Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Garden 2013 no 7 ( forgot to post it earlier)

Looks like I forgot to post number 7 so here it is

Garden 2013  no 7
It’s been a while since I posted on my garden. This summer has flown by; retirement is a very busy time of life for me. Like I said last time, I spent May in France and when I came home the garden was overgrown thanks to the deluge of rain that fell while I was away. 
The mini monsoons have been followed by six weeks of 30 + degrees, I’ve been hose piping the garden every night after the sun dies down.  These are temperatures virtually unknown in Scotland. Although I have to say this heqt wave is coming to an end, we have had thunder storms and today we are back to heavy rains. 

This bizarre combination of rain and extreme heat has made a noticeable difference to the garden. The soft fruit all yielded bumper crops and I have a freezer full ready for jams and preserves when I get back.
The only problem with the fruit was the birds, I think they ate as much as I picked; (mental note to self, buy fruit nets before next year). I even had 6 delicious red cherries from my young cherry tree. Not exactly a bumper crop, but it’s a young tree and this is the first year it has produced. I’m hoping this is a good omen for years to come.
The vegetables didn’t do so well. The beetroot looked as if it was flourishing, but under all those leaves leaves, were tough, woody baby beetroots hardly the size of walnuts.
I couldn’t leave them in the ground any longer because they started to go to seed, most of them didn’t even make it into the kitchen; they went straight into the compost. 

 I had more shallots than ever before. I’ve just lifted them out of the ground because I’m off to France again next week and I want to get them into jars of spiced vinegar before I go away. I’m struggling to find enough space to dry them all.
The garlic looks OK, not quite ready to lift yet so I’m hoping it doesn’t go to seed while I’m away. I need it to make my herb oil. I planted sets of red onions and the leaves grew tall but the onions themselves didn’t grow. I’ve pulled them from the ground because they started to flower, I’ll use the couple that grew to a decent size but the bulk of my red onions are destined for the compost pile. Salad has been strange, I’ve had a constant supple of huge radishes and spring onions, I pulled the last today because I want to use them before going away. That’s it for this year; I’ll not be putting in any more seeds in now, it’s too late in the season.
I’ve also had a never ending supply of cress growing in the window but; none of the lettuce, rocket or salad leaves survived. Despite my daily hose pipe watering, they died off as fast as I could plant them. In the end I gave up and concentrated on the things that grew. The oddest thing of all this year is the non show of the nasturtium flower. Every year I grow lots and lots of nasturtiums and they’ve always flowered profusely. 

This year I’ve had the usual abundance of good strong healthy looking plants, they are a great addition to the salad bowl, but not a single flower, and I’ve no idea why. My lavender liked the hot weather, I have lots drying ready to make little lavender sachets.
Talking of flowers, this year I have really enjoyed my flowers. I’ve spent the last few years transforming my garden from the traditional lawn and flower borders into a food producing plot. 

The plan was to have a fairly productive and established food growing garden by the time I retired so that I could indulge my love of the garden in all that extra time I was going to have. This is my first summer of retirement and so far things haven’t exactly panned out the way I planned. Rather than having extra time for the garden, I’ve ended up with a lot less. I’ve come to realise that retirement is exactly the same as any other time of your life in as much as there is a finite amount of time and usually an infinite amount of things you want to do. 


I’ve spent very little time here in the last few months because I’ve been trying to cram so much in. I’ve spent a long time in France, I’ve spent more time than usual enjoying the company of my grandchildren, I have my painting to find time for plus I now like to go out taking photographs AND, I like to walk every day. I have signed up for photographic competitions AND a painting competition. I can walk much further now than I used to. I’m determined to keep up with the walking, I want my retirement to be long, happy and healthy, and to do that I need to keep fit and walking every day is my chosen method.


So now I’m thinking maybe my garden would be better used as a quiet restful place where I can sit and relax occasionally rather than a place that needs time and effort. I guess its all about priorities; no one can do every thing. I’m considering grassing back over the vegetable plot and just keeping the soft fruit, they mostly look after themselves any way and I do quite like making jam. No firm decisions yet but I’m ‘considering my options’ as they say. I’ll miss the shallots, they always do well and I like to have pickles but I’ve come to realise, I can’t have every thing.
I’ve already made a quiet area at the top of my garden where I can sit and enjoy the sun and I’m still thinking about putting the grass back. 


These are just random photos taken over the last month or so. Like I said, I’m enjoying getting back into sitting watching the flowers. It’s been hectic, but it’s been fun.  

When I get back from France this time my priority will be to paint the garden walls, fences and gates. It’s a big job and should have been done this summer but now I’ll have to find time to for it in between this trip to France and my next one which will probably be in October. I hope the weather lasts because I can’t paint in the rain.
The grandchildren go home on Tuesday and I leave again for France on Thursday. It’s my sisters 60th birthday and we are having a garden party. I doubt I will post again before I leave although I will do my best to visit sites and posts I’ve missed.

By the time I come home in the middle of August, the children will be back at school, the evenings will be getting shorter and the best of the summer will be gone. Summer in Scotland never lasts much past the end of August, maybe, just maybe, some sort of normality will return to my life. 

Garden 2013 no 8

Garden 2013 no 8.

First thing to say is that when I came home from France and walked through the gate, I was astounded at the amount of colour in the garden. I thought after almost 2 weeks of neglect in the sunshine, every thing would be wilted and brown. Happily it wasn’t. The nasturtiums were in bloom at last, not the masses of flowers I’ve had in previous years,  but there were a few nice big bright orange flowers hiding amongst the leaves. 

The Buddlea bush looked about   10 inches taller and full of blooms, (also full of butterflies). I can see why it’s called a butterfly bush, it really is. 

Just before I left I filled the old strawberry tub with some inexpensive bedding plants and when I returned……………the old strawberry tub was transformed into a mass of blue and white, it makes a very pretty addition to the garden for next to no cost or effort.

The Lavateria has done very well this year, I had a mass of bright pink flowers before I left, and I returned to even more flowers. This particular shrub had flowered so prolifically, I had to stop and dead head it before I even reached the front door, and its continued to flower ever since then.
 It must be  2 or 3 years old now and they’re only supposed to last a few years,  I’ll have to remember to prune it vigorously next spring to try to keep it going. 

I also need to prune the Spiraea Douglasil back next year because that has had more flowers this year than ever before. I’m a bit undecided about this plant, it looks very pretty with its soft pink spiky flowers but after a short while in bloom, the flowers go a horrible scruffy shade of brown and don’t look at all attractive.
I think the biggest flower success this year has been the Montbretia, the lovely bright orange flowers that grow from dense clumps of upright sword-shaped foliage.
I love the story behind this plant; it originated in Southern Africa but has become naturalized in (of all places) the Western Isles, off the northwest coast of mainland Scotland. There they grow in great colourful swathes along the roadside, in country lanes and beside the lochs. Considering this plant originated in Africa its amazing that it can acclimatise  to the harsh climate of the western isles. 

This is the first year they have grown in my garden, last year I put a couple of the little corms in the ground along the border, and this year, I have lots of flowers in 2 sizes (2 varieties). In a couple of years, I should be over run by them.
The yellow tansy is still in flower, it’s lasted for ages this year and it still makes an impressive sight as you enter the garden. And last but not least is the Campion, I had Rose Campion, (which is what this is), pink Campion and white Campion in the garden this year. The white and the pink are the wild flower variety and the rose is the cultivated variety. The white and pink flowered earlier in the year but the rose still has the last few flowers of the year.
Next year I intend to carry on with the fruit, it pretty much looks after itself and I love making the jams and chutneys, I’ll also do the radishes and spring onions in tubs because they are easy, delicious, don’t take up a lot of space plus you get crops every 6-8 weeks. I’m not sure if I will carry on with the veg though because at the moment, I want to reclaim my lawn and enjoy the flowers and butterflies. I'm in the middle of repainting gates and fences and after that, there is fruit pruning to be done in the Autumn, and thats about it until next spring.