All the Fun of the Fair


‘It’s market weather’ the guid folk o Fife sagely say as biting winds blow the April showers horizontal. Every year the longest street fair in Europe, the Links Market, gathers in the Lang Toon to kick-start the season and the weather is normally notoriously dreadful. Not so this year.


In the Secret Garden temperatures climbed steadily into the high 40’s and the Easter family gathering spilled outdoors into the courtyard inadvertently becoming the inaugural Secret Garden Party.


I always like to welcome guests with a cocktail {or two} and this one is particularly topical and tasty.

The Cotton Candy Cocktail.


To make your own Cotton Candy Cocktail couldn’t be easier all you need is a bottle of prosecco and a bag of candy floss. Simply tear the candy floss into chunks, pop into a large jug, add the bottle of prosecco and serve. Pitcher perfect!

The gathering highlighted a few wee glitches in the garden, waggy tails welcoming guests don’t work well with terracotta pots which have all since been replaced with wooden tubs.


But it wasn’t all beer and skittles and in between entertaining I managed to find time to clear away the brambles that threatened the hydrangea and some of the dead wood from the fuchsia. And after all that I spent the last afternoon of the long weekend curled up in the old wicker chair with a good book. Bliss.


The Promise of Plums

Is the pale blossom that fills the Secret Garden in springtime a gift from:

a) the gods?


b) mother nature?

{answer below}


Neither and both. I invested in this pretty plum-tree with birthday money from my lovely god~mother!

The Perspective of Plants

I believe everyone should have a broad picture of how the universe operates and our place in it. It is a basic human desire. And it also puts our worries in perspective.

Stephen Hawking


The cottage is in the oldest part of the town on a long and crooked street close to the harbour. Known the world over as the birthplace of Adam Smith the town has had a varied history. It is recorded that it began to thrive in 1763 shortly before the cottage was built and my family first arrived in Scotland. However it was to be another two hundred years before the fates brought the family to the Lang Toon. Reflecting on this as I gazed out the garden door one rainy Sunday I idly wondered what the garden looked like 200 years ago?


Growing close to the kitchen window with yellow matter custard flowers one plant was identified in my plant encyclopaedia as a Kerria Japonica Pleniflora named after William Kerr, the young Kew gardener who discovered it after being seconded to the East India Company in China in 1804.

Commonly known poetically as Japanese Rose it grows beside and through a Russian Vine that tumbles over the old stone wall enclosing the Secret Garden. An article in the Telegraph reports that by 1838 Japanese Rose ‘was so common as to be found in the gardens of even labourers’ cottages’. Perhaps it is too fanciful to imagine that this is descended from an original cottage garden plant but it is so delightfully romantic that I choose to believe it could well be.

And it also puts my worries in perspective.


Growing Money

If your godmother generously gives you a crisp £100 note as an impromptu gift the correct thing to do is invest it wisely. Some would choose to invest it in a savings account, others would buy gold and diamonds. But sticking with the adage that where there’s muck there’s brass I invested in worms. Yes that’s right, worms. I trust she approved for it was she that introduced me to the concept of vermicomposting.

If you can be trusted with power tools you could make your own very cheaply but I can’t even be trusted with hand tools so I bought a ready-made version.


In my first garden it was tucked away between the shed and the willow and was a bother to reach without getting scratched or soaked depending on season and weather. In its first winter on the allotment the lid was blown off in the storms never to be seen again. Fortunately replacement parts are available and now it’s sitting safely next to the garden door where it is easy to reach from the cottage kitchen even at night. But just to be on the safe side I’ve put a heavy slab on the lid this time.

All my kitchen scraps go in there, veg peelings, tea bags and coffee grounds, they seem to really enjoy rice and I’ve recently introduced cheese to their diet in the form of leftover cheesy risotto. They also appreciate eggshells and shredded paper or torn cardboard, however they’re not particularly fond of onions or citrus.

They take all these kitchen scraps and turn them into lovely compost/plant food including a yummy {for plants} worm tea. There’s a sump tray at the bottom of the wormery which has a tap to release the worm tea but I was so worried that I would forget to open it and inadvertently drown my worms that I keep the tap open all the time with a small watering can underneath to catch the tea. I dilute the tea in a large watering can before watering the pots during warm or dry spells.



Eco friendly organic compost and feed can be stupidly expensive so although I don’t earn any interest on my investment it does save me a small fortune every year. My godmother and I don’t live near each other so I don’t see her very often and I’ve not been the best god-daughter at keeping in contact but it will be her birthday soon so this is my way of saying ‘thanks heaps, thinking off you!’  xxxxx

A Good Start

Change is inevitable and that is nowhere more apparent than in a garden, looking through photos recently I came across this photo of my hazel standing all alone in the courtyard the day I moved in. Sometimes with gardens {as with life} it can be too easy to get so caught up in plans and dreams you lose sight of the start line. But even during a four-day April ‘shower’ the courtyard looks brighter than ever.







Secret Stairway




Here’s to the next six months!

Once Upon a Time

I’m afraid that I may have given a false impression of prettiness as I waxed lyrical about dog proofing the Secret Garden in the post ‘A Gardener’s Tail’. Oh it’s not that the garden isn’t pretty. It is very pretty. Indeed it’s a true fairytale garden.


The waiting of winter is nearly over as I finally find out what has been lurking beneath the soil here in the Secret Garden. A more impatient gardener would perhaps have cleared the garden by now and laid it to lawn. One that is mown into stripes. I am not that gardener.


But whilst it’s true that The Secret Garden is a fairytale garden it is in the manner of Grimm rather than Disney. Vivid thorns that could easily enchant a princess for 100 years are highlighted against the crumbling brick and stone of the walls.



Brambles curl around unidentified spiky things on a carpet of fresh young nettles. And there are tangles.


Lots of tangles.

more tangles

But even tangles can be pretty when adorned with gold and green.

tangle topper



A Gardener’s Tail

A pot of newly planted geraniums {in one of my favourite pots} promise to add a splash of colour to my favourite corner of the courtyard but more importantly they protect a barrel of purple sage from Hugo. In my last garden I had a massive sage plant which had survived many harsh Scottish winters but proved powerless against the attentions of a Springer Spaniel puppy.



Hugo is an enthusiastic gardener and loves digging but rarely digs in the right places.


At the allotment he had to be kept tethered on a long lead next to the shed where he could sit and watch and if it happened to come on rain we would take shelter in the shed and enjoy a cup of tea.



But I never liked keeping him tied up, a garden is the perfect playground for a rowdy boy and so some other means of protecting the plants in the Secret Garden had to be found. Hence he is the reason the rosemary is kept on top of the potting table


And the reason I put my treasured vintage bird-cage over the crocosmia



And do you know what, I think that the challenge of dog proofing the garden has made it even prettier. Funny how life works out sometimes isn’t it.