Category Archives: alder garden


today was sunny with a chill wind in the morning, by late afternoon the sun was still out and the wind had almost stopped, so I had a good day in the garden and started some clearing up and weeding at long last, first though as so many flowers have open this past few days I took some springtime flower photos,


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


Tuesday and Wednesday were not bad garden days, now we are back to rain, anyway I got out to do some work in the garden on those 2 days, I made a start on the stone path in the Alder garden, to the right the area requires a lot of work, the border on the left is new and not complete, the geraniums in the distance were planted early winter last year, they flowered earlier and have increased nicely so should flower well next year,
the small plants in the foreground were planted spring this year, geum Mrs Bradshaw and golden feverfew, there are daffodils below ground, I want to plant a second row of flowering plants and I am not going to buy any, so some of the many self sown oxeye daisies will be transplanted there and if they grow and survive I’m hoping some of the seeds I’m sowing too,
I don’t know the name of this geranium as a piece was given me, it was nearly lost in the overgrown jungle front garden but when I started working on that area I very carefully weeded out all the grass, fed it and gave it lots of TLC last year, then last winter moved it to the rugosa rose border, it was in pieces the size of plug plants, look how they have grown and they have flowered well most of summer, this border is limed in autumn and fed in spring, I know that is making a difference,
Rosa Sarah van Fleet is still offering a few more flowers, the pink geranium is in front of her,
Rosa F J Grootendorst has been flowering most of summer,
a better photo of my Dad’s ice plant
the first liatris spicata has finally flowered and a bee has found it already,
the bee interests me as I’ve not seen this one before, mostly I see the bees with white bottoms, I always think they look like they are wearing nappies, there are several different ones as the stripes and colours are varied, the other I see has no black bands the main back is a honey ginger colour, slightly redder than this bee, this bee with the single black stripe on a honey colour is new to me,



©Copyright 2013 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.

end of month view ~ September

last month due to being away at the end of the month I wrote and set the post to publish before I left home in mid August, produce was what I had enjoyed most about the August garden and it’s the same in September, on that point alone I am so glad I ventured into veg growing this year as otherwise there would be almost nothing the last 2 months, the rain continues,
when I came home due to the wet, weeds and horrid grass have grown out of control, last week when I took a closer look and tried to start to remove some, they had such a hold and I nearly burst into tears, I appreciate some might find that silly, I kept/keep asking myself why bother, infact the only positive I could find was that it showed just how much I do, do, so this does not happen when I’m home, this is the path between the damp meadow and tweenie, you are probably thinking ‘what path’ so am I,
this is the stone path through the alder garden, none of that grass was there before I went away, I just don’t know where is comes from and how fast it grows!!
this ’path’ is in the fruit and berry garden,
on the up side, I’ve already said in the last post of the nice surprises in the species rose border and this sedum is special, it is my Dad’s, but more than that it was close to death’s door 3 years ago, lots of TLC and it survived and has gone from strength to strength ever since,
my brave little soldiers, you can see in these photos just how long the horrid grass is in the damp meadow, these 3 photos are all the DM, Scabiosa caucasica Clive Greaves
Veronica longifolia, the scabiosa and veronica were planted last autumn, the grass doesn’t go up to the roots, there is a clear area around each plant,
Teucricum hirchanicum Purple tails was bought a couple of years ago and is increasing nicely,
there are other dots of colours around different parts of the garden but all looking battered by the constant rain, I want to live in a dry desert,

thanks to Helen for hosting end of month view, if you visit Helen’s blog you will find other EoMVs,

I typed this post Sunday evening as Mondays I am out all day, today, Monday, has been nice and sunny,


©Copyright 2013 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.

serious seeds 2

following my post last month here’s more about my adventure into growing from seed,
I had run out of space in the raised beds and wanted to plant out some of the chard so I have planted some along the edge of the gooseberry beds, I put the sand around it to deter slugs but it is being eaten and not by slugs, I think it’s earwigs, I never had earwigs in the garden until 2 years ago and am certain they arrived in a plant/plants I bought, they were probably eggs in the soil, another good reason to buy bareroot plants, this photo is when they were first planted out 3 or 4 weeks ago, they have grown but look more like lace now!
I know it was late but as I had not got any parsnips sown and really wanted to try to grow some when Sara posted about starting them on tissue in a plastic tub I decided to try,
and hey presto! I was very surprised how quickly they germinated, whether they will eventually grow to a usable size is to be seen in the coming months.
the tomatoes created a lacy green curtain as they climbed to the ceiling, I was surprised by this as the ones I grew 2 years ago didn’t grow any where near as tall, different variety, as I do not have a greenhouse or polytunnel I grow them on a west facing windowsill, they are not so lacy now as I have removed the lower leaves which I read you should do after the lower tomatoes set,
I also read somewhere that you could use clear plastic storage containers as cold frames, the book/magazine was suggesting this for balconies and patios in small gardens, but I thought it could be useful for me so tried one, I’ve got my broccoli in it as I didn’t want the butterflies laying their eggs on it,
the broccoli needs re-potting into larger pots,
I have been enjoying fresh peas, I am surprised by how well they have grown in the raised bed as these were planted out then followed a week of storms and gales followed by frost such as I’ve not seen on the island before, almost and on some plants all the growth they had made by starting them early inside was gone and I didn’t expect anything, but they started to regrow and have done really well,
now the other half of the peas that didn’t get planted in the raised bed and stayed inside longer, finally I planted them in the alder garden as there was clear soil there and they have protection from the wind and look they have not done anywhere near as well, some died and the rest are straggly, I am not sure why,
I also had some French bean seeds and sowed them next to the peas in the ag, I was surprised how quick they germinated, they are growing well,
next to them are the cauliflowers which look like they are trying to escape the net, unfortunately though the leaves are becoming enormous they do not look like they are hearting up and making a flower, having never grown them or seen them grown I don’t know if they are doing alright or not, time will tell,
back to the raised beds, the one where I’d had this bright idea of making the pallet a cover, well, I put the pallet on the opposite way to how I had originally intended using and it divided the bed into sections, I’ve put wind proofing around the outside and can cover the top if/when necessary, this is where I planted salad leaves outside, there are also more carrots and 3 separate sowings of beetroots, the carrot and beetroot seed packet said they would be ready in 6-8 weeks, NO!  the first photo is a few weeks ago and the second more recent, the rocket is nearly finished now but more will be sown,
I thought I’d finish this post with a view across the 3 raised beds, one of the carrots started to throw up a flower and I decided to leave it, the garlic has been removed they are not very large but are good,
I have enjoyed the salad leaves from both the windowsill and raised bed, I’m looking at what I can sow for autumn and over winter, I’ve enjoyed growing from seed and will definitely continue now I have started, there are not many but I did sown some flower seed and so the next seed post will be about the flowers,

©Copyright 2013 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.


the rain we had in June has resulted in lots of lush foliage, there are smaller plants with interesting foliage too, like this heuchera and geranium, they were only planted in their present place last year and I think at last the heuchera is some where it likes as I have not seen the foliage grow so well, the geranium was self sown some where else and moved here, I like this geranium foliage for the slight bronze marking on the leaf, when it fills out more the foliage will merge and I think they go nicely together,
under the alders the flowers have finished except for some self sown golden feverfew, I like this variegated plant as it gives light under the trees and contrasts well with the hellebor and primrose foliage,
on it’s own now but I wanted to include this newly purchased hosta carnival, I’d resisted hostas for years because of the slug problem but as they do have some beautiful foliage I have decided to try them and see how it goes, this is planted near a fern and some other contrasting foliage plants which I hope will fill out over the years and merge with each other,
the lushness of the tweenie garden, I chose this view with the pines as a back drop because I like the way their dark foliage sets off the bright green of the fennel,
another view of the tweenie, though there are dots of colour from the foxgloves it’s the foliage that makes this photo,
by complete contrast the sparser foliage in the middle front garden bed where the soil is well drained, an unusual combination of juniper and blue grass with a dark sedum, the juniper is a blue foliage variety but at this time of year as it puts on new growth it has a colour change as the new growth is pale yellow/green in colour, it’s the first year the juniper branches have touched the grass and I am deciding if to leave or move the grass, at the moment I’m just watching what happens,
a closer view of the sedum, it’s sedum coral carpet which is said to be green turning red but mine was red when I bought it and has always been red, I’m wondering if it’s a variant,
further along the some border is sedum black beauty and I just love the way it has caught the morning dew on it’s leaves,
also in the same border Mrs Sinkins and powis castle, I like the contrast of the dianthus and artemisia foliage but also think the artemisia foliage makes a lovely backdrop for the dianthus flowers,
thanks to Christina for hosting GBFD please visit Christina’s blog to see more foliage posts from other bloggers,

©Copyright 2013 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.

mulch and manure

this year I tried to get as much as possible covered with a mulch as I weeded and cleared areas to help keep the weeds and tough grass down, I bought a new garden toy, err I mean tool ;o)  a small electric saw that could be used for cutting small tree branches, I would never attempt any large branches or major tree surgery,  the saw has enabled me to get under the pine trees and so collect pine mulch and as I am finding lower down pine compost, I am making the most of what is available to me on island and even better in my garden, I also use cardboard and newspaper as mulches.
when I dug out the pampas grass earlier this year and added the divisions to the border around the damp meadow I mulched one side, (I had hoped to do 2 but the second is still waiting), the line of pebbles is because I put newspaper under the pine mulch to help kill off the grass here, ideally …. I would like to do this across the damp meadow, one day, one day, these first 7 photos have been taken over the last couple of months,
the willows that are still alive are just starting to recover after the winds in May 2011 killed off all the foliage for that year, I had put a good mulch down when they were planted 11 years ago but that finally deteriorated and I had not got a good mulch on since and … the weeds and grass were getting out of hand sooo I cut them down well gave the willows some slow release fertilizer and mulched with thick cardboard,
the blackthorn and ash planted in autumn 2011 are growing well and just needed a top up of mulch,
I did get the dogwood border mulched, I’d wanted to last year but failed to, I’ve been adding evergreen shrubs between the dogwoods which I am hoping will in time create a nice backdrop to the coloured stems in winter, the foreground has newspaper under the mulch and needs some thought as to planting as it is empty of plants at present, the shrub you can just see to the left is an ornamental quince (sorry I can’t remember the latin name),
I thought I’d show a couple of photos of where this mulch is coming from, under the pines and bags collected ready for use,
further in under the pines, this is an area I’ve only peered into previously as the branches criss crossed blocking the way, as I go deeper into the pine mulch I am finding bits of plastic bag and silver paper several inches down reminding me that that was once the surface,
the green manure has been growing well,
the next group of photos were taken today (Monday), I finally got the amelanchiers mulched and some of the bare soil, this is the instant garden by the birch trees I planted early this year, I’m glad I moved the foxgloves here they look better flowering together and they can seed here happily,
I stopped using grass as a mulch as the birds chuck it all over the place looking for bugs and as they had not touched the pine mulch I thought I was safe, never a good idea when gardening, just over a week ago they started chucking the pine mulch around, one part of me thinks ‘ungrateful little blighters’ (I try to make my garden bird friendly and this is my payback), another part of me thinks ‘I hope they are eating the bad bugs and slugs’, I put the blue line to indicate where the path runs on the left side, all the mulch on the path is courtesy of the birds!
but where I had newspaper under the pine mulch it is much worse! the stones might keep the paper down from the wind but not after the birds have ripped it!
the green manure, rye, vetch, tetraploid Italian rye grass and forage pea,
as it is today, ready for cutting and digging in, we have some wet weather just now but it should be dry by the end of the week, so the first dry day and I will cut and dig it in, I’ll dig out the free potatoes growing from ones I missed last year, I’ve already had some as I thought I’d take these before those I planted this year,
putting down the mulches has made those areas much easier to manage this year, one weed the mulch does not suppress is horsetail it pushes up but is easier to see and pull out,
last Wednesday as I was up early and had planned going to town I got the early bus at 8am as the bus went up the hill I saw that white bobtail so well known ….. rabbit alert! this moved me to action in the afternoon when I was back home, most veggies have wind proof around them but some peas planted in the protection of the alders were exposed to rabbits, not any more, a few willow sticks and a bit of chicken wire, the bare ground has recently been planted with French bean seeds,

a note, last week when I tried commenting on other wordpress blogs my comments were not appearing, one blogger told me she found my comment in her spam folder, I don’t know why wordpress is spamming my comments but I’m real, I really am, anyway tonight I left comments on 3 blogs and 2 didn’t show only one blog showed the comment I left, so if you find me in your spam folder please save me, thanks, I have occasionally found comments from real people in my spam folder as well, so it’s good to check it sometimes, x

update, I left a message for wordpress support last night and found a couple of replies this morning, apparently I’m not alone, it is an akismet (spam programme) problem and they are looking into it,

Embarrassed, very, very embarrassed, because of akismet sending my comments into the spam folder of blogs I decided to copy my comments into a word doc and try later, so a little while ago I tried the 2 blogs where my comments had failed last night, one of them posted, ya! Err nooooo, I had posted the comment for other blog, the wrong comment!!!
Isn’t it typical that that comment posted!!, then when I tried to leave an explanation, you’ve guess the comment would not post, I’m feeling so fed up and it’s ruining my pleasure of reading blogs, I’ve noticed of the comments I have left that akismet had put in the spam folder only one has appeared on a blog, so only one person checked their spam folder, I have found legitimate comments in my spam folder occasionally and so always check it, I’m surprised so few others do,

It the light of this I will only be able to ‘like’ wordpress blogs, my ability to comment on google/blogger blogs has decreased dramatically this year as most no longer allow people to comment with the ‘name/url’ option, thank heaven I can still comment on squarespace  blogs, peace and joy to all x

©Copyright 2013 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.

end of month view June

I thought this photo is not only beautiful with the rain drops but pretty much sums up June, too much rain and at times too windy, there have been some good days, some warm and calm days but I want last years drought back, pleeeeeease,
the red lupin has suffered in the damp meadow, the rain makes plants grow more lushly then with the weight and wind they keel over, this photo was taken on the 26th as the red lupin is almost flat now, the others are holding up better probably because they started flowering much later,
the tweenie is still pleasing me, in this photo you can see the large area of calluna vulgaris which is brown 11 months of the year and purple 1 month, the tweenie is sheltered from the current west winds,
I thought this should have a photo to it’s self as it has been flowering it’s socks off for about a month now, it was in the front garden when I moved here I think it’s what people call sweet rocket but I’m not sure, it’s a biennial so comes up in different places each year, I moved a few plants to the tweenie earlier this year and I am glad I did,
I’m pleased the euphorbia is still in flower now the mollis is flowering,
the kniphofia have changed colour, these are from the same original plant, I bought it years ago where it grew and flowered for a number of years near the dogwoods, early in 2011 I dug it up, divided it and re-planted in the tweenie, where these flowers are,
I sorted out some photos of the original, here are 2 on the left is the plant in it’s original position by the dogwoods, the one on the right was taken 2 years ago the first year in the tweenie, nothing like the flower colours this year,
I’m pleased with how the wildflower slope is coming along this year, meadow buttercup has seeded in, meadow buttercup is welcome because it plays nice with other plants, there is a patch of creeping buttercup which has to go as it doesn’t play nice, it’s a thug and bully, the oxeye daisies are starting to flower and fox and cubs, there even 3 small orchids near the top and the grasses are nice flowering grasses,
another view of the alder garden, the tatties are just for this year to dig the ground get rid of the weeds, under the netted frame are cauliflowers and there are a few peas behind them, the geranium is lovely but quite wasted, as I have such a large garden I could make so much more of it so really must make it a top job for winter to dig, divide and spread around,
I had not been over to the alder terrace properly for a while, just walked past one end going to other areas, so I was thrilled to see one of the vialii primulas I bought and planted this spring was flowering, afraid the photo is a bit blurred, it was/is windy, behind is an astrantia given me a few years ago, I had never heard of or seen them before,
the jungle side of the front garden this is the view from the some place I took several last year, I’ve cleared some more of the jungle so now have bare ground to find plants for, it’s a bit difficult and I’ve had difficulty this end of the garden as it’s near the house and faces north,
same photo cropped so you can see more of the far end I planted up last autumn, all but 2 plants are growing, you may notice that some are leaning heavily to the right as the west wind blows across,
the nepeta is in bud,
thanks to Helen for hosting end of month view, to see more gardens please click through to Helen’s blog,

©Copyright 2013 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.

Sunny days

the last 2 weeks have been nice weather here, the temperature has even reached double figures celsius, we haven’t had any rain for a few weeks I’ve been trying to remember the last rain we had, the 5 day forecast says rain on Wednesday, we’ll see, I’ve spent a lot of time in the garden and got quite a bit done though in my garden there will always be more to do, I’ve accepted that now as a fact of such a large garden together with several other facts, one job I did was finally divide the pampas grass I managed to wrestle from the front garden a few weeks earlier, it had been sitting in the hole created by digging it out.
not a task for weaklings is dividing pampas grass and as for using 2 forks to prise it apart, well you couldn’t even get a fork or spade into it, no it needed side ways thinking so out came the chopper, hammer and as much brute force as I could muster, job done they are now planted around the damp meadow to help create the grass hedge,
while I was in the front garden I realised I hadn’t taken a photo of the jungle border with the daffodils in bloom, after all those photos last year with the line of pebbles marking where the bulbs were I thought I should show a photo of them out, this was taken on the 3rd June there are still a few blooms today, I’m so amazed at daffodils in June that I am watching the last ones as I want a photo of the last daffodil to start fading and note the date, I’m pleased with the jungle border I know it doesn’t look much but of the plants I planted last autumn all are growing except 3 and there is still a possibility they could grow,
I’m still enjoying the little orange blossoms on the geum in the tweenie garden and I thought I’d show a photo of what is left of the original clump before I dig that out too, notice the difference not a single bloom, it clearly was not happy here even though it expanded and there was always plenty of foliage, the grass has taken over this border and I am slowly digging out the plants to then start over when I have got rid of the grass,
still in the front garden the snow in summer is blooming,
the alliums in the previous post are in the rosa rugosa border, silly me had visions of them flowering among the roses, not so, not this year anyway, 2 of the RR started to leaf out in March and then it went very cold with lots of frosty mornings, one is starting to recover but the other is looking very bleak, the other 2 only started to leaf out in May so all are late this year, in autumn 2011 I planted out some odd bulbs I had dug up and they had been awaiting a new home, I didn’t know/remember what they were, last year they were mostly just foliage, this year, I have already shown the queen of the night tulip and now this little beauty, I bought these for the middle front bed years ago and hadn’t seen them for many years, I had dug out some bulbs from there and not known what they were, I am so pleased to see this and must look back on my order forms to see what it is called,
red lupin or as I have been calling it red candles, it is proving to be the most prolific of the lupins, last year it was both the first and last to flower and now this year it is way ahead of the others,
I’m pleased with how the calamagrostis are increasing I bought 3 two years ago for the damp meadow,
my favourite photo of the moment, the mulched area to the left is where I earlier showed a photo full of horsetails, it is now weeded and planted with the geum I show above and some other plants, what I love is how the euphorbia is continuing the hot colour from the orange geum and then the touch of cool blue from the centaurea, the centaurea has been in the damp meadow a few years but I felt it wasn’t being shown to it’s best so last autumn I dug it up and divided it, putting some in the jungle border, that’s the one in the previous post and some in the tweenie, it’s rewarding me well for the move,
from the top of the last photo is the path between the tweenie and tree edges, these bluebells are the other side of the path under the edge of the spruce trees and that’s not grass growing with them but horsetail,
on the wildflower slope I am thrilled to see lots of yellow rattle, it’s taken me so long to get this plant growing, last year was the first time seeds had grown, I think what some of you said about old seed is true, the seed that grew last year was from a different nursery, these are all self sown from last years flowers,
while I was on the slope and before the alders leaf out I thought I’d show a photo of the under tree part of the alder garden from above, the primies are finishing now, it looks like lots of brown areas but I have planted spring bulbs, some other types of primroses and hellebores, I’d like to add some ferns and will be thinking what else I can add,
I haven’t been to art club the last 2 Mondays as I’ve been keen to work in the garden but have decided this afternoon I’m going, I think my body needs a break and my mind could do with some non garden chatter, wishing you all a great day.


©Copyright 2013 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.