Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Autumnal hydrangeas

Not far from home, in a corner of Darley Park, there's a walled garden dedicated to the National Collection of Hydrangeas. It's a place I've visited frequently in summer, but a sunny day last week seemed like the perfect opportunity to check it out in autumn. 

I'd half expected that it might look drab and dull - after all it IS autumn - but I was pleasantly surprised.

I remember hydrangeas grown by my mother which just turned brown or beige in autumn but these hadn't; while their colours had obviously changed and muted over the weeks there was still a range of dusky pinks, reds, mauves, and purples.

Some, like this particular one, even had the various stages of colours - moving from white to pink to green/soft red.
And some even have stunning foliage, as bright and colourful as the flowers.

Every time I visit I realise there's a lot more to hydrangeas than the pink mop-heads I remember from childhood.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Summer in October at Chatsworth

October started with such glorious sunshine that it seemed silly to stay home - so off to Chatsworth we went to see the gardens moving in to autumn.

First, to the kitchen garden. I always rather hope that one day I'll have a space like this (although probably much smaller) - attractively arranged vegetable beds, a statue or two, and a mass of flowers to cut for the house.  

Somehow my actual garden never lives up to my dreams.

And, of course, somewhere to sit. This little shelter next to a garden shed is one of my favourite spots at Chatsworth, with a view out past the greenhouses to Derbyshire's hills. A perfect spot for a bit of relaxation and mindfulness, especially on such a lovely day.

Then a wander along the higher levels of the main garden by streams and ponds, where at this time of year the acers are turning all shades of red and gold.

It may be autumn but the flowers haven't finished yet. The Michaelmas daisies are familiar cottage garden plants

but there are also new-to-me flowers that I'd love to add to my garden (if only I had space!) I always leave Chatsworth inspired, even if that feeling doesn't translate into actual changes to my suburban patch.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Crinan canal walk

I couldn't visit this part of Scotland and not go to Crinan, for a look at the boats and a walk along the canal. Unfortunately it turned out to be a shorter trip than planned as the rain started to fall.

We had time though for a walk round the canal basin, looking at modern leaisure yachts and old working puffers, and along the canal to Bellanoch.

The canal is unusual here, as after rising through a series of locks, it continues along the side of the hill up above sea level. At low tide sand and mud stretch into the distance but as the tide sweeps it becomes a sea loch. It's a strange, slightly surreal landscape, especially as visibility started to close in with the approaching drizzle. 

By the time we reached the large basin at Bellanoch I was convinced it had started to rain. I was glad to have made it to this point though, after seeing the same spot from on high a couple of days before.

By now the occasional drizzle had turned to steady rain and it was time though to head back before we got really wet. We were still wondering about the changes of tea and cake at the cafe, but then a deluge fell, and with only outdoor seating thoughts of food were forgotten as we headed back to our AirBnB.

 Fortunately the holiday didn't end on a wet note, as by evening the clouds had cleared and the sun put in a last minute appearance.

Saturday, 9 October 2021


Being 'up north' (in comparison to Tayvallich where we were staying) we decided to travel a few more miles, across the 'bridge over the Atlantic' to the island of Seil, and the village of Ellenabeich.

Today Ellenabeich is a peaceful conservation village but its photogenic exterior hides a busier more industrial past, for the area used to be the site of huge slate quarries. 

Heading south lies a chain of island often marked on maps as 'the Slate Islands'; all once producers of this in-demand roofing material.  The area must have been very different from today. 

At Ellenabeich there are still signs of the past all around - lagoons that now fill the quarries,  remains of a huge dock, winching equipment, and, of course, those workmen's cottages that now look so quaint. 

In one of the cottages there's a museum that tells about the village's history but it was closed by the time we arrived. This dummy outside shows how smaller pieces of slate were cut by hand, though I'm not sure that wearing shoes on the wrong feet was part of the normal dress.

And a ferry takes visitors over to nearby Easdale island; another place filled with memories of the past. I've been before but we were a bit too late in the day this time.