Brown and crispy round the edges

Storm over Ardivachar machair

Storm clouds over Ardivachar machair but will it rain?

This is not a description of my garden not my home-made biscuits. So I am going to whisper this we’ve hardly had any rain for almost 3 months. I’m not sure what constitutes a drought, but my garden and the surrounding machair are parched. Now I know people on the big island have a surfeit of the natural wet stuff, but please can you share just a little, my plants need more than 5mm a month!
In the vegetable garden it is impossible to get carrot seed to germinate and the peas and beans are really suffering. Perversely brassicas are doing well and I’m about to harvest the first cauliflowers, small but perfectly formed, and some impressive Chinese cabbage. I’m still nurturing my tomatoes and I’ve just about got the aphids under control. Although we have plenty of sunshine, the nights are cold, consequently the growth rate is slow. The first tiny green fruits have appeared on the tomatoes, peppers and mini cucumbers, so if you don’t mind I’d like to keep the sunshine a little longer.
In the cottage garden, my grass patch (by no stretch of the imagination could it be called a lawn) is very brown and crispy and has just signed its own execution warrant. I have plans but as yet no vision!

Meadow Clary (Salvia pratensis)

Meadow Clary (Salvia pratensis)

It has been a struggle to keep the new plants alive and there have been casualties. Predictably it is our good old native plants and their selected progeny which are the survivors. Vipers bugloss (Echium vulgare),  sea holly (Eryngium maritimum), sea poppy (Glaucium flavum), achillea, wild marjoram (Origanum vulgare) and meadow clary (Salvia pratensis) are the backbone of my borders in June and July aided and abetted by some immigrants – knipofias, assorted alliums and galtonias. So within the haze of blue there is the odd strident splash of orange!

Sea Poppy Glaucium flavum

Sea Poppy (Glaucium flavum)

However the best is yet to come – do I harvest the buds or do I resist the temptation to eat baby artichokes and let them flower?

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11 thoughts on “Brown and crispy round the edges

  1. 3 months!! I hadn’t realised you had a dry April, here it was still raining up until I went away on the last day of April when the sunshone and I wondered as I crossed the Minch was the dry weather going to be while I was away and couldn’t garden, it has been dry in the 5 weeks I’ve been back except for Thurday night/Friday morning, strangly when I was in Stornoway last Monday (18th) people were talking about the rain they’d had! apparently it had rained in town and Lochs which is south of Stornoway last weekend,

    I love your native flowers, the meadow clary is a beautiful blue and I didn’t know there is a sea poppy, must look out for these plants, I am luckier than you (and people up the hill from me) that my peat soil has some depth and there is slight dampness deep down but it won’t last much longer, I have experienced this dry period before both here and on Scalpay but not for a few years recently, the ditch at the front has been dry for weeks and the river near my house is very, very low and only running in the centre, it’s so strange with all the people on the mainland suffering floods, I hope you get some rain soon, a nice still downpour in the night :o) Frances

    • Hi Frances, the rain has arrived and for once without the gale force winds, so it should revive the garden. Most of my plants I grow from seed – Meadow Clary and Sea Poppy are easy and will also self seed. Both need a well drained soil – but for the price of a packet it is a worthwhile experiment.

  2. Your native plants are lovely. The sea poppy is so striking with the hint of orange.

    It’s interesting to think of your island having such dry weather. We’ve had a drought for three years now and native plants are definitely the answer for our gardens. There are various ways to officially measure, but a gardener just knows by how much watering is required.

  3. Hope you get some rain soon. I’m guessing from your header that you’ve had success with artichokes before. I’ve never had them but I imagine that they taste like asparagus. Looking forward to seeing them.

    • Artichokes are a seaside plant and I have managed to get a couple of plants established. The first buds are forming so I’ll have to go and do some plant portraits. If you’re going to try artichokes for the first time avoid the tinned or bottled kind and personally I can’t be fussed with the big ones and sucking the leaves. So go for the small buds and eat whole with lots of olive oil. Or you can cheat and go to a good deli – there should be plenty in your part of the world.

  4. I sure wish I could send you some rain–we’ve had more than our fair share, to be certain. I’ve been looking forward to summer for three years now…I love the ‘ominous clouds’ photo.

    • It’s raining – the lovely persistent gentle kind that is great for the garden. We’re promised a week of rain, which I welcome – just as log as it stops before August!

  5. I’m another one who was going to offer to send you some of our excess rain. What constitutes a drought seems to be relative to the expected local climate. One year, I was in Ketchican, Alaska (the wettest city in the United States) in June and they had water restrictions in place because they’d only had 96″ of rain so far that year!!

    • Thank you – the rain was gratefully received. Scottish Water had just given us a “water usage warning” when the rain arrived. Not sure how they manage it, but when ever the water companies issue a hose pipe ban or drought warning the heavens open and we all get drenched!

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