Blog

The cycles of life

On a dull day at the end of October I contemplate the trees that are preparing for the coming winter. Large flat leaves become a problem as temperature and light levels dip and winter storms threaten; by dropping them the broadleaf trees can reduce water loss and wind damage until the kinder days of springContinue reading “The cycles of life”

Bedtime stories

During the last few days my garden has been visited by hundreds of redwings feasting on rowans which are plentiful around Torphins. They have flown in from Scandinavia and will move on, probably up Deeside where the rowans are equally abundant. There are other signs of the approaching winter: the occasional frost, the long skeinsContinue reading “Bedtime stories”

Home and away

Anticipating the excitement of exploring new landscapes is now tempered with the limitations of age; gardens offer alternative and accessible horizons. I was thus delighted to visit three very different gardens during our recent holiday on the Northumbrian coast. The Gertrude Jekyll garden on Lindisfarne is small, unpretentious, and utterly charming. The walled garden onceContinue reading “Home and away”

Lovely lupins

The 1940s suburban Manchester garden of my childhood was full of lupins; the 2022 June Border of Crathes Castle is full of lupins. And all the gardens in between seem to have had at least some lupins. There are no native lupins in Britain, but some species, which originate from North America, have been grownContinue reading “Lovely lupins”

Challenges

As the politicians, delegates and protesters return to their various countries we ponder on the outcomes of COP26. This year when most of the leaders of around 200 participating nations came to Scotland, when part of Glasgow became United Nations territory for a while, when an estimated 100,000 people filled the streets of Glasgow onContinue reading “Challenges”

Counting the cost

James was looking pleased as I entered the yard the other day. He was contemplating some newly delivered choice plants. The little conifer Pinus strobus ‘Minuta’ is destined for the Evolution Garden and the vines Vitis ‘Strawberry’ are to be planted against the Viewpoint fence. They will probably fruit, and in a good summer shouldContinue reading “Counting the cost”

Biding time

We’re all biding time just now; waiting for warmer weather; waiting to see how the virus responds to lockdowns and vaccines; waiting to pick up our lives again. It’s no different in the gardens; the gardeners all long for normality. But whilst many projects are going ‘full steam ahead’ (see last post), biding time isContinue reading “Biding time”

Mild November days

This November has been incredibly mild, until a short sharp diversion of the Jet Stream this last Thursday brought arctic winds from the north. Although it only lasted 24 hours I wonder what will have happened to the flowers that gave me so much pleasure earlier in the month – fuchsias, salvias, gazanias, penstemons, theContinue reading “Mild November days”

Hanging on to summer

Mid-September and the days are balmy and delicious. In the garden the salvias continue to shine, the later flowering Salvia corrugata catching attention with its dark green corrugated leaves, its rusty tomentose stems, and it glorious blue flowers. Nosing around the internet I find an interesting story regarding its introduction. Jim Archibald, a Scot, startedContinue reading “Hanging on to summer”

Healing weeds

The usual hedge cutting is to be limited this year. The MEWP (Mobile Elevated Working Platform) has been hired for three weeks only and has to catch up with the Portugal laurels which didn’t get their usual spring trim. So cutting will be a matter of prioritising. The egg and eggcups will of course beContinue reading “Healing weeds”

Welcome back

Excitement builds as I contemplate returning to the garden. It’s over 100 days since my last visit. The garden will open on Monday 6 July. Joanna reports that she has been planting out in the Upper Pool Garden. The bedding out is more or less completed although they were a little short of plants onContinue reading “Welcome back”

Castle, cottage, and fine design

Whilst everything remains uncertain, the garden at Crathes is definitely gearing up for visitors. Joanna reports that the June Border is coming on nicely and that planting out has started in earnest. The half-hardy beds are filling up, the bananas and succulents are finding their place, and the purple bell vines, Rhodochiton atrosanguineus, are beingContinue reading “Castle, cottage, and fine design”

Fashions come and go – carnations and succulents

April is the cherry month and whilst there are plenty of cherries around Torphins, I will miss the Crathes specialities. However, I was amazed to see James’s photograph of the Prunus incisa ‘Moerheimii’ on the Doocot Border in full flower. I don’t remember it being so covered in bloom in previous years. I struggled withContinue reading “Fashions come and go – carnations and succulents”

Tim’s Medal

Here in lower Deeside, we have had the most glorious sunny weather, if a little cold. Mostly too cold for the honeybees; Steve, who keeps bees, tells me that the temperature needs to be above nine degrees before there is much activity. When the bees finally get on the move they will find plenty ofContinue reading “Tim’s Medal”

What’s in a name – Lamont and Menzies?

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’ is looking good in this mild weather. Although it doesn’t mind the snow the flowers can turn brown with a sharp frost. Charles Lamont was an assistant curator at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). In 1933 he was experimenting with crossing Viburnum grandiflorum with Viburnum farreri (previously V. fragrans).Continue reading “What’s in a name – Lamont and Menzies?”

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