Easter Greetings!

 wpid-20130330_172239-1.jpgAfter a week of almost nightly snowfalls, the garden has been slow to shed its white mantle, very different from late March last year when we enjoyed temperatures in the low 20’s C.

Much of the garden is still snow-covered, with the area between the yew hedges and the shade border still covered by 3-4 inches. Most of the lawn too is still covered, although nearly all the ground outside the walls is now snow-free, as are the south-facing borders in the walled garden, where the sun has had an effect.

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The shade border remains snowbound!

Despite daytime temperatures struggling to exceed 5 degrees and overnights dropping to -4 degrees or so, marked by opaque, frosted greenhouse glass, the garden is gradually coming back to life.

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the alpine primulas

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P. denticulata

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Flowering currant

Almost as soon as the snow disappeared off the alpine querns, the primulas with their simple blue flowers and serrated leaves have burst into bloom. Indeed, it is primula time of year, with the polyanthus continuing to try to put on a show, and the P. denticulata pompoms starting their journey skywards. The first daffodils have made it just in time to adorn the Easter table and the flowering currant has continued to push out it drooping blossom.

Meanwhile, the first of the herbaceous continues to produce its early ‘tufts’ of new growth, a welcome sight in the bare borders.

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the photogenic Polyanthus

In the greenhouse, some welcome sunshine in the last few days has finally triggered the sweet peas, leeks and early lettuce from their torpor. Despite no real warmth outside, the temperature in the greenhouse today reached a very acceptable 18 degrees C, so we have continued with our seed-planting – herbaceous perennials and some biennials at this stage. The summer bedding and perennials requiring a little more warmth to germinate we’ll do in 2-3 weeks’ time, when the overnight temperatures are comfortably in positive figures.

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Tree paeony bud

While growth has been held back this year (we still have some very decent snowdrops and even aconites in bloom), a succession of very cold nights has had some benefits. We should see fewer pests this year and after a very wet winter, the soil has been nicely ‘freeze-drying’ which should make it quite friable for putting in the new trees and shrubs we purchased a few weeks ago, still sitting in their pots awaiting release!

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the Walled Garden during the week

Spring perhaps is finally here.

The weather forecast hints that we may now have seen the last of the winter snows. Perhaps, for those in similar climes, this is the same for you?

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dark-leaved Hellebore

Wishing you a very Happy Easter!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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.