Sunday 30 May 2021

Beautiful Blue

Following on from our recent unusually good daffodil display, the Roskhill bluebells are now at their best. Unfortunately, almost no-one gets to see them, as they are tucked-away in what I think of as the 'secret garden', which is a semi-wild area between the allotment and the river gorge. So enjoy the pictures - oh, and note the wonderful blue sky, too!

Friday 28 May 2021

The Bean-Burglar Mystery

 Well, I don't think it's Mr Bobtail.

Following-on from my last post, I have been watching the bean-bed in the allotment. The chicken-wire frames I made to deter an attack from bunnies have not moved or been dug-under at all, and yet three more of my surviving four young bean plants from the first sowing have now succumbed to the thief. As before - the juicy green growing tips are chewed-off and left on the soil, while the actual seed is dug-out from beneath and devoured. I have a strong suspicion that some of the second-sowing have also been removed, as there are random holes appearing, and no new growth is visible above ground yet.

So who is the perpetrator? We are seeking someone small enough to get through the chicken wire, who can dig, doesn't eat green veg, but loves to gorge on germinating bean seeds.

I'm now thinking field vole - we get a lot of them here. Though they've always been around, and this is the first time I've lost any broad beans in this way.

I'll put up a sign - 'No bean-eating' - but I'm not sure it'll work, as I don't think voles can read. 

It doesn't look like we'll be eating home-grown broad beans this year...

The sole surviving plant is at the bottom. 
Two chewed-off tops wither on the soil. 

Thursday 20 May 2021

Bunnies And Beans

 I don't doubt that every gardener feels that they are the most victimised person on the planet when it comes to crop failures. There is no question that seeing a young plant begin to grow and flourish, only to meet an untimely demise in the jaws of a caterpillar is quite dis-spiriting. I don't suppose plant husbandry is really any more demanding on Skye than it might be anywhere else. At least we don't usually have to worry about droughts... But I am currently doing battle with a certain Mr Bobtail, and thus far, he is ahead...

Mind you - I could be wrong in my accusation of blame, as I have not actually set eyes on said bunny. The perpetrator of the crime could maybe be a rat or even a mouse. The fact remains, that 'someone' chewed off almost every sprouting broad bean shoot, then carefully excavated the soil to remove the seed itself and devour it. Just five were left untouched. Today, I am down to four.

Not prepared to give up without a bit of a fight, I have procured a further packet of seed, now planted, and spent an afternoon making a couple of frames to which I have attached chicken wire, and I have now covered the growing area in the slightly forlorn hope that the structures will deter any further bean-pilfering when the second-planting emerges from the soil. I know - bunnies are good at digging, and will likely just creep under my barriers, but at least I have tried.

I'll let you know how things have progressed in a week or two.

The Bean-Eating-Bunny-Beater

Sunday 2 May 2021


Today's media is full of reports on how close we are to being able to get back to normal life after the extraordinary coronavirus-plagued year we have all endured. Not long to wait then... (Not forgetting those parts of the world which are still enduring dreadful outbreaks of the disease, and my heart goes out to all those affected).

Of course, normal life never stopped going on for everything on the planet apart from human activity. We have had the best display of daffodils here for several years, and are now eagerly awaiting the emergence of the bluebells.

The allotment is similarly in limbo. The seed beds are all planted, but for now show no sign of anything growing. Pots in the cold frame contain the teeniest of brussels sprout and kale plants and we wait patiently for them to grow big enough to be planted out.

We are no longer waiting for the first cuckoo. We have been blessed with their 'song' for a week or two now. One bird amuses us, as it hasn't quite learned the tune correctly and frequently gives us a three-note cuck-cuck-coo. 

Over in Strathpeffer, we have continued to make progress with the small garden of The Old Bakery, and now feel we are finally getting on top of the profusion of weeds that had invaded the ground. The OB now awaits its first holiday visitors, who will be staying there at the end of this month.

We have opened our cottages on Skye as well, and Loch View is looking to be pretty-well full all season, with the first visitors there right now. Summer Cott will be a little less busy though. In previous years, the vast majority of our visitors at Summer have come from overseas, so we have to wait for international travel to recommence before we will see their return.

For now, Skye remains mostly quiet, though I don't think we will have to wait for long before we see a convoy of camper vans lumbering by.

The waiting is nearly over.

Slightly past their best - but more flowers than we've had in years!

Waiting to play...