Thursday, 25 February 2016

Post winter Garden tidy up and our feathered friends

Our road

Bit of a long one, but I had lots of lovely photo I wanted to share with you. The snow was forecast, but then heavy snow was forecast several times over winter and never happened but we did wake up to four inches of the stuff on Wednesday morning, pretty but inconvenient. That day's word was urgh, due to the snow and me feeling quite under the weather with a cold, lurgy type thing, sore head and sore neck. I figured I was as well at home in the warm doing admin than in the office at work after struggling through the snow. I spent quite a lot of time sitting in the house looking out the window thinking of all the things that need done outside at home and in the nursery as the bad weather rolls on. I did get a lot done in the house, paperwork, planning that sort if thing while trying to resist eating chocolate of which there is no shortage in the house.

Looking the other way, almost natural black and white

The birds were very active around the bird table so I set the camera up on the tripod with the big lens to see who I could capture. I was pleased to see the Greater Spotted Woodpecker is back this year, along with blue tits, great tits, chaffinches (over 25 at a time on the ground) robins and gold finches, it was busy. Not forgetting the squirrel of course who always puts in an appearance! I have put a few of my photos on below. I was quite pleased at catching the snow as it fell in the shots too.

There was only one thing for it when the cold remedies weren't making me feel better in the evening, opening the box of twelve creme eggs my sister gave me on Tuesday, a whole twelve! I was good and didn't eat them all at once. Mid evening and the power went off which meant we had young folk wandering around aimlessly missing the internet! We handed them candles and torches and told them to go read some books. It worked for hundreds of years, so they will survive I am sure. Fortunately it came back on in the early morning.

Milly watching for the school bus

A lovely sunrise from the back door

Back to work on Thursday feeling better and I got a lot done in the nursery and at home in the evening. I freshened up the cafe flowers and watered the containers and tidied up the herb planters in the cafe. I treated myself to a mocha and got on with admin while enjoying the heat from the new to me super heater in my office, toasty. I filled up the shelves in the covered area with our vintage things to sell, tidied an wept out the office then got on with some potting. 

Vintage and gift items for sale
in the nursery

Another batch of Deschampsia 'Garnet Schist' got potted we have a few! I may do a give away offer with them later in the year. I also did the Alchemilla 'Robusta' which have been sitting under the bench, like Alchemilla needs a variety called 'Robusta', it's very robust in its species form! It is great to get on with potting again, I am looking forward to finishing "A" and that will be all the plants repooted that we got with the nursery (apart form grasses). I may be some time with those and they are better done in summer. I brought more plants in to defrost as the weather forecast is for rain, sleet and snow for the next few days

Vintage planters for sale in the nursery

It is lovely to have people coming up to the nursery again and chatting with enthusiastic gardeners and selling plants. Pansies, flowering bulbs and conifers are popular for winter and early spring interest this week. Crocus 'Herald' has been selling well an has also stood up to the snow well.

Crocus 'Herald' standing up well in the snow

It was only me and two boys for dinner as David was out doing a bat talk in Glasgow for the evening. It was a busy evening of tea, food shopping delivered, shower, bedding changed and the new really think mattress topper put on and house plants watered, whew! Thankfully there was still time for chocolate and feet up in front of the TV for a while with a good book. I've put together a new page on the nursery website for photos and items we have had in the media, always a good selling point for customers, you can see it here.

The barrow we bought in Yorkshire at the beginning of the month with pansies and snow drops for sale

The snow was still lying on Friday morning but the temperatures climbed to a balmy 4C and it melted as the day went on. I brought snowdrops over from the tunnel to go in the sales area, watered the tunnel and filled up the water storage tanks now the pipes are defrosted. I am getting through "A's"now the plants are defrosted and, it is a good job as they are badly in need of potting, having not been potted for so long before we bought the nursery. I could almost hear them sigh as they were put into lovely fresh compost and fertiliser. David came over in the afternoon and we discussed labelling plants and generally in the nursery for this year and reviewed the spending plan. I can buy things!

The poster I've created for advertising Mothers day

Saturday was very windy and wet again, it's either snow and frozen or wet and windy, I don't like either. I spent most of the day potting, which I really enjoy when I am rescuing plants and then see them all rowed in the beds in new compost with no weeds, knowing they will be great plants come spring and summer, it is so satisfying. When I was in the office warming up every so often I started to sort out the seeds for sowing. There is over 400 packets of seeds, so someone is going to busy, ie. me. 

Just a few seeds to sow!

Sunday was cold and wet so I spent the day potting more A's, the end is in sight now. There were a few people wandering up despite the weather which is great, not the weather, the fact people are coming up to the nursery. It was good to get home to warm and dry and have a relaxing evening. 

Daffodils are out before the snow drops at home

Monday was a lovely sunny dry day with a touch of frost in the morning, fortunately it was also my day off so I could get on with my job list at home as planned. What I didn't plan was getting much more done than I anticipated! I had a fantastic day in the garden and it was quite warm in the middle of the day. I got so much done in the seven hours I was out and could hardly move at night but really pleased with progress.I got all the front borders cut back, weeded, fed and forked over. A the pots and troughs on the patio had the same treatment and I can now see all the snowdrops and bulbs coming up. The patio got swept, the veg bed on the patio dug over and the grass banking at the end of the patio raked up of all it's leaves Whew! It was good to be out in the sun and I definitely deserved an extra creme egg ad the big roast pork dinner we had that evening. The chickens enjoyed the company and the piles of grass ad weeds that got thrown in their run.

Chickens for company

I must have been on a roll on Monday as I also cooked a roast pork dinner with all the trimmings, including roast potatoes, yum! I then cleaned the house, admittedly I did spend the rest of the night lying on the sofa with a glass of wine, a box of chocolates and the dog!

Arum italicum subsp. 'Marmoratum' in the garden

Front garden tidied
Snowdrops doing their thing

One of my own Hellebore seedlings

Got any snacks?

Tuesday, another day off and another dry, sunny day, although it was much more frosty. We went to Biggar for a gas tank for the greenhouse and other odds and ends while everything defrosted. Once home I got on with cutting back, weeding, feeding and top dressing the plant collection troughs on the top level. Very few losses over winter which is great. I also crated up some plants to take to the nursery to propagate and a bit of each ne will come home to the plant collection. This will add some choice and unusual additions to the nursery stock list for sale. I also had a bonfire going all day to get rid of all the fallen sticks and branches from the front garden and the huge pile of cardboard in the lean to. So I got much more done over the two days than I had hoped, great to be caught up in the garden at home, until the next time!

Kalanchoes flowering in the greenhouse

So I left David to make up labels for the nursery while I was out in the garden
and this is what as sitting on my desk when I came in for a coffee! Funny guy


Tuesday evening and a fabulous sunset to end the week. I took this from the field behnd the house. Can you see
the dragons in the sky?

Another busy busy week, hope yours is going well too

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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

From beautiful clear blue skies to more snow

The  view from the nursery, Pentland hills bathed in sunshine 

All good things and weekends away must come to an end and it's back to auld claes and porridge again. Porridge is certainly needed for these cold, frosty morning this week. But I much prefer them with their blue skies and sunshine than the low cloud, rain and gales that have dominated this winter. I always feel it's a measure of how much you enjoy (or not) your job when you face going back after a break. I was looking forward to getting back to the nursery and getting on with the list of jobs and catching up. Which I guess is a good thing when I own it and have to make it work. The blue skies and sun helped the feel good factor too with glorious views of the Pentlands from the nursery. Having made sure everything was as it should be after our time away I got on with the cafe flowers, going for a more romantic look with a nod to Valentines day on Sunday. Making the most of the dry weather I carried on with the willow weaving on the bottom terrace. It is almost done and I am determined to finish it this week. 

Our advert in the Caley handbook

Later on I watered the tunnel, the plants don't dry out so much in winter, but as they are undercover and don't get any rain, it pays to keep an eye on them and a light spray helps. I am really pleased with how the tunnel has filled up with all my propagating over the past months. This is the basis of stock for the next year or so, including new introductions to the stock list from seed I have sown which is beginning to germinate in the tunnel already. David came over later and started painting the covered area. This is a project I'm excited to see done as it will improve the look of the nursery again. More on that later once it is finished and I can do before and after shots.

Never too old for a bit of romance

Since it was pancake day this week, we had home made savoury crispy pancakes for tea on Wednesday night when Adam was over and then sweet pancakes with caramelised banana, ice cream, maple syrup, nutella and so on. needless to say there were none left.

It's always a pleasant surprise when I find a creme egg I didn't know I had

On Thursday we headed to another nursery to pick up a collection of dwarf conifers I had ordered. These will add colour and interest to the sales area at this time of year and give our customers another range of plants to buy from. There are a range of shapes and colours, that will add interest to the garden all year round. Once we got back to the nursery and unloaded the car I got on with the willow weaving as the weather was dry again and I finished them, yeh! It's been a job and a half as I started before Christmas, but due to the weather it's been a bit here and there since then. Reducing the height of the willows and tying them in has really opened up the space on the terraces. Lots of people have commented positively on how much better it all looks too which is nice.

Conifers now for sale

I re-arranged the shrub tables in the sales area and set out the conifers, pricing and photographing as I went. I also put a selection on the display table at the front of the sales area so customers can see them from the car park, hopefully it will entice them up. I re-did the other display tables at the front with colourful grasses, Bergenias and the lovely little Crocus 'Herald' below. Other spring bulbs are beginning to show through and will be available for sale soon.

Crocus 'Herald'

In between other nursery jobs I have been tidying, clearing, brushing down and re stocking the sales tables. The front display tables are re-done with seasonal interest ad grasses, trees and shrubs have all been done too. The perennial tables are cleaned and awaiting looking good plants as I tidy through the stock beds once it either stops raining, snowing or defrosts so I can get on. There are lots of interesting evergreens, coloured foliage, coloured stems and winter flowering plants now looking good and available for sale. 

Coloured foliage and spring flowers

Sunset driving home from work

Friday was another dry day with blue skies and sun, I could get used to this! It was not a working outside day  as the ground was frozen solid. I did finish the last of the sales tables and tidied up the grasses on the table, top dressing them and putting them back. We had plenty people come up and have a look around and good to chat to other keen gardeners. I labelled potted bulbs for sale and friends were over to see progress and bring a few things over. Then it was home for tea and to open all the parcels the posty had left. Baskets for the nursery, an electric blanket for me (finally given in as I am fed up going to bed and it's freezing) and a new bread maker. I regret getting rid of the last one a few years ago and as David is such a bread fan we felt it was worth it again. We've stashed away the money we have saved from being under the food budget every week and could finally get the one we wanted. It's a great machine and the bread unsurprisingly is very more-ish!

Snow again at Quercus

We woke up to snow on Saturday, I'm beginning to get a bit bored of winter now. What should have been a simple half hour journey to Biggar and then to work turned into a almost two hour marathon. Knowing I needed to get petrol and some shopping I thought I'd head to Biggar first before the snow got worse, only to get to the petrol station in Biggar and the pumps weren't working! Not good when the petrol light has come on and the nearest station in work direction is Penicuik half an hour way. After a very slippy sliding journey up the A702 with the petrol light glaring at me I glided into the petrol station. Car filled up and shopping bought I made it to work and treated myself to a large mocha and a chat with Linda. It snowed on and off all day and I did paperwork, admin and working on setting up the new to me laptop that needs everything put back on it. I went through a pile of Quercus stuff in the silage shed to be kept or thrown out, potted some Aquilegia and then headed home mid afternoon. I sometimes feel a bit guilty about going home early, but there's not a soul around shopping and I know come spring and summer I will be working seven days and long hours.Still a couple of bonus hours at home allows me to catch up and do the ironing and clean out the fish tanks.

Trees on the hill at Whitmuir

Behind the nursery

The snow was still lying the next day so worked on putting together pot orders and helping David finish the covered area. We got the tools and shelves up and it looks fab, exactly how I wanted it to look. Practical, quirky, vintage ............. sounds like me actually. So here it is, before and after.




Watering can and rosehips

It's great to get another job of the list and keep moving forward, despite the weather. We headed home for valentines dinner cooked by David. One of his signature dishes with home made bread followed by a DVD, the Book Thief. I was given it for my birthday last year and finally we've watched it. It was different, I really enjoyed it, but much too sad for valentines night! 

Monday and my catching up at home day, unfortunately not a catching up in the garden day as everything is still frozen solid, Is everyone else thinking the garden tidy up is never going to happen? But I did get lots done non the less including finally getting the car cleaned and new mats put in. It Looks a lot better, though I think half the nursery was in the car on the floor! The house also got a good clean and lots of admin done including a plant list for the scented garden and and a couple of buying lists for plants.

Tuesday brought rain and more strong winds, not ideal when you have family visiting and want to show off the nursery. my sister, nieces and nephew arrived after lunch and we all bundled into the cars and headed to Whitmuir. We had a lovely coffee, hot chocolate and cakes while catching up with everyone. It was lovely to spend time together after so long and to see how well my sister looks after her cancer treatment. The kids are so grown up too where does the time go? After a big picnic tea and much hilarity they headed away. It was a great day and a good end to another busy week. I am hoping the weather will improve to get much needed jobs done soon.

Have a great week.

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Saturday, 13 February 2016

Waterfalls and walking, a Weekend in Angus

Every year we have a long weekend away in February before David's business gets busy and now that we have the nursery, that too. We try to make the most of the quieter times of year to have a holiday away and day trips here and there as you'll know if you regularly read the blog. . Usually we head south to Cumbria, the Lakes or Northumbria but this year we headed north to Angus, an area I've never really explored. It being February the weather can be a hit or a miss, but with a cosy cottage, a wood stove and good food, it doesn't really matter. We drove up on Friday afternoon stopping off for a very nice lunch in Dunkeld. Sadly the good antique shop that used to be there is gone, the river was still very high too with plenty signs of the recent floods. 

Coffee, biscuits, wood burning stove,

Saturday was a bit damp, drizzly, bit breezy, definitely Scotland then. After a luxurious long lie and one of David's excellent breakfasts we decided to go and find Reekie Linn Falls. If the nursery doesn't work out I should become a holiday / trip planner / guide. I love finding put places to go and making up itineraries, maybe I missed my vocation lol. Anyhoo, the falls were only 10 minutes from the cottage with a car park just off the road. There are plenty of signs warning you about the high cliffs and paths on the edge of the cliffs and they weren't kidding. Not for the faint hearted or those that don't like heights the path is along the edge of 150 foot high cliffs.

It's a long way down

Green roots, Reekie Linn

Reekie Linn Falls, so named for the mist that rises from the water like smoke

Bracken not so sure, Reekie Linn

Roots like fingers, Reekie Linn

David and Bracken, Reekie Linn
We followed the path past the falls and along the gorge for another 15 minutes or so. The path meanders along the top of the cliff through old beech woodland, the ground littered with beech leaves and nuts. The roots were covered with vivid green mosses and there were plenty lichen growing in the branches. At the base of the cliffs we could see the remains of the floods, wood and plant debris left high in the trees and shrubs or on the rocks of the cliff. The falls must have been amazing then.

Reekie Linn

Once back at the car park we tried to persuade Bracken to have a paddle in the river, but he wasn't up for it, too cold, so we headed to Peel farm just along the road for coffee and cake. They have a lovely gift shop, including local arts and crafts, some food and antiques. Their coffee and cake were good too.

Chocolate cake at Peel Farm

Another place of interest we had noticed was the Airlie monument just north of Kirrimuir. We reckoned we would have time to do the walk up through the forestry to the monument before the end of the day. It took less than half an hour to walk up to the monument, by now in low cloud, so there was no view to be had for our efforts. Built after the Boar War, you can read about it here. We headed back to the car and home to the cottage where we warmed up and got ready to go out for dinner. We had a lovely three course meal at the Losset Inn in Alyth just along the road. The food and service were great, good pub food in a cosy lounge area.

Airlie Monument in cloud

The door of the monument

Sunday was wet, very wet, so after a long lie we hummed and hawed about what to do, headed to Glen Prosen to do a walk we planed, but it was snowing! In the end we ended up heading to Brechin, but it was still very wet. We picked up food for dinner that evening and then headed over to the Scottish Antiques and Arts Centre at Abintyne. At least it was undercover and we could have a rake around and coffee and scones. I managed to find two french cafe chairs I've had on my list of "stuff to get" for the nursery.

On Monday, once we'd tidied the cottage and packed up we again headed to Glen Prosen as the forecast was perfect and indeed it was blue skies and sunshine all day. We parked at the church in Glenprosen village and headed up towards the hostel, following a gravel track up towards Glentairie. This is a gentle circular walk of about four miles, not my usual hill top yomp, but David's not that keen on big hill walks sadly. It was warm enough to lose a layer or two of coats and scarves and the views under the blue skies of Glen Clova and beyond were wonderful.

Cabin on the way up to Glentairie

The old shed at Glentairie

A tough herd of coos with Glen Clova behind

A panorama of Glen Clova from Glentairie

Mayer, my first munro 7 years ago

Together but apart, man and dog taking in the view

Dead heather

Enjoying being out in the hills on a glorious day

We came around the other side of Balnaboth hill and headed down through old birch woods and back into Glen Prosen where we followed the track past Balnaboth House. Here we were supposed to cross a foot bridge over the Prosen Water, but it was no more and we reckoned it had maybe been swept away in the recent floods. So we walked back out down the road into Balnaboth House and back into Glenprosen village. It was great to be out on the hills especially on such a wonderful day, it makes you feel better. 

Thuidium tamariscinum

Balnaboth House, this would be my ideal house, good old Scottish house, even down to the colour

Once back to the car we headed to Glen Clova, a bit of a trip back in time for me as this is where I did my first munros seven years ago. We stopped for lunch in the Glen Clova hotel, and very nice it was. I opted for the fish, there is nothing nicer than properly battered fish and good home made chips. We didn't eat for the rest of the day. From here we we drove up to the ranger and walkers car park at the end of the road, took in the views and then headed home. This was by far the best day, mainly because the weather was amazing. It was an easy drive home with a lovely sunset to finish the weekend off.

Lunch at the Glen Clova Hotel

Munros in Glen Clova

Glen Clova

Sunset over Perth

The cottage we stayed in at Littleton of Airlie was lovely. A one bedroom end terrace with bathroom, lounge and kitchen, there was plenty room for two and a dog. The row of cottages are situated along one side of a walled garden which must be beautiful in summer. There was still plenty of colour to be had even in February. I shall leave you some photos from the garden.


Hedera colchicum
Helleborus foetidus

Barn door

The gardens

Cut willow branches

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