Sunday, 25 September 2016

There's Gold in Them Hills

It's ended up being a very mixed week this last week just to remind me there is never a dull moment in this house. As they say variety is the spice of life and I'll agree totally with tht, but i could do without the stressful bits. 

This week's cafe flowers
I arrived back at the nursery on Wednesday to find all three deliveries I'd been waiting on had arrived the previous day! Guess what I'll be sorting out for the next few days. But first I had the cafe flowers to do, I brought in some lovely feathery Fennel flower heads from home and teamed them with Asters for some delicate early autumn vases. The rest of the day was spent potting some shrubs and tidying up others to go out in sales, some evergreen Viburnum x burkwoodii and Sarcococca confusa for winter interest. I even managed to get to the hairdresser to get my unruly mop back under control, or as much as it ever will be. A lovely hour of pampering made me feel much better and my hair looked great too.

There is lots of autumn colour in the nursery including these blueberries

Thursday was a beautiful, hot and sunny day, perfect for tidying and restocking the sales area and weeding the stock beds. I started in grasses this time and worked backwards and by the end of the day had half the stock beds weeded. Once one area was finished I put the sprinklers on, the sunny weather and wind quickly dries out the plants. I finished the day with some potting and it was a relief to be in the shade of the potting area for a while.

Euonymus europaeus is colouring up too

You too could have your own Quirky bird

The Echinops and Gaura are still flowering away at home

Mangetout for a thai chicken curry for tea

Friday and the sun was shining again, though a bit cooler. I spent most of the day unpacking the bulb delivery, pricing them and setting them out for sale. We are doing pick and mix bulbs again as this worked really well last year. You can buy as many or as few as you like. It's the ideal time to get spring bulbs in the ground for a fine display next year. We have tiny Iris, Crocus, Daffodils, tall Tulips, Alliums, Frittalaria and many more as you can see below. I have quite a few to get into the nursery gardens, hopefully sooner rather than later!

Pick and mix spring bulbs

At lunch time Uncle Andy and Jean arrived to visit. They are on the mainland for a couple of weeks to catch up with friends and fmily before heading back to the Isle of Coll where they live. We had a lovely lunch and catch up in the Whitmuir cafe. A few more plants were bought and boxed up to go back to the coastal garden they have on the island. You can see the blog from my last trip there here

Unpacking the bulbs for sale

Acers are colouring up beautifully both at home and in the nursery, this is Acer 'Bloodgood' at home

We've booked our table, have you? Looking
forward to trying the new menu

On Saturday I had a day off, I know on a Saturday too! I have always wanted to try gold panning and this year decided to spend my birthday money on a one day course run by Leon Kirk through the Museum of Lead Mining at Wanlockhead, you can get more info here. The weather was very kind and got better as the day went, which was a relief as we were out in the hills all day. A forty five minute drive saw me at the Museum of Lead Mining in Wanlockhead where everyone met for coffee and an intro to the days events. We then headed down the road into the valley for a couple of miles where we parked up and got kitted out in waders. Never worn waders before, interesting, warm too in the cold stream. 

I reckon I rock a pair of waders lol, not!

Glorious weather for it

Learning to use the sluice to find gold

Part of the group learning the panning technique

Me enjoying a day off and ticking something
else off my bucket list

Using the gold spy to see clearly under water

One of the specks of gold I found

The four specks I found, y very own gold 

I had a great day with a nice group of people in beautiful countryside, the weather really helped make the day too and some gold to take home. I'd really recommend doing the day with Leon, well worth the money for a day learning, coffee, packed lunch and use of all equipment. Home to tea and what I hoped would be a relaxing evening until I got a phone call from Granny. She was in A&E in Edinburgh with my eldest son who'd come off his motorbike on the way to Granny's for tea! He has been a very lucky lad with only a cracked fibia, badly sprained wrist and some bruises and scratches. He now has to have six to eight weeks off work to recover, longer than he's been in his new job! So that's more gray hairs and stress wrinkles added to me but if that's the worst accident he ever has with his bike I can live with that. He spent seven hours in A&E before going to stay at Granny's house. I went down to visit him on Sunday morning. He'd had a good night's sleep and was on pain killers for the pain, a stookie over his foot up to his knee and crutches! I got to the nursery after lunch having also begged a shower at grannies, we are now into our 5th week of no hot water!

Gentiana sino-ornata

On Monday my first task was to clean out the wee greenhouse where the two hen pecked chickens had been housed for a couple of weeks. How much muck do two chickens produce, and awful lot! An hour of sweeping and hosing got the greenhouse back to normal and the plants moved back in. As winter approaches there will be a lot more of the tougher tender plants making their way in for winter. I carried on to the big greenhouse, cutting back all the Pelargoniums for winter. This encourages them to make bushier plants next year and they take up less space over winter. Once the greenhouse was tidied, they both got a good water. As the weather cools down over the next month or so I'll start moving the most tender plants in first. I also got the grass around the front garden borders edges, some weeding done and the front paths swept. The place looks a bit tidier.

Cacti in the big greenhouse at home

Echivera glauca

The big greenhouse cleaned out and tidied ready for winter

Echivera sp

After lunch I cleaned the house then did some baking, 2 weeks in a row, wow! I baked bramble and apple muffins and lemon slice. They went down well with David and Daniel, even if I say so myself they were rather tasty.

Making lemon slice traybake

Lemon slice and muffina

Tuesday and our day off together, we were both tired, coming down with some kind of lurgy and not really feeling like going far. David suggested we should go to Crighton Castle which is only half an hour away. We've been talking about going here for a while so it was ideal for a more relaxed day out. Situated near Pathhead in a hidden valley the castle stands on the edge of an escarpment dominating the valley. From the car park it is a five minute walk along a track to the castle which is run by Historic Scotland. 

Crighton Castle from the car park

Inside one of the store rooms

Once inside the castle you can explore all the ground floor store rooms with their stone ceilings, peer into the well or dungeon before climbing up any of the three stairs to explore the upper levels. From here you can get great views of the surrounding country side, especially on a lovely day as we had.

The Italianate diamond faceted facade added by Francis Stewart in 1480

Looking back towards the collegiate church at the car park

On the way home we stopped off for coffee and cakes, nothing like a wee treat to make you feel better, especially a big fat cream cake.

David admiring the view

One of the upper rooms

Peering down the well

Looking west

The castle from the stables

Inside the very impressive stable building

Outside the collegiate church at Crighton

So that's my week, I hope yours has been good and you are enjoying the beginnings of autumn colour on the trees like I am. Have a great week to come, chat soon.

Previous September blogs

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Friday, 16 September 2016

A Hint of Autumn

Whether we like it or not the nights are getting shorter and the mornings colder, although this week  the days have been warmer, hotter and quite humid at times. It is also making finding plant material for the cafe flowers a bit more challenging. Fortunately Asters are now coming into flower and there is an abundance of them in whites, blues and pinks. We also have a good range for sale in the nursery. The house garden is beginning to fade too with the last of the perennials gamely flowering alongside the beginnings of autumn leaf colour on shrubs such as Acers and Euonymus. I am getting a couple of late autumn raspberries everyday as a breakfast supplement on the way to my car, sometimes I get a bonus wild strawberry or two.

Fragaria vesca, the wild or alpine strawberry

Autumn Raspberry 'Autumn Bliss'

Cosmos in the annual corner at home

Echinacea 'Rubenstein' in the prairie border at home

Fly on fennel, which makes a great structural plant at the back door, bees, flies and hoverflies love it

Fly on a marigold with the macro lens

Annual Larkspur

A dark Papaver somnifera

Over the past week I've been weeding all the planted borders, this will probably be the last big weed before winter (I hope). As well as making the place tidier and getting rid of the weeds it allows me to look the plants as I work past them and see how they are doing. I have replaced a couple that haven't survived and weeded out some that are not what they are supposed to be! I've also been continuing to pot up and propagate plants in the stock beds to get as much done before winter. There is still time for plants to root through before winter and they will be ahead come spring. Thursday was wet and miserable and ideal for getting a lot of potting done, a kind of catch and moving forwards day.

It's great to see all the "nice" bugs and beasties about in the nursery enjoying the sun

Red Admiral enjoying the sun

There is less to do in the tunnel now, just a bit of potting up to finish and keeping on top of the weeds. I spent an hour or so first thing on Saturday and Sunday doing just that and moving out some winter and spring bedding ready to go to sales. These include wall flowers, ready for planting and Cyclamen and Bellis about to flower. Now is a good time to get these plants in along with spring bulbs, ready for some spring colour next year. I finished up the border weeding, ending at the border along the top of the banking alongside the stock beds on Sunday. On Saturday after we'd finished work at the nursery we decided to make the most of the nice weather and have a walk around the farm.

Mushrooms on a rotting log

Pigs in clover and wild flowers

Growing old disgracefully

Great excitement at breakfast time on the way back from feeding the chooks,
noticed some new figs on my fig tree, but that was not all, there was a ripe one hiding
under the leaves. I've had this tree for over 15 years and it's the first time it's had edible fruit.
It was so sweet, well worth the wait

On Sunday we worked on getting the last six feet of the border at the top of the banking finished. We got all the perennial weeds lifted off, not easy when it involves a mat of couch grass, nettles, creeping buttercups and creeping thistle. I then dug over the area ready for planting. I had all the plants I wanted to put in here so it got planted, one more task off the list. I have put together a mix of big structural grasses and late flowering perennials in pinks and blues. Most of these plants are available to buy in the nursery. The planting list:

Aster na 'Badsey Pink'
Cortaderia pumila
Crocosmia 'Lucifer'
Echinacea 'Ruby Giant'
Eupatorium 'Phantom'
Geranium 'Johnston Blue'
Lythrum salicaria 'Feuerkerze'
Miscanthus sinensis 'Kleine Fontane'
Miscanthus 'Samurai'
Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal'
Persicaria amplex. 'Atrosanguineum'
Sedum 'Herbsfreud'
Stipa gigantea
Veronica longifolia 'Blauriesen'

At last another bit of the nursery finished, no more weeds here

After a busy weekend it was good to relax over dinner at home, we treated ourselves to some good steak, roasted sweet potatoes and squash, onion rings and a good bottle of red wine. It was very nice even if I say so myself. We then collapsed on the sofa to watch TV. All was well until about 10pm when there was a huge crash outside the house. We immediately knew what it was, the rotten tree at the end of the front garden. It had given in at last to the wind (we were not surprised, we've been expecting it since we moved in). The problem was it had come down right over the road, so there we were after 10pm, with torches to flag down vehicles, phone the police and wait for action. The council roads department got 5 stars for turning up within 45 minutes with a team armed with chainsaws and the road was cleared. Never a dull moment in this house! The biggest problem was the fallen tree had taken down out phone line and internet, I hate dealing with BT. 

The fallen tree

Monday and a day off with the house to myself, well apart form the animals. A long lie then on with the house cleaning. Amazing how quickly you can get it done in the morning when you've got energy! Having no internet is frustrating, especially when I have emails to do for the nursery. So no rest for the wicked and off to the nursery to do emails, had a coffee and blether with folks in the cafe and Dee in the gallery. Always good to catch up. Once home I did some baking, yes I did, it's been so long, well over six months, in fact since I began working six days at the beginning of March. I made a batch of bread, some cheese, tomato and garlic muffins for David and chocolate muffins for Daniel and I. I really enjoyed messing about in the kitchen, making nice things to eat.

Cheese, tomato and garlic muffins

The making of chocolate muffins


I have finally got round to reading this book, I got it from my boys for christmas,
it's full of interesting facts about gardening and horticulture, plant genetics,
plant classification and collection

Acorns at rough Castle Roman Fort

We had a nice wee day out chasing Romans again after a very long, much needed lie in. With home made bread for breakfast we then off in the car heading for the Antonine wall. We went to Rough Castle Roman fort first, sitting near Bonnybridge on top of a hill where Romans would have had good views along the valley. You can get visiting information here. There were lots of signs of defences, remains of the ramparts of the wall, defensive pits and outlines of walls to see under the oak and birch trees which were beginning to take on their autumn colours. Bracken had a dunk in the stream after rolling in something disgusting and we pretended to be Romans and celts (No surprises David thought he should be an imperial Roman standing on the wall! I was more than happy to be a celt running up dodging the ridiculous roman doglet).

Autumn Oak leaves, Rough Caslte
A birch tree on the ramparts

Bracken the Roman doglet

Bracken on the wall watching for invaders

Defensive pits below the wall

We then headed east to Callander House where the Antonine wall becomes apparent again. There is a decent length of it in the grounds where you can walk between the ramparts again. Check visiting info here, unfortunately for us the house is closed on a Tuesday. From here we stopped for a late lunch before carrying on to our final Roman destination for the day, Kinneil House in Bo'ness. See here for info.

Callander House in Falkirk

The Roman Fortlet at kinneil House, Bo'ness

We meandered home to find the phone line and internet fixed (yeh!) and the new chicken house delivered and Daniel putting it together.

So that's my week, another busy, varied and surprising, you never know what's going to happen next do you. Hope your week has been great. Catch you later, meanwhile here's what I was up to in previous Septembers

Previous September blogs

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