August’s Golden Glow

So far this month has brought nothing but flies and torrents. Undeterred, the plants take a good long drink and continue to grow. My Golden Border, (inspired by the Golden Garden at Crathes Castle) is now five years old and so it begins to bring to fruition the idea that I had when planting.


I’ll be glad when the Silver Birch on the left lifts its canopy above the trees in the distance, but that won’t be too much longer now. And then in the winter I shall enjoy their radiant white bark while still being able to see what is behind.


You can still just make out the B road behind the hedge, but in a few years it will hopefully be hidden from view. That has been the hardest thing…hiding that road.


The reddish tinge is from the lovely shrub Lecesteria formosa ‘Golden Lanterns’ which has bamboo like canes that remain green all winter. In a mild year it will retain some foliage too. It’s a lovely shrub but can self-seed everywhere so I just pull out the seedlings and give them away. 🙂

After the rain, everything is lush and freshened up, and even the Aeoniums are enjoying a good wash. Although having said that, I did go out and empty all their saucers this evening! Aeoniums do like quite a lot of water when they are growing, but enough is enough and the last thing you want is the roots to be sodden. I plant mine in a mixture of half multi-purpose and half grit so they have excellent drainage, and feed them monthly with a watered down liquid seaweed solution. In winter I keep them dryish and tucked up in the greenhouse.


The dark red and black planting around the Garden Pod is looking good. Sedums are starting to flower – a veritable insect buffet!


Inside the Greenhouse and around about, the edibles are actually doing well. All of my peas are harvested, blanched and frozen, and I managed to harvest these today…


…plus a handful of Tayberries and Blackberries. The Aronia berries are ripening, but I think I shall leave these for the birds this year. I still have a couple of jars of jam from last year.


In the white garden, a few flowers hang on while the white Phlox paniculata are still waiting in the wings. Hydrangea ‘Wedding Gown’ is a highlight right now.


In the Blue and Pink Border, the ‘Ground-Cover’ Rose ‘Scented Carpet’, which has a strong perfume, has finally started to put on a show. It’s been in there since the beginning – at least four years now – but this is the first year it has really come good. Hopefully it will continue annually now that it’s got its roots properly down into the clay. It seems to be standing up well to the battering it is getting from the rain.


Which is just as well because the forecast shows no real change in the weather for the next 10 days. So my enjoyment of the garden will be limited to dashing out between showers to do a job here and there, take a few pics and potter in the greenhouse. Oh well, it will soon be autumn again…..(sigh).

Here’s a lovely climbing rose called ‘Sunrise’. It will cheer up the dullest of days…happy gardening, and I do like to end on a positive note 🙂





Yellow Yumminess!

Harvesting from the veg. patch is well underway now. I’ve been enjoying tomatoes, Basil, Courgettes, Cucumbers and tomatoes from the Greenhouse. The Melons aren’t quite ready yet!  Outside, we have been podding peas, and enjoying them with Golden Beetroots, Lettuces, Tiny Onions and Carrots. Still to come are my Kohlrabi and the blueberries which are going to be great this year, it’s been a good year for them.

Anyway, here’s a recipe from today’s lunch!

Peas, Courgettes, Onions and Beetroot all sweated off in a frying pan in a bit of Rape Seed Oil. Then cook some giant cous cous in some water and a veggie stock cube stirred well in.  Drain the Cous-cous, add a knob of butter and all the veg. Serve, sprinkled with some nice hard cheese (we had Manchego in, and that worked really well). ENJOY!IMG_5480

My All Year Garden

Its always been important to me to have something beautiful to enjoy in the garden all year. I have something in flower every month of the year, but more importantly, I have all year ‘interest’ in the borders. None of my borders is particularly seasonal because cold, black, wet earth is not pretty in my book.  I have always followed the rule of 1/3 evergreens in the garden so that it is never bare and there is always height and structure. Scottish winters are long. Here in Southern Angus with our South-Facing Coast line and sheltering Hills to the North and West, we don’t get hard winters. In fact we get less snow here than in Lincolnshire where I grew up. But they are long. Winter begins in October and goes on until late April, sometimes longer. In fact, some say we have all  year winter. As I write it is Midsummer’s Day (21st June) and you wouldn’t want to be outside without a jacket, even though the sun is shining bright and strong. The wind is cold. Enough! Enough moaning about the weather. The point is, in our climate, it helps to keep my spirits up if I have a garden that I can appreciate all year around.

JanuaryAll year garden Jan

This month is when we expect to get some real wintry frosts and the onset of true winter. The ‘Golden Border’ is planted with Yellow-leaved Conifers and other evergreens and yellow flowering perennials. This photo shows it in its fifth winter 2018, and it gets fuller with each year. Most of the colour here is provided by various Euonymus varieties, Eleagnus ebbingei ‘Limelight’, Golden Grasses and Conifers.


All Year Garden Feb.

Even in the depth of winter, the back ‘White Garden’ has plenty of brightness, here with the lovely Carex oshimensis ‘Evereste’, snowdrops and white crocus. There’s also a lovely bright white variegated Euonymus called ‘Kathy’ with good sized leaves.

MarchAll year Garden Mar 2

Narcissus ‘Tete A Tete’ are now in full bloom and Hellebores too. This is my ‘Heuchera Corner’. A shady North-Facing spot sloping up toward the road which is hedged with Hawthorn.  In an average winter, Heucheras will keep some of their colour and this last winter of 2018-19 was pretty average. In March, they will need a dose of liquid seaweed to help get them off and growing again.

AprilAll year Garden April

By early April, the sun will have moved back in to the North Facing back garden and the two lollipop Viburnum tinus shrubs at the back door will be studded with starry white flowers. White flowered Camellias won’t be out quite yet though, nor will the Rhododendron ‘Cunnningham’s White’. But The Climbing Rose ‘Iceberg’ will have retained enough of its leaves to be pretty, even after a good prune.

MayAll year Garden May

Suddenly, the garden has lost it’s sharp, clean edges and crisp look and now growth is fast and lush. The first of the perennials start to flower. Geums, Lupins, Alliums and Armeria are the stars of the show, while the Golden Border fills out beautifully in the background. We always love the day this month that the Cattle are allowed back out on to the hillside and they spend the day calling to one-another and rushing about in joyfulness.


All year Garden June

June speaks for itself really. But I particularly enjoyed this combination of Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ and Lupin ‘Masterpiece’ this year.

JulyAll Year Garden July 2

July is often very wet here. But last year we enjoyed the best summer month I can remember during my entire 30+ years in Scotland! Warm sunshine bathed the garden, and there really is nowhere I’d rather be on a day like this! The large boulders that edge this raised border were brought in, two or three at a time, in our car boot and placed by hand over  a couple of winters. Hard graft, but worth it!


All Year Garden August

This little apple tree is ‘Discovery’. A reliable cropper in Eastern Scotland and sharing its name with Captain Scott’s Ship which is moored in Dundee’s new Waterfront Harbour. The fruit don’t keep well but are sweet and crunchy. I eat what I can, share some and cook the rest for the freezer. This year 2019 it looks like this will be the only Eating apple of my five to bear any fruit at all. Cold weather came at just the wrong time in May and ruined the blossoms. August brings the first cold chill of autumn to our garden whereas in the Southern Counties of England it is often the warmest month of the year. I am still bitter!


All Year Garden Sept.

On the far left you can see the shiny red fruits of Malus ‘Evereste’ which is possibly the best garden tree you could grow. Soon it’s leaves will be turning golden and amber. The Euonymus alata compacta in the bottom left corner is my favourite autumn shrub. It starts to change colour from bright lime green in summer during July and August, and by September it is this wonderful claret red. The tiny bi-coloured (Orange and Pink) berries will be seen only after the leaves have fallen during October. During this month, the blue tones of the Conifers start to intensify. We often have nice weather in September, and I would say it is the best month in Scotland for colour.


All year garden October

October and we now have true autumn. The deciduous foliage is at its height of colour and the tree heath (Erica arborea) is bright and golden. Some of my best shrubs for autumn colour are the Witch Hazels (Hamamelis ‘Arnold Promise’ and the Cornus alba varieties that will give me winter stem colour soon. But there is also a little-known fruiting shrub called Aronia pruneifolia which produces lovely blossoms, edible fruits (shiny black berries suitable for Jam making) and then gorgeous red and purple leaves in autumn. It deserves to be more widely grown, particularly as a hedgerow plant or in permaculture situations. If you don’t want to make the jam, let the blackbirds gorge themselves. They won’t complain about the rather bitter flavour and they will benefit from the extreme amounts of vitamin C etc. contained in them.


All Year Garden November

November is the month when everything just gives up and goes to sleep. The leaves all drop off seemingly overnight and slush and mush lies everywhere. But after a tidy up and a layer of mulch, I can enjoy the red stems of the Cornus alba sibirica, ‘Baton Rouge’ and ‘Elegantissima’. And the grasses will still be looking great too.


All year Garden December

And this is the month when I really do appreciate my lawns. Can you visualise this garden without lawn? A lot of my friends have given up on the infuriating green sward that takes up so much time and effort. But I think I would miss it so much during the winter. We have such a mild climate that it remains green all winter and that has to make it worth keeping doesn’t it? And of course there’ll be no mowing from now on until spring time. So I enjoy the long shadows and remind myself that this is the lowest the Sun will get….from now on…it can only go upwards!



Geums – Flowering for Months

Not everything is easy on my plot. Granted I have mostly good neutral, rich, moist soil and many plants enjoy it. However, there is a large raised border that was created before our time and filled with clay subsoil. When we moved in during October 2013, the raised beds contained several dead plants an ailing tree and a few other decent plants. But the surface of the bed was literally green with algae and it shone after the rain. Not attractive or healthy at all.  Since then I have added grit, sand, compost, mulches…as much as I can, whenever I can. Whenever I plant anything, I add compost to the hole and mix it all up. And it really has helped. But even so, the border is still basically sticky clay and a lot of plants just don’t survive the winters with their roots sitting in heavy, cold wet clay.

Enter the Geum! It loves heavy damp claggy conditions. It grows so successfully that I have to split and replant it every couple of years. At maturity, the clumps are around 50 cm across and about 40cm high. And the flowers just go on and on for months if I remember to dead-head regularly.  They are very beautiful flowers too…similar to Strawberry flowers (they are part of the same Rose family along with Potentilla and of course, Roses). They come in shades of yellow through to rich red and all the shades of orange in between.

Here’s a selection from my small collection. Top left is ‘Totally Tangerine’ and underneath it is the peachy ‘Mai Tai’. The big photo on the right is of ‘Alabama Slammer’ which has orange and yellow double flowers deepening to terracotta red with age. The pure orange single flower is G. borisii ‘Queen of Orange’ and the double yellow is ‘Lady Stratheden’. The little orange double (bottom right) is called ‘Firestorm’. Lots more varieties are available. And the foliage is evergreen too, so you always know where they are in the border. Bees love them too…even the double flowers have bee accessible stamens so they make great plants for a wildflower border. Geum avens is actually a marginal plant so can be grown beside a pond. Easy, long-flowering and beautiful.

May 2018


My Garden In Early May


At last the Apple Blossoms are blooming and little highlights of colour are appearing across the garden. May is here…the best month of the year! There’s a lot of white and yellow  in the garden of course, but I have some pretty dwarf Rhododendrons in flower as well. The Lawn will take a few weeks to recover from its annual raking or scarifying. I finally got around to tackling it last week. This removed all the thatch and moss from last year, allowing light, air and water to reach the roots.


Beside my wildlife pond, the globeflower (Trollius Europaeus) shines in the sunshine.


The Pear blossom is over now, and the soft needles of the weeping standard Larch (Larix kaempferi ‘Stiff Weeping’) are full and lush. On the left is the lovely Cedrus deodara ‘Mr Blue’ with his multiple spires.


Big pots of red and orange tulips are displayed on wooden staging which Scott built from the best bits of an old decking that we removed from the back door. They make a bright focal point on the patio before the roses and perennials start next month.IMG_3438

Dusk in Heuchera Corner. Last year at this time I was despairing about the damage done to my collection of Heucheras and didn’t think they would grow again. But most of them did recover, and this winter has been much kinder.  The stars of this corner at the moment are the dwarf Rhododendrons though.


The cherry pink blossoms of Malus ‘Indian Magic’ are a nice change from the white blossoms. This Crab Apple produces tiny dark red fruits later on, and the foliage stays dark with red tints all summer. In the distance the Oil Seed Rape crop brightens the fields above Newbigging Village.


In the back white-themed garden, the narcissus (Thalia, Misty Glen etc.) are starting to go over now and Rhododendron ‘Cunningham’s White’ is beginning to bloom. The lilac tree (Madame Lemoine) will be covered with big white panicles next month. And ‘Iceberg’ climbing rose will festoon the arch.

IMG_3463 (2)

This little corner has had a make-over this winter. I painted my table and chair with a verdigris effect and introduced two small shelving units to match. They are displaying pots of alpines that will tolerate shade as this corner is quite shaded until later in the afternoon.  I painted my little metal-work mirror and a ‘tree of life’ ornament to match. And a collection of potted plants completes the look. The empty saucer was supporting a hardy Begonia which I have taken back inside the greenhouse because of the cold snap.


When the weather is kind, this is my breakfast spot! 🙂


Unfurling Fronds


The Golden Border which runs the width of my garden at the roadside end is waking up. The early riser here is Aurinia ‘Summit’ with its glaring yellow flowers, so attractive to the pollen beetles. To the right Rhododendron ‘Nancy Evans’ is just starting to flower. The buds look quite orange, but the flowers are a lovely shade of yellow. Right of the centre you can see the yellow Hellebore is still flowering. It’s been going since February. The late narcissus ‘Pipit’ is one of the last daffodils to flower for me, and in front of the wall, yellow border Primula auricula has been fantastic all over the garden for weeks. It spreads very quickly and has large clusters of buttery yellow blooms.


The vegetables are coming along quite well. I’ve got dwarf peas, yellow beetroots, spring onions, two kinds of carrots, two kinds of lettuces and somthing called ‘Kalette’ which is a tiny Kale. The tallest planter is full of strawberries. In the greenhouse I have tomatoes (several different varieties), mini cucumbers, Chillies, squashes (the little yellow flying saucer kind), courgettes and melons. The squash will come out, but the rest will stay in the greenhouse. In pots and planters I have blueberries and blackcurrants.


Willow…a willing but not very efficient helper!IMG_3534

Its getting dark in Meditation corner where all the little Acers live! I think I shall go indoors and get the kettle on. I hope the weather warms up soon. I prefer my May without the frost. And I should dearly love to see the Cattle on the hillside again soon.



What Makes A Spring?

Yesterday was the ‘official’ first day of Spring…Halleluia! But obviously it makes no difference when the ‘officials’ say it is Spring. It could easily be snowing on the 20th March…although thankfully this year we were spared that.  So what makes a Spring?

For me, the first day of spring came this morning at dawn. At this time of year the House Sparrows are starting to build their nests in little gaps they find in our roof. And when they find them, they set about making such a din as they make their annual renovations. I am pretty sure they have hammers up there because the noise wakes us up every morning! However, I shouldn’t complain because House Sparrows are somewhat endangered due to loss of habitat and what not. At least we still have some!

Later on this morning I was treated to the second indicator of Spring’s arrival as my husband took out the Mower to give the grass its first cut. As I stepped out of the patio doors I was treated to the near-heavenly scent of the first fresh mowings. And then…to cap it all….the song of the Skylark in the field behind our house as it forced it’s way up vertically to the clouds flapping and singing as if it’s life depended on it. Only to plunge headlong back to earth and start all over again. And for me…these are the three signs. The Nesting, the Mowing and the Singing.  If you get these three all in one day…it’s definitely Spring. 🙂

Oh, and yes, there’s Cherry Blossom of course!IMG_2567

March Can Be Tough To Take

After enjoying a mild and benevolent February, March has come storming in as usual and knocked us about the head. It’s probably colder in my garden today than it has been all winter and definitely not somewhere I would want to be for more than 5 minutes.

But taking a short stroll with my camera is something I tend to do more when the weather is bad. It gives me an opportunity to take a good look at what is stirring in the soggy, wind-swept earth.

The Hellebores from my last blog are doing beautifully if slightly battered by the strong winds. They will be fine.  ‘Tutu’ is a good one. It makes a good clump in quick time and its flowers are held well up so you can actually see them without having to cradle them in your hand.


Some of the shrubs are starting to break bud, and Sambucus nigra ‘Serenade’ is one of the first. It starts off quite red and then changes to lime green with reddish tints as the season progresses.  Behind it there is a Carex testacea ‘Prairie Fire’ which at this time of year is pretty straw-like. The new growth will be coppery and bronzy, if all goes well and it survives this winter.


Herbaceous plants are mostly still snug under the bark mulch, but Geranium phaeum ‘Conny Broe’ is emerging with beautifully marked lime-green leaves. I planted this last spring, so am really pleased to see it returning, especially as it is so beautiful even at this early stage. Later it will carry some pinkish lilac flowers.


Another early emerging herbaceous perennial is Lamium orvala. It makes a substantial clump, about 2 feet in every direction. It carries orchid-like buff pink flowers over a long season and then in autumn the whole clump turns bronze. Its a great plant and easy to grow, even under a hawthorn hedge.


The tulips are pushing up well now and some of the early foliage is so pretty with glaucous blue tones. Most of my tulips are in pots and I tend to replace them annually so I can be sure of a really good display on the patio. Its a bit expensive, but it does allow me to ring the changes annually and grow new varieties as well as my all time favourite ‘Princes Irene’.


During early March I can rely on the fabulous Narcissus ‘Tete-A-Tete’ to bring bright cheerfulness to my days. They are at their best right now, planted in drifts and clumps all over the garden. I think they are Gold Medal winning late winter flowers.


A couple of years ago I planted corms of Corydalis solida ‘Beth Evans’. Just three of them in my Rosy Patio Border. A wise friend advised me to label them clearly because in Summer they go dormant and its easy to forget they are there and consequently trowel them up by accident. So far I’ve managed to avoid disturbing them too much and I will try to get more of this plant because its simply beautiful and so early to flower.


This is it just starting to flower. In a couple of weeks there will be at least twice as many blooms, and what a gorgeous colour for late winter! It looks far too delicate to be giving me such a stunning display. What’s more, it seems to be a lot tougher and easier to grow than the blue Corydalis flexuosa varieties which I also love.

My latest project is a couple of small plant display shelving units that I aquired in a sale last year, which I have moved in to ‘Camellia Corner’, a North-West facing spot in my back garden. I’ve used them to display some new Alpine plants which I have chosen for their tolerance to shade. But this corner can often be the warmest spot on Summer afternoons. I’m pleased with the effect, even on a dead dull day like today it looks pretty. I recently repainted the table and chair and the mirror on the wall to match. They were all originally black. The rose on the wall behind is ‘Souvenir Du Docteur Jamain’, a shade tolerant deep velvety and beautifully scented climber. I’m ever so pleased that it has stayed evergreen all winter this year.


I still have one tiny patio rose bloom hanging on and back-lit by the Tete-A-Tetes. This rose is called ‘Purple Rain’ and it is sold as a ‘ground-cover’ rose, which basically means it’s a sprawling miniature. Gorgeous all summer and this year all winter too!


But this is what we really want to see at this time of year isn’t it? The emerging jewels that are the species tulips. This one is T. hageri ‘Little Beauty’. It deserves it’s name, and some sunshine (maybe tomorrow…) will open its buds to reveal centres of inky blue and white. Something to look forward to!


In the meantime….keep enjoying those Hellebores!