fruit and berries

the fruit and berry garden is starting to provide some yummy food for me as well as the birds, I had my first bowl of raspberries last Friday and have had 2 more since, this is the first real year for providing raspberries as they were new plants last year and they fruit on the previous years wood, I don’t know much about growing any fruit and when faced with a million varieties I haven’t the faintest idea which is best, so when I bought them I chose a Scottish nursery as then at least I know they grow in Scotland and one selling bareroot plants as I strongly think and find that bareroot plants take best here, so I went for the pack that provided 4 different varieties to fruit for a longer period, Glen Moy is providing these first raspberries, the plants are growing well and provided lots of new plants, which is good as Malling Jewel which was supposed to provide the next crop are not, only 2 came through winter and only one is still surviving, Octavia was supposed to provide crops in August but though most plants came through winter they were hit by spring winds so very few fruits, there are some new shoots so maybe better next year, Autumn Bliss is the last one fruiting in autumn so it fruits on this years wood, last year it grew well and there was fruit but the rains from August, then winds just mashed them, they are growing strongly now with flowers so maybe I will get some fruit from them this year, I also bought at the same time a tayberry which is growing modestly and a loganberry that is growing at super fast speed this year,

the gooseberries, as some may remember I lost all the green gooseberries to a fungus infection, it had started to spread to the yellow gooseberry so I had to cut over half of that down, a few of weeks ago I decided to pick the few gooseberries left though they were green before the birds got them and cover the red gooseberry bush, I wasn’t sharing this year, I also found some onions I had missed last year I pulled them as some were starting to go to seed, I’ve left 3 to flower,
I thought the red gooseberries now looked ready to pick,
I find it easiest to prune at the same time, I cut branches I want to remove and then it’s easier to pick them, some on the under branches were still a bit green, I was/am surprised by just how many I have,
I love gooseberry crumble so that was first, topping and tailing so many is quite time consuming, today I had a try at making some red gooseberry jam, as it was my first try I only used 1lb, it is a bit runny and I know why, the recipe said a quarer to half pint of water, I only used a quarter but I think it should have been much less probably none as they are very juicy, I think the recipe is for those bullet hard green gooseberries, it tastes good which is the main thing imo, if anyone has a good recipe for gooseberries I would love to hear it, thanks,
I only have one blackcurrant producing berries and I had forgot to keep an eye on them this week, too late, most were gone as they had turned black, I realised though the birds have so far left my raspberries alone and they are my favourite fruit, I picked what blackcurrants were left and as I was to be making a cake to have with my afternoon cup of tea, I put the blackcurrants in the cake,
red gooseberry jam, blackcurrant cake and Glen Moy raspberries,
it’s amazing how a couple of days of warm sunshine can improve the spirit, 3 posts in 3 days, and I’m starting to catch up on some blog reading too, we had another warm day today with a high of 23C, tomorrow will be cooler and the weekend is set for rain, so unfair for people who have been working all week, so typical though, hope you are getting the weather you would like, x

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

foliage a day late

yesterday got hijacked by a beautiful dragonfly, so this little foliage post is late, sorry Christina, Christina hosts the foliage meme on the 22 of the month, the foliage giving me pleasure at the moment is in the middle front garden where these photos were taken, there is a lot of ‘big’ foliage around the garden but I just love these, I think it is because when I look out the window there is so much big stuff and much of it viewed from a distance, so when I can get out or just leaving/returning to the house or getting up close and looking through the front window this is the foliage I see, I always see it up close, because of the house and privet hedge it can’t be seen from a distance,

blue grass, this is it’s second season and it seems to be filling out nicely, I want it to get big enough to divide, I am thrilled at finding 3 seedlings, I hadn’t even realised it had flowered last year, of course it will be quite a few years before they are any real size, I wanted the change of texture with the dianthus and artemisias that are in this bed, on it’s right the stem, is crambe maritima which has fleshy blue/green leaves, it’s a member of the cabbage family and while protecting my edibles I completely forgot this and blamed slugs for the nibbles, ooophs,
it isn’t showing well partly due to the dark background but there is a deep red phormium in the middle here, it had been planted near one of the big phormiums but was not doing well so early last year I moved here in the middle front bed and put cuttings of dianthus mrs simkins around it, it is starting to fill out so perhaps in a couple of years I can take a photo that matches the one in my head,
just loving the grouping in this little area of the bed, wish I could do more across the whole bed but plants cost money and I have limited windowsills for seeds, but at least I have this wee group and a garden, still pinch myself at times due to all the years without,
I really must get my act together and write about other parts of the garden as there are some nice things happening and amazingly 2 weeks ago we had 3 days! yes 3 whole days without rain and with sun!! and ….. AND! today we had tempertures into the low 20’sCentigrade for a while and even now I’m sitting in my house without the heating on and without a wooly, I can’t remember how many years since that has happened here but it’s too many, it’s going back to a high of 15C at the weekend, still 2 or 3 days is better than none, no gardening though, went to town and later the midges were so thick you could see clouds through the window, this is the only time of year I wake up wanting a good breeze,

to see more foliage post please follow the link to Christina’s blog, thanks Christina for hosting this meme,

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

gossamer in the grass

as I walked through the weeds and grass I saw a shimmer,

francescaple.dragonfly1I stopped to look closer

francescaple.dragonfly2and was entranced

francescaple.dragonfly3so delicate

francescaple.dragonfly4yet so strong


if anyone can identify the beautiful beasty I would love to know, thanks,

one of my cousins found it on a wonderful website (now bookmarked),

it’s a common hawker dragonfly, if interested take a look here:




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

why I blog

Jessica recently posted about why she writes a blog, apparently there is a round of these posts though as I do not read many blogs Jessica’s is the first post I’ve seen on the subject, I read many of the replies to her post and noticed many people write to an audience, this is what made me consider writing my own post about why I blog and how I started, and the journey I’ve traveled as a blogger for nine and a half years,
frances caple.ropes in nets2
in the beginning, long ago in January 2005 a quilt list I was/still am on a member posted that she had just started a weblog, web log shortened to blog nowadays, they were/are online diaries, and she asked if other quilters were doing the same or would be interested in starting, she wanted to create a ‘ring’ for quilters, you do not see rings much now and I’ve found some of the ones I belong to no longer work so I have removed them from my side bar, it was a means of a group of weblogs to connect to each other, I started my first weblog and joined the ring,
the name Island Threads came because I was at that time living on 2 islands, my home was here on Lewis but most of my week was spent on North Uist, so as I was traveling between the 2 islands, I was connecting a thread and of course textiles and quilting are all about threads,


allium detail

allium detail

so when I read about people blogging for online presence then being surprised and pleased to find they are communicating, for me communicating was there from the start, although we communicated through the quilt list and still do the weblog gave us the advantage of showing photos, which is why I have not used the title ‘why I write’ for me it’s all about seeing, I’m not talking perfect photos I’m talking seeing as you could see if you could pop round to each others homes,


I deleted that first weblog in the summer of 2006 but as I had most of the posts in word format, after having a post disappear when I clicked publish early in my blogging life, I write all my posts in a text document first, I started to upload some of the early posts to this blog a few years ago but never have finished the project,

sunrise over Barvas moor

I soon started blogging again as I missed it only this time I used the BBC island blogging site for my blog to connect with other islanders as well as quilters, the BBC closed their blog platform in (I think) 2009, as I had started this wordpress blog and used it in 2008 for a picture a day posts, I moved everything here and I hope not to move again,
I began to quilt/stitch less and garden more, I found blotanical in September 2010 and met other garden bloggers my garden took over Island Threads, I know the name does not fit so well but I’m not changing it,


I still think of my blog as an online diary, I write and post photos of what I want to record about the garden and occasionally other things, that other people should find my thoughts and photos interesting enough to want to read is nice and when they comment and we can have a conversation that’s even better, I read the blogs of people who comment on my blog (if they have one) and comment on most, I’m afraid I don’t comment on some google/blogger blogs due to the commenting set up needing me to either log into a google account or share my wordpress account with google, neither of which I wish to do, my choice,


my online diary is an evolving diary, it has changed in the last 9.5 years and will no doubt change again as the years roll on, visitors have come and gone, I’ve met some lovely people along the way and a few unwanteds which is why I now monitor comments, I have participated in textile exchanges, received plants from other gardeners and had the pleasure of meeting up with some people, x


©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.

wordless Wednesday ~ end of month view


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

seeds and veggies

wee eggs of the cabbage white butterfly, I enjoy seeing them dancing above the flowers and sipping nectar but I don’t want to share my greens with their off spring, I don’t know what wild plants the caterpillars feed on but whatever they are there must be plenty around here as there is never any shortage of white butterflies, so I decided I must cover my greens,
first to pick what was ready, my first crop of radish, I didn’t get any to enjoy last year they either didn’t grow or were tough, these were delicious,
first lettuce sown outside is through, I’m still cropping some from the windowsill inside,
cut all the outer leaves from the winter cabbage (yes it was supposed to grow through winter) after covering I have left them to heart up and will pull a whole one when needed, I have a surfeit of greens as these should have grown in winter, I still have some over wintered broccoli producing leaves and the kale and spinach I sowed for young leaves are producing, luckily they all have individual flavours,
the kale and spinach with a few other things, I have some wire frames from poly closhes so used them for support,
all covered,
the courgettes and squashes are outside now, though the courgettes are in big pots as I still have not got the new raised bed made in the new alder veg garden, a priority for next week me thinks,

inside I was soooo excited to see the first bud on one of the pepper plants mid month,
and the cucumbers I’ve discovered climb so supports need to be found,
the pepper flower opened Saturday,
now as it is inside do I need to pollinate? I’ve been searching for info and found none, the seed packet doesn’t say, tomatoes I’ve grown inside I’ve never needed to pollinate and I read not to let cucumbers grown inside pollinate as it makes for bitter fruit, thank you in advance for any help,

on the flower front, I’d planted out some of them as plug plants thinking that would be alright, the brachycome in the centre front garden and found most have disappeared, I saw 2 starlings waddling around and from the remaining evidence they have pecked them to pieces, in the long flower border in the alder veg garden as the oxeye daisies are young plants I planted the rudbeckias between them, thinking that as they are annuals they will be gone when the oxeye daisies fill out next year, the next morning most were gone! just gone! it is very irritating, but lesson learned no more planting out of plug sized plants, so I have just potted on the sunflowers, cornflowers and cosmos, I’ll plant them out when larger, like the echinacea, which I’ve planted at the top of the slope in the birch garden,
the mulch around them was made/laid when I couldn’t do much gardening earlier in the year due to rain and so did my pruning between the showers and shredded in the side porch, I laid the shredding here on newspaper and the grass which was sparse due to heavy cropping in previous years has now become a loam, it was nice to be able to plant into it, gave a sense that all the time in the wet months wasn’t completely wasted,

end of June, the nights start drawing in, time rushes by …….

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