Denise: Ladies Bedstraw is plentiful this year, especially so along the road that passes between the garden and the shore, and very easy to find, pick and gather up sufficient of the flowering tips for a dyeing session. The colour achieved (left two skeins) is the same delightful lemon-sherbert of the flowers. Fennel is always plentiful, as it is the abundant fine foliage that is used rather than the flowers. I dyed two lots from the same dye-pot: the first took the full strength of the colour – which is a warm yellow (third skein from left); the second lot had to make do with what colour was left in the pot, but to be honest I prefer the ‘residual’ (right-most skein)
Jonathan: As I’m retiring – by degrees – from civil engineering and construction, some of the work that has mainly or even exclusively fallen to Denise over recent years has passed my way. One of the first is picking gooseberries: I wonder why that might be!? The poor weather this year, and the replacement – last year – of many of our bushes with younger stock has resulted in a much smaller harvest this time around: but I’m still kept busy regularly picking! This seed tray full – about one and a half to two kilograms, is from one of the remaining older bushes, and is about a quarter of the total yield from that bush! We’ll not be selling any gooseberries: we’ll need them all for ourselves and for making our preserves for sale.
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!