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Gardeners Log May 2010

Thursday 6th May Crarae

We spent our 43rd. Wedding anniversary visiting Crarae. The Rhododendrons are spectacular just now as are the Camellias where they have been sheltered from frost damage. Good walking and a lovely ravine setting makes Crarae special. The interpretation signing is really interesting and informative. What a lovely setting close to Loch Fyne.

Annie at Crarae.

The Loch Fyne Oyster Bar is always worth a visit. Tony and Gordon weren't there this time. I believe they were busy somewhere else. Not too disappointed. Bought kippers and venison steaks. Yum yum!

The Tree Shop next door has some excellent plants available. E.g. vegetable seedlings and David Austin's Roses jumped out at us. The vegetable plants I bought are destined for the Adventure Playground, Linn Park, Glasgow and we purchased Rose Albertine for the jungle.


Skunk Cabbage at Crarae Gardens National Trust for Scotland.

























The weather was sunny and sometimes cloudy. It was warm and no jacket was needed in the "Himalayan micro climate". Inspired to work in the jungle when we reached home.


Friday 7th. May Adventure Playground Linn Park Glasgow.

Head gardener for an afternoon. Six boys and girls from St Oswalds School planted cabbage and cauliflower and watered them in liberally. We also protected the newly planted greens by laying light willow wands over them. This keeps the pigeons off. The local pigeons would enjoy a feast if we didn't disguise the cabbage patch. We all enjoyed this burst of activity in the sun and fresh air.


Saturday 8 May.

Barbecued (BBQ) in the sun. What are gardens for? One year we had thirty people for a BBQ. They were from Dalian in China, Nurnberg in Germany, Rostov on Don in Russia and Glasgow. A piper played for our guests. In fact I had to persued him to stop and have something to eat and gie us peace.

The children from Glasgow's twin cities designed a play area for Easterhouse in Glasgow and spent a few days helping to create it. It has a Great Wall of China which is a bit of fun.

I laid on chop sticks for the Chinese children which they studiously ignored. The children from the other cities used them instead. Are'nt young people amazing.

The most popular dish for the day was barbecued Rainbow Trout - especially with the Chinese party who eat lots of fish at home. I can safely say that everyone had a good day.


Sunday 9 May

Day of rest - yes ... in the garden.


Monday 10 May

Forked border and firmed. Planted 70 onion sets. Yes we do like onions.

I repaired the back of one of my garden seats. I used recycled wood from another bench and a redundant rail which used to seperate two parts of the garden.

Gordon indicated his intention to stand down as Prime Minister.

I used the RHS web site for the first time today. It is packed full of useful information, including practical advice, and I recommend it to my gardening friends.


Thursday 13 May

I lead a party of twelve ladies to Glenwhan Water Gardens, Dunragit near Stranraer.



One of a number of lochans at Glenwhan.




















We stopped at Dowhill Farm Shop on the way down for excellent freshly baked scones. Glenwhan garden is cellebrating it's thirtieth birthday with a Hog Roast on Sunday the sixteenth of May. Sounds like fun.


The weather started off bright enough but became very dull as the day progressed with rain at about three pm. Despite this we enjoyed excellent walks in the gardens and in the adjacent moorland. Thirty years ago it was all moorland. What a spectacular achievement in a relatively short time. Congratulations to Tessa and Bill Knott for their magnificent contribution to Scotland's gardens.


Many Rhododendrons were looking at their best. Most but not all Camelias were over or just going over. There was plenty to see and this is a garden you fall in love with on your first visit. It is never boring to go back.  


May 15 to 22. Cullen
























Cullen Bay looking out to the Bow Fiddle Rock at Portnockie.


We spent a glorious week in hot, hot, hot sunshine in and around the Banffshire seaside village of Cullen. We were based at the Cullen Harbour Hostel in the cosy holiday cottage which is well appointed with most modern conveniences.


We saw a pod of Dolphins passing across Cullen Bay. We also enjoyed an amazing sunset which I captured on camera.

Whilst up north we visited Elgin Cathedral which was known as the Lantern of the North. This was attributed to the wonderful stained glass and not as I had believed to the burning of the building by the Wolf of Badenoch. Banffshire is a wonderful place and is home to many whisky Distilleries including Strathisla in Keith. Others include Chivas Regal (Keith) and Glenfiddoch (Duffton).


May 30 - 4 June

Travelled to Kirkwall in Orkney for a brilliant week visiting islands and sites of early civilsation.



The Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm.


We loved Hoy, the Highlands of the Orkney islands. The girls walked from Rackwick Youth Hostel to the Old Man of Hoy. There and back in two hours which beats the three hours recommended for the walk. They looked elated and felt great after their achievement. Right.


We met some smashing people on our travels. I have a long conversation with a local farmer which I enjoyed very much. There is something lovely about the Orcadian language even thought they may anglize it a bit for foriegners. Rachel Horwell from New Zealand played her penny whistle at our impromtu celeidh in the hostel. Francis and Brian sang. We are all too busy to enter Britains Got Talent! Shame. There is no business like show business. Especially the morning after the night before.


We visited Rousay and loved the garden at Trumland just as you leave the ferry. It is being restored. The woodland garden is beautiful. Without visiting you would never know that the island would support such a lovely garden which is improving all the time. 

Primula vulgaris is abundant on many of the islands.


We loved the magnificent Italian Chapel created in a nissen hut next to the Churchill. Barriers. It was a stroke of genious to permit it's creation and to keep it when all the others huts in the prisoner of war camp were cleared. What a wondersful testament to the humane treatment of Italian prisoners of war some of whom returned to conserve the chapel in the sixties.


I have no doubt that many of us will return again to the Orkney Islands. It is a wonderful part of Scotland. We covered 900 miles there and back from Glasgow. Travelled on six ferries. Saw wonderful places such as Skara Brae, Kirkwall Cathedral and the Ring of Bodgar. Managed to slip in the Highland Park Distillery.


I brought a Bere bannock home with me. Bere is an ancient form of Barley believed to have been introduced to Scotland by the Vikings. Delicious! Pioneers - Irene, Francis, Margaret, Sylvia, Wilma, Laura and Brian did this first expedition to the Orkney Islands together!


The fun side of Garden Walks.

We try to squeeze in a few activities such as beach walk if we are near the seaside. People love water and what better way to cool down on a hot day than to paddle.




Laura and Irene do a balancing act at the entrance to Crail Harbour. Watch out for Crails famous crabs girls!