Spring in Scotland

We are home in Abriachan and this morning was a perfect winter day.
The sunlight came across the Loch and lit up all the golden yellow and glistening dark green of evergreens. It rained overnight and drops of water were glistening along branches and giving a zest to the air.

It has been cold this past week and grey, so to see so many shrubs with flower is a real lift for the sprit.
The early Witch Hazel, Hamamelis x intermedia Pallida is wonderful. It is close by the house, looking magnificent against a blue winter sky.

Walking through the garden yesterday, it is always a surprise how good the moss looks on the stone walls. When the leaves are off the trees, the moss seems to take centre arena and is a perfect foil for winter blooms and early bulbs.

I walked up through the steps and into the woodland, elated to see the upright stems and flowers of Mahonia x media Charity. These branches pull the arch of the sky down within reach.

The Sarcococca confusa; sweet box; behind the Font Stone wall brought a gasp of pleasure as I have never seen it looking so well and with lots of the small dizzily, fragrant flowers amongst the leaves.

The final surprise yesterday was Ilex…..a wonderful variegated holly…..dripping with berries and outlined against the sky.

It’s good to be home and how great is it that our garden greets us with such splendour.

Love (and a garden) in a Warm Climate

Our daughter Elizabeth has a garden at Lyttleton on the South Island of New Zealand.
It is an overused word, but her garden really is ' lovely'
Lyttleton is a quirky village ....lots of old characterful wooden houses, arranged around the slopes of a volcanic harbour.  At the bottom of the hill is the port for Christchurch.
The busy Port and the comings and goings of container ships and ferries make Lyttelton a real lively place.

Lizzy's garden is a real cottage garden in all senses, though without livestock as yet.

She has bowers of roses and native plants side by side, and beds of annuals and old fashioned flowers like columbines next to lush rows of potatoes and beds of silver beet and kale.  Leeks and many coloured lettuce and fruit bushes backing up and filling border gaps.
If Lizzy has learnt anything from her nurserymen parents, it is to feed and to make compost, both of which she does.
New Zealand is blessed with warm summers and mild winters, but with enough of a chill in the winter to ensure the plants have a real rest season and know where they are.
Elizabeth has also learnt our love of annuals and the garden is hence ensured of pots of summer colour - cornflowers, pot marigold, cosmos, and lots of sweet peas.
And here and there are the native plants, flax, southern beech, ake-ake.  All happy and thriving and full of birds in the early morning and late afternoon. You have to love the liquid notes of the bell birds and the fantails, along side naturalised European birds, the yellowhammers and goldfinches and black birds.

She has to water a lot with the dry New Zealand winds and strong strong sunlight. This will become less as she builds up the humus and fertility in the soil.
Whilst deadheading in Lizzy's garden today, It struck me that it is the job of every gardener to pass on their soil in better condition than they found it.  Viva la compost!
MD Lyttelton.  January 2013

A Pohutukawa Christmas

We are in the South Island of New Zealand again, visiting family and friends for Christmas and New Year and taking every chance to get out into the hills and the native bush.
We also spend a fair amount of time looking over fences and into people's gardens as we walk up the steep hills here in Lytellton.

What you notice straight away is that many of the tender summer bedding plants we grow at home in Scotland, do exceptionally well here, in fact they thrive.
Banks of geraniums, vast clumps of pelargoniums, flowering clumps of aeoniums and roses to die for.
The roses, the roses, it makes  you  understand that many roses really love a milder winter.


Many of the modern Hybrid T roses look great. In Scotland, Iceberg is a virus ridden, frequently black spotted, defoliated white floribunda, here it is a healthy vigorous shrub and completely reliable white!
David Austin roses are very popular  here.  I believe that is because many of the repeat flowering modern roses that he raises also love a mild winter.

Of course, It can get too hot and dry in their New Zealand summers, but they really can't have it all ways!

The large white scramblers and coloured ramblers are magnificent, as you can see.

Oh my, it does inspire you to have another go, and hope and hope that we get that long overdue good summer.  To dream

Beautiful Red Pohutukawa
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