Autumn in the Garden

Blogging has fallen by the wayside over the last few weeks as we’ve all been off but not really enjoying much of a rest or holiday as our daughter caught hand, foot and mouth at nursery, and we’ve spent the last wee while taking care of her and pottering around the home and garden.

We’ve not managed to do much gardening this year as it was turned into a temporary building site while we were doing some home improvements. Nevertheless, it’s not looking too bad for this time of year. We’ve trimmed the bamboo, which has “clumped” since we planted it three years ago, and the climbing rose Crown Princess Margaret has been providing beautiful bouquets of peachy roses all summer. Hardy perennials like Crocosmia, Scabiosa, Asters and Geraniums are all still providing bursts of colour in the main flower bed.

The only thing I grew from seed this year is Crown Prince Pumpkins, which I trained to grow up over a frame my husband made to save space and protect them from slugs. This week I harvested three blue-ish pumpkins, the smallest weighing just over 2kg and the largest 5.1kg.

We’ve always enjoyed the wildlife that inhabits and visits our garden (with the exception of the slugs) but the upheaval and extra human presences during our renovations caused a temporary exodus, but over the last couple of months, the sparrows, blue tits and great tits have all returned. We’ve also had some bold grey squirrels coming right up to the window demanding nuts – much to our daughter’s delight. At the end of the summer, we also had a hedgehog wombling around the garden in the evenings.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I love light shows and I’ve added a few solar lights to enchant our little garden (though my husband thinks I’m at risk of causing pollution if I add anymore). As daylight fades and the city begins to quiet, the lights flicker on one by one, and the garden starts to feel more peaceful and mysterious.

No sooner had our daughter started to recover than the tell-tale spots and blisters appeared on my hands and feet, but I’m hoping I’ll recover quickly so we can all get back into our routine and out for some autumnal adventures. Have a lovely weekend. X

Spring in the garden and beyond

This time last year we were still adjusting to life under the very first lockdown, and it’s such a contrast to have the world opening up after another three month lockdown and nature waking up after a long, cold winter. We’ve spent a lovely Easter bank holiday weekend strolling through parks, playing in the garden and visiting family.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about our garden, but we’ve continued working on it right through the winter months, replacing the fence separating our garden from our neighbours’, constructing more pemanent raised beds and building a summerhouse. We’ve already enjoyed morning coffees and evening meals in the summerhouse, and it’s such a lovely spot of shade in our sun-trap garden.

The daffodils I planted last autumn have begun to flower, providing a burst of yellow sunshine under the window, and it won’t be long until they’re joined by the tulips. As the daylight lengthens and the weather improves we’re spending more and more time outside, and our daughter has taken to bringing us her shoes and coat whenever she wants to toddle around the garden, play hide-and-seek in the summerhouse or fly on her swing.

We’re still regular visitors at our local parks, and the cycling seasons is obvious there too as the Greylag geese that spent winter in the pond have flown North again, and the bare trees have burst into blossom.

Yesterday, we took a trip slightly further afield to Rouken Glen and combined a walk around the park with our first trip to a garden centre this year, where we bought a plum tree and I went a bit wild stocking up on seeds.

We’ve had a strange combination of sunshine and low temperatures over the past few weeks but despite the cold, spring has definitely sprung and I’m so grateful for the changes in nature and the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions. Take care, and have a lovely week. X

Winter Wanders

Our area is still under lockdown but we’ve been enjoying some wintry walks with frosts, a light snowfall and temperatures hovering around zero this week. We recently visited Pollok Country Park starting early enough to see rays of sunlight breaking through the mist over the river on a cool and crisp morning, cold hands curled around cups of hot coffee while exploring the grounds. It was a lovely park to wander and a pleasant change from our local parks, though I think my husband was more excited to see the Highland cows (his favourite animal apparently) than our animal-loving daughter.

On Thursday, we woke to a very light dusting of snow that had frozen overnight. I spent a little bit of time crunching around the frozen garden with my daughter snuggled up close in her carrier, decorating our little apple trees with fairy lights and glittery baubles, checking on the sprouts and refilling the bird feeder.

I spent the rest of the day cosy inside decorating the Christmas tree with festive music playing in the background, a playful cat and inquisitive infant scampering around underfoot. I always enjoy unpacking the baubles and trinkets as most of them were handpicked on holidays or trips to the Christmas market or received as gifts, and have so much sentimental value attached to them. The most recent addition is a glass bauble that I bought during our first family trip to Pitlochry in October.

We were up bright and early this morning for a walk in a frosty winter wonderland, and we were rewarded for venturing out into subzero temperatures by the sight of a heron standing in the partially frozen pond at our local park. Take care, and have a lovely week. X

The End of Summer

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Our garden has been a bit neglected this summer as we’ve been enjoying day trips and little adventures around Scotland from rambling walks along the coast to picnics in castle ruins, though we’ve spent a few sunny afternoons in the garden playing with our wee daughter too.

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After a warm and sunny spring, a cool, wet July meant most of my broccoli bolted, and slugs devoured my squashes and courgettes one by one. My husband has had a bit more success with blueberries and Japanese wineberries, but less luck with raspberries, tayberries and white currants. Having said that, we’re leaning towards growing more fruit (strawberries, apples, plums and rhubarb) than veg in future.

SummerBerries

Unfortunately, we’ve had to let our neighbours know that a furry, little family of four rats have moved in under their decking after we spotted them scurrying back and forth under the fence to eat at our bird feeder.

Rats

We’re in the process of changing the layout of the garden, trying to make the best use of space by replacing the fence, moving the washing line, replanting the flower borders and removing a couple of raised beds, as well as planting more fruit trees, but still leaving plenty of space for our little one to play when she’s older. Our garden has always felt like an extension of our home, and changes as our needs do.

It’s been noticeably colder and darker in the evenings lately, and the sunflowers are still providing some late summer cheer but our garden is looking a bit bedraggled. I noticed some of the trees in the park are already turning from summer green to autumnal reds on a family walk this week, and I’m ready to embrace the changing beauty and coziness of autumn. Have a lovely week. X

Summer Walks, Slugs and Sprinkles

Just sharing a quick update as I worry my posts have become a bit repetitive of late, though I still want to document this period of our lives and to remind myself that there’s much to be grateful for.

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Our daily walks have often been the highlight of my day since lockdown began. Being confined to a five mile radius has enoucouraged us to explore the local area more thoroughly than we would have when we were more likely to go to a park or drive to a forest or beach. We recently stumbled across a network of hidden lanes and have spent the last week exploring them. On one of our walks we spotted one of my husband’s favourite plants, Himalayan Honeysuckle, growing wild and I couldn’t resist taking a cutting for our garden along with a handful of Honesty seed pods.

Walks

We’ve been growing pea shoots on the kitchen window sill for a quick-growing and tasty addition to salads and stir-fries. Unfortunately, cool weather and rain has encouraged an army of slugs and snails to invade the garden, and they’ve been devouring my squash and courgette plants one by one. However, the brassica bed is doing well, and I spotted the first head of broccoli developing.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve celebrated both my husband and father-in-law’s birthdays. Ordinarily, I would take my husband out to dinner but as that wasn’t possible this year, instead we treated ourselves to takeaway from one of our favourite Japanese restaurants, which was delicious. We also had socially distanced coffee and birthday cake in the garden with the in-laws – though my mother-in-law went a bit overboard with the sprinkles!

Sprinkles

We’ve had intermittent sunshine and showers here, but hoping now that travel restrictions are being relaxed, we’ll be able to have a few summer adventures soon whatever the weather. Take care and have a lovely week. X

Summer Solstice

What a strange year it’s been, it seems like a lifetime ago that we were watching wildfires sweep across Australia on the news and worrying about Brexit, yet here we are halfway through 2020. It’s been a quick year for us personally as our daughter arrived in early February and caring for her has kept us busy during the last few months when a global pandemic turned life upside down.

Our garden has also been a real blessing and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve been able to get done with a baby in tow.

June Roses

June is the month that the roses burst into flower, and since we moved here I’ve been steadily filling our garden with them. There’s the rich red wine coloured Munstead Wood, the bold pink Young Lycidas, and pale sunshine of Crown Princess Margareta. Meanwhile Boscobel is patiently waiting in a large pot for a permanent home.

Every year I vastly underestimate how much space growing vegetables need so I limited myself to broccoli, squash and yellow courgettes this year; then my dad surprised us with some cabbage, cauliflower and sprouts seedlings he’d started off so the veg beds are as crowded with higgledy piggeldy rows of vegetables as ever.

We’re still getting out for walks at least once a day, more often than not with the wee one in the sling or carrier so she can look around. We haven’t ventured out of our local area yet but I enjoy having a nosy at other people’s gardens, and we found a little woodland walkway when we wandered off the beaten track.

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On days when it’s too wet to spend much time outside, we’ve contented ourselves pottering around the home, reading books or watching films and TV series, and playing with the wee one – including a few spontaneous puppet shows.

There have been more visits to and from parents and in-laws, which have helped break the monontony and given us all a much-needed boost as we remain under partial lockdown. Our daughter has been very curious about the “new” faces appearing after spending so much time around me and her dad.

Hope everyone reading is safe and well, take care and have a lovely week. X

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

As a child who loved to play outside and help my parents in the garden, The Secret Garden thoroughly captured my imagination and was one of my childhood favourites, I recently found myself reaching for my old, crinkled and faded copy again when I was in the mood for some comfort-reading.

The Secret Garden follows nine-year-old Mary Lennox who is orphaned during an outbreak of cholera in India and sent to live with her uncle in Yorkshire. Mary is left to amuse herself exploring Misselthwaite Manor and the grounds where she finds a walled garden that has been locked and forgotten about for ten years.

I’ve always loved that Mary starts the story as a disagreeable, impudent and stubborn child, so different from other heroines in children’s stories, which makes her transformation into a lively, determined and cheerful child all the more remarkable, and mirrors the rejuvenation of the secret garden itself.

Along the way Mary befriends the kind but plain-spoken Martha, the grumpy yet sentimental gardener Ben Weatherstaff, animal-charming Dickon, and her cousin Colin who undergoes his own journey of healing and growth alongside Mary’s.

The Secret Garden is a lovely story of friendship, life and nature that captures the joy of nurturing a garden, and the curiosity and sense of wonder that comes so naturally to children. In the era of TV, social media and smartphones, the underlying message championing the value of nature and spending time outside for health and well-being seems as relevant now as it did when it was published in 1911. Have a lovely week. X

Emerging from Lockdown

Emerging from Lockdown

We’re tentatively emerging from lockdown in our part of the world. Although some of the restrictions have been lifted, life has continued for us much the same as it has for the past few months, we shop for food once a week, my husband will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future, we take our daily walks for exercise, and my only other excursions have been taking our daughter to various health appointments.

This weekend though we were finally reunited with my parents and I was so glad to spend some time with them after three months apart, though it was very strange not to be able to hug or kiss them, or let them hold the baby. As much as I miss haircuts, libraries, dining out, the freedom to come and go as we please, and all the other aspects of life I took for granted before, being cut off from our family and friends has been by far the hardest part.

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It was a bittersweet reunion as our daughter has spent most of her life under lockdown, and the last time her grandparents saw her was at my nanna’s funeral when she was a tiny, sleepy 5-week-old, since then she’s grown into a chubby, curious and cheerful 4-month-old. Yet I know how lucky we are to be reunited at all when so many other families are mourning loved ones who lost their lives to Covid-19.

One benefit of the lockdown has been that my husband has been able to work from home, which has given us time together as a family that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. We’ve settled into our roles as parents, found a daily rhythm that works for all of us, and our daughter is healthy and content.

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Evening light

Throughout the lockdown, I’ve been very grateful for our garden, which has given us another environment to explore with our daughter full of sensory experiences while other activities are unavailable. The garden itself is full of life and colour at the moment.

We try to make our garden as wildlife friendly as possible, even so I’m always delighted by how many different types of bee visit the garden, and it’s fun trying to identify them all. We also heard the hedgehog snuffling around the hedge one day while we were outside so we left a bowl of water and some cat food out for it (don’t tell Mara!), though I’m wary of getting too close for fear of fleas and ticks.

Even though restrictions are starting to relax, while the virus remains a threat it’s hard to imagine life going back to the way it was before, and impossible to imagine what the year ahead will look like with all our plans from significant birthdays, friends’ weddings and other events we were looking forward to postponed or cancelled altogether, yet I’m so relieved that we’ve all weathered this storm and a little normality has started to resume. Take care, and have a lovely week. X

Bursting with New Growth and Colour

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April is one of my favourite months as it usually feels like winter has finally receded and spring has sprung. It’s been a month full of blue skies, sunshine and warmth, and our little garden is bursting with new growth and colour.

Last autumn, I planted bulbs for some early spring cheer, though my planting was a bit haphazard so there are clusters and gaps that I’ll try to fill in next autumn. The Narcissus Apotheosis have flowered and I love the two-tone swirl of petals, but I was a little underwhelmed by Narcissus ‘Rip Van Winkle’, which are pretty but don’t last long.

There are tall, bold ‘Red Impression’ tulips in the bamboo border, and fabulous ‘China Pink’ tulips in the flowerbed, but I’m still waiting for any of my favourite fiery orange ‘Ballerina’ tulips to flower.

In previous years, we’ve filled the flowerbed with annuals and wildflowers, but last year we planted some perennials and it’s paying off as the hardy Geraniums, Geum, Potentilla and Aquilegia have all grown back and their foliage is a welcome change to bare earth.

Geum ‘Mrs J. Bradshaw’ has already burst into flower, and the first flower on the Geranium ‘Blue Sabani’ has opened with many more buds promising colour for months ahead. As you can probably tell, whites and pastels are wasted on me and I’ve filled the garden with bright tones.

As the lockdown wears on and the novelty of being housebound wears off, I feel incredibly grateful for our little garden. More so than ever the garden has become a place to sit and gather my thoughts or to lose myself in some seasonal task during these extraordinary times we’re living through. Take care. X

Unravel and Bloom ~ Early Spring in the Garden

Daffodils

Over the last few weeks I’ve been glued to the news as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded and changed our lives beyond recognition. While we’ve been following guidance to stay at home, I’ve been grateful for our little garden, which gives us an escape whenever we start to feel a bit claustrophobic in our house.

Although our lives have been interrupted, nature and spring have carried on oblivious to the pandemic. We have a long winter here in Scotland, and I always appreciate the earliest flowers in the garden reminding us that spring and change are on the way. There were a scattering of delicate Snowdrops in January, quickly followed by the glamourous Iris Reticulata ‘Pauline’. The Tete-A-Tete Daffodils started flowering at the start of this month, and now at the end the Narcissus Apotheosis are just about to unravel and bloom.

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Regardless of what’s going on in our lives or the rest of the world, the birds in our garden need to be fed, the grass cut, weeds pulled and seeds sown – and these simple activities help to provide a little bit of distraction, purpose and normality in these strange and scary times. Hoping everyone reading is safe and well. X