On Monday we made another visit to Branklyn Garden and it was lovely. Each time we go there is something different to see and right now the leaves on the Acers and other trees in the garden are beginning to change to some glorious Autumn colours. Masses of Colchicums, tiny Cyclamen and autumn crocus are in full bloom, with some some herbaceous planting still showing lots of colour. Excellent coffee, scones and gingerbread greatly enjoyed, sat at a table on the lawn, with the added bonus of warm sunshine and the dogs able to accompany us.
Diary for the second half of August begins with placing the Bible and Bible bag (now beautifully repaired and conserved), both of which belonged to Beatrix, wife of the founder of Innerpeffray Library, into the specially commissioned storage and display boxes sponsored by my husband and I. The beautiful boxes were made for us by a bookbinder and box maker on North Uist.
We inherited a pond with a former waterfall feature when we moved to this house. Having decided to not reinstate the waterfall we are turning it into a rockery by planting into some of the rock crevices and adding two small troughs. A work in progress, with more additions/alterations to follow. We acquired several autumn gentian plants to put in the troughs and are delighting in the variations of the blooms.
I have been researching some 18th century female borrowers at the library and it is always a delight to look at the books these people were reading. ‘La Sainte Bible’ has such wonderful illustrations on the first page.
Out on our dog walks I am always looking at the plants. Masses of fluffy thistle seed-heads everywhere along the field edges at the moment. We came across this old, variegated holly tree with peculiar pale yellow suckers all over it, some leaves with delicate tinges of other colours. And then back to our garden and the magnificent display of Japanese anemones that are currently delighting us.
We have no shortage of Bumble bees in our garden. They absolutely love the Eryngiums, whereas the honey bees don’t go near them. Yesterday, I stood and watched them for ages – no social distancing for them or me! They were coming and going all the time. Sometimes, first thing in the morning, I see one or two that have obviously been there all night and seem to be snoozing until the air warms up and then off they go. Perhaps they have drunk too much the day before and were sleeping off their hangover??
The veg in the poly tunnel is doing really well this year. Lots of heat and lots of watering. This is the first time we have grown mange tout in there and it is a huge success as we have been eating them for a few weeks. We have a second sowing of them in there starting to crop now as well. Also growing in the poly tunnel are a third sowing of salad leaves – the first two crops have already been eaten by us and i am about to sow a fourth. The climbing beans have masses of flowers on them, so we should be harvesting the results soon, and we have broad beans in there that have been smothered with flowers. The scent from them is very pleasant and the bumble bees love them, so we should have a good crop of beans. We are also growing cherry tomatoes, beetroot, carrots and parsnips in the tunnel. Four big pots of strawberry plants have given us a tasty crop of early fruit but they are almost ready to be moved outside.
Around the tunnel we have three raised beds filled with potatoes, two more sowings of mange tout, onions, beetroot, carrots, parsnips, leeks, some borage plants (for the bees), brassicas (under the green net to keep the dreaded white butterflies off the plants) and a small area of one bed that I have sown with seeds to provide me with cut flowers later in the season. We also grow sweet peas along the edges of one of the raised beds, strawberry plants in pots along one side of the tunnel, three huge pots of early potatoes and an old barrel with carrots growing in it.
There is also a large fruit cage enclosing strawberries, raspberries, black currants, red currants, gooseberries, blue berries, a Morello cherry tree and two plum trees. Outside of that we have four apple trees and a pear tree.
We enjoy propagating other things by seed and/or cuttings. Currently we have a tray full of pots of young Delphinium plants, another tray of Iris Sibirica plants that have been grown from seed, lots of pots of young candelabra primulas all grown from seed, a pot full of Arisaema seedlings, another pot full of Trillium seedlings and another full of Aquilegias, two trays full of young oak trees (nearly 50!) all grown from acorns gathered in a particular location The latter are destined for a new woodland trail being created a few miles from us.
Usually I never take much notice of grasses but this year, probably because the walking routes have not been cut, they are quite wonderful. Varying in colour, shape and size. There is one type that is growing very tall, more like a Pampas grass! Another has very pink seed heads and they all contrast beautifully with the blue-green of the corn growing in the field. The recent showers have flattened some of them or made them lean over with the extra weight of the water droplets on the seed heads.