Give me sunshine

English Primroses thriving in a Hebidean sea side garden

After two weeks of long sunny days I’m as brown and wrinkled as a December Egremont Russet, my hands rasp like sandpaper, the finger nails are all broken and very grubby, and my joints crack and creak. All but the most urgent domestic chores are neglected and my e-mail auto-responder reads “gardening I’ll get back to you when it rains”.
After Easter the weather changed, we have had hours and hours of sunshine and just a few April showers to keep the ground moist. True the northerly winds have a cool edge, but I’ll settle for April weather any day. If we get a northerly air flow at this time of year the days are dry and sunny. Sorry to gloat, but when the sun shines the islands are magical and the days are to be treasured.
I have not been frittering my time away sitting on the garden bench admiring the view or walking on the beach, this weather is too good to waste. Although I have to admit I was distracted from weeding on the day of the Barnacle Goose fly past – skein after skein of geese flying low over the sea and over the croft – over 2,500 in a morning!

  • So are we weed free? Yes but it is a temporary illusion.
  • Have I sown the first rows of carrots and parsnips? Yes, in slightly wiggly rows.
  • Have I done something about the bare patches left by the builders? Yes, I’ve sown a coastal wildflower/grass mix which is currently feeding a flock of Twite.
  • Have I planted the hardy perennials which over-wintered in the polytunnel? Well yes, I was a tad impatient and I really should know better.
  • Have I split the primroses and collected the seedling? Yes – what a joy, my gardening is finally producing its own plants!
  • So is my garden green, verdant and burgeoning with blooms? No, but it looks promising.
Trillium cuneatum
Trillium cuneatum. It surprises me every year as it continues to flourish in a totally alien environment.

The herbaceous plants are shooting and showing signs of life and those which are a little chlorotic are being encouraged with a liquid seaweed tonic. We’re now reaching the end of the daffodils with just Pheasants Eye (Narcissus poeticus) remaining to gladden the eye and perfume the air. The alliums are waiting in the wings and although their leaves are a little ragged, the flower stems wave in the wind and are only broken by a serious gale. There is also the ever faithful London Pride (Saxifraga umbrosa), a little yellow and burnt to a crisp on the northern face, nevertheless it produces masses of starry sprays of the most delicate pink flowers. I’m not given to whimsy, but these are fairy flowers!

Trillium chloropetalum
Trillium chloropetalum

Of course there is always the surprise lurking in the back of the border. Trillium cuneatum is looking a little tired now, but still in bloom and just a little way along the border is Trillium chloropetalum (no label. so I’m relying on my memory which is not always trustworthy). This is definitely grownfor its dark mottled foliage, the flowers are dark green tinged with maroon and sessile.

15 thoughts on “Give me sunshine

  1. Despite your harsh conditions, it’s amazing how many plants – trilliums and primroses, specifically – will grow for you that just can’t survive our type of harsh on the prairie. Of course, I’m quite sure there are many prairie plants that thrive here that won’t grow with your sea gales. The variety of life is amazing!
    Thank you so much for the links to the bird identifications. You literally have an entirely different roster of birds and it’s fun to read through the descriptions of the birds you’re seeing and figure out similar species here. The barnacle geese and the way you describe their flights remind me of the snow geese here, with the exception that your barnacle geese fly low and the snows fly high – but the ever-changing skeins of snows are also noisy (it sounds like companionable chatter on a long flight) and mesmerizing as they fly overhead.

    • I’m always amazed at what will grow here when so many of the plants recommended for seaside gardens or windy locations seem to fail miserably. So it’s always a case of trial and error with a predictably high casualty rate!
      Depends on the wind speed and direction whether the geese are high or hugging the waves. Some years we see very few if they take the more inland route! Whatever the species there is something very romantic about seeing skeins of geese.

  2. What a nice post. Your writing is so smooth and descriptive that I feel like I just visited you.
    I totally get the cracks and creaks, I’m getting too old for this!

    • Never to old to garden. If you stop your joints will seize up for ever. Gardening is the secret of eternal life.

      • I LOVE that! I am going to have that tattooed on my forehead !
        Thanks 🙂

  3. I, too, look a mess – my skin has become very dark, except where it is red. Embarrassing fingernails, permanently stained from our red clay soil. Rose scratches all over my legs and arms. But – it sounds like you have succeeded in getting a lot done in your garden, and are up on all the chores. Except, like you say, the absence of weeds is but a temporary illusion!

    • True beauty comes from inside and I am certain that you glow with health, vitality and inner contentment. I’m beginning to sound like a saccharine garden homily, time to get out and into the garden!

  4. Primroses are so photogenic, I challenge anyone to take a bad photograph of them. We’ve had totally the opposite weather down here, but you deserve a break from the wind and rain. Well done for getting to work and not being tempted to bask in the sunshine.

    • You are welcome to the rain, you need it more than we do. Must confess the good photos are taken by Himself, but negotiations are in progress to replace my old point and shoot with the dodgy focus with a real camera!

  5. We also have such a short time to garden in the spring and I am a mess as well. The weather turns too hot quickly here.
    Your photos are beautiful.

    • I think I shall add writing a post in praise of beautiful gardeners to my list of half composed blogs! I think I’d better put a note on my home page about the photographs being taken by Himself (with arm twisting from me).

  6. sounds like you have had more sunshine and dry than up here perhaps that north wind dumped it’s load on Lewis first 😉
    I did get into the garden a few days this week, unlike you I do not like the north wind it killed and damaged so much last year and due to the melting of the northern ice cap we are going to get a lot more of it 🙁
    love your little natural rockery duo, Frances

    • Hi Frances, your gardens looking good. Blowing a bit today but looks like it should settle down with some more sunshine at the weekend.
      It is interesting that we seem to have different climates. Ardivachar has it’s own micro-climate (windy) as we often see the rain clouds passing us by, not complaining we stll get enough.

      • hello Christine, hope today and yesterday were nice for you too, it is something I find interesting that because people know each other up and down the islands and have the same local paper etc. we tend to forget just how far apart the islands are from the Butt to Barra, I must be getting on for 200 miles north of you, I’m over seventy from Leverburgh, then there is the sound of Harris, I’m not sure how far you are from Berneray but it must be a fair distance, so there is no wonder our weather can be completely different, Frances

        • Hi Frances, I know you had lovely weather yesterday as we spent the day walking round the grounds of Stornoway Castle looking for fungi. Not very successful but a great day for a walk. We are about 40 miles from the Berneray ferry terminal, so that makes over 100 miles plus the bit of water in between. This is my favourite ferry crossing and yesterday it was perfect.
          Lookis like we’re in for plenty more sunny weather eventhough we have a north wind. I’ll settle for this any time.

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