Sunday, 27 September 2009


A busy week so I have neglected garden and blog. Went for a quiet amble round between rain showers this morning, closely monitored by the spugs

and something lurking in the undergrowth.

She thinks I can't see her. In her mad little cat brain she's an ambush predator stalking deer in the forest.

I cross the lawn and she leaps out, ears flat, back arched, tail in an s-bend and swipes at my ankles before galloping up to the compost bin, where she sits, innocently, with a, "Who me?", expression on her face.

If I point out that I knew she was there all the time and her behaviour is really undignified for a sixteen year old senior citizen, she looks affronted and pretends she has no idea what I'm talking about.

The garden is as mad as the cat. The roses are in bloom and getting scalded by the rain and the weigela has decided that late September is the perfect time to put out flowers.
Mad they may be, but still lovely to see so late in the year.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

a peaceful potter round

The loch was in a girly mood yesterday. It started the day with stripes of pink in the sky, turning the water a soft coral grey and it ended with a serene patchwork of rose and turquoise.

Anything girly in the garden?

Not these juvenile starlings. They are putting on their studded biker plummage and acting like teens, hanging round the corner shop (aka birdtable) screeching, fighting and hassling other birds. I keep expecting to find cigarette ends littered around the table.

Here's girly. Seven days of sun have brought on a burst of fuschias. They look like something Barbie would wear to Cinderella's ball.

A red September rose. It's even scented. Something seems to enjoy nibbling on the petals.

Friday, 18 September 2009

A warm welcome

I inherited this minature climbing rose with the garden. Last year it struggled, put out two flowers then dropped all its leaves and remained a brown twig for the summer. This year it has done a little better and an unexpected week of sunshine has encouraged the last buds to open. I checked the label yesterday and discovered it was called Rosa Warm Welcome. So here is a warm welcome for everyone visiting this blog and a thankyou to all the blotanists who have made me so welcome at

It's been a soft, silvery day, a hint of drizzle but no real rain, for which we are truly thankful.

I'm looking at my garden with fresh eyes. This ordinary geranium now reminds of a rock rose I saw when Amy (Go away I'm gardening) took a walk around Zilker Botanical Garden in Austin.

I wish I could remember which blog showed the clouds of white Japanese anemones. They were beautiful. There is a pink anemone in Gururajr's Japanese Garden (natch) that could be a sister to this one, though it doesn't have the bird droppings that mine have accumulated. I wish you could get no mess birds to go with the no mess bird seed!

And I know I have seen some lovely calendulas somewhere exotic recently, but my simple brain refuses to give up any more details than that. Never mind, these simple plants give simple pleasure simply everywhere.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


Not these rain dodging divas, though a week of sun has inspired them to a final flourish. Too late, they are going to join the foxgloves mulching quietly in a heap of black bin bags, waiting for an empty compost bin.

No, I’m talking about the poor tree mallow, Lavatera Barnsley. The one I planted in the most exposed position in the garden; the one that bloomed prettily for one season then spent the winter with its root ball alternately frozen or rocking in salt winds; the one that for most of its second year was a cluster of wizened twigs with an occasional yellow leaf drooping off it; the one that ended its short life two weeks ago in the wheelie bin rather than the compost, in case it was diseased.

Sigh. It was a pretty plant. So pretty in fact it inspired my neighbour to go online and order one for her garden. This arrived, a healthy little plug plant, in the spring and responded rapidly to the care of a competent gardener. In a couple of months it had achieved almost a foot of growth and was covered in buds.

Then Angus ate it.

All of it

There was nothing left.

Not even a twig to propagate.

Oh, the wailings and gnashing of teeth. Angus had his hairy bottom soundly spanked. (Perhaps I should point out that Angus is my neighbour’s puppy, not her husband).

We commiserated with each other but were both aware there was one more Barnsley tree mallow in the village. This one was in a garden right by the shore and was thriving, obviously well adapted to its salty, windy habitat. The elegant flowers could be seen, blushing daintily, over the fence as less fortunate gardeners drove by with hot, hungry eyes.

The temptation was too much to resist. Last week my lovely neighbour stopped her car and asked the lavatera’s owner if she could have some cuttings. Gardening and generosity seem to go hand in hand, as the cuttings were happily supplied and four of them have been passed on to me.

I have no doubt that my green fingered neighbour will get her mallow established. I’m less certain that my brown, blighted thumbs will have similar success. Time for a quick prayer to the patron saint of lost causes.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Alien abstraction

Still not raining. I reckon aliens are visiting in the night and sucking all the water out of the sky. I caught them at it this morning.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Choppers, coppers and hawkers

Another grey start but the sun soon burnt off the clouds and we had a spectacular day.

This helicopter buzzed the garden several times. Don’t know what he was doing, just playing around I suppose.

This is a Scottish garden, so I should acknowledge that the heathers are out.

But they don’t ring my bells. These are much prettier, the last sweet peas of summer.

And this looks like the last copper butterfly. He’s very much the worse for wear, with a huge chunk missing from his wings.

I saw another dragonfly! Not a good pic but he was in an awkward position. I think he’s a male common hawker. That’s two different species in the garden. Both males. I wonder where all the girls have gone.

Friday, 11 September 2009

A beautiful day

A grey morning but a promise of sun gleaming on the far side of the loch.

A heavy dew overnight left the quinata sparkling with miniature crystal balls on every tip.

The sun soon broke through and encouraged Smudge to behave like a floozy........again.

The garden was suddenly buzzing with insects. This is why I let the hawkweed stay, the bumbles and hoverflies love it.

I discovered this lovely lady by the wheelbarrow. She is beautiful and is catching midges so it looks as if the wheelbarrow is out of bounds for the moment.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

What, no rain?

The weather forecast predicts three days without rain. After six weeks of constant downpour this feels like heaven. Apparently we have had three times the normal amount of rain for August, in fact the heaviest rainfall since 1984. Part of the main road to Glasgow washed away yesterday but now, at last, the clouds are lifting. It's time to start assessing the damage and deciding who's a garden hero and who's a fainthearted pushover.

“Pushover", is just the word for my white lavateras. Such a disappointment, at the first hint of rain and wind in July, they took a dive like a team of premier league footballers, and lay there wailing for the rest of the Summer. Oh they bloomed alright, but what's the point of being covered in flowers if you're whimpering on the ground and the insects are ignoring you? There will be no annual mallows present on any of the tiers next year.

I still, however, have half a packet of seeds and am gardening on a budget so can't afford to waste things. I may plant them in large containers at the front of the house in spring. This is concrete wasteland at present, where nothing grows and nobody goes, so their lack of attraction for insects won't matter. There are sheltered places I can put tubs and they may soften the house's rather austere first impression.

I said, "nothing grows", out the front, that is not strictly true. The pots of fuschias, pelargoniums and surfinias did eventually put on a show but it was a pretty poor effort. I did like the blend of lilacs, lime greens and yellows but the number of flowers was not worth the effort, so next year there will be no more tender bedding plants.

Instead I am going to try collecting seed from my bidens. These have worked so hard. Through every dreary day of rain they have been a band of gleaming yellow on the second tier, promising sunshine to come. I think I will plant them up with the blue pansies (if I can get them to set seed, not a certainty in this climate) and lobelia.

I mentioned this little self seeded lobelia before. It has lapped up the rain and put on a show of flowers when everything else was lying stunned on the ground. I will try to collect seed from this but also still have some old packets of bush and trailing lobelia from my Tilly days. I stopped growing these because I was always away during the sunniest periods and they dried out too rapidly, turning into miniature haystacks which never recovered their bloom. That is not going to be a problem at Midge Farm, so I will try the old seeds in spring and hope they germinate.

Monday, 7 September 2009



Look blue skies and on the steps Smudge back on wall watch.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Flowering today

Another day, another solid wall of rain. The garden looks like a battlefield with stunned plants, lying horizontally in muddy craters, or peering nervously out from the undergrowth, wondering when the aerial bombardment is going to stop.
It doesn’t look as if there is going to be much of an autumn show but one or two plants are still struggling to flower for the first time. This little nasturtium self seeded under the rowan tree and is only now putting out intense orange flowers. It clashes horribly with the pink anemones but is welcome none the less for its splash of cheerful colour.
I grew these verbascum phoeniceum from seed in the spring. They germinated well and I had plenty of plants to dot around the beds on the first tier. I hope they will look good with the foxgloves next year and be as popular with the insects. I had more plants than I needed so I dibbled a few in on this awkward ledge. Of course the only ones to flower this year, would be the ones that I can’t see unless I clamber into this difficult space at the side of the garden.
And finally this honeysuckle. It was a very old bushy plant which struggled with an endemic black fly infection. It was covered in the pests last year and they appeared again, very early this spring, in numbers that obscured the few flowers struggling to open. Then some mad woman went and chucked bowl after bowl of coop antibacterial washing up liquid over the bush which promptly went, “Arggggh,” and dropped all its leaves. At that point I cut it back to a few twisted woody stems and thought I would soon be digging it up and throwing it out entirely. I had a very pretty climbing hydrangea from Mum and Dad which I thought would be perfect in the spot. The honeysuckle had other ideas, it immediately sprouted new growth, has grown vigorously all summer, and is now showing these very pretty flowers which are even providing shelter for hover flies. It’s a scarred battlefield hero and has earned its place in the garden. As for the hydrangea, it is now flowering happily beneath the summerhouse and I hope will one day clamber up around the decking.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

fried green tomatoes

It's September 3rd and I have two plants covered in green marmande tomatoes. Its unlikely they will have a chance to ripen outside now.
Lots of recipes for fried green tomatoes on the web so thought I would give them a go. I cut each tomato into three thick slices, dipped them in egg and coated with flour, seasoned with smoked paprika, cayenne and tumeric, then shallow fried coated slices in veg oil. Verdict: OK, nice texture, but a bit flavourless. Won't repeat, may just lay out all green toms in a dark cupboard and see if I can have a supply slowly ripening through the Winter.