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Sunday 13 April 2008


Yesterday (Saturday) was a leisurely day, it was my birthday and I spent most of the day and evening on the phone to friends around the UK. There are no weekend boats as we are still on the winter schedule but I had a pre-celebratory lunch with friends on Friday, and plan dinner with friends in town during the next week. I also caught up on some baking as I didn’t do any last week instead spending time socialising with my visitor.

However today I did manage to do a little more gardening – but progress feels oh so slow. This is not helped by the weather with today’s temperatures being quite low. So in an attempt to cheer myself up and convince myself that progress is real I looked for some photos of the rear border “before” – as you can see it was not very level and covered in grass – and in chickens so no change there then.

In this picture you can see my greenhouse – yes it’s cunningly disguised as a red estate car! While I was waiting to scrap an old island car I turned it into a greenhouse for the summer and filled it with growbags. I managed to grow some peas and tomatoes, though the crop wasn’t as good as it should have been as I didn’t have an outside tap at the time and so watering was a real labour. But it was fun to do for a few meals of fresh green peas and some tomatoes!

However last year I decided to make a proper border for shrubs and plants as I so miss my garden (in Kent where I used to live I had a small “cottage garden” at the rear of my flat). Arthur of Fillets sprayed the grass with weedkiller the previous autumn and so last Spring I set about levelling the ground and gradually planting shrubs of fuschia, rosa rugosa, hebe etc and am filling in with perennials.

This weekend I’ve been tackling a new piece at the very end of the border. Again it has been sprayed with weedkiller to get rid of the worst of the grass and weeds, and last year I stopped Steven and his passing tractor to level out a spoil heap left by the builders and dig up some concrete also left by them (they had the cement mixer on that patch). But I ran out of energy and didn’t managed to finish it off. So that is this month’s project - to get the ground ready for planting. It is a bit exposed there as the South Westerly wind tends to swirl around the byres. So the plants will need to be hardy, and therefore I’ll probably plant up native willow and maybe escollonia which seems to do well in several very exposed spots on Graemsay.

The huge flagstones you can see were once around the house, used as footpaths. When the house was renovated Arthur and the builders piled them up at the end. Not sure what I will do with them but I just love the colours of the stone and the lichens.

I could only do a little digging this weekend as really the ground is too wet, but as I only have the stamina for a little at a time I plod on daily. I was again accompanied by Clara Cluck, and once I had vacated the plot the other hens and cockerels came rushing in. Clara doesn’t appear in this photo as she is pecking my boots clearly disgusted that I’ve given up digging for the day when there are still hungry hens to feed!


  1. HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, Sian! You've given your self such a lovely present - one that you enjoy every day.

    I love the flagstones, and will look forward to seeing how you decide to "display" them.

  2. Thanks for the Birthday wishes Mary Z. I'm hoping to lay some of the flagstones again. Some of them are local Graemsay stone and other would have been quarried over in Orphir on the Orkney Mainland. They are so heavy though - and to think they would also have been used as roofing for houses! Sian