Category Archives: alder garden

tree following ~ November

the grey alder has lost almost all it’s leaves with no colour change except brown windburn, the yellow gold leaved plant is another hornbeam,
I read/heard recently that some plants react to the shorter daylight rather than change in temperature, this interested me as the temperature here does not change a great deal but the daylight changes very dramatically, from about 20hrs. in summer to about 6hrs. in winter,

it’s interesting that one of the hornbeams next to the grey alder still has yellow leaves, there is one on the other side that has dried leaves just like the hornbeam I am following,
yes, what looks like a pile of dead leaves is the same hornbeam I showed in all it’s colourful glory a few weeks ago, hornbeams like beech hold on to their leaves until the new growth starts in spring, unless winter storms blow them off, I looked last month and this for the spiders but they are gone, I hope into hibernation or whatever they naturally do in winter,

thank you to Lucy for hosting this meme, this will probably be my last tree following post until next spring, I have really enjoyed taking this close look at my trees and if the meme runs next I will be joining in again, if you would like to see more tree following posts then please click through to Lucy’s blog,

I’ve been quiet on the blogging scene as I was away again and have been busy catching up with things since coming home at the beginning of last week, I didn’t do an end of month view post last month and will not be doing any more this year as there is nothing to show except some foliage which I will post as part of Christina‘s foliage meme.

thanks for reading and have a good weekend, x

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


I did manage to get into the garden for a little while last Tuesday, it’s been too cold and windy since, I want to get some of the new plants planted but no hope, while I was in the garden the first thing to do is always collect veggies, this is the total of my carrot crop this year!
I don’t know why but apart from potatoes I do not do well with root crops, carrots and beetroot just are not growing much at all, I did get a small crop of carrots last year but this year I’ve literally only got a handful and the beetroot just isn’t growing any bulbs at all, help, any suggestions, I am wondering if it is temperature, it just doesn’t get warm enough,
I did dig up the remainder of the potatoes, I planted less this year, pulled the rest of the onions, some of these are smaller than the earlier crop because these were grown from seed the earlier ones were from a set, and I dug out a few more leeks, I’m leaving the leeks for as and when I want them, I’ve read they can be left in the ground through winter to be dug as needed, the washed potatoes,
I’m still taking a few broccoli leaves and noticed this week that there are the beginnings of some spears so I don’t know if I might get a few before they sleep for winter, the courgettes and pumpkins have been removed as they were dying back, the cauliflowers are only tiny hearts that the slugs have grazed so they will be for the compost heap when weather allows, there are still some salad leaves outside,
inside I am still getting some cucumbers but I have noticed they are growing much slower so I think the last few will be small, the peppers and tomatoes are still slowly turning red, still haven’t tried fried green tomatoes, really must, and I must remember to buy onion sets and garlic and plant them,
fruitwise, there were not many autumn raspberries, the small pieces of rhubarb I moved to the new bed in the fruit and berry garden grew well and I’ve not pulled the rhubarb which is now dying back so I am hoping they will be nice large crowns for next year, and now the potatoes have been dug out all I need to do is dig out as much creeping buttercup as I can, which is in this bed then start designing how I want it, I know what is going in there as I have black currant and gooseberry plants in pots I started as cuttings last year, it is such a sense of satisfaction and achievement having an area almost cleared and plants I’ve grown ready to go in,
the last of the gooseberries I froze will be used soon and I’ve started the last pot of gooseberry jam, there is quite a lot I want, hope and need to do in the fruit and berry garden before next spring, I think it will have to take a priority over the ornamental areas of the garden,
growing food and enjoying it gives a sense of purpose to gardening when the weather won’t let you enjoy your ornamental plants,

I wrote this post last night and the weather decided to prove me wrong, I’m glad to say, today after some rain early this morning, the wind started to lessen and the sun even came out for a short while, I took the opportunity to plant out some of the plants I’ve bought recently and do a little bit of weeding (so I could plant out in a weed free area),

have a nice weekend everyone,

©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.

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.


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.