August garden

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White hydrangea. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The more traditional Scottish summer weather has returned this past week. It is much cooler now; there have been a few more rain showers, and the garden has rehydrated and is greening up again. Earlier today,  I was having a look back at my garden post of this time last year; several of the flowers I featured then are well and truly over by now due to the heat and dry of the past few weeks.

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Goldenrod (Solidago) and globe thistle (Echinops). Images: Kathryn Hawkins

There seem to be plenty of bees (and butterflies) in the garden this year which is very good news. The Goldenrod and globe thistles were alive with sound of buzzing while I was capturing these images. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed quite so many different kinds of bees and flying insects as I waited to capture the pollen collecting action.

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Vibrant-coloured poppies. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The poppies add a brief splash of colour when they bloom. The fragile petals are like tissue-paper. Once in full bloom, each flower head looks radiant for about 24 hours before the petals are shed, on by one.

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Japanese anemones. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Just as fragile looking are the Japanese anemones, but although they look so delicate and pretty, the flowers last for many days, if not weeks, and seem to be able to tolerate any wind, rain, heat and chill that a Scottish summer has to offer.

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Crocosmia (Montbretia). Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Year after year, the back garden flowerbeds become packed out with the long stems and leaves of Crocosmia. The weight of several flower heads per stem means that they do appear to grow horizontally, particularly in the sunshine; in the shadier parts of the garden, the stems hold their heads higher as they reach for the light. For me, it is the bright orange flowers and lush green foliage of this plant that represents the peak of summer like no other.

My final images are of another orange flower in the garden: very tall and elegant tiger lilies. I love the way the petals fold back so neatly at the back of the bloom, just like a beautifully tied ribbon. Until next week, my best wishes to you 🙂

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Tiger lily. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

 

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Early December in the garden

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Blue-sky December day. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

As I sat down to write this post last night, we were awaiting the arrival of the first major storm of the season. Nothing has materialised overnight, but it is suddenly feeling much colder. There is a thick frost this morning, and it is bright and clear again, the wind has dropped, and all is calm.

On the whole, the first few days of the month have been quite kind to the gardeners amongst us here in central Scotland. Whilst the east coast did have more seasonal weather, we were blessed with several blue sky days, milder temperatures, and some glorious sun rises.

To be honest, I haven’t been outside much recently – work has kept me inside. The garden is looking a bit tired now, and ready for a rest. I cleared a lot of the autumn debris a couple of weeks ago and it’s beginning to look a bit bare in places. However, the evergreens provide shape and colour and look very vibrant on a fine day, and the Cotoneaster hedge is laden with berries, as it is every year.

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Berry-laden Cotoneaster hedge. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The best value plants in the garden this year have been the carnations I planted last year – taken as cuttings from a birthday bouquet. They began flowering in August, and are still producing blooms at the moment. I’m sure the winter weather will get to them eventually, but the south-facing wall seems to be providing them with sufficient shelter to have kept them going this far into the year.

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Carnations enjoying the winter sunshine. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Elsewhere in the garden, the colours have faded. The Hydrangeas have taken on a beautiful “vintage” look, and the blooms of Echinops and white Japanese Anemones have left behind interesting seed-heads which are slowly weathering away.

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Faded beauty: Blue Hydrangea. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Globe thistle and Japanese Anemone seed heads. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The last of my garden features this month is this wee fellow, a perennial primrose. Just one solitary bloom at the moment, hidden away in a sheltered, damp part of the garden. A small flash of pale yellow which acts to remind me that spring will be here again in just a few weeks. Have a good week 🙂

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Perennial primrose. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

 

 

Autumn blues – Blueberry and marzipan cake (gluten-free; dairy-free)

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Blueberry and marzipan cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s been feeling a wee bit autumnal here in central Scotland for the past couple of weeks. Some of the leafy foliage in the garden is on the turn and the nights are drawing in fast. I also have blueberries ready for picking.

Home-grown blueberries are a delight to behold and eat. The skin is much bluer than any variety I can buy, and the skin has a silvery, almost downy bloom. The fruit is firmer in texture and has a slightly tart, more pronounced flavour. The plants are easy to grow, require little maintenance, and love the acidic Scottish soil. The leaves turn pink as the season progresses, and make a wonderful display in the fruit beds.

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Freshly picked, home-grown Scottish blueberries. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Mid-season blueberries ripe and ready for picking alongside a later variety. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I planted 3 blushes about 5 years ago. One fruits end of July/beginning of August, one is in full ripening mode now, and the other has fruit that is just turning pink. It is unusual for me to be able to harvest enough berries to make anything substantially blueberry flavoured in one go. Usually I keep adding to a bag of berries in the freezer until I have enough to make jam – blueberries do freeze very well and make very good jam from frozen fruit. This year has been an exception, and I have harvested sufficient fresh berries for this unbelievably easy blueberry cake.

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Slice of homemade blueberry and marzipan cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 115g dairy-free margarine, softened
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 115g gluten-free self raising flour (such as Dove’s Farm)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 100g marzipan, cut into small pieces
  • 200g fresh or frozen blueberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven, gas 4) Grease and line an 18cm square cake tin. Put the margarine, sugar, flour, eggs and ground almonds in a bowl. Using an electric mixer on a low speed, gently whisk the ingredients together until loosely blended. Increase the mixer speed and continue to whisk for a few seconds longer until creamy and smooth.
  2. Gently stir in the marzipan and blueberries and spoon into the tin. Smooth the top and bake for about 45 minutes until lightly golden and just firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin, then slice into 8 portions and serve. If you can leave it alone, the cake tastes even better the next day. It is also delicious served warm as a pudding.
    Ready_to_bake_and_fresh_out_of_the_oven_blueberry_and_marzipan_cake
    Easy to make, blueberry and marzipan cake. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

    There are other signs of Autumn in the garden. The Autumn Crocus opened out this week, and the globe thistles (Echinops) are in various stages of blooming. I was delighted to see so many bees still hard at work when I was taking these pictures. Until next week, enjoy the late summer/very early autumn sunshine.

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    New season Autumn Crocus. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
    Echinops
    Shades of silvery-blue, Echinops (globe thistles). Image: Kathryn Hawkins
    Bee_and_Echinops
    A very busy bee. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

     

My garden in September

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Globe thistles in early September sunlight. Image copyright: Kathryn Hawkins

So another month has passed, and now we are heading towards a season change. We have had some wild winds and heavy rains, on and off, this last month, but everything is just about standing. The Echinops (Globe thistles) are looking magnificent just now.

Much of my garden is in shades of blue and pink, but the greenery is still lush and the trees are barely turning. One obvious sign of Autumn are the mauve crocus that appear without any leaves (the foliage comes afterwards). They are quite delicate and aren’t in flower for very long. They thrive in shady areas and are quite easy to miss, usually hiding under shrubbery. These, however, are blooming, bold as brass, on the corner of one of the borders.

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Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) in full bloom. Image copyright: Kathryn Hawkins

Throughout the year, different heathers come into flower, but from late Summer going into Autumn, I think the heathers are at their finest. I have many varieties growing around the garden, ranging in shade from bright white and the palest pink, to deep pink and red.

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Autumn flowering heathers in my Perthshire garden. Image copyright: Kathryn Hawkins

One last plant that I am particularly proud of is my Himalayan Hydrangea. I planted it about 10 years ago and it is now very well established; this year is has flowered particularly well. I love the flowers of this variety (Lacecap); the larger petals look like pink butterflies perching on top of tiny mauve flower heads.

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Himalayan Hydrangea (Hygrangea macrophylla lacecap). Image copyright: Kathryn Hawkins

August flowerings

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Scottish garden flower bed in early August. Image copyright: Kathryn Hawkins

I’d been thinking that this is the month that my garden begins to lose some of its overall colour. But I have been pleasantly surprised when I put this post together. I have chosen a different flower bed to photograph this month – the Ox-eye daisies are in full bloom and you can see the Lysimachia, Hydrangeas and Scabious in the background, which add vibrancy now the pretty shades of late spring have faded.

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Pink Hydrangea. Image copyright: Kathryn Hawkins
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Pink Scabious and Lysimachia. Image copyright: Kathryn Hawkins

All round the garden, from mid July onwards, I have bold and brash coloured poppies opening out, adding splashes of pinks and reds in the beds. And then, by way of contrast, white and pale pink Japanese Anemones grow in wispy clumps; they look so fragile and delicate and yet they always bounce back after a heavy shower.

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Large red, black-centred poppies. Image copyright: Kathryn Hawkins
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Pale pink Japanese Anemones

I have many lavender plants, but sadly most are fading fast now as the season progresses. My favourite is the deepest blue-purple Dutch Lavender which grows next to a rather messy clump of Santolina (or cotton lavender). The contrast between the 2 colours is mesmerising on a sunny day. The lavender is coming to the end of a very long flowering, but it’s still adding a lovely splash of colour in the borders and some late pollen for the bees.

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Cotton lavender (Santolina) and Dutch lavender in full bloom. Image copyright: Kathryn Hawkins

There are now some more obvious signs in the garden that Autumn is not too far away. Apart from the slight nip in the air, there are floral reminders too. The globe thistles (Echinops) are blueing up, and several borders are glowing with the colours of Montbretia and Golden Rod. But I’m still clinging on to a memory of summer with a second blooming of lupins.

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From top left: Lysimachia and Montbretia; From bottom left: Echinops and Golden Rod. Second Lupin blooms. All images: Kathryn Hawkins

I’m going to close this post with an image of my beautiful white Hydrangea which is just opening up. I don’t have many white flowers in the garden, but this is a beauty. When the flower heads are fully open, the tiny centres of each turn pale blue. I have always thought that these flowers would make a stunning bridal bouquet.

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White hydrangea and petal. Image copyright: Kathryn Hawkins