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.

end of month view ~ August

at last I’m back online with the start of a new month,

I don’t think I need to say what the weather has been like, I’m beginning to sound like a needle stuck on a record with the weather this year and it’s too late in the year to change now,

I’ve been enjoying the blue in the jungle border this month, I bought several agapanthus 18 months ago as they tend to do well here, last summer 1 flowered, this year 4 are flowering and 1 sent up 2 flower stems, I hope it’s not the desperate flowering of dying plants, they so often talk about this on GQT,
when it was nice on Tuesday last week I did do some work in the jungle bed, I cut down all the loose strife, strife is a good name for it!! I then ran the strimmer over some of the other unwanted stuff and gave it a good rake, there was quite a bit of fluffy sphagnum moss, I hope to start to dig it over and so remove the unwanted roots of the plants, usual view,
the border from the other end, I like the changing leaf colour of the hypericums, this is partly why I used them, this year they seem to be changing colour much earlier,
the other side of the dogrose, the ‘jungle’ bit, the crocosmia has finished, the pontentilla and daylily take their turn,
the ferns have done well, it is the best the harts tongue has done, I moved it here last winter, the holly fern was only bought last year,
not much change to the middle bed, olearia is filling out and I intend to clip it this time as I would like a more solid rounded shape for a change, the open wild shape I now prefer in the wild parts of the garden,
viewed from the other side of the olearia, there are 2 shrubs in flower, the pontentilla, I do not know the names of any of the pontentillas in my garden as all were grown from unnamed cuttings, this one is from my mother’s garden, my daughter took my Mum shopping one day for some shrubs for her garden, it was a fews years after my Dad died, my Mum had never done any gardening and had no interest but she was left with small front and back gardens to look after and very late in life started to take an interest (her late 70s), I love the pale yellow primrose like flowers and soft grey/green leaves,
I’m amazed by how much this Buddleja, Lochinch, has grown, all above ground has grown this year, I thought buddleas like dry sun and yet it is growing it’s best in cloudy rain, have the experts got it wrong, I am enjoying it and hope it stays,
and the sedum black beauty has survived the rain (just),
the wilderness has spots of orange and pink, the orange flowers of a pontentilla and both pale pink and deep magenta of the oriental lilies, also lots of yellow flowers on the fennel, not seen it flower so well in several years, I’ve managed to get nothing done here, usual view,
from the other end of the path, my back is to the little bed, I think I should have photographed it from this end all along as you can see most of the bed,
you might be wondering why I have planted lilies to grow through the hedge, well I didn’t, this year I decided to let the hedge grow (just as well as I have had no opportunity to cut it anyway), it looses it’s leaves in the winter gales and I wondered if I keep the perimeter hedge too narrow, on the left you can see the hawthorn, it is finally growing large enough to be seen, centre there is rosa rugosa alba, this has grown from root that got left when I moved the original plant, the privet was all that was here when I came,
not much change in the little bed either,
just the daylilies flowering,
with the middle and little bed I just managed to keep them weeded and the border in the jungle bed, among the weeds are sometimes flower seedlings and very occasionally ornamental grass seedlings, this year I have found the flowers from seed I scattered a year or 2 ago, it didn’t grow then but a few have this year, love-in-a-mist,
thanks to Helen for hosting this meme, please click through to see more end of month view 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.

windy wet weather and no internet

well the grandsons are back with Mum and Dad and I am left with memories and no internet until September! the wee u’ns, well actually youngest one, used up most of my monthly internet allowance in their first 3 days, I was in shock as I never before realised people could get through so much bandwidth so fast, and they were not on the internet all the time, the older one was watching some videos for different loom band items, loom bands is the latest child craze, but the little one apparently streams what imo is video rubbish, my son failed to consider a single old lady would not have an unlimited usage package and didn’t warn me of the high bandwidth usage, to say I’m a tad cross with my son is a bit of an under statement, I have though learnt my local library has wifi now so I am typing this in a word doc at home and will post on Tuesday when the library is next open, it’s Thursday as I didn’t feel like going to town before, I’m not happy I have to go into town and carry the laptop on the bus to be able to use the internet, right! now I’ve got that sort of off my chest, onwards and upwards,

the weather was appaling last week and no better now, I’ve seen better weather in the winter in the now long distant past, so getting out was curtailed, we did however get out a bit and Friday was the best day, I’m sorry but I realised when I went to look out photos for a post that my photos are mostly of 2 boys, interesting to close family but no one else, I think not being able to use the internet taking photos for the blog just went clean out of my mind, I’m actually feeling a bit cross with myself now as we went to the blackhouse village Friday and I would now like some photos of the houses, it’s not easy to visit by bus, I hired a car for the week the boys were here,

devils bit scabious growing at the base of a standing stone,
Calanais Standing Stones,
Dail Mor beach,
Gearannan Blackhouse Village,
when we were driving home Friday evening I said ‘I’m going to be all on my own tomorrow’
the youngest grandson replied ‘you have your plants Grandma’
I thought I’d share as only gardeners would understand, he likes gardening so it was such a shame we could not spend more time in the garden.

update, I’ve enjoyed my time linking in with my blogging friends and quilting friends via the quilt list, now it’s the school bus home, see you all next week x ,

©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.

Birch garden

the instant garden within the birch garden is continuing to please and delight, I can just see it from windows at the side of the house, the oxeye daisies that thrilled me at the beginning of June have grown and grown, they look wonderful and then the shasta daisies started to flower a few weeks ago,
all the photos in this post were taken in July but were never written about and posted, I have many more of other areas of the garden so there will be some more posts soon,
the comfrey has been joined by the malva,
this photo makes me smile because it is an example of ‘becareful what you wish for as you might get it’
I’ve seen photos like this, semi wild large gardens with rustic old sheds, in many magazines over the years and when I didn’t have a garden I would dream and sigh and wish I had a garden like that, I’ve never coveted the formal, always semi wild, of course now I have it, I know how much hard work it is and I know that just beyond those daisies are lots of tall weeds and I know the picturesque rustic shed has a leaky roof, ………  
I was pleased to see this pink yarrow, I bought 5 or 6 different yarrows when I first planted the front garden over 10 years ago, this pink one became a thug and so I moved it to a wild area where it could happily be a thug and it disappeared, this must have been with the shasta daisies and moved with them,
the shasta daisies are taller than me, I’m 5’4″, I moved them from the jungle in the front garden where they never grew higher than about 2’6″,
the oxeye daisies became too big and flopped over the other plants so I cut them down, they will grow more flowers, I planted some cosmos I’d grown from seed, now the comfrey and malva have some room,
the white lupin has started more flowers, a slightly different view from the species rose border,
what you may not have noticed here is the small coppice of Norway maples, they were planted along the west fence, I had to move them when the windproof fence was put up and I put them here temporarily until I could re plant them, that was 7 years ago and they have looked very poorly, last year they seemed to pick up and grew quite well, I’m getting the impression that plants like the company of other plants (and I don’t mean tought grass and weeds), so early this year I got the grass and weeds down and mulched with paper and card topped with pine straw, they are growing well,
I love the warm colours of the foliage when it first emerges,
as it is also in the birch garden area a photo of the alternative compost, it may not look perfect but is much better than this area was before,
it is also nice not to have so much seed in my compost, I no longer add to this area, I’ll cut it all down in autumn, I am thinking of adding some daffodil bulbs in the autumn, I have some large clumps that need dividing, then I’ll access it and decide what other plants to add, it’s been an interesting experiment,

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

end of month view ~ July

well July is going out as it came in wet, overcast and mainly windy, it’s just a breeze to keep the midge away today, infact I could/should work in the garden today but enthusiasm is waning, just taking these photos of the front garden and there is SO much to do I feel over whelmed just considering it, I don’t know where to start, I think this is why I found it so hard to write an end of month view last month, I had intended last month to mention shrubs and trees in the front garden, yes they are there though most go unnoticed, there are also many that were planted and never grew or only lasted a short time, some survived ‘just’ and have been moved to other parts of the garden where some have grown well others are still ‘just surviving’, enough of that or I’ll only depress myself again,

the little bed, there are 2 parts to the little bed, there is a reason for not showing the narrow strip the other side of the path, I’ve not touched it, grass and buttercups are thriving, I try not to think about it! the larger bed I did manage to weed and remove some unwanted plants such as about half of the bergenia which I have transferred to the birch garden, I then moved some of the primulas back along the house side as they were just looking plain untidy close to the path,
and rearrange some I want to keep, like dividing carex frosted curls, I reasoned that as it seeded in and has grown well this little grass knows what it wants and it wants to be here, there is a small piece of the deep pink geranium growing near it and I think they look nice together, so I’m encouraging them, this is the same geranium that became a large mound in the RR border,
as the deep pink geranium grows in this bed without getting out of hand I planted all that I removed from the RR border under the day lilies, I thought it would make a nice throffy sea under them, as the day lilies are orange and the geranium deep pink, I’m thinking of adding some purple and calling it the Zandra Rhodes corner …….
I think the cluster of bergenia left around the kniphofia looks better, the reason for this little group is because they are evergreen so give texture, contrast and colour all year around,
I haven’t been managing to deadhead as much as I want to, but ‘glass half full’ I have done some,

I wrote the above late morning, then got hungry, I knew I had to venture into the garden for some potatoes for lunch,
the jungle bed from the gate, I’ve cobbled 3 photos together so you can see the nice border by the path and the rest where there are weeds grass and certain plants have taken over, I hate the loosestrife here, I never planted it, I planted a small amount of variegated loosestrife but it kept going green, I kept removing the green but the variegated just died and only green was left, I’ve dug it out and put it in the damp meadow, as you can see it came back, I’ve got a feeling it is going to be hard to get rid of even when I get some order in this bed,
this rose is by the gate, it came with the garden, flowers well for a short while and the flowers have a lovely perfume, I have no idea what kind of rose it is so do not know how or if to prune it,
the drumstick alliums are from the original planting over 10 years ago, I like that they have come back and hope they increase, seen here with betony,
what can’t be seen from the gate, the other side of the dogrose, lucifer looks beautiful and could be made better use of, I had no real idea of what I was planting when I put them here,
the middle front bed, after lunch I decided to go back into the garden, after doing a bit of weeding in the ditch area, I did some in the middle front bed, the area I had left as I thought the grass would be back, well some has but not as bad as I had feared, mostly it is a mix of weeds and seedlings of the borage I removed, also I found tiny seedlings of carex frosted curls, I’m very pleased with these, middle bed from the gate,
the Olearia is filling out, you can’t see it from the gate but I have been pleased to see all this growth on a buddleia I planted 2-3 years ago, it had never done much above ground and I had not been sure one would grow in my garden, it was bought locally, it must have been making good roots which this year are putting on top growth,
the wilderness bed is just that,
I haven’t even been able to cut back the A mollis, it has been hard just trying to keep the little bed and middle bed reasonable, you can see here there are some plants struggling in the grass, this is the origanum vulgare aureum, golden marjoram original plant, I have dug out pieces now planted in the tweenie and jungle border where they are thriving, thankfully,
I managed to capture photos of 2 butterflies in the front garden, I see lots and lots of white butterflies they are the most prolific, there are only about 5 butterflies that come this far north, small tortoise shell, meadow brown seen here on betony,
and red admiral, this is the first red admiral I’ve seen in the 14 years I’ve been living this far north, red admiral on artemisia,
thanks to Helen for hosting this meme, if you would like to see more End of Month Views please follow the link to Helen’s blog,

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