Meconopsis magic

The Himalayan Blue Poppy, Meconopsis, has a special place in my gardening affections. In years past I sometimes bought them at the garden centre. Alive, vigorous and ready to flower at the time of purchase, in the autumn they would disappear into the ground, never to return. In retrospect I think they were planted inContinue reading “Meconopsis magic”

The Infinity Pool

The pool sits high above the loch. Find the correct vantage point and the two waters merge into one. On the far side, pebbly beaches, scrubby woodland, and low hills. Above them, long wisps of white cirrus that streak the cobalt blue sky. It’s a luminous May afternoon in Argyll and the holiday weekend isContinue reading “The Infinity Pool”

The Camassia: from Pacific North West to Scottish South West

As a student of anthropology in the early 1970s, I still remember some classes we had on the phenomenon known as Potlatch. Part of the culture of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific North West, it relates to large gatherings in which alongside story telling and feasting, a special emphasis is placed on the conspicuousContinue reading “The Camassia: from Pacific North West to Scottish South West”

What’s in a place-name? An interview with Colin Mackenzie

This latest interview in my series about creative and inspiring people living in Dumfries and Galloway, is someone I have never met. Indeed, when I contacted him earlier this year, he informed me that he was about to leave his home region and relocate to Orkney. So I’m looking forward to meeting with him inContinue reading “What’s in a place-name? An interview with Colin Mackenzie”

Epiphanies and Robberies Chapter 4: April – The Devil’s Stone

Anne-Marie has brought her lunch outside. It’s one of those early April days when the earth offers up composty aromas and the breeze, at least for the moment, has lost its chill. She tilts her head to feel the sun’s warmth, soft on her face for the first time in months. Unusually contented, she opensContinue reading “Epiphanies and Robberies Chapter 4: April – The Devil’s Stone”

The epimedium – understated elegance for all seasons

One of the hallmarks of my plant choosing habits is an attraction to anything that has what I consider to be an ‘old fashioned’ look about it. I shy away from sappy, gaudy overly hybridized and commercially tampered with plants of all kinds. By contrast I am drawn to things that look like they haveContinue reading “The epimedium – understated elegance for all seasons”

Epiphanies and Robberies Chapter 3: March – Tracks and Trains

Welcome to chapter 3 of my serialised novel. You can find the previous chapters here: Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Andrew and Michael are hiking up into the Lowther Hills, about eight miles north of Kirkgate. They’re taking a rough track towards a dense plantation of Sitka spruce and then heading for the open moor beyond.Continue reading “Epiphanies and Robberies Chapter 3: March – Tracks and Trains”

The hellebores keep on giving

I first came across the allure of the hellebore nearly 20 years ago when watching the BBC programme Gardener’s World.  Inspired, I went off in search but found them scarce in mainstream garden centres, where they were rarely sold to advantage or at their best. In those days I was naïve to specialist nurseries andContinue reading “The hellebores keep on giving”

Frog seasons

The tell tale signs began to emerge a few weeks ago. Shifting a pile of newly delivered logs, a couple of semi-comatose puddocks required relocation to a safe damp spot. Then one wet late evening as I left the house for a dog walk, an inquisitive member of the family Ranidae, hopped straight towards meContinue reading “Frog seasons”

Heading Home: a miscellany of writings

In late 2020, on saying goodbye to four decades of work in academia, I resolved to devote time to something that had been bubbling up in my thinking for quite a while: the desire to continue writing, but to do so in a more creative and inventive manner. True, I’d recently written a biography whichContinue reading “Heading Home: a miscellany of writings”