Over the last few days, we’ve had a cold snap bringing frost, subzero temperatures and a tiny dusting of snow, but it was only the week before that I spent a lovely afternoon out in the garden with my girls in the sunshine.
Our youngest was wrapped up in her bouncer watching pinwheels spinning in the breeze before she drifted off for a little nap, as I tidied up the long border removing all the dried stems from last year, while our the three year old played witch on a broomstick. It’s not easy to keen on top of gardening with two little kids underfoot so I’ve been trying a little and often approach.
It’s always lovely watching the garden waking up after winter, from the first hellebores underneath the bamboo to the tete-a-tete daffodils in the long border. I’ve also enjoyed watching birds flitting around the garden, there have been blue tits, sparrows, long tailed tits, blackbirds, Robins and tiny wrens, which we’ve never seen in the garden before.
We woke this morning to a light flurry of snow falling. Spring can be such a changeable and unpredictable season, and yet one that I appreciate more and more as a time of renewal and the return of light and life after the barren darkness of winter. Have a lovely week. X
Something about the new year always fills me with inspiration, and I’m itching to get into the garden – alas we’re still in deepest, darkest Winter here in Scotland. The bamboo is providing some greenery, the Winter Spinach in the raised bed is doing well too and there are tips of spring bulb stems peeking above the soil but with the temperature hovering around 0°C this week, spring still feels like a long time away.
Nevertheless, I’ve been sorting through my seed box and thinking about what I’d like to grow. We have heavy clay soil and have never had any luck growing root vegetables, and its easy enough to get carrots, potatoes and onions so I leave those to the professionals. This year the plan is to grow kale, spinach, chard, peas, pumpkins and squash, as well as tomatoes and chilli peppers in the greenhouse. I’d also like to try growing ginger and my husband wants to try growing asparagus though that’s a long term project.
The flowerbed is fairly full of hardy perennials but I’m planning to grow more wildflowers around the garden too, partly because they’re lovely but also for the pollinators and insects. I’ve had mixed success with wildflowers in the past, the first few years, the beds were overflowing with lavetera, cornflowers, poppies and calendula but they haven’t done as well over last couple of years but I’ll keep trying.
Though we’ve lived here for 6 years now, I’m still so grateful to have a garden of our own. Have a lovely week. X
Just typing out a quick post at the end of a busy but lovely weekend spent celebrating Halloween. With my due date just around the corner, we’ve been staying close to home but have still found lots of ways to have fun while we wait.
I bought a pumpkin to make a Jack O’Lantern and my daughter requested a cat. It’s a bit of an odd skill but I enjoy the challenge of carving pumpkins, though compared to some of my previous ideas, this one felt like I was resting on my laurels.
We had planned to light the firepit in the garden to toast marshmallows but rain scuppered our plans so we baked a spiced pumpkin cake instead. Lucky for us, our daughter is almost always happy to bake, paint or shape playdough so we don’t have to worry too much about being stuck inside when the weather is particularly inclement.
We haven’t been too cooped up though as there was a Halloween party at our toddler sensory group, full of themed activities and fun. We also went for wanders around parks between rain showers to let the little one burn off some energy splashing through puddles and thrashing through a thick carpet of leaves, while I admired the autumn foliage.
We’ve spent some time in our own garden too, making a note of ideas for next year and little jobs to do over the winter. I don’t bother tidying up too much and just let things die back naturally as the weeds tend to take over when the soil is left bare, but we really need to trim the hedges, thin the bamboo and mow the lawn once more before winter. Another job for winter is to paint and seal the inside of the summerhouse.
My last minute winter veg experiment has had mixed results: the winter spinach has done quite well, but slugs ate most of the rainbow chard, there’s a couple of daikon (mooli) and a single turnip growing too. I planted a row of peas to add a bit of nitrogen to the soil, and scattered some wood ash as I’d read that it can deter slugs and add potassium to the soil. I started some more chard in the greenhouse that seems to be doing reasonably well, but the cabbage and kale failed, which is disappointing as leafy greens are one of the few cravings I’ve had during this pregnancy.
I really love the “embery” months from September to February with the contrast of wrapping up in coats and boots to venture outside and making ourselves cosy at home with blankets and candles, and this Halloween weekend has been full of simple, seasonal pleasures. Happy Halloween, and have a lovely week. X
This weekend marked the official start of autumn according to the astronomical calendar (though I’ve always prefered the meteorological calendar as it always seems like we’re well into a season by the time the equinox or solstice rolls around), and I’m still enjoying lots of time out in the garden.
I’ve tried to fill the garden with plants that flower at different times, and one of my favourites is the autumn flowering Aster ‘Patricia Ballard’. I also really appreciate the flowers with a long flowering period like hardy geraniums that start flowering in June and carry on well into autumn and sometimes winter, long after the summer blooms have faded, and so far both ‘Blushing Turtle’ and ‘Rozanne’ are still going strong.
My favourite rose, David Austin’s ‘Boscobel’ has slowed down but is still producing the odd beautiful flower in the long border, and the most generous of my roses, ‘Crown Princess Margareta’ is still producing the odd handful of apricot blooms.
There are also still a few annuals dotted around the garden like calendula and nasturtiums, but there is a gradual sense that the garden is slowing down and preparing to hibernate.
We’ve had quite a few cherry tomatoes from plants we bought reduced, but quite a few are still green and I’m hoping they’ll ripen before the cold weather arrives. I wasn’t planning to grow many vegetables this year, but seized by a sudden whim I sowed a few seeds for winter veggies (turnips, spinach and radish) in one the square raised beds, and I’ve also started cabbage, kale and chard seeds in the greenhouse, but it feels like a race against time to grow them on enough to plant out before the first frosts.
As much as I love the coziness of autumn and winter, I do miss spending time in the garden during the colder, darker months, and I’m savouring every moment in the garden and all the plants still growing at this time of year. Have a lovely week. X
Autumn is upon us once more, with cool, crisp mornings, warm, sunny afternoons (more often than not!) and darker evenings, and the leaves of the trees just starting to turn in our corner of the world.
Last week, my husband and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary, and next week we’ll have been together for 14 years. I still feel very lucky to have found him; my husband is my best friend, he’s been a supportive partner through so many challenges and changes, and he’s become a devoted, hands-on father too. It hasn’t always been easy, over the years we’ve had to navigate long-distance as work and study pulled us in opposite directions across the map, interfering in-laws and family estrangements, illnesses and a hundred other hurdles. Yet there has been so much more laughter, affection and joy, and the hard times we’ve faced have always been made easier by the reassuring comfort of standing side by side, hand in hand through it all.
We managed a rare child-free evening out to celebrate our anniversary at a delicious Spanish tapas restaurant, we ate so much food, enjoyed a tasty mocktail, then ice-cream and a wee wander up to the University to see my hubby’s new office.
My husband starts a new job next week, one that involves much less travel around the UK than his previous role, which will suit our little family better. In contrast, I’ve been with the same employer for over six years now, by far the longest I’ve ever worked anywhere, and I’d like to make a change at some point in the future but I’m very lucky that my employer offers flexible working options that fit around family life.
I’m not one to count my chickens before they’ve hatched but it’s hard not to feel excited and nervous when our second child’s due date is just 7 weeks away! I had a bit of a fright a couple of weeks ago as I was involved in a 4 car accident on my way home from work, though luckily no one involved was injured and after exchanging details we all made our way home. Even so, it was a relief to see our baby at the 32-week growth scan last week, and to see everything looking healthy and normal. We also received our baby box from the Scottish government and enjoyed unpacking all the useful things inside.
We’ve finally started work on our front garden with the help of my father-in-law (and our daughter who just loves to get involved with whatever we’re doing), creating a new path that leads directly up to the front door. For the last few years the front garden has been overgrown and neglected so I’m really looking forward to doing something with this space, and my imagination is running wild with ideas of silver birch and cherry blossom trees and a pond.
I love September with the last of the summer warmth and the first chill of autumn, as it always seems like month of beginnings and endings, changes and transitions, as one season draws to a close and another begins, and I’m looking forward to lots of cosy times ahead. Have a lovely week. X
Like most people in the UK, we spent the first half of the week trying to stay cool on the hottest days, though we haven’t had to endure the record breaking temperatures further South. Although our garden is South-SouthWest facing, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well our plants held up during the heatwave, and it’s looking really lovely right now if I do say so myself.
Our back garden has changed a lot over the last few years but is starting to look quite established with fruit trees growing tall, the bamboo clumping, summerhouse freshly painted and perennials spreading in the long border. I’ve tried to plant flowers that bloom at different times, and as Cirsium Rivulare (thistle) dies back, the Crocosmia starts to flower, while the hardy Geraniums (‘Blushing Turtle’ and ‘Rozanne’) and roses pretty much flower from June until the first frost (and sometimes beyond that). ‘Rozanne’ has become a bit of a sprawling mass, so I’ll separate and relocate some to the other beds in the autumn.
I’ve surprised myself by developing a real affection for pink roses, ‘Boscobel’ is my favourite but the climbing rose ‘James Galway’ is a close second, and I doubt I’ll be able to resist adding another rose to fill in the gap in the long border when the next David Austin catalogue drops through the letterbox.
The two smaller square beds were supposed to be wildflower patches, but calendula and one solitary sunflower were the only things to survive the slugs which devoured every other seedling as they surfaced, but I don’t mind as I quite like the dramatic, fiery orange.
We’ve been putting out a little bit of food and water for the birds, squirrels and hedgehogs that inhabit and visit our garden over the summer. It’s especially exciting to see hedgehogs snuffling and shuffling around in the evening. We know there’s more than one visiting as they’re visibly different sizes with different markings, and it’s encouraging because their numbers have been in sharp decline for a while.
We’ve constructed the greenhouse, and my husband also built a small fence around it to prevent kids from bumping into it. During the heatwave earlier this week, the thermometer in the greenhouse reached 46°C before it stopped working. The greenhouse went up a bit late late in the season, but we’ve filled it with reduced price seedlings so we might still get a handful of tomatoes and courgettes, but I’m excited about growing more of our veg next year. I’ve had some success growing lettuce in pots this summer, though I had to move them onto the kitchen windowsill as they were starting to wilt in direct sunlight. I’ve also created a little fruit forest between our apple trees planting rhubarb and strawberries underneath, and our daughter loves foraging for berries in the garden. Weeds have been a problem so I scattered some nasturtium seeds to provide a bit of competition and occlusion, but I haven’t tried eating the leaves or flowers.
Our garden is quite small and yet we’re making the most of the space we have. Gardening is one of my great passions, and I really value time spent in the garden so much, it’s incredibly rewarding and restorative to feel connected to nature. Have a lovely week. X
We’ve reached that point of the year when I’ve run out of room on the windowsills as a mismatched collection of plant pots and trays jostle for space. There are courgette and sunflower seedlings, and a tray of lavatera and calendula seedlings that I started inside after the wildflower mix that I sowed in the flowerbeds were mown down by slugs and snails, and even a pot of grass for our housecat, Mara.
The seedlings that I started off inside may be safe from the usual garden pests, but Mara isn’t above taking a nibble out of any leaves in her vicinity, and I lost a whole tray of sweetpeas and a courgette seedling to a curious and over-enthusiastic toddler, then snapped another courgette seedling stem myself when I was repotting it.
May is usually a fair month, but the weather has actually been quite mixed, with some warm and sunny days, some showers, and a lot of cool, overcast days, and most of my seedlings have grown a bit leggy as they stretch and strain to reach the sun which has so often been hiding behind the clouds.
It’s been a few years since I’ve posted about our houseplants and there have been some new arrivals and at least as many departures since then. We currently have seven spider plants (by far the easiest houseplant to care for), six of which are descendents from the original plant, that produced so many spiderettes that I ended up giving them away to family, friends and work colleagues. We also have a string of hearts plant that is hopelessly tangled and coiled around itself to prevent the strings from tickling our heads when we sit on the couch underneath it, but it’s another low-maintenance favourite that I’d love to try propagating.
On the stair windowsill are two burros tail succulents, which are the succulents that I’ve had the most success at keeping alive (as all the echeveria have died off and I’ve no plans to replace them), though I also love the Purple Graptopetalum that I bought at a Cactus and Succulent Sale at the Botanic Gardens a couple of years ago and that I’ve recently had some luck at propagating from fallen leaves.
I do like having a house full of plants, but very much hoping that the weather improves soon so I can start hardening off the seedlings and plant them outside, but in the meantime I’ll continue tending them inside until they’re strong enough to survive the vagaries of Scottish weather. Have a lovely week. X
April is one of my favourite months as cherry blossoms swirl around like confetti in the breeze, tulips burst into flower, the weather (usually) improves and it finally feels like we’ve shaken off another winter.
The first week of April was spent alternatively caring for and entertaining a toddler with chicken pox who was quarantined from nursery, soft play, playdates and play groups. I tried my hand at few sensory activities such as dying dried chickpeas and making pink sand (a big hit but very messy!), and we also made lots of no-bake treats like chocolate rice krispie cakes and rocky road, both easy enough that the little one could get involved with pouring and mixing the ingredients (and licking the spoon afterwards).
Then it was back to nursery, sensory group (just in time for the Easter party) and family swimming trips. We’ve also been going out for walks after dinner, and it really feels like we’re springing out of hibernation after a long, dreary winter.
We had an egg hunt in the garden for the little one at Easter, with eggs that I’d painted and a few mini chocolate eggs too. Our daughter probably got enough chocolate from her grandparents and our neighbours to last her to the end of the year.
We’ve been busy in the garden too. My father-in-law helped us moved one of the square raised beds into the back corner, a slightly shady area which we’ve struggled to fill with anything other than weeds. I treated myself to another climbing rose, James Galway, to fill the back fence alongside Crown Princess Margareta, which is already very well established. Our daughter helped me scatter wildflower seeds in the raised beds, and I’ve started off some sunflowers on the windowsill. I was very excited to see flowers on the plum tree and two of our four apple trees. My husband also found a greenhouse on gumtree, it’s a bit bigger than I had in mind but too good value to turn down.
Even though the garden is only just getting started, it’s been great to spend so much time outside pottering around, a real tonic for the mind and body. Already there are busy bees bumbling, ladybirds and even a couple of butterflies flitting around the garden – but most exciting of all is the return of the hedgehogs in the evening, we’ve counted three so far, and we’ve been leaving cat food out for them. I’m always slightly surprised and delighted by how much wildlife there is to be found in an urban environment and we try to make our garden as wildlife friendly as possible to support it.
We haven’t ventured too far from home lately, but it’s been a lovely month full of picnics and playdates at the park, and lots of fun in the garden. Have a lovely week. X
We’ve spent lots of time in the garden over the last few days and I thought I’d share a little update about the first quarter of the year in the garden. I had briefly considered writing posts to coincide with the Celtic festivals of Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain but there really wasn’t enough happening in the garden in February to write about.
The first hellebore flowered at the end of December and they’ve been flowering constantly through the early months of the year, before being joined by the daffodils last month. Winter is often the season when I like to make plans for the year ahead while the garden is resting and waiting for spring. We have three raised beds in the garden, I’ve filled the long bed with my favourite perennials but I’m planning to fill the two smaller square beds with daffodil and tulip bulbs this autumn, and turn both beds into wildflower patches over the summer.
Our summerhouse has spent the winter under a huge tarpaulin protecting it from the worst of the cold and damp but on a very sunny weekend in March, my husband painted it a cheery shade of blue with white frames. We’ve already enjoyed eating our lunches in the summerhouse, our daughter loves having it open to explore and hide in, and I’m looking forward to lunchbreak reading in the shade through the summer. We’re also planning to replace our shed as the roof appears to be disintegrating, and we’d also like to get a greenhouse to try growing our own tomatoes, chilis and courgettes.
Our garden is small, oddly shaped and a real mix of different styles and ideas, but I’m grateful to have a garden and excited to get growing again. Have a lovely week. X
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
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