Here we are back at Branklyn Garden in Perth again, it was the first day of its opening again after the Covid-19 lockdown was being slowly eased in Scotland. We were all glad to see some different scenery I’m sure.
There were quite a lot of people there but it was still fairly easy to lose yourself among the plants and take photos without other people being in the background.
Sadly I couldn’t see any fish in the pond, I suspect that if they put any in there they would be fodder for some kind of birds, possibly a heron. This garden is a short distance from the River Tay, where there are plenty of seabirds around.
I wish I could remember the name of the red flowered climber below, I have a feeling that it’s an annual but I can’t find any images of one like it. That’s one grouse I have about Branklyn, the plants aren’t always labelled. Probably they were all well labelled originally but the plants have engulfed them as they grew.
You can just get a glimpse of the house that the original owners of the garden lived in in the photo below. This is now a Scottish National Trust property but the house is used as a holiday rental so you can’t look around it.
There are some cracking acers/Japanese Maples in this garden. So many people love them but aren’t able to grow them although they’re not that pernickety really, having said that some of mine got damaged by an air frost in May, just as the new growth was looking so good.
It was a sunny day and the sun shining through the top of the acer below was quite something, but the photo doesn’t really capture the moment.
From Saturday we in Scotland were allowed to travel further than five miles (unless for food shopping) for the first time since the lockdown began in early March. So we took the opportunity to visit Branklyn Garden in Perth, on the way to visiting family thirty miles away from us. As you can see from the three photos above Branklyn has some lovely acers/Japanese maples.
This type of cherry tree bark just keeps getting better every year.
Below is a photo of delphiniums (I think) and an unusual Rhododendron with the new growth being coloured a sort of pale orange.
Quite a few other people had had the same idea and I was surprised to see that the cafe was open, (but only for sitting outdoors.) Things felt almost normal – almost but not quite. There were masks and hand sanitiser at the entrance, but we had brought our own.
The garden is set in about two acres and dates from 1922 when this hillside orchard plot was bought by a couple who wanted to build an Arts and Crafts house there surrounded by a garden which has lots of winding paths around gorgeous planting.
Nowadays Branklyn Garden is owned by the Scottish National Trust. Sadly it was opened up just too late for us to admire the great banks of Himalayan Meconopsis, there were just a few stray petals left on them, not worth photographing. I was pleased to capture this fleeting butterfly though, I think it’s a tortoiseshell although I have no idea what the shrub is called.
Last week we had a couple of lovely blue sky sunny and hot days – hot by our standards anyway. Then of course the thunder and monsoon-like rain followed, and it’s still with us, well maybe not quite monsoon proportions but very damp indeed. I knew we would pay for all that gorgeous sunshine we had back in May!
But while the sun shone I took a few photos of my garden. Actually it looks a bit different now as it has been tidied up or redded up as we sometimes say in Scotland. I had to wait for my brown garden waste bin to be emptied as it was stuffed to the gunnels.
I got quite excited when I got an email from the Scottish National Trust telling me that some of their gardens will be opening on Friday. After the long Covid-19 lockdown a historic garden visit sounded perfect to me, especially as we’ve only been allowed to travel no further than 5 miles, unless it’s for essential shopping such as for food. The garden at nearby Falkland Palace or even Branklyn in Perth beckoned to me in my mind, but having seen the weather forecast for Friday I doubt if a garden visit will be on the cards. I live in hope!
The yellow rose ‘Golden Showers’ at my front door has started to bloom again. I had intended liberating it from the large tub it lives in, hoping that it might flower for a longer time if it is in the earth, but never got around to it, also I have no idea where I could shoehorn it in!
The video is of a bit of my back garden. It’s very short and I did it mainly to capture some of the birdsong that fills the air most of the time.
I’m not great at recognising birdsong, I’m a bit better at bird spotting, but one day late last week I was sitting reading in the sun room when something brown flew past accompanied by a lot of screeching from the ever present sparrows. When I looked out the window I saw that some sort of raptor was sitting on the grass, it was Jack that realised that it had something in its claws. I suppose we now have one fewer sparrow around the place, slightly upsetting but I tell myself that the kestrel (?) has to eat too. This bird was like a much smaller version of a female sparrowhawk, I suppose it may have been a very young one, but I suspect it was a kestrel – whatever – we hadn’t seen one in the garden before.
This year I took some photos of the apple tree in my garden as it blossomed. It begins a deep pink colour but opens to pale pink and then mainly white. This is the only plant that was in the garden when we bought this house. I’ve since planted another apple tree but it is a later variety.
We had some hail today, our weather has gone really crazy, but it shouldn’t affect the apples as they haven’t budded yet, so my fingers are crossed as we didn’t get any apples last year because of a late frost.
It was so hot last week when I took the last photo, and until then I hadn’t realised that apple blossom actually had a scent, the heat really brought it out and I’m surprised that no perfumiers have tried to capture it as it’s really lovely, or maybe they have tried, I’m not a great one for perfume in fact I think a lot of them smell really horrible and a whiff of some of them leave me with a three day migraine. I hold my breath when going through the perfume department of any department store – remember those places? They were becoming an endangered species in recent times and I think that Covid-19 might do most of them in completely, but I suppose that’s the least of our worries at the moment. The delicate looking blossom survives though.
I took a few photos of my garden last week when we were having a very long dry spell, since then we have had some much needed rain. Below is a photo of a blue clematis alpina which is against the fence, it’s my favourite clematis, of the ones I have anyway. There’s also an acer/Japanese maple on the right just coming into leaf.
The patch below is the first area to come into flower as it’s where I have most of my snowdrops, but the narcissus, primulas, cherry blossom and heathers are flowering now.
I feed the birds all winter but will be removing the last of the feeders when this one below is empty. The birds don’t need supplements over the summer. The tree the feeder is hanging on is a pear tree, very late in showing signs of growth but it has since begun to blossom.
The photo below would have been quite nice if I hadn’t inadvertently left my weed bucket in view! On the far right is the remains of what was a giant cherry tree that I planted just a couple of years ago, it grew about 20 feet inside a few years, you wouldn’t think it was possible. Anyway, I realised it was going to be far too big for our garden so it has been reduced and the bark cut all around it as it was impossible to move it. I plan to keep the skeleton of the tree to grow my rambling rose Rambling Rector over it. It also produced loads of suckers from the roots. Whoever thought it was a good tree to sell to the general public was off their head. Very few gardens can accommodate a tree which apparently grows to 100 feet, something that the sellers kept quiet about! You live and learn. There are far too may trees in this garden, which I knew was a mistake, but I wanted them all, sheer greed. They are mainly small fruit trees though – apples, pear and plum. Fingers crossed we don’t get a late frost as we did last year and all the buds turned black and fell off.
I had to trace the tree roots and pull them up where possible, that made a complete mess of the chips at the path and around the table which is to the left and out of view below. I thought it might settle down itself but it hasn’t, so that’ll be next on the agenda for needing attention. Since taking these photos the garden has been cleaned up and my brown bin is full of garden waste, but there’s yet more to do. A garden is always a work in progress!
The local posh hotel – Balbirnie House Hotel – has beautiful gardens, and now that it is closed due to the lockdown I felt I could take the opportunity to snap some photos there.
If you feel that you’re hemmed in by four walls I hope these photos will go some way to making you feel a bit cheerier. Just take a big breath in and imagine you are there.
It was a very bright day and the sun made some of the photos look a bit faded.
There’s obviously still a lot of hard work going into the upkeep of the gardens, which is just as well as wilderness takes over so quickly if you don’t put in the effort to keep things trimmed. It’s a shame there are so few people to see it though. I suppose I’m rectifying that a wee bit now.
The steps above lead to a little sitting area with some lovely topiary, very peaceful looking.
And the photo below is from the top of the steps looking down at the hotel which was the home of the Balfour family until the 1960s.
This is the front of the hotel, which is the more recognisable poart to most people.
It’s almost a year since we were in St Petersburg and I realised recently that I hadn’t blogged about our visit to the Summer Garden there. I hadn’t even heard of this place before we got to St Petersburg, but it is the most famous garden in Rusia apparently. It dates from 1704 when Tsar Peter the Great decided he wanted a garden in the European style and drew the initial plans himself.
I love fountains, we don’t have enough of them in the UK in my opinion, well not anywhere near where I live.
There are plenty to choose from in the Summer Garden, it’s all very classical. But we were there in early May and there wasn’t an awful lot in bloom at that time of the year in St Petersburg.
I’m not sure how the design differs from the original, but in 1777 there was a huge flood here, it’s close to the River Neva and everything was swept away, including the structures and fountains.
This is a beautiful place for those lucky enough to live in St Petersburg to take their exercise and it is well used by the locals. There were more locals in it than tourists which is always nice when you are in a foreign country. Maybe I’m strange but I hate feeling like a tourist! If you happen to be in St Petesrburg sometime, do check out the Summer Garden.
Last week at times in my garden it seemed that spring had really sprung, then the cold wind arrived again towards the end of the week. I have started the job of clearing and tidying up after the winter, but I still wouldn’t be surprised if we got snow at Easter.
I took the photos below from the guest bedroom window, the evening sun filtering through the gap between us and next door,
but fully hitting the woodland at the back of us, my favourite time as it lights up the trees. It shouldn’t be long now before there’s a green haze instead of bare limbs.
It has been such a mild winter here in Fife and my garden does seem to have more colour in it than usual for this time of the year. Snowdrops, primulas, primroses, heathers and pulmonaria were all in bloom.
Mind you my camera seems not to be coping with close ups, time for a new one maybe.
I still think we’ll get snow at Easter or thereabouts, but I’ve got some of the seeds I want for this summer and I’m champing at the bit to get stuck into some proper gardening. It’s still far too cold to sow seeds though.