dear diary :: here at last

At last we are here in Scotland at the cottage but staying in the caravan in the garden of course (as those regular readers, who know the flood story, will know).

And what of the garden? Well did you ever read the Secret Garden as a child? Then perhaps like me you can remember having an image in your mind of the moment when Mary discovers the entrance to the hidden garden and unlocks the door to discover a wild and beautiful place – well that is just what our cottage garden looks like now after 6 months of neglect. Very wild but also quite beautiful. My heart was both heavy and lifted at the same time.

The daisy path
The stone trough
Looking out to sea at the end of the trellis border
The lawn garden and pine tree border looking towards the entrance to the lower wood and woodland walk

Everything has grown in abundance including the wild flowers and those that are definitely weeds. The goosegrass is draping itself around so many plants and weighing them down.

The stone steps to the pond – all but disappeared!

Sadly, we cannot leave it in this state as even a wild garden has to be managed or the most vigorous plants eventually take over and the smaller vulnerable ones are crowded out. If left unpruned the trees and shrubs grow so tall the reduced sunlight causes the undergrowth to die back and with little light plants like ivy soon settle in and can sweep through a wood floor like a fire. It is a fine balance I have to strike in this garden to keep it in check but also keep it looking quite natural.

Looking back across the lawn garden
The entrance to the woodland walk in the lower wood
The streambank border with self seeded giant thistles

After an initial tour of the garden I estimated it would probably take us about 2 years to get it back to what it was like before, but now having spent a couple of mornings in the garden I might revise that to 3 years hard labour! Everywhere I look trees and shrubs need attention, the invasive weeds removing and many plants need thinning out or cutting back. The ivy is heading for the farmers field next door and some of the weeds have settled in so well they have tap roots more than 2 feet long.

But it is not all doom and gloom, despite the rather wild and shaggy appearance, and the fact that some areas have been fully taken over by something far too vigorous, there are delightful little corners to discover where self seeded foxgloves and poppies have made a new home.

The laneside border

The picture below is by the lower woodland pond and I now have a very green mossy path with daisies that was once bark chippings – but I quite like this and will probably keep it as it is. The little seat by the pond has disappeared altogether into the undergrowth – it may take me a while to uncover it.

The pond by the woodland walk in the lower wood

There will be plenty to keep us busy for a while – thankfully we do not have to maintain the caravan other than it needs a wash down on the outside to remove the green winter film it collects. And of course there is soup to make – mushroom maybe and tomato.

On our very last visit here back in January we did not get to replace the empty gas bottle so that was on the priority list, there is nothing like running out halfway through cooking a meal. So a trip into our nearest town of Stranraer was required in the afternoon…..that and it was good to take a break. Frequent rests are much needed at the moment until our backs are stronger and can cope with the strenuous work in the garden. Being at home for so long during lockdown just pottering around the house and our very small Yorkshire garden has left us with weaker unused muscles.

The weather was so lovely yesterday that whilst in Stranraer, which was eerily quiet, we decided to take a walk down to the harbour and round through Agnew Park. The light and cloud formation was incredible – I will leave you with a few pictures.

It is time for bed now – I am not sure I am making much sense in this ramble – I have an early start in the garden tomorrow….weather permiting. x

40 thoughts on “dear diary :: here at last

  1. It looks so lovely to me. Quite the woodland get-away – I didn’t realize how large the property was there. Lots of work but lots of beauty like you said! Thanks for sharing!


    1. We have about three quarters of an acre. One third woodland, one third with the cottage and lawned areas, and woodland walk in the lower wood and one third facing out to sea. The soil changes from peat in the wooded area to loam and then quite sandy on the seaside.


  2. good luck Viv to you and your husband. you have your work cut out for you, one hour at a time dear lady and be thankful you finally made it to your caravan. take care and do enjoy


  3. I’m so glad you managed to get there and you will get it sorted. In a way, it’s quite an opportunity to change things, if you want to, isn’t it? Despite all the wildness, the photos are lovely.


    1. I thought at one point we might never get here this year – I have missed it so much. We are looking now to age proof the place as we get older and the gardening is getting harder to keep on top of. I am tending now to plant things in masses that do not take much looking after. xx


  4. I’m so glad you managed to get there, hopefully without any problems too. You do have a lot of work ahead of you, but it will do you (if not your muscles!) a world of good doing it and seeing the garden bit by bit getting as tidy as you want it. As you say, some bits of wildness is fine, but not everywhere, as the environment would suffer in the long run.
    So enjoy your time in your garden and enjoy your relaxing time, while your muscles recover!


  5. The garden still looks beautiful. I’m glad you managed to get to the cottage in the end. I was thinking of you each time there was a mention of the five mile restrictions near Gretna. X


  6. That garden is absolutely beautiful – I can see what you mean – you do have to tame it but it is an absolute picture. It reminds me of the joke about the man who is gardening when a passer by leans over the gate and says isn’t God wonderful in a garden? To which the gardener replies – you should have seen what it was like when God had it to himself.


    1. I love that joke! If there is anywhere I feel closer to God it is in this garden – I saw the prettiest bird today, one I had not seen before – I shall have to Google it. I feel a bit guilty disturbing all the wildlife now as they have had the place to themselves for the last 6 months and are not used to sharing the garden.


  7. Happy you made it up there safely. Would suggest very frequent breaks from all the gardening tasks so as not to overwhelm your bodies. Know that is hard when there is so much you want to do–so many tasks in front of your eyes (doesn’t take long for nature to take over), but do pace the work and remember to simply enjoy yourselves at least some of the time.


    1. We are taking it slowly and accept it will take many visits to get it sorted. We are going for a walk on the beach this afternoon – tide allowing, and then perhaps another hour in the garden but no more than that – we cannot risk a bad back!


  8. Oh, my, it is just stunning where you are. How far of a trip is it from your home base.? It looks like a lot of garden work but such beauty. Don’t pull a back muscle though, ( I know from experience)…


    1. It is a 250 mile journey from our home in West Yorkshire to here on the mull. It takes us a little while these days to recover from the journey alone so we have to take things more gently now to avoid puting our backs out. Normally the osteopath in Stranraer (who has magic hands) would sort me out if my back gets bad but of course at the moment they are not working!


  9. What a beautiful sea view here! I could look at that view all day long. I think your garden looks wonderful and very lush. I am sure you will have it tidied up in no time. Hope the weather stays nice and sunny for you. Enjoy your time in Scotland.


    1. we can enjoy the view now but when the cottage was built originally it had no windows facing out to sea and that was not uncommon round here as people had to protect themselves from the winter weather and cold winds from the sea. It would always be much colder on the seaside and of course there was no double glazing back then and the paint on wooden windows would be stripped off with the sea salt.


  10. The garden is beautiful, but I can understand the need to prune and weed and cut back. We are also age-proofing our garden.


  11. So pleased that you finally got back to the cottage. The garden looks beautiful, but I understand what you mean about getting it under control again. Our garden is often like a jungle if we go away for two weeks, let alone 6 months. Enjoy the rest of your stay in Scotland.


  12. Oh, sorry I am late coming to this – what a joy to see you are back at the cottage. I know exactly what you mean about how long it takes to bring a garden back under control: realising I spent almost every day of lockdown working outside and this place still isn’t done, so yes, we too are looking to “age proof” some parts (it is about the same size as yours).

    Please keep the photos coming, I am not sure I am going to get there for sometime, if at all this year 😢


  13. I’m so glad you’ve finally been able to get back to Scotland. We’ve also been able to return to the caravan and the mini breaks are doing us the world of good. From the outside looking in the garden looks lovely, but I can imagine the amount of work there is to do. Hard to believe how quickly Mother Nature can reclaim her territory in just a few months isn’t it.

    Hope you are all keeping well, especially your Mum. xx


  14. Gosh your garden looks amazing! My other half would love a bit of woodland. Sadly our garden is just a postage stamp, we are desperate to move but its very difficult finding somewhere not too far away with a bit of extra land.


  15. Your secret garden is lovely! I know how much change I notice when we have been away for a week, it must have been very strange being away for so long. Hope you have recovered from all the hard work. I have included this post in Through The Garden Gate for this month as you are on a blog break and I did suggest that you shared your Scottish garden with us, hope that is ok. Sarah x


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