R is for relief

relief that Scotland is to stay part of the UK and so I do not need to move home to continue to live in the UK,
I am slowly coming to accept it’s true, after the rotten year we have had with the elements and the constant arguing over what is best for Scotland, the very loud yes campaign with their 3 foot high yes signs, constant barrage of leaflets and goodness knows how much spending of the taxpayers money, the Scottish government focused on nothing but arguing Scotland will be better independent and doing no actual parliamentary work but just strutting their stuff around the streets of Scotland, I had convinced myself they would win, but the quiter more thoughtful people wanting to continue living in the UNITED Kingdom have at last been heard, the group of islands where I live also had a majority of NO thanks to independence,
the pressure of this referendum has been largely responsible for my low feelings this year, the weather of course hasn’t helped, and, the week my grandsons stayed I had thought would give me a lift, it did, seeing and being with my grandsons but the weather that week was not just the worst this summer but the rain on the Monday was the worst in all the 13 summers I’ve been here, this was my clincher, I really believed that it was just going to continue downhill, I totally lost interest in the garden, thinking what is the use, if I have to move I won’t see the results, I have a stack of bulbs dug up earlier in the year that I now need to get planted,
I have very many mixed emotions today, relief being the strongest though it is tinged with fear that it’s ‘too good to be true’ excitement with the garden but again resistance to start as it’s difficult to believe I should see the results, I’ve been so screwed up it is going to take me time to unwind and get back to ‘me’ ……………. the journey starts ……… x

©Copyright 2014 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.


I had a morning in the garden the first week of September, there were 2 small courgettes so I cut them before the slugs ate them (they’d already had one), the 2 squash fruit had not grown any more for a few weeks so I cut them off as well, they are Squash Honey bear which is said to be a small one, I also pulled some of the baby leeks, these are small leeks not the large ones, I felt happy with my wee haul, not enough to feed a family but fine for me,
a round up of photos I took Saturday, the kale is doing better left uncovered,
my last crop of salad leaves outside,
I’m just pulling the larger baby leeks when I need them, they are continuing to grow,
the broccoli has grown since releasing it from the pots, no spears but plenty of leaves, enough I think to cut some,
the onions still out are the ones from seed, they are not as big as those from sets but have done well, I’m feeling a bit chuffed as I would never have thought I could grow onion from seed, as you can see they are liberally scattered with foxglove seedlings these will be moved to other parts of the garden to flower next year,
cut my first squash Sunday, now this is a real first in every way, I’ve only ever had pumpkin once before, in a restaurant and it was rock hard and horrid, I left it, I’ve never bought one and to be absolutely honest I didn’t really know what to do with it, of my cookery books only my old secondhand copy of Mrs B had pumpkin and she suggests cooking and mashing with butter and milk, so that’s what I did and it was delicious,
I also looked up how to cook pumpkin and pumpkin recipes on the internet, they look to be quite a versatile veg,

two more chillies,
vegetarian chilli, another first as I’ve never made it with a real chilli before, only chilli powder,
growing veg is encouraging me to try veggies I’ve not tried before which I like,

the cucumbers are still coming at a nice regular pace, I’ve never eaten so many, there are some green tomatoes which will probably go red in time, I usually find they don’t start to change here until late summer and this year they were started late, and I must not forget the humble potato, digging up a few at a time as needed,

I know I’ve said it before but just want to again, it is mostly due to reading about veg growing from other bloggers who have written about their veggies that encouraged to start again, I tried a bit when I first came here but failed and just didn’t try again, I now realise my failure was due to lack of knowledge and no one to talk to on the subject, so thanks x

©Copyright 2014 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.

wordless Wednesday ~ seeing red



©Copyright 2014 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.

tree following ~ September

the weather has not been warm this summer and it has now started to become chilly, unless there is a truly very dramatic change in our weather it will not become as cold as some of my fellow gardeners will experience in winter,
quite a few plants are starting to show the signs of the coming autumn but not the alders, this will be interesting for me to observe as I notice in spring that the alders are later than the other tree types to come into leaf but I’ve never before taken any notice about autumn,
the grey alder is still putting forth new leaves, the usual side view, it was a bit windy when I went to take photos and you can see the higher branches being blown forward into the garden,
some new growth,
looking across to the other side of the tree you can see the wind scorched leaves,
one day I really should go around to the road and take a photo from that side, here’s a photo from the other side of the ditch showing the line of trees, the grey alder is the centre tree,
the hornbeam is just starting to show signs of nearly autumn though it too is still growing new foliage, something is eating the foliage, only a little no need to worry, and it is sleeping (if that the right word) in the foliage, the best view from the path through the alder garden,
so many weeds, closer view of the foliage where you can see some of the brown dry leaves only these are not due to wind burn,
this is what is causing the brown leaves and I think maybe the nibbled leaves, the photo left shows the top of a leave that has been folded around something, right photo shows underneath, a spider, I found 2 spiders and several used leaves, all with a little webbing,
I am going to try and find out what it is, I did some searches before posting and leaf curling spider come up immediately, it sounded and looked similar to those I have, just one little problem it is indigenous to north eastern Australia! countless more searches finally found a wildlife bulletin for Lockerbie 2011 of a british native leaf curling spider, phew, was starting to wonder if I had non natives reproducing in my garden, apparently the curled leaf is for protection, a spider safe place from predators, and a place to have and protect the wee ‘uns,

well so much for tlc, I’ve managed to kill the tiny lodgepole pine I brought into the house, not sure why or how, possible it’s too dry, the air not the compost, the other tiny lodgepole that I potted up and left outside is thriving,

thanks to Lucy  for hosting this meme, I’ve said before how pleased I am that I decided to join in as I’ve seen my trees more this year, and this month, well without tree following and also thanks to Laura who asked me to follow my hornbeam I would never have known about the leave curling spiders, please click through to Lucy’s blog to see more tree following posts,

©Copyright 2014 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.

end of month view ~ August

at last I’m back online with the start of a new month,

I don’t think I need to say what the weather has been like, I’m beginning to sound like a needle stuck on a record with the weather this year and it’s too late in the year to change now,

I’ve been enjoying the blue in the jungle border this month, I bought several agapanthus 18 months ago as they tend to do well here, last summer 1 flowered, this year 4 are flowering and 1 sent up 2 flower stems, I hope it’s not the desperate flowering of dying plants, they so often talk about this on GQT,
when it was nice on Tuesday last week I did do some work in the jungle bed, I cut down all the loose strife, strife is a good name for it!! I then ran the strimmer over some of the other unwanted stuff and gave it a good rake, there was quite a bit of fluffy sphagnum moss, I hope to start to dig it over and so remove the unwanted roots of the plants, usual view,
the border from the other end, I like the changing leaf colour of the hypericums, this is partly why I used them, this year they seem to be changing colour much earlier,
the other side of the dogrose, the ‘jungle’ bit, the crocosmia has finished, the pontentilla and daylily take their turn,
the ferns have done well, it is the best the harts tongue has done, I moved it here last winter, the holly fern was only bought last year,
not much change to the middle bed, olearia is filling out and I intend to clip it this time as I would like a more solid rounded shape for a change, the open wild shape I now prefer in the wild parts of the garden,
viewed from the other side of the olearia, there are 2 shrubs in flower, the pontentilla, I do not know the names of any of the pontentillas in my garden as all were grown from unnamed cuttings, this one is from my mother’s garden, my daughter took my Mum shopping one day for some shrubs for her garden, it was a fews years after my Dad died, my Mum had never done any gardening and had no interest but she was left with small front and back gardens to look after and very late in life started to take an interest (her late 70s), I love the pale yellow primrose like flowers and soft grey/green leaves,
I’m amazed by how much this Buddleja, Lochinch, has grown, all above ground has grown this year, I thought buddleas like dry sun and yet it is growing it’s best in cloudy rain, have the experts got it wrong, I am enjoying it and hope it stays,
and the sedum black beauty has survived the rain (just),
the wilderness has spots of orange and pink, the orange flowers of a pontentilla and both pale pink and deep magenta of the oriental lilies, also lots of yellow flowers on the fennel, not seen it flower so well in several years, I’ve managed to get nothing done here, usual view,
from the other end of the path, my back is to the little bed, I think I should have photographed it from this end all along as you can see most of the bed,
you might be wondering why I have planted lilies to grow through the hedge, well I didn’t, this year I decided to let the hedge grow (just as well as I have had no opportunity to cut it anyway), it looses it’s leaves in the winter gales and I wondered if I keep the perimeter hedge too narrow, on the left you can see the hawthorn, it is finally growing large enough to be seen, centre there is rosa rugosa alba, this has grown from root that got left when I moved the original plant, the privet was all that was here when I came,
not much change in the little bed either,
just the daylilies flowering,
with the middle and little bed I just managed to keep them weeded and the border in the jungle bed, among the weeds are sometimes flower seedlings and very occasionally ornamental grass seedlings, this year I have found the flowers from seed I scattered a year or 2 ago, it didn’t grow then but a few have this year, love-in-a-mist,
thanks to Helen for hosting this meme, please click through to see more end of month view posts,

©Copyright 2014 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.


the raised veg beds at the back of the house have been productive this year, I’m still wondering why I didn’t grow veg sooner, in the 1st bed the peas did well but have finished sooner this year, I had some broccoli plants waiting to be planted out so they are now in the pea bed, I read that it is good to plant brassicas after legumes as the later fix nitrogen in the soil which the former need lots of, set out ready to plant,
I do get some satisfaction setting out and planting plants I’ve grown from seed,
the kale in the 3rd bed looks good doesn’t it ….
take a closer look …..
it has been covered but it looks like I just trapped the wee beasts with the kale, all I could find were a few very small green caterpillars, I don’t know how much bigger they grow, I don’t think they are the main culprit, I would like to know what is in the white fuzzy stuff, I realised after taking them all off I should have left 1 or 2 leaves and covered with a plastic bag to see what emerged, anyone have any ideas? there are salad leaves in this bed too and they are untouched (so far, touch wood),

in the 2nd bed the winter greens have done well and though also brassicas were only nibbled a bit by slugs and earwigs, I’ve taken them all out now and put some leeks in a bit late, the winter greens make a loose heart and I only had one make a heart of any size so thought I would take a photo and post, the others may not have hearted up because I was cropping the leaves fairly frequently,


in the new alder veg garden I have just one courgette plant left from 5, it seems to finally have started to produce some courgettes,


I only have 2 squash growing from the 5 plants, there have been lots of flowers but they are not getting pollinated, with all the rain I have not been in the garden much and neither have the pollinators, I’ve noticed the flowers are only open for a day and with the wet don’t open, I’ve really chosen the worst summer to try growing courgettes and squashes, still 2 is better than none,


the alder veg bed with left to right, baby leeks, cauliflower under the net, chard and onions, the first cauliflowers were devoured by slugs and earwigs, these onions are the ones grown from seed so much smaller,


the onions grown from a set, best onions I’ve had, they all went over in a storm 3 weeks ago so I decided with all the rain I’d better pull them, now to get them dry, they are in the side porch out of the rain,


in the fruit and berry garden where I am using the new bit that was under blue plastic last year, the potatoes are doing very well, I’ve dug up all the 2nd earlies and the main crop look good but I am a bit worried with all the rain, next to them I put in some rhubarb pieces earlier in the year, the bits of rhubarb are from the birch garden where they amazingly had managed to stay alive after being choked with weeds and grass, they had never done well which was why they had become neglected but as they were struggling to grow I thought I would move them and see what happens, I was not expecting much and had plans to buy some plants in the autumn, I’ve read that rhubarb is a hungry plant that needs lots of feeding so I dug good sized holes and added lots of my chunky compost and some bonemeal, after planting I sprinkled some slow release fertiliser, they have grown really well, I haven’t pulled any as I want it to go back down into the root to build it up,


inside the cucumbers have been producing quite well, it’s difficult to see but there are 6 in the photo and lots of baby ones,


I took the first one when the grandsons were here, I never knew before that cucumbers are such prickly plants,


the tomatoes are finally growing fruit though there will not be many this year, the peppers are growing well, I tried one green but it was bland, I don’t like very hot but I do want some flavour, I’ve left them but think if they need sun to turn yellow and red it’s not going to happen, the larger ones are lime green (greeny yellow), so time will tell,
like other food we grow ourselves the cucumbers have the best taste ever, my grandsons took 2 home and asked me to leave the prickles so they could show Mum and Dad, the younger grandson who is interested reached the stage of asking at every meal which veg were ‘from your garden Grandma’, so sweet and so satisfying,

days in the garden have been very limited, I’ve reached the stage of only collecting and planting/sowing food first, then if I get a chance to get in the garden a bit more I try to get as much as possible in the compost recycle bin as there are sooo many weeds, amazingly many plants seem to be managing to grow and flower despite the rotten weather, I’ve reached the stage of looking forward to winter when the weeds will finally die off a bit, wish the grass would too, no chance,

to finish with a flower, I missed some onions last year, they started growing this year some that had size I pulled earlier but a few had very small bulbs and had sent up a flower so I left them, not as large as the ornamental alliums but very pretty none the less,


my next post will be my end of month view but it will be on the 1st September when a new month internet allowance starts and I will be back to normal,

update, I wrote the post at home Sunday and after saying so much about the rainy weather Monday and Tuesday have been full of sun and so far today (Wednesday) also sunny, typical isn’t it! I should feel joyous but I’m not, for me it’s too late, the garden is too far gone bad, the grandsons have left and I’ve convinced myself the way this year is going, the referendum is going to be a yes vote,

©Copyright 2014 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.

windy wet weather and no internet

well the grandsons are back with Mum and Dad and I am left with memories and no internet until September! the wee u’ns, well actually youngest one, used up most of my monthly internet allowance in their first 3 days, I was in shock as I never before realised people could get through so much bandwidth so fast, and they were not on the internet all the time, the older one was watching some videos for different loom band items, loom bands is the latest child craze, but the little one apparently streams what imo is video rubbish, my son failed to consider a single old lady would not have an unlimited usage package and didn’t warn me of the high bandwidth usage, to say I’m a tad cross with my son is a bit of an under statement, I have though learnt my local library has wifi now so I am typing this in a word doc at home and will post on Tuesday when the library is next open, it’s Thursday as I didn’t feel like going to town before, I’m not happy I have to go into town and carry the laptop on the bus to be able to use the internet, right! now I’ve got that sort of off my chest, onwards and upwards,

the weather was appaling last week and no better now, I’ve seen better weather in the winter in the now long distant past, so getting out was curtailed, we did however get out a bit and Friday was the best day, I’m sorry but I realised when I went to look out photos for a post that my photos are mostly of 2 boys, interesting to close family but no one else, I think not being able to use the internet taking photos for the blog just went clean out of my mind, I’m actually feeling a bit cross with myself now as we went to the blackhouse village Friday and I would now like some photos of the houses, it’s not easy to visit by bus, I hired a car for the week the boys were here,

devils bit scabious growing at the base of a standing stone,
Calanais Standing Stones,
Dail Mor beach,
Gearannan Blackhouse Village,
when we were driving home Friday evening I said ‘I’m going to be all on my own tomorrow’
the youngest grandson replied ‘you have your plants Grandma’
I thought I’d share as only gardeners would understand, he likes gardening so it was such a shame we could not spend more time in the garden.

update, I’ve enjoyed my time linking in with my blogging friends and quilting friends via the quilt list, now it’s the school bus home, see you all next week x ,

©Copyright 2014 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.