foliage ~ December

today the rain has been showery and the wind moderate (not gale force) so between showers I donned outdoor wear for the garden and walked down to the tweenie, I have not been down there much this year and as I planted some new plants early this year I wanted to see how things were going, fortunately the gales we had recently were from the south west so the tweenie was protected by the pines, the planting at the top (west) end of the tweenie and along the tree edges reflects this relative shelter,
the first thing I noticed is the Cyclamen coum have reappeared, I would love to be able to weed around them,
then on the other side of the path and a bit further along I see Dryopteris erythrosora, Japanese rosy buckler fern,
at the top end of the tweenie the Cordyline Red star,
something has been eating the Bergenia, I think earwigs rather than slugs, they have become a real problem I am starting to dislike more than slugs,
with my back to the trees a longer view showing how they relate to each other,
turning 180 degrees, the Aucuba japonica Golden king I bought at the beginning of the year is doing well it seems, it is said to be male,
and behind it just under the trees Aucuba japonica Variegata, said to be female,
another longer view looking out from under the trees, you can see the aucubas are not far from each other, there is another small A. variegata in between the cordyline and fern in the tweenie, the bright foliage of the aucubas lightens up the area however the main reason for the planting is for wildlife, the flowers early in the year and berries on the female plants autumn and winter, insects and birds,
I then decided to walk a bit further through the trees to the other side as I had noticed when I went there back in May that the holly and pyracantha planted in 2002 have grown, many times I thought them dead and in recent years had given up, seems they thrive better on neglect (typical!), anyway the holly is now taller than the fence,
I walked over (not easy with the grass and moss duvet under foot) for a closer look and just love the green leaves against the black stems,
retracing my steps back to the tweenie, passing the cyclamen, in the dogwood border I wanted to see what Skimmia japonica Kew white was doing, I bought this one early in the year to pair with Skimmia japonica Rubella both were starting to look a bit lime green with yellowing, I read it can be a magnesium deficiency and to treat it with epsom salts so I did and I am pleased to see them looking green, Kew white (female) has flower buds but Rubella (male) has not so no berries next year,
Olearia macrodonta, known locally as sea holly, seen through Cornus alba, I am glad to see it growing well, over the years I have been given cuttings which people tell me take easily, not for me, I bought this and have tried cuttings but no takers, I have planted evergreens in among the dogwoods to help the red stems stand out more,
I’m linking in with Christina’s foliage meme, please click through to Christina’s blog to see more foliage posts, thank you Christina for hosting,

as the reader can see I do have some foliage in winter and some evergreens survive in relatively sheltered areas, every garden has micro climates as well as the general overall climate, the trick is creating micro climates and making best use of them, you can also see from last months foliage post there is quite a lot in my front garden the trick there has been to plant low growing varieties which are not so susceptible to the wind, this has been a learning curve, at times an expensive curve, some evergreens are like deciduous trees and shrubs in my garden, that is fine if I know they will regrow the next season, the pines and spruces were here when I came they stand up the the elements as they are still growing but they are very different to their cousins in more sheltered areas, I’m learning to use that difference and ignore the books,

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

winter solstice

one of my favourite dates, the darkest day of winter, from this day on the daylight will last a little longer, the grey outside means lights are on inside even during the daylight hours, happy winter solstice to those north of the equator and happy summer solstice to those south of the equator,

the weather here has been very unusual, strong winds this time of year we are used to and in the last few years excessive rain too, however in less than 2 weeks we have had 4 thunder storms, since moving to the islands 15 years ago I have only known 2 thunder storms in all those years, it was one of the things I noticed about the weather, the lack of thunder storms, the last 2 thunder storms brought heavy hailstones and I do mean stones it was quite scary, I have been lucky but I understand some people have suffered damage to their homes, I hope we do not get any more, very weird weather,

with the washing machine the third thing happened, I could not get the screw nut undone on the water inlets to disconnect the old machine so had to call my nice friendly plumber who lucky was working near by, he lives in the same village too, he called in and did it for me, I felt better that he too could not do it by hand and needed his special tool for undoing difficult screw nuts, I had decided not to use any grippers on them incase I broke the plastic, machine working now,

the storms have turned most of the privet hedge brown and the leaves are starting to fall so it will soon be mostly bare, the olearia has turned mostly black, I’m always reading and hearing how evergreens are the backbone of the winter garden, not if you live by the sea and there are winter storms, I always think the people who talk of evergreens being a winter feature must garden in areas with very tame winter weather, the privet and olearia will grow new foliage next spring but this is not true of all evergreens and I have lost many over the years so now I rarely buy evergreens unless I have good reason to think they can survive the salty winds, the lodge pole pines look as if the storms have not touched them but I know from experience they have suffered wind burn, the needles will over the coming months change to some lovely autumn colours before finally falling never to grow again, this cycle means the pines only have foliage on the ends of the branches where new stems grow, the middle being quite bare giving them an open look,

I was going to add some photos but find I have no photos of the garden this month, the last photos of the garden were taken on the 28th November, so a word post,

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

washing machine

2 weeks ago my washing machine started to leak, now living a long way from town calling someone out costs ‘an arm and a leg’ to coin a phrase, also the machine is about 18 years old so after thinking it over for a few days I decided on a new washing machine which arrived yesterday,
I took the packing off except it was sitting on a piece of polystyrene, trying to get it off defeated me and I gave up yesterday evening, this morning I had another go, I cut the edges off as every time I tipped the machine up the poly was firmly stuck! now I thought all I have to do is slide it off, ha ha hah, then I tipped it and pulled the poly down and saw what was stopping me, this photo is blurred as I was taking the photo with one hand and tipping the machine up with the other, you can just see the lump of poly sticking up,
this required some thought, if I go to the opposite side and tip the machine back perhaps I could swivel the machine over the lump, it worked and eventually the machine was standing on the floor and the polystyrene was on top of the machine, see the lump that was stopping movement,
there was still another lump of poly at the front which according to the instructions would come out when I tugged the ribbon hanging down, oh yeah! it did eventually come out but not as easy as they say, by now my arms were aching and I was feeling a bit puffed so sustenance was needed,
now back to work, remove the travel locking bolts, I mistakenly thought the hard part of this operation would be getting the nuts to start turning, no that was fine but though they were loose they would not come free, I tried and tried and gave up and had tea,
the instruction book says they screw out, ha ha,
after tea did I really want to try again, I thought well just a bit and if they don’t come out leave it until tomorrow, I wasn’t sure if only the black bit in the middle should come out or the whole thing, grey bit too, the white caps to go on after looked large enough for the whole thing to come out, there was no sign of a screw thread on the stem of the grey bit so I decided in the end to take a chance and give it a bit of a tug, bingo!
within a few minuets I had all 4 out and the caps on,
I’ve decided to leave the plumbing until tomorrow I’m not ready for a flood this evening, everything goes in 3s so something else will be very difficult,
how was your day?

a big thank you to everyone who talked about how they use their tablet and gave helpful information, very much appreciated x

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

T is for tablet

And for tearing my hair out, yes I am trying to use the dreaded tablet, these photos were taken in London in October, as many of you know I live on an almost treeless island so I couldn’t resist lingering in the Bloomsbury squares after a day and night of traveling, if I remember this is Tavistock square,



Even the leaves on the ground look good to me,


And there was statue of Gandhi,


All these photos were taken between 8 & 9 in the morning, along the streets people were rushing to work, it was nice to no longer be one of those people, it was also nice to wander slowly through the streets remembering when I was also rushing to work, a sort of walk down memory lane but at the same time like it had all happened to someone else, in another life,

Now what I can’t fathom how to do is copy and paste so I can add the copyright, ok nearly ready to tap the publish button, no idea if I’ve chosen the best photos as they are so small, I had problems with the camera button as sometimes when I tapped it nothing happened but if I tapped it harder it jogged the tablet, I had to delete a lot as the were blury, any advice welcome, thanks, looking at the photos on the laptop these are blurry, sorry, I will persevere and get better,

finishing the post back on the laptop, the touch screen is driving me mad, when I want something to happen it doesn’t! then when I don’t something happens, worst is when I want it to do something and it does everything but the one thing I am trying to make happen!!!! I am reminding myself that this time last year this was exactly the position I was in with the laptop and pad, oh how I missed my mouse, but now I can manage the laptop, so stick with it I will get there eventually, who said you can’t teach an old cat (I’m a cat person) new tricks, x

………………. gulp! una otra copa de vino …………..

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

wordless Wednesday ~ panorama

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

wordless Wednesday ~ red and green


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

foliage ~ November

we have had a couple of days without wind and rain so I have actually been able to be in the garden working for once, I did some work in the wilderness, I know there are lots of other things but I was just so fed up with the fact that I had not got anything done as I had planned this year, there are a lot of bulbs that need dividing and there was (notice past tense) a clump of corms I have been wanting to dig up for a few years now, so first I pulled the long grass off and then after a bit of digging and tugging the clump finally came up, diving the corms took a while I couldn’t believe how many and how big they were, 2 buckets of corms the third bucket on the right has the spent and damaged corms and foliage, these are for foliage a lovely blue/green lance shaped leaf, the flowers are small peachy flutes along the stem,
francescaple.bulbsandcorms1the 2 small corms at the front are the same size as the original few I bought, compare with the very large 4 corms behind them, sorry I can’t find the name for the plant yet,
this first foliage photo was taken over a week ago but I wanted to show one before they all disappeared as rosa rugosa blanc double de coubert’s foliage goes a lovely yellow,
the middle bed, really pleased with how this juniperus squamata holger is growing,
and festuca glauca elijah blue around the piece of broken pipe I put in the middle of them, I’ve finally bought a plant for it, thymus silver queen,
and although I like the dianthus with juniperus squamata blue star it’s got a bit too close so I will be moving it, I put several cuttings in at the same time and this is now the largest, what is irritating is the others all have more room to spread out,
buddleja lochinch, I cut the dead flowers off and all these new leaves have appeared, I love the silvery white of them,
a long shot from the other side of the bed, you can see how they fit together, still needs lots to do but coming along at last, the brown shrub on the right is a pontentillia with grey green foliage and pale yellow flowers,
still love this sedum, I noticed it is not increasing in size any more, I must try some cuttings,
pessicaria red dragon with chrysanthemum cinerarifolium, thank you Cathy,
the view from the point, I have been wanting to plant something near the olearia to echo the deep red of the phormium and red dragon fits the bill nicely, I had also wanted some more sword shaped foliage to echo the phormium and the new extracted corms should do the job well,
a closer view of the plants behind the dianthus, the blue grass was divided and planted in spring and has bulked up nicely there is a group of 3, two new plants, erica tetralix alba mollis has nearly white new foliage and white flowers from early summer and the other plant is leucanthemum hosmariense has silver green foliage with white daisy flowers,
I love how much elymus magellanicus blue grass has grown and looks with the dianthus, I might divide it in spring,
and another long shot, the large silver grey shrub is santolina chamaecyparissus pretty carol, the foxglove seedlings are not staying there but will be moved,
I bought several more plants for this bed including a hosta for the end of the bed near the house to see if that grows, I am having problems finding things to grow there and have lost many that are said to like the conditions, ha ha ….

now the jungle bed, this little combination still pleases me, the erica will be in flower in the new year, I am still amazed at how much the saxifraga has grown it had been in the middle bed for a few years and barely stayed alive, I am now thinking of dividing or taking some pieces off to increase it,
I bought quite a few new ericas and callunas as they do grow here and I have been surprised at the amount of variety there is, starting small with large plugs, this is erica darleyenis margaret porter new growth is cream and mauve flowers in may,
hypericum olympic erect and origanum vulgare acorn bank, I love this little hypericum, I didn’t know there were such beautiful low growing ones like this,
I was in the garden at the moment the sun came through these leaves and just had to include it, another new plants, for the jungle this time, gladiolus murielae, I wanted some sword like leaves, I had bought some iris which were doing well until all this wet which has killed them off, so I was looking for something else that would be able to cope with the wet, according to the info I read this should, we will see,
cupressus macrocarpa goldcrest is growing now and starting to show the contrast with the leylandii,
wilma was a bit smaller when I bought her but she is also starting to make her presences known between the leylandii and coloured willow,
I was surprised by the growth in the privet, I haven’t cut it for a few years and it’s becoming tree like I do not mind here and it adds to the contrast of foliage, I had imagined when I planted the leylandii behind the downy birch that I would be seeing the silver bark of the birches against the dark green of the leylandii but the birches are like large shrubs with very short stumpy trunks, sigh …….

as I walked back to the house I thought the sun through this phormium looks nice,
a last foliage photo is the alternative compost area, it has come on well if I remember it was only thick moss and tough grasses a year ago when I started to create it, the foliage you can see is red campion, foxgloves and geranium all pink flowering so as I no longer use it as an alternative compost area, I’ve started a new one behind the rugosa roses, this is now the pink barbie garden area, I have planted some daffodils for the spring, the dry grass on the right is a native seeded in and as it is nice and not a thug I have left it, I did consider adding some hardwood cuttings of shrubs but as it is surrounded by willows and calluna vulgaris I decided no,
thanks to Christina for hosting this meme, if you wish to see more foliage posts then click through to Christina’s blog,

our very brief reprieve from wet has finished, I woke this morning to the sound of rain, the sky is medium grey and the lights are still on in the house (8.50), 

have a nice weekend x

after reading Christina’s foliage post I felt dejected about mine, I had thought some things were coming together but her garden has grown so much in just a few years and yet again I started wondering why I bother, I walked into the kitchen and through the window I could see the damp meadow area and tweenie garden,
yes there is a lot of foliage and different autumnal colours, BUT!
the brown stems in the foreground are from a shrub that played nicely for the first 8-9 years then it started suckering and with the wet weather of the last few years I have not been able to do much about, I hate it, the green sword leaves are the common crocosmia and the rusty foliage is yellow loose strife both were put in when I started the area and I hoped that by now there would be something nicer, I’ve bought loads of plants which die, these carry on, no choice, the green shrub next to the brown stems is japanese quince, for years it was less than a foot tall and looked dead after every winter, 2 years ago it started growing and I saw the first flowers (tucked deep in the middle), now it has grown well up and out!!! it is suckering! none of the things I’ve read about this shrub say it suckers!!! and around all this is the wild tough grass and common calluna vulgaris, so what might look not too bad to the viewer is frustrating to the gardener, I would like to replace the crocosmia with the corms I’ve just dug up in the wilderness and there are other plants I want to move there but when! if ever,

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