Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

Baltic Edinburgh in December 2022

 Wow it has been absolutely Baltic so far this December!   We didn’t do much in the garden over November as I managed to hurt my right elbow (medial epicondylitis) and on account of being paraplegic having to do many transfers, this meant that I over-used my left arm when compensating for my sore elbow, so now have painful left triceps and shoulder.  Harry tweaked his back, and Debs (my garden help lady who comes for 1½ hours per week) also tweaked her back.  We did however manage to plant a tree during national tree week. That is the Royal ‘we’ – Harry did the work while I supervised.  It is a Malus sylvestris Evereste half-standard.  Hopefully if it survives being planted then immediately getting snowed on and plummeted down to -8°C, it should have lovely blossom in the spring, followed by green foliage in the summer and beautiful autumnal foliage in the autumn with crab apples fruits.  This tree should hold onto it’s fruit throughout winter.

We live in an old bungalow which we have tried to draught-proof and had insulating throughout, but it still remains a very chilly house.  At the moment in this Baltic cold spell being around -3°C and under we are really struggling to keep the place warm.  The heating goes on for a few hours in the morning and the same at night and it is costing us around £20 per day and we are still not warm enough.  If we have to put the heating on all day this will easily go to £35 or more per day!  I have an oil heater on in the craft room and the room barely gets to 14°C so I am typing this trying to keep warm with scarf and fingerless gloves, hot-water bottle and a lap blanket.  I am wearing at least 3 layers of clothing and am still shivering.  I feel the cold terribly and I know part of it is from having poor blood circulation and lack of muscle mass.  I also have Sjogrens syndrome which can cause reynaud’s disease where your hands and feet have much reduced blood flow and they turn yellow then blue, and when the blood does finally return to them they are very painful.  It isn’t just the humans feeling the cold but even the house plants are suffering.  So this year I have had to move some plants from the conservatory as it is too cold for them.  Normally I would keep the conservatory just above freezing (around 5°C)
using a greenhouse fan heater.  This year however with the price hikes
and cost of living being so high I dare not put on the fan heater.  Therefore I am not having a nice Christmas display, but instead am having to cover the remaining plants with fleece and hope for the best.  In the coldest of nights we have succumbed to putting a small oil filled radiator on low just to.keep the place form freezing,  Harry and I are just getting over having a cold which was absolutely miserable especially when you just can’t keep warm.  I would have loved to go out and get take some beautiful crisp, frosty photographs but all I could manage was one frosty rose on my way to feed the birds.  If it is like this now and it is only December, then I do wonder what it is going to be like come February when we normally get hit with the real icy cold and snowy weather.

crab apple tree newly planted
Malus sylverstris Evereste

frosted rose image
Frosted Rose

snowy view from the patio
View from the patio

fleece over some plants in the conservatory
Fleece keeping some plants warm in conservatory

To chop, or not to chop?

 Yes that really is the question.  I have debated for a while whether or not to give the tree heath (Erica arborea estrella gold) a good chop.  It has been getting rather too big for the bed and the Japanese anemones are struggling to get past it now.  As far as I know, you only really prune the spent flowers off straight after flowering and you get lovely new bright lime green foliage.  They should respond well if they are cut back into the old wood but I just couldn’t decide how much I wanted to remove, so for the first chop (after discussing with Debs – our new garden help) she chopped some of the underskirt off first to see if any new growth would appear.  Later I just decided that we should just go for the big chop now so that it had a chance to put on some new growth this year.  So we chopped a bit more off but left a few woody stems at each trunk.  We still can’t decide if we should go even lower than that.  So maybe next week we will have made a final decision.  It certainly lets a lot more light to the plants on other side of the bed.

tree heath before the chop
Erica arborea estrella gold

tree heath after the 1st chop view from upstairs
Erica arborea estrella gold after 1st chop
tree heath after the 2nd chop view from upstairs
Erica arborea estrella gold after 2nd chop

tree heath after 2nd chop view straight on
Erica arborea estrella gold after 2nd chop

This week when Debs came round it was peeing down so we decided to stay indoors.  Time for that big cactus to be re-potted I think.  It has been one of those jobs that I have been putting off because I knew it would be a bit tricky.  As the plastic pot it was in was rather old, it pretty much fell apart which gave Debs a half pot to use to hold the prickly cactus with.  It definitely looks much nicer in this pot.

cactus repotted
Cactus variety unknown

Another job I had been putting off was to sort out the tree fern.  I still don’t know if it is a Dicksonia antarctica or squarrosa.  As the label said antarctica I will go with that, but did have someone round a few years back, who was from New Zealand, and they thought it was a squarrosa as it had a few ‘trunks’ and not just a single trunk.  It has been in the same pot for years now and has grown 6 trunks and is very congested.  I know that only the top parts will grow back so I asked Debs to cut 3 of the smaller trunks off to leave the 3 larger ones.  Debs needed a bit of help from Harry as it was pretty hard work.  She then cut the ends of the old stipes back to neaten it all up, and it now looks great, and instead of being a bit jaggy looking is now looks ever so hairy.  Of the 3 bits that she cut off, only 2 might grow again as the growing tip of the 3rd one just came off.  So we are experimenting with the other 2 to see if we can get them to grow.  The first photo is a few years old but you can see the new trunks growing up and the jaggy ends where I had cut off the old fronds.

tree fern congested before being chopped
Dicksonia antarctica (or squarrosa)

tree fern after being chopped
Dicksonia after being chopped

tree fern close-up of hairy trunks
Dicksonia close-up of hairy ‘trunks’

More of the same…

sunshine and showers.  For the last couple of months it has been showery weather, but you never know if you are going to get a quick sprinkle of a shower, or a heavy ninja shower.  Some parts of the garden are moist, whereas the areas under the tree canopies are so dry they are cracking up.  I am going to have to get the hose out even in the rain!  Lots of plants going over now but some are hanging on.

It was the Duddingston Kirk Garden Club Annual Flower Show at the weekend and it was a great day.  Jolly hard work but worth it all in the end.  Back in April I photographed my streptocarpus and button fern plants and some snails.  I entered those at the show and woohoo…the streptocarpus won 1st prize in that class, and the button fern won 1st class in the foliage pot.  My pot of leaf celery won the pot of herbs class, and the snail photo got me 2nd prize in the photography class.  I also got a prize for my handicraft but did not do very well on my vases of perennials, vase of foliage, and single rose.  It was nice to see the riot of colour of all the entries for the floral art and vases of flowers.

Early one morning in august, I took a quick snap, with my phone camera, of a couple of foxy visitors.  I always like to see them in the garden. They don’t come into the garden very often now.   I haven’t been quick enough to get good photos of the butterflies, but again, I got a quick snap, with my phone camera, of a peacock butterfly as it rested on the path in front of me.  All those lovely flowers and it settles on the path.

I have been trying to get to grips with my mirror-less camera so took various shots of a cactus flower as it went from bud to full flower.  These flowers go over very quickly, sometimes lasting just a day, but they smell absolutely wonderful, filling the whole conservatory with scent just from one single flower.  I have only ever had 2 flowers on the same cactus at one time.   The hoya bella has strange little flowers that feel quite waxy and give a lovely scent, but he petals look almost furry.  Previously I had a hoya bella that was quite compact and I hung it up so that I could see the flowers that dangle  facing downwards. but I was given this one which is more like a triffid with only a few very long stems and not many flowers.  I am not sure what to do with it really – I could wrap the long stems around a frame I guess.  The cyclamen in the conservatory are starting to wake up and flower now.  The big old one is much slower at waking up but I am so glad that it is still alive and well.  It may be old and craggy but it flowers well.

Well it is sunny at the moment but we are getting ready for the next lot of heavy rain. Sigh!

Pot plant section at the Duddingston Kirk Garden Club Annual flower show.
Duddingston Kirk Garden Club Annual flower show
wildlife, foxes,
2 foxy visitors
wildlife, butterfly,
Peacock butterfly
Clematis seed head
plants, flowers,
Cactus flower bud
plants, flowers,
Cactus flower from beneath
plants, flowers,
Cactus flower throat
plants, flowers,
Hoya bella

Hot, hot, hot…

21° C today!  You just don’t know what to expect, weather wise, these days in Scotland.  I have been working hard the last couple of days to get all the plants watered and fed.  Some of the hellebores are past their best and I have been dead-heading them regularly in the hope of more flowers.  I have trays of plants to get ready for sale (at the Duddingston Kirk garden club plant sale on May 4th) getting hardened off.  A lot of taking the trays out during the day, then bringing them back in at night,  just in case of frost.  Lots of weeding and moving pots around.  The pots with bulbs, that have gone over, are now on the back steps until their foliage dies back.  After that,  the bulbs will get dried and stored.  I am being ruthless, and anything that didn’t do well in the last couple of years is for the heave-ho.    On my rounds around the garden I took a few snaps of some of the plants in flower at the moment.  I am pleased to say, that after watching Gardeners’ world last night, that I have many of the shade loving plants that Carol Klein was enthusing about so I must be doing something right.

plants, flowers,
Fritillaria meleagris
plants, flowers,
Cymbalaria muralis (ivy leaved toadflax)
snails on the wall looking like a caterpillar
plants, flowers,
Oxalis acetosella (wood sorrel)
plants, flowers,
Dicentra formosa Bacchanal (bleeding heart)
plants, flowers,
Polemonium reptans (Jacob’s ladder)
plants, flowers,
Violet riviana (dog-violet)
plants, flowers,
apple blossom (forget which type)
And in the conservatory: the cyclamen will soon be over, but the cacti, ferns,  and sempervivums will take over from them, as will the herbs.  Meanwhile in the corner,  the streptocarpus has started flowering, and different forms of foliage placed next to each other adds interest and texture.
plants, foliage,
Pellaea rotundifolia (button fern)
plants, flowers,
Streptocarpus saxorum
plants, flowers,
Streptocarpus saxorum
plants, flowers, foliage,
Streptocarpus with button fern and Beaucarnea recurvata (ponytail plant)

First spawn so far…

a couple of days ago I notice a blob of frog spawn in the pond – the first for this year so far.  Last year I didn’t see the first frog spawn until around the 20th  March, (beast from the East meant snow and ice last year) but this winter has been pretty mild.  According to the Guardian the 26th February was  the warmest winter day on record, but is  pretty warm today too.   It has been the warmest winter since records began in 1878 and there have been fires breaking out on some moors and even on Arthur’s seat in here Edinburgh.  Sadly the nice weather is not set to last, and I hope the wildlife can cope with the change back to cold in the next few days.  I read somewhere that a female frog only produces one clump of spawn per year and I can only see one clump so far.  I hope to get more because that would suggest that there is only one female frog about which would not be good news.

wildlife, pond,
1st Frog spawn 2019


meaning: dull, wet, gloomy and dreary.  Yep, that is what kind of weather we have had throughout December. Hardly any wind, and quite mild, and just miserable.  None of the plants are looking great just now.  The Hellebores haven’t really got going yet, the ferns have either died back altogether or are looking a bit tatty, there are a few sporadic, sad flowers on a couple of shrubs, and the catkins on the contorted hazel are just starting.  The witch hazel hasn’t done anything yet and even the cyclamen have stopped flowering.  The evergreen shrubs are at least still green but are rather a dull shade and everything thing else just looks grey or brown.  I did just about get a photo of the little fox, but, it leapt over the wall just as I clicked so I only managed to get the tail.  Poor little fox has a sore front right paw and was limping, but. is still got over the wall just fine.  I have also been trying to photograph the long tailed tits that have just appeared again at the peanut feeder.  They come in a little group and are very skittish so fly away quickly at the signs of any movement or noise.

Plans for the new year will include: getting the far end, left corner of the wall mended (once we have a contact for the person who owns the house (they have plans afoot to split that house into two houses), getting some sort of paving put down between the pond and the patio, lift some slabs at the right hand border and make it  a slightly wider border (it has always been too narrow), maybe get rid of the apple trees at the back of the garage as we end up chucking a lot of apples away (they are not keepers but I do make a lot of purée to freeze), and find something to grow over the back wall of the garage – colourful and scented.  And due to the worsening of the arthritis in my hands I must start looking for a new garden helper. Even simple dead-heading has become a painful chore no matter what secateurs I use.  I am soooooo looking forward to spring but there have been rumours of a prolonged period of very cold, snowy weather, depending on what course the jet stream takes.  Not looking forward to that but I do love the silence of those days where the snow flakes are large and soft and it makes a beautiful, velvety white blanket over everything.  Now, where is my camera?

Rain, rain, and more rain…

what a lot of rain in the past few weeks.  Not that I cared much as I had a horrid lurgy for a few weeks and didn’t venture out much at all.  Getting over it now and I took a couple of photos of some fungi in the garden.  I don’t know what the brown/fawn ones are so I am just calling them little brown jobs for now.  The earth star looks like it is almost a double decker but I would need to pick it up and investigate properly to find out.   I would rather just leave it be.

Little brown jobs
Earth star double decker

Out with the old…

and in with the new.  Yes I know it is a bit early for all that but I have noticed that the older branches of my Viburnum x Bodnantense ‘Dawn’ are getting rather gnarly even though they are still flowering well.  The nice young branches have fewer flowers but are lovely and sleek.  The perfume from the flowers is wonderful, and the colour change in the foliage is going from green to dull purple/claret right now.  It is situated in the raised bed and one side get more sunshine than the other and it is quite obvious which side is which.  The sunny side has more flowers and the colour change is more obvious on that side too.  I am going to have to remove some of the older trunks and branches to rejuvenate it.  We did start doing this last year but need to take out more next year once it has stopped flowering.  The Rowan, Sorbus hupehensis ‘Pink pagoda’, foliage is changing to red and has pink berries on it, and the Acer palmatum disectum ‘Garnet’ is turning bright red.  However my Acer Shirasawanum Auereum has gone from lovely bright green edged in pink to crinkly, brown, not very pretty right now.

Viburnum new growth
plants, flowers,
Viburnum old branch
Sorbus hupehensis ‘Pink pagoda’
Acer palmatum disectum ‘Garnet’