My garden in Fife, Scotland

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!

Rose , Golden Showers, my garden

Golden Showers Rose, my garden

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.

Bird song video, my garden

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.

Hawk , Kestrel

Apple Blossom in my garden

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.

apple blossom
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.
apple blossom, my garden

apple blossom, my garden

apple blossom, my garden

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.
apple blossom, my garden

My garden in Fife

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.

acer, clamatis alpina, Garden 5

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.

heathers, cherry blossom, primulaGarden 1

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.

pieris, pear tree, amelanchier, primulas

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.

my garden, silver birch, euphorbia, acer

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!

my Garden

Balbirnie House Hotel, Fife, Scotland

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.

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife, Scotland

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.

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife

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.

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife

Balbirnie House Garden , Markinch, Fife
Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife

The steps above lead to a little sitting area with some lovely topiary, very peaceful looking.

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife

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.

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife,

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife

This is the front of the hotel, which is the more recognisable poart to most people.

Balbirnie House Hotel , Fife

Armchair Travelling – Summer Garden, St Petersburg, Russia

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.

Summer Gardens, St Petersburg, Russia

I love fountains, we don’t have enough of them in the UK in my opinion, well not anywhere near where I live.
Summer Gardens, St Petersburg, Russia

Summer Garden, St Petersburg, Russia

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.
Summer Garden, St Petersburg, Russia

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.
Summer Garden, St Petersburg, Russia

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.
Summer Garden, St Petersburg, Russia

My garden in Fife

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.

spring garden

spring garden

I took the photos below from the guest bedroom window, the evening sun filtering through the gap between us and next door,

spring garden

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.

spring garden

My January Garden

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.

January garden

January garden

January garden

Mind you my camera seems not to be coping with close ups, time for a new one maybe.

January garden

January garden

January garden, Fife

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.

Mindful thoughts for GARDENERS by Clea Danaan

 Mindful thoughts for GARDENERS cover

Mindful thoughts for GARDENERS by Clea Danaan was one of the books that I got for my birthday back in June and it’s only 159 small pages long. It seemed like a good one to read while it’s not really possible to get any actual gardening done.

The blurb on the back says: Gardening is so much more than planting seeds and turning compost; it is a spiritually enriching activity that reconnects us to nature everyday. Mindful Thoughts for Gardeners sows a series of meditations about tending the earth, rooting each thought in a practice that can lift our souls, as well as the soil.

This is a very cute wee book with some pretty illustrations by Lehel Kovacs.

Mindfulness was all the rage a while ago, but I feel that I’m far too level headed to be attracted to such fads. I already knew about everything in this book regarding gardening and what it can do for your mental health and well-being.

However if you’re a bit of an airy fairy type then this might be the book for you. At one point the author mentions that her ten month old baby crawled out of the back door and a long way to the bottom of the garden, and she looked all over the house for her before finding her!! It’s safe to say that her mothering skills are less than ideal.

However there is a section (p 54) on how important it is to have houseplants to nurture, especially if you live in an apartment. There were drug deals going on in the neighbourhood but – ‘The pots of plants sitting proudly on the artificial grass-covered balcony brought a sense of normalcy and nature to our space.‘ I’m sure I’ve said it before but I can’t stand that word ‘normalcy’ the word should be normality. Yes I have a real prejudice there but we all have our quirks!

My autumn garden – 29th of October

The leaves that are still on trees have been raining down on us over the past few days, the frost has left them unable to cling on any longer, but these photos are of my garden as it was on the 29th of October when the acers were at their most vibrant. A last loud hurrah before they have a rest.

acers

acers , physocarpus, viburnum, liquidambar

Below is a much smaller acer, a pieris and a conical evergreen which I love but can’t remember what it’s called, I’m really not very good with all those conifers. The blue/green one in the foreground is a creeping juniper I think.
acers,

acers

The mystery tree below which I bought for all of two quid at Hill House of Tarvit plant sale a few years ago is great – but still a mystery. It has lovely glossy berries and its leaves look a bit cotoneaster-ish, but it’s definitely a tree not a shrub. The heather has been looking a bit scruffy until now, it is great for autumn colour though.

mystery tree, my garden

The bright yellow-ish conifers in the background are those ones that you can buy from supermarkets for about £1 when they’re just a foot or so tall. These ones are now five years old and although they were all the same size when I planted them two of them have had to be cut back because of frost or perhaps wind burn damage, but they’re still growing well and they have a lovely lemony scent when you brush against them.

acers

Well, it was nice for me to be able to remind myself what the garden looked like just a few weeks ago. I hope you enjoyed it too.

Falkland Palace autumn gardens

Falkland Palace, gardens, Fife, Scotland

A couple of weeks ago I decided that we should visit the nearby Falkland Palace, before they shut the place for the winter. I specifically wanted to see what the gardens looked like as autumn crept up on us. In the photo above you can see the palace and ruins as viewed from the back. The palace was built as a pleasure palace, mainly used as the ‘hunting palace’ of the Stuarts. It was a favourite place of Mary Queen of Scots as it reminded her of the French palaces she had grown up in.

Falkland Palace, gardens, Fife, Scotland
It was even a wee bit misty – as befits the season.
Falkland Palace, gardens, Fife, Scotland

I think I zoomed in on the one below too closely as it looks a bit pixelated, but it gives you an idea of the autumnal shades.

Falkland Palace gardens, Fife, Scotland

The stone building in the photo below houses the real or royal tennis court. One time we went there people were actually playing real tennis, I think it calls for more skill than the modern version. The court is the oldest surviving one in the country, I think there are only a couple more of them.

Falkland Palace gardens, Fife, Scotland

I took the photo below just by turning around after taking the photo above it, so we’re looking back in the direction of the palace again.

Falkland Palace gardens, Fife, Scotland

Falkland Palace gardens, Fife, Scotland

Falkland Palace gardens, Fife, Scotland

The church in the photo below is next door to the palace, but it’s a lot more modern than the palace which dates from 1501, but there was a hunting lodge belonging to the Macduff Thanes of Fife, as long ago as the 12th century.
Falkland Palace gardens, Fife, Scotland

Click here if you want to see more photos and read a bit more about Falkland Palace which is now run by the Scottish National Trust.

You can see images of the real tennis court here. It’s a complicated game as you get points for hitting the ball through the windows in the back wall so the scoring system must be very different. You serve by hitting the ball onto the small sloping roof at the side.

We did go inside the palace but they don’t allow you to take photos which is a shame. The chapel is still used as the Roman Catholic church for the area. However as lots of people are very happy to dodge the rules there are images online of the interior of the chapel which you can see here.

Like so many places in Scotland, Falkland has been used as a location for filming Outlander.