Category Archives: alder garden


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.

garden and grandsons

I’ve been busy inside getting the house sorted for the arrival of my grandsons, when you live alone you can spread things around a bit too much, I am not joining in follow a tree this month, there is very change on any of the trees, I’m going to post the rest of the photos taken in July and never posted, first the wildflower slope which has looked the best so far this year with plants evening out giving dots of colour through the grasses,
I’m really pleased with the corn marigolds,
the border through the Alder garden from the other end, I’d like to see if I can save seed from geum mrs bradshaw, my problem with seed saving is the wet, seed needs to be dry to save it, and I prefer to work in the dry when collecting it,
in the Alder terrace the hebe has flowered profusely and looks a much better shape after the heavy pruning I did earlier in the year,
next to it the astrantias have really filled out and are squishing the vivalii primulas,
and look at all the beautiful native orchids growing near them,
the new primulas I bought for the ditch garden last year have grown and flowered beautifully,
this is the only piece of the variegate loosestrife left, I hope it stay as like this it is quite pretty,
I like the foliage on this mint,
and last but never least my grandsons, we went for a walk to the local cove,
they are here for the week so any blog posts will be of the island rather than my garden and I will have less time for reading other blogs, catching up on blogs after they leave will help me through the empty house gloom,

I apologise to people who have recently left comments I will reply after the 16th,

©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.

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.

alnus incana ~ June

first  I want to apologise for the dark quality of the photos, I forogt to take photos earlier in the day and took some late yesterday, I would have taken more today but this morning it was raining heavily, then windy with sun, now it’s raining again, so dark they have to stay,  

my grey alder in early June, the foliage is emerging but slowly, I had not realised before but it is later than the common alders in my garden, the full view,
I tried for a closer view, you can see there is more leaf growth than a month ago,
and under, well that mulching is still waiting to be done but it will now need weeding first, grass and horsetails,
this month I am showing 2 other trees, Laura is posting about a hornbeam and when I had mentioned there are hornbeams in the same border as my grey alder she asked me if I would do a comparison with her, I declined as the hornbeams by the grey alder are not very good, however when working in the alder garden I noticed this hornbeam, which had done well last year is still doing well, usually after the winter gales there are lots of dead bits but not this year,
what took my interest when I looked closer was the way the leaves on the hornbeam emerge downwards, where as on the grey alder they emerge upwards, it’s one of the things I am enjoying about tree following, in the 12 years these trees have been growing in my garden I had not noticed this before,
my third tree is on a different scale to the others, it is a lodge pole pine seedling that I plucked from the moss 2 years ago and put into a wee pot, and forgot, when sorting out all the pots I had in the garden 10 or so days ago I noticed it has hardly grown, yet the seedling pines I had put into a holding bed are 18″ – 2 feet tall now (and planted out), so is this because it was in a small pot restricting it’s size, among the many odds and ends I have from my parents house is a bonsai pot/dish, so as the wee tree is an interesting shape I decided to pot it in the dish and see what happens,
thanks to Lucy for hosting this meme and encouraging me to look up close and personal with my trees, please visit Lucy’s blog for more tree following posts,

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

a walk in my garden 2

I finished the first part of the walk on the little path between the potatoes and the alder terrace, as I come along the path, the border and path that run through the middle of the alder garden are in front of me,
geum Mrs Bradshaw has just started flowering, giving some nice red dots, there are a lot more open today,
returning to the corner front of the house, the lower part of the alder garden is taking shape, I want more raised veg beds here,
walking along the path by the house to the other end by the corner at the back of the house, you can see more changes,
now if I turn away from the alder garden, I have the wildflower slope on my right and the back of the house to my left, this is where the raised veg beds are, I didn’t take photos, the wildflower slope is green with lots of promise but the spring flowers are finished and summer ones haven’t started,
walking along the bottom of the slope and then going up the side between the wildflowers and the great bank of calluna vulgaris, I come to the top and the west fence, this is the highest part of my garden, a view not posted before,
the area in the above photo was calluna, it is hard work cutting it down and it takes years for the roots to start to disintegrate and other plants to grow (except grass which can move in immediately), I got a professional to put in the windproof fence as I thought I would have a good strong fence, silly me, you know the old saying, if you want a job done properly do it yourself!
a view across the calluna to the lower trees, the tweenie garden is the other side of them,
some rowans I planted during my first year,
walking along the fence to the conifer trees, the rowan at the end has grown best and has lots of flowers,
I can’t go any further along the fence as the big conifers come right to the fence blocking the way, so I will turn left down here to under the trees, near the top end of the tweenie garden, but I’ll leave that until tomorrow,

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

the Alder garden

before I can continue the walk and post the photos of the alder garden I took Saturday I need to post the ‘before’ photos, 3 years ago this garden was to be my EoMV garden but due to weather etc. I gave up, last year I managed to do some work eradicating the grass under one of the alders and I added some more plants, there was not much previously, during the course of the year looking for more space for vegetables, I planted cauliflowers and later some french beans, then the rains came and nothing was done until April this year when I finally felt I had too!
these photos were taken 21 April before I started, some of the daffodils are in pots as it is where I keep some pots,
lots of foxgloves among the weeds,
the olearia has blown over and foxgloves and grass are over whelming the plants I want here,
this is supposed to be primroses,
these photos were taken 2 days later when I had done a bit of work, the sloping bank is a problem as it was heather and grass and the heather roots are still there it is also shallow soil on rock, I’ve just got some cuttings of the wild pink rosa rugosa and I am hoping if they take, they might work here,
in the middle ground the stones are a path cutting the garden in two and the daffodils are in a narrow border beside the path,
look how tall the hellebore leaves are due to struggling through the foxgloves and grass, the foxgloves are in the birch garden,
the plants on the right are self seeded oxeye daisies, they too are in the birch garden near the aquilegias,
fast forward a couple of weeks to May and the primroses are strutting their stuff,
after removing the daisies I moved the hellebores into this bed and some plants from the middle front garden,
P. Sieboldii Manakoora, another new primula bought last year, I have P.S. Snowflake too but it isn’t growing as strongly and didn’t flower, needs some tlc,
as it is the Alder garden I must show the alders, the first is in the photo of the primroses (3 back), these are the other 2, quite different in growth, all have been growing 12 years,
I posted in April about creating a path between the AG and the wildflower slope and making a hedge, the first plants are in and the daffodils are the last part of the border through the middle,
the border, geraniums and most of the daffodils were planted first a couple of years ago, last year I added some feverfew and geum at the F&B end, this year in the previous photo you can see where I added more geum and daffodils and oxeye daisy seedlings all the way along,
foolishly I didn’t take any long view photos in May, this post is long enough now so I will continue the walk and post current photos tomorrow,

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