dryburgh abbey and walked up the hill towards the huge statue of William Wallace, For some info see here, it was a good climb, having not done any walking for a while and the views weren't to be had as it was misty. But it was still a good day to be out and we enjoyed the path up through the woods. From the statue we extended the walk to Scot's view where a panorama of the Eildon hills and the southern borders stretched out before us. With snow covered hills clothed in a light mist and the River Tweed snaking through it's deep valley, it was worth the walk. This part of the walk is along the road, and although not busy we had a couple of near misses with cars not giving enough room, and we were tight in at the verge! There are a few standing stones in fields along the way, lovely cottages to walk past and plenty smells to keep Bracken entertained.

Stepping out up the hill to William Wallace statue, St Boswells

David and William Wallace statue, St Boswells

B&W standing stone and tree, walking to Scott's view

View of the Eildons from Scott's view

We re-traced our steps back down the hill, past the statue and back to just before the car park. This part of the walk took just over an hour there and back. From the bottom of the hill we turned right onto a track that took us down to the side of the river. Before going onto the Dryburgh suspension bridge, on the right on a little hill, is the temple of muses and it's worth the wee climb to see this lovely statue in it's temple. There is some info here

Detail, Muses in the temple at Dryburgh suspension bridge

Dryburgh suspension bridge from the temple

Muses in the temple at Dryburgh suspension bridge, B&W

Muses in the temple at Dryburgh suspension bridge

Bracken crossing the Dryburgh suspension bridge

I've been here to the bridge a couple of times with David when out on bat training trips in the area, so it was good to see it in context in it's surrounding area. Once across the suspension bridge we turned left and followed the path along the river towards St Boswells. It was quite alarming to see just how high the water had reached during the floods a few weeks ago. We were walking along the path which was 4 to 6 feet above the river and the debris in the trees was another 5 to 6 feet above us! There was lots of silt on the path and areas washed away, but the main paths and walkways were still intact if very muddy at times.

Walking towards St Boswells

Looking back up the tweed, St Boswells

 We left the riverside and climbed up into the village of St Boswells where we stopped to buy much needed chocolate bars from the post office. From here we followed the signs for St Cuthbert's walk through the village and back down to the riverside and through the golf course. All along the way was more evidence of the flooding and washed up debris sitting high in the trees and bankings, sometimes whole trees. By now we were getting a bit weary as we haven't had a chance to do much walking for a while and luckily the last couple of miles were flat. As we approached the road bridge where we would cross and turn back for the last leg we passed this lovely old mill building sitting above the weir. When I was in the post office earlier buying the chocolate the postmaster was showing me a photo of this building in the floods. In the photo the water was lapping at the walls of the buildings, frightening stuff!

The Mill and weir, St Boswells

At last the bridge to cross, St Boswells

Walking back to the car

Once across the bridge we climbed the steps and along a field before descending to the riverside again. This last mile was nice and flat for our weary legs and we managed to beat the rain which started as we reached the car. I had hoped to look at Dryburgh abbey as we were parked right by it but it was closed by the time we got back to the car. We headed back to St Boswells and found a lovely book shop and cafe to have some well earned refreshments. Coffee and cake went down well before we browsed the book shelves and visited the deli and home ware shop. You can visit their website here, well worth stopping off if you are passing that way north or south. All in all a great day out visiting some where we all too often drive past on the way to somewhere else.

Soap in the shop

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More Snow and getting on top of Paperwork

The start of this week and there is blue sky and sun, all be it minus temperatures, icy and still a smattering of snow on the hills. David came over for the day and we started the work at the entrance to Whitmuir. This involves the removal of six feet of hedge, digging over a new border on either side of the road and planting up, new signs for all the businesses, and generally improving the approach. What we discovered on starting to remove the hedge was how waterlogged the grass verge is! We ended up knee deep in gloop, it was like moving around in brown wet cement. We managed to get the trees out and will re-use the smaller ones in a new hedge in the native garden. Having waded in gloop long enough we opted for a drier job scraping all the silt, weeds and rubbish off the edge of the road and discovered another 10 feet of kerb stones under it. Several trips to the bonfire got rid of the hedge cuttings and I also started tidying up the rows of Birch trees planted along the road side into the farm. Cutting off the broken tree guards and trimming up the trees, taking off the lower branches that were encroaching onto the road way. I wish I'd taken a before picture as by the time we finished it looked like a totally different place. It was great work for a frosty day, we were nice and warm. Next job is to finish tidying the trees up and digging over the new beds. An early finish for me as I had a well earned appointment for a head massage and hair cut, a lovely hour being pampered before heading home to teenagers and dinner.

The compost area before

An after of the compost heap area, we finished turning them and tidying the area on Monday

Thursday was a day off to take eldest to a job interview in the middle of the day. There was a bit of snow over night, but not the amount that was forecast. Blue skies and the sun shining for a change even if it was freezing made the day and I got some snowy photo of the Pentlands on the way home. I also got lots of outstanding chores done in the morning before we went out including starting dinner which needed to cook for 3 hours, a pork and cider casserole which was very tasty. Once home I caught up on paper work and started another page on the website. I'm feeling like a cold coming on again but at least I am sleeping better the past three nights.

East and West Cairn with Harperigg Reservoir, Pentlands

East Cairn

B&W Pentlands

Road to Edinburgh

The Pentlands, looking east

Bracken having fun in the snow

Sunset Doglet

The weather is getting colder and colder and the greenhouse heater is going full blast. I spent a bit of time doing the cafe flowers on Friday morning and catching up with Andrew and Linda in the gallery. Then it was on with paper work and admin as it is too cold and frozen to do anything outside. Early afternoon saw me heading home to carry on doing admin in the warm house, I'd lost feeling in my toes and couldn't get warm. I had an afternoon of doing the ironing, chatting to Betty and doing some admin. After tea, she and youngest headed to his Dad's for the weekend and I caught up on more work. Lots of shiny plant catalogues to look through and new items to add to the nursery shop web page and Facebook. I've also finished another page on the website for trees and shrubs.

Sunset, as the crow flies

Another chilly day, steeled myself to defrost the car and head to work. I had a few things to do and then planned to come home and do admin and website work in the warmth of the house. I put the planters of herbs in the cafe and then had a coffee and blether with Linda and Andrew. Sadly Andrew is closing the Wood Shack and won't be at Whitmuir from the end of January. I shall miss our wee chats when he walks the dogs during the day. By lunch time, after an hour or so sitting in the office doing admin with the heater making no difference I packed up and headed home. Once the heating was on in the house I sat and toasted my feat on the radiator along the back of my desk. By tea time I had finished the last of the website pages. This is a big long term job off my task list and also means we now have an online catalogue for customers to read. You can see the  Conifer, Bamboo and climber page here and the shade plant and fern page here. Over time I will be adding more plants to these lists and increasing our range of stock. On the drive home the snow got heavier and heavier, and it snowed all afternoon and into the evening. There is now two inches or so lying, brrrrrr.

Lunch at home!

The Quiry Bird checking the tunnel on Saturday

Lots of young plants for later this year

On Saturday evening having checked the forecast (snow and freezing temps) we decided there was no point in going to the nursery on Sunday. Everything is frozen and under snow and I would be as well doing the admin I am working on in the warmth and comfort of the house. I managed to get a job on the data base done in one day instead of the two I'd allowed, so gold star for me. In the evening David and I headed to Whitmuir for a belated Christmas dinner for all the businesses at Whitmuir. Good food and company made the evening enjoyable.

Echivera 'Red Magic', a new addition for the succulent
and cacti collection at home

Monday again, where does the time go? I had a progress meeting at high school for youngest son which went very well. He is doing very well and I'm so proud of him. After the meeting I picked up some messages, filled the car with petrol then went to have coffee and a chat with Linda and Andrew who live nearby. It was lovely to catch up, sitting in front of their open fire, with the dogs all flopped in front of it. The rest of the afternoon, once home was spent cleaning and tidying and catching up on chores.

When I was town on Monday I picked up this
reduced bunch of lilies, they were still tight in bud, bargain!

I hope you are having a good week

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Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Snow, progress in the Nursery and Salvage yard Shopping

Wednesday and back to work and the nursery today, while I've enjoyed my relaxing festive break, it's great to be back, so that's a great sign. First job this morning was the cafe flowers which you can see below. New year, new ideas, a bit of Scottish hillside colouring influence I feel. Next job was to tidy the office, day six task. I finally boxed up all the account stuff in the cupboard and piled it on the top shelves, rearranged other shelves and cleared the floor more. Then I had room to put away things that were lying around the office. It now looks much better and more organised and I remembered to take the rubbish and recycling away. Downside was I found the flask of milk I forgot to take home when I finished up for Christmas! No one wants to open it! The weather was typically soggy and so dull it felt like someone had switched the lights off. I got out standing paperwork done, new diary filled in and when David came over in the afternoon we got more levelling in the tunnel done until the light went. Another couple of hours should see that job done. When I got home there were several parcels waiting, one of which was a SAD lamp. If you've read previous blogs you may remember I've talked about feeling down and depression and I have noticed I do feel worse in winter. After chatting with Jean about it all, she very generously sent me a lamp which is now sitting in the lounge next to me, so we will see how it works. 

This weeks cafe flowers

Fresh ideas
Sad lamp

Thursday and it rained and it drizzled, it was colder and some sleet blew past at one point, thank goodness for the heater in my office. After doing some paperwork I tidied through some plants in the covered area, potting up some poor ones to go to the tunnel. It's not the best time to strip down and re pot plants but some of the neglected plants we inherited with the nursery are not going to make it through the winter unless I try, so I reckon it's worth the risk. I alternated doing this with paperwork in the office so as not to freeze completely. In the afternoon when David came over we went over to the poly tunnel and finally finished levelling and laying it out. Another big job crossed off the to do before spring list. There is still some space left in the tunnel, but there wont be for long when I start sowing seeds. I'm so excited to have the tunnel finished and up and running.

The completed tunnel, look at all those lovely young plants for this year 

Looking up from the far end

Looking for some seasonal inspiration
 from my gardening book shelves

The temperature has taken a plunge over night and Friday morning brought a real frost with crunchy grass and windscreens to scrape. Fortunately my task for today was an outdoor job but a warm one - turning the 3 three compost heaps. Like all big jobs it's always more daunting before than in reality. But after a relaxing break it was real physical exercise, ideal for burning off the Christmas indulgence and keeping warm in the minus temperatures! I planned to do half the job today, not wanting to over do it and cause some muscle damage. In the end I kept going and was only stopped by the start of the snow in the early afternoon and I got two thirds done, very pleased. I think I will ache tomorrow! The rest of the day was spent doing paperwork and website updating. It got too cold for potting and everything was frozen anyway. A nice mocha from the cafe helped and David put a new shelf in the sales cupboard which means no more bruises from the too big table I had to squeeze by all the time. The snow started about 2 pm and gradually go heavier, by 4.30 it was huge flakes and I decided to call it a day, taking a careful journey home as the roads were white, it was snowing heavily and getting dark. But there are always idiots on the road, no matter how many warnings and accidents. After a warming shower and cottage pie for tea I got none of my planned tasks done as Bracken and I fell asleep on the sofa for over two hours! Not a good idea.

I had these guys for company today while I turn over the compost heaps,
as long as they stay on their side of the fence we'll get along just fine.

Black and white snow at the nursery

Maybe we are going to get a winter after all

The temperatures stayed below zero over night so the snow was still there the following morning. We headed along to the nursery all wrapped up with a plan to empty the stuff belonging to Quercus in two of the farm sheds, sort it out and decide what was to be kept, especially as the farm have a skip on hire! We got rid of lots of rubbish which is always good, David finished the shelf in the sales area and I did some admin. Having achieved a lot more that we thought we headed home to the warm and dry in the mid afternoon.

Driving to the nursery

Snouts out! Piggies at Whitmuir

Snowy trees behind the nursery

One of the great things about being my own boss, especially in this business at this time of year, is the degree of flexibility I can have over my working hours. It's snowing huge flakes out there and will be worse at the nursery, so I stayed home to do admin in the warm and dry on Sunday. I've got to go to Whitmuir for a meeting on Monday (my day off) so will stay on at the nursery after that, so I'm effectively swapping my days around. I did feel better after  long lie, now taking tablets to keep a cold like lurgy at bay. The chickens have been in full production lately as you can see in the photo below. I spent most of the day designing a pull up banner and up loading it to be printed out. hopefully it will be ok and that's another item ticked off my to do list.

Eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner I think

There were huge flakes of snow this morning

It's snowed, it's rained, it's frozen, but there was sunshine and blue skies today, it was great to feel the sky wasn't sitting on my shoulders for a change. Our day off was a busy one involving work! We had a multi business meeting at Whitmuir to discuss events for this year and other things that need done, and lots of progress was made. Since it was dry David and I stayed on at the nursery to finish turning the compost heaps, so that's another task finished and scored off the list. We got it finished just before the rain came on and it was completely dark!

Driving to work on Monday, great to see some blue sky

Snow on the Peebles hills

Last night was the worst night's sleep in a long time, yawn. Fortunately it was a day off and we were heading south to do some sourcing for things for the nursery. David drove, allowing me to vegetate for a bit! There was plenty snow in the Lowther and Moffat hills but as we headed further south it turned to sleet then rain. Out destination The Brunswick Yard in Penrith was damp and freezing but we still had a great time rummaging for interesting items to use in the nursery. We came home with  boot full which I am really looking forward to sorting through, re-purposing and then showing you what I've done. The reclamation yard has just opened a cafe so we of course had to sample it and treated ourselves to lunch. The food, service and surroundings are great and I'd thoroughly recommend it. After an uneventful drive home we arrived back before dinner time, to catch up with the kids. Eldest had an interview for a training placement for six weeks, so fingers crossed he is successful. He really needs a break after nothing since leaving college last June. Tonight will be paperwork then relaxing before heading back to the nursery tomorrow.

One of my favourite places 

They also now do lovely food in the new cafe

Results of our rummage at Brunswick yard for the nursery

Results of our rummage at Brunswick yard for the nursery

Snowy Lowther Hills, B&W

Have a great week.

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