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.

can’t smell the roses

one of the nicest things about the few days of sun and warm last week was that I could enjoy the perfumes in the garden, perfumes and aromas in the garden mean a lot to me, I quite often chose plants for their perfume, I actually enjoy weeding around the herbs as each time I touch the foliage a burst of wonderful aromas rises up, I stroke perfumed leaves as I pass plants just for the sheer joy of releasing the perfume,
at the weekend the rains returned and there is no gardening or wandering in the garden this week as wind and rain toss and drench the garden, so I thought it was time I finally wrote that post about the rose borders and remember the mingling perfumes I briefly enjoyed last week,

the Rosa Rugosa border, short though it is with only 4 roses, is starting to look ‘not too bad’ I earlier removed the sedum and A. mollis that over took one end of the border last year, the plant divisions I planted 2 years ago are starting to take shape while those planted last year still need to fill out, there is a problem with one of the roses as it comes into growth too early and then gets hit by early spring gales and the new young foliage dies of wind burn, the other 3 roses are doing well,
a longish view, the mound of deep pink geranium is not! supposed to be like that, it was given to me and when planted in the front jungle bed grew to only about 6-8 inches, so when I moved it here I thought it would be nice front of border and the allium moly could grow up through it, which is what happened last year, this year, it’s crowded out A.moly and is far to dominant, so I’ve removed it, these photos were taken a few weeks ago when the border was full of weeds and the roses just coming out,
Rosa Rugosa Blanc double De Courbet, it has a wonderful perfume as well as beautiful large double white flowers,
after weeding, from left to right, Sarah van Fleet, F J Grootendorst, Blanc double De Courbet,
RR Sarah van Fleet, also has a wonderful perfume and beautiful large double pink flowers, I planted skirts around each of the rugosa roses, this is another pink geranium given to me (by the same person), pale pink, it’s quite pretty and I decided to put pink with pink, it normally grows about 12″ but here it has climbed up through the rose, it is not doing the rose any harm and I rather like it, I think they go well together, so not planned but liked so staying,
RR F J Grootendorst and origanum vulgare acorn bank, marjoram, the marjoram hasn’t quite filled in around the rose yet but almost, this rose flowers prolifically with these wonderful clusters of small red roses, no perfume I’ve noticed but the marjoram foliage has plenty of aroma,
a long view, showing the RR Alba in the distance, I’d like the border to go all the way along to the alba but first there is a lot to clear and the ground needs a bit of leveling, if it ever happens it will be a nice rose walk leading to the damp meadow and tweenie,
the skirt around de Courbet is a heuchera, unknown as it came in a cheap pack of perennials, for years I didn’t even know what it was, it was planted later than the others so needs a bit more time to fill out, you can see from this photo that the roses lay back, the flopped leaves are A. moly and are along the edge where the path is, I am still finding plants for and shuffling plants around in this area, I’ve used some of the ‘skirt’ plants to tie them together but also some others like the betony, the mauve flowers and the chives, cut back now,
I would like this dark heuchera to increase so I can divide it, I’ve just moved it forward as it is low growing and had been swamped by the deep pink geranium, in spring Queen of the night tulips grow with it,
now this is the first to look as I imagined them, the rose growing above the skirt below, I’m quite pleased with this, the roses have been spaced so when full grown they will touch and the heights vary creating an undulating line, I hope,
I like the betony with the white rose,
the Species Rose border I have just realised as I looked for photos for this post, has been neglected as I have not got many, the first flower on Rosa Pimpinellifolia, it’s the third season but first ever rose, I do enjoy the foliage and red stems too though,
another with pretty stems and foliage is Rosa Farren Persetosa, it has wee mauve flowers you can just see one top left,
another first, Rosa pimp. Double Yellow,
and I forgot to take a photo of Rosa pimp. Double White in all it’s glory as it is prolific, you can just see it behind Rosa Rubrifolia which didn’t flower this year,
the species roses are all growing well but not much flower yet, under them is so much better this year for having weeded early and getting a mulch down, last year was dreadful, I am adding and shifting plants in this border too,

neither border has any grasses and I’m wondering about that, I’d quite like to introduce some especially in the species rose border, no idea what/which yet, if any one has any suggestions I’m listening, the ground is moderately free draining, as we have had so much rain it’s never dry, as they are rose borders they are limed so the soil is about neutral, the species border is fairly well protected except from the easterlies, the rugosa border more exposed,

I have a few other roses scattered in other parts of the garden but they will be for another post, I never used to be interested much in roses but now I love them, so it’s true ~ roses grow on you …………….. x

©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.