Category Archives: Uncategorized

A disappointing year for produce

IMG_9495This has to be one of the worst Summers I’ve experienced since living in Scotland, incessant rain, unseasonal high winds and low temperatures (we’ve had to put our heating back on) means that we don’t really have much to show for our gardening efforts this year. 

Our local Rural Produce Show at Carlops is coming up on the 20th August but I doubt we’ll have much to enter this year. I thought I’d catalogue what we’ve grown and where we are with them, it’s a sorry tale…

Eggs – down to 2 chickens after two fox attacks

Gooseberries – 2 berries between two bushes

Blackcurrants – about enough to make one pot of jam

Courgettes – doing ok – they like the rain

Potatoes – small potatoes & small crops

Rhubarb – plentiful

Apples – not a single blossom this year so definitely no apples

Salad – radishes are good, lettuces & salad leaves are ok

Garlic – usual crop, quite small

Beans – doing ok

Carrots & Parnsips – doing ok

Herb Garden – doing very well, the Mint has gone bananas

Tomatoes (indoors) – late but plentiful and starting to ripen

Tomatoes (outdoors) – not worth mentioning

Ginger – doing well

Sweet Peppers – doing ok but not ripening

Strawberries – very poor

Raspberries – the wild ones in front of the house are doing well

Chillies – smaller than usual

IMG_9305

Looks like we’ll need to enter the baking or preserves classes if we want to get involved this year. Everything crossed that next year isn’t such a washout.

IMG_9480

 

 

 

 

We have a Gas Tank sized problem…

We are in the unfortunate position of having a gas tank situated right in the middle of our garden – why it was ever put there in the first place is anybody’s guess but there it sits. When we bought the house it was disguised by some light fencing with a lid on top for easy access for refilling. It’s been like this to the best of our knowledge 20 years. Whilst slightly inconvenient we decided we could live with it.

IMG_9401

Now, we’ve been told by our long-term LPG suppliers, Calor Gas, that they will no longer deliver to us unless we remove everything surrounding it and it passes inspection. Then we will be reinstated. As you can see, it looks dreadful!

We’ve been told that the only thing we can do it put up a screen along one side only and this must not have any vegetation which means the living wall option I was considering is out.

Wondering what else we could do, we thought that maybe we could paint it to look like foliage, but apparently, that’s also not allowed – it needs to be reflective paint and not a dark colour.

It would cost £ thousands to move it or bury it so we’re feeling very frustrated as we wouldn’t have bought the house with this monstrosity right bang slap in the middle of our garden.

Any suggestions folks would be very welcome!

 

Self-watering Hanging Basket – Review

I’ve been looking at various slow-watering watering methods on Pinterest recently, many involve sticking a plastic bottle with pierced holes into the soil – a nice, thrifty idea, however, a bottle can take up quite a bit of room so when Stewart Gardens asked if I’d like to trial one of their self-watering hanging baskets I was keen to see how it works.

IMG_8987

It’s actually really simple and very clever – there’s a plastic disc that sits above the bottom of the basket with a fibre mat, that dips into the well below that continually sucks up moisture from below into the soil. The water is added via a tube inserted into the plastic disc.

IMG_8997

It’s good design in action, the watering tube takes up very little room and the basket is a decent size. You only need to fill the water reserve every 7-10 days – ideal if it’s hot weather and you’re planning on going away, or just to save precious watering time during more clement weather.

IMG_9012

I’ve potted mine up with a beautiful Heliotrope in the centre surrounded by white Surfinia. It looks ok just now but once the Surfinia starts to grow and trail I’m hoping this will a quite lovely display.

I’ll definitely be getting some more of these, so much better than the others I’ve tried so far and at £5.99 a bit of a bargain too.

www.stewart-garden.co.uk

@stewartgarden

Wherefore art thou Summer

IMG_8981
In need of a haircut!

What a miserable few weeks of rain we’ve had – the grass is going wild and I still haven’t had chance to try out the cordless strimmer that the lovely folks at GTech sent me a couple of weeks ago to review.

 

IMG_8980
Blackcurrants ripening up nicely

 

My soggy garden inspections are showing that it’s going to be a bad year for crops this year – we haven’t seen so much as a blossom on any of our apple trees, we have 2 gooseberries between our two bushes and no blueberries at all.

 

IMG_8975
Better late than never

 

On the plus side, our blackcurrants and rhubarb are both doing very well and it looks like we’ll be able to start harvesting some of early variety potatoes soon. The newly planted herb garden is doing well and we also have tomatoes growing nicely in the conservatory, despite everything being a lot later this year after the extended Winter.

 

IMG_8976
Beautiful Petunia Night Sky just started blooming

 

The chickens have managed to dig up most of the plants in our recently planted bed – periwinkles, tiarella, heucheras and helibores have all been tossed asunder by the naughty little beasts. We’re going to have to replant what we can salvage and then cane-off the bed until they’ve established themselves.

 

IMG_8977
The honeysuckle is looking great

 

Praying for some nicer weather this week as the to-do list is growing longer daily. I’ve been sent a self-watering hanging basket by Stewarts so I’m keen to see how that works and finally get to test the strimmer.

 

IMG_8983
Our other ‘surprise’ Rhododendron is out

 

I’m also quite excited to have been invited to RHS Tatton Park by Stiehl on the 16th and it looks like we’ll be in for a treat. Can’t wait to see the show gardens there.

 

 

 

 

Newhall Estate – Garden Open Days

The walled garden at Newhall is just lovely – I had serious veggie plot envy last time I was there, so I’m excited to see that it’s open every Wednesday between 2pm and 4.30pm until 27th July as part of Scotland’s Garden Scheme.

Entry £4 (goes to charity). Tea and coffee will be on offer.

home-1-808x350

The History of The Garden

The Walled Garden was built about 1792 by Robert Brown. Originally such gardens were merely enclosed places in which to grow produce for the kitchen and flowers for the house, but they quickly evolved as places also for quiet perambulation in summer, and in winter to view the exotic fruit growing in the heat of the Glasshouses. The Walled Garden at Newhall has some remarkable features surviving from its earliest years, a heated Melon Pit, a beautifully built tunnel was discovered recently linking the nearby burn to the greenhouse for water supply.

photo 3 (16)

 

In the centre of the Garden is a statue of Adam, the first gardener, (made of Coadestone) ready to ‘delve’. You may also find – at the top of the Garden – the composite sundial, a round early 18th century table dial with a scrolled stone gnomon (or pointer) on what is probably a late 17th century pedestal of four figures of the seasons. The pedestal has been attributed to James Gifford of West Linton, a local sculptor and pre-dates the garden as it is thought to be from 1708.

NH1

The cloverleafed pierced stones and another dated 1796 that you might find near the statue of Adam were brought here from one of Robert Brown’s outlying properties.

The twin busts of Pan and his mother on the South Gatepiers are probably early 18th century.They used to adorn the old entrance to Newhall House.

These are thought to have been cut by an Italian sent for and employed by the Duke of Hamilton and originally to have been on the gateposts between two Pigeon Houses that were once at the front of the house.

photo 2 (22)

 

Under the trees to the right of the South Gatepiers can be seen stones that originally formed part of a stone newel or spiral staircase from the old tower-house that still forms the core of Newhall House today. They were removed during the early 19th century extensions and alterations to the house.

photo 3 (17)photo 2 (23)

Newhall Estate is just off the A702 between Penicuik and Carlops.

Newhall House, Carlops, Penicuik EH26 9LY

Gardening Scotland 2016

Was I the only one who was disappointed with this year’s Gardening Scotland Show? Not at all by the sounds of it.

IMG_8436

We were so excited about going, it was amazing last year, but it turned out to be a little bit of a let-down. The show gardens weren’t that ‘showy’ (or that many either) and both the craft tent and the main indoor hall also seemed to be lacking in both the number of stalls and their ‘substance’ in comparison to before.

IMG_8448

There were still some lovely stalls in the main hall and we thoroughly enjoyed listening to Hamish from the Secret Herb Garden talk about weeds/medicines, and the weather was perfect.

IMG_8451

So although we had a lovely afternoon with our friends  and we did still all come home with armfuls of purchases (and some absolute steals from when the stands were being broken down) I think I’ll have to demote it back below the Royal Highland Show which is coming up in the next couple of weeks.

IMG_8452

Next year we’re going to try Chelsea instead. Maybe the shows are just too close together and people are choosing Chelsea over Gardening Scotland….

IMG_8449

These are a few purchases, we haven’t given up on the Bonsai and have even bought a couple of new ones too! Predictably a succulent and cactus also found their way home.

 

IMG_8467
Crassula Pelucida Marginalis

IMG_8468

IMG_8469
Jade Bonsai (Money Tree)
IMG_8474
Japanese Holly Bonsai

 

For ‘Fox’ Sake – RIP Ivy & Etta

We’re just back from a lovely trip around the Highlands and sadly lost our two new girls to a fox while we were away.

IMG_7785
Ivy (L) and Etta (R) taking sentry duty

These things happen, but it does go to show that we really need to get the roof of the chicken run sorted, it collapsed under the heavy snow we had at the end of April and as the chickens are shut in a coop at night, we hadn’t quite gotten around to fixing it back up properly.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 09.39.57

I saw this gorgeous one in a gardening magazine a couple of weeks back but at £800 it’s a serious investment. Think I’ll need to hop onto Pinterest and see what else is around. In the meantime, we’ll have to make sure that both S and Cosmo are peeing in the garden to keep the fox away. Yes, it is true that male human urine is an excellent fox deterrent.

IMG_8370

In other sad news, the Bonsai that we recently took to our local Society  has well and truly died – they did warn us that as they’d cut away so many of the roots it might happen so RIP Bonsai too.

Looks like the nice weather is set to continue for a few days and I’m on holiday so itching to get back out in the garden.