It's the end of the month again. The clocks have gone back and the days are getting shorter. Just time for the odd bit of pottering in the garden and some selective tidying. I don't do much and prefer to leave most of it for birds and overwintering insects.
It's also time to review what's been happening in the garden this month. Why not have a look at Helen's garden at Patient Gardener's Weblog.
This is the ornamental garden a couple of days ago. It doesn't look too bad from a distance, in fact it's got a certain decayed elegance at this time of year.
But look up close and it's all a bit sad...
But here and there there are signs of next spring. The camellia bush is covered with plump buds.
All the buddleia have been cut back by half. The be cut back hard again next March to stop the shrubs getting too big. Cutting back the buddleia at this time of year was a habit I acquired (and kept) when living in Orkney. Wind rock was responsible for killing so many shrubs.
They will have self seeded. Need to clear damp leaves of the deck path. Bird food out.
Lots of jobs to be done
Our young gunnera manicata is in a sheltered spot near the house.
I mulch it and bend the leaves over to give it some winter protection.
The straw and fleece treatment will give the tree ferns some protection when the bad weather comes.
As yet the weather is still very mild.In what continues to be a strange autumn the cirsium is about to flower again.
The tender pineapple and tangerine sages are still growing well and in flower. As the frost will kill these off I always take cuttings and overwinter them.
The verbena bonariensis seeds in particular is a favourite with the goldfinches during the cold weather. They are still flowering.
The beautiful bloom of the fatsia japonica is a welcome addition to the border at this time of year.
As are the blue berries of the cornus.
The kitchen garden has very little left to commend it. The leeks have bolted, and the kale is a bit tough now. There are a few root vegetables still growing, parsnips, scorzonera and mangle beet which will be picked later in the winter.
The Globe artichokes have put on a lot of green sappy growth and may not survive the winter even with protection.
Even after a cursory tidy up the second compost bin is piled high. I'll empty the other one and spread the compost of long border and turn the heap. The leaves from the big sycamore trees will be collected and added to the end leaf mould enclosure.
Lastly I have added a not very pretty image of one of our hoses. This a reminder (to me and you if you need reminding!) to put away the hoses. One year we didn't and it burst flooding a corner of a neighbours garden. Oops!
Friday, 28 October 2011
The water in question is the River South Esk which starts up in the Angus Glens and enters the sea at Montrose. The walk starts at the car park near the harbour.
On the other side of the river is the old fishing village of Ferryden. Not a lot of fishing boats go out from there now.
There's another cracking walk and great views across the river from Ferryden...
to the Scurdie Ness Lighthouse. If you're being really adventurous you can carry on to the Elephant Rock. And guess why it's called that? It looks like an Elephant! But that's another walk for another day.
The lighthouse was built in in 1870 by David and Thomas Stevenson. They were part of the Lighthouse building dynasty and also included the writer of Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson. There's a fascinating book about their lighthouse building escapades called "The Lighthouse Stevensons" by Bella Bathurst.
It has been pointed out to me by P that the lighthouse looks as if it's doing it's " Leaning Tower of Pisa impersonation" I can assure you that it is not on the cant but I obviously was when I took the photograph...
The other famous spot at the beginning of the walk is the grave of a dog called Bamse. He's was a Norwegian St Bernard stationed at Montrose during the war. The story goes that he used to round up the sailors of an evening among other doggy feats. There's been a statue erected in his memory by the harbour. If you want to know more about Bamse have a look at this link.
Walking along the path by (whisper it) the Pharmaceutical Company Klaxo Smith Kline the river widens towards the sea. I have purposefully not included any images of GSK in this post because
• the site is not very pretty
• I just don't like big multinationals very much..
But they are a major local employer.....
There's quite a lot of flotsam and jetsam on the beach and beautiful pebbles which look especially good when wet. I was going to say we had acquired some but we haven't as its against the law in these parts..
The lighthouse disappears from view as the sky clouds over. It's a very windy day and the weather is unpredictable.
The rain cloud comes in from the north. The colour of the sky makes a grand contrast with the sand.
The sands on this beach are very golden and several species of sea birds especially stay over the summer. Artic terns, little terns, redshanks, eider ducks, knots, cormorants, shags and oyster catchers make their home here.
And there's Freya heading off along the beach. I'll bet she's not got her ball. She expects us to pick it up for her. There's a constant refrain of "Freya, where's your ball?" We're always losing them.... Sometimes she drops them in the water and I have to go for a paddle to get them. Our dog doesn't like the water and never goes for a swim but watches other dogs from the shore.
The birds in the distance in the above photo are gannets. They're an unusual sight in these parts so there must be something worth hunting in that part of the sea
It's quite hard to photograph the gannets diving into the sea but you can just about see the plop.They are majestic in the air. Several of them have juvenile plumage so are obviously learning.
We spent some time watching the birds diving into the water, silhouetted against the dark sky.
So that's our river/beach walk and a rush back to the car park as the rain comes on. Notices hanging of lamp posts in the car park warn us that the area is going to be closed for several weeks for maintenance to the some of the local buildings. Ah well, we'll have to find another way along to that part of the beach.
Sunday, 23 October 2011
Perhaps I should change the name of my blog from "Planticru Notes" to "The Coo's Tail" as I'm always so last minute in joining in with memes. I thought I had got round the problem by putting it in my diary but no, I'm late again. But not too late I hope to join in with Christina's Foliage Day meme. It's well worth going over to her site to see what foliage is at it's best in other bloggers gardens.
The colours this autumn have deepened and intensified over the past few weeks. Many of the deep reds and oranges cotrast with the more subtle yellow and brown autumn tones. At it's best it is the most stunning of seasons, marked with spectacular jewel-like colours.
Let's start of with a real firecracker. This unfortunately was not in our garden but was photographed in the grounds of a local community centre. This tree is an explosion of the most stunning colour.
The berberis has several different colours on the one bush, ranging from green, through red to almost purple with jewel like red berries.
Here's more subtle autumn shades of Euphorbia rubra contrasting with sandy/pink tones of Heuchera Creme Brulee.
The tall grass Miscanthus giganteus is well over six feet in height and continues to add height and colour interest (and some sound) throughout the winter. It gets cut down to the ground when it becomes very tatty and before the new shoots start to appear.
I make no apologies for adding another photograph of the acer palmatum in all it's autumn glory. The leaves are starting to shrivel round the edges from wind damage but it still has the most glorious colour.
Our Boston ivy ( Parthenocissus) is growing up a wall in a very sheltered spot. It is just started to change into it's autumn colours in the last two weeks.
The Fothergilla is grown in a large pot and doesn't seem to be any the worse for that. It has beautiful white bottle brush flowers in the spring, good green foliage until autumn when it turns into a patchwork of colour. It is getting to the point where it would thrive with a bigger pot and not just a top dressing of new compost.
Miscanthus sinsensis has arching green leaves with a white stripe which form a bold vertical in the border. It's purple tassle like flowers waft in the breeze.
The varigated miscanthus forms a backdrop for the dark stems and red leaves of the cornus.
A close-up of the cornus leaves and stems.
So that is a very quick tour of foliage in our garden this month. This is probably the high point for colour and there may be little left by November Foliage Day.
Why don't you pop over to Christina's site for a look round other people's Foliage gems?
Monday, 17 October 2011
Carve the runes,
Then be content with silence
George McKay Brown*
Sir Roy Strong once said that Little Sparta was" the most important new garden in Britain since 1945"
It was the brainchild of the artist and poet Ian Hamilton Findlay and his wife. It was begun in 1966. Little Sparta is run by a trust after Ian Hamilton Finlay's death in 2006. Find out more about the Trust and garden here.
The garden is situated at Dunsyre in the Pentland Hills just outside Edinburgh.
Edinburgh is also known as the "Athens of the North". The name of the garden "Little Sparta" came from the response to this and the rivalry between Athens and Sparta.
It had always been on my "gardens to visit" wish list but it is a bit in the middle of nowhere. Making that special effort to get there makes it all the more worthwhile and the chances of it being stowed out with visitors is slim. A word of warning it is quite a long walk from the car park and stout footwear is required. In other words leave the stilettos at home, girls!
We visited on a wet autumn day. This didn't detract from the experience at all. It's a lush green space and full of atmosphere. Perhaps even more so on a dreich dank day.
The sculpture makes this garden. As do the words of wit and wisdom. Some of the lettering is not so clear on the photos so in these cases I've transcribed it.
The garden opens up to views of the surrounding Pentland Hills.
IS THE DISORDER
OF THE FUTURE
Ian Hamilton Finlay was talking about natural birch trees and not corporal punishment.
"He even transplanted well grown limes in rows and pear trees when they were hardened and thorns bearing sloes and a plane tree already giving shade to those who came to drink."
Aren't you impressed by my translation after only two years of latin at school?
* George MacKay Brown. Orkney poet and writer. These words are carved on his gravestone by Orkney Sculptor and friend Frances Pelly