Pitmedden Garden, Ellon, Aberdeenshire

We visited Pitmedden Garden when we were in Aberdeenshire recently. It’s a place that I have wanted to visit for something like 40 years after watching the early days of the Scottish gardening programme The Beechgrove Garden, because one of the presenters – George Barron – was the head gardener at Pitmedden then.

Pitmedden Garden, Ellon, Aberdeenshire

Apparently I took 42 photographs while we were there, but I’ll just show you a few of them just now, to give you an idea what it’s like if you’ve never been there.
Pitmedden Garden, Ellon, Aberdeenshire

Pitmedden Garden, knot garden, Aberdeenshire

The garden is a wonderful knot garden with over six miles of clipped box and yew hedges as well as a fairly recently replanted orchard. Most of the trees in there are too new to have much of a crop, but the older trees which are trained against the tall stone walls were well laden.

apples, Pitmedden, Aberdeenshire

One of the great things about this garden is that despite the fact that its ‘bones’ are set in the intricate box patterns, it will still be ever changing as the spaces are planted up with seasonal bedding plants. The area in the photo below was filled with several different sorts of marigolds. I love the topiary yew buttresses aginst the walls in the background too.

Pitmedden Garden, Ellon, Aberdeenshire

It isn’t all formal though, there are some lovely overflowing mixed herbaceous borders too.
mixed border, Pitmedden Garden, Aberdeenshire

We were there quite early on a Saturday morning and almost had the place entirely to ourselves. It’s definitely worth visiting if you’re in Aberdeenshire.

Below is a You Tube video of the beginnings of Beechgrove Garden and you can see George Barron and Jim McColl chatting away, George had a lovely Aberdonian accent which wasn’t something I had heard much of back then. Occasionally he slipped into the ‘Doric’ but not often enough for my liking!

The Secret Herb Garden, near Edinburgh

Looking at these photos – and particularly when you are actually at The Secret Herb Garden, it’s quite difficult to believe that you are just a hop and a skip from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh.

Secret Herb Garden

It’s mainly herbs that are for sale as well as some vintage things such as old gardening tools and some furniture.
The Secret Herb Garden

But The Secret Herb Garden is mainly a lovely place to get away from the city and have a nice snack at the cafe.

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

We had plenty of choices for where to sit, but as we visited on a very hot day we decided not to sit at a table in one of the greenhouses as it was just too hot and bright.
Secret Herb Garden

Secret Herb Garden

Vintage cars are used as decoration in parts and the old VW Beetle has been pressed into use as a log store.
Secret Herb Garden

We went all around the various garden areas first though and it feels just like being in the garden of a National Trust property, or something similar.

The Secret Herb Garden

The Secret Herb Garden
We had coffee and cake but I didn’t buy any plants as – I already had them all. I suppose that proves that I’m definitely a plantaholic!
The Secret Herb Garden

This is one of those places that we’ve been meaning to visit for ages. If you’re inclined towards distillery visiting you can do that too as there’s one just beyond the gardens which seems to make whisky and gin – as they just about all seem to nowadays. I don’t care how fashionable gin is, or whisky for that matter – I can’t stomach the stuff.

The Secret Herb Garden

My Early June garden

I took the photos below earlier this month in my garden, just at the time whem we were all thinking – what has happened to ‘flaming June?’
my garden, Lupins
But it just kept getting wetter and I had to rush out whenever things dried up a wee bit. Then came days of high winds and everything flattened, especially the lupins.

my garden, Fife

They continue to fight back though and new spikes are coming through.

Rose

It looks like we will have a bumper crop of raspberries and Tayberries this year, if all the rain we’re getting doesn’t bring the dreaded botrytis fungus. The pears which were growing got blackened in a May frost – such is life, I can’t see any pears on the tree now.
my garden, side of path
If you click on these photos it’ll take you over to Flickr and you can click on them again to zoom in to see the details better.

London Pride, acer
Since I took these photos I’ve been out cutting back and dead heading and more roses are coming out.
poached egg plant
We’ve been promised decent weather over the next few days, although wouldn’t you know it – it’ll be much better over in my beloved west of Scotland where it’s supposed to reach 25 Celsius.
Turk's cap lily

Apparently that’s 77 Fahrenheit, I’m just glad that I’m not with my brother in Holland at the moment because it’s going to be seriously hot there. Global overheating is definitely in mainland Europe.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

I had actually decided last year that 2019 would be the year for me to visit the Chelsea Flower Show but – we went on that Baltic cruise instead. Luckily we did get home just in time to enjoy watching Chelsea on TV. I have to say though that this has been the least impressive year that I can remember. I adore trees and there are certainly a lot of them at Chelsea this year and I love lots of different shades of green but for me that should be balanced by beautiful colours.

Whether the flowers are what some people would regard as genteel and muted tones, or a more exuberant explosion of colour is a matter of taste, I’m a bit greedy and love both styles, but I feel a bit colour deprived having viewed the show gardens this year, admittedly I haven’t managed to view all of the gardens as I’ve been trying to catch up with post holiday clothes washing and getting stuck into my own garden.

If you haven’t been able to see the TV coverage you can still see many of the gardens here.

I did love the garden that the Duchess of Cambridge helped to design it was obviously a winner with children, but I didn’t like the M&G Garden by Andy Sturgeon, I hated all that burnt wood. I do like the Welcome To Yorkshire garden, probably because of all the stonework and the cute wee house.

Do you have a favourite?

Home – at last!

Magellan

For the last fortnight we’ve been cruising around the Baltic on Magellan and I have to say it was about a week too long for me. I was really desperate to get home after we had visited St Petersburg, but we had three more stops after that. Mind you, one of those stops was to Stockholm, a place I hadn’t been before and I was very pleasantly surprised by how beautiful it is.

I found the actual cruise to be rather boring, but I did manage to read six books, some of them chunky classics too. Unfortunately just about everyone on the ship ended up with a cold which developed into a hacking cough – including me and Jack, I’m still not feeling great. The air conditioning just about guarantees that any lurgy is liberally shared around everyone. On the plus side – despite having five course dinners – we both managed to lose weight! The food is another aspect of cruising that I didn’t enjoy. Most people seem to feel that as they’ve already paid for the food they’re determined to eat as much as they possibly can. It’s really off-putting.

Otherwise the highlight of the cruise was St Petersburg – as expected. We took loads of photos, well, Jack took most of them but at some point I’ll be using them in blogposts soonish. Meanwhile, I was so glad to get home and so impressed with the lush green growth since I had last seen my garden, I had to take a photo of it.

my garden

People have often commented on how green it is and I must admit that I’ve always taken it completely for granted but after having been surrounded by a grey Baltic and even greyer North Sea for two weeks – and what was worse – absolute flat calm all the time, I now appreciate my garden even more than I did before.

my garden

I love a good rough sea but Neptune seems to go to sleep as soon as I get on board a ship!

Blog hiatus

My Garden in Fife

We’ll be leaving soon for our Baltic cities cruise, and wifi on those ships is dismal so I’ll be offline for a fortnight. I was just having a look around the garden today and noting how many plants are just about to come into flower, including several clematis and roses. Remind me never to go on holiday at this time of the year again! The clematis alpina above has been flowering for a few weeks already, this is the best it has ever been.

The acers/Japanese maples are all at different stages of growth.
My Garden  in Fife

Golden elder, euphorbia Fireglow and amelanchier are good and colourful in the photo below.
My Garden in Fife

Yet more Fireglow is beside the dwarf apple tree, that apple tree was the only plant that was in this garden when we moved here – unless you count loads of grass as a plant.
Garden in Fife

The Rosemary below is in bloom and a spirea has become entwined with it, but the spirea will flower much later.
Garden in Fife

Garden in Fife

Garden in Fife

The heathers will have finished flowering by the time I get back so one of my first gardening tasks will be to cut it back.
My Garden in Fife

I’m going to miss pottering about here, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy visiting – Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Taillin, Warnemunde, St Petersburg and Aalborg. I think I’ll need another holiday to get over this one coming!

Branklyn Garden, Perth, Scotland

Last week we took advantage of a gorgeous blue sky day to visit Branklyn Garden in the ‘fair city’ of Perth – the original one of course, not the one in Australia which is what usually pops up if you google ‘Perth’.

Branklyn Gardens
I’m sure that this tree is a type of cherry but there was no sign of any blossom on it – it has fantastic glossy red bark though.
Branklyn Gardens
The gardens aren’t huge but they’re just perfect for having a relaxing stroll around and you can have a sit down or even visit the very pleasant tearoom.
Branklyn Gardens
This is a hillside garden which is owned by the National Trust. It’s just two acres and it was created in the 1920s using seed collected by plant hunters.
Branklyn Gardens
There’s a pond which is fed by a wee waterfall.
Branklyn Garden

The azaleas and rhododendrons were looking perfect.
Branklyn Garden

Branklyn Garden

Branklyn Garden
And you get a good view of Perth from the garden. It’s just a short drive from the city centre.
Branklyn Garden

Lastly, you can just catch a glimpse of the house which was built by the original owners, but it isn’t open to the public. This is a lovely place to visit if you’re near Perth, and you can always buy plants there which have been propagated from plants in the garden.
Branklyn Garden

The Japanese Garden at Cowden, Clackmannanshire, Scotland

Japanese Garden , Cowden, Scotland

Japanese Garden , Cowden, Scotland

Last Monday was a bright and beautiful day so we decided to drive along The Japanese Garden at Cowden near Yetts o’ Muckhart which is in Scotland’s smallest county of Clackmannanshire.

There’s a small area given over to a gravel garden, and we watched a couple of the gardeners carefully raking the gravel and then making circular patterns in it. Luckily I managed to take this photo just before some garndparents took their grandchildren for a scuffle through it, ignoring the ‘keep out’ sign. Reading is wasted on some people!

Japanese Garden, Cowden, Scotland

As most of the cheery trees in streets, parks and gardens were already in bloom I thought it would be a good time to re-visit the Japanese gardens that we visited for the first time in the autumn. But it’ll be quite a while before anyone can sit under this tree below’s cherry blossom.

Japanese Garden, Cowden, Scotland, cherry tree

It turned out that as the original cherry trees which were planted in the garden back in the 1920s seem not to have survived, the trees that are there now are really small, having been planted recently.

But heigh-ho, we still had a lovely afternoon there. There’s still a lot of work ongoing, such as building new paths and expanding the woodland walk.

Japanese Garden , Cowden, Scotland
You can walk across the zig-zag bridge, if you aren’t worried about your balance, but you aren’t allowed onto the arched bridge – Health and Safety probably.
Japanese Garden , lake, Cowden, Scotland

The large pond (or is it a lake?) has a healthy amount of frog spawn in it, or maybe it’s toad spawn as when we were in the woodland walk I almost stood on this fine fellow who was sitting on the path, as I approached him I thought he was a clump of autumn leaves – or something even worse that I definitely didn’t want to put my foot in!

Toad

The Japanese Garden at Cowden is certainly worth a visit, although I must admit that we went a bit too early – well I had a ‘two for one ticket’ which was expiring the next day! In another week or so from now the maples will be looking great.
Japanese Garden , Cowden, Scotland

Spring flowers in my garden

As the weather has been unseasonally mild I’ve been able to potter around in the garden a bit earlier than usual. I have no illusions that this is the end of winter for us though as we’re more likely to get snow at Easter than at Christmas, but the spring flowers are loving the weather and the snowdrops have been blooming for ages now. The ones that I transplanted for the wedding decorations are over and done now, they didn’t like being taken indoors.

snowdrops

These crocuses adored the sunshine. I’d never seen them open so far before.
Crocuses

Crocuses
Some of the wedding decoration snowdrops – below.
snowdrops
The miniature daffodils have survived the rough winds we’ve been having over the past few days.
miniature daffodils

miniature daffodil

miniature daffodils

The purple haze behind the daffodils below is a spring flowering heather, so the garden is beginning to look quite cheerful again, but I’m not going to clear all of the winter detritus away until I’m sure that the cold weather has gone. All those dead bits of last year’s plants help to protect them from frosts which I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of.
miniature daffodils

Gardener’s Nightcap by Muriel Stuart

 Gardener's Nightcap cover

Gardener’s Nightcap by Muriel Stuart is a Persephone book which was originally published back in 1938.

Muriel Stuart was better known as a poet apparently and Thomas Hardy described her work as being superlatively good. She was the daughter of a Scottish barrister and was known as a Scottish poet although for most of her life she lived in England.

This is one of those books that you can dip in and out of, opening the book at random you can find an interesting half page on the subject of yellow roses or fragrant shrubs for the garden, leaf moulds or the autumn paeony. I found it slightly frustrating though as I’m sure that most of the plants that are mentioned have been superseded by ‘improved’ cultivars, so they’ll be unobtainable.

There’s even a recipe for making your own rose oil, somewhat different from my efforts to make rose perfume as a wee girl, so the outcome might be better. Quite an interesting read but I think her earlier book called Fool’s Garden which was published in 1936 and was a bestselling book about creating a garden might be even more interesting for serious gardeners although I suppose again many of the plants mentioned would be unobtainable.