Jonathan: Whatever might be said of the poor weather this year, and the poor yield from garden and croft (and for that matter tourism), it’s been a good year for wild flowers, and native orchids in particular. There’s been thousands and thousands of them scattered across the croft, and they’ve remained in flower for an exceptionally long time, due to the mild temperatures and the ground never drying out. They’ve even been appearing in our gardens – never seen them there before. This magnificent specimen of Northern Marsh Orchid was found today in the garden at Eight Askernish. The flower head (ignoring the stem below) is about five inches long!
Denise: Happy Birthday, Molly! 10th July 2015! Here she is, this afternoon, with a definite spring in her step. What she really wanted for her birthday was to sit on the garden bench, against a sun-drenched front wall of the house, condescending to guests by permitting them to talk to her with a gentle rub behind the ears. What she actually got for her birthday was the very worst of 2015 weather – starting cold damp and grey and as the day progressed getting windier and wetter and murkier! On the bench in the conservatory – curled up to keep warm, with occasional visitors bringing with them a blast of cold damp air as they stand their, dripping, asking for eggs the hens really aren’t in a mood to lay. Still, there were compensations: slices of fresh turkey, tuna chunks, and a little sponge pudding with warm Devon custard. And then – as we can see – a quick dash outside to … well, outside!
Jonathan: Here’s Denise grading some of this year’s fleeces from our Hebridean sheep. Visitors coming into the garden are clearly bemused: they’ve seen lambing on TV, shearing perhaps for real, but clearly very few people get to see this aspect of working with sheep and wool.
And even fewer have seen wool grading being done in the midst of such chaos: this part of the garden is still something of a building site, though clearly some visitors see past that: one German lady today said that we had ‘ein klein stück Paradis!’ – which surely doesn’t need translation.