We had a blank canvas of turf to play with, which was great and slightly intimidating as well – what if we get it wrong!?
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.
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.
In July we were on holiday in Jersey, and visited the 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.
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.
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.
Here are some of the varieties grown and used in products.
Lavandula angustifolia “Elizabeth” which was bred in this farm.
And some of the other varieties in their ‘exhibition’ collection.
Lavandula angustifolia “Miss Katherine”
Lavandula angustifolia “Fring Favourite”
Lavandula x intermedia “Edelweiss”
Lavandula canariensis (from the Canary Islands)
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!
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.
Lovely, lovely lavender
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.
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:
How amazing. Such gorgeous pictures that go into microspic, beautiful, detail. Almost a little racy…
Can’t wait for my hollyhocks!