• Heather names

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    Well I had to buy these... the names, the names.

    Alicia is our newest Grandchild - just over a month old now. I suddenly had an excuse to buy these - I'd spotted Alicia before but the name had never had a connection before. So I got three of each. When you can afford it you need to buy plants in odd number sets.
    1 plant is a specimen plant - okay if it is going to be a huge special plant.
    2 plants ... with the space between - turns into a line which isn't like a clump of colour. Straight lines never seem to work well in an actual garden because plants are floppy and never quite fit the plan, except in the vegetable garden. Then lines look better because you have go in a hoe.
    3 - yep forms a clump, you can make loads of different sort of triangles though I guess most people - me included - go for the equilateral to get even spaces between them. Even if you have to squint it a bit the middle part will fill in nicely.
    4 - for some reason putting 4 plants in doesn't look right - the centre doesn't fill in nicely. I tend to go for a diamond/rhombus shape if I have 4 - i.e. an equilateral triangle with one stuck on one of the sides. That can work.
    5 - now you are really starting to get into variations now - star, cross, pentagon.

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    Over and above - you've got more money than I have - apart from bedding flats and plug plants I rarely if ever have 5 or more plants of one variety. They are simply too expensive except for the rich and TV programs. The bedders go into the whiskey barrels or the hanging baskets(out of the reach of the rabbits usually) where we can see them for the one season they live. The plug plants now go into 3" pots to start with. For the first year or so I put the plug straight into the garden (into the outside if they were "rabbit-resistant" or into the stalag if they are rabbit salad.) They rarely survived more than a season or a few weeks - the weeds/mice/slugs and snails got to them. Now all plugs go into cheap 3" pots for a few weeks if not a full year to bulk up and get ready for the vigour of Tipperty.

    So because I had these Alicias I had to add a few more to make up the 10 (to get a slight saving on the per plant price - I'm a sucker for that sales ploy. Mentally I know it's marketing but my gut always goes with 'it's a bargain!'). Once the will is broken - i.e. I know that I will buy some plants then I get what I want to buy - all or nothing - I ended up with thirty - 10*3's - all thing sin moderation... including moderation.

    Jacqueline above - Daughter and sister, and Molly (well close) below - niece.
    Now I only need about a dozen more exotic names and I'll have the inner circle planted up - and an excuse to buy loads more heathers or roses or daffodils or whatever.

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  • Let's finish off the Fungi

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    To finish the photos of our fungal foray to the slopes of Bennachie (shown above) we have the photos - and only the photos - apart from this little bit.

    And this bit - two photos of shaggy inkcaps bracket the photos (some of which are of bracket fungi) -
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coprinus_comatus
    This is a mushroom we have eaten (20 years ago when we picked them in Seaton, Aberdeen) but I was singularly unimpressed so didn't bother again. Beside the shaggy inkcap autodigests itself when it is picked - you need to pick and cook within 4 to 6 houtrs our you just end up with a bowl of schmoo - not too appetising.

    Anyhow - regarding fungi in 2014... That's all folks.

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  • Daffodils - in October!!!!

    B257 15 Bulbocodium Conspicuous Delivery within 28 days 1 4.99 4.99
    B282 15 Narcissi White Marvel Delivery within 28 days 1 5.99 5.99
    B252 75 Collection - Narcissi cyclamineus 1 19.95 19.95
    B271 90 Jonquilla Narcissi Collection s 1 19.94 19.94
    F514 Apple James Grieves Delivery October/November 1 12.99 12.99
    F713 Apple Russet Delivery October/November 1 12.99 12.99
    F470 Peach Pigmy Bonanza Delivery October/November 1 19.99 19.99
    F544 Apricot 'Large Early' Delivery October/November 1 12.99 12.99
    B990 50 Free Iris reticulata Mixed Delivery within 28 days 1 FREE FREE
    B005 50 Free Trumpet Daffodils Mixed Delivery within 28 days 1 FREE FREE

    I sahouldn't have done it - I know I shouldn't have done it - but... well... it mid rotation (21/2 weeks in, 2 1/2 weeks left) so that is always a slow tijme - up caught up - up to speed and not the pressure to cram all those other things into the few remaining days as the end time is so distant - still another 3 weeks to UK.

    And I just finished reading a book about daffodils on my Kindle...

    Daffodil: The remarkable story of the world's most popular spring Flower [Kindle Edition]
    Noel Kingsbury (Author), Jo Whitworth (Photographer)
    4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Daffodil-remarkable-worlds-popular-spring-ebook/dp/B00FQW0YHG/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413969261&sr=1-2&keywords=daffodil

    It was a good book - only downside was the pictures were black and white on my paper white Kindle.

    Of course as soon as I read I was imagining Tipperty with yet more dozens and dozens of daffodils in the spring (I never knew that there were Autumn flowering daffodils) of types we don't have but - now - thanks to the wonders of the internet - will have ready to plant when I get home.

    I rounded out the order with more apple trees as we had a good crop this year, a very hardy apricot tree - in my dreams I think - and a miniature peach tree. The peach is going to go in the greenhouse for a few years - or maybe up against the wall - - they only grow 6 foot tall so I can put against the back - in the corner and use up that space which is just too far to reach to. Or maybe I should get a greenhouse just for the peach trees. Now that would be some expensive fruit - we have to get a few thousand apricots off the tree to make it worth while.
    Still - at least the apples might thrive in the coming mild winter.
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  • Winter Prediction

    Well our Rowans have spoken yet again - our mountain ash - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rowan - Sorbus aucuparia - and they predict a very mild winter - almost no berries on the trees at all - and it hasn't been a particularly windy summer (though I've not been there for most of it as susual) so itisn't plant damage.

    So far they havce been remarkably accurate over the last 5 years so I'm getting in extra supplies of suntan lotion and cancelling the winter refuel of coal, wood and oil - we won't need it - our trees have spoken.

  • Porcini power

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    During our fungal foray to Bennachie we came across a few of these lovely, fleshy toadstools. They really look like something you could take a hard bite out of and chew on the flesh - almost meat like. One or two of them actually looked like chocolate covered ice-cream balls - with frost on the cracked chocolate - truly scrumptious. These looked especially tempting... if I didn't know that the white "frost" on the outside is actually a mould Hypomyces chrysospermus, known as the bolete eater, and that the 'cracked chocolate' is where something (probably an insect or a banana slug - now there would be a nice deseert - or a small mammal - looks like slug damage) has chomped on the cap.

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    These mushrooms are as edible as they look - they are the famous Porcini aka Boletus edulis (often found in association with the fly agaric (see the last post)). Italian chef and restaurateur Antonio Carluccio has described it as representing "the wild mushroom par excellence", and hails it as the most rewarding of all fungi in the kitchen for its taste and versatility. Next year I think we may just take one or two and give it a tentative tase (or even try to get it established in Tipperty).

    If you want to know more then the Wikipedia article is, as ever, a good place to start.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boletus_edulis

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  • September fruiting bodies

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    September 2014 turned out to be a mega year for mushrooms and toadstools around Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. That is despite the relatively low rainfall and temperatures. In Tipperty we had two and a half decent crops of horse mushrooms Agaricus_arvensis under the cypress trees into the stalag - big, flats up to six inches across - the kinds that are most expensive in the shops. The first try/fry we were hesitant, even though we used them last year - due to mega years of warnings about toadstools but once we survived then we tucked in with abandon a few more times.
    The wild ones are inkier than the shop bought button mushrooms and a little grittier (because I'm crap at washing them) but taste just the same. Personally I prefer the more intense taste of the button sized but Jiurie like the bog flats so we went for big flats.

    Talking of big flats - in Aberdeen, Bridge of Don I spotted a couple of colonies of big flat toadstools while I was driving. For one I insisted on going back for a second look and for Jiurie to snap a quickie out the side of the car. It isn't as clear as I would like but I think it conveys the size of them - the back wall is made out of standard bricks so you can see that these are a good 10 or 12 inches across.

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    They are big versions of the classic, storybook toadstool - the fly agaric. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanita_muscaria ... agaric is the generic term for the gilled mushroom cap hence it's use in both the edible mushrooms and in this 'toxic' toadstool. I use toxic in inverted commas because the fly agaric can be eaten with some preparation and a lot of caution.
    We went on a funi walk around the forest at the foot of Bennachie (the local 'mountain') during which we saw loads of fly agarics and I told Jiurie the tale of how Siberian shamans are said to have used the fly agaric. You can read it on the Wikipedia page. I told her the tale but she thought that I was just taking the piss.

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  • Quite quiet

    Apologies for my quietness - six weeks with no posts; nae good. new job with too much work while I am away on the one hand.
    Too busy and too much to do (trying to do garden and finish novel and travel around) when off work - on the other hand.

    It was a fruitful September in Tipperty and the garden was full of fruit. There were a dozen or so apples for the first time and tons of brambles. Apple and bramble pie with custard... mouthwatering but you have to bring the blackberries inside while I actually ate them by the handful as I picked them.

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    We had a great crop of globe artichokes but never got round to eating them. Instead of that we are using them as beautiful dry displays... after I did a quick fibonacci assessment of course - 8 anticlockwise, 13 clockwise - right in the sequence yet again.

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  • Fibonacci Great Mullein

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibonacci_numbers#In_nature

    Fibonacci number - one of the mathematical patterns seen in flowers and also in other plant parts. I've got into the habit of trying to take photos of plants from unusual angles (as well as the normal angles). These angles often show patterns that you don't realise are there.

    here is a simple pone from a recent photo of one of the many Great Mulleins in our garden. It shows the twists in the leaf arrangement (to produce the minimum shading of leaves further down) that follows the fibonacci sequense which you probably learnt about in maths.

    1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34, 55, 89 etc. - wher one number is formed by the addition of the two previous number. Plants often show spirals related to two consecutive fiboinacci numbers. I've shown that in dahlia flowers before and I a quick go at this Mullein - and there it was, albeit in very low numbers in the spiral - in this case it was 3 clockwise and 5 anticlockwise spirals.

    I was actually expecting more but the structure is so simple that you can do it in three and five.

    Significant... golden triangle.... nope - not really significant but interesting to us of a mathematical bent.

    DSCF8362 fibonacci

  • trial plots - shade gardens

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    We've put three trial plots into various parts of the woodland garden over the fence. Each has roughly the same plants - well the same types - so we are going to see which thrive where.

    Each has one or two varieties of : Hosta, geranium, lungwort, and hardy fuchsia. I tried to put the same variety of each in each plot but that wasn't possible in the end.

    Shown above is the damp spot down at the bottom of the drive in deep shade with the bushes and a maple tree over head.

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    There is a very dry spot about half way up which is fairly open but raised and has been used for gravel in the past. This means that it is very dry. You can see the stones in the pictures above. I have struggled to get anything at all to grow in this patch. Hopefully one of these shade lovers will survive or thruive.

    Finally towards the top of the drive is a medium damp, medium shade poatch next to the sycamores and the nordmann fir (ex-christmas tree).

    Jiurie tells me that the hostas are doing well in the wet, cold summer we have had so far. I'm fairly sure that something will work at the top and the bottom (where the bluebells and the wild ramsons have done okay) but I'm not overly confident of the middle, dry part. The scientific/scattergun approach of test plots might work... might - we shall see.

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  • Frost... In August!!!

    Very bad news for British gardeners... Met Office are predicting frost... in August!! Normally the height of summer.
    Very bad news. Fortunately we don't have any bedding plants out but the cold weather will hit my Fuchsias which are still out in baskets on the wall.
    Ellon temperatures are around 14C high and around 8C lows so we should be reasonably okay - but frrrrrrrrrrost... in August.
    I'm in India so I won't feel it.

    https://uk.news.yahoo.com/summer-frost-predicted-met-office-issues-severe-weather-165711936.html#dpr7fEk

    Weather forecasters are warning that cold, stormy weather will hit Britain in the coming days.
    High winds, rain and even frost are predicted across the country, and temperatures could fall to as low as zero, the Met Office has warned.
    The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for most of northern England and Scotland, as gusts of up to 50mph are expected.
    Coastal areas have been put on alert for "large waves" and meteorologists have warned of travel chaos as transport links could be hit by disruption.
    Chief forecaster Eddy Carroll said: "While such wind gusts would not be unusual in the autumn and winter, they are likely to pose a few more problems coming in the summer holiday period, especially for those engaged in outdoor activities such as sailing or hill walking.
    "Some minor disruption to transport is possible, for example delays to ferries, bridge restrictions and perhaps minor damage to trees."
    The warnings are in place for Monday, but the bad weather is set to continue into the rest of the week.
    Temperatures are also set to fall well below the average for August, and forecasters say there is the possibility of frost during the week in some parts of Scotland.
    Calum Maccoll, a Met Office spokesman, said there is a "very autumnal" and "unseasonably cool" feel to the conditions in northern areas. "You could see grass frost towards dawn," he added.

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