Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy Hogmanay!

Us Scots are generally well known the world over for our Hogmanay Celebration.  There are many  traditions followed by not only Scots living here but Scots residing in countries around the globe.  We Scots generally take our Hogmanay celebrations very seriously, so serious that even the 2nd of January is a public Holiday here!   
So whether you sit down and have a wee dram with loved ones, get out and about First Footing at the bells or indeed partake in a verse or two of Auld Lang Syne (in which case, Scotland won't be too far from you this New Year!).  I would like to wish you all a Happy Hogmanay!       


Haste ye back, we loue you dearly, call again you're welcome here.
May your days be free from sorrow, and your friends be ever near.
May the paths o'er which you wander, be to you a joy each day.
Haste ye back we loue you dearly, haste ye back on friendship's way
See ye aw next year!

Monday, 30 December 2013

2013 - My year in review

I started planning what to write for my End of Year review a couple of days ago.  I  found it incredibly difficult to select images from the hundreds I had to choose from.  The stark contrast to 2012 was evident by the sheer glut of images I had from around the garden taken this year.  Despite the slow start come April onwards it was all systems go. 

Iris reticulata March 2013 

Two major disappointments in 2013 - A few good sized Rhododendrons succumb to Cushion Scale.  The attack began back in 2012 and affording the time to individually treat each plant was not an option.  I took the decision to remove 4 shrubs.  I know not if there was a connection to the die back on the middle section of my Holly hedge.  There was a few signs on the undersigns of the leaves but nothing as major as had appeared on the Rhoddies.  I removed the complete middle section of hedge and replaced with new plants.  My budget unfortunately did not allow to buy mature specimens therefore I am now playing a waiting game!  Over the other side of the fence - Jim's weeds did not make this an easy task.  A suit of body armour was required for those nettles.

Nettles, Willowherb and Snowberry in Jim's garden!
The Acer bed was created early 2013 out of necessity really.  I had a couple of container growing Acers that would fair much better in the ground.  As my collection of Primula was increasing - I thought they'd make good companions.  This bed has done really well in 2013.  I've just purchased some P. denticulata Ruby to add to this bed for spring.

Acer and Enkianthus along with a selection of Primula
June 2013
The long curved bed - now affectionately known as the Bumble Bee bed looks good.  Now in it's 3rd year - a bit of thinning out will be required in 2014.  It will be nice to have some of those plants to grow elsewhere in the garden. 
The bumble bee bed
The top bed lost many of it's plants in the flooding of 2012 - I added a few Astilbes in the autumn of that year - I'm rather chuffed with how this turned out in 2013.  A couple of red stemmed Cornus replaced shrubs that perished.  They put on reasonable growth this year but not quite enough to provide the height I wanted.  I will cut them back once new buds appears but not quite so much as I did in March.

As Autumn approached it was still very dry.  I had read that autumn colour might not be as bold as it could be due to the unseasonal warm weather.  It was almost November before the Acers turned. 

There was many unseasonal plants flowering at the tail end of the year none so strange as this Lupin throwing up a flower mid December  The foliage leaves a lot to be desired though!

Picture taken 15 December 2013
Another thing that pleased me the whole year was a distinct lack of slugs and snails in my garden.  My garden is generally over run with the blighters.  Even doing the autumn clear up I was lucky if I found 4 slugs.  Hosta leaves don't usually look as good as this come the end of September!

Hosta sieboldiana Frances Williams
Those who read my previous blog know that the year ends with another project - work has been hampered by the wind and rain.  There are lots of spring bulbs poking their noses up and the hellebores have some flower buds not far from opening.  I can't work in this.......

As my garden moves into 2014 - I am hoping it will be the year of the Front Garden.  As you can see I made a start by painting the fence in September.  I truly lack inspiration on what I want to achieve here.  I will let the privet along the front grow taller - other than that, I don't quite know!  
Front garden September 2013
2013 is the year I truly started to enjoy how my garden looked, I had more success than failure, for a change!  I stopped becoming obsessed with weeding and I harvested seed for the first time so fingers crossed I will have some seedlings come spring time. 

Please join me and other garden bloggers linking their End of Year review with Helen over at The Patient Gardener's Weblog.

A guid New Year tae an ‘a’ a an mony may ye see!

A good New Year to one and all and many may you see!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Plans are afoot!

It feels wrong to have a bit of a rant at the latest bout of bad weather we are experiencing.  Especially as there are so many folks who have had a completely miserable time this Christmas.  My heart went out to them as I watched various news reports over the last few days.

As I sit writing this post - the wind and rain is battering off the window behind me.  I am back to work tonight but when I finish in the morning I am on 1 week's annual leave.  I should have planned that a bit better and arranged for tonight off.  A late request for a day's leave was knocked back - it seems my managers check the weather too and cited the predicted bad weather would mean a repeat performance of Christmas Eve when we finished almost 3 hours later than usual!  Therefore, request denied!!

Shed has been moved
As I mentioned in my November round up the shed was being moved.  This was arranged to be done on the week before Christmas but due to the fact that the guy's labourer had put a nail through his hand, it was delayed for a few days.  The deed is now done - I'm happy that I now have another planting area to play with.  I've a few ideas in mind - my first priority will be to choose shrubs that will eventually cover those bare fences.  Already planted there is an Aucuba japonica crotonifolia and a Griselinia littoralis - there was no thought put into planting them there - they were left over from an over buying spree when I was selecting other evergreens for elsewhere in the garden.  The Aucuba will no longer like that spot as it will be far too sunny for it now the shed has gone and the Griselinia should be happy but I don't particularly like it, it add nothing of value to the garden, other than it being evergreen - the shrubs that are now behind the shed will suffer in it's shade.  My peonies are also stuck behind there  - another problem that needs addressing.  Either way - I should have enough plants without having to buy any more.  I do say that with all good intentions but please don't hold me to that!

However, my mind keeps going back over my wish for a tree - a real proper tree - one with a trunk.  Now I can get under those telephone lines - I need to measure and do some proper research.  Many of you made some great suggestions at the time of posting and I will look into those too.

I've a bit of clearing up to do - there is gravel that need lifting, I'll bag that off until I find something to do with it and there are a few 3x2 concrete slabs that need lifting.  The builder that did my kitchen extension will take them off my hands but he is currently vacationing in sunnier climes.  He will collect them when he returns.  I've not been idle though, the trellis that presently tops the fence down the entire length of the garden (you can just make out on the left of picture) has now been raised - I managed to do this on the days the winds were not so high.  Of course, mother (who stays with me) has managed to comment on more than one occasion that she suggested using the full height when I put them in.  Yes, yes, mother always know best!  I have had to admit that she is right way too many times!  2 new panels await better weather in the shed, those need painting first, I stupidly forgot to buy the paint when I was at the DIY store.  I'll make the trip there over the weekend.  I can paint them under cover in the shed and finish the fence when the opportunity presents itself. 

Pergola arch
Mother's choice of Christmas gift for me was right too!  My enjoyment of this gift has been hindered by the weather too.  I'm dying to get stuck into building this and putting it up.  It's been stuck here since it was delivered 2 weeks ago.  It wasn't a surprise gift - she allowed me to choose the one I wanted.  I think it will make a lovely addition to my garden.  The roses currently growing over the arbour and some honeysuckle will be my choice of plants.

One issue I am currently experiencing in my garden is the issue of privacy.  Until recently this has never been a problem.  We have new neighbours in the property on the other side of the back fence.  The shed being moved onto the deck has helped a bit but has not blocked out their view from any of their windows.  Their property is situated slightly higher than ours and they have the perfect view right through my French doors into the kitchen/dining room.  It matters not what time of day we are in the kitchen - they always seem to be there looking in!  I've already commented today on Kris's blog, it's probably all in my head but I just can't shift it.  I'm finding it a very uncomfortable feeling and I don't like feeling like this in my own home.  Perhaps they feel the same way as I do - I don't know.  Thus far, my attempts at being welcoming, albeit through a fence, has not gone down well. 

I intend not to let it eat at me - I've got plans.  I've marked on the picture below of the garden on how I think I can address the situation.  I will let the Holly Hedge grow taller, it does not help that I removed the middle section that was dead and replanted a while back.  The replacement plants will take a while to grow.  I plan to choose a tall growing evergreen to grow directly in front of the deck.   A conifer of sorts would be the most likely candidate but the trouble with those is that those that are fast growing are too fast growing and buying a mature slow growing type will cost me more than I'd care to part with.  So I need to find a happy medium - suggestions welcome.  I will also divide the garden with 6ft trellis panels running across the entire width of the garden with the rose arch creating a way 'through'.  As I have now sacrificed our outdoor entertaining area - I intend to put in a small patio on the gravelled area. I can see it all in my head and have a rough sketch drawn out on a scrap piece of paper but I want to see the arch in first before it's written in stone.

So as you can see I really am chomping at the bit - I just need a couple of wind free days to get things started, then there really will be no holding me back.  Providing the snow stays away that is! 

Are you ending/beginning the year with garden overhaul plans?  I'd love to hear what they are.                    

Monday, 23 December 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wishing you all joy this Christmas and happiness in the New Year
Have a good one!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

I covet no more!

When I first joined the blogging world a little over a year ago one of the first plants that really grabbed my attention was the winter flowering shrub commonly known as Witch Hazel.  Many bloggers were posting delightful pictures of these beauties.  The more I saw, the more I wanted!  As my mother used to say 'my eyes were bigger than my belly'!

Rosie over at leavesnbloom posted a blog about the selection of witch hazels she grows in her garden up in Perthshire (around 40 miles north of here) - I knew then that they might be a suitable candidate for my garden.  I made visits to a few local nurseries in the hope that I could source a specific cultivar.  Alas, it was not to be!  It was by this time around February therefore possibly a little too late.   A mental note was made to try again this winter.

I made an early start on Sunday morning.  No, not to go plant shopping but to finish purchasing all the gifts for Christmas.  I was very thorough - list in hand off I headed.  The early bird catches the worm and all that!  I had no issue in finding a parking space unlike the queue of shoppers waiting to enter the mall car park a little after 1pm just as I was leaving.  As I was driving home, my son called to tell me that my brother and his kids had turned up unannounced.  He knew I would have a car load and would not want them to see where I had been.  It was cold and wet.  I didn't relish the thought of joining a queue to get in somewhere else.  What could I do to pass the 30 minutes or so until they were gone.  A quick u-turn saw me heading straight for a local plant nursery - I'd be able to get a bite to eat and a warm drink.  I'd check out the sale tables, there are often bargains to be had at this time of the year.

As is usual with these kind of places you must enter through an indoor shopping area first.  It was packed!  Santa's Grotto in the corner was the reason - I didn't think the car park was particularly full but the Christmas Muzak could be heard a mile off.  I was kind of put off a slice of cake and a cuppa.  Now I don't mean to sound Bah Hum Bug but as I had just left a shopping mall full of similar scenes, I wasn't in the mood for anymore.   

I pulled open the double doors to make my way to plant section - the area directly outside there is reserved for seasonal plants all year round.  It's a very tempting area and I've been bitten many a time!  This visit was not unlike any other, my attention was grabbed.  Groups of plants, standing tall, displayed beautifully, in the midst of these groups were a variety of tall shrubs but what stood out more than any other plant was an array of Witch Hazel shrubs.  All adorned with yellow, red and orange coloured ribbon like flowers.  I immediately began checking the labels, ignoring the yellow flowered variety, it took me a while to find the one I was looking for.  There was a point at which I thought I was going to disappointed again - but no, there was an even bigger selection down in the shrub section.  My luck was in!  There she was!  I say she because the plant I was looking for was named after the plant breader's wife.  Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena' is according to the RHS one of today's best cultivar of Witch Hazel.   This cultivar has been awarded their Award of Garden Merit, which is always a good sign that you've chosen a great plant.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena' (agm)
I need to find the perfect planting spot for her yet, she is said to prefer an open but not exposed site.  I do wonder though if that's a bit of a contradiction.  A little research is needed but of course, if you grow Witch Hazel, I'd love to hear of your experiences in how it copes with different situations.  My soil conditions should be just right -  the lovely deep, neutral to acidic soil in my garden will be suitable.  

She will be under planted with some bulbs and possibly some Hellebores - there is little available to buy at the moment but I'm sure come the New Year I'll be spoilt for choice!

I hope all your Christmas plans are on schedule and like me well organised, for a change!