Saturday, 30 May 2009

The lure of the show

The organisers at Gardening Scotland must be thrilled to see another beautiful day for their show which opened yesterday and runs over the weekend. I popped along yesterday and found plants spilling out all over the place…

Fun exhibits that attract attention are always popular for the camera. Oops... but be careful with your camera here if you visit... click on the photo it will enlarge and you’ll see why.

Garden Shows are a great place for ideas for your garden no matter what your interest or level. I am always drawn to structures and how they have been made. I also like to see areas that provide shade too as I feel that’s an important consideration with the changes in our weather.

Creative use of space, fun to be in and practical too sounds like a great recipe for a garden… just throw in some veggies and you’re set! Yes, the 'growing your own' message is kicking in now.

Just how creative could you be with a space one metre square? Some gardens used the vertical space too and many had a message to share too... one included the credit crunch. More veggies anyone?

Gardening Scotland have been running this very popular Pallet Garden Challenge for a few years now. It showcases work by amateur garden clubs, horticultural societies and clubs. I am delighted that it now extends to schools and colleges too. I would guess a great deal of discussion goes on over this tiny space which continues with the visitors!

Perhaps a word to the Show though… it gets a bit crowded around these gardens… maybe they could increase the width of the isles for walking through them.

One area ‘The Living Garden’ was created by the Garden for Life Forum. This is a partnership bringing together health, conservation and environmental charities with Scottish Natural Heritage and The Scottish Government.

I’d really recommend a walk around these types of stands at any garden show. I picked up a number of leaflets on encouraging wildlife to the garden and discovered organisations I was unfamiliar with. I enjoyed a good chat or two here and asked a few questions too. I’ll come back to some of these in a future posting with supporting links.

The centre of this space drew visitors in… quite literally. There was a labyrinth garden to inspire your own pathway to discovery. The theme was the ‘Pathway to Health’. Visitors were invited to walk through the garden to experience close up the beauty and diversity of plants which contribute to our health and well-being. I fully support this message.

Ah… but hey what great idea here to find a reuse for these familiar large blue bags! More veggies anyone? This definitely got visitors wandering over to take a look at what was going on here… well done!

Show gardens can sometimes be a bit disappointing to the visitor looking for inspiration and are not always to everyone’s taste. Oh but... I do feel for the designers standing there as we sometimes comment quite bluntly beside them not noticing they are there! They have put in so much time and expense into their gardens, intending to tell a story or to share a message, but when there are crowds around them often we are all guilty of moving on too quickly.

That in mind, I would always suggest you look at a garden from all sides (I always consider this in my own) as there is often ideas you can take home with you. The very small pool in this garden below caught my eye. I liked the natural edges and thought of Liz (fellow garden blogger) who is looking to add water to her garden. Click to enlarge the photo.

How about this, Liz? We’ve seen troughs used for water before but I like the way the gravel was used slopping at each end with deeper water in the middle. This would be great for wildlife to get in and out and depending on size you could have a larger shallow area at one end where birds could bath and drink. That would be nice to watch don’t you think?

At first glance
I loved the wild planting around but in this case taking longer to look at this garden from different angles I changed my mind on it… sorry. Too much going on for me…great idea with the troughs though!

A river of blue pansies flowing under a bridge caught my eye here… and many stood admiring the wonderfully colourful blooms here too! It is great that as gardeners we all have different tastes and appreciation for plants, plantings, colour and design. Sorry… this wasn’t to mine. However, I would never say I was completely set in my ways in the plants I use as I am forever changing things around in my own garden. Ah… but just the same as a new gardener at a show I still go with eyes looking for that ‘wow’ factor albeit a plant or a feature :-D

Imagine a Scottish Pipe Band playing in the sunshine outside the Floral Hall. Music session over and they marched neatly off… while we marched inside! This is always my favourite place at any garden show. This is where I look for inspiration and usually the place I will purchase any plants through seeing them in displays here.

Grand displays just draw you towards them and I appreciate plants here that never make it into my garden or house. I see them for their beauty and the pride that the grower has. All except one that is… I can’t stand Fushia’s! Yep… I do know they are loved by so many too… sorry. How about some very nice veggies instead?

So many stunning, perfectly grown plants can be seen at shows that perhaps we wouldn’t see anywhere else…

After the hot colours of the car with marigolds out in the sunshine how about a cool boatful of Agapanthus… very nice! It's great to get so much variety and imagination at Shows.

Ah… wait a minute this has to be the plant for me this year! It is many, many years since I’ve grown a Honeysuckle and never in my present garden. I can't believe it caught my attention!

Yesterday’s plant purchase wasn’t a Heuchera as I suspected it might be although one did catch my eye but I couldn’t see any for sale. Walking by the background trellis to a display of Clematis my eye was drawn to the Honeysuckle ‘Americana’ growing with a deep red Clematis. Yep… that was the one… although out of all the plants in the show including the plant sales outside I still cannot believe I took home a Honeysuckle! I’m sure the bees will appreciate its flowers and the birds any insects that find their way to it!

Other plantings caught my eye like the display below. I have always loved white flowers and am continuing to add very deep reds to my garden now too through flower and foliage. By the increase in plants in this colour being available to but now I am guessing a trend is coming here.

Pale yellows I have more considered and used away from my small but bright sunny front garden. This year I intend bringing some in there which I think could look very interesting. Colour is probably the quickest and most dramatic way to change the look of a garden. I would definitely recommend experimenting with it!

Blue, after green, is probably my most favourite colour in the garden. This began with the gentians many years ago and now continues with the Meconopsis and Brunnera Jack Frost. Gardening Scotland has always had displays that include Meconopsis and cameras are always to be found snapping around them.

Opening day and we did expect to see the odd film crew around although we did intend keeping well away from them! However, just as we passed a wonderful sea of Meconopsis that had sunlight streaming through it from above we spotted one.

We stepped back a bit and then heard a message through the speakers that a book launch about to happen any minute. We put two and two together. The lady started chatting to the camera although with the noise in the room we couldn't make her out from where we were standing.

We then spotted a board with a painting and a table, some paints and a water jar.

Was this the artist? I do wish now we had been close enough to hear what she was saying. I’ve tried searches on the website but to no avail. I’m emailed the press office as I am curious now.

I am wondering now if this is perhaps a family member launching a book by Rodella 'Della' Purves who died last year at age 62. My little bit of research suggest she was a Botanical artist and did paint Meconopsis. I like a good mystery so if anyone knows I would love to hear from you.

The shot above was what I was trying to get before the film camera was spotted! You can so see why an artist would want to paint this flower. I would love to have the skill for that. My drawing hand is well out of practice. Seeing the table with paints beside the plants definitely made me think about it though. Ah… for more hours in the day!

It’s another glorious day here… I hope it’s the same with you. If you’ve been or are going to this show I do hope you enjoy your visit. How about a bit of a challenge for any young children? Could they find the rest of the garden in the photo above? I have had fun setting many photo challenges for my daughters when they were young. It made for a good walk out for us all!

Last weekend through showers of rain I gave my front garden a bit of a makeover. Plants were lifted and moved, pots were emptied, refilled and relocated. More gravel topped up the exisiting mulch necessary to keep weeds down but more importantly to keep the plants from drying out as the sun can bake this part of my garden. Oh… and a new raised bed appeared in a space that little grew in before. A lot was basic maintenance but that’s it for the most of the summer. Just some pottering left to do now. Unfortunately we have limited space for a garden at the front due to parked cars but I do make the most of what I have and do enjoy it.

I’m off now to a shady spot in my back garden… but not to work today as its too warm for me! Perhaps I'll join the guinea pigs with a view across my Meconopsis flowers blowing in the gentle breeze. I’m going to get a coffee and take my daughter’s laptop out and do a bit more garden visiting round all the blogs I haven’t managed to visit recently while I watch and listen to the flurry of birds feeding or finding food for their young. See you soon!

Wishing you all a great weekend! Oh... out of interest... what lures you to a garden show?

All photos above were taken at Gardening Scotland on May 29th 2009.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Vane Farm in April

Before we gallop out of May and into Summer let’s step back into April. Wood Anemones, Geese, Highland Cattle and Marshlands were all seen at an RSPB Reserve in my local patch of Scotland.

Previously, I have posted on another local Reserve, Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes, quite a few times. Vane Farm is quite a different Reserve with a larger area for visitors to wander and one I can see myself visiting more over the summer months. I'll come back to that.

You can climb up the hill (seeing and hearing birds en route) with views across Loch Leven and the surrounding area including the Town of Kinross. Alternatively you can use the subway under the main road and walk along the path, on the left, visiting the three hides with views across the Marshlands. It was the Marshlands I headed for on this visit. This was late afternoon on the Saturday of the Easter weekend.

Highland Cattle graze on the Marshlands which I always find amusing to see for some reason. If you look a little closer in the strip of land behind the background below (click to enlarge any pics) you’ll see large numbers of geese that clearly aren’t bothered by the cattle. I was looking out from the first hide.

The video camera came out to get a closer view as it had a greater zoom. Wow… it was lovely watching these birds wander around stretching and feeding. You could see they were getting restless. For the birders that may read this I am unsure are they Greylag or Pink-footed Geese – both visit this Reserve. The Pink-footed leave here for Iceland. They’ll be gone now I think.

Panning out and looking at this area from the start of the path you get a better idea of scale and can imagine how many birds can visit here. It is a very popular Reserve for birds.

Let’s now walk along to the last of the three hides. Notice we are in a ditch here. This ditch allows visitors to walk along without disturbing any feeding or nesting birds on the Marshland and in fields around. This ditch has a weird sense of place when walking along it.

You can see it more clearly below. My… what a beautiful bit of lawn that is on the left! Mm… I wonder what this area looks like now. This area of ground isn't actually a lawn but the reason I will be returning here over the summer months. It is quite special.

The World's First Bumblebee Sanctuary can be seen in the photo above. Yep... a rather special area of green that will become a tapestry of colour and wildlife. I am very much looking forward to returning here with my cameras over the summer months.

"This wonderful sight is the world's first bumblebee sanctuary. The 20 acre meadow is in Perth and Kinross, beside Loch Leven, and is a partnership between BBCT and RSPB Scotland.

It was originally a field of grass, but was ploughed and sown with a wildflower seed mix, which was kindly funded by

Now in its second year, the wall-to-wall perennial wildflowers are proving to be a big hit with local bumblebee populations, which are thriving. Visitors to the RSPB's
Vane Farm Nature Reserve can enjoy the meadow too!”

Meanwhile, back in April, looking out from the last hide around 4.30pm, what a wonderful picture it was. Birds could still be seen in the distance if you looked closely but they weren’t moving much now. So, no birds for my photos from this hide.

Oh… wait a minute what’s this as I was about to leave? Oh… how strange it was to watch this beautifully clean and pristine looking mute swan dipping its head and neck deep into the very muddy water. Clearly that’s how it feeds but isn’t strange that nature has a white bird feeding like this? Well, I think so anyway. I loved this image and have had it as my desktop background since.

One final glance out the window on the other side of the hide… what a lovely evening this was.

It was time to head back and through the subway. One final glance back over the Reserve… oh there’s that field for the bees again :-) This almost ended my visit... it was nearly time to go home.

During a later visit to the Coffee shop, with a friend, you can see the view across Loch Leven. On really misty days it is difficult to see anything. However, like Loch of the Lowes, there are cameras out on the Marshes with screens in the Coffee Shop.

There is also viewing equipment available. I remember once a member of staff spotted a fox on the marshes. I guess there are more than birds out there! Oh… but it isn’t always wet, misty and dull in Scotland :-) Moving on swiftly… there is also a notice board that is kept updated on what is going on at the Reserve.

Remember, above, when I went left for the path to the hides and Marshlands after going through the subway? Well… let me take you to the right for a few steps along another path…. gosh Loch Leven is much wider than it looks at first glance!

Sorry, it’s really time to go back now. It looks like a spot for a bench here don’t you think? I’ll be back along this path with the final instalment of my three centre Sunday. Oh… this area has a wealth for all ages and interests like…

Have a great weekend… out and about and in your own garden. I’ve been busy, moving plants around mine during the last couple of afternoons. I love refreshing the garden every now and again… for me that’s the fun part of keeping a garden. Have fun in yours :-D

With the exception of the coffee shop photos all other photos were taken at Vane Farm and on the edge of Loch Leven on April 11th 2009.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Wordless Wednesday May 20th


One of the reasons I love the month of May.

The photos above were taken in my garden on May 20th 2009.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Garden Bloom Day May 2009

A tad late I am this month with my Bloom Day posting so, as compensation, how about some blooming chat from The Chelsea Flower Show first? The show takes place in London this week. Today, Monday, is Press Day and the Judges have been out to see the gardens too. Perhaps you might like to meet some of the Designers? Let’s hear from one… Mark Gregory with a guided tour from his garden on Sunday morning...

Chelsea has blogs so let's hear is what presenter Lila Das Gupta had to say today about some exhibitors and designers that she thinks will do rather well. I’ve not seen to much coverage yet to say who my favs or picks are for Chelsea 2009. I’ve have been recording television footage which I will thoroughly enjoy watching – I’ll maybe catch up on some much needed ironing at the same time!

Coming back to my garden, with a thump, my bloom photos of buds, flowers and passed flowers should have been taken on the 15th but hey... it was very windy and wet. Trying to keep as close to the 15th of the month that I could I took the following photos at 8am on the 16th just before the rain started again! Raindrops can be pretty too though as you can see on the Allium bud below.

Allium Purple Sensation has come much further out since Saturday morning when only the two flowers above were out. I love to see the chives in bud and they also have such pretty flowers too.

The wind and wet has taken its toll on some of the less sheltered tulips. The Drumstick Primulas are well over now but I still find them pretty like this and will leave them a bit longer yet before I cut them down. Some of the rhododendrons are past and others have suffered with the wet. Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ has a slight lean towards the lawn now too.

Yellow is a colour that I’m not overly fond of in the garden now but I do adore the paler shades and plants with two tones. My late planted ‘Ice Follies’ daffodils have been such a treat to look out on to - although the wind and wet has many almost face down and falling over my gravel path. I have really enjoyed these bargain bulbs. I am also enjoying this broom now in its new position and I adore the humble primrose especially planted with the wonderful glossy leaves of Asarum. Polygala is offering up a few purple blooms but the yellows have become more dominant now. Ah… I do love the pretty woodland strawberry flowers. They and a few other plants are behind in growth from last year.

Flower buds on my Wisteria are now easy to see. Today I picked up a potash feed that I will give it to help the flowers grow. This is a plant worth spoiling if you are lucky enough to have it flower in your garden. I have a white flowering variety and the bees love it too.

Choysia flowers are now out on Ternata and Aztec Pearl. I love the scent on these blooms and the foliage of these plants too. My magnolia has a few lovely blooms coming out on lower sheltered branches but on the whole these flowers are going over and the foliage is covering this plant now.

A quick walk with rain on the way and I nearly missed this wonderful Fritillary (not sure which one now) but I did spot the buds on Cirsium (another fav of the bees) and Clematis. Miss Bateman is the closest Clematis ready to open. The alpine Lady’s mantle is also spreading its self around again. I love having to look for the flowers almost hidden and the sliver underside of its leaves.

For me, orange is the new yellow in my garden. This is a colour in have never had (or would dream of having) in my garden palatte until a few years ago. I have to say I am loving it with pinks and purples. The Geum below came from a friend and I have divided it so many times. I especially love it flowering next to water. New purple pinks to the garden this year have been some perennial wallfowers, violas who are still putting on a wonderful display.

You’ve perhaps heard of roof top gardens and green vertical walls. Well, Hedgehog Manor has moved its location away from my back door, for the summer months, to under my pergola. It’s been cleaned out and refurbished and is open for business once again with a new design feature.

The wonderful hosta ‘June’ had to be in this roof garden and a new lavender I picked up. I have moved some Golden Hop from another part of the garden which I hope will grow to cover the roof and up the pergola to the inside of my Wisteria. I need to add more soil to this basket and fabric planter which is actually sold for salad crops. I will then add some orange and cream colours with two varieties of nasturtiums.

Watching this area the other night with the better of my two night cameras. I don’t leave this one outside or use it on wet nights. It gives great images so I’m looking after it. Hedgehogs were spotted running around the back and in front of the Manor. I also missed one Hedgehog go inside too. However… during the recent refurbishment I also moved the position of the camera. Now… wouldn’t it be great if we had a female come in here to have her young. Fingers crossed… I have heard the rather loud sounds (and seen a pair) of hedgehogs considering mating. I’ve been busy in the evenings since and haven’t looked inside the Manor to see if we have any guests yet. I wonder.

Dense foliage is another excellent place to see Hedgehogs in the evening especially on a still night. You might hear them rustling through the leaves as they look for food or see the top leaves move as they pass through a border. It’s quite a funny sight to see and you can easily follow their routes. If you spot a route they take and want to encourage them to return I would suggest you put some food out for them en route! One other place you could watch for hedgehogs would be below bird feeders as they may find food on the ground there. Leave out a dish of water and that would attract them too as they do enjoy a drink!

Yes, this is a Bloom Day posting where I’ve joined Carol and 150 others (as of this moment) but I want to celebrate the foliage and greens of the garden at this time of year too. I do love the greens of my garden. Now, I wonder what we’ll see this coming week from Chelsea. I’ll see what I can do with links and videos for all who can’t make it. Have a great gardening week and if you are going to visit the Chelsea Flower Show have a fantastic time! I wish I was going with you :-)

All photos above were taken in my garden on May 16th 2009. The videos shown above were not taken by me.