Scottish Garden: What we've done so far

Published on 26 January 2022 at 14:26

You probably know that we left our last garden last spring and have moved to a much smaller garden where bugs and beasties are in short supply.

We pretty much left it alone last summer to see what came up but now it’s time to “get it wilder”. (I would say “rewilding” but that conjures up images of acres with roaming wild cattle and this is a small village garden with roaming cats).

We've always tended to ignore the celebrity gardeners with their tidiness and chemicals. Our garden will be shared with any other species that happens along.  (Unless it’s baboons, I’m not sure I could cope with baboons).

We have an area of real lawn, which will only be mowed occasionally using a high cut.  If you can, it’s a good idea to leave an area to grow longer and see what wildflowers appear. This is a really good way of starting a wildflower meadow if you have the room.  We did this last summer , not only "No Mow May" but No Mow June, July and August as well. Not a lot came up which was probably down to some of the nasty chemicals we found left in the shed.

The boring empty lawn which we've seeded with clover, daisies and selfheal.

Lovely dandelions in one of the beds, hopefully the seeds floated lawnwards.

If I stand on tip-toes I can see the surrounding hills from the garden.

The usual lawn flowers, (dandelions, daisies, clover etc.) are fantastic for bees and other pollinators so if you’re lucky enough to have any, please leave them.

This is the one bed we tackled last year. Apart from the dianthus and a huge fern this bed was overgrown with grass.

This was the only creature we found while weeding the bed. Sadly lacking in worms or beetles. 

We do have lots of birds. These are a pair of juvenile siskins starting to work out how to get food from the feeder.

We tend not to use machinery.  Strimmers cause so many injuries to hedgehogs and amphibians each year. If you must use them, please walk the area first and check any long grass for hiding creatures.  Even leaf blowers are thought to kill insects hiding in the leaves. One year we might get around to making leafmould but until then the earthworms will take care of them for us, (let's hope we've got some somewhere).  

These two oak barrels came with us from Norfolk. At the end of May we filled one with water and some native pond plants, Common Cotton Grass, Marsh Marigold, Milfoil and Frogbit

Before the end of June some water beetles had moved in. 

The other barrel we kept well-watered and planted it up with Meadowsweet, Purple Loosestrife, Ragged Robin and Marsh Mallow.  By the summer solstice it was becoming obvious we'd put far too many plants in. 

The bed behind the barrels was planted up with a mixture of wildflowers and old-fashioned cottage garden plants. These along with the purple loosestrife in the "damp barrel" provided a lot of colour and lots of food for bees and hoverflies. 

We don’t consider that any insects are  “pests” that need dealing with, instead we think of them as necessary and as lacewing, ladybird and hoverfly food.   We get a few holes in leaves but  we’ve never thought it was a big deal. Pests like Aphids and caterpillars can be a worry but before you reach for that spray, wait a couple of weeks.  You’ll be surprised at how quickly someone will turn up to solve the problem for you. 

Marmalade hoverfly

Ladybird laying eggs

Recently hatched ladybird larvae and aphids

By not spraying you allow helpful insects to become established in your garden and before long an equilibrium will be reached with pests and predators in balance. This means less for us to do, more time in the deck-chair watching the butterflies and the birds, (did you know that blue tit chicks each need over 100 caterpillars a day?)   

Last year we only made a very small start on the garden but it was very pleasant to sit on the tiny patio area surrounded by bees

There's some lovely roses in the garden including this white one which might be Kiftgate. Whatever it is, the bees loved it.

We've also got several spireas which are very popular with the bumblebees.

Our last garden wasn’t sprayed with anything, for the 13 years we were there and was full of wildlife and healthy plants.

It will be interesting to see how quickly we can turn this garden around. Our first job is to remove all the plants the bees shunned last year, (mainly rhododendrons), and get sowing and planting insect friendly varieties.

Compost and seeds at the ready (peat-free of course)

The bag of Fertile Fibre is one I've had for a couple of years but will still be perfectly good for seed sowing. I've just found somewhere locally that I can buy Sylvagrow which made me very happy.

These two are my favourite brands of compost, totally peat-free, very pleasant to use and I've had good results with both of them. 

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Carolyn Ritchie
2 years ago

Hi there. I had a short conversation on Twitter today and promised I’d take a look at your site... well done to you both for taking on this new venture and welcome to Scotland (I see you’ve been here a wee while now). I’m just starting to sow seeds myself just now, so I’ll have a look at what you have on offer in the next week or so. Really think I may try some Marshmallow this year. All the best. 😊