garden days


One of the saddest things I had to do in the months following my stroke was to give up our Edinburgh allotment. I simply did not have the strength and energy to maintain a garden, and since then I have rather missed growing things. Our new home has lots of outdoor space, and happily I have more energy and strength (though I have to leave the digging and hauling stuff about to Tom). This is the first time we have had a garden of our own and we are really enjoying it.


Looking North and West from the top of the garden you can see Ben Lomond. The West Highland Way is just behind us, and you often hear the clink of the gate and the voices of walkers and cyclists as they pass. Away down the garden and past the house to the South there is the loch, and woods, in which, today, the first cuckoo of Spring was singing. It is a grand spot. I am trying not to be too ambitious with the planting this first year, and we are mostly growing things in pots and a couple of raised beds (which Tom is currently digging out). I have also put up a lean-to next to the shed, where I am bringing on the plants I started indoors.


There will be salad leaves and herbs and tomatoes. I am very fond of sweet peas, and have planted several varieties, the shoots of which are currently colonising the bathroom. The other day, I found a few forget-me-nots behind the shed and potted them on.


. . . and things in other pots are flowering



There is blossom on the exciting spiny shrub that I’ve now been told is an ornamental quince (thanks, Lynn and Miriana!)


Time for tea.



How very nice it is to be able to grow a few things and have this space to potter about in.

45 thoughts on “garden days

  1. And to have the most fantastic basket EVER in which to have that tea….(: Beautiful! Congratulations on spring and a place to love it in!

  2. mmmm I just gave myself a massive blister attacking the weed forest that is my back yard. My feelings about gardening are currently on hold while I drink some tea and crochet.

  3. I have a physical disability and love pottering about in my garden. Like you, I have two raised beds and some pots that are my own for salads, sweet peas, edible peas, onions and rocket, whilst my husband has the main patch for other fruit and veg. It’s great to see things grow and cook a meal from garden produce. Plus it’s good gentle exercise for me. Enjoy your garden!

  4. Unbelievable that some of you still have snow on the ground. My Mimosa tree, just outside my kitchen doors in London, is in full bloom, so it looks as if the sun is shining in even when it isn’t!! I go outside every day and enjoy the new growth on all my garden shrubs and plants. There are tubs with things in them which I have forgotten about, so when shoots start to appear it’s so exciting to see what they are going to become.
    Kate I bought the pattern and wool for your Sheep Carousel teacosy when in Shetland last year – gave it to my mum, who is originally from Aberdeen, and she has given up on it, so when I get the chance I’ll pick it up and enjoy a bit of knitting with wool from Jamieson & Smith! My mum seems to be past complicated patterns now, at the age of 86, and likes to stick to simple crocheted blankets for the local hospice and premature baby clothes for the neo-natal unit. Times change …

  5. I love my garden, too, and, also, have had to cut right back on what I can do after 7 orthopaedic ops in 6 years. I have a small veg garden with raised beds and so can sit on the side and weed and work. On the patio I have pots with flowers. The size & scope of my gardening ability has drastically reduced but I so appreciate the little I can do now!
    May you have much joy with your new gardening ventures. The situation of your new home seems idyllic

      1. Look up chaenomeles (the Latin name) and see if it looks similar. It does to me. I think you can make jelly with the fruit although they are significantly smaller than regular quinces.

  6. Of all your recent posts, I think this is the one that gives me the most happiness on your account. I remember how overjoyed you were when you received your allotment and started working in it, and how having to renounce it seemed to encompass all the losses your stroke put you through. Seeing all the good you have been to make out of such a terrible event (like my husband’s colleague who never published as many articles as when fighting cancer, because she had decided to make something out of her illness) fills me with wonder. Congratulations on all counts.

  7. Hi Kate,
    Really glad you’ve got the outdoor space, I got my first garden a few years ago and love it. I also, since the beginning of last year, part own a little garden centre in Oban so know a wee bit about plants, just wanted to say that the picture of crab apple blossom looks more like Chaenomeles, commonly known as flowering quince to me, it looks like it’s got little spiky bits on the branches which crab apples don’t have.

  8. Ah Kate your pictures give me hope that Spring will arrive here..soon…we are still blanketed with snow and major flooding…I keep my eye peeled for the first flowers…did see robins with their merry red breast..

  9. I am happy for you ! Gardening is a great source of happiness. By the way, from what I know the quince is edible, and can be made into a nice jelly .

  10. Kate, I remember you writing about giving up your allotment and was really saddened as I could only imagine how much it meant to you.

    However, you are back on track and it’s all systems go. I am delighted for you.

    We really enjoy our garden and allotment and get great pleasure(and a lot of backache) from growing and eating our own veggies so I think I can share your pleasure at being able to lose a few hours pottering around the garden and enjoying being out of doors.

    Have fun!

  11. Even a little patch of garden brings joy! My garden and my part-allotment are gardened with a very light touch, but they both produce more than enough beauty and food for me. Good luck with your new garden. It looks lovely!

  12. Though our snow has (mostly) melted, it’s still a month before our last frost date so I’m seeding in pots til I can dig in my garden, yet. I love gardening as much as knitting (which is quite a lot) and am so happy for you and Tom that you have your own, now. It’s so good for the soul!

  13. What lovely, happiness-inducing photos. So happy for you! It’s still too cold for this where I live although fortunately the snow has now gone.

  14. How does your garden grow? Very well, it looks like!

    Planting, caring for and watching a garden grow expand one’s horizons in so many different directions. Absolutely lovely. Enjoy!

  15. Kate, by coincidence we are visiting Iceland in 2 weeks. Can you please tell me how you get around to some of the sites?
    Thank you

  16. Sorry to hear you have been poorly, happy to see you are well enough to keep you website going. You are an inspiration. Very talented, love your designs and photos. Thank you.
    Best wishes,
    Swedish Princess

  17. I would love some raised beds, they will make gardening easier, for sure, but mostly they would keep my chooks out of my veg! And today I have been chopping and boiling quince in syrup, the blossom on the common or garden quince isn’t so beautiful (although nearly) but we get a huge amount if fruit every year!

  18. So happy to hear you’re gardening again. Is that your shed? Nice job on building with the wee greenhouse on the side. Is that Lopapeysa in the basket your next pattern? Looks yummy!!

  19. I was many years before I could get back to my garden, after crushing my wrist. Last year was a catch up on years of near neglect on my little patch in the world. The joy and happiness I received from being in the garden and being able to weed, plant and watch splendour come forth from the earth, was inexplicable. Knitting is my first love but gardening gives an extra tranquility and nourishment to the soul, that is a true gift!

    I am so very happy for you both to know such joy!

  20. Do I see Lett Lopi in that basket?! I’m waiting with bated breath to find out if you are designing an Iceland- inspired new pattern!

    I love your blog and your Shetland book. Thank you for sharing your designs, ideas, etc. so generously!

  21. So lovely to see you doing things post -stroke that you enjoy. As with cancer, I try not to let it take away the things I love to do, but sometimes I am too ill to do them. Easy Does It and I get around to doing the things i love.

  22. So pleased to read how much you are enjoying your new garden. I simply love pottering in our garden and stopping to listen to the birds whilst having a drink and a spot of knitting.

  23. Lovely – starting a garden is so exciting! Your flowering quince (chaenomeles) should set fruit, too – like ‘proper’ quinces, they’re too astringent for eating raw but I use them to flavour a liqueur…..

  24. Beautiful, thank you for sharing your lovely garden. Tis indeed an ornamental quince, but what wonderful flowers, the deep colour lifts the heart on a spring day. Your ‘shed’ seems to call out for a chair, table, cup of tea, radio, a whole world beckons!

  25. As I am still in a rather frozen world it is a wonderful treat to see green colorful plants in your yard. I am however very intrigued with that Lopi knitting that keeps popping up in your photos—–please share more!

  26. Very lovely. So grateful to see your corner of the world through your wonderful sensibilities. Thank you. In a world of sometimes mean things, in our occasionally ungenerous society, it is wonderful to be given a gift of beauty.

  27. May I ask what the purple flowers in with the cowslips are please? My dad is mad keen on cowslips and they are happily colonising the garden, there are sticks beside some sticking out of the lawn so we don’t tread on them!

    Do you get many birds? Love the mug

  28. hi Kate the plant is indeed a quiche mine produces fruit like a small apple but quite firm I think if you do have any fruit you could make quiche jelly (I have not tried to make any) but you may like to.

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About Kate Davies

writer, designer and creator of Buachaille (100% Scottish wool)