Darlac swivel shears

Recently I wanted to be able to cut back my hardy geraniums which I usually used my secateurs and scissors for.  This year I decided to get myself some shears that I could use single handedly as I don’t have core muscles and tend to fall over trying to use the heavier, doubled handed shears with both hands.  The Darlac swivel shears, as the name suggests, can rotate.  The small version’s blades can rotate 360° with 12 cutting angles.  I am right handed but tried using my left hand and found it just as good with my left hand.  They really worked cutting back my hardy geraniums in the raised bed.  For growth that was not the soft green growth I still had to use the secateurs as the blades just couldn’t handle it.  The long handled version’s   blades can not only rotate 360° but you can also adjust the angle of the cutting head so you can use it as edging shears for grass.  I managed to cut the hardy geraniums in the flower beds well enough but the stems were a bit too tough for them.  They are great for leafy growth and are light weight but they are not suitable for tougher growth.  The long ones have a small front support which I initially thought I wouldn’t make use off, but actually once I got the hang of it I found it quite useful.   So I a glad I bought them and I will also be able to edge the small bit of grass we have and cut back leafy vegetation with them but need to remember they are not sturdy enough for anything other than lightweight annual growth.  They both have a locking mechanisms to keep the blades together for safety.

small single handed light weight shears with long-handled version with swivel cutting head
Darlac swivel shears
pink generous gardener rose at the top of an arch

Beginning of July 2024

Finally the Generous Gardener rose is in full bloom over the arch at the back of the garden.  It looks great along side the dark foliage and the pink flower heads of the Sambucus nigra f. porphyrophylla ‘Eva’ (PBR.)  There is perfume everywhere from the various roses, honey suckles and philadelphus.  However, the philadelphus flowers are now going over and there are white petals all over the ground beneath it.

pale pink rose beside deep purple leaves and pink flower heads of sambucus nigra
Generous gardener with sambucus nigra
pretty white flowers all over the philadelpus

The astrantias are flowering their socks off but the slugs have decimated the foliage of the white one which is in the garden.  The pink and red astrantias are in copper pots that the slugs dislike so they have been spared. And speaking of damage: the hellebores are in a bit of a state, as are the brunnera Jack frost.  Slugs and snails are not meant to like astrantias, hellebores and brunneras but nobody told the ones in my garden! To be fair I think most of the damage to the brunneras has been caused by the wood pigeons tearing bits from the foliage.  They have been pecking away at the honey suckle too.

half eaten foliage of astrantia by slugs
Slug damaged astrantia foliage. (I took that photo a day or so ago and when I went out on slug patrol today there are NO leaves left and I found 6 slugs on it!)
damage caused by pigeons, slugs and snails on brunnera foliage
Damaged brunnera Jack frost
slug and snail damage to hellebores foliage
hellebore damage

And here are some of the culprits:

tub of Spanish slugs that cause damage in my garden
Tub of Spanish slugs

If I don’t do a slug patrol daily then these ones would grow to this kind of size or even bigger!

big Spanish slug on the palm of my hand
Big Spanish slug
big Spanish slug on the palm of my hand
Big Spanish slug

I have resorted to putting some copper mesh around some plants but I have found slug trails over that too so now I will have to make copper hats to cover some plants until they get a little higher and tougher.  I had no problem at all with slug damage on the Gypsophila paniculata ‘Compacta Plena’ but this year it just can’t get started without being chomped.

large clay pot with copper mesh around a plant that has been eaten by slugs, shows slug trails over the copper mesh
Copper mesh with slug trails on it.

The rhododendron and duetzia have gone over now but the sambucus, spireas, hardy geraniums, thalictrums, astrantia,  lavender, cirsium, verbascums, verbena, alchemilla, gaura, erigeron, fuchsia, geums, cowslips and roses have now taken over.  There are still a few foxgloves hanging on and one clematis; Clematis warszawski has a few flowers on.

pink generous gardener rose at the top of an arch
Generous gardener rose (excuse the barbed wire of the fence in the background)
pink mini patio rose climbing up a pole
Mini pink patio rose
damp corner of garden with astilbe, fern and alchemilla mollis
Damp corner
tall yellow thalictrum flowers
Tall Thalictrum flavium Glaucum yellow

It is back to being cold and wet today so we are still waiting for summer to appear.

the view from the patio end of June 2024
the garden from the patio at the end June 2024
pale pink flowers on a rhododendron

Beginning of June 2024

After a couple of lovely sunny days the garden is becoming lush.  The weeds have shot up along with everything else.  The wet weather has been good for some plants like the candelabra primulas, the roses and the rhododendron.  I tried moving three of the primulas over from the pond overflow area to the damp corner by the ramp.  Only one survived, two were completely destroyed by slugs.  A bit like the  Achillea millefolium ‘Lilac Beauty’ I have been trying to establish near the pond last year.  The slugs got one so I potted up the surviving two and put one pot in a different area of the garden and the other pot on the patio table. The one in the garden  only just survived overnight whilst the one on the table is still great.    The patio table is becoming a nursery for  sick plants.  I have now put the damaged one on the patio to see how it does there.

achillea foliage looking good
Achillea millefolium ‘Lilac Beauty’ before the slugs
achillea foliage after slugs got it overnight
Achillea millefolium ‘Lilac Beauty’ overnight slug damage

Some primula get ravaged by slugs but some are spared and I don’t know why.  The white primula snowflake don’t get much damage at all and they spread freely but my primula apple blossom gets some damage but doesn’t spread freely.  The primula denticulata, veris  and vulgaris just get the odd nibble,  vialii have disappeared.

pink primula apple blossom
Primula Apple blossom

Another area which has loved the rain is the raised garden.  We pruned the viburnum and  syringia last year (and a bit the previous year) so sacrificed some flowers this year but they are looking better.  I might take out the Zepharin drouhin rose entirely as it is always a bit hit and miss there.  The beautiful acer is now swamping the blue hardy geranium so I may have to find a new spot in the garden for the geranium.

plants in the shady side of the raised bed
Shady side of the raised bed
pale pink flowers on a rhododendron
Rhododendron Gomer Waterer loving the rain

Along the back wall the pink hardy geranium is looking good next to the dark leaves and pink flowers of the Sambucus nigra f. porphyrophylla ‘Eva’ .  The Generous gardener rose growing  over the arch has been teasing us for a few weeks with all the lovely buds but yet to open.

Generous gardener buds over arch
Generous gardener buds yet to open
pink hardy geranium against the dark leaves of elder
Pink geranium beside the dark elder

In the pond the number of tadpoles appears to be depleted.  I thought maybe the newts had eaten them all but some folk have said that they may just have found better hiding places since there are more predators about.  I still haven’t found a good flat headed flowering plant to go beside the pond – they all just get eaten by the Spanish slugs.  The little iris versicolour Gerald Derby that hasn’t flowered for a couple of years has just started to flower again – yeah!  I had been thinking of pulling it out.  It isn’t all that showy but it is pretty and dainty.

blue iris versicolour Gerald Derby against a white wall and metal statue
blue iris versicolour Gerald Derby

In the conservatory my lithops are splitting.  Sometime lithops split into two and sometimes into four.  Mine are splitting into four new leaves.

lithops splitting getting 4 new leaves
Lithops splitting.
close up of lithop splitting getting 4 new leaves
Lithop splitting – 4 new leaves

I took the very scary decision to chop my aeonium.  I didn’t want it to get too tall as the head is very large and also they look better when viewed from above.   I really hope it survives the chop and I potted up bits of the stalk too so you never know, I may get a few if I am lucky.

aeonium voodoo succulent head chopped off
Aeonium Voodoo chopped

The furry Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Dorothy Brown’ flowered this year but I kept waiting for the flowers to open up more before I took a photograph not realising that they didn’t open any wider so now I will have to wait till next year to get a photo of the furry flowers.

As I said in a previous post my Nepeta Junior walker drowned in the very wet autumn/winter/spring that we had so I ordered three new ones form Crocus.  They have never let me down before but this time they did.  They sent one lovely looking plant, one not so good, and one diabolical plant.  Who thought it was ok to package these and send them out? I complained and was offered either a refund or a replacement.  I asked for a replacement (big mistake).  The replacement plant didn’t have a single leaf.  To be fair – the rest of my order was ok (although they could have been in better condition).  I am now going to try and buy plants in person whenever  possible.  I do still have a few good nurseries mail order to buy from.

3 nepeta plants ordered together. 1 good, 1 ok and 1 very bad condition
Nepeta: the good, the bad, and the crap
nepeta replacement in very bad condition
Nepeta replacement plant!

Let’s end on a good note:  the bees and other pollinators are loving the rhododendron. the deutzia, saxifrages, chives, honey lilies and all of the hardy geraniums and primulas.  Soon the Generous gardener will erupt in beautiful flowers.  The other roses have started to bloom and smell gorgeous (although we didn’t get round to pruning this late winter so they look a bit more straggly than usual.  The sun has just come out.

Colourful plants in the stumpery mid May 2024.

Mid May 2024 Colour in the garden.

Hooray – the sun is finally shining and it is warm!  The plants (and weeds) are romping away.  There are lots of colourful flowers open now, the aquilegias with all their different pinks, purples and whites, and the foliage colours are just as amazing.  I do love the bronze foliage of some of the younger leaves especially some of the ferns and the rodgersia.

bronze foliage on Osmunda regalis 'Purpurascens' fern.
Osmunda regalis ‘Purpurascens’
Bronze leaves of Rodgersia podophylla
Rodgersia podophylla

There are different green and purples in some other ferns and browns in the ones with ‘hairy’ fronds.  I think the hairs are actually called scales although they don’t look like scales.

green and purple foliage of Athyrium otophorum var. okanum fern
Athyrium otophorum var. okanum
Green fronds of Asplenium scolopendrium 'Cristata'
Asplenium scolopendrium ‘Cristata’
Close croziers of Dryopteris crispa congesta fern.
Dryopteris crispa congesta
Bushy green croziers of Polystichum setiferum Cristato pinnulum fern.
Polystichum setiferum Cristato pinnulum
'Hairy' fronds of Polystichum polyblepharum fern.
Polystichum polyblepharum
Silvery and purple fronds of Athyrium niponicum 'silver falls' fern.
Athyrium niponicum ‘silver falls’

The tree heath Erica arborea is flowering it’s heart out and the bees love the tiny flowers the centre of which a purple.  It has come back very well after it got big chop in 2021. The rowan was covered in blossom last year but this year is very disappointing.  You can just about see a few clusters at the top of it in the left side of the next pic.

White and purple flowers of Erica arborea alongside the pink flowers if the Hebe Pink paradise.
Erica arborea and Hebe ‘Pink paradise’.
White flowers with purple centre of Erica arborea.
Erica arborea close up

The amazing purple (garnet) foliage  of the Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum Garnet’ is looking  gorgeous just now contrasting well with the bright greens around it.  Although it looks very purple, the closer you get to it you can see a green tinge to it.

Deep garnet foliage of the Acer palmatum 'Dissectum Garnet'
Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum Garnet’.

The stumpery has plenty of colour with the white primula Snowflake which has a pink tinge to it,  blue ajugas mixed in with white galium odoratus, purple honesty, pale blue forget-me-nots,  a few pulmonarias and the pale blue Veronica Gentionoides Blue streak and more dark purple foliage of the huecheras.  We have borrowed the dark foliage of next doors tree.  The lime green of the Acer shirasawanum aureum really shines.

Colourful plants in the stumpery mid May 2024.
The stumpery in mid May 2024.
Blue Ajuga reptans bugle mixed with white Galium odoratum in the stumpery.
Ajuga reptans mixed with Galium odoratum.

A few beasties that I found this month were a Rosemary beetle (Chrysolina Americana) which looks absolutely beautiful.  The RHS says just to live with them unless they become a problem.

Purple and green shiny Rosemary beetle (Chrysolina americana).
Rosemary beetle (Chrysolina Americana).

A rather lovely white-legged snake millipede (Tachypodoiulus niger).

White-legged snake millipede (Tachypodoiulus niger).
White-legged snake millipede (Tachypodoiulus niger).

We are always told that slugs and snails don’t like moving over sharp objects but I have found slugs and snails going up the very sharp prickles of my moss roses.  This slug doesn’t look bothered at all.  I have found the tell-tale slime trails all over a very prickly cactus in the conservatory before too.

Slug going up prickly moss rose stem.
Slug on the very prickly moss rose stem.

And lastly for now the heather beetle (Lochmaea suturalis).  Apparently it wasn’t just my garden they were swarming into but even on beaches elsewhere. It isn’t a great photo. They have been quite a problem in the moorlands so I am hoping they are not going to be a problem here too.

Heather beetle (Lochmaea suturalis).
Heather beetle (Lochmaea suturalis).

I have seen plenty orange tip butterflies and holly blues and a few speckled wood butterflies so far.  And the usual bees, wasps and flies are around, but so far, no more wasp nests in the raised bed.  Our next-door neighbour had a lovely garden visitor the other day.  Our gardens back onto a golf course where the is a small herd of deer, and one of them got through her broken gate.  On the one hand, I would love to have them visit our garden, but on the other hand, they may cause a lot of damage.  I have no idea what plants they would eat.  It is back to chilly weather and overcast skies now.  It was nice to see the sun while it lasted.


Burgon & Ball Japanese Razor Hoe.

Scraping tool.

Scraping the weeds out from between the patio slabs has to be one of my least favourite gardening jobs.  I have to be bent double over my stomach putting my neck into an awkward angle in order to see what I am doing and getting my tool at just the correct angle.  I used to use a long handled scraping tool but it didn’t do a very good job.  My Burgon & Ball Japanese Razor Hoe is the best tool for the job.  It gets into the crevices and can scrape off moss and liverworts from the slab surface too.

Burgon & Ball Japanese Razor Hoe.
Burgon & Ball Japanese Razor Hoe.

Once the scraping is all done I can tidy up using an upright dustpan and brush set.  I position the dustpan bit into the space between my right foot rest and the right front castor so that I can sweep the rubbish into the dustpan easily without having to bend down.  Then I lift the dustpan up and empty it into a trug to go out.  The one I am using is from Lakeland (although I am using an old brush with it) and I like this one as is clicks into an upright position so I don’t have to hold onto it to keep it in place.

Upright dustpan.
Upright dustpan locked in position.
Upright dustpan and brush.
Upright dustpan and brush.
flower combinations in the stumpery

End of April 2024

Finally we have had a few nice days – still cold but not quite so wet.  The news was saying that we have the wettest 18 months till March this year since records began (maybe they just meant England but we have been very wet up here too).  I am still eagerly waiting for some signs of new growth from a few newly planted plants (last year) but so far it looks like they have died.   I had also taken quite a few Nepeta Junior Walker cuttings to sell at the Duddingston Kirk Garden Club sale but sadly they didn’t make it.  Some nepata in the stumpery also didn’t make it.  I found vine weevil grubs in one of the large pots on the patio that contained  some heuchera,  but at least I managed to take cuttings of the heuchera and saved them, I then fed the grubs to the birds.  I found one adult vine weevil in the conservatory but so far I haven’t found grubs in any of the plants in there, that may be because I put a top layer of gravel on the succulents so it couldn’t lay it’s eggs in the soil.  So, I have ordered vine weevil nematodes to treat the patio, conservatory and back garden.  I hate the blighters – apparently every adult is female and they can lay hundreds of eggs from April to September.  Just as well they can’t fly.   Trouble is, that to use the nematodes you need a soil temperature of above 5ºC and wet soil.  In Scotland we have to wait a while longer than England before the soil temperature is high enough for the nematodes to survive.  The temperature is ok now so I had better get on with it.

vine weevil grubs in a brown saucer
Vine weevil grubs

Most of the narcissi have gone over now except for the narcissi Pipit  Most of the tulips are over, as is the cherry tree, mahonia, spirea Bridal wreath, rosemary and  the epimediums.  Now taking over are the saxifrage mossy white and saxifrage andresii carpet purple along with the purple honesty, white wood anemones, bluey purple pulmonaria and yellow erythroniums in the stumpery.    The bright orange berberis is looking good just now and the ferns are all just beginning to unfurl their fronds.

flower combinations in the stumpery
Colour in the stumpery
saxifrage mossy white
Saxifrage mossy white
red coloured saxifrage plant
Saxifage andresii Carpet purple

There are loads of little splashes of purple all around the back garden from the Viola labradorica.  Not only does it have delightful little purple flowers but the leaves take on a purple tinge too.  They will self seed everywhere but I love them.  People do say that to make your garden feel more cohesive it is good to do repeat planting, either the same plant in various places around the garden or a similar colour repeated throughout.  I have done this with a few plants such as the viola, bugle, perrywinkle, hellebores, geraniums and aquilegias.  I was hoping to do the same thing with nepeta and erigeron but a few of the erigeron just died leaving empty spaces in some areas.  One of my spirea japonica white gold died too but the one right beside it is fine – I have no idea what happened there.

violet flowers of viola labradorica with purple tinged leaves
Viola labradorica

I am glad to hear that the weather will be getting a little warmer soon so I will be able to get in the garden a bit more, although the colder weather has maybe kept the number of slugs down as I haven’t seen that many – yet.

small yellow narcissi tete-a-tete

Mid March 2024 waiting for frog-spawn.

Gosh what a dreich few months we have had.  Lots of cold, rainy days with grey skies.   Just in the last day or two however we have had a few glimpses of sunshine and warmth (although it is said to get colder again soon!)  There are signs of new shoots everywhere in the garden and there is lots of colour in places against the greys and browns of earth and trees.  In next door’s garden there is a tree that has some lovely blossom on it but I don’t know exactly what it is.  In summer it is a large blob of deep purple foliage, but just now there are plenty of pretty flowers on bare branches.  It might be a bird-cherry or maybe a cherry-plum, not sure.  It does create a lot of shade when in full leaf over our side of the garden at the bottom left corner so I wish they would cut it back a bit.  In the stumpery there are  white erythronium  flowers out but the yellow ones, which are much larger, follow on later.  The snowdrops and the crocuses are over, some of the narcissi are in bloom like the tete-a-tete, and the pulmonaria, primrose, perrywinkle and hellebores are in flower.  The shrub sarcococca has some lovely sweet scented white flowers on it next to the winter honeysuckle.  In the opposite corner the pieris flowers are looking good as are  the bright orange berberis flowers,  and the rhododendron has lots of buds fattening up.  They have all loved this wet weather.

pinkish white blossom on tree, possibly cheryy or cherry-plum
Cherry-plum blossom perhaps
stumpery middle of March
Stumpery mid March 2014
D shaped bed in the stumpery
D shaped bed in the stumpery
raised bed and stumpery
Raised bed and stumpery
purple blue flowers of pulmonaria
back view of raised bed
Back view of raised bed
small yellow narcissi tete-a-tete
pieris and rhododendron
Pieris and rhododendron

What I call the middle bed hasn’t liked the wet so much.  The snow-in-summer looks very bedraggled just now but it should hopefully get going soon.  The border by the side of the ramp never looks great at this time of year as it has mainly persicaria in it which takes a while to start growing in this quite shady bit of the garden.  The garage creates a lot of shade, the walls of which are looking very grubby.

middle bed in mid march
Bedraggled middle bed mid March

I took a couple of snaps through the window of the front garden in the rain and you can see the daffodils bent over.   A day or two later with a bit of sunshine they perked up again.  The bumble bees have certainly loved them and the flowers on the mahonia and the sulphur yellow epimedium.

bent over daffodils in the rain
Sad daffs in the rain.
daffolis in the sun
Happy daffs in the sun.

I did get round to tidying the conservatory meanwhile and the cyclamen are still hanging on to some of their flowers.  There are a few flowers on the streptocarpus and a couple of tulips are about to open (they were tiny baby bulbs so the plants are quite small and I didn’t even think they would flower this year) and I have a couple of trays of cuttings ready for the Duddingston Kirk Garden Club plants sale in May.  The downside to the mild wet winter is that the bugs were not killed off and I found greenfly all over the coriander.

in the conservatory mid March trays of plants
Conservatory mid March

The pond is still looking rather bare but we have seen a few frogs about.  As yet there is still no sign of any frog-spawn though.  So far this year I haven’t spotted any heron in the garden, and come to think of it, I also haven’t seen any pheasants or foxes either so I guess they have had an easy winter.  Hopefully, after this cold weekend coming up, things will start warming up proper.

Edited 20/3/24

The frogs were out and about last night and we now have lots of frog-spawn!!  I counted at least 9 blobs so there may be 9 females this year.  There could be more as it is hard to see the individual blobs.  The frogs were on the pond surface but they heard me coming and submerged under the surface so I tried to photograph them.  It isn’t a great photo but I am just so happy to see them.

frog-spawn our small garden pond
frogs under the pond surface
Frogs submerged.




Mid February 2024

Ah some sunshine at last but still not quite spring yet.  The garden is awfully soggy, as are most of the pots on the patio.  The snowdrops are multiplying and making carpets of white in the stumpery and the raised bed with a few small clumps elsewhere in the borders.  The hellebores have popped up with some in flower but most are just in bud.  The white ones flower first but their flowers are still facing down just now.  There are a few flowers still on the witch hazel but they are going over now.  The flowers of the viburnum are in little clusters of pink, starting deep pink and fading to almost white.  It had a good cut back last year so there aren’t that many flowers on it yet.   Winter honeysuckle is never that showy but the tiny flowers are lovely and have a nice scent too.  The flowers are a bit sparse on mine but they do attract any early pollinators out and about in the late winter sunshine.  Today I cut back the miscanthus grass seed heads and the evergreen ferns that were looking rather bedraggled.  I also gave some of the plants a good tug as I went past just to check they were still held in place by their roots.  Often if there are vine weevil grubs about eating the roots you may not actually notice anything is wrong but if you tug the plant and it just comes away in your hand then you know there is a problem.  I did this with the patio plants and the heuchera came away in my hand so I checked the soil, lo and behold lots of vine weevil grubs.  The birds had a nice wee feed.  I usually mange to keep on top of the vine weevils using nematodes but I was late in spring last year as it was a very dry spring and you should really apply them after a good rainfall,  and  I forgot in to apply some in autumn.

I was gifted an Amarylis at Christmas and it shot up very quickly and now is over.  I had a good show of flower heads but only 2 tiny leaves.  I have now cut the flower heads off and will let the leaves keep growing and see if I can keep the bulb going.  Talking of bulbs the purple crocus in the conservatory and now in flower and the cyclamen are still flowering away.  It will soon be time to give the cyclamen their summer rest. The daffodils are up and in bud so it won’t be long now until we get a nice splash of bright yellow in the front garden along with the gorgeous scent of the mahonia.  Lots to look forward to.

pink flower cluster of viburnum bodnantence dawn
Viburnum bodnantence Dawn
pinkish buds and flower of hellebore picotee
Hellebore picotee
purple buds on hellebore
Purple hellebore buds
white drooping flowers on hellebore
White hellebore flowers facing downwards
Snowdrops in the raised bed
fluffy seed heads of the miscanthus grass
Fluffy miscanthus seed heads
small white flowers on the winter honeysuckle
Winter honeysuckle flowers
orangey-red flowers on amaryllis
Amaryllis bulb flowers
purple crocus and red cyclamen flowers
Purple crocus and red cyclamen
cream coloured vine weevil grubs
Vine weevil grubs
The garden in January 2024

Happy New Year 2024

Well, what a year 2023 was with it’s very dry spring and roasting summer, to the very wet autumn and winter!  The garden is ever so soggy right now with the amount of rain we have had over the last couple of months.  There is moss everywhere, which I actually like but it is dangerously slippy when it is down the ramp and on the paving slabs.  The mossy stones around the pond however look great, as do the mossy logs dotted around the garden.  It is at this time of year that you can see all the weeds at the back wall so they are easier to remove.  The plants in the pond itself looks a bit bedraggled and need some attention.

moss covered stones around small wild life pond
Moss covered stones

I haven’t been in the garden much at all during November and December and I miss pottering around checking on the progress of the plants.  I didn’t find much in the way of fungi this year – was I just not out at the right time?  I hate the cold and damp as it really gets into my bones and I just feel miserable spending all my time trying in vain to stay warm.  Now that we have started a new year my hopes are up for a splendid spring.  Even though we still have a couple of cold months to go I feel optimistic when I see all the spring bulbs beginning to grow.  Some of the snowdrops are already in bud and the earlier narcissi have poked their shoots up.

snowdrops in bud
Snowdrop buds

There are a few flowers to be seen at this time of year: some on the witch-hazel (Hamamelis inter Diane), a few sporadic flowers on the Hebe pink paradise, a few tatty flowers on the Viburnum X Bodnantense Dawn  in the raised bed.  Some of the evergreen shrubs have flower buds waiting for their chance such as the Osmanthus burkwoodii and the Erica arborea ‘Estrella gold’.  I do like having the evergreen structure in the garden to look at during the bleak winter months and a few of the ferns have quite a bright, yellowy- green colour which brightens the place up.

sporadic flowers on hebe pink paradise in january
Hebe pink paradise flowers in January
Erica arborea buds
Eric arborea buds
evergreen seelction of plants
Evergreen dark, bright, and purple.

I did spot one job that we will have to get to grips with as soon as the weather gets better and that is the harling on the right hand front corner of the patio.  When the rain gets in behind it and that water then freezes, the harling cracks and gets pushed off.

Broken harling on patio wall
Broken harling on the patio wall.
The garden in January 2024
The garden in January 2024.

From a rather cold and damp Edinburgh garden: Happy New Year!

oxalis palmifrons succulent plant with white flowers.

Beginning of October in the garden.

I know that I am forever going on about the weather but we have been having quite a bit of rain just now and all my small plants in small pots are waterlogged.  I have been trying to keep them under the table during the worst of the rain but then we had the strong winds so I had to turn the plastic table upside down so it wouldn’t blow away.  Then I put them under the bench with a sheet of black plastic over the bench, with large stones holding it in place, and that helped a bit.  They are still waterlogged so I really want some nice sunshine and gentle breeze to help dry them out.

I do like how the garden looks after a rain shower though and there is still plenty of colour around.  We did get a few nuts from the tortured hazel tree (corylus avellena contorta), the squirrels missed a few, and there were plenty berries on the elder (sambucus nigra ‘Black lace’).  The newly planted crab apple (malus sylvestris ‘Evereste’) has a few tiny, orange crab apples on it,  the rowan (sorbus hupehensis ‘Pink pagoda’) has loads of deep pink berries and the variegated holly ( ilex aquifolium ‘ variegata’) has a few berries too.  We trim the holly to keep it in shape so we can get past it without being jagged, but that can mean we don’t get many berries.  We tend to leave them all for the wildlife.  You can tell it is autumn by the huge number of spider’s webs about that catch the mist and look fabulous.

rowan berries with spider's web
Deep pink rowan berries with spider’s web
hazelnuts from contorted hazel tree
hazelnuts from corylus contorta (contorted hazel)

The astrantias are still looking good in pots on the patio although the dark red one is turning purple as it is going over.  The pink one is a seedling from a white variety ‘shaggy’ and it is quite a lovely pink shade.

dainty pink astrantia flowers
Dainty pink astrantia flowers.

After the rain the view from the patio is quite nice.  I don’t like the very white garage so I cropped it out, maybe one day we will get it painted  a nicer colour (except the house is also bright white so maybe not).

view of the left of the garden from the patio
View of the left of the garden from the patio.
view of the right side of garden from the patio.
View of the right side of garden from the patio.
view of the garden from the patio.
View of the garden from the patio.

In the conservatory I have planted a few purple crocus and some tiny narcissi for some colour in late winter.  My cyclamen have had their summer rest and are staring to flower now.  one in particular is in full bloom while the others have yet to catch-up.  The oxalis palmifrons is looking lovely just now.  The little bulbs were planted just a few weeks ago and they are flowering now.  I love how the flowers untwist.

Single white oxalis palmifrons flower
Single white oxalis palmifrons flower.
oxalis palmifrons succulent plant with white flowers.
Oxalis palmifrons

The small unnamed cactus has had a few fluffy buds on it for the last few months and despite food and water they have failed to open.  It did have a few that opened into fabulous large white flowers that smell divine earlier in the year but not these ones.  I will leave them on and see if they do something next year.

Fluffy buds on a small cactus.
Fluffy buds on the small cactus.

I found some damage on a couple of plants during my checking and watering of the plants.  It is good to catch things early so any diseases don’t get passed onto other plants.  One poor little lithops has damage at the base of a leaf but I don’t know if it is slug damage or perhaps there was a bit of water sitting there.  I probably don’t need to worry about that as these leaves will wither and it will produce new leaves after that.

Lithops damage caused possibly by slugs.
Lithops slug damage?

There is something on one of my Christmas cactus cuttings that I think might be botryosphaera dothidea that causes a kind of canker.  Just in case it is that I binned the plant, washed my hands, then checked all the other seedlings and plants in the conservatory.  The good news it that it was only one plant that had it.

possible botryosphaera dothidea infection on Christmas cactus
botryosphaera dothidea ? on Christmas cactus

The conservatory attracts many pollinators into it but sadly some of them can’t find their way back out again.  I have seen loads of different hover flies, bees, wasps and other insects happily buzzing around the flowers but this  male (I think) twin-spot centurion fly (Sargus bipunctatus) caught my eye with its metallic colours.  It has gorgeous metallic  green, copper and blue on its body and iridescent wings.  In the first photo I was trying to capture the colours in its wings.  The second photo it had sadly died and the wings were apart revealing the beautiful colours on its body.

Sargus bipunctaus fly iridescent wings
iridescent wings on Sargus bipunctatus.
Sargus bipunctatus metallic green, copper and blue colours on body
Metallic colours on the Sargus bipunctatus.

It is now getting colder so we are getting fewer insects in the conservatory, although it wasn’t plagued by the usual greenfly this year.  I have to remember to water more sparingly now and I still need to check the plants daily for any signs of disease.  Slugs are still coming in so I also need to check underneath the plants.