Monday, 31 August 2009


Lost a whole truss today, over twenty tomatoes. Very fed up.

The loch was pretty though, with the cloud lifting from the hills for a while.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

"mists and mellow fruitfulness"?

Hah, more like "rain and mildewed fustiness", but there are brambles ripening on the top tier. Crumble tonight, yum.

Six solid weeks of rain have even beaten the sea holly into submission. So what is suited to this garden apart from weeds and rhodies?
Well, the Japanese anaemones seem to be thriving at the moment. I'm really taken with this little glade. It was full of woody overgrown heathers when I arrived. (In fact you can see them in the blog heading photo.) Now there are delicate anaemones and some self-seeded nasturtiums in the foreground, pansies peeking through ferns at the back, and calendulas and poppies like patches of dappled sunlight to the side .
And a small glut gloat:

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Confused Azalea.

This azalea was covered in crimson flowers in Spring, now here it is again putting out one or two flowers. Is it confused because we've had such a cold wet summer, it thinks it's been through an Argyll winter? Is this normal behaviour for azaleas? I'm worried it won't flower in the Spring if it has a half-hearted try now.

Lots of lovely sungold cherry tomatoes coming on now.

A dry day at last. I heard this grasshopper singing. When I looked, I saw he was seranading his missus. Saw five peacock butterflies fluttering around the garden but they wouldn't settle anywhere. A female sparrowhawk did a low pass by the bird table, giving the spugs conuptions, too quick for a pic unfortunately.

Monday, 17 August 2009

here be dragons

This hoodie crow sums up my mood this morning but that changed when the sun broke through this afternoon. I finally got a pic of a peacock butterfly with open wings. I think this one has been a bit bashed by all the rain so his colours are looking rather washed out. The honey bees have been busy on the bidens. I wonder where this one gathered her pollen; it is a much darker orange than the pollen sacs on the bumbles I recorded earlier in the year. And look at this, a golden ringed dragonfly on my hebe.


I know I keep going on about it but the constantly shifting moods of the loch still surprise me. Here it is looking the deepest royal blue and, just three hours later, a peaceful rose tinged paradise. In another twenty-four hours the water looks almost brown with peaty run off from the hills and reflections of storm clouds above. But even the storms can be beautiful, when the light suddenly breaks through all the grey, highlighting the loch surface with splashes of simmering mercury.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Blooming today

The first Japanese anemone to flower in this garden.

These little poppies are not popular with some as they spread so quickly. They bloom early, however, when there is little else about for the bumbles and have a permanent population of small hoverflies, so they are welcome to stay in this garden.

I have posted pics of the bidens golden star

and calendula before but they are so bright and cheerful on a dull wet day that they deserve a second showing. I like the bidens in particular, they are such hard working plants. They flowered before the surfinias and fuschias had even thought to put out buds and just keep on going. I wonder if next year, at the front, I should do mixed troughs of bidens with the blue pansies, which seem to have a similar work ethic?
Well if I can’t admire flowers in the sun, I'll learn to appreciate the rain. I love all the shades of green in this Akebia quinata, and the way the leaves hold on to rain drops, reflecting what little light there is and covering the vine in silver spangles.


Finally the tomatoes are ripening. They came on at a gallop in June but stopped dead in July as the sun vanished and the rain poured down. The sungolds are my favourite, little cherry tomatoes that ripen to a golden orange colour and taste like sweet bursts of sunshine. Just as well I planted them; they’re the only hint of sun I’m going to get for the rest of the summer.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

For the cauldron?

I found this newt in Smudge's waterbowl back in the spring.

This toad turned up in a weed bucket at the weekend. There's a mummified frog in the coal bunker and, yes, "thrice the brinded cat hath mewed", in fact the brinded cat never stops mewing, though it is just Smudge complaining about the Coop's economy cat nosh. I think fate is dropping some heavy handed hints about my vocation in life. Just call me Granny Weatherwax.

Smudge has graduated from Wall Watch to Pot Watch. I guess the mouse has decamped from the hydrangeas but somehow I don't think the azaleas are going to offer any more security.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Making me smile today

A new butterfly for me. A small copper male. According to the butterfly web sites, these are very territorial and frequently chase off other insects. I must have the wimp of the family because the minute a bee came along he disappeared in the opposite direction.

We had some very heavy rain showers this morning, then the sun came out and all the birds started to sunbathe. That looks like a dead robin on the left but I assure you he was just lying on his side drying his tum. The dunnock also spent a long time preening. It's the closest I've managed to get to one of these shy little birds. There are three regulars in the garden but they are very wary and disappear the minute I point the camera at them. The thrush has also been much shyer than the blackbirds, robins, finches and sikins but the sun today was too much to resist and he lay by the wiegela stretching his wings in pleasure. That's the robin again in the foreground.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Speaking of hydrangeas

The range of colours on this mophead hydrangea is intriguing.

From the creamy developing flowers

through electric blues

to subtle mauves
and hot pinks, all on one bush.

Mouse relocation

Mouse in pint jug, on his way back to the hydrangeas. I saw him scampering behind the ash bucket late last night and managed to persuade him that the back of the stove was not a mouse friendly environment. I also gave him a strict talking to about allowing himself to be caught by a wobbly-legged, toothless, sixteen year old cat who makes bagpuss look svelte and athletic.

I hope the mouse will develop some sense of self respect and avoid her in the future.

Smudge is still operating a strict demarcation of labour and stayed snoozing in the conservatory during the whole mouse trapping episode.

Friday, 7 August 2009

That effing cat

I was having a peaceful coffee this morning when I noticed that Smudge, instead of acting as the usual tonne weight furry anchor on my knee, was showing unusual interest in the fireplace. Suspicious that Wall Watch may have been a successful overnight operation, I got down on my knees and inspected the stove just in time to see a mouse tail and hind quarters whisking up a gap in the side panel. He is now sitting in the inner workings of the stove and I have no way of dislodging him. Smudge, after spending an hour eyeing the panel and dubiously poking it with her paw, has walked away from the whole business with a flick of her tail. Apparently equal division of labour means she catches wildlife and brings it inside but there her responsibility ends. If I'm ungrateful enough to be in bed snooozing when she drops her trophy on the floor, and it sets up home in the back of a multi fuel stove, then it is entirely my own fault. I think I'm going to have to get a humane mouse trap and set it overnight or I won't be able to light the stove again.

Wall Watch in Spring

Thursday, 6 August 2009

In the garden today

Smudge was back on wall watch. There is a large, fat mouse that lives under the feeders. He is so well fed and lazy that even toothless, old podge has managed to catch him.... THREE TIMES. The first couple of times she brought him to me in the garden, while nattering loudly and gummily about what an ace hunter she was and how she could take on anything, a tiger, a lion or a panther, she was the best predator in the business. The mouse and I shared a moment of mutual long-suffering when she dumped him at my feet, before he politely made his excuses and waddled back to the bushes. I made no attempt to detain him. The third time, old podge decided she wasn’t wasting her beautiful, though it has to be said extremely slobbery trophy, on such an ungrateful recipient, so she brought him into the house at midnight and dumped him under the fridge freezer, just as I was going to bed. Neither the mouse nor I was happy with this new arrangement and Podge looked on intrigued while the mouse, freezer and I, performed a time-lapse waltz around the kitchen. I moved the freezer an inch and tried to persuade him to come out, while he scurried further under, saying, “No, no thank you, it’s really lovely under here”. An hour later, Podge had retired to bed with exhortations that I stop swearing and try to keep the noise down, as skilled predators need their sleep, when a combination of broom and pointy stick convinced the mouse that a brief trip in a pint jug to the hydrangeas was preferable to a night spent listening to Podge snoring in the conservatory.
In other news:
Yay, finally a fuschia flower, a bit bruised from the rain but I’m in no position to be fussy.

The rowan berries are proving popular

And the see-sawing spugs have moved on to the next pampas,
maybe they'll stop it self-seeding all over the place.