Around my garden

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

A visit to The Quirky Bird

Some of you may be readers of Rona's blog - The Quirky Bird Gardener and others this will be the first time you've come across the name.  Rona, used to work at a nursery local to me and I have followed her blog for some time now.   Rona has recently taken ownership of Quercus Garden Plants.  She has been blogging about this exciting new path for her and her family recently.  I am sure you'll all like to join me in wishing Rona and David all the very best in this venture.  You can read all about Rona's career in horticulture here.

At the beginning of the month I made time to visit.  It had been my intentions to make a whole day of it. My grandfather's family hail from the area and it has been a good few, possibly 30 or so, years since I was last down this way.  As things panned out that morning, a whole day out plant shopping and sight seeing was not going to be possible.  I did however manage to squeeze in a couple of hours for a visit. The journey down to Quercus is a lovely scenic drive once you leave the city boundary.  Travelling south-west around the Pentland Hills, which are situated to the south of Edinburgh, the journey took me a bit long than the 30 minutes I expected. Mainly because I took advice from my son on which road to take and as it turned out, I should have been on the other road.  Not that it matters, both roads south get you practically to the door.  The nursery was very well sign posted, there had be no chance I'd drive past the entrance.  If you follow the road to Lamancha, West Linton in the Scottish Borders, you can't possibly go wrong!  


As you can see Rona's new bridge over the stream is just delightful, inviting even.  It makes you want to trot over it.  Neither hers nor my pictures really do the area justice.  It's far bigger than it appears.  I was quite taken by surprise on how large the area was.  Rona wrote and posted about the work they carried out here and my how the plants here and further up the bank, especially, have really filled out already.  You can access the sales/plants area either over the bridge or up the gravel path.

Quercus Garden Plants, the sign says it all really.  Direct and straight to the point.  Hardy and unusual plants for Scottish Gardens.  It is Rona's aim to stock and supply plants that will do well here in our Scottish Climate.  If a plant grows well at Quercus, it should do well just about anywhere.  The open windy site means plants will need to be tough.  Taking over 8 or so weeks ago, Rona, David and family have already made great inroads on improving the area and with continued work I'm sure it can only get better.  I wasn't sure if Rona would recognise me as a customer from her previous place of employ.  It appears she did, either that or she was very good disguising it.  After an initial blether, I left both Rona and David to get on with their work and took myself off to peruse their wares.

One of the very well stocked sales benches.  Offering a wide variety of familiar hardy plants, there was one plant here that kept grabbing my attention but I had no idea what it was.  I made a note to ask Rona more about it later.   In the back ground the shade lover's tunnel has many of the plants you'd expect to find.



These large cable drums made an ideal station for showing off plants.  You can see the surrounding farm houses and businesses in the background.   And not forgetting to mention Rona's OH pushing the wheelbarrow to gather yet more mulch for down by the stream.  I would like to add that he was doing a very good job.  I hope that doesn't sound patronising.  I don't mean it too.


Making my way up the terracing, the area at the top was filled with a good selection of perennials too. As well as taking over the nursery, Rona also became owner of all the stock.  Although much of it, Rona informed me, was beyond rescuing.  There is plenty here to choose from.  I meant to and completely forgot to ask what the teepee or was it a wigwam was for.  Hopefully she'll read this post and let us know.


The view from up here, well I'm sure you'll agree, is superb.  You could not fail to enjoy working in such a place, nor tire from it.  Looking north towards Edinburgh, the Pentland Hills in the distance. This shot reminds me of how we forecast the weather here.  If you can't see the Pentland Hills, it must be raining.  If you can see the Pentland Hills, it will rain some time soon!

The building in the foreground is the restaurant and farm shop.  Whitmuir - The Organic Place.  You can ream more about it here.  I did not pop in this visit but next time I will do a bit of shopping in the farm shop.


Heading back down towards the office, a selection of trees and shrubs on offer today.  All looking very healthy.  You are lucky to get a brief glimpse of a blue sky.  A rare occurrence this summer.


Rona's office and more sales tables.  Had I not already had such a well stocked jam packed garden, I could have had a field day here.  As well as many garden favourites, Quercus stock a selection of native plants and it's important that I add they garden organically too.                      



So what did I buy?  Potentilla Monarch's Velvet - this plant is one that's been on my wish list for a
good while and never quite made it into the garden.  3 small, reasonably priced pots came home with me.  Planted out in the front garden almost immediately, they have settled in and are beefing out. There should be more to see of these little beauties in my end of month post.

Remember the plant I mentioned at the top of the post,  what really caught my eye was the white starry flowers.  At first I thought it was a shrub.  I was surprised to learn it was a perennial.  The plant has a shrubby look to it, in my opinion.  Let me introduce you: Gillenia trifoliata.  Apparently, we've to think of Gaura for shade when we think of this plant.  Having seen Gaura on a couple of blogs lately, I can see why the comparison is made.

Gillenia trifoliata blooms

The foliage is fresh and green.  It has serrated edges.  It immediately sprung to my mind that this plant would make a good replacement for the rogue strawberry foxglove that clashes with the yellow Ligulaira.  Offering a similar height.   I quizzed Rona on the conditions it would like and if it would take some shade.  She confirmed that it would.  And from what I've read elsewhere, it's the best place for it since it is a woodland plant.  

Gillenia trifoliatus foliage
With the foxglove already removed and in the compost bin, I will also need to remove the small buxus plant I was attempting to topiarise before I can get it in the ground.  Hosta Praying Hands and Athyrium niponicum also grows nearby.  I think these plants will play off each other nicely.


Gillenia trifoliata prefers a neutral to slightly acidic soil.  To be honest, I've never performed a soil test in the garden but in this same bed the Enkianthus cernuus thrives, therefore hope the Gillenia will like it there too. A woodland plant, from the eastern USA, it has been awarded an AGM by the RHS here in the UK.  You can read what the RHS say about this plant here.  With a hardiness rating of H7, winter should not be a problem.

Being new to me and in bloom means that this plant meets requirements to be included with my Bloom and Grow series for 2015.  It's nice to have sourced a new plant without having to put any effort into it whatsoever.  The Gillenia is also said to have good autumn colour too,  It's always nice to have an extended period of interest.  Google images shows autumn colour as both yellow and red.  It will be interesting to see which it colour it takes.

Currently shaded by other pots on the back step,  I can readily see that it is visited by pollinators as they pass by.  I look forward to seeing this permanently in the ground in the near future.



All in all my afternoon out to Quercus Garden Plants was good, just a pity that as soon as I began my journey home, the heavens opened and the enjoyable drive home was hampered by the fact I could hardly see 5ft in front of me all the way back!

If you are ever in the area, I can thoroughly recommend a visit.  Will I visit again? you bet I will! Thank you to Rona and David for taking the time out from their busy schedule to chat to me.