I don’t know about you but when I go out to spend a day in the garden, things never go quite according to plan. I did make a list, mostly concerning seed sowing, but, once I got outside, my mind turned to other things. First of all, it’s been the most glorious day – cold but with a with a spring tranquility. There was lots of birdsong, daffodils still in their full glory, some contended cats, taking it in turns to enjoy the flowers with me:


While admiring these lovely primroses with Bella, I took a closer look at the back hedge, one year on from the great conifer removal. It is still quite scrappy looking but there are definite signs of renewal and there are daffodils, honesty and wallflower providing some spring colour:





You can also see there a  rose, a honeysuckle and a lot of campion about to surge into flower. It’s definitely getting there and should look better in the summer once the regrowth has continued.  I did some light pruning of the privet to encourage it but once I had the shears in my hand, I wandered off to other areas of the garden in need of hacking back, finding myself attacking the enormous and ancient escallonia, which dominates one side of the garden. This magnificent bush has taken the place of the conifers as the oldest plant in the garden. It doesn’t appear to do very much but in the summer it is a magnet for bees:

Bee on escallonia

At this time of year it just looks rather scraggy and gets very out of hand if not pruned. Apart from the bees, what I love about this plant is that it doesn’t seem to mind what you do to it, it just grows back. Once I had cut back an entire council bin full of prunings, I found myself in right at its centre, where its ancient, ivy covered heart  is regrowing already:




Alongside the ivy all sorts of tiny things have self-seeded and started to grow inside this bush, including a holly:


a bramble bush:


a cotoneaster:


and, astonishingly, a yew tree.


Yew trees are supposed to live for thousands of years, but I suspect this escallonia is going to compete with it.  I cut back the ivy a bit (I know you’re supposed to leave it for wildlife and things but there is really quite a lot of ivy in my garden) and I pulled up the bramble but I’ll leave the cotoneaster and the holly and the yew to see what happens next.

I may go back out to the garden now to do some of that seed sowing but I came in to warm up, write this blog and to sample some of yesterday’s allotment cake, which turned out rather well:




Sunshine and rainbows

Despite a busy weekend, I found some time for the allotment this afternoon. We surveyed the plot again and now have our plan down in writing. There is blossom on the plum tree and birds flying all round the plot. Our overwintered onions are doing well and we are still harvesting purple sprouting broccoli and some baby kale.  The autumn sown broad beans have been almost completely hopeless: old seed, pests? We’re not sure why but one brave little plant has survived:

20190324_160136This should give us lovely beans in early summer. We sowed a whole lot more today to keep it company. In between the rows, I sowed some saved seeds from the magnificent radish ‘purple plum’:


I’ll see whether they are any better at producing radishes in the allotment than they are in the garden but, if not, we, and the bees, can always enjoy the flowers:


Meanwhile, back at the house,  my tomato seeds have germinated and are now queuing up on the windowsill, waiting for the warmth so that they can go out to the seed palace in a couple of months (oh dear – sown too soon again).

There was a cold wind alongside the sunshine and some icy showers. This late wintry combination brought us a rainbow, lighting up the trees:


The season  is really beginning.


Lost and found

Spring has come early. The daffodils have joined the snowdrops and crocuses in bringing us cheer

Today I got out into the garden to do some clearing up. The hedge at the back of the garden, where the conifers used to be, is looking decidedly bedraggled. My idea that it would be full of life and colour and a huge improvement on the conifers has yet to materialise. Partly it is just winter and some of the things growing up it have yet to come into full joyousness but the bare bits are made slightly more complex by neighbours moving in behind the hedge. The house behind ours has been empty for a year or so and it hasn’t mattered very much that you can see straight into it but now we (and the new neighbours) seem just a little too transparent. Not that we get up to anything interesting but a certain level of privacy would be good. Today I used the springlike weather and some recent birthday gifts to try and fill the gaps a bit. Along with the existing honeysuckle and roses, I have now added another honeysuckle, a pink flowered jasmine, a pyracantha, a spring flowering clematis and some lavender seedlings.

If these all grow like they are supposed to the gaps in the hedge should fill up and there should be some winter greenery and early spring flowers and perhaps the neighbours won’t have quite such a ringside view of our family goings on. Meanwhile, the hedge threw up yet another piece of treasure, after all the footballs and whatnot from last year, today I found a keyring under the hedge, complete with key for the shed padlock, lost about five or six years ago and long since replaced:


It’s very muddy and a little rusty but it has returned from the planet of the keyrings to its proper home.

At last, February

I’ve got a bit behind on the blog, what with the usual winter darkness and other commitments but, today, spring is in the air at last. I made a pilgrimage to the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens with my mother to look at the snowdrops:


The gardens have a bare beauty at this time of year, with architectural trees, some tiny flowers and plenty of birdsong. They were also busy with visitors: families with small children, young couples, older people, tourists. We had a little reminisce over the generations of visits we have made to the gardens, always a popular place with children of all ages. We also enjoyed reading all the plaques on the memorial benches, and sitting on a few of the benches.  I noticed that there is now a ‘free library‘, down near the hot houses:


currently filled mostly with novels.

Note of course that public libraries are also free and have many more books but it’s good to know that, should you find yourself sitting on one of the many memorial benches with nothing to read, you can find something in the free library.

Having tried out a few more benches, sniffed a few witch hazels and listened to robins in the trees, we came away with a bag full of plants from the shop – my mother’s birthday present to me. By the time we got home it was dark so the plants will have to wait until tomorrow to be planted. Meanwhile we had a good sniff of the winter box (sarcococca confusa) that sits just outside the bike shed on the way to my kitchen door:

20190215_182401[1]Spring is definitely in the air.

Signs of spring

In the dark days of January I have not got into the garden very often. I was away this weekend but got home in time to have a quick look round before it got dark. I was delighted to see the first snowdrops coming up:


and that the hamamelis (witch hazel) is in flower:

20190113_142842[1]I love these signs of spring and they are a little early this year I think. The hamamelis is particularly pleasing as I’ve been struggling to keep these plants alive over several years. I used to grow them in pots but they have been destroyed by vine weevils – for more on these, see here . So early this year I bought a new one and planted it straight in the ground. It was doing well until it got a little damaged by the football playing musicians , who are, to quote my neighbour, ‘better at music than football’.

It seems to have survived both the weevils and musicians and has produced a lovely array of sweetly scented orange flowers to herald the spring.


Today has been a pretty bleak start to a few days away from work, in which I hoped to get lots of gardening done.  But everything in the garden is saying ‘no, wait! It’s too cold’.  So I stayed inside and got on with repotting my tomatoes and cucumbers:

As usual, there are too many tomatoes, three varieties this year: San Marzano, Tigerella and Ailsa Craig.  I sowed two types of cucumber: a green one and the ever-lovely yellow Chrystal Apple.  Of course I didn’t label them, thinking ‘It’ll be fine, I’ll know what they are when the fruits form’. Only one type has germinated and of course I don’t know which one. Here’s hoping the others are just coming more slowly.

Later, I thought I’d better get out for a walk and then I came back to see what was happening in the garden. There are some tiny signs of life:

Here tarragon, chives and lovage all peeking up through leaf mould and general gloom in the herb bed in the front garden.

In the back garden there is the reliable rhubarb, winning in a competition with the daffodils which are barely in bud:

WP_20180331_18_12_39_ProThe purple sprouting broccoli produced some lovely florets in the autumn but has been in the huff since about December. It is now beginning to show signs of new growth

WP_20180331_18_14_46_ProAnd I have a clever plan to have more later this year and into next year:

WP_20180331_18_15_52_ProThe wonder of seedlings never fails. On the strength of this, I sowed some flower seeds in pots inside to bring on more hope of summer .

Snow beast update

Cowometer showing deep snow on the pond again this morning:

WP_20180302_14_57_58_Probut it is thawing a little.  I went out to the front garden and cleared the pavement outside our house.  Other people in the road had cleared their drives. I am more concerned about pedestrians on the pavement.  I also built a car-blocking snowperson in the driveway, just in case:

wp_20180302_15_58_15_pro.jpgMy sons did this the last time we had decent snow here, nearly ten years ago.


snowmen against global warming 2009
Snowman 2009

It was a better snowman but since neither of them were available to do this today, I thought it was my duty to do so. Looking at that old photo, I notice that the snow was less impressive but also that it was before I dug up the front carpark and planted roses and lavender, herbs and daffodils.  You can’t see much of them in this photo either but the spring bulbs are there and they will reappear soon!


Beasts in the snow

On the first day of spring, as the so-called Beast from the East has visited Edinburgh, this would have to be a snow post.  I’ve been watching the snow over the last couple of days, creeping up over the beasts by the pond:


WP_20180301_16_03_21_ProWP_20180301_07_48_25_ProBella has not enjoyed the snow but has found special Bella ways of getting about:

The pond is a favourite part of the garden so she had to explore it in the snow

It’s still snowing tonight so I’ll provide a cowometer update and let you know if we can still see it tomorrow.  As for the plants underneath all of that, who knows?  Stay safe and warm.

February weekend

I’ve had a February sort of weekend, with my favourite February flowers. I’ve visited my mother and acquired yet another witchhazel, third time lucky that this one will survive the vine weevils.


Then we went to the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh in search of snowdrops.



We found quite a few.  I had also been hoping to see some crocuses but it was rather a grey day and they were hiding.  There were a few in the alpine house, protected from the biting wind and sharing the glory with these lovely irises:WP_20180218_15_52_36_Pro.jpg

The gardens can be rather bleak at this time of year but it’s nice just to wander round and enjoy the trees in all their architectural glory:

WP_20180218_15_30_50_Pro (1).jpgWP_20180218_15_30_58_Pro.jpg


WP_20180218_15_47_51_Pro.jpgI’ve said here before that I think that February is overlooked.  I have my own special reasons for liking February in all its oddness, its special shortness, its signs of spring and particularly its snowdrops.