Sunday, 10 June 2012

Logan Botanic Gardens: a feast of colour

Wollemi pine in an Australian shrubbery
Olearia bush
On Monday the weather had warmed up markedly and the sun was shining ... so gardening or a day out? Well as soon as we were up it became obvious, as there was no water - a quick call to Scottish Water established a burst main affecting the whole area, likely to be out until afternoon. We set out to find a garden with a tea room to visit - there are after all lots to choose from in Galloway. Our first choice was Glenwhan, but they were affected by the lack of water too, so we headed further afield - all of 15 miles to Logan Botanic gardens.
Olearia close-up
This is one of the National Botanic Gardens of Scotland and a gem, taking advantage of the narrow peninsula jutting out into the Irish Sea and the effects of the warm gulf stream. The garden is built around a large walled garden, with a huge Koi pond, and well established shrubs and perennial plantings. I was expecting the rhodedenrons and azaleas, but these were present selectively, amongst a wide range of flowering plants as well as collections of trees from around the world, particularly Australasia, but also South America. One of the more famous trees here is a specimen of the Wollemi pine - a primitive, ancient pine tree found in an isolated gorge in Australia in recent years. It was obvious not from it's showy presence but from the large exhibit notice standing in front of it!
The pictures selected here illustrate the things that struck me as I wandered round, particularly the range of colour to be found. Green was obvious - in all its shades. Clean and outstanding whites in abundance in such plants as the pristine arum lilies, glorious Olearia - aka New Zealand holly or the daisy bush, or the bottle brush plant. The Olearia in particular was stunning, forming mounds of frothy, scented balls of flowers, set off by the backdrop of evergreen trees from around the world.

Scarlet showing
For blue, there was the last of this year's bluebells under the tree canopy but most striking of all for me the meconopsis - aka Himalayan poppy which is the clearest blue and unbeatable in my book. Blue also featured among the rockery plants colonising the garden's huge brick walls, mixing with a white daisy and yellow stonecrops.Yellows and oranges appeared mostly in the form of azaleas and also in the fresh young leaves bursting everywhere and in the flashes of the huge Koi in the pond. Stunning reds blazed in the rhodedenrons and in the Chilean Flame trees just coming into flower. finally there was black - featuring in the arid beds in the form of aeonium gleaming in the sun.

Wall plantings

Arum Lilies

Rhodedenron close up
bottle-brush plant
Making a feature of an island bed
Formals Walk
Tasmanian Glade with Dixonian pine

big fish!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Back on the road

Pied Wagtail with camoflaged chick
In some ways I can't believe it's been over a month since I posted a blog, but then again it's either been so hectic, I just haven't had time to get out or the weather has been foul.
Last week we were due in Scotland and I was really looking forward to getting out with the camera... until the day we were due to leave when I twisted my ankle and landed on both knees on concrete.  Not a pretty memory, but after a trip to A&E to confirm nothing broken, it took the first 3 days of the long weekend resting to get mobile again.
Waiting patiently by the pond: pied wagtail chick
Ahhh water!
So we finally got the cottage and a good thing too, because although the weekend was cold and windy for June, it wasn't the wet misery experienced further south.  It didn't take the birds long to find the refilled feeders, using them to supplement the ample natural food in and around the garden. The pied wagtail was busy hawking for insects in the lane to feed their fledged young along the top of the stone walls. The sparrows and finches were teaching their young about feeders and also about drinking from the pond, which was lower than normal, providing good perches on the exposed stems of the water lilies.
The story of the wildlife though was yet again the things I missed because the camera wasn't close enough. A pair of ravens playing in the strong winds, the wrens, the full sparrow family drinking at the pond, the buzzards and star of the weekend a beautiful stoat, scurrying along the top of the wall across the lane, who stopped in surprise when he realised I was watching. We stared at one another for a long minute then he bustled on his way, using the wall as his highway.

Male sparrow

Jackdaw eyeing the field

Male siskin