Saturday, 29 June 2013


My plan today was to finally get a handle on the old veg bed areas round at the greenhouse. I figured I'd simply polythene the 2 large beds and that would stop the need for weeding (thank the lord) and as Mr TG strimmed the entire area I just needed to go tidy it up a bit.
So much for plans right!
Mr TG got a tad too close to the polytunnel with the strimmer and I got a very sheepish
"Erm you may have to just put a bit of repair tape on the tunnel babe"
A little bit of repair tape was an understatement and a slight untruth because repair tape is not going to fix it, it's a flaming hole NOT a cut.
I kept my cool though, no point moaning or shouting he didn't do it on purpose, it was an accident and anyway I do have a whole new roll of the stuff to recover the tunnel. I'll do a patch repair for now but I think the whole thing will need replacing sooner rather than later.
Anyway back to the plan, all was on track until Mr TG informed me he was hitting the most scenic beach in the area with his mate who has just bought a new metal detector - they were going treasure hunting! Seriously, do boys ever outgrow this stuff?
Anyway a trip to the beach sounded more appealing than anything I had planned so off we went. Rain was forecast but the 4 hours we were there (Yep, 4 hours of waving a stick over sand looking for "buried treasure") the weather got warmer and warmer - so nice!

Beautiful Dunnet Beach and not a person in sight.
I spent the time there selectively picking shells, pebbles and driftwood for the garden and I even found a heavy white buoy/float that I'm going to decorate for the garden - kind of like the decorated bowling balls you find all over the net.

The Garden Tiger Moth, so glad I didn't pick it up because apparantly the hairs are an irritant

There were quite a few jellyfish washed up - here's a couple although I'm not sure what they are

So did the boys find their treasure? Noope! They found plenty of coke cans, bottle tops and wire but no buried treasure.

Thought I'd leave you all with my latest bouquet of polytunnel blooms - The first Sunflower of the year, Lily, Carnation & Sweetpea.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The creation and demise of a garden snail.

You know how when you're creating something for the home or garden and you have this image in your head of what it will look like once it's finished? Well I recently decided to make a garden sculpture and I wanted to make this sculpture out of some old copper pipe I had so I scoured the tinterweb for inspiration and I settled on a snail, yes a snail! You see, the ones I found in my searches looked pretty easy to replicate - oh how naive am I!
Basically this is what I had in my mind and this is what I was going to produce

Cute huh!

Unfortunately this is what I actually created bodged together.

So how did I make this masterpiece? Well the copper pipe speaks for itself but for the eyes I needed wire and the only wire I could find was thick gauge fencing wiring and there is no way on fullers earth I could bend it so I delved into Mr TG's shed to see what I could find - solder wire! I used the solder wire to wrap around a glass marble for the actual eye but my inspiration didn't end there, no no, I was on a roll. I used curtain rings to attach the eyes to but then couldn't figure out how to attach the actual wire to the wooden ring - ping! I'll wrap thin garden wire around it - it'll make the wire look like eyelashes - won't it!
Somehow I managed to attach the whole eye thing to the copper body and voila!
OK I can hear your laughing you know and yes I nearly wet myself too when I looked at it - why I even kept going after 10 minutes is beyond me.
Anyway the next morning I went to see what could be salvaged - I even went out with a blow torch to solder the ruddy thing together - however it seems the snail had suffered a malady in the night and it would also seem that solder wire is not stiff enough to be of any use to man nor beast - the snail had all but curled up and died!
Least I learned one thing - I am never working with copper and wire ever again!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Plant ID - again!

I don't know where my energy has gone of late but it's certainly done a bunk somewhere, the last couple of days I really haven't been able to face gardening, just the thought of more weeding is soul destroying.
I think I need to get my craft on and make some things for the garden for a change and then maybe I'll be able to face day to day weeding once again. With that in mind I'm going to have a go at making some of the cute dragonflies that are all over the web, more whimsy for the garden I know but look they're so darned cute
I think I have pretty much everything needed. I also want to make a few tiny ones to hang around the garden plant areas plus I want to make a few garden signs, a few benches, some stepping stones and whatever else I can conjure up. I dread to think what the garden will look like when I resurface from creating but it's a risk I shall have to take because some of the enjoyment of gardening appears to have diminished for me this year and I'm pretty sure it's because I'm not building things enough.

Everything is growing well both in the veg plot and the garden, I'm thinking the recent rain has worked it's magic and blooms seem to be appearing almost on a daily basis.

The blue flowers of this Cranesbill 'Johnsons Blue' almost match the blue pot perfectly. I once read that most 'Johnsons Blue' are not actually the true form because the true form should have a yellow eye. I don't know how true that statement is/was but this one is perfect to me all the same.

Asiatic Lily 'Vesuvius', I am so plesed with the colour of these, the orangey reds and honest yellows are so vibrant and look fabulous together.

Aquiligia has self seeded all over the garden to the point of it being a weed but I can never bring myself to pull them up and this is why - gorgeous aren't they.

Heuchera 'Coral Cloud' (I think) is looking very radiant at the moment.

I'm hoping someone can identify this next plant for me. It's growing in my daughters garden and I love it but need to know how to propagate it, it looks kind of cornflowery or Monarda type but I'm stumped so would love to know.

Before I get creating I need to force myself out for one more round of weeding. The old veg area is looking reeeeeally bad so I'm going to give it one more blast and then I'm covering it with poythene.

The bed on the left will be completely covered with polythene (I don't think the French beans are going to do much but I'll leave them there just in case) The bed on the right will be a different story - I will lose 1/4 of it at this near end because we are extending my workshop, the rest of it will become a nursery for some of my plants in pots that need planting out but have nowhere to go until the second half of the garden is underway (which won't be until we have the dog runs completed, which in turn won't be until we either fix our digger or hire one).
I've decided that I will concentrate on the upkeep of the actual garden areas only i.e the actual garden, the polytunnel area and the greenhouse area. I'm not going to kill myself worrying about the state of the journey to those places - it's simply too much for me to cope with. Besides like so many of you have told me the bees and wildlife love an overgrown area and with that thought in mind I can live with this

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Unkempt land.

When we first decided to move to Scotland from England the thought of having 4 acres of land to play about with made me as giddy as a schoolgirl. My imagination was full of ideas of paddocks sectioned off with native hedging and clumps of deciduous trees (90% of the trees here are Firs - nice but blah) and a couple of horses right outside my front door - after all horses were the incentive for me coming this far in the first place.
The reality has been quite different though. During the first couple of years we bulldozed about 3 acres of Gorse bush and set light to it in a few large clumps (google earth still shows the cleared land with fires alight)  naively believing this would rid us of the prickly god awful plant. 18 months later the Gorse was as big and rampant as ever and those fires would relight with every wind thanks to the peat content of the soil.
For  a few years while building the house I didn't have a garden but I did have an area round the pond where Mr TG built me a greenhouse and a couple of raised beds for veggies. I made a little garden area among the veg beds and this was my little piece of heaven, I loved keeping it immaculate - such a contrast from the building work.
Then Mr TG bought me the polytunnel and I had another area for growing and planting - still small enough for me to keep on top of.
Now we have the house garden projects and while I love love love my garden I have seriously neglected everywhere else. I post lovely photos of the nice parts of the land but now I'm going to show you the embarrasssing, neglected areas that I seriously worry about me being able to get a handle on ever again.

This is where I walk from the greenhouse to the polytunnel - honestly there is a path there somewhere. The tree was planted there temporarily next to a Gunnera - it's too large to move now. The pond is to the left but the weeds continue all to the right and as far as you can see in front.

This is the other path to the polytunnel although when I say path it's now weed covered gravel. These weeds - mainly Comfrey it seems - are head height. This is so embarrassing!

I couldn't resist this one, it's now typical of several places I once tended so vigorously - I even hand bashed all that slate on the ground.
A huge weed growing int the flower bed with a dead plant taken over by a weed in the pot.

This is looking back toward the house from the pond. The area to the right was covered in black plastic years ago to control the weeds until I decided what to do with it - fail!

Turn around and this is facing the pond. Those reeds have covered 70% of the pond now but it will have to wait for Mr TG to get in there because I've seen the Jurassic creatures living in it.

This weed is the bane of my life - horsetail. I stupidly erected raised veg beds next to the pond where the horsetail is rampant.

This was my area of paradise when all I had to manage was this. Notice the empty veg beds (except for some very ill looking French beans against the blue supports). I simply cannot get a handle on the Horsetail in this area, it literally grows overnight.

That's just a few of the areas that are suffering from neglect. 4 acres suddenly feels like an awful lot of land now 10 years later. It's such a shame because it would be lovely to have well kept land that looks tidy wherever you go but I simply would not be able to keep it looking good. I've set the seed of thought in Mr TG's mind about moving the polytunnel and my workshop to the side of house. If I revamped that area and had everything I needed there then I'd never have to go up to the other side of the land again and wouldn't have to worry about upkeep of it - win win!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Growing fruit in a polytunnel.

The weather has once again been glorious and perfect for gardening - except for the darned midges, those things drive me up the wall with their constant biting and flying round the face. I've yet to find a product that drives them away but I certainly won't be trying Mr TG's method

"I can't sit out there cos the midges are driving me nuts" says I at 6.30 this morning.
"I know" says Mr TG " they were driving me nuts too. I even tried turning my chair round to see if that helped"

I kid you not that is what he said and he was deadly serious too.

"How did that work out for you?" says I laughing, at which point Mr TG realised how ridiculous his comment was and tried to back track.
"Don't you put that on your blog" he said.

Anyway I seem to have spent yet another day weeding and I still haven't even put a dent in it. My house garden is looking amazing right now and for the first time since moving here 10 years ago I'm absolutely loving it, but it has come at the expense of the other areas around the land which have been neglected - I'm talking head height weeds of jungle proportions.

Despite the external neglect though the fruit and veg inside the tunnel are doing very well.
This is the first year I have managed to grow Onions, I've tried every year but nothing has ever come of it so to see these swelling roots is balm to the heart

The Apple trees are fruiting happily and I think this years fruit is set to be the biggest harvest yet

But what is going on with the Pear fruit?

I have a plant here that I need identifying if possible. It self seeded itself on some gravel in the garden so I dug it up last year and put it in a pot but I don't know what it is.
I had a Ceanothus just to the right of it but it only flowered the once and then died due to the conditions - could this be a seedling? I also have a couple of Escallonia but they're situated a fair way away from the garden - could it be one of those?

I've had much fun this evening watching the Swifts swoop down for water from our little garden pond. They managed it well enough after a few practice runs but I can't imagine why they even attempted this pond in such a tight space when we have a mini lake a hundred yards away - much easier for them.
The Housemartins were also using the fence as a resting post for the first time ever and we've had Gold finches, Siskins and Greenfinches all visiting the feeder.
I have never had this amount of activity in the garden ever, it's all usually going on over at the polytunnel where there's more tree coverage but I think the structures I've built and the trees etc that have been planted this year have turned the garden into party central and I'm loving it.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Compost & Comfrey?

There's not much to show in my garden at the moment, don't get me wrong everything is growing rampant but it's that time of year when all I seem to be doing is weeding and tidying every day - oh and feeding every bird in Caithness judging by how much food they're getting through.

Today I tackled the compost heap. Remember the bins I made out of scrap wood a few months ago, well I've been ignoring the compost growing in them because it just never seems to do anything and I was getting a bit cheesed off with it - in fact the last lot of stuff I threw on it even included plastic tags such was my 'the thing doesn't work anyway' attitude.
This morning at 6am I sat and watched my 2 favourite gardening programmes and the first one 'Beechgrove garden' had a snippet about garden compost which got me to thinking I really needed to get my act together and get the hang of getting it right - my garden is so in need of as much as I can produce.
So I watched and listened as Jim McColl  went through all the stuff you can compost as well as the stuff you can't and then he went onto the task of turning it, that is when it dawned on me that I'm still not turning the blinking thing and that's probably why it's not rotting - I'm a lazy gardener have I ever mentioned that?
So one of my tasks today was to turn the heap. Here's the unturned heap - there's actually alot more there than it looks

Unrotted huh! I know it doesn't look much but I still have a tendency to throw stuff that should be composted, plus I lose interest in doing it because it never seems to rot.

Then I turned it and discovered that it was actually rotting but I never see this because I never interact with it - I just leave it and add to it so it never looks rotted.

I've started a new bay now, this one will just be turned regular and covered until it's ready.

The next programme I watched this morning was 'Gardeners world', it's not the same since Geoff Hamilton died and then Alan Titchmarsh leaving but Monty Don is the perfect presenter in my book - I just wish there was more gardening and less gallavanting to be honest.
However, Monty touched on another subject today that I've always wanted to try - Comfrey liquid for feeding plants. I regularly have Seaweed tea to hand but I didn't think I had any comfrey growing anywhere to try comfrey tea. The laugh of that is that I didn't even know what Comfrey looked like so how do I know if I have any - again too lazy to check.
Anyways Monty cut some of his Comfrey plant and it suddenly looked familiar, I'm sure I have some of that growing on the land, so I took a couple of pictures.

Is this Comfrey people?
If it is then not only do I have some growing but I have heeeeeeaps of the stuff - how did I ever miss it! Assuming it is Comfrey of course?

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that someone can tell me it is indeed Comfrey.

The smell in the polytunnel is getting more gorgeous by the day, not only are the Lilys and Pinks in flower now but the Sweetpea is too - what an awesome collection.

I'm not sure what the White one is called. I usually keep all the names somewhere safe but for some reason I haven't with the Pinks. They were a special offer from Gardeners World magazine last year where I just paid p&p for a fair few different ones but I can't for the life of me find where I recorded the names.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Coloured glass bird bath - easy to make

I always thought that whimsy's in the garden were not my thing, I mean I have the odd bird house hung up that I made myself but the rest of my garden structures aren't exactly whimsy (whatever that term really means anyway). Lately though I seem to have been faced with whimsy gardens via my FB news feed and I found myself becoming intrigued with the things people make from the most obscure items. I then found myself amazed that  the whimsy actually looked appealing to me  and wondering how I could reproduce it for my new garden - you know where this is going don't you, yup I made a whimsy.
My whimsy is a bird bath - something that up until now I haven't had - but not any old bird bath, this one is a fancy schmancy, totally whimsical, coloured glass birdtable. Easy to make too!

Very whimsical isn't it - I have a garden whimsy!

I made a bed in the polytunnel this year specifically for growing cut flowers - I love the amount of Sweet Pea I cut every year so I wanted to increase the range and planted Lily, Pinks, Cosmos and Echinacea, all of them are romping away and I've had my first cut of Pinks, Lilys and Peony (though the Peony plant only produced one flower this year)

I so wish we had smellovison because those Pinks (Doris & Grans favourite) filled the polytunnel with the most amazing perfume.

Everything seems to be growing as it should in the polytunnel except for the Cucumber - they seem very slow to get going. The Courgettes are already producing fruit though and the Sweetcorn seems to have grown a foot every day (though it hasn't of course).
I'll have to get some photos of the Pear fruit because some of them seem to be splitting and maybe one of you guys could tell me why. I know erratic watering can cause splitting in Tomatoes but I'm quite on top of the watering so I don't think that's the issue.

I'm sharing this post over at these cool blogs

Tilly's Nest 
Victoria Lavender 
The chicken chick 
The dedicated house 
Back to the basics

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Garden overhaul

The Cauli's and Cabbages planted in the polytunnel are still getting eaten by slugs (I haven't got around to putting down cardboard yet) so I was quite surprised to find that the ones outside in the raised bed haven't been touched at all.
I do keep them covered with fleece to keep the butterflys off them but surely that wouldn't deter slugs?

Here's a glimpse of the extra land to the side of the house that we're thinking of adding to the existing garden. There's as much of it as I need but as you can see it needs a whole lot of work and extends way out to the right and far behind me.

That ground is about 3ft deep of hardcore so any planting would have to be in raised beds, grass would be viable if we lay a good layer of top soil first.
The back fence does have a line of Willow trees, these are usually shallow rooted and don't last very long in our winds so we dug out a trench all the way along the fence first approx 3 ft deep to the soil below. The 6ft willow were then planted into that and the trenches filled in with soil, this means that at least 3ft of the trees are underground and should therefore stay upright.
Still that's gonna be a lot of work if we go ahead.

Remember when I said in my last post that Mr TG and I were discussing what water feature to add in the pond? Well I was thinking along the lines of this

Ok more realistically this
Basically I would have liked us to build something where the water runs off slate.
Today though I left Mr TG to his own devices and I thought he was working on "his" patch of land that he's been clearing but nope he'd been erecting this

Excuse the foreground mess it's waiting for decking to be erected but that piddly fountain is everything I hate about garden water features. Some people can make them look great but the wind we get here makes that kind of 3 tier fountain pretty pointless.
I'm currently convincing Mr TG that we need to collect some of the humongous rocks we have and make it look nicer than just an oblong with rocks round it - hard work though, bless him he thinks a water feature is a water feature is a water feature so it could take some time.

With the first half of the garden requiring only minimal work now - mainly decking - I can get onto to the second half once the dogs have their own area finished.
This is the current state of some of the bit to do

It's full of weed and it's been made worse by the fabric we put down under the gravel. The weeds had no problem growing through it and even self seeded in the gravel itself, this image only shows the grass weed but honestly, it's a mess.
All the Pink and Blue is Aquilegia, one plant that self seeded over and over again and is now more of a weed than a plant - but it's a pretty weed so it gets to survive one more year.
There are some nice plants in there such as a Rhodi, Hosta, a hardy Fuchsia, Dogwood, Cranesbill etc but I'm looking forward to getting to grips with this second half later in the year.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Willow water and unknown pond bugs.

I am determined that this final attempt at Fuchsia cuttings will work. After my last attempt following the advice in my age old Fuchsia book I appear to have lost most of the cuttings - I may be lucky and have about 40% alive.
So this attempt is something I've never tried with Fuchsia cuttings though I do it with Hebe cuttings all the time - plonking the little blighters in water.
To add a little twist I added tiny willow cuttings to one of the pots of water, I've read on the internet that Willow naturally contains a plant hormone that stimulates root growth (which is why willow is so easy to root in a bucket of water) and this hormone is leached in to the water when actively growing willow is cut up and soaked in water. So that's what I did with one of the containers - I added cut up willow to the water and made a lid that enabled me to poke the cutting through to the water below but keep the leaves free of it.

Willow added to the water.

Ingenious lid (cough) that keeps the cuttings safe.

I know I haven't labelled the cuttings but tbh I've taken them so many times (with nothing to show for it) that I pretty much know them by leaf type, so in that pic I have 'Hawkshead', 'Paula Jane' & an unknown trailing variety. I also took some 'Ellebel' and a hardy unnamed one that I've had for a few years (actually one of the few I've managed to grow from a cutting).
I also took some of the cuttings and put them in a pot of plain water plus I stuck some straight into compost - none of them are in the heated propagator this time, I've put them in unheated ones in a shaded area of the polytunnel (I'm much more likely to keep a good eye on them that way).
Now I just have to wait and see.

I just had to take a photo of this Londons Pride. I've only ever really glanced at the flowers, just assumed they were pretty white dainty spray like flowers, nice but meh!
Then for some reason I actually decided to look at them properly, have you ever had a good look at them? They are quite simply the most dainty, pretty, painted like flowers I've seen in ages

Aren't they just so pretty!

Now I'm wondering if any of you pond lovers can shed any light on this bug? It's teeny weeny and stays on the top of the pond. They zoom round like bugs on speed and never ever stop, we've never seen them eat anything or anything eat them but there's loads of them.

Please excuse Mr TGs typical builder finger lol.
Mr TG finally has some fish in his pond. I've transferred a few plants from the main pond - Marsh Marigold, Water mint and a Lily that I have a feeling may be too big for it. Mr TG then added some kind of weed that I have no clue what it is and what it's actually going to do. Mr TG put it in there so he can be responsible for whatever it does!

I've just started finishing the end of the pond. I wanted to make a beach effect with us living by the coast and this is by no means finished.

The container to the right has a Gunnera planted in it so that should grow really large - the ones by the main pond are anyways.
The pebbles are from the garden and the local beach and I was aiming for the Saxifrage to look as though it had spilled out of the urn so we'll see what happens once it's actually started to grow.
The pond is due a water fountain but there's debate about what it's going to be - I don't really fancy a fountain in the middle of the pond, I'd rather have some kind of stream trickling down the side. The jury is out on it (our likes are very different) but one day I'll show you the very large formal 4 tiered water feature Mr TG dragged (it was concrete) into the middle of our natural, odd shaped mini lake - it looks odd to say the least!