Gardening with Nature on the Edge of the Atlantic

Fourteen Years On

I moved to this garden over twelve years ago. I say garden, but it was mainly fields surrounded by barbed wire. There was a lovely stand of trees by the house but Storm Darwin put an end to about eight of them and a further five had to be removed for safety’s sake. I rarely take the time to look at how the garden has developed since then, as I am busy planning the next steps but was minded to do so when someone who had not seen it for years recently mentioned how much it had changed from bare lawn to this. I am rather pleased with the progress.

I replaced some of the fallen trees with islands of shrubs and it is now a favourite sheltered spot for the birds. This area faces South East and is at the edge of a steep hill side which I have also planted with shrubberies for protection. The oak trees are interspersed with Whitebeam and Italian Alder. The shrubs are mainly evergreen and I have tried to provide a variety of berries to keep the birds happy for much of the year.

I initially planted Camellia close to the north wall in the stand of trees as there was some shelter from the small hill behind. I have become much more confident about planting them in more exposed positions as time goes on and to date they are thriving. This is a Camellia Japonica but sadly the label does not give any more information.

I may have been too optimistic planting this new Camellia amongst the trees but am keeping my fingers crossed.

Most of the newly planted evergreen shrubs have done well and now that the oak trees have been given space and light they are finally producing a health canopy in spring and summer. A newly planted Rowan tree is also flourishing unlike the others in the more exposed parts of the garden.

Another Camellia, Japonica ‘Snow White’ surviving the vicissitudes of this extended winter. It has also retained its colour well.

The shrubs at the top of the hillside gives much needed shelter from the East and South salt-laden winds. I have recently planted two Italian Alder to replace one that died. This photograph was taken on a recent wet and dull day and the area still needs improvement. I am building a bed around a lovely Cornus ‘Kuosa Santomi’ and I think it will work well. So much work to be done.

I have no great skills as a photographer but the birds have provided plenty of entertainment this winter and spring when it has been impossible to work in the garden. The photographs also provide me with a record of how my efforts to make the garden bird friendly are progressing and to record new visitors. This year Redwings and Siskins have made an appearance and at least four of the latter are appearing daily.

This is the first year that Siskins have appeared in the garden and there are at least four using this peanut feeder each day. They are bossy creatures and I have noticed that the Greenfinches hang back from feeding until the Siskins leave. One unfortunate Blue Tit got a rough pecking when it dared to feed at the same time and also made a hasty retreat. So small and yet so tough.

This male Siskin stands out sharply with its bright yellow coat. It remains to be seen whether these birds will remain throughout the year.

I noticed that a number of people have been using this technique to show off their Hellebores and I have adopted it with enthusiasm. Now I can see them at all times on my kitchen table without venturing into the damp shrubberies. They remain one of my favourite flowers.

The Hydrangea are still hanging on to an old petal or two. This one is highlighted by the winter flowering heather in the background. It has been a long winter for them too.

I have no idea what this gelatinous substance is or whether I should be surprised or alarmed but the colour was very welcome on a damp foggy day. With luck we have seen the last of these for some months to come.

2 responses to “Fourteen Years On”

  1. Slime mould?

    This website gives me a much needed dose of green therapy during the working day – keep it going! Do you do horticulture commissions? 🙂

    Best wishes from Moray!

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