Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Trick or Treat

I've been told that there is a family of hedgehogs which live in an neighbouring garden.  Despite this, I have never had any inclination or signs that they spend any sort of time in my garden......until tonight that is!!!!

What a delightful Trick or Treat visitor to receive!  As it's reward it got a little dog food - just plain old Chicken and Turkey....boy are they noisy eaters!!

Not the greatest of pictures but the best I could get without raging terror on the little thing!


Thursday, 25 October 2012

More casualties!

I started to cut back some of the perennials today - I was really disappointed to find that the rain had done more damage that I had thought.  Whilst some of the paeonies still had a little foliage left - some rotting has occured around the crowns of the tubers, I've cut out all the stems and will await the appearance of shoots in March . My beautiful white Liatris - which I thought had been devoured by slugs was just a ball of mush!!  I'm not going to hold my breath thinking that the Aconitum 'Stainless Steel' will make a come back next year either.
Despite this - I noticed that the crown on the Cardoon (Cynara Cardunculus) was still relatively health, likewise, my Salvia x sylvestris 'Rose Queen'.  Both have been given a good layer of straw - this Salvia is of questionable hardiness here in Scotland - it worked on 2 out of 3 plants last year.
The Arum lillies (Zantedeschia aetheopica) - which will pretty soon be 'floored' by the frost - where chopped right back and given the same treatment.  These are listed by the RHS as not hardy but other internet website rate them as borderline hardy/hardy.  Therefore it will be another 'wait and see' moment!!

I prefer using these budget plastic coated  wire hanging baskets instead of chicken wire as a way of keeping the straw in place.  I find that chicken wire is a pain to cut and find I often cut myself on the sharp edges no matter how careful I am.  I keep them in place using membrane pegs or garden canes can be pushed down through the holes to secure.   

The shade lovers Hostas, Tellima and Alchemilla Mollis growing around the Kilmarnock Willow have all been cut right back to the ground.  Heuchera Marmalade and the Japanese Holly fern (Cyrtomium fortunei) also enjoy living under the tree.  There is a hellebore planted here but it's looking a bit forlorn - not sure if it's dying or not - time will tell!

Incidentally, the bird feeder I introduced on the Willow was a great success - I've added a couple more - the smaller birds flit in and out all day and only the smaller starlings have thus far managed to negociate the branches.  

Heuchera Marmalade has thoroughly enjoyed it's first season here - it was moved here earlier in the year.  Looking a bit deflated by the cold weather or is it the weight of the fallen bird seed.  Mrs Robin should enjoy these left overs :) 

In addition to the feeders - I created a little drinking place for the birds - all these were things lying around the garden, a much better use here it think!!  A few pebbles added for the smaller birds.  The log - which has began rotting, should provide a haven for insects which in turn will be welcomed by the birds!!

Enkianthus cernuus var. Rubens getting redder by  the day - almost looks like a burning fire!  Planted for it's autumn colour - it is not disappointing!!

A close up of those raindrops cradled in the lower branches.

A little colour from a gorgeous deep maroon Chrysanthemum brought home by mum the other day.  I doubt very much that it will be hardy - more research is needed. 

Monday, 22 October 2012


I knew it was too good to be true - heatwave!!!!! WHAT heatwave?
It's been bitter cold today - I replenished my stock of bubble wrap yesterday - so onwards and upwards with cozying up the plants.

As you can see here the Sedums are all tucked up against the front of the house.  I'm not sure if they are just too 'open' to the weather here.  I'll need to keep my eye on conditions.

A project I have planned for next year, is to have a wide variety of Sedums growing in my front garden - they don't grow well in the back garden (it's a bit too moist).  This year, they were all suffering - they were removed from the borders and put into these pots.  All of them have shown signs of improvement.  Sedums are very easy to cultivate - they root very easy - in the past my method has been to snip off a non flowering stem and pop it into some compost.  Sedums are particularly wildlife friendly - loved by bees, butterflies and hoverflies. 

Sedum telephium maxima 'Gooseberry Fool' is the newest addition to my collection. 
Displayed here showing off in my gorgeous green glazed pot.  I'm happy to say it's now been transplanted into the front border.

 As promised here she is looking rather fine in a stone pot which compliments the creamy white edges to her foliage.
  Grafted onto a single standard stem -  ultimate height after 10 years is 1.5m.   

A close up of her foliage - the pink tint to the creamy edges of the leaves in autumn is really delicate! 

Shown here is Aucuba japonica, Camellia Brushfield's Yellow and Dryopteris erythrosora - looking good right now - a nice combination of textures and colours!

Aster novi - belgii 'Little Pink Beauty'  more flowers opening daily - another one I want to propogate next year.  This was a tiny little off-shoot I removed from my brother's garden last year - it has bulked out well enough this year! 

Clematis cartmanii - Pixie.  Introduced into the garden earlier this year - she hasn't really done very well.  This is another example of poorly labelled plants sold by national GCs.  To give her a chance I've replenished the compost and trimmed of all the dead looking foliage and I will over winter her in next door's greenhouse.    


Friday, 19 October 2012

Cordyline australis 'Red Star'

Cordyline australis 'Red Star'......
I know I have said previously that I intend to plant only hardy plants in my garden - there have been 1 or 2 which have slipped under radar.  I am also the proud carer of a reasonable sized Cordyline australis.  I say carer as it was not my choice to buy it but it's care has been left in my hands.
It found it's way into my garden last February - my first thoughts when I saw it coming out the car was 'How did she get that in there?' Who am I referring mother - she has a penchant for tender plants.  Most of the time I am there to curb her attractions but there are other times when I'm not with her.
Anyway, I have been pondering about how to give this plant the protection it needs for winter.  Whilst my neighbour very kindly lets me have use of their under used unheated greenhouse to store a couple of shrubs which are kept in pots it would be totally impractical to even attempt to get this one over there!!

Her 'she' is......

To protect the foliage it was all pulled up and secured with garden twine - I created a frame like a wigwam effect out of sturdy garden canes.  They were pushed right down the side of the pot - this will add stability.  Secured tightly with cable tie (I find cable ties extremely practical in the garden).  I was going to dispose of this old excersise mat that was stuck in a corner of the shed - to be honest - I'm not sure it was ever used.  I'm hoping this will create a lagging similar to that of a water tank. 

The excersise mat was secured around the pot with bundgy ropes - these too were doing 'nothing' in the shed.  I filled right up to the brim of the container with straw.  Fingers crossed that these should keep the frost at bay!!      

Before pulling the fleece over I thought it would be a good idea to soften the tops of the canes - experience has told me that garden fleece will tear on the edges of the canes.  I used some garden netting tied into a ball of sorts and attached with, yes you guess it, cable ties!!   

All I had to do now was to get the fleece over the top - attached securely with yet more cable ties and a bungy rope around the pot.  This should stop any wind getting in underneath and blowing the fleece of.  A quick regroup of some other pots and she was pushed as far back as it would go - the pot isn't too heavy - I took the precaution of using polystyrene as 'crocks' in the bottom.  This greatly reduces the overall weight of the pot.
Now all I have to do is wait until sping time to see if my efforts were successful!!!!!  ROLE ON SPRING!!!!!


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Weather change

Couldn't believe my eyes when I read in the newspaper yesterday that Scotland is to experience a bit of weather improvement at the beginning of next week.  We are to get warm balmy temperatures of 20/21°.  Well here's me forever the sceptic and pessimist  - we shall see!!
I must say that if Hurricane Rafael brings us a bit of late sunshine (after this weeks frosts) I would be very grateful.
I've got the stocks needed for the autumn/winter mulching ready.....

                                          Budget wire hanging baskets and straw

If find these budget wire hanging baskets (available from most DIY stores) extremely useful in the garden.  In summer - I use them as a support system for some low growing perennials which have a tendency to flop/fall over.  Providing the plant makes enough bulk to hide the baskets it is quite effective.  Another use I found for them is to have Nepeta growing up through them.  This provides protection of the crowns as the cats decide to roll themselves amongst it.  In winter, I fill the upturned baskets with straw.  I peg it down using either membrane pegs or insert small garden canes inserted at an angle (so to avoid root damage).       

When I began planting out my garden 18 months ago - I made the decission not to plant anything which would not prove to be hardy here in Scotland.  However, due to some thoughtless labelling by major chains, this is has not always been possible.  Plant labels are marked as HARDY.  It is my opinion that these chains use a common labelling system throughout the whole of the UK - therefore what maybe hardy in Devon/Cornwall is most certainly not hardy here in Edinburgh.


Next on the list is mulch for the borders.  Last year I used 'mini chipped bark' - whilst it found it did a great job of providing protection for the plants, please note that last winter (2011/12) was the warmest/driest winter I could remember, I also found it a harbour for slugs.  It was not the most welcoming of sights I can tell you!!  I ended up raking all the bark up and disposing of it in the bin.  That proved to be a waste of money!  Spiders, bugs and beasties cause me no alarm in the garden but the slimy slugs and snails give me the heebee geebies!!!
This year - I am going to use what is sold as soil conditioner.  It is also suggested to be used as mulch, so we will see how this fairs.  As I said in an earlier blog - the Lime Haters have already been provided with a mulch of ericaceous compost.  This will be used on some of the newer planted shrubs and perennials.  I will spread it over the borders where is will, I hope, eventually rot down or worked down into the soil by the worms.  I'm hoping that I can report positive results.
Speaking of worms.....thinking back over the last year - I can recall seeing very few earth worms in the soil.
I've also purchased a few more throw over fleece protection sleeves, I have a rather large Cordyline Australis which, as yet, I don't have the foggiest of how I'm going to offer up protection for.  Further research needed me thinks!!  

I thought I would use this blog as a chance to record the grasses which I have planted this year.  Whilst I always admire grasses in other gardens - I'm still on the fence, so to speak, regarding them in my garden.

One of two grasses which were gifted to me - it has faired well in this wet summer.  A possible suggestion of an ID is Pennisetum - it did not produce any flowers/plumes which would have helped with identifying it.

 The second of the unknown grasses. It looks very similar to images of 'Carex Buchanii or Carex Colman's Bronze'.   It hasn't grown much and due to it's nature I am not entirely convinced it is still 'alive'.

Ophiopogon nigrens Black Beard, seen here in a terracotta container is used as a companion plant to deep purple Iris reticulata for a sping display.  It is planted elsewhere in the garden and has settled in well.  I think this is going to be a 'spreader' so will need careful monitoring!!

Uncinia 'Rubra' - I'm not overly fussed about this grass.  I'm hoping that as the winter progresses it becomes the lovely deep red it was when I bought it last year.  However - it has flowered and has put on a reasonable amount of growth this year! 

Carex 'Ice Dance' planted earlier this year near the pond - has spread and is showing signs of spreading by producing off shoots.  Like the Ophiopogon I will need to keep an eye on this one I think!


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Will they or won't they!!

Just before I descended down stairs this morning a quick glance out the upstairs window told me rain! rain! rain!  For the first time in a while the cats were snuggled up on the settee with Oscar, my 15 year old Dacshund.
I had lots to do indoors today - so little, if any, time would be spent outdoors.  I always feel guilty if I don't manage to spend at least 30 minutes a day out in the garden.  I noticed that I forgot to put the lid down on the cold frame last night - oops!!  I hope my first attempts at keeping a cold frame hasn't been blown!
My job for the day was to cut off the seed heads from the Helenium and Monarda.  I'm collecting these for a 'virtual' friend who lives in Spain.  I'm not entirely sure they have dried out enough - this is another first for me - time will tell :)  They'll be popped in the post tonight.
As I've mentioned previously - there are still a couple of plants with buds yet to open.
The question is WILL THEY OR WON'T THEY?

Aemone hupehensis 'September Charm' 


Heptacodium Miconioides

Saxifraga fortuneii 'Black Ruby'

Primula 'Miss Indigo'

......We shall see!

I discovered this little dwarf Scabious columbaria 'Nana'  flowering again.  It was well hidden under the foliage of a day lily.

Scabious columbaria 'Nana'

Despite having a late attack of mildew this aster is sharing it's deep pink blooms.  The purple Asters are just beginning to open their flowers.

Aster novi belgii

Some of the shrubs have yet to start showing signs of Autumn, whilst others are well on their way and have lost the majority of their leaves.  A couple of pictures of of what's still looking great..... 

Cotinus coggygria 'Golden Spirit'
Red Autumn Colour

Acer palmatum 'Crimson Queen'
now looking 'Crimson'  

Monday, 15 October 2012


It's been a cold but sunny day out in the garden today - a fleece was needed - just to keep the chill of my bones!!
I continued with the job of bubble wrapping some more containers.  I did run out - so note to self - go shopping for bubble wrap later in the week.  
I finally managed to get the over sized terracotta pot which is currently home to my Coral Bark Japanese Maple - Acer Palmatum 'Eddisbury' moved.  
It suffered very badly from poor drainage earlier in the year - now recovering well.  It will be re-homed elsewhere in the garden next spring.  


I took the time to winter clean some of the bird feeders today.  The real bully boys in the garden are the starlings - the so boss the little blue tits about.  I thought that the smaller birds would appreciate me hiding one of the feeders in the Salix Carprea 'Kilmarnock Willow'

                                                    August 2012

Small feeder tucked away!

I get so much pleasure from watching all the different birds which visit my garden - I've only once seen a woodpecker but failed to capture a shot.  I've experimented by bringing a feeder nearer to the back door.  It has been filled with food for Robins and Songbirds.  Fingers crossed I can enjoy the smaller birds more closely.

Sunday, 14 October 2012


I went to bed last night full of good intentions!  I was going to work wonders in the garden today.  It was really rather wet and miserable (again).  Normally, working away outdoors in the rain doesn't really bother me - but today I just wasn't in the mood.
The rain finally cleared up around 4pm - as the nights are drawing in and decent light in the garden goes at around 6pm - whatever I was going to do was going to be minimal.  I had a good look around and decided after seeing buds forming on the Camellias, Rhododendrons and the Magnolia Stellata I took the opporchancity (opportunity and chance) to give the lime haters a wee feed and mulch .  I have around half a bag of Ericaceous Compost leftover from summer plantings.  This should be enough to do the job.  
One of the first ever gardening tips I ever received was to ensure that Camellias are kept watered from August onwards.  The plants are starting to form their buds and the main cause of bud drop at flowering time is caused by drought.

A few of the forming Camellia buds today.....

Of course, the Magnolia Stellata was new in the garden Spring 2012.  Unfortunately, I didn't take as much care with it as I should have done and all the buds were lost to frost.  It was planted in my side garden late spring - this will allow shelter from the morning sun, thus reducing the chance of frost affecting the buds again.  I was so excited when I spotted some of these today....
The Rhoddies, Azaleas and Pieris had a feed too.  One of my Azaleas took me by surprise a couple of weeks back - it produced a few late/early flowers.

Leucothoe are a great plant for adding colour in the winter - in the autumn their leaves take on beautiful red colours....

Leucothoe keiskei 'Royal Ruby' 

Another Leucothoe keiskei 'Royal Ruby'

Leucothoe 'Red Lips'

Thanks for stopping by!  

Friday, 12 October 2012

Autumn is here.....

 So is the rain!

Heavy rain during the night meant that part of the the lawn and borders are flooded again.  It's been relatively dry all day but no subsidence in the water levels.  There are still a couple of plants waiting to display their blooms - both the Pink Anemones and Heptacodium Miconoides have buds - but will there be enough sun?  Time will tell.  I'm not so confident that the Saxifragae fortunei will flower this year.  If it survives winter - I will consider moving it to an alternative site.
I have split one of the Primula vialii, bargain Lobelia Queen Victoria both plants have been split up into 9 plants.  I decided to keep Lobelia Fan Burgundy as they were - plants still had a few flower buds.
The newest addition to my garden is a lovely new Cotoneaster x cuecicus 'Juliette' yesterday.  It is grafted onto a single stem - has gorgeous variegated leaves and is great for wildlife.  It will need full sun if it is to flower at it's best.  Pictures to follow - once I have made my mind up where to plant it!!