02 Oct ’14 – Gardening generosity

Like so many other of life’s activities, gardening is full of adages and sayings. One I heard recently and truly like is “If you want to save a plant, give it away“. I think this can be attributed to the late, great Kath Dryden.

Only by sharing plants, bulbs, cuttings and seeds can we ensure that our most treasured plants survive the problems of pests, diseases, weather and the many forms of torture they suffer at the hands of gardeners (myself included). The more gardens that a plant is growing in the safer it is (eggs in baskets and all that) and these provide a source of material from which to reintroduce it into our own gardens if we lose it.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been on the receiving end of such generosity on a number of occasions, and now that I’m in a position to have enough material to share I’ll also be passing on material from my treasures when I can.

Snowdrops - Nanny's nivalis

These common snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis are nothing out of the ordinary but are special because they are from by Nan’s garden. I’m now their sole custodian, so I should at least split these up and plant them in two or three different spots.

Another one I like was a response from Bob Flowerdew on a recent Gardeners’ Question Time. When asked when was the best time to take cuttings he replied : “When no-one is looking“!

01 Oct ’14 – Crocus confusion

From time to time surprises crop up. This is not unusual when buying bulbs, with misnamed plants occurring occasionally due to a mix up in growing beds, packing etc.

Crocus NOT pulchellus Crocus NOT pulchellus flower

These bulbs were ordered as Crocus pulchellus and should have white anthers/pollen, deep yellow blotches at the base of the petals and a shorter stigma. The yellow anthers, palest yellow throat and stigma over-topping the anthers indicate that this plant is actually Crocus speciosus subsp. speciosus.

Crocus speciosus buds

I did order C. speciosus subsp. speciosus at the same time, which is what these buds are labelled as. If I’m lucky they might turn out to be C. pulchellus. We’ll find out tomorrow when they unfurl…

Crocus laevigatus AH.0153

This Crocus laevigatus AH.0153 has a lovely delicate blush.

Crocus medius 'Millesimo' Crocus kotschyanus leucopharynx RW

Shown previously, but still putting up flowers are Crocus ligusticus (syn. C. medius) ‘Millesimo’ and Crocus kotchyanus var. leucopharynx.

30 Sep ’14 – More ‘drops

The autumn-flowering Galanthus peshmenii (Gp) has now been joined by G. reginae-olgae (Gr-o). Not so different at a first glance, but Gr-o has more green foliage with a clear silver stripe down the centre, whilst Gp has glaucous (green-greyish) leaves. There are also differences in the size and shape of the green markings on the inner petals. It used to be thought that there were differences in whether plants flowered with or without leaves present, but from all the plants I’ve seen both species can bloom with or without the foliage.

Galanthus reginae-olgae

Galanthus reginae-olgae.

29 Sep ’14 – Stooking the corn

Sometimes it feels like stepping back in time, but I love this time of year and getting out to help ‘stook’ the corn. The sheaves are propped up, 6 to a stook to dry before they are built into ‘toitchean’ (intermediate, mini-stacks) and finally corn stacks.


The corn I’ve helped stook today will be used to feed the beleaguered corn buntings on the Uists over the winter.


28 Sep ’14 – Take time to enjoy your surroundings

I’ve been in gardens a lot this weekend, partly paid gardening work (hard work, sore back). It’s easy to get bogged down in a task, especially the truly mundane tasks such as mowing. It’s important to remember to take 5 minutes every now and then to take in the bigger picture and enjoy the place you’re in.

Uist Dawn

Autumn is a great time to some spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Here is sunrise from our garden.

27 Sep ’14 – Be both beautiful and useful

Gardening and plants are too often divided into the ‘pretty’ ornamental plants that grace our borders and the ‘utilitarian’ veggies etc. that are usually grown out of sight at the end of the garden or away on an allotment. Well, there’s a lot to be said for the approach of a potager or traditional cottage gardens, which mixed things up a bit. So many vegetable plants can be beautiful to look at and many ornamental plants make great companions, attracting pollinators or warding off pests. Why not squeeze some curly kale into your winter bedding scheme or marigolds around the edges of your vegetable beds?


Dill is a favourite herb, the flowers look good and provide food for insects such as hoverflies, which are helpful as pollinators and their larvae predate plant pests.