A Hogmanay miscellany of head-butting sheep, currant affairs and holey hands!

As a newbie to the world of blogging, I couldn’t let the year end go by without a heartfelt thanks to all of you who’ve liked, signed up to follow, fave’d or just visited my novice site over the past 2 ½ months. In particular, a huge thanks to those of you who’ve stopped by and commented on some of my pages – all your words of encouragement and support have been very much appreciated. It’s an honour and a privilege to have joined the Garden Bloggers – what a wonderful community of positive-thinking enthusiasts you are, a real tonic in today’s uncertain world. With your wonderful pictures, humourous stories, project descriptions and tales of how you co-exist, and relish your relationship, with the great outdoors, every garden blog that I have visited I have found fascinating, both within and beyond Scotland’s shores. I look forward to continued ‘virtual rambles’ round your gardens as we turn the corner into spring (or autumn, for some of you!). To everyone, a very Happy Hogmanay, and all best wishes for 2013.


To protect the identity of the sheep referred to in this article, this picture features the entire flock

Each morning over the Christmas break, I have started my day with a dawn walk along the drive with Sir Bruce and Ronnie, my canine companions. Sir Bruce has returned to spend his Christmas holidays with us. Hopefully some of his elder statesman-like ways will rub off on his younger, rather delinquent ‘nephew’.

So there we were ambling along when my ears were accosted by a dull thudding sound seemingly coming from the sheep field. I looked round but there was no sign of anything untoward except, er, sheep, which are (with apologies to sheep farmers everywhere) not the most dynamic animals on the planet – that said, we did have an earlier flock of sheep in our field which clearly had aspirations of winning the High Jump at London 2012, as they spent most of their short tenancy vaulting the fence to our garden, before being sent back! Anyhow, on we progressed a little further on our doggy exploration. A further thud sounded out, whereupon I looked around again to find two of the ewes staring at each other like a pair of over-sized sheep-themed bookends. One of them then proceeded to give the other a forceful head-butt. Curiously the recipient of said ‘Glasgow kiss’ just stood there, seemingly unaffected and rather non-plussed, while the protagonist prepared herself for the next bout…obviously they were in the process of settling some sort of arg-ewe-ment.


Whitecurrant bushes

With the fruit trees now finished, I am, more or less, back on ground level and have spent the last week or so dodging the high winds, cold temperatures and sharp showers pruning the red, black and white currants. We have several elderly bushes of each which were in the garden when we arrived, and each year I have to resort to my well-thumbed The Fruit Expert by Dr DG Hessayon, as the reds and whites are pruned one way, and the blacks another – get it wrong, and no fruit! The birds are usually the main beneficiaries of the red and white currants as they are somewhat fiddly to pick, but we usually get a handsome crop from the blackcurrants, which interestingly exude an air of blackcurrant cordial even in mid-winter when pruning them!


David Austin rose, still blooming in December, with tracery of recently pruned gooseberry in the background


My garden companion, assisting with blackcurrant pruning

And then the gooseberries, which, for some reason, and like a lot of other things, we have growing up our walls in fans. Not my most favourite task as the thorns are lethal and capable of penetrating 99% of all known gardening gloves. The reward? A marvellous, early spring, apple-green flush of leaves with flowers thronged by bees (and leaves thronged by caterpillars) in search of an early spring meal.

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19 Responses to A Hogmanay miscellany of head-butting sheep, currant affairs and holey hands!

  1. So glad to have found your blog! I can tell you have a fun sense of humor. Sheep are interesting creatures, indeed! Happy New Year!


    • Thank you very much! I enjoyed your best and worst feature – quite agree re. Cosmos. We grew this last year and it flowered for months! In the next couple of weeks I”ll be doing a post on Dalkeith Palace which is not far away. That is now the summer school outstation for the Uni of Wisconsin…


  2. Ruth2Day says:

    is the picture in your heading your garden? If yes, I am so jealous, it is absolutely gorgeous 🙂 loved this word – arg-ewe-ment LOL 🙂


  3. Holleygarden says:

    I agree with you that the garden blogging community is truly wonderful. Such positive, helpful people. I love how the gooseberries are growing up your walls! Too bad they are so thorny! Happy New Year!


  4. pbmgarden says:

    Looking forward to more of your Scottish Country Garden in 2013. Happy Hogmanay!


  5. I love your humor mixed in with the humus!

    Blessings in 2013 ~ Wendy from Canada


  6. Anna B says:

    Happy Hogmanay! I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog. I didn’t realise but we must have started blogging at a similar time! I published my first post on October 31st. Wishing you all the very best for next year. Looking forward to seeing more of your splendid walled garden 🙂


  7. I don’t own a farm or a flock of sheep but at the movies the other day everyone formed a line and filed into one door despite have 3 others to choose from. Once inside, they all stopped and formed a traffic jam so they could buy their movie tickets from the lone teenage girl working the register instead of stepping to the side to use the automated ticket machine, which is faster and has a better attitude. Someone even gave me a nasty look when they saw that I had my tickets before everyone else. Ah, the benefits of independent thought. I may not have sheep but apparently I live in the midst of an entire flock. Happy New Year! 🙂


  8. A happy Hogmanay ! I had to look up that word but now that I know what it means, I’m comfortable wishing it to you ! We have a few elderberry bushes, it seems we can never get a good crop because I blame the birds, but maybe it’s just that we’re not pruning them. Thanks for sharing the “goings on” of your garden and it inhabitants. I wouldn’t want to get into an arg-ewe-ment with those girls! Sandi


  9. Happy Hogmanay to you! I am always eager to read your posts when I receive them in my inbox…such a delight. I do not have many berries except a few bushes of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Not a great yield but the birds adore them…I would love a stone wall where I could grow fruit….can’t wait for your images in spring of flowering trees and bushes followed by luscious fruit. I do know about thorns and gloves…I have some roses that penetrate my best rose gloves…Happy New Year!


    • Thanks Donna. I don’t begrudge the birds their ‘5 a day’ as they are a great feature, particularly at this time of year. When I was working outside yesterday morning I was joined by a robin, a thrush and a blackbird! I’m hoping for a good blossom too- roll on May! Thanks for your continued support. Happy New Year!


  10. lyntochter says:

    Speaking of redcurrants, yes, they are fiddly to pick and a couple of years ago when we had a bumper crop and managed to get them before the birds, I resorted to just snipping them off, stalks and all to be stored in the freezer as is. This Christmas I pulled out a bag, stewed them up, passed through a sieve and then boiled them up with some sugar. The result, not exactly red currant jelly but tasty, redcurrant cheese, which I think is the technical description. Happy New Year!


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