Thursday, September 30, 2010

First frost

Michaelmas daisies are a sign that Autumn is here. Much as I would like to, I cannot claim these for my own garden.

They grow on the roadside verge, just opposite Skip. I guess someone in the past has planted these, and they have thrived. I have a darker blue version, not nearly as prolific!

Despite everyone telling me (even the Beechgrove Garden the other night) that heather/conifer gardens are somewhat old fashioned, I remain a fan. This summer I've been replanting many of the heathers which had been looking a bit tired. Given the relative unpopularity of heathers these days, most garden centres don't stock a big selection. To get what I wanted (a yellow/bronze foliage Erica carnea) I stopped off at the Speyside Heather Centre near Dulnain Bridge when I was up north recently and today planted out five Ann Sparkes plants to fill the space I had earmarked.

The white mound is the centre of the pic is one of my all time favourites - Calluna Vulgaris Kinlochruel. How this heather got its name can be found on the Heather Society website here.

Wamphray experienced its first frost last week. I had an early start one day and had to scrape the car windscreen. It could not have been too severe, as the non-stop begonias are still not stopping, and these great value colour plants are usually the first to tip over when it gets cold.

The leaves on the big beech trees around the house are just beginning to change colour, and it won't be long until I'm hoovering them up for the compost heap.

Dull, miserable, cold days, and I thought it time to start feeding the birds again. I usually stop doing this over the summer months. This week the feeders have had a good wash, and a couple of new ones purchased. I have two 'stations' at different parts of the garden. These feeders I can watch from the conservatory.

I wonder how long before the local birds find them again?

This station I can watch from my bedroom window. I called in to my favourite garden centre to make my purchases yesterday. The staff were setting out displays of Christmas decorations and gift items. Eighty-five days to go, see here. Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rails North

I had the opportunity for a few days break, and that took me north. Here, the evening sunshine lights up the mountain top looking over Loch Morlich.

Of course, by the time the morrow came, the weather wasn't quite as good! Riding the funicular on Cairngorm was one of the objectives of the weekend, and I must admit that I enjoyed the experience.... despite the conditions.

Entering the highest 'underground' railway station in the UK!

All about the mountain and the funicular is here.

My main aim was to spend some time on the Strathspey Railway. I had a great morning. 'J94' class 0-6-0 saddle tank, No. 68030, pulled us along to Broomhill and back to Aviemore.

Recently restored Caley 828 was in steam running footplate experience trips, here just coming in to Boat of Garten station.

The Strathspey Railway is a well run heritage line, with friendly staff, and I really enjoyed my day. I hope the plans to extend through to Grantown-on-Spey will be successful.

I had the briefest of visits to the Whisky Line, the Keith and Dufftown Railway. This is Dufftown Station.

No steam here, but this DMU was running last Saturday. More on the line's rolling stock is here.

I was rather taken by this Pullman carriage, a static exhibit at Dufftown! I look forward to another visit sometime in the future.

The holiday was not all rails. There was the opportunity to meet up with some old friends, as well as a chance to take in the new visitor centre at Culloden, which is every bit as good as the publicity. And here I am, washed up on the beach at Dornoch!

Pics © Skip Cottage

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Into Autumn

This time of year, as my thoughts turn more and more towards the curling season, the garden usually gets completely away from me. Especially so this year!

However, it is still possible to point the camera in directions which avoid the weeds, and there is still a fair bit of colour.

New additions to the garden this year have been some old fashioned pinks. My uncle was a keen gardener and carnations were among his favourites in his garden in Dumbarton. I had forgotten just how fragrant this family is. You'll need to take my word!

Yellow is still my favourite garden colour. I was given this yellow daisy-type perennial, which I have assumed is a Rudbeckia, but I may be wrong. One thing I'm not good at is labelling my garden plants. That should probably be my New Year resolution!

Inula magnifica does live up to its name!

Poisonous it may be, but this Aconitum is certainly happy in the corner where I planted it four years ago.

The wildlife pond even had a touch of colour recently!

The achievement last month was getting the outside of the house painted - one wall at a time, dodging the wet and windy days. Every year I think I should have something growing up this west facing wall, although this corner does catch the wind. Any suggestions?

Photos © Skip Cottage