Sunday, 27 October 2013

DIY seed packets

My back is finally 90% healed - yay! There's not really much to be doing around the garden right now so I spent the whole of yesterday de-nailing wood from pallets Mr TG had taken apart for me - it felt so good to be actually doing something useful.
The day kinda tired me out though so you can imagine how this following conversation went down with Mr TG at 2:30am this morning while I was trying to sleep despite his fidgeting

"So how does this sound. We get up, drink tea, you have breakfast and then we go outside and tidy the shed?" (Mr TG's "shed" is about 60ft by 40ft and filled with crap all his wordly goods.)
Unfortunately Mr TG wasn't sleep talking, he was seriously asking me that at 2:30am as he jumps out of bed, switches a lamp on and proceeds to bounce about on the bed while he gets dressed. I remember dragging myself out of bed and getting dressed then making it downstairs yawning, to which Mr TG stated
"You look shattered, you don't have to come out, go back to bed babe"
I simply stared glared at him, then stared glared at myself donned in super thick thermals and jumpers etc then stared glared back at him.
"Oh, soreeeeeeee" is all he could bring himself to say as I turned and went back to bed.
I didn't sleep well though and ended up going outside at 5:45 am to help Mr TG with the shed to which Mr TG stated
"The clocks went back this morning by the way"
" Damn it I forgot" says I as relisation suddenly dawns "So it's actually 4:45 now then?"
"yup" says a smiling Mr TG.
It's now 10:15am and guess who's wide awake while Mr TG sleeps in bed!!!!!

So anyway, I haven't done much in the way of gardening BUT I did make some seed packets. I was going to make some fancy schmancy ones that I could print out and would look really pretty but instead I stuck to my simple 5 minutes to make ones and although they're nothing special they really do what I need them to do and keep seeds fresh for ages.
I thought I'd share them here and do a tutorial in case anyone else wants to give them a go - all you need is paper (I use parcel paper because it keeps the seed fresher for some reason and doesn't get affected by damp air), parcel tape and a pair of scissors.

First simply cut a square of parcel paper. I don't use a specific size and never measure but it's roughly 21cm square.

Then take one corner and fold it up to the opposite corner. If the paper square isn't perfectly square you'll end up with some excess that needs cutting away - like this

Simply snip that excess away and then fold corner A approx 3/4 of the way across the bottom

Then fold corner B over the folded corner A

Next take the parcel tape and tape from the top right corner of the envelope diagonally down to the bottom left corner. Turn the packet over and trim the excess off - I used to just fold it over the front but it makes the front look real messy so I trim it now

There will be two layers where I have made a black dot in the above photo, take the first layer, fold it down and tape it across - again trim the excess

Next turn the packet over to the front, cut some parcel tape, place a small portion of it across the bottom of the packet (because the base is currently still open), fold the rest of the tape over the back and trim it off

You're now left with an open packet like this

Then finally you just fold down the pointed flap to make an envelope and use a paper clip to keep it closed.
Voila perfectly easy seed packets.

The good thing about trimming the tape rather than just folding it over the front is that the front of the seed packet is completely clear for writing on.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Slobber and Seeds

I could certainly stand having more days like today weather wise, mother nature has decided once again to bless us with a dry, wind free, sunny Autumn day and the evening looks set to be calm and dry too - happy days!
I managed to sneak out into the garden today while Mr TG was at work, I had all these plans to build stuff but when the time came I just couldn't do it - too painful. Instead I made my way round to the garden, pulled up a chair and took photos from where I was sitting. While the Montbretia and Leycesteria were still looking very bright and cheery

the view to the other side.........well...............not so much

Don't get me wrong I could watch Huntly all day cos I loves the not so little bundle of naughtiness BUT after watching his slobber just get longer and longer over the space of 5 minutes - and realising I was actually taking photos of it, ew - I knew this prolapsed disc had turned me into one sad individual.

Determined to do something more gardeny I decided to take a wander - hobble actually - up the lane and collect some Rosa Rugosa hips so I could use the seed. I've been meaning to do this for years because the Rugosa seems to tolerate the exposure here really well and I'd love a hedge from them but I just kept forgetting.
So off I tootled, collected some hips, tootled back and headed to the polytunnel to start digging out those seeds - I have to say this was the messiest seed collection I have ever taken part in and by the end of it I was covered in Pumpkin looking goo.

Rosa Rugosa hips.

Rosa Rugosa seed washed of flesh

Rosa Rugosa seed out to dry.

I'm assuming I need to refrigerate the seeds once they're completely dry so I'll do that along with a few other seeds I've collected.
Think I'm going to use this down time to make some envelopes for the seeds. I could use the regular shop ones but a few years ago I made some out of brown parcel paper and it's been brilliant at keeping the seeds viable over the years - in fact I may go all out and print out pretty ones.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Colour in the Autumn garden

Oh dear! Mother Nature appears to have decided that we've had enough pleasant, windless, summer like days here in Caithness and blessed us with cold, rainy wind instead, the poor fruit trees in the more exposed areas of the garden are having their branches whipped round so hard I'm sure they're going to snap off!
I still can't get out and do much at the moment but I get my gardening fix by watching 'Gardeners World' and 'Beechgrove Garden' (I must go and grab some of the Rosa Rugosa hips from the top of the lane later)  and I'm still managing to get out and take piccies of whatever I can find that's still flowering in the gardens - I have to say it yet again that I'm astounded by the Fuchsia this year, they're still flowering away.


Unknown variety rescued from skip. Appears to have 2 different colours on the same plant.

Gorgeous blousy flowers.

Fuchsia & pinks all grown from cuttings this year and a lovely Purple Shamrock that I haven't positioned yet.

This has got to be the friendliest Robin I've ever come across. They've always been inquisitive but this one just followed me all over the polytunnel yesterday.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Colourful Autumn and dodgy backs

Guess who's popped their back again!  Now I'm completely unable to do anything in the garden or in the craft room - awesome! NOT!!
I'm trying not to let it get me down again like last time and I've been determined not to spend all my time holed up on the bed, but to be honest I'm quite relieved when I do lay down cos it takes the pressure off my spine. I'm not even sure how I managed to pop it, I had a stiff spine for a couple of days (you know that feeling where you just feel you need to stretch it) and then suddenly over the span of ten minutes I got this intense pain that just kept getting worse and now I'm pretty much useless.
Anyhoo there's not much going on outside at the moment, the weather has been bloomin lovely for a fair few days now with not a breeze in sight and the sun really shining.
Thank fully I got the lawn mowed before my back problem hit so I've not felt compelled to do much, cept take piccies of course.

I don't remember the name of this Fuchsia but it's yet another one that is adding colour to the Autumn garden alongside 'Hawkshead', 'Tom Thumb' and 'Genii'.

This is the first Kaffir Lily I've grown. I don't think it'll survive the winter outside so it's just gonna have to be one of those pot plants I keep accumulating.

There are a couple of plants that just haven't produced blooms this year despite being usually generous bloomers, this Sea Holly is one of them - it's produced nothing despite being in full sun. The other variety of Sea Holly I have, both in the ground and in pots flowered very well but this particular variety seems to be sulking this year and hasn't offered one single flower from either those in the ground or those in pots.

These Willow have grown from whips I planted straight into the ground just 3 years ago. I was going to dig them all up at the beginning of this year because they just looked lanky and spindly so I chopped them right back until I got the chance to tackle them properly. By the time I came back to them they'd started to look half decent and less spindly so I decided to keep them for cuttings at the end of this year. I'm also going to be using the stems of these and the Dogwood to make wreaths this Christmas.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

DIY Adirondack chair.

I'm seriously wondering where mother natures head is at right now. After moaning the other day that winter has arrived, yesterday it was so hot I was in a strappy top out in the garden and today it's only a couple of degrees lower - is summer back! Lord only knows what this fluctuating temperatures are going to do to my poor flowers.

Anyway I've spent the last couple of days making that Adirondack chair and it's finally finished. It would have been an even quicker project if the dimensions on the plan were right but I guess whoever designed this particular chair didn't realise that six pieces of 4" wood (with a 1/2" gap between each piece) are not going to fit onto 23.5" spacers - not in my realm of thinking anyway.
The chair has turned out pretty nice especially as it cost me nothing because I used pallet wood, the only bug bear I have is that I had to use a couple of pieces of 2" wood where it should be 4" because the dimensions were wrong - Grrr!

See the annoying 2" piece of wood down the middle!

I just need to decide what colour to paint it now and then make another one the same plus 2 matching footstools and then turn one of the cable reels Mr TG got me into a table - perfect height for these chairs, which incidentally are soooooooooo comfortable.
Once I've made one more I will make another two but the design will be slightly different.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Winter's here!

The temperature here seems to have taken a nosedive over the last few days, it's certainly cold enough to prevent me doing much gardening until I acclimate to it.
I donned the thermals and made a start on the Adirondack chair yesterday - the greenhouse/workshop gets toasty warm because of all the glass. Have to say this working with plans isn't all it's cracked up to be, I found a fault in the measurements and although at first I thought the fault was mine it turns out that the plans are actually inaccurate - awesome! I'm also having to get used to proper measurements all over again - by "proper" I mean NOT 31" and 7 of the little bitties type measuring (my type of measuring lol). It took a while for my brain to register 31 & 7/8". Seriously that conundrum had me scratching my head for ages I just could not remember what 7/8" was. In the end logic prevailed and I just converted the inch into 8 parts and marked to 7 of them - works for me! Everything else has been relatively straight forward because I used the electric cutter for all the degree cuts, it's just one or two measurements that are inaccurate on the plans so I'm working round them.

On the way back from the workshop I popped on to the garden and took some pictures of what is still thriving despite the gale force winds and torrential rain we had a few days back.

Climbing Rose 'Compassion' is still going strong. I'm really impressed with this climber and in the blooms in general, they have stayed resolute and healthy no matter what the weather has thrown at them while every White Rose I have appears to rot as soon as the rain hits them.

Fuchsia 'Tom Thumb' may be a compact little shrub but it certainly smothers itself in bloom, I love this little guy and really must propagate more of it.

This Skimmia suffered last year as I had it in the wrong compost, most of the leaves had yellowed and it looked really sickly. It may not be the picture of health right now but there's been a dramatic improvement in the colour of the leaves since re potting in Ericaceous compost and putting it in a shaded position - it even has flowers appearing!

This is the plant that I can't identify. We rescued it form a skip and it looked very bedraggled so I cut it right back - that was a couple of months ago and all this new growth has come through.

This Coreopsis is doing remarkably well, I actually didn't think it would survive here and it's still got plenty of buds waiting to open. It's been planted in the wrong place though so next year I'll be putting it somewhere more suitable that shows all its blooms off better.

This sea view never gets boring though the sea is actually much much closer than it looks in the photo but that's a point and shoot camera for you.

Finally, Pampas grass getting ready to bloom as everything else dies off.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

I won a competition - sort of!

A few months ago I entered a competition on FB hosted by Rachel of  'Successful Garden Design' , all we had to do was scrutinise a photo she had posted of a Spanish courtyard garden and tell her what was unusual about the planting, the prize was one of her garden design courses for free.
I tried for days to get that elusive answer because I really wanted to do one of her courses and poor Rachel had to put up with my weird answers at all times of the day and night. I couldn't get the answer though and for a while no one else could either, then a lady called Louise pops in and gets the answer straight away not even realising it was a competition. I felt so deflated because I was pretty sure I had to get it at some point but I'm not a sore loser and so I congratulated Louise and said I hoped she enjoyed the course.
Fast forward a few months and I discovered FB has an 'others' box in the message centre, in amongst many messages I didn't know I had was a message from Louise asking if I would like to take the prize as she wouldn't get a chance to do it.
Damn FB and it's 'others' box!
I figured it was way too late to accept it now as a fair few months had passed so I answered the message thanking Louise for the generous offer, explaining why I hadn't replied and that I hoped she enjoyed the course.
Turns out she still hadn't started it and hadn't passed it on either so I am now enrolled on 'Small Garden design' course free of charge - how nice was that of Louise to hand the prize over to a complete stranger! I should be starting it next week and although it's small garden design there's alot more to it that I can make so much use of so I want to thanks Louise for gifting me the prize and Rachel for hosting the competition.

I pulled a few of the Carrots today. I didn't thin them out this year as I was suffering a bad back right when it needed doing and I couldn't trust Mr TG to do it as he'd already murdered the Parsnips, so the carrots are smaller (much smaller) than I usually get and I admit I was tempted to throw them but I figured I'd see what they tasted like. Gorgeous!

So many of the garden flowers are showing Autumn colours now and really dieing back so this Escallonia 'Red Carpet' is adding a real splash of colour to the borders and looks to have a few weeks of blooms to go yet.

I'm still getting a decent flower cut for the vases though, this Rose 'Compassion' is still in full bloom and I'm going to have a go at taking cuttings from this one this year, the fragrance is incredible.

There's a lovely light in the garden in the garden this time of year and I'm enjoying the chance to just look around and snap views as I see them.

I've been dismantling pallets for what seems like months now though it's only been a couple of weeks. My scrap wood pile is looking healthier than it ever has and I haven't even got half way through the pallet stack yet. I've got lengths of wood varying in size from 6ft down to 2ft, all different thicknesses and good sized chunky pieces from the stringers so I've been scouring Pinterest for ideas of what to build. I've got plenty of plans of what to make for inside the home but I've settled on making  a couple of Adirondack chairs for the garden. This wood pile has become precious though as I never want to be without material again so I decided that I am going to download plans for the chair. This is a first for me - using any kind of plans - but I'm not wasting any of this wood. It felt really good to the wood piles with a shopping list of what I needed and stacking it in my shopping cart wheelbarrow as I found it.

That's alot of wood for one chair, I won't be wasting an inch of it.

So that's what plans look like.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Burial chambers & seed collecting

Well, that's my mum away back home, it's been lovely to have her here visiting this past week but I know she's always glad to be going back to her own home and I would be exactly the same.
I think she had a good time while she was here, to be honest there's not much to show people once they've been a couple of times but isn't it always the way that you remember places you should have gone once you're sat at the airport waiting for their flight home!
Anyway I told her she'll just have to come again next year so I can take her to the places I had thought of - think it worked! Hope it worked! lol

Apparantly despite having been here a few times now I have failed to take mum to see the Grey Cairns of Camster, I'm not so sure though - I think she's just forgotten the trip because it's usually the first thing we take people to see because it's only 5 miles up the road.
Well just in case she forgets again I'll blog it here lol

These particular cairns are among the oldest stone monuments in Scotland, they're over 5000 years old and are two of the best preserved burial tombs from the Neolithic anywhere in Britain.
So much is still a mystery when it comes to these Cairns but we know they were definitely used as burial chambers - you can also enter the cairns via a tiny doorway but it's cramped and you have to crawl to the centre room on your hands and knees, I've done it many times but it's fairly creepy and not the spiritual experience you would hope for.

Just 6 miles in the opposite direction of our house is the Stone circle at Loch Stemster.
I've loved stone circles ever since visiting Avebury when I was a kid, these ones are on a much smaller scale than Avebury but it's still way cool to have them so nearby.

Not my image

The purpose and date of this circle are unknown though it's likely they belong to the Bronze age and while it's usual for the flat fronts to face inward of the circle (though this one is actually a horseshoe not a circle) the standing stones at Stemster have their sides facing inward - for what reason, who knows!

I've managed to have a quick check on the PT today in between pallet dismantling and I was pleased to see that the Apples are about ready for picking now. Neither tree is producing huge apples but the Braeburn is of a fairly decent size and the Golden Delicious would have been too had I thinned them out adequately weeks ago.

Braeburn apple

Golden delicious apple+9

I've decided this year that I'm going to collect seed from plants I wouldn't normally bother with and I noticed the Echinacea was looking particularly brown and full of seed. I have no idea about collecting seed from from Echinacea and therefore have no idea what the seed is supposed to look like when it's ready to harvest. These were falling off the head as I picked them though so I guess that means they're ready?

Todays little watcher as I ferried back and fore moving wood was Bob the Great Horned Owl, he was a rescue case and has a split beak.
Say hello Bob