Western Isles Gardening
The Western Isles garden in February this year is bathed by blissful sunshine (well at for some of the month) t-shirt weather even!
Traditionally February is associated with beginings , awakenings, rebirth and initiating, renewing, hopes and dreams, and preparing the ground.
It is very much the time of the muse, all those creative arts come through, and this is the time when we take the first steps of turning our dreams for our gardens into reality.
Draw up the plan, make the vision strong, choose the seeds, think it through, it is a great thing to devote time to imagining your garden glorious with flowers, abundance and beauty.
To manifest the vision, refine it a little, are you thinking about those flowers with big blossoms that get caught by the wind? Consider instead the flowers you have already seen do well in the Western Isles, the fragrant sweet peas, or the flowers you have seen in the tubs in Stornoway, or other people's gardens.
Add in how you will protect your plants from the Western Isles gales, the windrock. A plant feeds through its roots, if it is constantly being uprooted it will grow sickly and be likely to be composted by garden pests. Even a chain link fence cuts down the wind's force a bit.
Will you buy plants or seeds?
Plants are often easier for beginner, but if they have been raised all their lives in heated greenhouses down south, the shock of the Western Isles weather can be too much for their life force to survive. Buy locally grown plants whenever you can, especially trees, even tree seeds usually grow to stronger plants here if the parent plant has evolved the genes to cope with the Western Isles oceanic climate, or something similar.
Locally grown or otherwise the plants will need to be gradually hardened off, before planting out. So perhaps include in your plans making or buying a cold frame.
Those plants you see at our Western Isles Sales of Work, are often grown by keen local gardeners, who are passing on plants that have grown so well here that the gardener has plants to spare, and can often offer valuable advice on just what sort of spot the plant does well in.
When someone comes to look around your garden in the Western Isles there is no substitute for a keen local gardener, someone who truly recognises the challenges that have been met and overcome in order to have successful healthy plants here, a triumph!
I once spent about half an hour with a friend and a magnifying glass trying to identify the particular species of rush that she had brought from a local garden centre.
The big question was if the pond plant she had spent 50p on was exactly the same as the one growing as a weed beside the pond? (and also over most of Lewis and Harris.)
The final decision with much study was that it was a different variety. I am sure that there is a moral in this wee story somewhere...
Each year different types of plant do particulary well, last year was a good year here for the brassica family, cabbages and sprouts etc, the year before broad beans and black currants. Plants also have poor years. So if a plant failed once, it is often worth considering giving it another go, but thinking more about it the conditions that it prefers.
In good year, carrot root fly or cabbage root fly attacks are often overcome by plants because the plants are growing in their favourite conditions and they are healthy enough to recover quickly from these pests.
Time now to order more seeds, sow a few of the brassicas and the other early starters like sweet peas on sunny windowsills, wish for what we want, consider past failures and accept the challenge of adapting the plan toward success.
Local horticultural groups or gardener's clubs can add details of meetings etc to the garden page - email webmaster.
Peaches, grapes, tomatoes and other salad crops are
grown on The Poly Croft on the Isle of Lewis
Visit the web site for growing tips and location details of the most North Westerly vineyard in the UK...