Parakeet visitor.

So Christmas is over, I do hope you all had a happy festive time.  A few good days with unusually mild weather has certainly brought the squirrels out to play.  They are digging in ever plant pot, and pulling out the cyclamen and other small bulbs, and generally being a bit of a pest.  Harry put chicken wire over some pots to protect them from little paws, but it can't really be done over some other pots.  It doesn't look very attractive but it does work.
We did get a rather noisy, colourful visitor over the last few days - a green parakeet!  I don't know if he/she is an escapee from somewhere near, or if it is one of those that have now found a home in Edinburgh.  Apparently they originated from the foothills of the Himalayas so they have acclimatised well to living in the UK. So far, I have seen him eating the last few berries of the Rowan tree, and either the buds or flowers (or both) of the Viburnum.  He has been getting mobbed by the crows, jackdaws and magpies but he doesn't seem overly bothered by them.  I did read somewhere that in areas where there are flocks of these noisy parakeets, the chattering and vocabulary amongst the other bird species increases.  We shall see (or hear).  As much as it is nice to see him, I don't fancy have a flock of them around, making a racket and eating everything in sight.

wildlife, birds, parakeet,
Green parakeet eating Rowan berries

wildlife, birds, parakeet,
Green parakeet eating Viburnum buds or flowers (or both)


And cue the rain...

well we did have a couple of beautifully sunny, but freezing days here, but now it is back to the drizzly rain.  The poor wildlife, the pond and bird bath were frozen over so I have to keep taking out fresh water for them.  I do hope my frost-proof terracotta pots will be ok - we have had so much rain that most of my pots are waterlogged despite some of them being on little feet, or under the bench or table. As much as I detest being cold,  I love taking frosty photos, so out I go, wearing loads of layers to brave the chilly weather just to take some snaps - so here are just a few.   The sun is low at this time of year so a lot of the garden gets no sunshine at all, but when it does hit the frost, it twinkles.  The frost crystals on the saxifrage are so long that it makes the normally flat rosettes of leaves look positively fluffy.

fern, frost,
frosty fern

fern, frost,
frosty fern

fern, frost,
frosty fern

saxifrage, frost,
frosty saxifrage

sunburst on frost

low sun on frosty branches

rose, frost,
frost on rose

fern, sun,
low sun on hair fern


Cold and frosty mornings...

can make for photo opportunities. The temperatures have been down to -3 C early morning for the last few days and it is just mid November.  I really hate being cold but I quite like macro photography so the frosty mornings always look like a great opportunity to take some macro shots of ice crystals.   Not only do I shake with the cold, but I have found there is a lot of camera shake just pressing the shutter button so I have been trying out using my mobile phone as a remote control (my mirrorless Sony alpha 5100 doesn't have a space for one).  It works ok but isn't that great, and I also find that I just can't get into the best position to take the shot I want.  I did however get a couple of good shots of frosty crystals.  Need more practise.

Heath and his friend Cobis (sp?) very kindly came round to move the rhododendron for us the other day.  It is now in the right hand, back corner (where the Chamaecyparis used to be) and it looks much better already and really fills that corner.  They also planted the new Enkianthus campanulatus to the left of it.  The Pieris japonica Forest flame, to the right, will get a good prune once it has flowered in the spring, as it has gone into a weird shape and is very top heavy. It has loads of flower buds just now so I would like to enjoy the flowers first if  these frosts don't damage them.  I now have a lot of planting space at the front of that border, so I need to think about how I am going to fill it up. That area gets some sun in the morning but is in deep shade by the golf course trees by noon.  The tree canopy also means is can get a bit dry there in the summer.  In winter once the leaves have fallen the area enjoys more rain.

Next on the 'to do' list is to sort out the congested areas by the pond, so, Rosie from Watergems is coming round to see exactly what needs to be done.

plants, frost,
Frosty Leptinella squalida Platt's black

plants, flowers, frost,
Frosty Saxifraga umbrosa

Frost crystals close up

Rhododendron moved


It's raining again...

so I have been indoors pottering about in the conservatory and tending to my house plants rather than braving the cold and very soggy garden.  I managed to over-water one of my peace lilies so I separated the plants, dried them off, and have replanted so hopefully I have saved at least one of them. I have cut back the straggly looking mint, and have taken the yellowing leaves from the parsley plants.   The greenfly are still around so I check my plants almost daily to make sure I keep on top of any potential infestation.  Now I don't normally move my cactus plants (for fear of dropping them on my lap!) but I wanted to make sure I hadn't over-watered them too. I am glad I did as nestled at the base of one, was a clump of slug eggs. I have been trying to take better, or at least  more interesting photographs lately, and am using an app (AYWMC) to help me with this.  The exercise this week is to use an editing program and play about with the different editing tools so I used the slug eggs for my exercise. It was fun but I may have overdone the editing.  They were in a string but by the time I had faffed around with placing them at different angles and with different lighting and backing, some of the strings broke.  I found a separate egg that had an embryo showing through the transparent casing. 

wildlife, slugs,
a string of slug egges

wildlife, slugs,
slug egg with embryo


A few days without rain... yeah!

We had a lovely day day of sunshine yesterday and today is warm and sunny too.  Sadly that won't last but at least it has been nice weather to do some gardening in.  I have been ripping out a few old rather scraggy looking ferns that were just filling some space until I got some new plants.  So some lovely new ferns have now been planted out, some of them have coppery tones, some are small spreading ones, one is silvery coloured and one is for a hole in the wall.  Can't wait to see how they come on next year.  I really wanted to tackle the viburnum bodnantense dawn as some of the older stem/trunks are very gnarled and really aught to come out but I will have to be patient and do that late winter/early summer after it has had it's main flowering season.
I finally managed to get a quick snap on my phone camera of the Speckled wood butterfly.  Wow are they flighty!  I have spotted quite a few speckled woods this year  and as far as I know they have green caterpillars.  I also spotted a  Grey dagger moth caterpillar (just molting it's skin I think).  It brings back childhood memories of when I used to sit beneath our very small tree in our back garden, with my collection of these these bright caterpillar on my face! I know it was a strange thing to do, but at least I put them all back where I found them. 

Pararge aegeria (speckled wood butterfly)

Acronicta psi (Grey dagger moth) caterpillar


More of the same...

sunshine and showers.  For the last couple of months it has been showery weather, but you never know if you are going to get a quick sprinkle of a shower, or a heavy ninja shower.  Some parts of the garden are moist, whereas the areas under the tree canopies are so dry they are cracking up.  I am going to have to get the hose out even in the rain!  Lots of plants going over now but some are hanging on.

It was the Duddingston Kirk Garden Club Annual Flower Show at the weekend and it was a great day.  Jolly hard work but worth it all in the end.  Back in April I photographed my streptocarpus and button fern plants and some snails.  I entered those at the show and woohoo...the streptocarpus won 1st prize in that class, and the button fern won 1st class in the foliage pot.  My pot of leaf celery won the pot of herbs class, and the snail photo got me 2nd prize in the photography class.  I also got a prize for my handicraft but did not do very well on my vases of perennials, vase of foliage, and single rose.  It was nice to see the riot of colour of all the entries for the floral art and vases of flowers.

Early one morning in august, I took a quick snap, with my phone camera, of a couple of foxy visitors.  I always like to see them in the garden. They don't come into the garden very often now.   I haven't been quick enough to get good photos of the butterflies, but again, I got a quick snap, with my phone camera, of a peacock butterfly as it rested on the path in front of me.  All those lovely flowers and it settles on the path.

I have been trying to get to grips with my mirror-less camera so took various shots of a cactus flower as it went from bud to full flower.  These flowers go over very quickly, sometimes lasting just a day, but they smell absolutely wonderful, filling the whole conservatory with scent just from one single flower.  I have only ever had 2 flowers on the same cactus at one time.   The hoya bella has strange little flowers that feel quite waxy and give a lovely scent, but he petals look almost furry.  Previously I had a hoya bella that was quite compact and I hung it up so that I could see the flowers that dangle  facing downwards. but I was given this one which is more like a triffid with only a few very long stems and not many flowers.  I am not sure what to do with it really - I could wrap the long stems around a frame I guess.  The cyclamen in the conservatory are starting to wake up and flower now.  The big old one is much slower at waking up but I am so glad that it is still alive and well.  It may be old and craggy but it flowers well.

Well it is sunny at the moment but we are getting ready for the next lot of heavy rain. Sigh!

Pot plant section at the Duddingston Kirk Garden Club Annual flower show.

Duddingston Kirk Garden Club Annual flower show

wildlife, foxes,
2 foxy visitors

wildlife, butterfly,
Peacock butterfly

Clematis seed head

plants, flowers,
Cactus flower bud

plants, flowers,
Cactus flower from beneath

plants, flowers,
Cactus flower throat

plants, flowers,
Hoya bella


July, in between ninja showers...

it is muggy, sunny, and hot.  Lots of my plants have some kind of rust or mould on them..  The meadow sweet, verbena bonariensis and a few others have powdery mildew.  Some of the roses have rust and black-spot.  Some huecheras have rust.  I have sprayed the roses again, and have just given them their final feed so I hope they will pick up a bit.  I have taken off most of the rusty leaves form plants, but the powdery mildew can be quite stubborn  I am having the constant battle with the humongous slugs and have resorted to using some 'Sluggo' near my new delphiniums as I am sick of my new plants disappearing overnight.
Normally at this time of year I see loads of bees covering the purple lavender, veronica and agastache out in the front garden but this year there are only a few about.  The agastache to the left of the mahonia is devoid of all leaves courtesy of slugs and snails, while the ones at the right side are fine. The purple loose-strife, persicaria, hedge woundwort, verbascums, geraniums, delphiniums, cat-mint and a foxgloves are still attracting bees and other pollinators.
I finally moved the old bird-bath plinth from the patio as it was falling apart and found it had been a good home for the green cellar slugs (which are good guys) so I let them find a new home behind the patio plant pots.  I found a cricket on the garage wall (horrid photo taken with my phone) which was nice.  We used to hear crickets when we first moved here, but haven't seen or heard any for years now so maybe they have come back this year? All over the garden are lots of tree seeds: mainly sycamore keys and tiny silver birch seeds.  They really make the place look untidy but I have finished dead-heading and weeding for today and I am off out to enjoy the sunshine before the next lot of torrential rain due tonight (along with thunder and hail so they say).

plants, flowers,

plants, flowers,
Veronica spicata 'Royal candles'

plants, flowers,
Persicaria affinis superbum

plants, berries,
Sorbus  hupehensis Pink pagoda berries

plants, flowers,
Delphinium cameliard

plants, flowers,
Verbascum chaxii album

Old bird-bath plinth

wildlife, slugs,
Green cellar slugs (Limacus maulatus)

wildlife, snail,
Grove snail (Cepaea normalis)


plants, seeds,
Sycamore keys (samara)