can’t smell the roses

one of the nicest things about the few days of sun and warm last week was that I could enjoy the perfumes in the garden, perfumes and aromas in the garden mean a lot to me, I quite often chose plants for their perfume, I actually enjoy weeding around the herbs as each time I touch the foliage a burst of wonderful aromas rises up, I stroke perfumed leaves as I pass plants just for the sheer joy of releasing the perfume,
at the weekend the rains returned and there is no gardening or wandering in the garden this week as wind and rain toss and drench the garden, so I thought it was time I finally wrote that post about the rose borders and remember the mingling perfumes I briefly enjoyed last week,

the Rosa Rugosa border, short though it is with only 4 roses, is starting to look ‘not too bad’ I earlier removed the sedum and A. mollis that over took one end of the border last year, the plant divisions I planted 2 years ago are starting to take shape while those planted last year still need to fill out, there is a problem with one of the roses as it comes into growth too early and then gets hit by early spring gales and the new young foliage dies of wind burn, the other 3 roses are doing well,
a longish view, the mound of deep pink geranium is not! supposed to be like that, it was given to me and when planted in the front jungle bed grew to only about 6-8 inches, so when I moved it here I thought it would be nice front of border and the allium moly could grow up through it, which is what happened last year, this year, it’s crowded out A.moly and is far to dominant, so I’ve removed it, these photos were taken a few weeks ago when the border was full of weeds and the roses just coming out,
Rosa Rugosa Blanc double De Courbet, it has a wonderful perfume as well as beautiful large double white flowers,
after weeding, from left to right, Sarah van Fleet, F J Grootendorst, Blanc double De Courbet,
RR Sarah van Fleet, also has a wonderful perfume and beautiful large double pink flowers, I planted skirts around each of the rugosa roses, this is another pink geranium given to me (by the same person), pale pink, it’s quite pretty and I decided to put pink with pink, it normally grows about 12″ but here it has climbed up through the rose, it is not doing the rose any harm and I rather like it, I think they go well together, so not planned but liked so staying,
RR F J Grootendorst and origanum vulgare acorn bank, marjoram, the marjoram hasn’t quite filled in around the rose yet but almost, this rose flowers prolifically with these wonderful clusters of small red roses, no perfume I’ve noticed but the marjoram foliage has plenty of aroma,
a long view, showing the RR Alba in the distance, I’d like the border to go all the way along to the alba but first there is a lot to clear and the ground needs a bit of leveling, if it ever happens it will be a nice rose walk leading to the damp meadow and tweenie,
the skirt around de Courbet is a heuchera, unknown as it came in a cheap pack of perennials, for years I didn’t even know what it was, it was planted later than the others so needs a bit more time to fill out, you can see from this photo that the roses lay back, the flopped leaves are A. moly and are along the edge where the path is, I am still finding plants for and shuffling plants around in this area, I’ve used some of the ‘skirt’ plants to tie them together but also some others like the betony, the mauve flowers and the chives, cut back now,
I would like this dark heuchera to increase so I can divide it, I’ve just moved it forward as it is low growing and had been swamped by the deep pink geranium, in spring Queen of the night tulips grow with it,
now this is the first to look as I imagined them, the rose growing above the skirt below, I’m quite pleased with this, the roses have been spaced so when full grown they will touch and the heights vary creating an undulating line, I hope,
I like the betony with the white rose,
the Species Rose border I have just realised as I looked for photos for this post, has been neglected as I have not got many, the first flower on Rosa Pimpinellifolia, it’s the third season but first ever rose, I do enjoy the foliage and red stems too though,
another with pretty stems and foliage is Rosa Farren Persetosa, it has wee mauve flowers you can just see one top left,
another first, Rosa pimp. Double Yellow,
and I forgot to take a photo of Rosa pimp. Double White in all it’s glory as it is prolific, you can just see it behind Rosa Rubrifolia which didn’t flower this year,
the species roses are all growing well but not much flower yet, under them is so much better this year for having weeded early and getting a mulch down, last year was dreadful, I am adding and shifting plants in this border too,

neither border has any grasses and I’m wondering about that, I’d quite like to introduce some especially in the species rose border, no idea what/which yet, if any one has any suggestions I’m listening, the ground is moderately free draining, as we have had so much rain it’s never dry, as they are rose borders they are limed so the soil is about neutral, the species border is fairly well protected except from the easterlies, the rugosa border more exposed,

I have a few other roses scattered in other parts of the garden but they will be for another post, I never used to be interested much in roses but now I love them, so it’s true ~ roses grow on you …………….. x

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

the veggies (was seeds)

as I’ve not sown any more seeds except for continuous succession crops I didn’t think seeds was any longer an appropriate title for an update post, so as the veg are the main seed plants I’d do a post just on them and include flowers in posts as and where they appear in the garden,

indoors, the pepper and cucumbers are growing well, initially I had some of both on the kitchen windowsill (south facing) and workroom windowsill (west facing), then I noticed the cucumbers in the kitchen were growing better and the peppers in the workroom growing better so I switched them around, all the cucumbers on the kitchen windowsill, they are creating a rather dense green curtain,
the kitchen is noticeably darker, I am amazed I have cucumbers growing I would never have thought I could grow them, my grandsons are visiting in a couple of weeks and I’m hoping I might have fresh homegrown cucumbers for them,
the peppers in the workroom are also growing well, they are not sweet pepper as I didn’t buy seed I used a free seed for this first trial run, now I know they grow I will buy some sweet pepper seed next year, these are Hungarian hot wax which are said to be medium hot, I’m not mad on hot, so I’m hoping they will not be too hot, they go yellow and/or red, I have read that the redder they get the hotter, so I’m wondering just how soon I can start using them so they are more mild than hot, I took this photo last week,
and when I went in the room next morning the large pepper was gone, I thought it had dropped off for some reason and so as I walk towards the window was looking below the plant but it wasn’t there either then I saw it behind the leaf, it have started to droop, phew,
outside, well I have not had much luck with the courgettes, of the 5 plants, one died, one is growing and three are feeding some pests, the only plant doing anything much,
the first flower shows the nibbles,
this is the new raised bed in the alder veg garden, as you can see I have not got it as full of soil as I would like, the two courgettes here are not growing well,
the first tomato seeds I sowed didn’t germinate, as I was using last years seed I decided to just sow what was left in the packet, typical, quite a lot germinated, I have four on the workroom windowsill with the peppers and thought when I did this bed I’d put 6 here one at each post, the rest went on the compost, I’m not expecting much/anything but I am curious to see what happens,
the squash are doing much better, I planted out five in the new alder veg bed, they are where there were potatoes 2 years ago and I grew a green manure last year which was dug in, I thought that would hopefully mean there was a good fertile bit of soil for them, as I had a piece of fleece handy when I planted them out, I used it to cover 2 of them, it made quite a bit of difference to growth, so I then put fleece over the rest and the courgettes,

first female flower,
of the other veg, I still have plenty of greens, salad and the radish have grown this year, though the carrots and beetroot are not doing so well, I seem to have a problem with root crops which surprises me as I thought they would do well here being under the ground and out of the wind, I’m wondering if they need a more alkaline soil, or more warmth, I can’t think of anything else, if anyone has any ideas please say, thanks, the onions are growing well, the onions from seed are not as big as those from a set, I planted the chard along the front of the border because I though it would be pretty to look at with the bright coloured stems, most of it has gone to seed,
as I walked round taking photos Saturday and came down the wildflower slope, looking across towards the Alder garden I thought it gave a good over view, the shrub on the left is a blackcurrant, I was going to move it to the F&B garden but have decided to leave it, along the right of the photo is the flower border that runs across the centre of this garden, the blue geraniums are growing new foliage after being cut back, the oxeye daisy seedlings have grown well, the distant specks of red at the far end are geum mrs bradshaw, I have planted some divisions of an orange geum this end, there are some potatoes growing that I missed last year, it’s on the right of this border that the new raised bed is and I hope to build more, I’m pleased with the hedge at the far end of this photo it has filled out nicely now, the other side of it is the Alder terrace,
and the raised beds along the back of the house are doing well with the greens and salad leaves, and peas, at last the first pods were large enough for me to pick,
there is still much planned and much to be done, more raised beds, in time, in time,

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

fruit and berries

the fruit and berry garden is starting to provide some yummy food for me as well as the birds, I had my first bowl of raspberries last Friday and have had 2 more since, this is the first real year for providing raspberries as they were new plants last year and they fruit on the previous years wood, I don’t know much about growing any fruit and when faced with a million varieties I haven’t the faintest idea which is best, so when I bought them I chose a Scottish nursery as then at least I know they grow in Scotland and one selling bareroot plants as I strongly think and find that bareroot plants take best here, so I went for the pack that provided 4 different varieties to fruit for a longer period, Glen Moy is providing these first raspberries, the plants are growing well and provided lots of new plants, which is good as Malling Jewel which was supposed to provide the next crop are not, only 2 came through winter and only one is still surviving, Octavia was supposed to provide crops in August but though most plants came through winter they were hit by spring winds so very few fruits, there are some new shoots so maybe better next year, Autumn Bliss is the last one fruiting in autumn so it fruits on this years wood, last year it grew well and there was fruit but the rains from August, then winds just mashed them, they are growing strongly now with flowers so maybe I will get some fruit from them this year, I also bought at the same time a tayberry which is growing modestly and a loganberry that is growing at super fast speed this year,

the gooseberries, as some may remember I lost all the green gooseberries to a fungus infection, it had started to spread to the yellow gooseberry so I had to cut over half of that down, a few of weeks ago I decided to pick the few gooseberries left though they were green before the birds got them and cover the red gooseberry bush, I wasn’t sharing this year, I also found some onions I had missed last year I pulled them as some were starting to go to seed, I’ve left 3 to flower,
I thought the red gooseberries now looked ready to pick,
I find it easiest to prune at the same time, I cut branches I want to remove and then it’s easier to pick them, some on the under branches were still a bit green, I was/am surprised by just how many I have,
I love gooseberry crumble so that was first, topping and tailing so many is quite time consuming, today I had a try at making some red gooseberry jam, as it was my first try I only used 1lb, it is a bit runny and I know why, the recipe said a quarer to half pint of water, I only used a quarter but I think it should have been much less probably none as they are very juicy, I think the recipe is for those bullet hard green gooseberries, it tastes good which is the main thing imo, if anyone has a good recipe for gooseberries I would love to hear it, thanks,
I only have one blackcurrant producing berries and I had forgot to keep an eye on them this week, too late, most were gone as they had turned black, I realised though the birds have so far left my raspberries alone and they are my favourite fruit, I picked what blackcurrants were left and as I was to be making a cake to have with my afternoon cup of tea, I put the blackcurrants in the cake,
red gooseberry jam, blackcurrant cake and Glen Moy raspberries,
it’s amazing how a couple of days of warm sunshine can improve the spirit, 3 posts in 3 days, and I’m starting to catch up on some blog reading too, we had another warm day today with a high of 23C, tomorrow will be cooler and the weekend is set for rain, so unfair for people who have been working all week, so typical though, hope you are getting the weather you would like, x

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

foliage a day late

yesterday got hijacked by a beautiful dragonfly, so this little foliage post is late, sorry Christina, Christina hosts the foliage meme on the 22 of the month, the foliage giving me pleasure at the moment is in the middle front garden where these photos were taken, there is a lot of ‘big’ foliage around the garden but I just love these, I think it is because when I look out the window there is so much big stuff and much of it viewed from a distance, so when I can get out or just leaving/returning to the house or getting up close and looking through the front window this is the foliage I see, I always see it up close, because of the house and privet hedge it can’t be seen from a distance,

blue grass, this is it’s second season and it seems to be filling out nicely, I want it to get big enough to divide, I am thrilled at finding 3 seedlings, I hadn’t even realised it had flowered last year, of course it will be quite a few years before they are any real size, I wanted the change of texture with the dianthus and artemisias that are in this bed, on it’s right the stem, is crambe maritima which has fleshy blue/green leaves, it’s a member of the cabbage family and while protecting my edibles I completely forgot this and blamed slugs for the nibbles, ooophs,
it isn’t showing well partly due to the dark background but there is a deep red phormium in the middle here, it had been planted near one of the big phormiums but was not doing well so early last year I moved here in the middle front bed and put cuttings of dianthus mrs simkins around it, it is starting to fill out so perhaps in a couple of years I can take a photo that matches the one in my head,
just loving the grouping in this little area of the bed, wish I could do more across the whole bed but plants cost money and I have limited windowsills for seeds, but at least I have this wee group and a garden, still pinch myself at times due to all the years without,
I really must get my act together and write about other parts of the garden as there are some nice things happening and amazingly 2 weeks ago we had 3 days! yes 3 whole days without rain and with sun!! and ….. AND! today we had tempertures into the low 20’sCentigrade for a while and even now I’m sitting in my house without the heating on and without a wooly, I can’t remember how many years since that has happened here but it’s too many, it’s going back to a high of 15C at the weekend, still 2 or 3 days is better than none, no gardening though, went to town and later the midges were so thick you could see clouds through the window, this is the only time of year I wake up wanting a good breeze,

to see more foliage post please follow the link to Christina’s blog, thanks Christina for hosting this meme,

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

gossamer in the grass

as I walked through the weeds and grass I saw a shimmer,

francescaple.dragonfly1I stopped to look closer

francescaple.dragonfly2and was entranced

francescaple.dragonfly3so delicate

francescaple.dragonfly4yet so strong


if anyone can identify the beautiful beasty I would love to know, thanks,

one of my cousins found it on a wonderful website (now bookmarked),

it’s a common hawker dragonfly, if interested take a look here:




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

why I blog

Jessica recently posted about why she writes a blog, apparently there is a round of these posts though as I do not read many blogs Jessica’s is the first post I’ve seen on the subject, I read many of the replies to her post and noticed many people write to an audience, this is what made me consider writing my own post about why I blog and how I started, and the journey I’ve traveled as a blogger for nine and a half years,
frances caple.ropes in nets2
in the beginning, long ago in January 2005 a quilt list I was/still am on a member posted that she had just started a weblog, web log shortened to blog nowadays, they were/are online diaries, and she asked if other quilters were doing the same or would be interested in starting, she wanted to create a ‘ring’ for quilters, you do not see rings much now and I’ve found some of the ones I belong to no longer work so I have removed them from my side bar, it was a means of a group of weblogs to connect to each other, I started my first weblog and joined the ring,
the name Island Threads came because I was at that time living on 2 islands, my home was here on Lewis but most of my week was spent on North Uist, so as I was traveling between the 2 islands, I was connecting a thread and of course textiles and quilting are all about threads,


allium detail

allium detail

so when I read about people blogging for online presence then being surprised and pleased to find they are communicating, for me communicating was there from the start, although we communicated through the quilt list and still do the weblog gave us the advantage of showing photos, which is why I have not used the title ‘why I write’ for me it’s all about seeing, I’m not talking perfect photos I’m talking seeing as you could see if you could pop round to each others homes,


I deleted that first weblog in the summer of 2006 but as I had most of the posts in word format, after having a post disappear when I clicked publish early in my blogging life, I write all my posts in a text document first, I started to upload some of the early posts to this blog a few years ago but never have finished the project,

sunrise over Barvas moor

I soon started blogging again as I missed it only this time I used the BBC island blogging site for my blog to connect with other islanders as well as quilters, the BBC closed their blog platform in (I think) 2009, as I had started this wordpress blog and used it in 2008 for a picture a day posts, I moved everything here and I hope not to move again,
I began to quilt/stitch less and garden more, I found blotanical in September 2010 and met other garden bloggers my garden took over Island Threads, I know the name does not fit so well but I’m not changing it,


I still think of my blog as an online diary, I write and post photos of what I want to record about the garden and occasionally other things, that other people should find my thoughts and photos interesting enough to want to read is nice and when they comment and we can have a conversation that’s even better, I read the blogs of people who comment on my blog (if they have one) and comment on most, I’m afraid I don’t comment on some google/blogger blogs due to the commenting set up needing me to either log into a google account or share my wordpress account with google, neither of which I wish to do, my choice,


my online diary is an evolving diary, it has changed in the last 9.5 years and will no doubt change again as the years roll on, visitors have come and gone, I’ve met some lovely people along the way and a few unwanteds which is why I now monitor comments, I have participated in textile exchanges, received plants from other gardeners and had the pleasure of meeting up with some people, x


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

alnus incana ~ July

the grey alder is filling out with more foliage and has an open multi trunk (trunks), the whole tree as best I can, there are a couple of dead leaders, probably from winter storms,
the top line showing the grey alder between 2 New Zealand broadleafs which I think are a form of shrubby poplars,
I’ve become interested in the bark, it has these light coloured marks and some larger cream patches, I’ve noticed the Ash trees are the similar,
the larger mature leaf, some keep the reddish brown until nearly full grown,
I actually saw a bug and got a photo, not sure what it is,
underneath it needs weeding, I have no excuse for not having weeded, instead I have a very good reason, rain, it hasn’t stopped much, no dry spell this year, last week I had just 1 day when I could go/work in the garden, I don’t think it is just up here I think other parts of the UK are the same, thistle, grass and horsetails, and an unknown weed that seeds it’s self around,
looking up through the leaves,
the hornbeam, I was a bit late taking photos so the sun was behind it, must take the photo in the morning next month,
I noticed the leaves start off quite pointed then round more, they too are reddish when they first emerge,
from the other (sunny) side, lots of weeding to be done here too, mostly hawkweed,
and the teeny, tiny lodge pole pine, not much change,
I’m still very much enjoying this meme and seeing a lot more in all my trees, thanks to Lucy for hosting this meme, if you would like to see and follow more trees then click through to Lucy’s blog,

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