August 2017 – still tending two gardens

August was a hectic month and September promises to be the same. We made two trips to our new house, mainly in order to transport another load of books and papers, but also for me to spend more time in the garden. On our way back from the first trip we stayed overnight with friends in the Lake District, and on the second trip stayed near Helensburgh and visited The Hill House of Rennie Mackintosh fame.

Early in the month, the star of our Shropshire garden was undoubtedly the wonderful Yucca. Its beautiful blooms towered above my head and I was delighted to see that four younger plants are thriving around the base.

Our late August visit coincided with a heat-wave. We had our French windows open from 7am until 9pm so it was quite a shock to arrive back in Scotland to pouring rain and low temperatures. The view is delightful especially when a family of long-tailed tits flit from tree to tree and a treecreeper can be heard tapping on the field maple.

On Islay it is the mingling of shades of lilac and purple that dominate the garden. Heather, Calluna vulgaris and Bell heather Erica cinerea are flourishing, and where I removed older plants a couple of years ago, the new growth is blooming too.

The highlight of the month was the long-awaited news that we have found a buyer for the Islay house. We received three offers on the closing date of August 17th and accepted one from a couple who are keen to maintain the garden as a wildlife reserve. After 25 years of careful management it would have been hard to hand over to people who were less interested in all that we have achieved.

Besides mowing the grass I have been busy collecting seed from bluebells, vetches, red campion and wild carrot in the hopes that I can introduce them successfully into our new garden.

The new owners will take over on the 19th October so we have time to make another couple of trips to number 46. In between packing and travelling we still have commitments to Bruichladdich Distillery and we held two more sessions for The Botanist Brand Ambassadors. The group from Japan insisted on having a photo taken with us.

I have had little time for writing but my article on the Raasay Hotel appeared in Scottish Islands Explorer and I am, with some sadness, working on my last Letter from Islay for The Island Review webzine.