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.

tree following ~ October

I’m later with my tree following this month due to unexpectedly needing to go away, I got home just before mid-night Friday feeling very tired so I’ve been catching up on some things over the weekend, blogging, both writing and reading has not happened, I will do some this week but expect to be away again next week so I will be absent for much of October,

I took some photos of the grey alder this morning before going to art club and only realised when I loaded them onto the computer that I completely forgot the hornbeam, as it is nearly the end of the week for tree following I wanted to get mine posted and linked tonight, so at the moment it is just the grey alder but some time during tomorrow (Tuesday) I will be updating the post by adding the hornbeam,

the poplars have lost almost all their leaves so you can see the little grey alder between them much better, some of the lower foliage  is  hornbeam that grows between the GA and poplars,
the usual view when I couldn’t see across the raspberries,
we had some very bad storms last week and the foliage has literally been ripped to shreds, but do you notice what is new there,
take a closer look, next years leaf buds are already and waiting for next spring,
no change of colour in the leaves yet, the bits of brown are windburn,
tomorrow the hornbeam will be added, 

as you can see the hornbeam has started to take on autumnal colours,
the hornbeams do not go bright golds, reds and oranges, the leaves go from dark green to light to limey yellow and eventually brown and drop off, although most of these brown leaves are crisp and so brown from windburn not decade,
due to the grey alder showing next years leaf buds I looked very closely at the hornbeam to see if there were any, all I could see were tiny pinpricks on the stems, never-the-less I took as close a photo as I could, when I brought the photo up on the computer, wow, those tiny pinpricks are the leaf buds for next spring, in this photo they have been magnified by the camera many, many times,
I noticed 2 of the branches were much darker than usual,
this is the colour they usually are,
as I was writing this I remembered Laura had mentioned the dark wood of the hornbeam in one of her tree following posts, I also remembered thinking at the time “mine aren’t”, perhaps now in their 15th season of growth some are mature enough to produce dark wood,

thanks to Lucy for hosting this meme and please click through to Lucy’s blog to see more tree following posts,

and look what I found in my front porch when I got home from art club ……..  

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

end of month view ~ September

I have had some lovely post this last week from garden blogging friends, Cathy sent me some persicaria red dragon and Angie sent me a box full of orphans she no longer has room for in her garden for me to rehome, thank you both they are very welcome, I had taken some photos of the front garden this morning but when Angie’s box arrived,
it was like christmas and as the wind and rain had slowed a little I just had to get out and do some muddy gardening, many of the plants are in the front garden, also I had not yet planted the plants I had bought last week,
the little bed this morning,
when I saw the above photo on the computer, on the left I thought I should join the row of chives to follow from the line of carex frosted curls, so I did,
I also added another daylily to this group, hemerocallis crimson pirate from Angie, the ones already here are bright orange and the geranium magenta pink, so I thought a deep red would add depth, the primula is a deep purple denticulata,
I’ve shown this foliage before but now there is geranium macrorrhizum ingwersens variety from Angie and barely seen beside it geranium phaeum, g.phaeum is one of the ones I dug up and potted from the wilderness bed back in the spring, they have grown well, the photo is blurry due to misty rain and fading light,     
middle bed, I had hoped to get the olearia trimmed, I did get out last Wednesday afternoon and managed to do some weeding in this bed, the patch of soil you can see half way along the path on the left,
I found several seedling of carex frosted curls, this is where the original plant was and these seedling must have been smothered by other plants, they are very small I did think of potting them up but I’m scared of loosing them so I’m leaving them until spring,
also are all these seedlings of (I think) creeping borage, the rough hairy leaves are the complete opposite of the beautiful tiny delicate pale blue bell flowers held on thin tall stems, I moved all of them earlier this year these had all grown this season, they will all be transplanted to new homes next spring,
2 of the plants I bought last week, I’m pleased with how the blue carex has grown as these were divisions planted in spring, they fatten up quickly,
a round up of sedums in this bed which as small go unnoticed without a close up, sorry I don’t know the names and haven’t time to look them up, from the top left clockwise, this sedum has taken on it’s winter coat, it’s grey/green in summer, I like how the next has increased this year (must like rain) I put the white stones there as with the pine mulch it could hardly be seen, black beauty, I thought I’d lost it, it was growing well until a month ago when all the leaves went but there is hope, new growth, I intend putting it in a pot with the silver plant I bought last week, lastly I like the deep red of this but not so keen on the stems,
the middle bed is where I plan the plant persicaria red dragon from Cathy but for now it’s in a pot,
jungle bed, the rose you see flowering is floribunda queen elizabeth, it needs cultivation, it always flowers this ridiculously late and the blooms get ruined, one year it flowered at christmas! you can see in this wide view that all the good stuff is in the border by the path,
I’m loving this agapanthus the flowers have lasted so long and I like how they fade to violet purple, and can you see, seedpods, I’m hoping to collect and sow them,
these are another joy, they are from a free packet of seeds, rudbeckia rustic dwarfs, an annual, the photo on the packet they are all the same so I was surprised and pleased to see a variety, these are the same as the ones I planted in the alder garden that disappeared over night, I have never grown rudbeckia and I love the way they open, like the bud top right, a sort of bad hair day, then bottom left the way the petals are rolled and they unroll, beautiful,
aucuba japonica variegata, this was tiny and by mid winter it was bare, just very tiny green twigs, I stupidly forgot protection, so in spring after weeding I put a large stone on the south westerly side gave some feed and waited, so pleased I did, this is at the bottom of the jungle near the house,
this morning as I crossed the kitchen I thought I saw a flash of mauve in the damp meadow, when I looked the asters are out, and the clump here in the jungle is too, all these asters were originally planted in this bed but they became over grown to the point they choked each other, so 3 years ago I dug out square turf like chunks of root and put them in the damp meadow, they did so well the next year I put more in the meadow, some in the birch garden and a clump here in this dug and composted border, must not let them become so choked again,
I’ve added astrantia snow star and geranium sylvalicum album from Angie to this bed, thought I’d finish with this photo taken just before I finished this afternoon of a misty rain covered rudbeckia,
thank you to Helen for hosting end of month view, if you would like to see more gardens at the end of this month please click through to Helen’s blog,

thank you to Cathy and Angie for plants, very welcome,

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


except for the last photo these photos were taken last week, today I was out and it rained, so I’m using these earlier ones, this is the top point of the triangle middle bed in the front garden, it is what and how you see it as you enter my garden, I’m pleased with how both the phormium and dianthus have grown, the bare soil around the dianthus should have artemisia growing, I have put cuttings in which usually take well but not this time, I’m wondering if the very wet winters are to blame, it is a cunning plan to stop the rabbits from eating the dianthus which they love, they don’t like the strong aroma of the artemisia, I’ve been lucky and not seen them for sometime but if they should return I want to be ready for them,
across the path I am enjoying how these 2 low growing plants have started to grow into each other, ground cover that is the plan, Saxifraga golden falls and Erica carnea golden starlet,
into the fruit and berry garden, a different view from the usual one with the grey alder, this is looking across to the west boundary and I am so pleased with how it has grown this year, the willows have really come back after being sapped by a spring gale 3 or 4 years ago, it killed all the leaf buds and the willows didn’t come into leaf that year, they were looking very dead, some did die but some survived and this year have fully recovered, next to them the green is, tallest and farthest back, cuttings I planted of the popular and ash trees, in front are a row of blackthorn, they have all grown so well I don’t think I need an inner hedge any more so I’m planning to replace the dead flowering currants with raspberries, the red and golden bushes are at the end of the inner hedge,
a closer view of them, Sambucus racemosa aurea/golden Elderberry and Euonymus europaeus/Spindle, both are part of an inner hedge as they will not cope with the gales,
and as a little treat when I left the art club this afternoon I did a detour into the little nursery shop next door to the Co-op, I had intended just having a look round, due to the possibility of moving I have not been buying any new plants this year, I succumbed to 4 plants all bought for their foliage first flower secondary, from the top left clockwise, Erica tetralix alba mollis, Calocephalus silver sands, Heuchera (unknown/no label) and Leucanthemum hosmariense,
I never used to like heathers much but decided a few years ago that they do grow here so plant what does grow, I’ve been interested to find they are not just callunas and ericas that flower in late summer but there is a wide variety of ericas that flower at various times of the year including winter, I was also surprised to find a variety of foliage colour, this one is said to be grey green but the wet has made it rather green and it flowers all summer, the Calocephalus is totally unknown to me, don’t you just love it though, as the heuchera in the RR border is growing well I thought I’d buy it a friend and the Leucanthemum well I like the ferny foliage and just love a daisy,

thank you to Christina for hosting this meme and if you would like to see more foliage posts please click through to Christina’s blog,

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

R is for relief

relief that Scotland is to stay part of the UK and so I do not need to move home to continue to live in the UK,
I am slowly coming to accept it’s true, after the rotten year we have had with the elements and the constant arguing over what is best for Scotland, the very loud yes campaign with their 3 foot high yes signs, constant barrage of leaflets and goodness knows how much spending of the taxpayers money, the Scottish government focused on nothing but arguing Scotland will be better independent and doing no actual parliamentary work but just strutting their stuff around the streets of Scotland, I had convinced myself they would win, but the quiter more thoughtful people wanting to continue living in the UNITED Kingdom have at last been heard, the group of islands where I live also had a majority of NO thanks to independence,
the pressure of this referendum has been largely responsible for my low feelings this year, the weather of course hasn’t helped, and, the week my grandsons stayed I had thought would give me a lift, it did, seeing and being with my grandsons but the weather that week was not just the worst this summer but the rain on the Monday was the worst in all the 13 summers I’ve been here, this was my clincher, I really believed that it was just going to continue downhill, I totally lost interest in the garden, thinking what is the use, if I have to move I won’t see the results, I have a stack of bulbs dug up earlier in the year that I now need to get planted,
I have very many mixed emotions today, relief being the strongest though it is tinged with fear that it’s ‘too good to be true’ excitement with the garden but again resistance to start as it’s difficult to believe I should see the results, I’ve been so screwed up it is going to take me time to unwind and get back to ‘me’ ……………. the journey starts ……… x

©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.

wordless Wednesday ~ seeing red



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