Hospital Corner

hospital cornerWhen I was a little girl (even littler than now) I used to read a comic strip about a dolls’ hospital. I can’t for the life of me remember now what it was called or any of the details, but the idea of the dolls’ hospital has stuck with me.

So much so that this blog post is about that very idea, well not a dolls’ hospital but hospital corner of the garden.

Last year, if you can’t remember back that far go read the blog post, we planted lots of flowers in pots in the garden just to get some colour and pretty it up a bit while we worked on the “final version”.

A lot of those flowers thrived and we did end up with lots of colour in a short period of time, however with creating the new flower border along the fence, we had to remove those flowers from their pots and plant them in the soil.

Mostly this worked a treat, but we did have some flowers that were a wee bit poorly and hadn’t taken well to the winter or being confined to the pots. So for these flowers, rather than throw them out (see Luke we are learning to be thriftier), we created a little hospital corner where the flowers would be sheltered from the wind and frost and could be helped into good health.

The place we chose for this is a corner of the garden right next to our patio doors; it’s sheltered by the house and the garden fence. It doesn’t get direct sunlight and usually misses the frost.

hospital corner flowers

This proved to be a good idea as these poorly little bundles of leaves are now blooming brilliantly and hospital corner is now as colourful and lovely as the other beds.

Every so often, when we find a wee plant that’s struggling, we move it to hospital corner and I expect if things carry on as well, one day that corner of the garden will be packed with gorgeous flowers and be a show piece of its own.

Funnily enough, it is also the most weed free part of the garden, so maybe it luckily has turned out to be the ideal spot for nursing these wee things back to health.

Now since this turned out to be such a success, we decided that we weren’t just going to give up on plants that looked like they’d had their last days. Especially given that we have so many gorgeous plants in our garden and they add so much beauty.

So the next plants to get the hospital treatment were some fuchsias which were stunning last year, but didn’t seem to have survived the winter. (Birthday present from Leigh)

fuscias

Last year they were stunning, looking like this and they were some of my favourite plants in the garden.

We had two types, the pink and purple which were in hanging baskets and white and red which were in a big planter.

Unfortunately after winter and all the frosts and general bad weather we’ve had here in the Costa Del Musselburgh, these poor things were just a pile of twigs and showed no signs of coming back to life.

So instead of putting them in hospital corner, because I really thought they were beyond that. We made a special intensive care unit for them, in the greenhouse.

I honestly didn’t expect much, these were just a bunch of twigs.

fuscia twigs

 

 

 

 

 

But, given the success of hospital corner, and our vow to not just throw plants out without trying, we planted them up in some good potting soil and put them in a sunny spot in the greenhouse and waited…

And waited…

And waited…

And guess what?

We have life on three of the plants. I’m going to keep them in the greenhouse for a bit longer until they are stronger and have started really growing, then I’ll transfer them out into their own little spots (once the weather improves a bit).

fuscia sprouting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are probably the most exciting plants of this year, they are so pretty and I loved having them in the garden so to see them spring back to life is amazing.

 




Spring update – you just can’t turn your back.

spring flowersSpring has truly sprung. The garden is full of colour, the birds are singing and every time you turn around something new has sprouted or flowered.

It’s is the most amazing time of year and it’s impossible to not feel happy in this environment.

Our border along the fence is now an absolute feast for the eyes with splashes of colour and different shapes and sizes of plants filling it out. The best yet is that there is still more to come as most of the bulbs we planted won’t come up until July or August so there will be another boost of colour them too.

hyacenth

There are two batches of flowers in the border that I absolutely love because they just catch your eye from anywhere in the garden. The first ones are the little red flowers you can see, they are just so striking and the second ones are the variegated ones with the yellow and purple petals.

Every time I look at the flowers either in our garden or in other folk’s gardens I just can’t believe the patterns and colours there are. Sometimes I feel like someone has painted them. They are just too amazing and intricate and it wows me that there little flowers are just like that with no interference from humans.

Nature rocks!

nature rocks

We also have the most fantastic addition to the garden this year; we’ve sparkled up the beer garden a bit with an amazing new flower bed and baskets around the picnic bench. Lots of colour and pretties for us to look at and of course lots of bee friendly flowers to help our little friends.

The little bunches of purple flowers in the flower bed will spread and cascade out the front of the bed. I can’t wait.

 

 

 

I have to say it; this is probably the best beer garden in the world. ;0)

back bed

It’s important though that we don’t forget that the garden is more than just a gloriously eye catching colour pallet. Our veggies have joined in the spring party and although we are around a month behind on last year, things are looking green.

I’ve just had to add the first layer of soil over the tatties as they had begun sprouting and in the beds, the beetroot and carrots are just starting to poke through.

The sprouts and broccoli are monsters; I’m quite excited about the sprouts!

I’m looking forward to our own sprouts from the garden as I’m a bit of a sprouts fan. Mmmm sprouts.

sprouts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think all in all we can say that spring is definitely here and the garden is just bursting with life.

potatoes and veg

Next weekend is a back holiday weekend so we’re already hoping for some decent weather so that we can enjoy our beer garden and take advantage of all the hard work we’ve done.

After all, the point of it is so that we can enjoy our outdoor environment.

With any luck we’ll be roasting bratwurst on the BBQ and drinking some nice craft beer while we talk about how pretty things are.

Ah such a hard life.

 

 

 

 

 




Not long to go… surely?

beds garlic showingThe weather has picked up a little and it’s even beginning to resemble spring (just), so a wee bit more work in the garden today and I’m feeling a bit more like our veggie crop is happening.

We are still getting frosts, so I can’t really plant much out, only the garlic as that’s a hardy plant that likes a cold hibernation spell through the winter. Optimistic about it as it’s looking good despite the frost nipping at its leaves.

I’ve planted a bit more garlic this year as we didn’t get much from our trials last year (and ended up eating all of Luke’s). So at least there is some greenery in the beds. I’m also hoping having some garlic in each bed will help keep the carrot fly away.

Things are chugging away quietly in the greenhouse too. It’s not the biggest greenhouse, so we have had a think about what we want in there based on last year and decided that of course; we’ll start the courgettes off in there and that we’ll also have a lot of tomatoes going as we really loved the fresh tomatoes last year.

courgettes sprouting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So in the greenhouse… remember Colin? Well this is this year’s little batch of Colins.

I’m trying some yellow courgettes as well as green this year. Fingers crossed they all work out as well as last year and I’ll be giving away courgettes again.

I’ve gone a bit mad with types of tomatoes. I just thought it would be fun to try some different sizes and colours, so we are going with red stripy ones, green stripy ones, red cherries, chocolate coloured cherries and of course…. cream coloured plums. LOL It should be a fabulous salad that we put together this year!

The tomatoes, just sprouting through the soil. Long way to go till we get the enormous plants I had to tame last year.

tomato sprouts

Of course, after the massive success of the tatties last year… I’m growing twice as many this year. Same types, Arran Victory (purple) and Maris Piper. They were so tasty last year that I had to grow some more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So they are in bags and in the greenhouse at the minute as I don’t want to put them out until the frosts pass.

tatties plantedSo that’s it for just now I’m afraid, until he weather sorts itself out I’m limited with what I can do, but I am absolutely chomping at the bit to get the beetroot and carrots planted, so come on Mother Nature, surely it can’t be long now until we get better weather!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Before I go, I’ll leave you with a picture of Larry the Lemon tree… he seems to be quite happy in the greenhouse and is still churning out lemons. Nice supply for our gin and tonics….. oh!! Gin and tonic… good idea…

lemons




Let the New Year begin

seeds on tableTime to get organised and start planting veggies – woot!

The weather isn’t great just now, but I’m trying to at least keep on top of the bits and pieces that I can do.

I’ve got tomato plants sprouting in the greenhouse, my garlic is all sprouting nicely so I’ve put some out in the beds and have some more in the greenhouse in case the poor weather ruins my crop and I’ve got some of the potatoes planted up and in the greenhouse until the weather turns for the better and they can go out.

I’ve also got broccoli and sprout seedlings in the greenhouse and I’ll put them out once they are a bit hardier. Thank god for the greenhouse.

I’m absolutely bursting to get the beetroot and carrots planted as that’s the real fun time when you get to eat fresh beetroot and carrots, but until things heat up a little there’s no point in planting out.

I need to start thinking about the herb containers soon too, not everything has survived the winter, so going to have to replant some thyme, tarragon, parsley and marjoram. We’re still racking our brains because we think we had another herb out there last year and can’t remember now what it could be.

Looking at the garden, it does look a little bare, not flower-wise as the flower beds are blooming away lovely and its adding loads of reds and yellows and purples, but I really can’t wait to get the green shoots coming up in the veg beds and even the huge potato plants again. There was just something about all that life out there in the garden.

greenfinchesSpeaking of life in the garden, the little greenfinch pair is back. I got so excited by them last year as I’d never seen greenfinches before, and I’m so glad they are back, especially now that Kate has put up a proper little bird table for them. Of course we still have the masses of starlings and sparrows that chase the greenfinches, robins and blue tits away, but every so often they’ll sneak back in. There’s nothing like the feeling of watching all the birds in the garden.

So as usual, all I can say is watch this space, hopefully the planting out will begin in the next two or three weeks and then we can watch excitedly for the new plants to sprout and then watch them grow.

 




And we finally have the gardens just how we want them

New beds in the front garden all planted up

Well the sun was splitting the pavements yesterday, as we say in Scotland, so we took the opportunity to get our final bits and pieces done in the gardens.

This is how the house looked when we moved in.

front of house

When we moved in last year we had little more than a red box surrounded by concrete. The previous owners had been elderly and weren’t able to keep on top of the huge gardens. And so had covered them over with a mixture of blocks and red stones.

I have to be honest; when Kathryn first showed me pictures of the house she wanted to view I wasn’t sure. It was characterless and I just couldn’t see past all that concrete but she convinced me to give it a try and I’m glad she did.

We started this time last year with the back garden. We put in some raised beds to grow veggies and put a greenhouse in the spot where the most run down shed was. Then we painted the fences and the second shed and planted up some flowers in pots.

There were still a lot of areas which could be improved so next we moved onto the front of the house.

There was no garden at the front at all, it had been completely covered over with red bricks which we lifted to create the flower beds and a lawn (almost killing ourselves in the process – next time, we’ll get a big burley bloke in).

We stopped there for last year as it was a lot of hard work and a lot of expense. But we picked it up again this year.

We removed the last areas of red stones from the back garden and planted up another four flower beds and then we did the same at the front of the house to create another two flower beds. Which run along the front of the house under the windows?

I just can’t believe the difference it makes, the house looks absolutely amazing so I’ve put a gallery of photos in to show you just some of the work we’ve done and basically to show off the gardens we are so proud of. You can click on any of the pictures to see bigger versions.

Next week, I start growing veggies again: 0)

New plants

This is what the front of the house looks like now.

new plants

 

 

 

 




New beds for the garden

Big exciting news today – and it wasn’t just that we saw Caroline from The Beechgrove Garden at our local plant nursery.

We told you a few posts back that we had plans this year to lift the chuckies from the back garden and create new flower beds; well today we finished doing just that.

There were four beds in the back garden, one long one against the side fence and three smaller ones along the house. We’ve lifted the chuckies from all of them, dug them over a couple of times and added chicken pellets to fertilise the soil (as we had no way of knowing just how many nutrients may or may not have been available).

Today we finished that off by re-homing some of our existing flowers and by adding a few new ones.

Just to remind you – this is what the garden looked like when we moved in last year, although without the pots, those were our interim solution.

IMAG0635

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bed 1 – along the fence at the side of the house – on the right of the photo.

It is the biggest bed in the back garden and was a huge rectangle of red chuckie stones. Bland and boring.

To liven it up when we moved in, we put a selection of pots with colourful flowers in along that fence to try to make it look a little cheerier. Well today we actually planted the flowers into the bed and it looks stunning.

There are a selection of different plants in there, some of the Primula and Primroses which we planted into the pots last year, but we also added Japonica, Euonymus, Irises, Hyacinths, and some new Primula and Primroses to pad things out. We’ll probably add new things as they come into season and of course for next year – Tulips and Crocuses are a must.

I think you’ll agree, it looks soooo much better now with that blast of colour. It’s still quite spacious but it will fill out over time.

bed 1

 

 

 

 

 

bed 1b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bed 2 – Little teeny, tiny bed on the right of the patio doors.

bed 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a few of the usual suspects to brighten it up, this bed doesn’t get a whole lot of light so we are going to see how it goes with things and it looks good, we may move the Azalea into that space as it’s a bit sad in a pot just now.

Bed 3 and 4 – the left hand side of the patio doors and left hand side after the kitchen door

Here we had some fun and added some heather which really brightens things up and has the added bonus that I can use the flowers to make beer a few years down the line once the plants are more established.

heather 1

 

 

 

 

 

heather 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m really happy with the result, the garden just looks a million times better and now I can’t wait to do the same job at the front of the house and create another beautiful bed of flowers.

To give you a taster, here is the front of the house as we moved in last year…

front of house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More red chuckies to lift and replace with flowers… watch this space…

 




Spring has sprung

Well I took a picture of our first winter flower and here is our first spring flower.

snw drop

Those who know me know that I suffer quite badly from what is apparently called S.A.D. or seasonal affective disorder. I’m not one for labeling but it means that I can get quite down, lethargic, sad, and generally feel like there’s no point during the winter months when there isn’t much light and outdoor time is limited.

Funnily enough the one time I get a boost over winter is Christmas, when the outdoors comes indoors with green trees, red holly berries and white mistletoe.

Now Kate has been putting up with me for a few years now and she knows that when the spring flowers start to arrive my mood jumps massively. It being the promise of better things. She’s seen the absolute glee that accompanies a crocus and trusts me the reaction I have to a tiny flower like that is quite something 🙂 So she did an amazing, special thing and the picture here says it all. She has gone round randomly planting crocuses and snow drops all over our gardens without me knowing where. So I’m finding out about it when the little plants are breaking through the soil… and the recent snow.

I wanted to share this little flower with you because it’s so much more than its tiny size. This is nature’s promise to me of all the good things to come and it really does put a huge smile on my face.

Well this little snow drop and its cheery promises has had us out in the garden this weekend getting ready for the rest of the year and again it seems to be Kate doing the hard work. (I’m amazed we’re out there working today considering we were at a real ale festival last night)

We’ve already begin to lift the chuckies (small stones) and create more flower beds, but this weekend Kate was also hard at work with the drill and saw, making me a new composter. We have a big plastic one just now (which looks like a Dalek), but it wasn’t doing the job so I decided I wanted an open wooden pen type one. Kate to the rescue.

compost bin creation

 

She got some bits of wood from B and Q and put together this fabulous thing! It fits perfectly in the space that the old plastic one sat, but is wider as the other one narrowed as it rose. This one just looks better in the garden too as it’s not shiny black.

 

 

 

 

finished compost

I gave the contents a good turn with the fork and unfortunately evicted the little family of mice that were living in there. I feel so guilty about this but there are plenty of places around here where they can go live.

I also did a bit of work in the greenhouse today, (I can hear Kate’s dad – Bay Leaf) but I am better in there than trying to do big heavy things, cause I’m only little

Today I got the first of our veggie planting done. Broccoli, sprouts and tomatoes planted and of course… courgettes. There’s going to be more to come, but these were the ones I could get planted and started off just now.

Lesson learned from last year though, I didn’t plant loads of each. Just a couple.

seedlings

I also have some tatties chitting getting ready to go out when the frosts are over.

There is some more on order but I’m still waiting on them arriving, and the garlic. I’m a bit miffed about that as I had wanted to get the garlic started off early this year but oh well, guess I’ll just have to be patient.

 

chitting

Next weekend we’ll maybe get out to Pentland Plants, our local nursery and garden centre and spend some of those amazing vouchers we got for christmas. I want one of our beds to be all different colours of heather which will look amazing, and have the double advantage that I can make beer from it.

Kate’s looking forward to upping the amount of colourful flowers we put in the big bed along the fence as we can see this one from the living room and it’ll be nice to be able to look out the french doors and see all that colour.

side fence

Well that’s us for today, we’ve finished early today as it’s Kate’s birthday tomorrow and as a treat we’re heading out to our favourite restaurant tonight, Calistoga.

 

 

 




New year and time for the work to begin

garden plan

As I’m sure everyone agrees, last year was a very successful year for our garden. This year we are hoping to use everything we have learned to make 2013 as successful, but that means getting ready and getting some of our pre planting jobs out the way including a snazzy planting and harvesting project plan I am quite proud of :0)

We started off with clearing the beds and greenhouse of the baby veggies which have been growing, as they aren’t going to survive much longer, but last night’s tea was a treat with roasted baby veggies :0)

We also have a bit of news for you about Larry the Lemon tree… he’s given us lemons.

lemons

Today we took a quick trip out to the local nursery for some ideas for flowers but there wasn’t really anything around yet so we will pop back next month. That gives us time to get some jobs done though, so jobs to get done will include painting the fences around the garden AGAIN, as they are starting to look worn and we are also going to lift all the chuckies which are around the house (chuckies are small stones) and turn those areas into proper flower beds. This is a big job, but learning from last year, we are only doing one bed each weekend and in no rush. (neither of us could cope with any more heavy work)

Watch this space for photos.

This year, we plan to grow very similar veggies to last year with a few exceptions;

Not Growing This Year

  • •Pumpkins & Squash (don’t really get a high enough yield here to justify it)
  • •Beans (just didn’t work)

New for this year

  • Broccoli
  • Sprouts (decided rather than buying them at christmas and thanksgiving, we’d just grow them)
  • Strawberries

Also this year, we are changing up the types of tomatoes and courgettes we are growing, just as a bit of an experiment. So here is the full list of what the garden will hopefully give us this year.

  • Beetroot (red and striped)
  • Carrots (orange and purple)
  • Garlic (after discovering last year how much better garlic was from our garden, we are growing lots this year)
  • Radishes
  • Sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Courgettes (green and yellow)
  • Tomatoes (multi colour and size)
  • Potatoes (three different types)
  • Herbs
  • Salad
  • Strawberries

We’ll add stories and pics to the blog as we go.

 

 




Single, white radish…

wpid-radish

SWR. GSOH,NS seeks similar for stir fry, green curry, Mediterranean veg and more…

Well it’s hard to admit, but I think this poor little radish may be the last of our out door crops until next spring.

It’s turned really cold and we’re seeing the frost take hold so I’m not overly optimistic for the carrots and beetroot which are outside.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. We’ve moved our planting into the greenhouse and for the minute that’s looking promising. We have carrots going and have just added some beetroot and planted some radishes about ten mins ago.

Fingers crossed.

Also, it is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our most famous plant, Colin. He has sadly come to the end of his cropping and so has gone to the big compost bin in the sky. :0(

Not only has it left a gap in our hearts but a space in the greenhouse and so without further ado… We’d like to introduce you to Larry.

wpid-IMAG10541

Larry is a lemon tree and will I’m sure be as successful and famous as Colin.

Stay tuned for more adventures featuring Larry the Lemon Tree.

 




Winter is coming…

Today was a little bit sad to start with.

It’s that time of year, the garden is starting to look a bit bare as things are dying back and it all just looks so different from the green oasis it was just a few months ago.

It hit me hardest as I began the autumn clean out of the green house, picking any of the tomatoes that were usable before disposing of this year’s plants and spent soil.

These are still a few things going, but it’s just not the same so I let myself get a little blue.

wpid-IMAG1038-169x300

However, just when I needed it, there was a small pink reminder of the year to come in the form of a tiny cyclamen flower.

The cyclamen were the first flowers we planted in February last year and were the very beginning of our garden, so it was really appropriate that this little flower popped up to remind me that this isn’t the end, but a new year.wpid-IMAG1041-150x150

So greenhouse a lot more empty for the winter, I turned my focus on planning for next year. But first we needed some sustenance… And this came in the form of homemade rye bread, homemade mushroom burgers with some tomatoes and salad from the garden… That chased away the blues. (Watch out for the recipe for the mushroom burgers)

So next year… Well we’ve learned a lot this year and we’re facing the coming year with a lot more confidence than we started. The main lesson I have learned has to be not to over plant. I don’t want an other year of trying to find homes for plants I didn’t expect to take so well :0)

Kate’s lesson learned… “I’m not 21 anymore. Take it easy!”. The poor soul is still suffering from that first weekend of madness when we over did the garden work.

So back to our seed catalogues, well we decided we are going to plant the things which we enjoyed eating most, so carrots, beetroot, radishes, tomatoes, garlic, potatoes and we are going to try broccoli and sprouts as our new veggies for the year. (My plan for Christmas next year… Yay sprouts.)

Next year we are also going to create some new flower beds, but more about that later.