Bennachie

Having moved to Inverurie we’re now much closer to Bennachie, a set of forests and hills managed by the Forestry Commission. Rather enthusiastically, we’ve visited Bennachie Centre two weekends in a row now.

The visitor centre has plenty of information, kids’ activities, a great wildlife viewing section, and a stunning tapestry at the entrance.
2017-05-28 Bennachie

The first weekend Gareth and I went up the main hill, Mither Tap, following the ‘Mither Tap Timeline Trail’. We’ve been up this way a few years ago, and I found it pretty arduous – there were tears. I can handle a steep incline, but I’m not great with steps or ‘steppy’ rock paths, particularly when it’s above the treeline. Other people seem to whizz up and down like they’re on a flat road, and don’t even get me started on the runners who were literally running and hopping down the high, uneven trail…I felt very nervous for them, but they didn’t seem bothered as they went on their merry way.

2017-05-21 Bennachie

This time though, I was armed with walking poles, which I highly recommend! What a difference it makes, having those extra points of contact, and that little bit more confidence going from one step to the next.

2017-05-21 Bennachie
Gareth using a compass app to work out where our house was

2017-05-21 Bennachie

Finally, we got almost to the very top, but not quite the summit – the final bit is a little too much of a climb for us, and it gets really windy up there, so this is as far as we got. Not even walking poles can help with this. Perhaps with a little more ‘practice’ we’ll eventually work our way up there.
2017-05-21 Bennachie

Then, last weekend our friends Sam and Joules came to stay, and we went for a walk around the Colony Trail – no walking poles required for this one.

2017-05-28 Bennachie
View of Mither Tap

There was plenty to see, on a pleasant Spring day.

2017-05-28 Bennachie
Chaffinch

2017-05-28 Bennachie
Wood anemone Arctic starflower / chickweed wintergreen

2017-05-28 Bennachie
Bluebells

2017-05-28 Bennachie
Ultra yellow broom

2017-05-28 Bennachie
A pretty weed of some sort

2017-05-28 Bennachie
Mossy walls

There are many more trails around the hills and forests of Bennachie, and no doubt Gareth and I will become more familiar with these ‘neighbours’.

Springtime in the garden and Dinnet

A couple of weeks ago it finally started feeling like Springtime, and it was lovely to be out in the garden, admiring what’s coming up and planting out new things.
Gareth’s been doing a lot of ‘landscaping’ work over the last couple months, which we can now really enjoy.

We’ve got a nice little fenced off flower bed, with perennials coming up nicely.
2016-05-08 Garden Continue reading

Jersey Lavender farm

In July we were on holiday in Jersey, and visited the Jersey Lavender farm.
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

It’s a lovely wee farm, where they grow their own lavender and several other plants, and produce their own lavender products – oils, soaps, biscuits and fudge, and other such delights.
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

As it was summer the lavender flowers were in bloom – some even almost on their way out, as it had been an early summer. Harvest was in full swing.
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

In the summer they also organise talks about the farm, the growing, harvesting, and distilling process, and how they make their products. It was very interesting – I never knew there were so many species and varieties of lavender, plus the hybrid Lavandins. The Jersey Lavender blog has a good post on the difference between lavandula and lavendin.
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

Here are some of the varieties grown and used in products.

Lavandula x intermedia “Grosso”
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

Lavandula angustifolia “Elizabeth” which was bred in this farm.
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

And some of the other varieties in their ‘exhibition’ collection.

Lavandula angustifolia “Miss Katherine”
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

Lavandula angustifolia “Fring Favourite”
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

Lavandula x intermedia “Edelweiss”
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

Lavandula viridis
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

Lavandula canariensis (from the Canary Islands)
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

It never occurred to me, until I saw this big hedge of rosemary at the farm, that lavender and rosemary are related, but it seems so obvious now. They’re both part of the big Lamiaceae herb family, which also includes mint, basil, sage, thyme, oregano, bugle plant (which does well in my garden), and also teak!
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

Meanwhile, back in Aberdeen, we’d attempted to grow Munstead lavender and Hidcote lavender, and it was the Hidcote that managed to do fairly well. I do like it’s little rounded buds and deep purple colour.
2014-09-13 Hidcote lavender

Lovely, lovely lavender
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

Hibiscus and Hollyhock

Now that summer seems more likely to happen, we’ve been getting busy in the garden again. I’m looking forward to our hollyhocks flowering this year, as they’ve done well, growing nice and big since we grew them from seed and planted them out last year.

Anticipating hollyhocky loveliness, I went to do some admiring on Google images, and it then struck me that they look rather like hibiscuses. Wikipedia soon told me that they’re called Alcea, belong to the family Malvacea, and share this family with Hibiscus.

Hibiscuses have always been one of my favourites, with the rosa-sinensis variety being the national flower of Malaysia, and growing up with parents and relatives taking pride in the many varieties of hibiscus in their gardens (and reserving a certain wrath for when the dogs dig up the hibiscus plants, of all the things they could’ve dug…). So it’s nice to know I have a ‘cousin’ in my own home.

Hibiscus as big as my face!
2011-11-30 Cameron Highlands 10

Evidently I wasn’t the only who’d spotted, and admired, this resemblance, as typing “hollyhock and hib” got Google suggesting “hollyhock and hibiscus related”. But forget everything else, and look at this this:

Image by Brian Johnston, Microscopy UK

Image by Brian Johnston, Microscopy UK

How amazing. Such gorgeous pictures that go into microspic, beautiful, detail. Almost a little racy…

Can’t wait for my hollyhocks!

Kept in the dark

2012-11-20 hyacinth

Our little hyacinth bulbs are bursting with potential. They’re in the utility closet, which is completely dark, but for the purpose of visibility we have Superflash on the go.

So the bulb on the left is from early November, but either this variety is slow, or we let the water level go down too quickly (more than likely), so the roots have been pretty elusive, but you can just see a little nub coming down. The bulb on the right was bought at the same time as the one on the left, and is clearly flying along. It even has a teeny tiny shoot poking out on top.

Meanwhile, the one in the middle was actually bought in mid-September, but as it was loose it didn’t come with instructions, so we’d happily put it on a sunny windowsill…which is what you’re not supposed to do…So after we got the other two, which did come with instructions, we put them all in the closet, and the older bulb has responded well to that.

Fingers crossed they all come along eventually, and we’ll have a nice set of hyacinths for Christmas (or Burns Night, at this rate) – one deep pink, one lilac, and one white.