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 I found it slightly frustrating though as I’m sure that most of the plants that are mentioned have been superseded by ‘improved’ cultivars, so they’ll be unobtainable.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.

Dundee Botanic Garden

I did a blogpost about the glasshouses at Dundee Botanic Garden a few weeks ago and I was absolutely sure that I had previously posted ones about the actual gardens, so I was amazed when I couldn’t find that post on ‘Pining’. Has it somehow disappeared or did I only write it in my mind while I was doing the ironing or something? Anyway – here goes again – or maybe not!
It was a gorgeous Indian summer day but it was midweek and we almost had the whole of the botanic gardens to ourselves.

Dundee Botanic Gardens conifer

Dundee University uses parts of the gardens for research. This area is the genetics garden. The three trees below are Ginkgo bilobas, sometimes known as the Maidenhair tree. I’m sure that I recently read that the most northerly Ginkgos are growing in the north of England – obviously that was wrong as these ones are thriving. I love these trees, they look so delicate, but there are fossils of ginkgos which are 270 million years old. They originate from China.

genetics garden , Dundee

The stylish stone walls are a fairly recent addition I believe.
genetics garden, Dundee Botanics, Scotland

Dundee University and nearby Ninewells Hospital do a lot of very good medical research.

genetics garden, Dundee Botanics, Scotland

There’s a large old house within the gardens, in the photo you can just see the steps which lead up to it. It looks to me like it has been split up into flats, but presumably the Botanic Gardens were originally the gardens of the grand house.

flowers and house, Dundee Botanic Garden, Scotland

And below is the house.

house Dundee Botanic Gardens

Walk through the arched yew hedge and you enter a darkened yew room, lovely shade on a very bright day.
yew hedge arch

The botanic garden is built quite high up from the main road and from the edge of them you can look down on Dundee airport which is very small but fairly busy. I suspect that the biggest planes it can cope with seat about 50 people. The river is of course the Tay and the bridge that you can see is the one which replaced the old bridge which collapsed in a wild storm in 1879. You can read about it here. You can still see the stumps of the original bridge.

airport  + Tay Bridge

Dundee airport
We visited the Dundee Botanic Gardens on the third of September and below is a photo of an acer which was already changing into its autumn clothing, but it certainly didn’t feel like autumn was on the way. I took some more photos but I’ll keep them for another day. Hope you enjoyed the walk!

Dundee Botanic Garden path

Dundee Botanic Gardens – the greenhouses

I can hardly believe that it was way back in September when we visited the Dundee Botanic Gardens. I blogged about the ouside of the gardens earlier, but we also went into the greenhouses which are packed with exotics.

Dundee Botanics greenhouse
It was a hot day outside so it was super hot in the greenhouses.
Dundee Botanics greenhouse
I’ve always been keen on cacti, ever since I bought myself a wee cactus plant from good old Woolworth’s when I was 11 years old. Woolies used to be great for plants, seeds and gardening things in general, it’s sadly missed.

Dundee Botanics greenhouse

As I was admiring the lovely healthy Abutilon in this photo below I realised that it had been a big mistake to plant the one I had bought recently out in the garden. I dug it up when I got home and moved it into the sun room where it promptly lost just about all of its leaves. It did give me one flower though and the leaves are growing back, so I live in hope of a good display this summer.

Dundee Botanics greenhouse

The bright cerise Bougainvillea brought back memories of Portugal where it grows ‘like Topsy’.

Dundee Botanics greenhouse

I should know what this plant below is, but it has escaped me at the moment.
Dundee Botanics, greenhouse

The problem with not getting around to blogging about places until long after the visit is – I can’t remember what this tree is called, but it’s certainly unusual.
Dundee Botanics greenhouse

Dundee Botanics greenhouse

I’m sure that some of you will have plants like the ones in these photos growing wild in your gardens, but here in Scotland they need to be cossetted in hothouses. I’m not sure that I would like too many of them in my garden – if they could survive, I’m more of a daisy/primrose sort of woman, but it is lovely to see them thriving here where they’e obviously well looked after. Dundee Botanic Gardens are well worth a visit.

Dundee Botanics greenhouse , Scotland

Drum Castle Gardens, Aberdeenshire

From the photo below it looks to me like the box hedges and topiary in the rose garden had very recently been trimmed when we visited Drum Castle in late October.
Drum Castle, historic rose garden 1
I just love a garden that’s well protected by high stone walls, the perfect setting for the vibrant red Virginia Creeper, just the thing to cheer up the darker days of autumn.
Drum Castle historic rose garden
As you can see there were still a few wee roses blooming, but this place must look stunning in high summer.
Drum Castle historic rose garden 4
As you can see from the photo below – the sun got in the way a bit, but I thought you might like to see the wooden pyramid-like frames that have been constucted.

Drum Castle historic rose garden 3
I like the wicker edging that stops the plants from flopping over. In the foreground is Sedum spectabile, just about the best autumn/late summer colour we can get in gardens here I think, and beloved by bees and butterflies.
Drum Castle historic rose garden 8

Drum Castle historic rose garden 7

Drum Castle historic rose garden 9
Below is a photo of a bothy (shelter) which had a table in it with bags of apples in it – and an honesty box. No doubt at other times of the year you can purchase veggies too. This ‘bothy’ looks to me like it must have been a place for storing small carts and garden implements in its day.
Drum Castle historic rose garden 12 bothy

Although this garden is historic, it isn’t preserved in aspic and new things have been added to it over the years. as should happen with a garden. Gardens are never finished, they’re constantly evolving.
Drum Castle historic rose garden 12

One of the newer additions is the human sundial below, if you stand on a particular spot you should be able to tell the time from your own shadow.
Drum Castle historic rose garden 13 human sundial 1

I think the ‘spooks’ at the top of the design below are more than a wee bit influenced by Margaret MacDonald’s designs. C.R. Mackintosh’s wife.
Drum Castle historic rose garden 14 human sundial 2

While we were there the pond area was having work done on it so we weren’t able to walk all around it, but that didn’t worry me as the colour of the maples/acers were brilliant and more than made up for it.
Drum Castle pond garden

Obviously we didn’t see the gardens at their best as it was late October when we visited but if you’re interested you can see more images of them here.

David Douglas Memorial, Scone, Perthshire

David Douglas Memorial

I was reading a book called Plant Hunters by Charles Lyte ( I haven’t finished it yet) and I realised that David Douglas – one of the plant hunters featured in it was born in Scone in Perthshire, a place that we often drive through. There’s actually a memorial to him in Scone churchyard so the next time we went past there we took time to go and visit it. It’s quite big! His body is actually buried in Honolulu where he was when he died – under mysterious circumstances apparently. His body was found in an animal trap pit and he had been gored to death by a bullock that had also fallen into the trap.
The photo below is of the back of his memorial.
David Douglas Memorial
As he had been visiting an Englishman who lived in a nearby hut (it was his animal trap) and the Englishman was an escaped Botany Bay convict there has always been a suspicion that David Douglas was murdered by him. He was only 35 when he died but he had discovered so many plants and brought them back to the UK. His most famous plant introduction is probably the Douglas fir but he introduced about 240 other plants to the UK and our gardens would be much poorer without his contribution to botany.

David Douglas Memorial

David Douglas began his botanical life as an apprentice at Scone Palace then moved on to an estate in Fife and from there to the botanical gardens at Glasgow University before embarking on his plant hunting adventures.
David Douglas Memorial

For some reason Scotland produced more professional gardeners and botanists than anywhere else in the past, it’s something that authors have often acknowledged as so many writers of fiction have written their head gardeners as being Scotsmen, including Angela Thirkell. Plant hunters still exist today and sadly in 2013 a young Scottish plant hunter who came from a family with a long botanical history disappeared while on a plant hunting mission in Vietnam and his body wasn’t found until two years later. It’s thought that he died from natural causes after a fall.

Abbotsford’s gardens

Abbotsford Information Board

Abbotsford Stitch

Looking towards the front of Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford the photo below is what you see to the right hand side of it.

Abbotsford Garden
The photo below is of the same piece of garden ground but this time viewed from his study.
Abbotsford Garden from Study

There was still quite a lot of colour around although most of the roses were over, next time we’ll visit in the summertime.
Abbotsford Walled Garden, Sir Walter Scott, 1
Abbotsford Walled Garden, Sir Walter Scott 2

Below is an elegant sheltered spot to sit in within the walled garden, but the day we were there was hot, very hot for October and as you can see it was very sunny.
Abbotsford Walled Garden

Abbotsford Walled Garden,Sir Walter Scott

In the distance you can see that the blue delphiniums were still going strong.
Abbotsford Walled Garden,Sir Walter Scott 6

Abbotsford Walled Garden Information Board

The Japanese Garden at Cowden

I haven’t managed to sort through the Lake District photos yet so I thought I would do a post on the Japanese Garden that we visited a couple of weeks ago. It’s at Cowden Castle, between the small village of Dunning and Yetts o’ Muckhart. Yes that is a place, ‘yett’ just means gate.

The garden isn’t finished yet, it has undergone a lot of refurbishment as it has lain neglected for many years and has only recently been opened to the public again after being closed for years. It was originally created in 1908 but was closed to the public in 1955. It has taken three years of work to get it to this stage but there’s still some work to do on it.

Acer at Japanese Garden, Cowden

In 1925 this garden was described by Profesor Jijo Suzuki as the most important Japanese garden in the western world.

pond and bridge

There’s a Zen garden, not my favourite kind but still intersting. Obviously there are a lot of cherry trees that have been newly planted so I’ll have to go back there around next May to see what they look like.

dry garden /Zen garden

Stepping stones are a big feature of the gardens and you can even walk across the pond/loch using them – if you have good balance!

acer

apond and bridge

We visited the gardens the day after Storm Ali which caused mayhem in some places with lots of trees keeling over as they were still in full leaf, but these gardens are set in a sort of wee glen so they’re quite sheltered, only one tree seemed to have been blown over.
looking back to pond

Pond and Bridge

There’s twenty acres of woodland to walk in if you have the time and energy. Before going here we had a look online to see what people said about the place. Some comments were less than complimentary, but we had a lovely time, the staff were welcoming and the soup in the cafe was very tasty – what more can you ask?!

My Garden – Summer 2018

We have had our best summer weather since 1976, that was the summer we got married and I have no idea how well my dad’s roses did that summer, sadly he only lived until 1980 so I can’t ask him how his garden fared in the heat. He was a very keen gardener which now that I think about it must have been an unexpected passion as he lived most of his life in a city flat with no garden.

garden

Anyway, I had thought that the unusual heat we had this year would be just what my plants needed, but although they grew well most of them didn’t bloom as well as usual. The roses were particularly disappointing. I’m greedy where roses are concerned and choose varieties that keep coming back with flushes of blooms throughout the summer and autumn. Despite careful and constant dead-heading my roses only flowered once this summer and they were over very quickly. So quickly that I don’t seem to have got any photos of them at all. It is only September so in theory they might flower again – but I’m not holding my breath, I think they just didn’t enjoy the heat, which I can’t understand as most rose species originate from Asia.

garden, geraniums, astilbe

Flowers quickly drooped in the heat and frazzled, there’s not much shade in this garden – yet.
garden , acer

On the other hand my raspberries did very well this year, so I was surprised when Monty Don mentioned on Gardeners’ World that his crop of raspberries was poor this year. I wonder what his strawberries were like, I had such a glut that we got fed up eating them and I made some into jam.

garden in Fife
The photo below is of the rockery which has been engulfed by a type of potentilla. I bought one plant and it has seeded itself, deciding that the rockery was the perfect spot to settle down in. The bees adored it so I put up with it there but eventually had to set to and dig it up. That was easier said than done for it had enormous thick fleshy roots, especially considering it had only been there for one season. I suspect that they are going to continue to come back and haunt me for some years as I just couldn’t get all the roots out.
my garden in Fife
The Euphorbia Fireglow below is another plant that spreads around a lot, and you have to be very careful when you pull it up as the stems and roots secrete a milky liquid which will burn your skin badly. It’s definitely one of the times when wearing gloves is safest.
garden  in Fife

Backhouse Rossie Estate Gardens, Fife, Scotland part 2

Although the address of the Backhouse Rossie Estate is given as Collessie it’s actually on the road to Auchtermuchty. In the past the estate was famous for daffodils, something to remember in the spring as I’m sure they’ll have a good show of them.
Information Board, Backhouse Rossie Estate
I have to say that I was most impressed with the design and planting at Backhouse Rossie. I love walled gardens, they always feel so comfortable and safe and although I adore historical places I was pleased to see that there are some beautiful modern and thoughtful designs incorporated in the gardens.

The display of plants in pots is a similar idea to the Auricula ‘theatres’ that were popular in the past, especially with the French Huguenots who came to Britain in the 16th century to escape persecution from the French Catholics.

Wall and pots

The ‘DNA’ path below leads to a modern sculpture.
DNA Path

DNA Sculpture

DNA Sculpture info board
The DNA Path from the side, as you can see climbing roses have been trained over the path, but we were just too late to catch them in bloom. This year the roses have come and gone very quickly due to the unusual hot weather. I live in hope of another flush of blooms soon though.
DNA path

Below is an old gateway leading out of the walled garden.
gate to walled garden

It was such a sunny, hot day that I really needed a bit of a sit down, but all of the benches were in bright sunshine, so after looking around all of the garden areas we decided to have a walk in the surrounding woodland.
We walked there via the orchard and the apples have a decent crop on them this year.

apple tree

Somewhere in woodland there was an old tomb to visit, and I can rarely resist a ruin. So we followed the path to the tomb.

Covenanter's Tomb

As you can see there’s not much left of it now. You can read about the Covenanters here.

Covenanter's Tomb

Covenanter's Tomb

The estate is surrounded by farmland and these young bullocks were interested to see us emerging from the woodland. Actually they were very placid, which is not my usual experience of bullocks, so perhaps these ones have been ‘done’.
bullocks

There’s a wee putting green which is nicely situated with a good view of the East Lomond hill in the distance.
lawn and East Lomond

That’s more or less the view that the owners must have from their house below, but that isn’t open to the public.
Backhouse Rossie House

If you’re interested in gardening, or just having lovely walks and a change of scenery then this is a lovely place to visit. You can read more about it here.