Wednesday, 28 February 2018

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant

Pour yourself a coffee or a cup of tea, grab some biscuits, or even better chocolate and get comfortable for a long catch up post. I feel not only am I far behind in nursery tasks because of the weather, I'm behind in blog writing too. Its been a busy couple of weeks, trying to do things outwith the nursery before I am back six days a week until autumn, not that I mind. I love the challenge of running my own nursery, the hard graft and satisfaction when I see what we have achieved and when I see the enjoyment on visitors and customers faces as they explore the nursery gardens and buy a plant they've been searching for. I also find January and February quite difficult due to the lack of light, and I don't think I use my light lamp enough, something to work on. Still now we are at the end of the month and the days are lengthening I do feel better. Hurry up spring! As the title of this post says we wouldn't appreciate Spring as much if we didn't have winter to get through.

(Title quote - Anne Bradstreet)

Dry shade border, Digitalis purpurea,  Valeriana officinalis, Brunnera macrophylla,  Aster (Symphyotrichum) pilosum var. Pringlei 'Monte Cassino'
Dry shade border, Digitalis purpurea,
Valeriana officinalis, Brunnera macrophylla,
Aster (Symphyotrichum) pilosum var. Pringlei 'Monte Cassino'

So what have we been up to? In the nursery its all about getting everything ready for opening on Saturday 3rd March for the 2018 season. This includes carrying on cutting back, tidying and top dressing the garden borders and filling up the sales tables with plants. David has been putting up new signs and working on installing the new fence at the entrance to the nursery. We've had a couple of days of dry weather to get on then it's snowed or been frozen then dry and sunny again, so a bit start stop, but we will get there, after all, there ain't anything we can do about the weather.

Tidying the dry shade border, before and afterTidying the dry shade border, before and after

Tidying the dry shade border, before and after

Its encouraging to see so many plants bulking up over the years and uncovering the start of this year's shoots when I cut back the old growth and lift the leaves. There are one or two plants which haven't liked where I planted them, so I have lifted them and potted them until all the borders are tidied and I can select a new home for them. In the dry shade border I had a couple of fallen willow trunks to cut back and a lot of invasive Aster to remove. 

Tidying the Scottish native plant border
Tidying the Scottish native plant border

Tidying the Scottish native plant border
After, with a mulch of home made compost

To maximise my time in the nursery we have invested in eight ton bags of bark to mulch some of the borders this year. This will hugely reduce the amount of weeding required on some of the biggest borders in the gardens. We did this with the big entrance borders when we first opening the nursery and it has been a huge success. I spend half an hour cutting put perennial weeds once a month instead of spending days weeding in those borders, so you can see how it makes sense and my time is spent doing other things. Despite what my children say, this is not drinking coffee and eating cake! Once I have cut back and tidied the borders I've been barrowing the bark up and onto the borders, it all looks very tidy and is getting me fit after winter.

Native garden, Blechium spicant,  Fragaria vesca,  Luzula sylvatica,  Polypodium vulgare
Native garden, Blechium spicant,
Fragaria vesca,  Luzula sylvatica,
Polypodium vulgare

Some borders, because they are small or because of what is planted in them get a compost mulch instead of bark as you can see in the photos above of the native Scottish plant borders. This helps improve our very clay soil as it is hoed in over the year. In the native borders I've removed the luzula sylvatica as it was taking over, it has a new home at the side of the stream on the edge of the woods where it will happily do its own thing without drowning everything else out. 


Track border, left side,  Primula denticulata 'Alba',  Lamium maculatum 'Orchid Frost',  Stachys byzantina 'Silver Carpet', Carex dipsacea
Track border, left side,  Primula denticulata 'Alba',
Lamium maculatum 'Orchid Frost',
Stachys byzantina 'Silver Carpet', Carex dipsacea

Track border, left side,  Primula denticulata 'Alba',  Lamium maculatum 'Orchid Frost',  Stachys byzantina 'Silver Carpet', Carex dipsacea
Track border, Geum 'Flames of Passion',
Polystichium setiferum 'Plumosum Densum', Iris foetidissima,
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Tidying the track border and putting down the new bark this week
Tidying the track border and putting down the new bark this week




























Tidying the track border and putting down the new bark this week

willow weaving finished willow weaving finished

I have also finished the big annual task of weaving the willow hedge in the wildlife garden,
its a great job to do when its not too cold but there is snow on the ground


Chorizo and kale with humous  and flat breads, this was awesome
Chorizo and kale with humous
and flat breads, this was awesome
Ottolenghi leek fritters,
Ottolenghi leek fritters, coriander and parsley dip
with salad by David. We also had pancakes
 for dessert by Daniel, it was a busy kitchen tonight!
    
There have been some lovely evening skies on the way home from the nursery
There have been some lovely evening skies on the way home from the nursery

Clivia berries in the greenhouse at home
Clivia berries in the greenhouse at home

Meanwhile at home in the garden I've managed to get all the troughs and pots in the back garden cut back, tidied and mulched with compost. It's nice to stand at the kitchen window and be able to see the snowdrops coming up now and not just a mess of last years dead stems and leaves.

troughs and pots in the back garden cut back, tidied and mulched with composttroughs and pots in the back garden cut back, tidied and mulched with compost 
























Galanthus nivalis at home
Galanthus nivalis at home

splitting agapanthus
I wanted to split this Agapanthus to take some in to the nursery,
 the only way to get it out the pot was to smash the pot,
fortunately it was already cracked! I got five plants out of it and one
piece is re-potted and back in the greenhouse

Galanthus 'Magnet'
I brought some Galanthus 'Magnet' indoors today, did you know some snow drops are scented Magnet is one of those and my goodness what a scent! The living room was filled with a jasmine - lily scent from

Beamish
Beamish

We had our annual long weekend away in February before the busy season of both businesses begins. This year we booked a cosy wee cottage in Teesdale, an area we often drive past but rarely stop. The cottage was lovely, booked through a company we often use with a log burner and everything we could need for a long weekend. We visited Beamish, which I haven't been to for a long time, Durham for the first time, Durham Botanic Gardens, a walk at Low Force Falls from the suspension bridge, Eggleston Hall Gardens and a visit to High Force falls on our way home. We relaxed more because we also had snow, first time on any of our February weekends. 

Beamish
The bakers shop in Beamish

Brough Castle
Brough Castle

Durham
Durham

Durham Botanic Gardens
Durham Botanic Gardens

High Force Falls
High Force Falls

Low Force Falls
Low Force Falls

Birch Trees in Teesdale
Birch Trees in Teesdale

Our Tuesday days off have been a sporadic so far this year due to weather, ill health and work. Last week we took Wednesday off to head up to Argyll where David was doing a survey. The site was just south of Oban on the shores of a sea loch, so Bracken and I were able to have a walk while David worked. The weather was sunny and warm and the scenery was stunning as it always is on the west coast. Afterwards we headed home via Kilmartin Glen and a stop for lunch at Inveraray. A great day out.

Snow capped mountains on the way to Crianlarich
Snow capped mountains on the way to Crianlarich

Bracken and I enjoying the sun on the beach
Bracken and I enjoying the sun on the beach

Geese coming in to land
Geese coming in to land

Bracken thinks he can reach the geese and bring one back for tea!
Bracken thinks he can reach the geese and bring one back for tea!

Highland sheds
Highland sheds

Looking West
Looking West

We've also had some fabulous sunsets at home after days of clear skies, sun and cold temperatures
We've also had some fabulous sunsets at home after days of clear skies, sun and cold temperatures


We've also had some fabulous sunsets at home after days of clear skies, sun and cold temperatures


We've also had some fabulous sunsets at home after days of clear skies, sun and cold temperatures


I would say we are nearly there, out of winter and into Spring but with the snow and weather we are having again today and forecast for most of this week, maybe not. Stay warm and stay safe.






 If you want to find out what's been happening in our garden at home like our Facebook page 
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 If you to see whats new and looking good at the nursery like our Facebook page
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Find out more about the nursery here - our web site: www.quercusgardenplants.co.uk


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Wednesday, 7 February 2018

"February is merely as long as is needed to pass the time until March"

I think this weeks diary post blog might consist mainly of all the lovely photographs I've taken this week of the dramatic skies, new snow and stark and stately trees. We've had more flurries of snow over a few evenings, sometimes lying thicker than others, so needless to say work at the nursery is not progressing as quickly as I'd like. I am getting things done, just not the tasks I'd hoped to have done by now. It's an interesting comparison though, year on year as to how far ahead I am in the nursery depending on the weather. We are so much further behind at the moment that we were last year. But, as time goes on I hope to catch up as I don't have the massive project of building and planting out the scented and herb garden as I did last year. We are however making great progress with new signage and labelling, so all is not lost.

(Title quote -  Dr. J. R. Stockton)

Sun setting on the way home

Flurries of snow again!

Although there has been snow on the ground this week, the temperatures haven't been low enough to freeze everything so I have got all the compost bins either emptied or turned, depending on where they are in the cycle. This is a very physical job which I managed to complete in one day, as you can see they are rather large bins, so I was feeling like I'd definitely earned that creme egg waiting at home in the fridge! The compost I have emptied into bulk bags will be used around the nursery gardens to improve our clay soil.







Me weaving some willow

I have spent a couple of days weaving more of the willow fence in our wildlife garden. Again a big job but I do enjoy it, especially when the winter sun has a hint of warmth and we get a lovely sunset. I managed to finish the first side this week, which is our boundary with the cafe and farm shop. This year I have heightened the willow fence by six to twelve inches and this has made a big difference (no pun intended!) to the look and strength of it. I've also put in a lot more new rods to thicken it and fill in all the gaps at the base. I'm looking forward to seeing what difference this makes over the year.


David has been building more steps in the gardens so you can wind your way around the gardens from terrace to terrace, enjoying the gardens and plants. He's also been working on signage for both the nursery and gardens, we hope you'll see a difference with the signs and information available when you visit this year.

I love a good sunset, especially when trees are silhouetted against those wonderful colours



Impressive cloud over the Pentlands, taken from the nursery

When the weather has been ameniable I've started restocking the sales tables, ready for opening at the beginning of March. It is amazing how much colour and interest there is when we really look. Most of these plants you can also see growing in the nursery gardens.

Sunrise over the Pentland Hills from the other side

Monday, Monday, wasn't much of a day off. Up early to get my car to Livingston for it's service, bonus was a nice sunrise over the Pentlands. I don't often see this west side of them these days, a big change from living this side for many years and seeing this view most weeks. Now we live right at the bottom of the Pentlands range and the nursery looks onto them form the east side. After dropping his car off for repairs in Penicuik, David picked me up then headed home to wait on a heating engineer. We had no hot water or heating when we got up, not ideal given how cold it is. Luckily the letting agent was on the ball for a change and we had an engineer in the house by lunch time with a diagnosis of a problem with the gas supply from the tank. Phone call to the gas supplier who owns the tank, an emergency call so another engineer out within and couple of hours and all fixed - yeh. We have experienced no hot water or heating for days or weeks before in this house, so as you can imagine this was great. Just keep breathing as they say!


The rest of the day was less stressful, we picked my car up mid afternoon, then headed to Penicuik to pick David's car on the way into Edinburgh for our Archaeology course in the evening. This week we were studying stone circles, so we were able to talk about the ones we saw on our trip down south last year. Another fascinating evening. We were supposed to meet up with David's daughter to celebrate her birthday afterwards, but she's not well so it's been postponed until a later date, so we picked up some pizza on the way home.




Tuesday was a much more relaxing day off with a long lie trying to ignore the new covering of snow that appeared over night. A good inch or so has turned the world completely white again. Luckily the roads are clear, meaning we can get around but enjoy the beauty of it. It has been a proper winter this year. We headed to Broughton to do a nice wee walk up towards Broughton Heights where Bracken enjoyed running about in the snow. Back to the car and down to Dawyck Botanic Gardens for a walk around the gardens and some lunch. This is a lovely garden and we are so lucky to have it close by. If you are a member of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh there are many benefits which you can read about here. These also include free entry to all the Botanic gardens in Scotland and discounts in the cafe.



Walking towards Broughton Heights

Coulter Fell in the distance

Tinto ahead

Because of the snow the snowdrops weren't very showy but it was very peaceful and quiet walking around the gardens appreciating the wonderful tree specimens, Rhododenrons, shrubs and lichens. We saw a few pheasant and a hare ran right passed us! After a lovely lunch we headed home to potter about and edit photographs.

You can read about previous visits to Dawyck here:

A Trip to Dawyck Botanic Gardens

A Trip to Dawyck Gardens to see the Snowdrops


Corylus

Cotoneaster

Lichens

Snowdrops in the snow

Betula jaquemontii

The chapel at Dawyck





Tree Creeper



As we head towards spring life will get busier and busier for us gardeners and maybe we might get caught up on nursery work if the weather behaves. Have a great week what ever you are doing and whatever weather you have.





 If you want to find out what's been happening in our garden at home like our Facebook page 
                                                      The quirky Bird Gardener 


 If you to see whats new and looking good at the nursery like our Facebook page
                                                         Quercus Garden Plants


Find out more about the nursery here - our web site: www.quercusgardenplants.co.uk


Follow us on Instagram @quirkybirdgardener


You can now sign up for our monthly newsletter on the facebook page or by emailing us to be added to our mailing list



All contents  and photographs ©  Rona, unauthorised reproduction & use of these images is strictly forbidden, thank you