Tag Archives: Secret Herb Garden

An Introduction to Bee Keeping with Brian Pool

I’ve long been interested in beekeeping and although we don’t have enough land to have hives of our own I’d still been wanting to find out more so when we got the opportunity as part of our MSc Gastronomy course, I was on it like a buzzy bonnet.

Brian Pool is a commercial beekeeper and as it turns out he lives just a few miles from me in the Scottish Borders. As well as having hives across many sites including Edinburgh Zoo, on Edinburgh city-centre rooftops, at The Secret Herb Garden, Stobo, Biggar, on The Pentland hills and East Lothian, he also runs bee keeping classes. We visited him at Colstoun Cookery School just outside Haddington in East Lothian for an Introduction to bee keeping.

Photo'bummed' by a bee!
Photo’bummed’ by a bee!

Brian has been keeping bees since he was 5 years old and is a 3rd generation beekeeper and he clearly knows his stuff, the day was incredibly interesting as we were taken through the activity and life cycle of honey bees – wow, is all I can say! Some of it was pretty mind blowing:

  • A Queen lays 1500-2000 eggs a day & lives up to 5 years
  • A female worker bee lives 6 weeks & produces just 1 teaspoon of honey in that time.

We covered all aspects from the components of a beehive and different types of hives, different types of bees, best plants for foraging bees throughout the year, swarm control and colony management, disease and pests management.

Colstoun Cookery School whip up a great lunch
Colstoun Cookery School whip up a great lunch

We also got to get suited and booted to visit the bee hives where Brian prepared the hives for the Winter season and removed the honey crop so that we could take it back and try the honeycomb. There was something incredibly dreamy about the sound of the bees in the Autumn sunshine, it made me feel quite drowsy.

This was a really special day, made even more so by the spectacular al fresco lunch that Fiona at Colstoun Cookery School put on for us. I so wish we could have bees too, we really need a bigger garden…

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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….

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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.

 

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Crassula Pelucida Marginalis

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Jade Bonsai (Money Tree)
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Japanese Holly Bonsai

 

Spring arrives & it’s all gone bonkers!

In the week that saw us celebrate our 3rd anniversary of moving to our country cottage we saw a lot of changes in the garden.

 

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Our 3rd Anniversary in Nine Mile Burn

 

We have a pair of nesting blue tits in our bird box (yay), the starlings have already fledged and there are now sparrows in their old nest. The swallows are back swooping and darting all around and the geese have returned to the fields roundabout, some with young. After a seemingly never-ending Winter, Spring is most definitely here.

 

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Rhododendron- Golden Witt 

 

The garden has gone bonkers, everything’s growing and blooming and budding and it’s heartwarming to see! The cherry blossom is out and the beech hedge is finally turning, that fresh green really makes a difference in our garden.

 

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Setting up the new Potting Shed

 

The (short) spell of warmer, sunny weather was filled to the brim with ‘getting shit done’ in the garden – everything from getting the potting shed set-up to clearing, weeding and edging, sowing seeds and bulbs (better late than never) and I even made up some hanging baskets inspired by the book Crops in Pots, that I reviewed a while back.

 

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Our latest haul from The Secret Herb Garden

 

We had a lovely trip to The Secret Herb Garden (LOVE this place) to source new herbs as the chickens have self-seasoned and destroyed what we had. We got lemon verbena, lovage and borage (inspired by Petal, Leaf, Seed), several new rosemarys, chamomile, sage, lemon balm, oregano, fennel, jasmine and rhubarb, amongst others.

 

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Re-potting some plants for gifts

 

Our new front lawn is looking great and we’ve just bought a new mower and hedge cutter so we’re getting tooled up to tackle the front garden.

 

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Thank You Miracle-Gro for this amazing surprise box of goodies!

 

 

So much to do now but sadly the torrential rain is back so no idea when we’ll be able to crack on – we live in hope though, always hope!

 

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It’s been well over 20 years since our house was a pub (garden find)

 

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Jasmine potted in a vintage watering can! 

 

Gardening Scotland – my new favourite show!

Last weekend was Gardening Scotland – we’d never been before and it was BRILLIANT.

The Secret Herb Garden’s ‘Herbie’

From the show gardens to the school’s entries, the craft hall and especially the main hall, I was in paradise! So many beautiful shapes, colours and inspiration all around – it was quite heady!

Continue reading Gardening Scotland – my new favourite show!

Full Moon Dinner at The Secret Herb Garden

I was lucky enough to be surprised with one of these amazing dinners at the weekend as an early birthday present – I can’t recommend this highly enough as a foodie treat for gardening lovers. IMG_3093 I’ve been a fan of the Secret Herb Garden since it opened last year, it’s a very special place with a lot to offer beyond simply being a lovely garden centre. I’ve been keeping an eye on events on their facebook page and am still swithering on signing up for their bee keeping course (I’ve been hospitalised by a wasp sting so may not be the brightest idea I’ve ever had) but their new full moon dinners take things to a whole new level.

Continue reading Full Moon Dinner at The Secret Herb Garden