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Beechgrove Potting Shed - Come Wind Rain or Shine

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Theresa Talbot | 12:45 UK time, Tuesday, 31 May 2011

As a breed, we gardeners are obsessed with the weather. And who can blame us when every move we make is governed by what comes from the sky. It was but a few weeks ago when we were sweltering under a scorching April sun, yet this past week has left us battered, bruised and bewildered by pre-summer storms, and today I have to close the curtains as I type, otherwise I can't see the screen for the glare of the sun. Yip, the Scottish-Summer really is a marvel to behold. But despite the hardships this erratic weather can bring, in a way it's rather comforting. It brings with it a sense of camaraderie, a sort of 'togetherness' where we're all in the same boat and ready to deal with whatever nature throws at us.


Last week when I was out for a stroll (I say stroll, I really mean urban assault course dodging wheelie bins through 80 mile per hour gusts - and while I'm at it, wind-cheater jackets should be forced to change their name as they certainly do not do what they say on the tin!), anyway where was I? Oh yes, my daily constitutional, anyway as I struggled through the nightmare wind, I passed so many gardens left flattened by the storms, and I have to say my heart sank. The sight of all that gorgeous spring growth burnt, torn and flattened almost left me in tears. On the Potting Shed this week, most of the calls and emails were regarding the havoc wreaked by the wind, and I'm delighted to report that my guests Carole Baxter and Ian Young were galvanised in their advice that the sun will shine again, and this apparent devastation is a mere temporary blip, and most shrubs will make a full recovery.

I myself didn't escape the horrors of the gales. A few months ago I bought one of those plastic greenhouse contraptions. You know the type with pictures on the packaging promising plump tomatoes and perfect hanging baskets. As I walked out of the discount store, box under my arm and change from twenty quid, I gave each passer by a knowing smile and a raised eye-brow which said 'I'll be self sufficient by Christmas', and before I even reached the car I wondered if I should supply my friends with weekly veg-boxes, as I guessed me 'n' Mr T wouldn't be able to eat all the fresh produce ourselves. Now, I'm quite a busy gal, what with the cats and the garden and 'stuff', and the mini-miracle-greenhouse lay in its box until the end of April's heatwave. About seven minutes before the first storm, I decided I should erect it and get planting. I feel I don't even need to tell you of the carnage that followed.

All I can say is the Wright Brothers at their peak couldn't have come up with a more aerodynamic structure than this. I was securing the plastic covering to the metal frame when the first gust struck. There I was, like some modern-day- Dorothy, clinging on to my 'house' for dear life as it threatened to fly out of Kansas forever. Within seconds the whole thing took flight, swollen like a hot air balloon, with me refusing to let go of the bottom. 'Run, save yourselves,' I yelled, through the howling wind to Mr T, the cats and the man next door, who all gathered to watch; not one of them I may add, offering to lift a finger to help! Eventually I was forced to let go, and by all accounts the greenhouse was last spotted flying over the Chelsea Flower Show, like a majestic bird of prey, threatening to up-stage Diarmid Gavin's medal winning Irish Sky Garden.

But my spirits won't be down for long, this week I'm delighted to say, The Potting Shed is on the move. We'll be at Gardening Scotland at Ingliston on the 4th and 5th of June, so two chances to be in the audience, and as usual you can put your questions to our expert panel. Please pop over and say hello. And on the 30th June, we're recording an episode of The Potting Shed at the Town House, Haddington at 7.30pm. Information on tickets is available on our website.

Until then..happy gardening...


  • Comment number 1.

    scotland`s north easterly winds have destroyed my actinidia kolmikita and my first wisteria..
    glad im not alone.
    any advice..p..s my soil isof the thick clay type

  • Comment number 2.

    Dear Pauline, we received this reply to your question from Nicola Singleton:

    I would try again with the Actinidia and the Wisteria as they are both fantastic garden plants and the weather was especially unusual. They both need to have some type of support, either a trellis or wires will help them to grow up the wall, they will not cling to the wall on their own. ( I am making an assumption that they are being grown on a wall). Use bamboo canes initially to train them towards the trellis as it takes a few weeks for the new growth to attach securely. Plant them at least 60-70 cm away from the wall and lean them in towards it as the ground can be very dry in the shadow of a wall. A heavy clay soil is good in that it retains nutrients but to help the climbers get established I suggest digging in plenty of organic matter (compost or well rotted manure) to improve the soil first. Keep the plants well watered all summer until they get established and hopefully they will not be subjected to any more hurricane winds!


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