Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Return of The Beast from the East

The snow is back!

After a brief hint of spring the weather has turned colder this week. I spent most of Wednesday sorting out trees and shrubs to go into the sales area. We have lots of new evergreens, Rhododendrons, spring flowering shrubs, Hellebores and flowering cherries. They are all on the nursery website: Quercus Garden Plants

Lots of lovely colourful evergreens to give all year round colour in your garden

Dwarf Rhododendrons including blue, red, pink and white flowering varieties

Spring colour in the sales area

As the week went on the weather got worse with freezing rain all day on Thursday. I've spent the wet cold days putting new plants onto the website plant lists, doing admin and getting bed labels back into the stock beds after David painted and re-wrote them over winter. I am ever thankful for my super heater in the office on days like this. There is one thing with all this bad weather I am getting ahead in a lot of admin and other small tasks that sometimes get overlooked as we are usually so busy outside. But it is frustrating to be so behind in the gardens and nursery so that is why had you visited the nursery, you would have found me outside dodging the sleety showers on Friday. It's three weeks since I started cutting back and tidying the scented garden, then mother nature flung a whole lot of snow and ice our way and progress stopped. I managed to get the rest of the scented garden tidied and weeded and got the last of the bark on. Despite the wind chill it was fairly warm barrowing the bark up hill and very satisfying end to Friday to finally get that garden finished. Only several more to go.

Starting the scented garden winter
tidy up at the end of February
finishing the scented
garden winter tidy up mid March

The scented garden with its new bark on

Customers at the nursery quite often ask us to put their change in a charity tin. After a lot of thought over the winter (there are so many charities we'd love to support which are close to our hearts: cancer, animals, mental health, miscarriage support) we have decided to raise money for Breast Cancer Care. This charity were a huge support to my sister Mhairi through all the stages of her cancer right up to the end and we'd like to be able to give something back, no matter how small.

The weekend was again a complete non starter thanks to the weather, a mini version of the earlier beast from the east with wintery snow showers and a howling wind all day. Factor in a wind chill of -10C and you can understand my malaise and thoughts of emigrating or hibernating. So frustrating for the business and getting work done. I managed in between warming up over the heater to fill the grasses table in the sales area. Plants tidied, top dressed and labelled and looking smart. I've brought all the new evergreens in undercover as this bitter wind will only decimate them and make them unsaleable. The joy of being a nursery owner in upland Scotland. Even more snow fell overnight into Sunday and although the main roads were clear the carpark at Whitmuir was full of drifting snow and the nursery was again under four to six inches. I made the decision to close for the day, put all the closed signs up and headed home. I never waste any extra time I get and spent the day in the warm cleaning the house, doing the ironing, admin and getting ahead for the coming week.

Chionochloa rubra

I always like when an delivery arrives in the post of new plants for my own personal plant collection. This time it was 10 new Pelargoniums, all species, for my collection, which now brings the number to 70. Still a few to go! Need another heated greenhouse....... David?

Saturday at the nursery

Sunday in the nursery

In order to catch up I decided to go in to the nursery on Monday and Tuesday. There was still snow lying for most of the day on Monday and everything is frozen but it is melting just not where I need it to melt. The sun was out most of the day which helped so I spent the morning doing jobs that don't require being outside. Sowing seeds, great to get started on this task at last, there's a lot to get through! Writing a newsletter, bringing up the new pots that were delivered, terracotta and glazed in a variety of sizes, more on them later once I've taken photos. I also got the rest of the stock bed labels out in place and a list made of ones still missing.

Great to see some blue sky at last and the snow melting

Tuesday saw me starting to tidy up the herb garden at last. The sun was out and there was even a hint of warmth. Although a big area, the borders in the herb garden are small and fairly quick to cut back and weed. I also top all the borders with our home made compost to help boost the very poor soil there. I didn't get the two L shaped beds done, they will have to wait for another day. But I was very pleased with progress made. I'm really pleased to see how many herbs have survived and in fact look really good after such a cold and snowy winter. I always recognised planting a herb garden on cold clay soil in a north facing garden would be / could be somewhat challenging, but we gardeners love a challenge, or trying something out and chancing our luck that it might just work. So far so good! One or two plants look a bit poor but hopefully they will pull through. I was proved correct about one of the L shaped borders that was very wet last year. The Santolinas and Helichrysum italica have all died, not liking their feet in waterlogged soil all winter. I will have to reconsider what to plant in this border. 

So that's another winter week, it does feel that spring has abandoned us completely and I can't remember the last time I felt warm. Surely the weather must improve soon and we can enjoy having all our lovely customers visiting again. Have a good week, hopefully some gardening too.

 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:

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

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Spring seems very far Away

Still a very snowy nursery this week

We are still snowy, it's melting.........but slowly. This week is being spent looking for jobs I can do while there is still so much snow around. I spent Wednesday clearing out the potting area; all the plants that I put there over two weeks ago to tidy before the snow. The new conifers got put in the sales area at last, adding a blast of colour. I've potted up some small terracotta pots to put on the display shelves in the covered area - a wee bit of inspiration for customers.

Some of our new conifers, looking colourful against the snow

Thursday thoughts - snow snow so bored of the snow. I've sorted out the rest of the plants in the potting area, labelling them and getting them out into the sales area. Next was tidying and top dressing the pots and containers dotted around the sales area. I'd hoped to get some pansies planted in them to give them a seasonal boost but they were too frozen, it will have to wait for another warmer day. I got all the pots of bulbs out and placed them around the sales area, oh I can't wait for spring and some colour and warmer weather, can you? I started pruning the black currants along the back of the stock beds and finished the day clearing a path in the snow and ice right up the track to the nursery - good exercise! David has been busy getting on with the new fence at the entrance to the nursery, the gate and a good bit of fence is now in place. I can't wait to see it finished and get our new signs up too.

Skimmia 'Rubella' with Helleborus nigre

Clearing a path through the snow

Bracken the nursery dog working hard in front of the heater while David and I are
working out in the snow

This arrived in the post today after I donated my chopped off hair. It's great to be able to do something to help others who are dealing with cancer, even if in a small way. I have other fundraising things planned, tho I hasten to add nothing as strenuous as running a marathon or anything like that. I'll leave that to fitter and braver people than me.
But even if we can in a small way help someone, anyone, be it because of cancer, dementia, mental health and so on, we should. We never know when we may need those vital resources ourselves or for our nearest and dearest but also because it is good to help others, to pay forward good deeds big or small, local, personal or global. One small thing a month can build to great things for us all x

Another day of trunging through the melting snow looking for jobs I can do. This turned into finishing off the black currants (see below), clearing more snow (good exercise), weeding the trees in the sales area, feeding and top dressing them and replacing any labels that got lost over winter and admin. David made more progress with the fence at the entrance, its looking great and is making such a difference to the approach to the nursery. We also never considered that it makes the stream garden much more enclosed and more of a feature. Coming through the gate you are treated to the sight and sound of moving water, the bridge and the gardens beyond to explore. 

It's not quite too late to prune your blackcurrants. It's another job I could get done this week while we are still covered with snow. These currants haven't had a proper prune, I've taken branches off here and there as they've fallen over the stock beds, but decided this was the year I'd get them back under control. The first thing to do is to remove the three D's - dead, diseased and the damn ugly (crossing branches, spindly weak branches, etc). Then remove the oldest branches, depending on the age of the plant and how often it's been pruned depends on how many of these you have. If in doubt remove about half the older branches, and take the others out the following year. You are aiming for a goblet shaped plant at the end, leaving the centre open to allow air movement and sun in to ripen the fruit. You can remove some of last years new growth if it's crossing and rubbing other branches or there are too many, but remember that is the wood that this years crop will grow on so don't remove too many. Currants are great for cold exposed gardens on clay soil, they cope with all these conditions and produce an abundant crop every year. They also make an informal short hedge.

Piggies in the field behind the nursery

We had our new volunteer Kelly working with us on Saturday. She and I spent the day in the tunnel, making great progress and we are now caught up and ready to start making room and sowing seeds. This year we are growing plants for a young garden designer in Edinburgh, for her display at Gardening Scotland. Kelly potted up all the plants and I got a space made for them. I went through all the seasonal plants and threw out the ones that didn't survive this cold winter and potted up the survivors. David spent the day writing labels (did I mention it was heavy rain all day? Makes a change from all that snow I guess). 

Our new entrance: new fence, gate and planters

Sunday was warm, well warm for March and very warm after all the winter weather we've had. It was great not to wear two coats, a hat and scarf for a change! Perhaps it was also all the barrowing of compost I was doing that was warming too. Still looking for tasks I can do while the ground is covered in snow I took all the new planters down to the nursery entrance. Once in position I filled them with our home made compost and planted them up. I've chosen one of my favourite colour schemes for these planters, blue and yellow. It will be great to see it all coming together over the summer. 

Aeonium 'Magnificum'

With another death in the family this weekend, life has turned upside down again. It brings everything into sharp focus again. A lot of whys, what ifs and changes for the family. Another year that is turning out not to be what we thought it would be. 

Chrysosplenium macrophyllum

I swapped my days around so I could be in the nursery for a delivery on Tuesday and spent Monday at home catching up with house work, garden tasks, potting house plants for middle son, taking bubble wrap off the small greeenhouse and tidying and watering both greenhouses. Whew, but good to be catching up. Tuesday at the nursery was a day of barrowing, 7 barrows of gravel up to top up both sets of steps into and out of the herb garden and 5 barrows of plants up to the covered area to label and put into sales. If I don't lose weight then there's something wrong. I also planted out some different varieties of snowdrops in a few borders, some winter aconites and Hellebores for late winter colour in the nursery gardens. 

Echiveria coming into flower in
the greenhouse

One of my own Hellebore seedlings coming into
flower at home

 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:

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

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

February has Left in a Swirl of Blizzards

February is determined not to go quietly, as I started writing this blog post we have had more than six inches of snow, it's drifting, it's a blizzard when it snows and everything had ground to a halt, including yet again, work at the nursery. It is very frustrating as we were due to open for the 2018 season this weekend. But what can we do about the weather, especially when we can't get anywhere. The met office issued a red warning, which is very rare and advising people not to travel. Lets hope our water supply doesn't freeze and the gas doesn't run out before we get out delivery. 

Last week was cold enough with the wind coming from the east and thank goodness for a hat and a huge heater in the office. Moving bags of compost and trolleys of plants helped keep me warm and works off the creme eggs and mochas. This is Hepatica noblis, one of my favourite early spring flowers being brave amongst the snow showers we have had in the nursery.

It snowed all day Wednesday

Snow Day 1 ~ Last day of February and schools were cancelled, roads barely passable and blizzards all day meant we were all at home on Wednesday. This did mean that I got a lot of paperwork, emails and outstanding tasks done which is good. We are of course concerned about what is happening at the nursery and whether we will open at the weekend. The forecast is for a lot more snow over the next day or so.

While we're snowed in, snowed out, snowed under and watching blizzards swirling past the window, we can but dream and plan for spring. Apparently, conifers are having a Renaissance. We've added nine new varieties to our collection this year. They are mainly smaller varieties, ideal for containers and alpine plantings, but they pack a punch with their colourful, evergreen foliage. They are now on the website and will be available once we manage to get to the nursery and actually open!

Beautifully inconvenient

Snow Day 2 ~ Hello March! We woke up on Thursday to even more snow, over twelve inches and even deeper in the drifts! It then snowed all day, with blizzards and strong winds blowing the snow about and causing more drifting over cleared roads and complete havoc everywhere. Another day in the house working on nursery signs, emails, and so on. At least we'll be ahead in that respect! Bracken wasn't over joyed either as the snow is deeper than him. We did walk to the end of the road to see what the main road was like, passable with care, but I suspect the drifting higher up over the hill would be causing problems. 

Walking to the end of the road

Bracken the snow dog

Snow day 3 ~ The beast from the east has claws! We hoped to get out but there are many closed roads and drifting around us and the A701 past the nursery was closed so won't be getting over to check it either. We had to start rationing the gas for the house heating as that was due to be delivered this week. Hoping we will get out for food if the shops have been re-stocked. It's another day trying to keep warm and getting on with admin. I am powering through the paperwork it has to be said. If nothing else this has enforced a rest after a couple of manic weeks, so apart from the delays of getting things done in the nursery, it's no bad thing.

4 paw doglet-drive

What's that?

Last week I took the plunge and got my hair cut, I've been thinking about it for a while, although I should have maybe waited until the warmer weather! It's a bit of a leap from one extreme to the other, but I'm pleased I did it. The hair I had cut off has been donated to the Little Princes Trust who make wigs for children with cancer. It is so east to care for now and good to donate to a good cause too.

Keeping warm and working from home during
 the wild snowy weather

Snow Day 4 ~ This was supposed to be our opening day at the nursery for 2018! How it will affect business this year we won't know for a while, it all depends how long all this snow takes to melt. We managed to make it out onto the main road this morning and headed up to Straiton just south of Edinburgh to get food. We got the last of the bread and milk in the supermarket, but generally everything else was well stocked, apart form loo rolls, those were getting low! Having done our weekly shop (tesco cancelled our delivery due to the weather) we headed to the nursery. All main roads were clear and it was interesting to see the depth of some of the snow drifts that had been cleared and cut through. The nursery is underneath anything between twelve inches and three feet of snow depending on the drifts. So there will be nothing happening for a while sadly. After a coffee and catch up with some of the Whitmuir staff we headed home to hide from it all. 

Snow has drifted over the stream at the nursery entrance!

Snow joke!

Interesting shapes with the wind 

Drifting snow

Its blown right into the covered area

Views on the way home

Snow Day 5 ~ Almost like a proper Sunday, like the ones we had before we owned a nursery! A long lie, and catching up with bits and pieces and more admin for the nursery. There is no point is going to the nursery when it is under so much snow. We plan to get back to a normal working week on Wednesday and see how we go from there. We are also planning on opening for the season on Saturday the 10th of March. Fingers crossed. 

Monday and lunch with a friend and domestic chores, before giving up our day off on Tuesday to go to the nursery, catch up pn some work and get the wee shop ready for opening this weekend. At least it was an office and under cover task, pricing and photographing everything then setting up our exciting new stock. The snow is melting quite quickly but then we had heavy snow showers in the morning, fortunately not causing problems on the roads. I did get some more good photos of our momochrome landscape.

You can see some of the new items we have in our wee shop on the nursery website here:

Quercus Garden Plants

Hopefully the snow will continue to thaw quickly and the weather is forecast to get warmer. Have a great week what ever you are up to.

We might not be as far ahead as we hoped for opening at the weekend because of all the snow and freezing temperatures we've had, but we will still be there with a warm welcome, good advice and a great selection of tough plants for Scottish gardens.

 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:

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