Six on Saturday 3rd October

I’ve been a bit remiss with keeping up with my blog. I was away last weekend so that’s my excuse. Anyway, here I am for a Six.

I’m going to start with a couple from our trip away. We went to Edinburgh for a few days for my birthday and we had a really great time (more of that on another post somewhen). I thought I’d come back with loads of planty photos because we’d planned a trip to the Botanic Gardens, but, as luck would have it, the day we’d planned that was the only day we had rain! Typical! We decided to do indoor things instead but we were fully booked every other day so had to take a literal rain check on the gardens. Good excuse to go back!

We came across this house in Prince’s Street gardens and I was taken with how pretty it is set in its lovely garden which was blooming with roses and lots of colour. I googled it to see if I could find out anything about the house and it’s the head gardener’s house but was also used in a BBC children’s programme.

On my birthday we’d booked a trip to Loch Ness which was absolutely brilliant. It was a long day, we met the tour at 8am and arrived back in Edinburgh at 8pm, but it was worth it. We stopped at several picturesque places on the way to Loch Ness and back.

Our tour driver was super knowledgeable about all things Scottish and he told us that there came a point when trees were dangerously low in numbers because there was no legislation in place to ensure replanting of trees after felling and it became a critical issue, so now for every tree that’s felled, another has to be planted. However, when this legislation was introduced, most of the trees that were planted weren’t native to Scotland meaning that now Scotland has more non-native trees than native. They were pretty impressive at this stop on our way back to Edinburgh.

This isn’t the best of photographs because I took it from a moving bus but you get the idea. We saw a few restaurants and shops whose entrances were entirely bedecked with beautiful flowers and plants, but this is the only picture I managed to snap. This is in the New Town part of Edinburgh where the architecture isn’t quite as lovely as it is in the Old Town, but the injection of colour really perks the buildings up.

Back home and the garden is in sore need of some tidying, but given the weather today and the upcoming forecast, it’s going to have to stay messy for a while! I have sunflowers which have flopped, wind battered runner beans and straggly pansies.

My ornamental kale is looking beautiful though.

This is hanging off the catio facing outwards in case furry friends nibble it, so we can’t see it unless we go out, but I’m happy just to know it’s there!

My fuchsias are still providing some much needed colour on these dreary days.

I feel that there hasn’t been enough fuchsia love on my blog this summer and I think it may be because they haven’t been as impressive this year, and I think that’s my fault. I must research fuchsia care so that they thrive next year. I have three and they all flowered, but they didn’t get many leaves and they didn’t get bushy like they were originally. Maybe some timely pruning is needed.

I may be slightly cheating with this last photo as it encompasses six in one! The photos may be multiple, but the point is singular.

And that point is, simply, colour! I took all these photos this morning before the rain started and it did make me happy to see all this colour after a week of dreary weather and the prospect of months of it to come.

That’s my Six for the week. As ever, the link to join in or just to read more Sixes is https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/six-on-saturday-03-10-2020/#respond

A catio for our cats

We have been talking about getting a catio for our furry girls pretty much since they came into our lives, and they’re five now so it’s been an epic conversation! I’ve never had house cats before, in fact I never considered it, but when we moved into our house, our previous cat, Willow, was hit and killed on the road, so we made the decision (controversial to some) to keep our girls as house cats. They were tiny kittens when we adopted them so they’ve never known the outside world. I wouldn’t keep a cat inside that was used to going out.

Over the last few months we’ve been home with the girls a lot more and have had more time to consider and research the catio. There are a number of companies who sell ready made catios, but boy are they expensive! We started looking at them and then did some research on YouTube and decided that we’d be able to build our own at a vastly reduced financial outlay, so I got planning.

The catio is essentially a wooden frame with cat safe wire mesh attached to make it secure, but it was actually harder than I anticipated to design it. The basic shape was easy enough, but then I had to consider exactly where the screws should go to avoid drilling into another screw where three lengths of wood needed to be joined, and I had to bear in mind the width of the mesh and where we would need additional struts to allow us to attach it. Even with all my meticulous, pencil-chewing planning, we still had to tweak the design as we went along, but we got there.

I think we ended up with three trips to B&Q for supplies.

It’s a good job I’ve got quite a long car because we needed eight 2.4 metre lengths of wood in order to make the catio big enough to clear our back door.

Our first attempt went a bit wrong – I’m still not entirely sure how it happened, but I think it must’ve been something to do with the conversion from inches which we measured in, to centimetres which we cut in! We won’t dwell on that!

Newly measured, and double, triple and quadruple checked, we got going again – luckily we were able to reuse most of the bits of wood that we’d cut so we didn’t waste much, and this time the frame fit over the door and window. We decided not to include a door because this would’ve made the design more complicated and expensive, and we have another door into the back garden so it’s not necessary.

So far, so good!

The timber we used was only thirty eight millimetres wide so the frame was quite flimsy whilst we were still assembling it so we had to be really careful as we moved it around.

Soon we got to the stage where we could staple some of the mesh onto the frame so it became more stable.

We chose the mesh carefully because the cats may decide to climb it which could hurt their little paws. This mesh is plastic coated and is sold as animal proof. We made sure that all the edges are secured and/or tucked away so curious paws can’t find them.

I picked up a few hanging pots to go on the outside of the catio, as well as some quirky additions to prettify the whole thing and I moved some of my existing posts to make a feature of it. We picked up some cheap fake grass for the bottom to soften the look. We’re really pleased with how it turned out.

I picked the plants up from Webbs last weekend. I needed plants that wouldn’t get too big for the four around the sides, and two that will trail for the top corners. Obviously they all had to be cat safe too, just in case!

I’ve wanted an ornamental kale for ages and this was the perfect opportunity.

The cats were a bit hesitant about the whole affair to start off with …

… but they’re getting more and more used to it now. Tink even scratched the door to ask to go out there yesterday.

Next job then, it would seem, is to get a cat flap so they can let themselves out there whenever they fancy. It’s nice to know they can get outside in a safe and secure way to get some air and some sunshine.

Six on Saturday 5th September

September … a bitter sweet month for me. It’s my birthday in September which is generally a positive, or at the very least conjures up memories of when birthdays were something that seemed to take an age to arrive but were worth the wait, and when becoming another year older was a good thing. However September also heralds the end of my favourite time of year. I’ll soon be swapping my Summer front door wreath for my Autumn one. I’ve worn boots for the first time since March. The heating’s been on and the Winter duvet is on the bed. I do not do cold! I haven’t had to turn the SAD lamp on yet, but it won’t be long.

Anyway, enough with the doom and gloom – maybe we’ll have an Indian Summer – and on with the business of the day

First up, an update on the tourniqueted Sunflowers and, well, you win some …

… and you lose some!

At least I tried to save them both. I’m pleased that one of them has thrived despite the squirrel assault.

Harvest time is coming to an end, but I did bring some produce back in with me after my usual Saturday morning potter around the garden.

These are my first ever peppers and I’m stupidly happy about them. The courgette is somewhat squat! I don’t know what I do wrong with my courgette plants. Most people get a glut of courgettes but this is only the second one I’ve had – all the rest have rotted. I have had loads of runner beans though, and the carrot crop will keep us going for a while. I’ve chopped everything up and frozen it so nothing gets wasted (apart from the courgette because they go mushy – we’ll have that next week in a stir fry most likely).

My lovely Berberis is getting its gold edging back for the first time since I bought it.

I bought this from Hop Pocket, a lovely shopping village near Worcester which is filled with crafty things, home baked goods and, importantly, a garden centre. However, when I planted it in the garden, all its leaves fell off and it really didn’t look happy, so I whipped it out again and kept everything crossed that it would recover in a pot. It survived but never returned to its former glory until now. It looks like it’s coming along in leaps and bounds.

My Pussy Willow is starting to lose its leaves.

I bought this earlier this year before lockdown and it’s done pretty well through the Summer. Sad as it is that it’s preparing for the cold weather, the skeleton leaves do look pretty spectacular.

We built a catio for our cats over the last couple of weekends. They’re house cats because we live on a busy road, so we thought they might like a little bit of outside space to smell the air and nose around. I decided to prettify the catio with some plants hanging off it.

This is my favourite one. I’ve coveted an ornamental kale for ages. I think they’re so pretty. The plants are all on the outside of the catio so there’s no danger of the cats ingesting something they shouldn’t.

Finally, I want to ask for opinions!

What on God’s green earth are these that have appeared in the soil at the base of one of my tomato plants? Some kind of spider egg? Apart from the usual arachnophobia worries, do I need to be concerned about this?

As ever, don’t forget to check out the Propagator for more Sixes.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.