A 100 days - Taking stock

I can't quite believe we're almost into July and half way through our open season in the nursery, and what a first half to the year it's been! I won't deny I am exhausted, It always is a demanding time, January through to June, working six days a week from the end of February and doing the bulk of the nursery work in those months. The gardens get cut back and tidied, the willow fedge is two weeks of weaving, the stock beds get their spring clean. Weeding, tidying, feeding, top dressing, throwing out the dead, propagating new plants, the stock bed clean goes on right into summer before it's finished! In between are hours and hours of potting and propagating in the polytunnel, bringing plants back to the nursery to sell and refilling the tunnel with pots of cuttings and seedlings that then need potted. The sales area gets tidied and restocked every Thursday ready for the weekend. The wee tunnel needs emptied and all the over wintering plants tidied, potted and put where they need to be. The gardens get weeded once a month and any tidying and maintenance jobs done. Copious amounts of watering in all that hot weather and hours of planning, admin, social media and promoting this business (usually several hours at night after dinner with my feet up on the sofa). Time spent with my lovely customers when they come to visit, helping them find plants, helping them choose the right plants for their gardens and enjoying a chat. That is all done by one person, me.

Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata 'Greenapples'

This year on top of all that suddenly we were closed, after only 3 weeks of being open for the season, the gates were closed and that was it. I am so thankful that I was able to keep coming into the nursery six days a week and keep working, trying to keep on schedule and not worry about what the future held. I did feel anxious driving to work, worrying if I would be stopped, but I couldn't afford to lose my income and my stock, watering had to be done at the very least if not all of the above. For three weeks we kept an eye on things, and considered our options, finally decided to trial a click and collect service and local deliveries. Our customers were fab and ordered and ordered, we sold out of compost twice and were kept very busy taking orders, payments, sorting and tidying orders and getting them ready for collection and delivery on top of normal nursery work. 

Ranunculus acris 'Citrinus'

David was an absolute rock, on top of worries about his own business getting through this he was in several days a week helping me out with the orders. Neither business qualified for any help from the government so if we wanted to get through this it was up to us and in some ways this was a good thing as it proved we could turn the nursery business model around and with more hard work we could get through it by ourselves. David also made use of his time not being to work to create two new gardens in the nursery, putting us a year ahead in garden development. The weather helped of course, as it did everyone, what an amazing spring it was weather wise. 

Geranium clarkei 'Kashmir Purple'

There were days I was envious of everyone not working, relaxing at home in the glorious weather, but I knew if I took an extra day off, I'd be another day behind and I'd already started behind in January after our house move in December last year.

Dianthus monspessulanus

So now, half way through I am exhausted, it's been a hard slog and I don't shirk from hard work. I think the mental and emotional strain has been more than I realised. I was so worried one of our kids, or David or older relations would catch the virus and how ill they would be. It was very strange not having any customers at our busiest time and the carpark and Whitmuir silent and empty, with no one to chat too. I missed not being able to see our kids for what ended up being four months and just not being able to go about life in a normal way. Shopping was stressful, visiting anyone impossible. Though a bonus was money saved on petrol costs and not being able to go anywhere! 

Helianthemum 'Bunbury'

Through all that I am immensely grateful my loved ones so far have been well, still have their jobs and the nursery and David's business have come through ok, I now need to make enough money to get through winter. I can't thank my customers enough for their support both in buying plants and vouchers and their encouragement, positive comments and support through all this. 

Briza media 

We have no idea what the rest of the year will bring, or indeed into next year, I am trying to as I have tried to do through all this, take it one week at a time. I had a wobble last week, I think everything suddenly caught up with me as well as a period of not sleeping well, but the support of good friends and family has got me through.

Aquilegia atrata

Moving forwards the nursery work continues and after the first three weeks of being open and super busy this week has been a bit quieter. This has allowed me to get some work done and propagate lots more plants to replace the massive sales we've had. The weather however has lost the plot! During the week was hot, hotter and unbelievably hot, reaching 30C! Then the weekend was wet, windy and 10C! Crazy.

Geranium psilostemon

On the hot days it was so nice to come home after a busy hot day and relax over dinner out side in the garden. A summer Thai beef salad and my strawberry and balsamic sauce dessert, perfect 

There is so much wildlife in the nursery and gardens at this time of year. Bugs, beasties, bees, butterflies, moths and more flying about. The ponds are full of all sorts of wierd and wonderful pond life and frogs, toads and newts everywhere in the polytunnels and stockbeds where ever I lift a tray of plants.

Fragrant Friday - Sweet Williams
(Dianthus barbatus) these are grown as a biennial or short-lived perennial, my plants in the scented garden are now 3 years old, which I think is quite a good innings, given our conditions here in the nursery. Depending on which variety you grow will dictate what colour combinations you get. I grow ‘Kensingtone Mix’ which is also wonderfully scented. Long lasting as a cut flower too. H 30cm, S 20cm.

We had our first Thyme to Dine dinner on Friday night. Ordered on line and collected on the way home. Food was delicious, flavours were awesome and great sized portions. Thanks Val x

Thyme to Dine

Tranquillity has been restored, I remembered to buy cat biscuits on the way home. It's amazing how much of a hard stare a one eyed cat can give! #badcatmother 

Useful plants from the garden ~

Ligusticum scoticum (Scotch Lovage). A compact, clump-forming upright perennial with glossy green leaves and umbels of tiny white flowers from June to August. In early autumn golden seed heads form. It is a native plant in northern Europe and here in Scotland. H 60cm, S 60cm.

Chicken with Mushrooms and Scotch Lovage
Serves 3 to 4
2 tsp flour 35g dried mushrooms
200ml chicken stock 1 onion, cut into wedges
2 garlic cloves, chopped ½ tbsp thyme, chopped
400g mushrooms, quatered 500g chicken fillets, chopped
25g butter, diced 60ml dry white wine
½ tsp salt fresh ground black pepper
4 leaves of Scotch lovage, chopped

~ Put the flour in a bowl and add the dried mushrooms. Pour in the stock and stir to mix. Add in the onion wedges, garlic and thyme and mix gently. Now add the mushrooms, chicken, butter, wine, salt and pepper. Stir to mix well.
~ I used my Remoska to cook this dish, which took about 30 minutes. You can also cook it in a wok type pan or in the oven. Cook for approx. 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
~ 15 minutes before the end add the Scotch lovage, by sprinkling over the top.
~ Once cooked, serve, we had ours with new potatoes and some snipped chives from the garden and a green veg.
To be honest the taste of the lovage was supposed to be a celery tyoe taste, but I couldn't taste it at all

Scotch Lovage

The downside to being so busy building up and running the nursery is the lack of time to do things I enjoy outside of work. Hopefully this will improve over time once we have some one to help out. At this time of year the hedgerows and wild areas are full of berries and "free food". It's possible to produce drinks (elderflower champagne, sloe gin, many different wines), jams, jellies, chutneys and fresh, bottled or frozen fruit to compliment home grown produce and keep us stocked up in vitamin rich foods all winter. You can read about previous food and hedgerow gathering blogs here on the food page where there are links to the foodie blogs.

Thought because I couldn't get to any book shops or secondhand book shops I might start catching up on my basket of unread books....... silly me, no chance at this time of year, too busy with work then too tired at night. I have managed the first chapter of one book in 5 months! This is possibly part of my many problems  Still I envision winter cottage days with the fire on, hot chocolate and reading my way through this lot. I can dream 

On Tuesday we headed through to Kilmarnock to see my eldest Ben after 4 months of not being able to see him. We also did phase one of his garden tidy up - finding the front garden! There was a lot of weeds to remove, stump removal, new plants put in and generally tidying up. I think you can see the difference! The day was hard work but so good to see Ben, Jamie and Natasha. A long drive home late at night with lovely skies. A good day. On Wednesday Betty and Daniel went through for phase 2 - the back garden 

The front garden - Before

Lunch outdoors

The stump will come out


Great to see the rest of my lot after so long

Skies driving home from Kilmarnock

Skies driving home from Kilmarnock

Skies driving home from Kilmarnock

Skies driving home from Kilmarnock

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