Thursday, 24 September 2009


I know I said I'd be posting nothing more until next Spring but the Autumn berries (Rowan, Cotoneaster etc.) this year are amazing so I thought I'd add a picture taken yesterday. Usually by now the fieldfares have visited and stripped the rowans of every berry but they are either late this year or they've passed me by.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Another summer ends

Well, here we are at the end of another Summer. I closed the garden last Monday (SGS insurance expires on 31st August) and have already started cutting back ready for the Spring. It's been a good year with many more visitors than last and a greater variety, too - young and older, experienced gardeners and casual passers by and from at least four continents. A generally rather good Summer ended with several weeks of heavy rain but all we can do now is look forward to the Spring. I have great hopes for next year. I will not be adding to this blog now until April 2010 (unless something really exciting happens) so here's one last picture of how things will be again when Spring returns in 2010.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Rain, rain and more rain ..............

When I wrote on 25 July that our weather had been rather good this Summer, I think I may have spoken too soon. Since August started it seems to have become wetter and wetter to the point where we have now reverted to swamp conditions - very dismal and not a little depressing. Despite this I've still had an odd visitor culminating in a family who came today and seemed to have a wonderful time despite teeming rain and the knowledge that it was the hottest day of the year at home in England! I believe we've had over 15 inches of rain already this month. Some people would be very glad of it but one can have too much of even a good thing ......... at least it does keep everything green!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Entry again

Entry conditions

I've found two or three groups this month wandering around the garden without having let me know they are here and without realising they are expected to pay for admission. The SGS sign at the gate is a little deceptive in that it says "gardens open for charity": some visitors think they are the charity! I've put the small SGS sign up as well but this prioritises opening times and says "Admission £3" only in very small letters. Indeed, one visitor whose family had spent an hour here refused to pay on the basis that the sign was so small!

My husband has helped me by producing a large sign saying "ENTRY £3" which I now have in the 'Millenium Ruin' where I keep the Visitor's Book and Garden Guides and where visitors can sit and read or shelter from rain.

Entry conditions

I've had an odd visitor who I've encountered wandering around the garden without my knowing they were here. The SGS sign mentions an entry fee only in tiny letters and some people think "open for charity" implies they are the charity so my husband has helped me by making a sign that clearly says "ENTRY £3" and I've put this in the 'Millenium Ruin', where I keep my Visitor's Book, garden guides and where visitors can sit and read or shelter from the rain or even eat their picnics, if they wish. He's also made me two small hand-outs that explain why I charge and where any money collected goes. Here they are:

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Loch Fyne from the viewpoint

Although it was rather swampy at times in the Winter, so far this Summer we've enjoyed quite good weather and I've been able to wander the garden with a glass of wine most evenings.

Often I sit on the bench at the viewpoint and look down Loch Fyne towards Tarbert and the Isle of Arran. This week has been particularly clear. Here is the view just half an hour ago from the viewpoint. Goat Fell is the highest point visible on Arran (905m.).

Monday, 20 July 2009

Visitor's comments

I am certainly welcoming more visitors to Oakbank's garden this year than last, and from a wider geography too. Already this year there have been Australian, American and South African visitors as well as those from Scotland and England. Here are some of the recent comments from my comments book:

From a Scottish visitor: "Your garden is perfectly lovely - a joy to see."

From an English visitor: "A magic garden even in the rain. Thanks for a great visit."

and another English visitor: "Quite delightful. So natural but cared for so tenderly. Will be back soon!"

An Australian visitor wrote: "It is absolutely gorgeous. What an amazing effort - BEAUTIFUL!

and American visitors: "This garden is obviously filled with energy and love. A special place."

Sunday, 12 July 2009


Ray Cox is Kenneth Cox's brother and he is a brilliant specialist in garden & plant photography, who also took the pictures in the 'Scotland on Sunday' article below. Looking at his photograph of the children's garden from the new book reminded me that I intended to put more of my photographs of the garden onto the blog to give a better idea of how it looks. Here are a few. I'll add more later. These are from last year - this year I've been pre-occupied by learning to use my new camcorder. Sooner or later I may put some film clips up too.

In case anyone is interested in being in touch with Ray, his website can be found at

Oakbank driveway

The Millennium Ruin (restored in 1999)

Woodland (looking west)

More woodland (looking north)

The lower pond

Bluebells & wild garlic

More bluebells

Entrance to 'Fairyland'

The owl in Fairyland

........ and yet more bluebells!

New book - reference to Oakbank's garden

Kenneth Cox owns Glendoick Garden Centre near Perth
(see, the specialist rhododendron and azalea nursery. He has recently published a new book, his seventh, entitled "Scotland for Gardeners" which includes photographs by his brother, Ray. Ray took the pictures included in the Scotland on Sunday article below. You can read the entry for Oakbank above. You can see (or buy) the whole book on the Glendoick website at

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Red Squirrels at Oakbank

I have been feeding the red squirrels in the garden for years so we now have a large number who visit us daily. In the winter months they come mostly in the morning but at this time of year they feed constantly, especially the youngsters, often until 9pm or later. These photographs were taken at Oakbank in 2008 by Richard Shucksmith. He is an excellent photographer and took many more pictures of the Oakbank squirrels.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Scotland's Garden Scheme

I am a member of Scotland's Garden Scheme (SGS - "the yellow book" - see for my entry) and the garden is open to the public most days (when I'm here) from 10.00 until 5.00 from 1 May until 31 August. I'm hoping that, as a result of the article in Scotland on Sunday, I will have even more visitors to my garden this Summer. All proceeds from SGS go to charity. My chosen charity is Diabetes UK. You can see the extract from the Yellow Book here but the website has some photographs too:

Scotland on Sunday 7th June 2009

One reason I decided to start this blog was an article published about Oakbank garden in Scotland on Sunday's "At Home" on 7th June. This contained some wonderful photographs of the garden and I was delighted that my grandchildren's garden artwork made the front page! I've attached a copy of the article below for anyone who wants to read it.
The photgraphs are by Ray Cox -

Helga's Garden at Oakbank

This is my new blog that I am starting today, Sunday 14th June, 2009. On it I plan to tell you what's going on in my garden and who has visited. I'll also be adding lots of film clips and photographs to show how things are going with the plants and all the animals that live amongst them.