sweet perfume

at the end of last year I had a collection of bulbs that I had not got planted so in early January I put them in pots and then put the pots outside, about a month ago I saw buds on some crocus bulbs and so brought them into the house to enjoy, it was lovely having them on a windowsill nearer eye level, I could enjoy them in detail more,

then just over a week ago I saw that some hyacinths had buds so brought them into the house, I had bought these bulbs 2-3 years ago, enjoying them in the house then planting them out, the pink one opened the first flower early this week, the perfume is lovely,


the pink has stayed as one bulb, the blue however has split into 6, they are small pieces of bulb so I was very surprised to see 2 with buds, the first opened Wednesday, I’m really enjoying this little bit of outdoors, indoors.

the last 3 days have been wonderful in that they have been dry!! I have done some work in the garden and feel the better for it, it’s nice just to get out,

have a nice weekend

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


as the rain, hail and this morning horizontal snow march on across the island with a cold sun peeking out occasionally just to tease I have nothing to post about the garden, I’ve done no interesting sewing or art work so to take myself to a warmer place I went through some photos I took in January when I had another holiday chasing the sun, for those of you who are also surviving in rain, snow, cold, frost, ice, howling winds, etc. etc. view and join me in my dream of the warmth of some sun, for those who are living in warmer places and already enjoying the sun do you know the names of any of these plants, many are like nothing I’ve ever seen before and quite alien to me but I like them all and love some, 


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

wordless Wednesday ~ purple sprouting, first crop


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

seeds inside in March

my first pepper seed to germinate, I had some seed last year (from a magazine (fam), many of my seeds are free with magazines) anyway last year nothing I wasn’t surprised as the temps needed to be higher than I could achieve, this is a different one but also fam, I sowed it some weeks ago when I sowed several seeds that could be sown in February and I saw the little sprout the same day as the choisya flowers, a good day,
I have read that they can be grown on windowsills, also courgettes so the tomatoes are going to have some company this year,
the baby leeks, these are the remainder of last years packet which were supposed to grow quickly in pots and ready in 6 weeks, lol, I sowed them May or June and had them in the autumn, so I decided to start them early as possible and use the whole packet as I wasn’t sure if any would still be viable, seems they were, so we shall see how long they take this year,
an early start on salad leaves etc. I took this photo just before potting on, they are leggy, left to right, swiss chard and chard spinach, cauliflower and spinach, rocket and mixed salad leaves,
I had  lot of chard last year so this year I was more careful of how many I sowed, the spinach chard have come up as single seeds but the swiss chard are clusters of 3, now I know how I ended up with so many! I don’t mind the cluster, just wish they would say so on the packet, so again I have too many swiss chard seedlings,

since getting onions to grow finally I have been buying and planting the autumn sets but it was too, too wet last autumn, so I bought a spring set but still too wet, well, I felt cheesed off and so planted them inside, they are about to be moved up to pots as it’s still too wet outside,
I also bought a packet of onion seed last year which I never got around to sowing, so this year I sowed the whole packet, hmm, I’ve moved on to plugs 40 and still have what looks like gazillions (is there such a number?), anyway I thought I can eat some small like spring onions,
I bought some more larger plug/pot trays and what I thought were drip trays, when I removed the piece of card the base is full of holes, so they are going back today to be changed and I shall look more carefully at what I am buying,
I also sowed some flower seeds, Scabious, Aquilegia, Aster and Brachycome, from the first 3 only 1 Scabious seed has germinated, now the Brachycome (I’d never heard of) needed a highish temp to germinate, so I wasn’t sure if it even would, but in a week they had started to show through, the Aster needs quite a high temp so I’m not sure they will ever germinate, last year the Aquilegia were slow, some very slow to germinate, the Brachycome seeds,

the horrid grey damp days continue and I am still dreaming of dry deserts ……

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

Choisya, Aztec Pearl

when I checked my cuttings and seeds today I had a lovely surprise, 2 of the Choisya cuttings I took last summer have tiny flowers,
I checked all my cuttings and over wintering seeds in early January as I was going away I wanted to be sure I left them in best conditions, when I lifted the pot of 4 choisya cuttings roots were coming out the bottom, oh dear, when I tipped them out of the pot 2 cuttings had a lot of root, not really cuttings any more but small plants, about a month ago I noticed small buds which I thought were leaf buds but as they grew I started to wonder, then clear leaf buds appeared, the mother plant had never flowered so these are the first flowers from the plant, I will pinch off the flowers when they fade as I do not want such small plants using energy making seed,

now the sad story of the mother plant, I had decided to leave it out this winter the first time, it was well out of the wind with the bare branches of one of the alders above, however February brought a little frost, I went around the garden one day and couldn’t believe the difference, just incase anyone is wondering, it was not the hail and snow as the damage was done before then and the choisya was in the side porch,
but that wasn’t all, when I pick it up I saw the main stem was split and on closer look saw it was an old wound, the plant is evergreen and usually covered in foliage so I had not noticed the split before,
I’ve checked my RHS pruning book and it does say choisyas regrow if cut back hard, so I’m going to take the chance and cut the wound out and trim back the side shoot just below the wound, and next winter all the choisyas will be in the side porch, meantime I moved the flowering cuttings to a windowsill where I can enjoy them, just while they flower,

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

wordless Wednesday ~ wildflower slope


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

alnus incana ~ grey alder

I have quite a few different trees in my garden now, when I moved here there were some lodgepole pines and a few spruce, all the rest of the trees I planted, the oldest being 14 years old brought from Scalpay but most after I moved here 12 years ago, I am following a tree through the year with monthly posts, it took me a while to decide which tree and I finally decided on the Grey Alder, I only have one and due to where it is and how it has grown I decided I was going to have to prune it on one side, I do not usually prune trees but do coppice some of the Willows, as this tree is in a hedge I did wonder if instead I should chose one of the trees that stand alone, but didn’t, the grey alder is about in the centre of the hedge line with unknown trees/I think a type of popular growing the largest, hornbeam very small, ash planted 2 years ago and hawthorns which are going to be moved soon, they were only planted 2 or 3 years ago and I’ve learnt it’s too wet there for them, the hedge is a perimeter hedge on the north side of the fruit and berry garden so faces south, across the path are the raspberries planted 18 months ago, out side the garden is rough grass that I have tried to keep cut but the last three wet years have meant It has not been cut for nearly 2 years so I plan getting help to do it, I think that sets the stage for where the tree is,

before pruning, the windswept branches closing the path and reaching the raspberries,
part pruned, I need the saw now to cut those larger branches,
pruned, I can’t get a clear view full on so photos are from the side,
now I can walk along the path, this photo is from the other end of the path and I think it is a better angle so I will probably take future photos from this side,
I wanted to follow this tree because I want to keep an eye on it to see how it copes after pruning, I also chose this tree because it is the only Grey Alder in my garden, I tried to get a close up photo as the dormant leaf buds have a purple tint to their blackness,

Thursday was a bit damp and cold but not raining (well at first) and not much wind, so I took the opportunity to finish pruning the tree and then raked some of the debris off the path, I even did a bit of weeding, you can just make out this covered in green weeds, mostly grass behind the tree in the first photo, after weeding, note the shape of the daffodil leaves they were struggling under the thick mat of grass,
the path just to show how bad the grass is, I put down shingle a few years ago at first it was fine but I then found shingle makes a perfect seedbed,
I’m sure these daffodils are pleased to be free at last, there are several A. Mollis here which used to look nice but the trees are covering them now so they are not seen except for the hundreds of seedlings, so as I worked I planned and I’m going to remove the lady’s mantle and with the nice covering of leafmold that is starting to grow perhaps the way to go is to plant with springtime plants to be enjoyed before the trees leaf out and cover/shade the ground out,
I decided to  take and include this photo out of interest, on the left is a hornbeam and on the right a form of popular, I was given a piece by a nieghbour when I lived on Scalpay, she said it was New Zealand broadleaf but I’ve never found that and popular is the nearest match, both were brought from my garden there and planted here 12 years ago, there have been many times when I thought the hornbeam was dead but it struggled on, since the popular has grown so large now it’s strange but the hornbeam is doing better, it’s like the popular is protecting it from the elements so it can finally start to grow,

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