Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Zoom Envy!

Honestly, these are buzzards, one obligingly flew in close enough to appear as a black dot, in the other photograph there are three black specks right in the middle against the clouds. I took these photographs in Kilmartin at the weekend while we all stood in awe at these beautiful birds. So I'm sorry you cant see them too!

Monday, January 30, 2006


Having attended a permaculture weekend in Kilmatin I return home infected by the enthsuiam of the tutor, Ed Taylor. We mainly talked about consumption and waste, what resourses we have and the things we can personally do to help the planet out. On Sunday afternoon we went for a walk in the hills to look at how diverse habitats exist side by side in nature, wetland beside dry areas, rocky habitats and how indigenous trees are hanging in there despite being overgrazed for hundreds of years. Each area has its own type of plants, its amazing the difference walking ten feet made, into a different eco-system!
You can see in this photograph on the hillside opposite how clearfell is affecting the hills, the area in the centre is completely naked of life and there seemed to be a lorry up there every twenty minutes driving past with wood on the way to be pulped. In the bottom left corner is a gravel quarry, also destroying this beautifull area. Sad.
Here is one of the marvellous mini-ecosystems of small ferns and juniper berries, growing out from a surface of lichen and moss, clinging onto a rock surface away from the sheep.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

the first snowdrop

The first snowdrop, appearing in the cold frame. This is one of the plants designated for the spring trough. Two houses along from me there are snowdrops all over the garden, showing how much shelter I lack. My garden snowdrops are nowhere near out.
I can't resist taking photgraphs of this Corylus Avellana Contorta, twisted hazel, an amazing plant, wow nature!

The fork in the manure heap at the stables, somewhere in the hedge is a robin with a resolution never to go near anybody with a camera. This well rotted, crumbly lovely stuff was dug into bags and transpoted in the car to make. . .
. . the middle bed. The 100yr old pine for the edges for this came from my friend Fiona's house. It is the joists which were removed after her house was flooded and they had to re-joist and floor some of the house. The wood was rotten at the ends but after a bit of sawing by Fiona the rest is great quality 2 1/2 inches thick. Last year when the middle bed first came into being it had the turf turned over, two bins of compost emptied on top of it, then covered in porous black mebrane which I planted through. Its now dug over and ready to go when the weather is.

Monday, January 23, 2006

its cold and dark outside

The greenhouse themometer yesterday showed it had been -1C during the night. Still a dry enough day to go out and help my friend plant a 6ft Snakeskin Bark Maple in an enormous container, it should be happy in there for years. A quick walk to the shore at Inverkip where there was a very chilly breeze and then it was 4.30pm and getting dark.
Plodding around the internet I found this amusing. . http://www.scripting.com/specials/vonnegutMIT.html

Friday, January 20, 2006

space for gardening(photos from last year)

Very important, brick based area about 6ft by 4ft for storing pots and providing seating area for supervisors. . . Tansy on the left came from the cat rescue about 18months ago and Daisy on the right who I have had for six years from a wee kitty. Matching bookends! The windows behind belong to my downstairs neighbor.

To make use of all space available the beans and peas were planted in the border to grow up 'wigwams' amongst the flowers and shrubs. My flat is behind this fence.

Just behind the veggy beds is a 2ft wide bed containing shrubs behind that is a concrete car park. The flats on the other side behind their nice wooden fence are very similar to the one I live in. The main veggy growing part of the garden has two 4ftx8ft beds, one 3ftx8ft bed, one 4ftx4ft bed, another 8x4 bed is going where the flowers can be seen in the forground of this picture. I also have plans to put a cold frame in front of my brick storage/seating area, I have been given a metal framed safety glass window 3ftx5ft so thats the size its going to be. I have a 6ftx7ft greenhouse and a 6ftx4ft shed(too small!). Two sides of the garden are onto road and one side onto carpark at the back, so its not got much shelter and everybody can look in. If I can I'll scan a plan and post it at a later date. I have another area of garden I use at a friends house which is about 12ftx20ft(see earlier photo under 'impatience'), the soil there is amazing and I grow a lot there. My soil is rubbish so I dig out stones and rubble and replace it with manure and compost, its taken four years to get to this stage. Mind you, I am often to be found sitting with the supervisors having a wee cup of tea and looking at the garden in my minds eye. . . .and I ought to mention the occasional coffee maker Rosie who is 15 and a half and although she helps at my friends market garden she refuses to help here in case she is seen. . . .

Thursday, January 19, 2006

see all the seeds

prompted by Wildside here is my seed list...

Seeds bought for this year::

Broad bean - Express, Imperial Green Longpod
Broccolli - Rudolph, Nine Star Perrenial
Brussels Sprout - Falstaff
Cabbage - April, Minicole
Calabrese - Belstar
Carrot - Ingot, Parmex
Courgette - Orelia, Dundoo
Leaf Beet - Perpetual Spinach, Bright Lights
Leek - Porvite
Lettuce - All Year Round, Tom Thumb and some mixed packets
Onion - Red Barron
Parsnip - Gladiator
Pea - Sugar Ann, Early Onward
Spring Onion- North Holland Blood Red, White Lisbon
Spinach - Galaxy
Tomato - Olivade, Ailsa Craig, Gartenperle
Turnip - Golden Ball


Anemone Tomentosa
Cerinthe Major Purpurescens and Minor Aurantiaca
Dactylorhiza Maculata
Cephalophora Aromatica
Dianthus rainbow mixed
Dodecatheon Pulchellum 'red wings'
Limnanthus Douglassi
sweet peas Borderline and Black Knight
Matthiola- night scented stock
Sidalcea hybrids

Seeds gifted::

wildflowers mix
Courgette AllGreen Bush
Runner Bean 'Stenner'

Seeds already in the box::
Bean - Imperial Green Longpod(used last year)
Brussells- Wellington(used last year)
Carrot - Nantes 2
Spring Onion-Ishikura
Squash - Butternut Avalon(used last year)


too numerous to list, mostly half used packets

Seeds Saved From The Garden:
Bean Cherokee Trail of Tears
Alaskan Peas

Sweet Peas
Yellow Lupins
Geum 'Mrs Bradshaw'
Linaria Purpurea 'CanonWent'

Sunday, January 15, 2006

changes in the weather

Such a nice sunny day yesterday, it was warm enough in the afternoon to sit out with a cup of coffee and read for a half hour(I had on two fleece jumpers!). Todays temperature reading in the greenhouse shows it got up to 21centigrade yesterday and last night it was down to -1. This morning is cloudy but dry and wind is freezing, so no sitting about today!
An early primula showing a welcome wee bit of colour in the garden and the snowdrops are finally peeking through. I wondered if they had been disturbed too much as I moved some shrubs last year in that corner. I love early spring flowers, especially daffodils and wish they flowered all year round.
In the cold frame the plants I bought last year to go into an alpine trough are starting to come on nicely; crocus, narcicuss bulbocodium, primula wharfedale bluebell, frittilarai hermonis amana, scillia siberica, three little iris and species tulip(tulipa tarda?) and two different helleborus. You note however these are not in a trough but still in the cold frame. . . . . well I can see it in my minds eye. . . . . and it looks great! The two old sinks I intend to use for alpines can be seen in my snowy greenhouse photograph, they are sitting on the left hand side, one might stay there but the 'spring' one is to travel about twenty feet more to the left where it will sit at the end of the path. This is the path I can see in my minds eye. . . . .

Friday, January 13, 2006

25 miles from the sea

Wildside you mentioned sea-kayaking!
I have been paddling for about 15 years, these pictures are from last year. the first picture taken by my friend Tom from his boat, is off Oban, with the island of Kerrera in the distance. the second is with Dave on the River Clyde at Greenock. twice a year there they have a sponsored swim at the narrowest point which is just over a mile, every swimmer has a sea-kayak for company, it helps them keep going in the right direction and to hold onto for a rest or if they need taking out of the water they can hang on till the safety boat gets there. my boat is a Valley Knordkapp, an old design but still considered one of the best, my paddle is a cranked Lendal composite. we often go away with the boats loaded up with gear and we will camp somewhere isolated that you cant get to except by boat, its great I love it, I only wish I was nearer.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Winter Walk

Although freezing, it was a lovely day so my friend Fiona and I got well wrapped up from the cold and ventured out for a walk (perhaps more of a wander than a serious effort!). This is Lunderston Bay which is on the River Clyde near Greenock. I love the way the trees show shaping from the wind off the sea. The big excitement was a loose cow which some other walkers said jumps the fence often and is very tame so it just comes to say hello. Also we met a birdwatcher who let us look through her fantastic telescope at a Great Crested Grebe and pointed out a Hebridean Thrush which winters here and is darker in colour than our usual song thrush. That was nice of her to take the time, I appreciated it. There is a Garden Centre behind the bay so we finished off with a cup of hot chocolate in their tea-room and as usual, unable to resist, I bought some Snowdrops and Pulmonaria. There is always room for more plants!

Saturday, January 07, 2006


I need to get a winter hobby! I want to be outside doing the garden. this photograph was taken in march 2004, it is the part of my friends garden which I am using to grow veggies in until my garden is finished(its never going to be finished!). that year it was planted with peas and beans under the long strip of fleece, carrots and onions uder the two poly cloches and i think it was broccoli under the small square of fleece. I had turned the area over in ocotber 03 and left it covered with a layer of manure and covered with black menbrane. the garden is walled and very sheltered and their soil is amazing, the house is over a 100yrs old and was used for a long time a proper cultivated vegetable garden, the raised bricks in the background of the photograph used to have a large wooden greenhouse on it, I have only seen a photgraph of it because it was taken away years ago. its not used at all and the garden is not "gardened" at all now apart from "my" bit, there is a mad aunty who comes every dry day there is and weeds all the beds, so there is nothing growing , only bare soil everywhere, I tried to put some perenial geraniums in the border behind the veggies but she hoed them constantly till they gave up. bah humbug. in contrast my garden is open to the wind and the gaze of all passers by, I try to have every bit with something growing even is only grass and weeds, after all they will contribute to the compost when I get around to weeding.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

feeding the birds

I love to watch birds coming to the feeder, mainly house sparrows, chaffinches, an occasional robin, blackbirds, starlings. I pile mixed bird seeds on this table and hang peanuts and fat/seed balls from the clothes poles. I also make sure there is unfrozen water every day. Unfortuntley last year some houses down the street pulled out all their mature hedges and I have noticed a decrease in birds visiting my garden, I have limited shelter so there is nowhere for them to live/nest/hide from the cat. I am unable to photograph them as the camera will not take a close enough photo from the window and if I am outside the cats are too and the birdies take sensible flight. I keep trying to photograph the robin who always comes close up for worms when I am digging manure at the farm, still too far away for a decent shot or if he comes in close I don't have the camera with me. One day I will, also I would love to tape the birdsongs at the farm, nice and noisy!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

big enough for a side dish?

this is the brussells crop in then.
ha... as much as I could long for self sufficency its really just as well there is a foodstore within easy walking distance......
I really like brussels too.