Category Archives: conservatory

The conservatory upgrade.

 This month it was all about giving the conservatory some TLC.  It is around 30 years old and the areas of rotten wood were just kept patched up.  This can only work for so many years and it was in desperate need of ripping out.  We kept the wall so the footprint is exactly the same but we went for white UPVC instead of wood.  Some problems faced by someone in a wheelchair at doorways are: the width of the door, how to open and close the door easily, and whether or not there are thresholds to negotiate.  As the old wooden doors kept sticking so much when it rained I couldn’t open or close the doors easily (sometimes not at all!).  The new doors are emergency exit type doors where you can either twist the knob, or push the bar to open.  They are so much easier to use.  However – they come with quite a large threshold attached.  It is extremely difficult to take a cup of tea outside onto the patio while you are pushing a wheelchair and bunny-hopping over a threshold.  Also I often have newly potted up plants on a tray to take to the patio and bunny-hopping over a threshold would mean plants and compost everywhere. The thresholds on the doors are actually quite easily removed so although we now have a draught under the doors and the gap lets in rain, I can get through all the doorways easily.  At the moment we can just use draught-excluders but I am sure we will find the correct brush attachments that would be better.  They will probably still let in rain which isn’t that bad as the patio and conservatory floor are made of the same slabs.  I often throw water over the conservatory slabs in hot weather to condense and slightly the cool the area.  It was meant to take just one week to complete and have a fully glass roof, unfortunately there were a few mistakes made at the roofers end which led to  the decision to partly tile the roof and it has taken weeks longer to complete partly due to the awful weather during October.  All the plants that belonged in the conservatory had to be temporarily  homed on the dining table, craft table, coffee table, filing cabinet and patio bench while this was taking place.  It will be painted when we finally get round to redecorating the sitting room.  We will also need to get some blinds as next door to us  are doing some building work and have taken out the large magnolia tree and a silver birch.  These trees used shade the left side of the conservatory (which got the most sun) but now there is nothing to shade the plants on that side.

old conservatory walls and door garage side
Old conservatory garage side

old conservatory walls siting room side
Old conservatory sitting room side

new conservatory garage side
New conservatory garage side

new conservatory walls and roof sitting room side
New conservatory sitting room side
magnolia and silver birch trees casting shade over conservatory
Magnolia and silver birch trees casting shade

magnolia and silver birch trees removed now no shade
Magnolia and silver birch removed

I haven’t taken many garden photographs during September and October but there is still a lot of colour about.  Still in flower are the nepeta, Japanese anemones, salvia Amistad,verbena, persicaria, miscanthus (which is almost the same colour as the acer palmatum), white foxgloves, fuschia and erigeron.  There are a few sporadic flowers on the, hellebores, rose, cirsium rivale, astrantias and weigela.  I had planned on getting a photo of the witch hazel foliage which was spectacular this year with it’s bright oranges but by the time I got out there, they had already fallen.  The Japanese anemones went a bit bonkers this year so some will have to be removed.  The purple acer will soon turn a spectacular bright red colour very soon and the rowan has started it’s colour changes now.  It has very few berries this year despite many flowers – I think the birds have eaten the flowers before they had a chance to turn into berries (do birds eat flowers?).

Japanese anemones going berserk
Japanese anemones Mont rose (front) and Whirlwind (back)

russet coloured fallen witch hazel leaves
Fallen witch hazel leaves

We did sort out a few wee jobs such as: cutting back the tortured hazel to let more light around underneath and to the other side of the bed.  We also dug out some of the cyclamen that were struggling around one of the curling stones as there wasn’t enough space for them to expand their tuber. In their place is now some mossy saxifrage.  We bought a compost bin to put behind the back wall which will be a hot compost bin and  we will be trying to use a lot of the fallen leaves to make  leaf-mould in cold compost bags. I would love to encourage hedgehogs into the garden but as our garden has walls around the back we have had to make the space under the gates large enough for creatures to get under and we have made a hole in the bottom of the fence out the back big enough for hedgehogs to get through but not our dog.  There is now a little hedgehog house behind the wall too.

I am still making plans for the front garden.  So far it means taking out a few more slabs in the middle and possibly beside the ramp.  Ripping out the white periwinkle that got a bit scorched in the summer heat, and digging up some of the yellow epimedium.  I don’t know where to re-site the large yellow iris.  I love it in flower but it doesn’t look great for the rest of the time.  My bulbs are all potted up now (except for a few tulips) so I have no more clay pots left.  Must ask Santa for some new ones.   Now to start looking at the flower catalogues for ideas for next year!

Rain, rain, rain…

sleet, and then more rain!  My goodness when will we ever get into spring proper?  I am not venturing out over the grass in the garden as it is like a very soggy sponge at the moment but there is a bit of sunshine and some sturdy plants flowering.  Before the Acer  (palmatum dissectum Garnet) are clothed in leaves, creating dense shade, there are a few Chionodoxia in bloom but they are taking a very long time to naturalize so are looking a bit sparse at the moment.
I moved the Dens-canis (Erythronium) from the raised bed to the stumpery area as the large fern in the raised bed completely smothered them.  They look really pretty in front of the drumstick primula and I hope they will make a nice clump fairly soon.
I am trying to dig out all of the Ornithogalum out of the small bed out the front where my lavender is as the leaves have a similar habit to bluebells , where they fall to the sides and cover up anything under them and, as they go over and turn brown, look very tatty coming through the woody stems of the lavender.  So I potted them up in the conservatory for the time being just to make sure all the little bulbs were indeed Ornithogalum and not mixed together with snowdrops.  They were sold to me as nutans but I think they may actually be umbellatum instead.

flowers, raised bed,plants,
Chionodoxa luciliae
flowers, plants, stumpery,
Dens-canis snowflake and Primula denticulata
plants, flowers, conservatory,
Orinithogalum umbellatum and violas

Bulbs and …

It is a lovely day here again and there is some pretty colours in the conservatory.  I planted a few daffodils (Pontresina) in a pot to bring indoors so they are in flower now whereas the outdoor ones will be a while yet.  The little blue bulbs are Puschkinia libanotica, which were free when I bought my tulips, from Bloms bulbs last year.  Some of which came up flower first yet others came up leaves first.  There is a little viola, cyclamen and a cactus too in this picture.

conservatory, plants,

Hens and chicks…

no not chickens but houseleeks or in other words Sempervivum ‘Reginald Malby’ to be precise.  I bought one last year at a charity stall planted up in an old tuna fish tin and it had a central plant with lots of little ones surrounding it.  I split it up and planted all the little ones and gave them to friends and family and kept a couple back for myself.  I planted then individually in tiny pots and this is one of them sending out runners with the little chicks on the end.  It looks really cute from above.

I noticed a few days ago that the frogs have finally surfaced and we have a few blobs of frog spawn in the pond. Trouble is, it is exactly where the birds like to bathe so I hope the birds don’t disturb them too much.

conservatory, plants, flowers,
Sempervivum ‘Reginald Malby’

Pots of colour…

I started clearing away the Christmas decorations from the conservatory and was hit by the gorgeous scent of the Hyacinths on the big table.  They were actually bought by mistake for the previous Christmas as they were labelled as ‘red’ and as you can clearly see they are pink.  I potted them up early and left them in a cool dark place until I saw the tops poking though the soil.  Then I brought them into the light in order to have them flowering for Christmas but the conservatory may have been a bit too cold for them so the flowers just popped up but didn’t open.  They are flowering happily now so I have colour and scent on a dreich Scottish winter’s day.  The red Cyclamen I have had for many years.  I let it have a wee rest during the summer them I wake it up again for the autumn, winter and spring.  The old tuber is huge and very craggy looking (I will measure it once the leaves are all off) but it does very well every year.  Sometimes I re-pot it but at other times it just gets a bit of top dressing.  It has coped well over the years with the various bugs that have attacked it so I hope it keeps going for many more.  I don’t normally leave the flowers to go to seed but I did for one or two and got quite a few baby cyclamen from it so now some of my friends and pals can enjoy it too.

conservatory, flowers,
conservatory, flowers,

The conservatory…

This little room is my favourite room during the spring and summer.  It has changed over the years along with the garden.  I used to keep gardening books in there but the slugs and snail would find their way in and eat the covers and pages resulting in paper mache poos.  The books also got a little damp as it is an old design of conservatory that has little gaps between the roof and windows (which are only single glazed) leaving the place rather chilly too during the winter months.  It would get too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter so I have tried a few different heaters over the years and now have a small greenhouse fan heater to keep at a frost setting  when the temperature outside gets too low.  I put up a thin cloth shade which keeps the direct sun off the plants.  I used to have the place crammed full of plants but they would take forever to water.  It was especially difficult to get someone to water the plants when we went away as it could take hours to do the patio, greenhouse , house plants and conservatory – it was a big ask.  Sadly the grape vine succumbed to scale insect and I have not been able to eradicate the scale from the room entirely.  Vine weevil got some of the succulents and cacti and greenfly caused havoc with the herbs.  Once the greenhouse found a new home I started to use the conservatory to house  the seedlings, and over wintering pots hence the extra table.  Now it is almost Christmas and I have a few decorations up and on boxing day it is used as the drinks table as the whole family and a few friends come over.