Thursday, 25 September 2014

Ryder Cup: Willow figures & garden welcome

As Gleneagles plays host to the 2014 Ryder Cup, the folk of Perth & Kinross (the area of Scotland Gleneagles is situated) have been getting ready to welcome everyone here all summer! It is my privilage, as a garden blogger living in the area, to share with you some images that might not make it to the huge TV audience this weekend.

A warm, welcome to golfers and gardeners alike...

The Fifth hole at Kinnesswood decorated with team flags :-)

A series of willow sculptures were commissioned in honour of the Ryder Cup being held at Gleneagles. Local artists Georgia Crook and June McEwan produced delightful characters which were installed in the towns and villages which successfully applied for these pieces of art depicting solitary golfing figures.

Perth & Kinross Council has brought all these solitary golfing figures together with a Willow Sculpture Trail (competition to collect letter clue to make a topical phrase, deadline 10/10/14). The number of willow figures represent the traditional 18 holes on a golf course plus that well known 19th hole where golfers gather after play to relax - usually the bar of the golf course clubhouse ;-)

Roadside Willow golfing figures sited at Kinnesswood & Bridge of Earn

The Sixth hole at Bridge of Earn making a big impact in a small community. Congrats to all involved helping Brig in Bloom! Nice job :-)

So... if you fancy a round of golf with a difference, you can explore the area of Perth & Kinross through its current willow sculptures. In order of play they are Auchterarder, Aberuthven, Dunning, Kinross, Kinnesswood, Bridge of Earn, St Madoes, Perth, Coupar Angus, Alyth, Blairgowrie, Little Dunkeld, Pitlochry, Aberfeldy, Comrie, Crieff, Muthill, Braco and back at the clubhouse, Blackford.

The images in the links above don't show extra amendments that the residents were encouraged to add to help bring the sculptures to life (like the bunting and flags above). Window displays in towns and flags outside buildings have appeared now too, all in celebration and support of this sporting event the whole area is delighted to play host to.

Like visiting gardens and in the Gleneagles area just now? How about a break from the golf for a couple of hours with a stroll around a garden you might not expect to see in Scotland?

The garden below was a surprise to me when first visited many years ago. We thoroughly enjoyed our recent, return visit passing all the activity and building of structures at Gleneagles en route too! What a contrast there is between Gleneagles and a garden visit like this one right now...

Drummond Castle Gardens.

Nearby (8.9 miles from Gleneagles) Drummond Castle Gardens have extended their opening hours to welcome everyone visiting the garden on the Ryder Cup week. During the period of 21st - 28th September 2014, the garden is open from 10am - 6pm daily.

I absolutely recommend a visit - it really is sooo relaxing to walk around with its pathways that just draw you in and along them clearing your mind as you walk. You feel like you could be part of a period drama. Here's a bit of chat on the garden before some photos from my visit back on the 10th of September :-)

“Drummond Castle was built on a rocky outcrop by John, 1st Lord Drummond. The 2nd Earl, a Privy Councillor to James VI and Charles I, succeeded in 1612 and is credited with transforming both the gardens and the castle. The keep still stands but the rest of the castle was restored and largely remodelled by the 1st Earl of Ancaster in 1890.

From the east gateway on the Crieff Muthill road, visitors drive up the long beech avenue to the car park and then walk to the outer castle court. On passing into the inner courtyard and attaining the top of the terracing the full extent and majesty of the garden is suddenly revealed. The dominant feature of the parterre design is a St Andrew's Cross with the multiplex 17th century sundial at its centre.

A strong north-south axis runs through the garden, down the impressive flight of steps to the sundial, through the classical archway and kitchen garden beyond, cutting a swathe through woodland before rising to the top of the opposing hillside. This idea of drawing the countryside into the garden is essentially French; however, Drummond is an eclectic garden and also rooted firmly in the Italian style with its fountains, terracing, urns and statuary.”
Drummond Castle Gardens website 25/10/14

Just imagine how many bees would have been feeding on those magnificent,
long plantings of Stachys byzantina (syn. S. lanata; Lamb's Ears).

Just imagine living here - a family does :-)

Knot the garden for you? Sorry couldn't resist ;-)

The Peacock gardenwatch team patrol the vegetable garden!
Staff benefits include regular quality control tasting of produce ;-)

Dazzling dahlias front the impressive Greenhouse.

The impressive Greenhouse packed with high quality flowers, fruit & veg.

The even more impressive cold frames behind the impressive Greenhouse!

You're impressed I can tell, but its time to head home or back to watch golf :-)

Take care on the steps and on your journey home – haste ye back :-)

On my road home now, road signs for the Ryder Cup are never far away. Back at home, helicopters ferrying VIP’s have been heard today bringing this event quite literally to our own back garden! We will be watching TV coverage with a helicopter soundtrack I suspect but that just adds to all the excitement of a special sporting event such as this.

Wishing everyone a great weekend especially the players and visitors to the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. Finger's tightly crossed that our, not always predictable, Scottish weather is kind to everyone attending and that visits to Drummond Castle Gardens can be enjoyed too :-)

Copyright: Original post published on by blog author Shirley, September 25th 2014.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

GBBD – September star plant

The colour of the blue trumpets in the Gentian below is one I have loved for many, many years. Heather on the other hand, shown in the last photo of this post, is not a plant I am fond of in a garden setting (preferring to see it on hillsides).

As this blog celebrates flowering blooms in a small Scottish garden outside on some hillsides, fields and in some gardens, banners of ‘Yes’ and ‘No Thanks’ are being displayed. For those outside the UK, on Thursday the people of Scotland are voting on the question "Should Scotland be an independent country?". We will no longer be a part of the UK and Great Britain if the answer is ‘Yes’. This is a very scary week for everyone voting - both young and old.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day (GBBD) is an invitation to bloggers from Carol at May Dreams Gardens to share what’s flowering in our gardens on the 15th of the month. Its relaxing to browse the links to gardens around the world and a great way to discover new garden blogs and get inspiration for our gardens!

Back after a long absence, my September star plant - Gentiana sino-ornata.

Pre breakfast ‘Marmalade’ blooms from the Heuchera’s above wildlife pond.
It was a 7:30am GBBD camera dash yesterday morning before the rain came on.

A GBBD first – flowering plants from the new wildlife pond :-)
Penny Royal (Mentha pulegium) & Lesser spearwort (Ranunculus flammula).

Back on land, the borders are lush with green foliage. Rich, late season colour contrasts with the white blooms. Lots left to feed bees & butterflies :-)

Erysimum 'Bowles's Mauve' is a favourite feeding stop for bees & butterflies.
A fav plant at this GBBD garden, it is appearing in more borders each year :-)

Borage appears in borders all by itself which the bees will be happy about.
The delicate white borage spreads more slowly than the pretty blue above.

Red Campion (grown from seed with the Borage a number of years ago)
needs a bit more keeping in check as it can swamp the borders if left alone.

Bird's-foot Trefoil (grown from seed 2 yrs ago) was a childhood like. Its name refers to the appearance of the seed pods on their stalk seen above.

A Californian poppy was a surprise pop-up for this September GBBD.
It first appeared in the garden a few years ago as an annual seed sowing.

Winter losses a few years ago included a Jasmine. I doubted it could ever regrow but didn’t remove its roots. This year it has lots of sweetly scented blooms :-)

Bought solely to attract Bullfinches to feed on its spent flowers when gone to seed, Heather 'Peter Sparkes' has its first flowers in my basket planting.

A winter gardenwatching experiment is the plan for the heather above - any variety would have done. Getting the idea from a piece on BBC Two’s Autumnwatch/Winterwatch, two plants were bought 'in seed' back in January. We didn’t get a particularly cold winter to test them out. Perhaps the Bullfinches will find the heather seeds without the very cold temps that bring the larger groups of mixed finches into the garden :-)

Ooops… here I am mentioning winter in the garden when the leaves are yet to turn! Sorry about that… let’s rewind a bit… back to September where I would like to wish you a very Happy GBBD! Oh yes… one quick question for you before you go… what’s your September star plant?

Copyright: Original post published on by blog author Shirley, September 16th 2014.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The timing of the Comma butterfly

Perched high up on the small, dense flower clusters of Verbena bonariensis, in my back garden back at the end of August, the Comma butterfly looked like an aircraft about to take off. It’s easy to see how nature could influence engineering design isn't it?

Tears filled my eyes as I looked through my camera lens taking record shots of this returning garden visitor. Three days after my Dad died, September 2012, the Comma butterfly was seen visiting my garden for the very first time. I instantly made a spiritual connection with it and dearly wished to see it return one day.

The timing of the Comma’s return really caught me by surprise. I was filling the kettle at breakfast, having thoughts of my Mum in hospital with a misbehaving heart after her hip op., when something caught my eye through the window… and there it was swinging high on the verbena!

Another surprise with the Comma butterfly was that it was seen feeding on the Japanese Anemones and Astrantias – I hadn’t noticed other butterflies feeding on these plants before.

Although… yesterday lunchtime during a bit of deadheading in my front garden I did spot a Red Admiral butterfly feeding on the White Japanese Anemone growing out there in the sunshine. All change with the butterfly visitors this year then ;-)

As on its first visit, the Comma was only seen feeding for one day. Last time it was seen in my front garden almost a month later in the year feeding on Sedum. I wonder if it will return to feed on the Sedums now they are coming into bloom.

We might suspect that the warmer summer of 2014 has been favourable for butterflies as we have seen the biggest numbers visiting at any one time in all my gardenwatching years (almost 8 now).

Buddleja ‘Buzz Ivory’ in my sunny front garden has been abuzz with Small tortoiseshell, Peacock, Red Admiral, small & large White butterflies as well as bees and other insects. I’ve spent a few early evenings and lunchtimes just standing still, watching them. It's been very therapeutic at a time when I've needed it :-)

Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve', a pretty big plant now, continues to flower its socks of in my sunny front garden attracting many butterflies. This has become such a garden favourite that I have added other plants in sunny spots around my back garden and it attracted the Comma to feed on this second visit too!

Regular blog visitors will know I love to capture video of garden visitors and the Comma butterfly kindly cooperated by showing where its name came from… the comma markings on its underside! I’ve added a screen grab below for those not able to view the video.

Short Comma butterfly video, 40 sec with background music, try HD quality.

The pause a comma adds in a sentence pretty much sums up my gardenwatching and gardening of late. It’s been in stops and starts. I keep hoping I'll get back to more regular blog posting too - apologies there :-)

Prior to my Mum’s op we were on a family holiday (some new sightings there). Post op I've had spells staying over to help her (she is progressing well now).

That’s what makes the timing of my Comma butterfly sighting all the more special… I was at home to see it. Who knows - perhaps it waited around for me :-D

Copyright: Original post published on by blog author Shirley, September 10th 2014.