Friday, 29 September 2017

Autumn Treasures

The shift to Autumn has become much more obvious in the past week and we've been lucky with sunny blue skies and warmth to enjoy the colours and changes in the season. The tempo of the gardens, nursery and nursery work has changed too, a wee bit slower, more relaxed and time to breath and enjoy all the hard work of the year. Time to enjoy the fiery foliage on trees and shrubs, time to enjoy the late season flowers of Asters, Rudbeckia and Persiaria, to name a few, time to do some seasonal photography and capture small moments of nature.

Nyssa sylvatica
Nyssa sylvatica in it's wonderful autumn colours, 
a great small tree for the garden.
 It will grow in clay soil in sun or partial shade
 and is well worth some space in the garden
 for it's fiery autumn colours

Sunflower 'Claret'
Collecting sunflower seeds from Sunflower 'Claret'

autumn flower arranging for the cafe
This week's cafe flowers

Acer leaves in autumn colours
Acer leaves can turn the most amazing colours

Conkers, all shiny and new

Love these, always fascinating no matter my age!

Shaggy ink cap fungi
Shaggy Ink Caps in the garden at home
Gentian sino-ornata
The stunning blue of Gentian sino-ornata

Hop flowers beginning to form on the plant in the herb garden
Hop flowers beginning to form on the plant in the herb garden

David's big project over this coming winter is to finally get our boundary fence up. It's only taken two years to get to it. This will make the nursery and gardens sheep and pig proof, rabbit proof and unsupervised child proof (they can be worse than the sheep and pigs, I kid you not). The fence will also define our space in Whitmuir and I'll have somewhere to grow lots of lovely climbers to inspire customers. We'll be putting up nice gates along the front at the car park to make a proper entrance to the nursery, all exciting stuff and will hopefully keep my stress levels down by reducing the chances of four-legged invaders! A bonus of this, in discussion of where the fence will goes means we're also expanding (already, I know). We are short of stock bed space and I've no where to put all the lovely new plants I've got growing in the tunnel for next year. So part stock bed space and part garden area - I have lots of ideas  watch this space.

new fence started
Behind bars where they belong

nursery expansion
Looking back to the nursery from our new boundary

When I was off on Monday I tidied up this unprofessional outdoor potting area. I cut back the honeysuckle that was taking over everywhere. Things got tidied away for winter, dead and broken stuff was thrown out and then a good hose down. Feeling much better for doing it.

tidying the outdoor potting area

tidying the outdoor potting area

Now is a good time to start preparing the garden for winter, I know, how can I possible be taking about winter already, but like it or not we're almost in October! The key to success in everything including gardening is preparation. So another garden task at home was to check over the greenhouses. I sorted the panes of glass that had slipped down, checked how many broken panes I need to replace (3 over the two greenhouses) and cleaned out the gutters. I won't put up the bubble wrap for another month but I will start moving plants from the patio to the greenhouses over the next month as I have time.

sorting greenhouses
A missing pane, that's a pain!

sorting greenhouses
Sorting the slipped panes
sorting greenhouses
Cleaning out the gutters

golden syrup cake
I made a golden syrup cake this week, it was very very more-ish!

On Tuesday we headed to Innerleithan to pick up our wedding album, it is beautiful and the photos are perfect thanks to the talented Natalie Martin of Story of Love Photography. It seems like so long ago now, not just six weeks! We had lunch and then I showed David the walk up to Pirn hill fort. Bracken of course is always up for a walk, as am I, it was quite humid, but great views along the Tweed valley and north.

Pirn hill fort
Enjoying the view or taking breather

Pirn hill fort
Bracken at Pirn hill fort

Pirn hill fort
Looking east

Pirn hill fort
Bracken on Pirn hill fort

Autumn colours, Innerleithan

Bracken enjoying a paddle

last century books
David enjoying Last Century Books
 in Innerleithan

We've been meaning to go into the antique book shop in Innerleithan for a while but we're usually on the way to somewhere or on the way back when we pass through the village. We both came away with purchases, I bought four gardening books to add to my towering reading pile on my desk. Hmmmmm.

My purchases, all for £13

I have published a couple of other blogs this week Designing the border at the top steps and A visit to Auchlochan Gardens, grab a coffee and have a read. 

How has your week been, are you enjoying the start of Autumn like me?

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Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Designing the Border at the Top Steps

In the nursery at the weekend I got around to clearing this six by eight foot piece of banking that sits between the existing border and the new set of steps between the sales area and herb garden. It's a tricky area as it's on a steep slope, the ground is rubbish (clay soil and a lot of stones) and it faces north, hmmmmm interesting, time for some garden designing.

First task - remove the "turf"

The border is also viewed from three sides so I had to think how to account for the slope, making it interesting from every side and what would grow in these conditions and provide interest through the year. Because these plants will back onto an existing border where the last plants are vigorous (Persicaria 'Firetail' and Miscanthus 'Gracillimus') I needed to make sure the new plants next to them would be able to complete.

I seem to always end up with b****d clay
soil in every garden! (excuse my language!)

This area of banking was particularly 

Looking through the nursery database I put together a list of plants that weren't planted already. This is something I'm working on, to get all the plants we stock into the gardens so customers can see how plants behave in the ground year on year. I then gathered all the plants together to encourage me to get on with the hard work of preparation so I can get this planting plan in place.

After the hard work comes the fun bit - planting

After lifting off the grass and weeds, I dug over the ground removing a few large stones as I went. These were used to edge the main path up to the nursery (nothing is wasted here). As I barrowed away each load of weeds and grass I brought back a barrow of our own compost to dig in and top dress. In the end I used six barrows of compost, this will certainly help improve the poor soil and give the new plants something to root into. Preparation is so important.

Placing the plants to make sure the planting plan will
work and to work out the right number of plants

The plants I've chosen for this design will give interest from early summer through to autumn, prolonged into autumn by a couple of grasses, Molinia 'Edith Dudszus' and Panicum 'Striatum'. The colour scheme is a combination of whites, pinks and purples with different shapes of flower and leaf.

In place and ready to plant

All done, can't wait to see it all grow together

From paper to finished in a day

This has finished off another untidy corner in the nursery gardens and one of the parts of my job I love doing. What's your favourite task in the garden and do you like creating a garden design and planting plan and making it happen.

Planting list
Molinia 'Edith Dudszus'
Monarda 'Mohawk'
Panicum 'Striatum'
Phlox 'Mother of Pearl'
Polemonium 'Purple Rain'
Salvia 'Amethyst'
Sanguisorba 'Pink Tanna'
Scabiosa perfecta 'Alba'
Verbascum 'Violette'
Veronica 'Purplicious'

You can see another garden design post here and read about how we created the Herb Garden and Scented Garden in the nursery earlier this year.

Monarda 'Mohawk', my own photo

Veronica 'Purplicious' (Google)

Molinia 'Edith Dudszus' (Google)

Scabiosa perfecta 'Alba' (Gogle)

Sanguisorba 'Pink Tanna' (Google)

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Monday, 25 September 2017

A Visit to the gardens at Auchlochan

Tucked away in the countryside near Lesmahagow in Lanarkshire is the retirement village of Auchlochan (no I am not planning ahead). The village itself is purpose built with a variety of different types of housing and levels of support for residents. What else makes this place unique is it's situation within 50 acres of gardens and landscaped grounds. There is mature woodland, lakes, ponds and many borders and planted areas around the houses and buildings carefully planned to give colour and interest all year round. 

Water lilies on one of the many ponds and lakes

As you would expect from an old estate there are plenty mature specimen trees in the grounds, including Giant Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum). There are many expanses of water in the estate, from large lakes with islands, a Geneva style fountain and boat to smaller ponds covered in water lilies. These are home to varied wildlife and birds, including swans, ducks and heron.

You can see the kind of weather we had for our visit

Borders and gardens in front of and around the buildings at Auchlochan are carefully planted to provide flower and foliage interest all year round. If you are going to retire to a purpose built retirement complex I can't think of a better place than this where you can enjoy the gardens all year without the hard work!

Ligularias were a big feature in a lot of borders when we were there, giving height and blasts of yellow and orange. Carefully planted against dark purple back grounds such as cherry and hazel the yellow really stood out.

Some of the colourful borders in the walled garden

The hidden secret at Auchlochan, tucked away behind old stone walls is the beautiful 1.5 acre walled garden. Originally built in the early 1900s it was used to provide fruit and vegetables for the estate. Now it is a delight of colours, meandering paths, quiet areas to sit and an elevated ramp where you can look down on the gardens. When we were there in July the mid summer perennials were in full swing and making a tapestry of colours across the gardens. A lot of the trees are now mature and create perfect dappled shade for shade loving plants and places to sit on a bench and enjoy the peace and quiet. So come with me for a walk through Auchlochan walled garden.

The curious Inula hookeri with it's unfurling spiral buds

Heleniums in bloom, great for flower arranging too

Looking down the central pathway in the walled garden, I love the benches picked out in blue

Allium cepa proliferum, the tree onion, also growing in our herb garden in the nursery

Gravel paths wind through the borders, under trees and around corners

An impressive Gunnera in a corner of the walled garden

Dahlias after one of many rain showers

Cheeky mimulus

The walled garden is a delight of great plant combinations and vintage features such
as this stone sundial

Entrance or exit?

So many paths to explore and in amongst the casual exuberance of the perennials
are closely clipped hedges and conifers

A door to where?

There was plenty of wild life too

Photographing the photographer, Sarah-Fiona waiting for the breeze to stop so she can get a shot

Under the Gunnera

Inulas and Crocosmia with touches of blue from Eryngiums

The conifers provide a great background for this really zingy combination of flowers

I loved the white Astilbes here, just enough to balance the hot colours

Not sure what these were for, perhaps for guiding hoses around the borders?
What do you think?

Isn't this a great colour combination?

More Heleniums, can't get enough of them, I love their dark centres,
such a contrast to the yellow and orange petals

Inulas with frilly petals

A stone carving peeping out from under a Japanese Acer

So much colour

More Ligularias

An elevated view of the walled garden at Auchlochan

Berries on the rowans along the banks of one of the lakes

Plenty lichen on the Rowan trees too

Harebells on the verges

After our walk around the gardens and grounds we went for lunch in the little cafe bistro. It's a bit odd I have to say as it doubles as the dining room for residents of the complex. I very much felt we were a bit out of place as the old folks had their lunches. The food and service were good and reasonably priced. Just a bit odd I felt, but that was maybe just me. 

So if you're ever in the Lesmahagow area make sure you find this wee hidden gem of a garden at Auchlochan, there is interest all year round so always something to see.

If you want to find out about more interesting places to visit, have a look at my page Walks and Places of Interest

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