Catching up

So much to do so little time!  Summertime is here, the daylight and the shop hours are longer…We seemed to skip straight from winter into summer here – usually spring is the nicest time on Skye, drier weather, (often warmest too!) no midgies and fewer tourists (we love them really!)  I’ve been helped on my family research by my younger sisters and my mum coming for their holiday on Skye last week.  A folder of old family documents and letters shed some fascinating insights into some of the Kent branches of the family.  A few seem to have been soldiers and I’ve scanned in some of the documents to transcribe.  One letter is from a soldier in Madras, India in 1832 describing the effects of a cholera outbreak and urging his brothers and sisters to stay home and not be tempted abroad.  I haven’t placed him yet on the family tree, but he does seem to have survived to a ripe old age despite obviously in fear of his life at the time of his writing.

dead citrus
Dead citrus

I thought I’d just review the winter and what has done well or poorly this year.  Amongst my losses are my rock samphire plant (grown from seed – first winter), my sea beet (both an established plant that flowered last year but did not set seed and all of my seedlings in pots), some of my Camellia sinensis plants (small plants in the fruit garden – the ones in the tea garden are thriving), the unknown citrus in the polytunnel, my baby yacon seedlings, and a Luma apiculata that never made it out of it’s pot.  Considering  how cold the winter has been, not so much in intensity as in length, it could have been a lot worse.

mashua survivor
Volunteer Mashua plant

A surprising survivor is a mashua plant that appears to have grown from a missed tuber in the fruit garden.  I suppose since it can be grown as an ornamental perennial (think Ken Aslet) It shouldn’t be that surprising.  I will leave this one and see how it does.  I haven’t in the end planted any more mashua outside this year.


apricot bent branch
Apricot misaligned shoot

The apricot is doing well – I have now trained in seven shoots as described earlier, and they are needing tying in again.  Unfortunately I did get one of the shoots slightly wrong – pinched out too many earlier on and was left with one that was growing at the wrong angle.  I’m hoping it will straighten out as the plant grows.

akebia and passiflora seedlings
Akebia and Passiflora seedlings

I have grown a number of plants from seed this winter including what turned out to be Akebia triloba.  This was grown from seed obtained via the facebook edimentals group from someone who ate the fruit in Japan, but we weren’t sure until the leaves appeared whether it was A. quinata or A. triloba.  It should be hardy outside here, but will probably do better in the polytunnel.  If the plants survive I’ll try both.  I have also grown some passion fruit vines (still very tiny) Passiflora edulis and P. mollissima (I think).  Some of my other seedlings have struggled in the hot weather we had a couple of weeks ago – the pots dried up very quickly and the tiny plants may not have made it.  I had some martagon lily that I think have gone now, and some of my vetch seedlings have also gone.  These include, annoyingly, the Astragalus crassicarpus (gound plum) that I was looking forwards to establishing in the tunnel.  Luckily the single chilean hazelnut that germinated seems to be doing alright, and is now showing signs of sending up a second pair of leaves.  This is better than the seeding I achieved last year which faded out at a single pair.

earth moving may
Moving more soil….

I was busy outside trying to get on top of the creeping buttercup before it took over everywhere again, but got distracted moving more soil down the hill to landscape the orchard area.  This is nearly achieved, but more work to do on the south side of the trackway.  Just at the moment the buttercups in the field are making a fine display with the pignuts, and remind me that we’d be poorer if we succeeded in eliminating weeds!

bluebell mountains
Bluebells and Macloud’s Tables

6 thoughts on “Catching up

  1. Winter killed off a few things in my garden, too, including the vetch seeds. To be fair, I didn’t know what I was looking for, so I could have been over zealous in weeding the bed for squash.

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  2. They are pretty non descript seedlings. I planted some in pots to avoid that issue. You may find some will lie dormant and germinate another year. I would like to say I leave seedlings till I can identify the before weeding, but actually I just never get round to it until my plants are virtually swamped! If you want more vetch seed, I’ll probably save some again this year.


  3. I love Skye but am not a great fan of tourists (even despite being one myself…) or midges. The thought of missing both of them at the same time… that’s tempting! It was interesting reading about your transition from winter to summer and other little things people from outside of Skye may not have considered.


    1. Midgies can make a holiday less pleasant. When you live here you try to work around them – they don’t like wind or sun. The former we usually have plenty of, and the latter less so, but sometimes you just need to don a midgie jacket and repellent and get on with picking blackcurrants!
      Tourists are just people on holiday, so like any people there are nice ones and not so nice. Some are ignorant, and some are unpleasant, many are really nice and have come from interesting places. Much of the highlands relies on tourists for business, but they are a mixed blessing. There are rather too many people trying to ‘do Skye’ in a day and everyone suffers!

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      1. Midges definitely can but they can also add a comic twist. One writer on the subject of the Highlands said that the midges should be considered a blessing, they make such a deterrent for some people that the place stays beautiful and something of the beauty is in its sparseness of population.


      2. Some of my friends certainly choose not to visit when there is a higher probability of midges. I don’t think they are entirely to blame for the lack of population however!

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