In the bleak mid-winter

Nearly the end of January and yet it really hasn't feel like winter so far. A couple of snowy days here and there, a few frosty mornings...... but then we still have February to get through........

Snowdrops are out at home! It feels too early

This week I wanted to get as much of the gardens tidied before we do get bad weather. Wednesday was another dry day with low cloud, no views and 9C! One less layer and no hat must mean it was warm! I tackled the big border on the right as you cross the bridge. As you can see there's not much winter interest in this one, something to think about. It is very much a summer into autumn border for flowers and lots of foliage going on from spring right through until autumn. I did try planting daffodils last year but the ground is solid in this border so I gave up. If you can't grow plants for interest in winter consider garden features, such as ornaments, statues or random farm sale finds as we have done.

Before and after in the entrance borders

Euphorbia characias subsp Wulfenii
Rhododendron thomsonii

David and I had a fascinating morning on a tour of the National museum for Scotland collections building, where they keep over 12 million items that are not on display in the museum! We could have spent all day there, sadly the tour was only an hour and half. We walked Bracken along the promenade at Silver Knowes and then lunch on the way home. Simple easy days and good memories.

Bracken blowing the cobwebs out from between his ears

Good food
Always got to have pudding

Friday's job main task working up the right side border of the track - the shade border. Continuing with the most visual parts of the nursery from the entrance, first impressions n all that. It was chilly and drizzly in the low cloud, but mission accomplished. There's lots of growth and winter interest plants in this border including Pulmonaria, Epimediums, Lamium, Primula and Rhododendrons.

Continuing my series of useful plant from the garden:
Origano (Origanum vulgaris)
This small white- or purple-flowered perennial has mid green, small ovate leaves. It is a widely used herb in Greek and Italian cuisine and is often used in tomato dishes, salads and with grilled meats, it is one of the main flavouring ingredients of Italian food. Often it will keep sprigs of green through winter if mild. H 30cm, S 30cm.

Pinch of Nom Spinach and ricotta cannelloni
Usually made with a rich, full-fat cheese sauce, cannelloni can seem like an unhealthy option on a menu. However, by packing flavours into the tomato sauce and using a melting, oozing parmesan and cheddar mix on the top, you won’t be able to tell the difference. It will feel like just as much of an indulgence. This recipe is from my current go to cook book Pinch of Nom.
prep time 15 mins, cooking time 35 mins, weekly indulgence - cals per serving 460
serves 4

low-calorie cooking spray                                                        300g spinach

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper                             180g ricotta       

15g parmesan (or vegetarian hard cheese)                           8 cannelloni tubes
6 sprigs of fresh oregano                                                         500g carton passata
½ tsp garlic granules                                                               ½ tsp dried Italian herbs
70g reduced-fat mozzarella                                                    20g reduced-fat cheddar, grated
sprinkle of smoked sweet paprika

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. 

~Spray a frying pan with low-calorie cooking spray and place over a medium heat. Put the spinach in the pan, season with plenty of salt and pepper and cover with a lid. Cook for a minute or two until wilted, then drain well and set aside to cool. 
~In a bowl mix the ricotta, parmesan and cooked, drained spinach and leaves from four of the oregano sprigs. Season well with salt and pepper then set aside. 
~Mix the passata in a bowl with the garlic granules and herbs, and season with salt and pepper. Pour half of the passata into a medium ovenproof dish. 
~Fill a piping bag with the ricotta and spinach mixture. There’s no need for a nozzle – just cut a decent-sized hole in the end. Otherwise you could fill the cannelloni using a sturdy plastic bag with the end cut off. Fill each cannelloni tube with the mixture, making sure not to over-fill them, otherwise you’ll run out of the mixture. Place the filled tubes on top of the sauce in the dish, then pour the remaining sauce over the top. 
~Tear the mozzarella into small pieces and scatter them, plus the grated cheddar, over the cannelloni, then sprinkle with a little paprika (just enough to add colour). 
~Bake for 30-35 minutes until the tubes are soft and the cheese is melted and browned. Dress with last two sprigs of oregano and serve warm.

Origano vulgaris

Comfort food for a winters evening

Sunday and the morning was heavy rain so I did some potting and sorted out plants that were on the potting bench needing attention. By lunchtime the weather had cleared so I got on with more tidying in the gardens, this time the Scottish native plant garden, on the left as you enter the nursery.

The sedum roof of the bug hotel

The Scottish native plant borders

The planting in the trough is old school but one of my favourites - Belis, forget-me-nots and 'China Pink' tulips

Bracken and I explored another new walk from the cottage today while David caught up on some much needed sleep. We walked through forestry and a lovely birch wood, then back downhill to the wee river and the cottage. Sun and blue sky in one direction and snowy clouds in the other.

There we have it, another week gone, often January feels like the longest month, yet there it is almost gone. Its been a roller coaster month with a very poorly member of our family and my eldest son being successful in a job interview and getting the job yay! The happiest and saddest of times often come together.

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  1. I'm so glad to hear about your son - congratulations to him! And also sorry to hear about the family member being very ill. It is sad and makes you feel inadequate, since really there are people to whom one would give an arm if that could only save them. I remember you also writing about your sister some time back. My thoughts are with you. Also I have a friend who is terminally ill. If only there was something one could do, apart from of course being there for her.
    Your nursery seems so interesting - hoping I could visit it one day. This winter has also been extremely mild here in southern Finland (in Lapland they have record much snow for contrast, always impossible to explain "what winters in Finland are like" since they vary a lot from north to south and east to west). Even I noticed snowdrops in bud, super early! But they say we might get a very cold spell next week that can possibly stay for a while too, but it all depends on where the cold air mass from the North Pole will eventually head - could also be somewhere like Canada.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind thoughts. In the last 4 years we've lost a close family member every year. It's hard going and sometimes feels relentless, especially when all but one were due to cancer. It would be lovely to meet you if you ever make it to the nursery, we try our hardest to make it unique and interesting for our customers to visit and informative so I have happy gardeners. Like you our winter has also been mild, a handful of frosty days and even less of snow. But February ca be our most challenging month, so we'll see how it goes.


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