Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Autumn Fades, Holidays Beckon and a Hint of Winter!

Anemone × hybrida 'K├Ânigin Charlotte'

As our nursery season draws to a close for 2018 (I know I can't believe it either!) there is still plenty of colour in the garden. Although most of the autumn leaf colour has been blown off by all the recent gales perennials are still holding their own. Aconitum carmichaelii 'Arendsii', Japanese anemones, Persicarias, Asters, Rudbeckia, Agastache, Marigolds and a second flush of flowers on all the lupns. 

Aster (Symphyotrichum) pilosum var.
Pringlei 'Monte Cassino'
Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eilers'

Lupinus 'The Governor' (Band of Nobles Series)

....... and one from the same batch of
 Lupinus 'The Governor'

WINTER HOURS
The nursery will be closed from 28th October and then open by appointment only from Monday 19th November until Saturday 2rd March 2019 when we re-open for the 2019 season.
If you wish to purchase plants or to ask advice, please email rona@quercusgardenplants.co.uk and we can arrange to be open.
We'd like to thank all our customers and visitors to the nursery for helping make it a fantastic year, for your custom, great reviews and positive feedback, it's very much appreciated.
We have lots more exciting plans for the nursery and gardens in 2019 and hope to see you back to enjoy the next part of the garden development and all the new plants we will have for sale.


I spent the last week getting everything ready for us closing and for winter. All the herbs and alpines are back in the big tunnel (not because they are not hardy, but because they are in small pots, they are more vulnerable). A lot of plants are back with their batches in the stock beds, signs are down, ornaments and benches stored undercover for winter (this prolongs their life so much more) and the water features are all switched off. The gunnera got it's winter tent of its own leaves cut off and turned upside down, this will keep the worst of the frost off. So far so good, I'm really pleased with how well it is surviving in the stream garden. 

David has started taking the turf off in the middle terrace, marking
out our next project or two!

Last year in 2017 we created two large gardens here in the nursery, the scented and herb garden which have been much enjoyed by visitors and staff. This year we concentrated on signage, labelling and information boards in the sales area, stock beds and gardens.
Next year we are going big again with two new projects! One has been started for a while and the second David started last weekend, lifting off the turf so we can get a feel for the new border lay out. If you've visited the nursery recently you'll have seen the first tracks laid for the Quercus Light Railway and the video I put up here last week.

Around the railway with be the second project - my interpretation of a prairie garden. I love Piet Oudolf's designs and plant use and would love to recreate something similar (on a much smaller scale of course). ALthough I will be using lots of cultivated garden plants I want it to blend into the wild life bankings on either side too.
As they say watch this space!

We had snow at the weekend, it seems we've gone full circle, starting in March with snow and ending with it. This is it coming over the Pentlands, it didn't lie but fluttered down for a while.

My Wisteria at home has had some beautiful autumn colour this year, such golden leaves!

At home the garden is very much heading to winter. All the tender plants are in the greenhouse, the new greenhouse heater is working well which is a good thing considering the low temperatures we've had this week, three nights of frost and down to -5 on one morning! Brrrrrrrr, it feels too early, I just hope we're not heading for an early and long winter after an early autumn.

Bracken has a new tennis ball to skin!
Milly and Rona morning selfies while waiting
for the school bus


I've also had more time for cooking and baking. We had a bumper crop of apples from the nursery and I'm now working my way through the second lots. I've stewed some and put them in the freezer, made an apple and raspberry pie, apple and cider bread, apple cake and apple and bramble muffins. I think the last lot will become apple chutney.

The second picking of apples

Lots of homemade yummyness

Sticky treacle pudding with poached pears, dessert when we
 had friends over for dinner

WIth clear skies and cold weather come beautiful skies and we are lucky to have open views around us and on the way home from the nursery. I never get bored taking of sunset and sky photos.





The autumn colour on our wee road has been fabulous, it's almost all gone
now, blown away with all the strong winds in recent weeks



Our day off last week was all about the Clyde Valley after a much needed long lie we stayed local. A visit to the antique place at Garryon Bridge where I managed to buy an old gardening book, 2 mugs for my Denby dinner set and part of Bettys Christmas for £23! I should be on Antiques Road trip, next a stop at Silver birch garden centre to wander amongst their Christmas shop much to David's bah humbug. Next it was Bracken's turn and we had a lovely walk up to the Falls if Clyde, so lucky to have this lovely place to walk on our door step. Then it was back into Lanark to do some shopping before heading home, whew!



This way or that





















We are now going to enjoy a few relaxed weeks off, we will be back and forward to the nursery over winter as there's always plenty to do. 

Have a great week.


#autumn #autumnharvest #apples #newlanark #Fallsofclyde


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Saturday, 27 October 2018

A Guide to Interesting and Easy Houseplants

As we move through autumn towards winter (we had our first snow shower today!) and we retreat indoors, being surrounded by plants doesn't have to stop for four months. If you are anything like me you will be out and about in the garden doing things anyway. But I do like my houseplants too, though I am not always successful with them, much less so than out door plants!

I thought I'd chat about some of the houseplants I have here at home, most of which I've had for many years, so they are the easy houseplants, success stories and survivors, lol. 

Mother in Laws Tongue

The name of this plant always makes me smile, though it has to be said I have been very lucky with both my mother-in-laws, my first one remains a very good friend. There are about 70 species of  Sanseveria and they are a commonly found house plant in shops. They are very easy to grow and I've found they will be happy in a sunny or partly shady spot in the house. Perhaps I've always been successful because it thrives on neglect. Happy in a multipurpose compost it doesn't need re-potting often, just be careful not to over water as it will suddenly fall over and you'll find the roots have rotted. This is a good plant for cleaning the air, producing oxygen during the day and removing carbon dioxide at night. 

Parlour Palm

My second parlour palm

Chamaedorea have been popular since Victorian times, thriving in the gloomy poorly lit rooms of that time. They continue to be popular because of their light airy growth habit and tolerance of neglect. They will do well in semi-shade and cope with the lack of humidity in modern houses. If the plant is happy it will flower, these are tiny yellow cream flowers on a many branched stem, they do scatter pollen about so it can be an idea to remove the flower stems. Pot in a multi purpose compost and keep the compost moist (but not waterlogged). Don't prune them as they grow with one terminal bud or single point of growth. It is a good plant for removing chemical vapours from the air.


Inch Plant



Tradescantia has a very varied collection of species and cultivars with many different colours of leaves, variegation combinations and leaf size. A houseplant that can be grown in a hanging basket to show off its long beautiful trailing vines, or kept contained and compact in a pot. It is very versatile, very easy and very hard to kill, perfect for this house. Pot in a multi purpose compost and sit in a light  place with moist soil rather than too dry. The first variety is T. kewensis, a smaller leaved one which occasionally produced tiny pink flowers does well in the bathroom, enjoying the humidity. T. fluminensis Variegata does well on top of the aquarium next to the window. The great thing about these plants is when they get too big and straggly they are easily cut back and will recover well, making bushier plants. 


Cast Iron Plant

Another Victorian favourite but not often seen these days, it is another plant that thrives on neglect (do you see a theme here?) Aspidistra will easily cope with neglect, draughts, poor light and withstand periods of drought too. My plant is in the hall where there is no natural light at all and does well. Two things Cast Iron plants don't like are too wet soil and being potted too often, it prefers to be pot bound. There is a variegated cultivar but it's not as tough.


Spider Plant
Chlorophyllum is one of the most commonly found houseplants and one of the first houseplants identified as an air pollutant remover. Easy to grow as long as it isn't left to dry out and will produce young plants along the arching flowering shoots, which start producing roots while still on the parent plant. Perfect for hanging baskets or trailing down from a bookshelf, it looks good and purifies the air in the house. Spider plants will take some shade but do better in some sun and light. Pot into a multipurpose compost and don't re-pot too often.

Prayer Plant

This interesting plant earns it's common name from it's habit of folding up it's leaves vertically as dusk approaches, helping the plant preserve moisture. If your plant does this you can be sure it is happy where it is. They do have flowers which tend to be green and quite inconspicuous. Markings can vary on the leaves but all Marantha have the same requirements. Don't put them in full sun, semi-shade is good and don't splash leaves with water in the sun as it will mark the leaves. Keep moist but not waterlogged and pot into a multi purpose compost. Plants are easily divided once mature.


Areca Palm

A commonly seem palm, graceful in growth and tolerant of indoors conditions. Chrysalidocarpus lutescens releases copious amounts of moisture into the air, in a domestic setting it can transpire up to 2 pints of moisture every 24 hours and and removes toxins from the air. What's not to like? It likes semi-shade and doesn't like to dry out so keep the root ball damp. I have mine sitting on the floor next to the patio doors where it gets plenty light but no direct sunlight. 


Wax Plant

My Hoya bella is trailing about six feet from the top of a book case and has done for many years, it loks fab and so healthy, but never ever has it produced one of those amazing flowers that it gets its name from. Hoya like bright light but not full sun and moist but not waterlogged soil, water less in winter. I've just looked up lack of flowers on Hoyas and one source says some varieties rarely flower and some can take up to quarter of a century to flower! I bet mine is one of those! Hmmmmm. I guess the answer is to buy one in flower, so you know it can.


Cacti and succulents


Cacti and succulents were my first plants, taking up the whole window sill in my bedroom and now taking up a third of my big greenhouse here at home. I love the huge range of colours, textures and flowers that they have, as you can see from a few of my collection above. Again they thrive on neglect, requiting very little water and rarely needing re-potted. Their only requirement is sun and being frost free in winter. Grow them on sunny windowsills, in a heated greenhouse (in winter) or put outside in summer for an exotic look (remember to take them in before frost though)


Indoor plant books

While writing this blog post, I had a look through my garden bookshelves to see what relevant books I had. It was quite obvious I hadn't bought a houseplant book for quite some time. The Eco Friendly Houseplant book dates from about 2001 and the Hessayon expert books I bought as a National Trust YTS trainee in 1987! Are there any good up to date houseplant books out there? 

You may have noticed appart from the cacti and succulents, there are no flowering plants mentioned. I'm not very good with them, give me a poinsettya at christmas and I'll have it dead before new Year!


#houseplants #indoorgardening #easyhouseplants #aircleaningplants




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Thursday, 18 October 2018

Autumn Sunshine, Blue Skies and Steam Trains

Thankfully we are enjoying a week of lovely sunny autumnal weather which really enhances the colours on the trees. The sun and blue skies really are a tonic and it's even quite warm in the sun. I do like those cold sunny autumn mornings though, with the smell of leaves on the ground and wood smoke from other peoples wood burning stoves. The storms of the previous week or too have taken a lot of the leaves off already but there is still enough to enjoy as I drive back and forwards to the nursery.

Autumn colour on the farm at Whitmuir

My main tasks in the nursery this week is starting to put everything away for winter and finish the last of the propagation. Now that David has built his new workshop / man shed I have all of the wee tunnel to fill with propagated plants and some that need a wee bit shelter over the winter. This is not because they aren't hardy but more because being in pots, their roots are more susceptible to frost damage. A lot of the decoarative planters and pots I have on display go in the wee tunnel too, more to protect the pots than anything. Potted bulbs also go in here, elevated off the ground so that (hopefully) the mice won't eat them!

Read more about preparing for winter in my blog here:

Preparing the Garden for winter


Who'd have thought you would get a
Quirky Bird coloured gardening bucket!

We are now only 10 days away from closing the nursery for winter, which I can't believe. Where has this year gone? I still feel like I'm back in July, lol. We are looking forward to having some time off and relaxing, catching up with family and friends and tasks needing done at home. It's been a full on year with the nursery getting busier (which is great) and coping with the deaths of family members. It's been quite exhausting so we will cosy down and take the first couple of weeks off then we'll be out and about and back and forward to the nursery doing winter tasks and preparing for next year.

There are still pops of colour in the garden, this holly hock
 is lovely at the entrance to the nursery

It's all looking very autumnal as you enter the nursery

Looking along the stock beds

On Tuesday we loaded up the trailer with a lovely big order and headed towards Selkirk to deliver it. The tree colour along the Tweed Valley was lovely and it was another nice day to be out and about. Another happy customer and some shopping done on the way home too.

Loading up the trailer

Driving back home along the Tweed Valley

On Monday, sinse Dan was on holiday we asked him what he wanted to do and we ended up going to the Ravenglass Railway down near the Cumbrian coast. It's a bit of a trek but the weather was beautiful and it made a great day out. 

Dogs go to!

It's quite a few years since I visited this railway, the first time was as a 5 year old with my parents when we stayed in one of the camping coaches (that was 44 years ago!) I was last there about there about 18 years ago, so well past time for a visit. We were lucky with the weather, perfect blue skies and sun so it was very pleasant travelling in one of the open coaches. All the staff were excellent, very friendly and helpful and the lunch we had in the station cafe was good too. We took take away coffee and biscuits to have on the train after which was nice to be able to do. The railways is also dog friendly, always a big plus for us and Bracken enjoyed travelling on yet another railway! When we bought the tickets we were given a wee back with dog biscuits and a poo bag, a really nice touch. 



The train staff were fantastic when my Dan lost his go pro camera out the train on the way up the line. When we spoke to them at Dalegarth Station, they couldn't have been more helpful. The driver and the two guards said they would look out for it on the way back and got my son to sit up beside them near the guards van so they could watch for it together. When they spotted it on the way back they stopped the train and retrieved the camera from the track side for my son. We have great trackside footage of all the trains going past from a rail eye view!















We had some lovely skies and sunset on the way home, stopping for pies at Tebay services farm shop and then for dinner later on, a long but lovely day out.













#autumn #ravenglassrailway #daysout #preparingforwinter #autumncolour




 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
                                                         Quercus Garden Plants


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


Follow us on Instagram @quirkybirdgardener


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