My garden, Fife, Scotland

Whenever it has been a bit drier (not often) I’ve gone out to take some photos of what’s flowering in my garden. Thankfully the primroses, primula, cowslips are always colourful and happily seed themselves around.

primroses, primulas, garden

I tried to take a close up of the white snake’s head fritillary below with my phone, but I was just too close, if you look closely there’s a purple one which is closer to being ‘over’, to the left of the white flower’s stalk. These are also happy to multiply in any damp areas, and let’s face it, the whole garden is damp after the constant rain, there’s more moss than anything else.

fritillary, my garden

More purple fritillaries at various stages of flowering. Sadly only one white flower has come up this year. Charles Rennie Mackintosh did a lovely painting of this type of fritillary, the chequerboard markings on the flower really suited his designs. The actual  flowers look like they have been painted in reality.

snake's head fritillary, my garden

I have no idea what these daffodils below are, possibly Paperwhite. I planted the bulbs ages ago in a pretty bowl, planning to give them away at Christmas, but by then nothing much was happening to them. They were supposed to be a miniature variety, but eventually they just grew and grew, then flopped all over the place with not much sign of ever flowering. I dug a home for them in the garden and they flowered as normal in the spring. Definitely not miniature, which thinking about it I should have realised because the bulbs weren’t small. I think that some plant nurseries must be quite chaotic because plants and bulbs are often wrongly named. Anyway, hopefully these ones will flower again next year, if all the rain doesn’t rot the bulbs!

daffodils, my garden

The first tulips are appearing, but I’m sure I planted more than these ones below in that area.

flowers, my garden

The pulmonaria/lungwort with its spotted leaves below is always one of the first to flower, after the snowdrops, and it goes on for quite a long time, I think that’s why it’s one of my favourites. It was used as a cure  for lung problems in days gone by, but I don’t think it was very effective.

pulmonaria, lungwor, my garden

I was watching Gardeners’ World on TV tonight and a tulip expert was explaining what you should do to tulips after they have flowered. Dig them up after feeding them, clean them, dry them and plant again next year. I’ve always just left them to get on with it on their own underground, maybe if I gave them some tlc they would respond better, they usually die out with me. I’m not planting them deep enough either, at least four inches apparently.

tulips, my garden

Anyway, that’s some of the flowers that are blooming in my garden in Fife, it has been a long wet summer, autumn and winter. It’s amazing how resilient plants can be. I don’t think any of my shrubs have actually died, and I know that other gardeners haven’t been as lucky.

Green Willow’s Secret by Eileen Dunlop

Green Willow’s Secret by the Scottish author Eileen Dunlop was published in 1993. This book is meant for YA readers but is enjoyable to people of all ages I’m sure.

Kit had lived in Edinburgh with her parents and older sister, but a family tragedy has led to the father travelling to Australia and Kit and her mother moving to Maddimoss, a rural area. Kit isn’t settling in well and when her teacher tells the class about a Japanese exhibition she has been to the other pupils tell her that there’s a Japanese garden where Kit lives. Kit knows nothing about it but later when she gets home she does some exploring and discovers the remains of a very neglected but wonderful Japanese garden.

There’s a photograph of the garden in the house they are living in, as it was in its heyday, and there are people in the photo, including a Japanese man in traditional dress, but strangely he appears and disappears in the photo. There’s something slightly spooky about the garden. When Kit meets Daniel who is also not a local they decide to work on the garden together.

There’s a lot more to this book, but I don’t want to say much more other than that I enjoyed it. As it happens there is a Japanese Garden at Cowden, not that far from where we live and a hop and a skip from where Eileen Dunlop lived in the wee town of Dollar. I’m sure that is where she got the idea from because the garden at Cowden fell into neglect and was vandalised in the 1960s. As in the book the original Japanese gardener is buried in the local churchyard. You can read the garden’s history and see more photos here. It has fairly recently been brought back to perfection and is open to the public, obviously it’s a business too nowadays so you have to pay an entrance fee. It’s quite a few years since we visited, (you can see my blogposts on our visits here) I seem to remember that there was a small play area for youngsters who may not be so enamoured of the beautiful surroundings.


Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

It really felt like spring was on its way when I visited the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh on Saturday. It was busy, maybe the sun had brought people out, but there were quite a lot of tourists around who would have been there whatever the weather I suppose, they were mainly American and German I think. Entry to the Botanics is free, which seemed to puzzle some people, but they do recommend a donation of £3.

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

It seems to me that the gardens are quite sheltered, which could explain the early flowering of some of the rhododendrons, but there are still many that haven’t bloomed, I think I’ll visit again in a couple of weeks. The daffodils at the east gate will be over by then though, I think I saw them at their peak on Saturday.

Royal Garden,Botanics ,Edinburgh

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

My favourite area is the rock garden, in recent times it has been tweaked so that there is some wheelchair access but in general most of the paths are made up of stone steps.

Rock Garden, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

There’s a burn/stream rushing through the rock garden which begins with a small but powerful waterfall.

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

As you wouldexpect there are some great trees in the garden.

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburghs

From some parts of the botanics you can see the spires and roofs of some of the buildings in central Edinburgh, not too far away, but the photo I took was too blurry.

While I was there Jack was at a football match nearby, Dumbarton beat Spartans 6-2 (it’s not like them) so a good day was had by all.

Garden update

Snowy Garden

Garden Under Snow

As you can see from the photos we’ve had our first snowfall in the east of Scotland. Four inches’ worth. It’s not early for us to have snow but it isn’t usually as cold as it has been during the day. It stayed below zero so the snow just sat there for a few days. Thankfully most of it has cleared away now as it got to 4 Celsius today and it rained – just when we were out walking for The Guardian. My phone still said we would have sunshine and clouds – as the rain was falling.

Hortus Botanicus Haren – Groningen, Netherlands

We visited the Chinese Water Garden at Hortus Botanicus Haren – Groningen back in June. It was a glorious day, we were really lucky with the weather.

Chinese Water Garden, Pagoda, da +


Chinese Water Garden , Groningen, Netherlands


Chinese Water Garden, Groningen


Chinese Water Garden, Groningen, Netherlands

There were lots of different types of dragonflies around. Unfortunately I didn’t get any usable photos of them. I’ve only see them a few times before in my life, they don’t seem to be that plentiful in Scotland, so it was a bit of a thrill to see so many.

Chinese Water Garden, Groningen, Netherlands


Chinese Water Garden, Groningen, Netherlands


Chinese Water Garden, Groningen, Netherlands


Waterfall, Chinese Water Garden, Groningen, Netherlands

In the photo below there’s a huge koi carp, it seemed to be the only fish in the water garden. We assumed that it had eaten all the others!

Carp, Chinese Water Garden, Groningen, Netherlands

This botanic garden has a lot more to it than just this Chinese section, well worth going to see if you happen to be in north east Netherlands.

Robert Burns Cottage Garden, Alloway, Ayrshire

It ‘s quite a while now since we visited Robert Burns’s birthplace and I meant to blog about the garden soon after blogging about the cottage here, but I’m just getting around to it now.

Burns’ father planned to have a smallholding and market garden here but the plan didn’t quite come to fruition. You can walk around the area now and admire the wicker structures.

Smallholding, Burns's Cottage, Alloway

Below is a different type of ‘wicker man’.

Garden at Burns cottage Alloway, Ayrshire

Below is a wicker Tam O’Shanter on his horse Meg. Really well done I think.

Tam O'Shanter

And there’s a more formal topiary garden that you can walk around too.

Robert Burns cottage garden, Alloway, Ayrshire1

It doesn’t take long to go around the cottage and gardens but the entrance price also includes entry into a very modern Robert Burns Museum and Centre not far away, and that is very interesting, and has a good cafe!

Robert Burns cottage garden, topiary, Alloway, Ayrshire

My garden – a few weeks ago

We were away in the Netherlands for three weeks last month. People there have always been able to watch the BBC there so every day we could see from the weather forecasts that as soon as we left Scotland the temperatures soared to crazy heights, as high as 30 Celsius some days. Typically until we left the UK the weather in Fife had been really cold and wet – luckily we were also experiencing good weather in NL too, but I was realy worried about my garden getting totally frazzled. but when we got home everything was fine, if untidy and overgrown, it looked like the place had exploded!

My Garden in June

June Garden

June 2023, My Garden


My garden – a few weeks ago

I took these photos of the plants that were beginning to wake up after a long , seemingly never ending winter – where I live anyway.

The lungwort below, or pulmonaria if you want the fancy name looks delicate but it had been flowering for weeks when this photo was taken.

lungwort, my garden

Instead of multiplying as I had hoped, only two of my ‘Joyce’ dwarf irises appeared.
dwarf Iris 'Joyce'

As you can see I still have quite a bit of tidying up to do, the weeds seem to grow all through the winter.

Rockery, my garden

Snowdrops, my garden

You can just see a glimpse of purple/lilac to the left of the snowdrops below, that’s a heather just beginning to flower.
aSnowdrops 2

Since taking these photos the forsythia has started to flower, and it looks like the plum tree won’t be far behind, however our weather is going to get really cold overnight again. It’s tough being a gardener in Scotland!

My Snowy Garden

Snowy Garden

The temperature in Fife hasn’t got above freezing for days now and we’ve had snow all week, which wouldn’t be so bad on its own but when all the ruts and footprints ice over it makes for an interesting walk for the Guardian in the morning! The garden looks quite pretty though.

Next week it’s supposed to be very mild for the time of year again, but it does mean that I should be able to get to some far-flung shops, something I really need to do.

Dumfries House, Ayrshire

Since we visited Dumfries House for the first time last month the house keeps popping up on TV. First it was featured in The Repair Shop, with King Charles. The yesterday it was on TV again with a documentary about how it was saved by the King who headed a consortium of like-minded people.

It was interesting to see the gardens being planned and constructed, but here are a few photos of how it looked in October, with the planting really coming on.

flowers, Dumfries House gardens, Ayrshire

If you ever are able to visit Dumfries House remember that the tours of the house are guided and you must pre-book.

Below is a photo of the steps leading to the Belvedere.

, Dumfries House, Ayrshire, Belvedere steps

The garden areas are coming on nicely.

Dumfries House garden, Ayrshire

garden, Dumfries House, belvedere

Dumfries House, Garden Arches

Probably the house below is /was for the head gardener.

garden house, Dumfries House gardens

The cute wee house below is in the kitchen garden. It’s my idea of a dream house, or certainly from a fairy tale. I/we could just move in, there wouldn’t be much to do in the way of housework, and it has a handy chimney!

Wee House, Dumfries House, Ayrshire

garden path, topiary, Dunfries House gardens, Ayrshire

Dumfries House Urn + Steps

It wasn’t great weather-wise when we were at Dumfries House so we didn’t spend a lot of time exploring the grounds, we’ll do more of that the next time. It does have a great play area for kids though, so it’s a place for all ages to enjoy

As ever, click on the photos if you want to enlarge them.

If you are interested in visiting the area you might like to look at the nearby small village of Maybole which you can read about here.