Thursday, 11 June 2015

Polytunnel produce

Still not much doing here in my Caithness garden. The weather has finally decided to give us a glimpse of a possible summer on its way but everything outside is stunted almost in limbo as though it's all deciding "do we, don't we". As it is right now I'm happy for everything to stay a little shy for 2 reasons 1) I wouldn't be surprised if we have snow next week and 2) I go on holiday next week and I don't want to miss all the first blooms.

The polytunnel is a different story completely, I am getting heaps of Strawberries - at least the ones the birds haven't gotten to first - the apple tree is plastered with fruit so I'm waiting for the June drop to see what needs culling after that and the flowers (especially the Roses) are about 6 weeks ahead of those outside.
Tomorrow I will have to begin moving all the plants in pots to an outside sheltered place, I just hope the weather stays kind.

Rose 'Nostalgia' my first one to flower this year, has a lovely sherberty scent.

This tree has heaps of apples this year but it's destined for the garden later on so probably won't produce this well again.     
I almost gave up on Strawberries this year as I never get a decent crop. I put these into some hanging baskets and the crop has been mammoth so far.

No slug damage here! Hens have made a meal of my Hostas, it's prettier than slug damage though and a small price to pay for the fact that they also control marestail.

Even on the sunny days there's always a storm threat over the sea.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Garden DIY projects

I'm one of 'those' gardeners that despite having what seems like a hundred unfinished projects on the go I am always on the look out for inspiration for more to do. As a consequence of this I am adicted to 'Pinterest' and sadly can admit to spending a ridiculous amount of time on it most evenings.
The weather here has prevented any kind of gardening for some time now, I can't even mow the lawns as it's too wet and on the days when it's just cold rather than rainy it's just too windy to get motivated.
This has given me time to add to my growing 'Pinterest' folders and I thought that as I have nothing to show from my own garden right now I would post some wonderful garden projects that are cheap and easy to do - I'm all for cheap (preferably free) and easy.

I found these concrete globes on 'the garden glove' along with a fabulous tutorial with 4 different recipes depending on the finished look you prefer. For me it would have to be the pure cement one for 2 reasons - 1) Cheaper - I'm not into buying ingredients if I can help it and 2) I think it would lend itself to spray paint alot nicer than the others.


I came across this next project on 'Creek Tree USA' and they describe these as ceramic hummingbird feeders, obviously I would have no need for that here (though maybe Bee or Butterfly feeders) but I thought they would make the cutest plant supports with very little cost or time.
Pretty door knobs are selling for a couple of pounds for a set of 4 in many of the cheaper stores (none of which I have here) and the right gauge wire would only cost a few pounds too. It would be very easy to attach the wire to the door knobs and voila - no more poked eyes.


Hopefully this year we will be building new pillars at the top gate and I have always wanted to add a Narnia style lamp to the side of them. I did some research on the lamps though and to get the exact one I wanted I wasn't going to get much change from £400, plus the cost of then running electrics up to it. I turned to Pinterest to find an alternative.
This guy, Mark, has come up with the answer for me and I'll definitely be doing it. He's constructed a Narnia style lamp from wood and best of all he's included a solar light to the top so no need for wiring. It may not be the exact style I was looking for but it can easily be adapted to what I want and the guy has even done a video tutoral on it. Check it out on 'Mark's DIY solar lamp post'.

This next project is so simple and obvious yet I never would have thought of it in a million years. I'm always thinking that I wish decking was a bit more comfortable underfoot so I could go outside barefoot in summer, obviously a rug isn't going to last too long out there and will only end up smushy and horrible. Not now!
Laura from 'Design share' has given us a fab tutorial on how to turn a tablecloth into a waterproof patio / decking rug - imagine all the wonderful colour and pattern choices available. This is a definite project for me this year.


I have no lighting in my garden currently - I must be one of the few people who just hasn't got round to it - and so I'd like to start adding a few pieces especially around the patio seating areas. I'm not really into buying the ones on stakes though because I can get a bit OCD about them being perfectly upright but I found this great idea (one of many on Pinterest), unfortunately I cannot find an original link to who created it but the photo speaks for itself - vases, stones and solar lights.



Again I cannot find a direct link to the creator of this next one but I like it so much I wanted to include it. It really is a simple idea and seeing as I have all the ingredients to put it together I will definitely be doing this to add some attraction to my garden. I'm not sure how to do the knot but I'm sure a google search will be productive.



I have plenty of wood scraps laying around, usually I put them in the log shed for winter fuel but now I have seen these I think my garden will instead be plastered with scrap wood animals. I'm not sure whether I want a moose but definitely dogs, horses, hens etc.
'Painted Therapy' provides a good tutorial using a Silhouette Cameo but I think I'd prefer to freehand draw.


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

New growth

The weather here has really scuppered my new found enthusiasm to get my garden in order. No sooner had I decided on some lovely new features and actually started building them when the heavens opened and don't seem to have closed since. I'm certainly no fair weather gardener but I hate, hate, hate sloshing around like a pig in muck so most of my time outdoors has been spent either in the workshop or in the polytunnel - which has actually never looked so organised.
There's not much flowering in the garden at the moment - a design flaw (I use the word 'design' very loosely here) on my part, most things seem to flower in summer in my garden with little interest the rest of the year round - a flaw I aim to correct this year and next year.
The polytunnel is a different story though, there's greenery everywhere and plants are starting to flower that wouldn't be flowering for another 6 weeks or so outside.

These Hostas and Acers are romping away under the polytunnel staging.


This Weigela is in full flower whereas the one outside has barely leafed up yet. The Heuchera next to it is also in full flower.



My first standard Fuschia! It was a cutting from a Fuschia I found growing wild up the road and it's perfect for standards - grew very quick and forms lovely. It is starting to flower but I've pinched the ends out again since this photo was taken so that I can get a larger shape.
I also have a Hawkshead standard that I grew at the same time as this one but it doesn't look anywhere near as impressive and the growth is nowhere near as bushy.



In December 2013 I thought I'd give Rose cuttings a try. I took several cuttings from various roses I have and quite a few have taken and succeeded. This one is a climber called 'Snowqueen' (I think) and will be ready to plant out this year along with the others I did.
I forgot to take cuttings late last year so I did them in January this year on the off chance they would take - out of about 10 cuttings only 3 have taken but that's 3 new roses I don't have to buy.



Outside the Rhododendrons are flowering, at least the ones near the polytunnel are, the ones on the garden are still just in bud.


THE most loathesome plant I have ever had the misfortune to come across - Gorse. At first it was a novelty, it completely covered our 3 acres here but to start with we found the spears amusing and the flowers and scent made up for the fact it's such a bully. But that was before we knew how hard it is to eradicate.
The first 2 years we lived here we bulldozed the land of all this gorse and set fire to the heaps - huge mistake. The heaps were full of dry spindly gorse which doesn't really burn well but given that the soil was peat based THAT managed to burn and burn and burn. 2 years after lighting the fires if we got a good crosswind we could see smoke start billowing from those heaps - I kid you not!
That was our first realisation that this awful plant was not going to go down easy, followed by the renewed growth that was thigh high by the following year. We knew then that all those days and nights with the bulldozer, all those blisters and all those painful piercings from the spikes was a complete waste of time.


We contemplated weedkilling the lot but in the end, 2 years ago (10 years after moving here) we got another bulldozer in, scraped the lot out, pulled out every root we could find, every rock we could find, levelled the land and then reseeded it all. We figured that our mowers could keep the stuff down if it manages to start growing again.
This is the land that we've managed to sort out as it stands now. The bottom fence is to keep the dogs on this area but we also have the trees past the fenceline and a lovely burn running straight the way through. I love the deciduous trees down there, especially the Oak trees but we haven't even made a start on the Gorse that grows beyond the point of the fence.


The area of grass directly in front of the house is the land that MrTG ploughed by hand, rotovated by hand, de-stoned and raked and flattened all by hand and it has to be said it's the best bit of land we have. The land further down is what the diggers and ploughs did and it just isn't as level as we'd like PLUS that darned Gorse is still attempting to come through. There's a carpet of it around the corner of the polytunnel but luckily the mowers do keep it down. Think that weedkiller may be coming out after all!!