Gilbert Summers

Author's posts

Yirdit – Gardening in Scotland – enjoy the challenges

Here are my musings, tips and advice from some decades of reluctant gardening in Scotland. Much of it done quite far north – around 56°N in fact. I discuss what works and what doesn’t; what to buy, what to avoid and how to deal with exposure. (Wear a woolly hat.) Try to be green in …

Continue reading


In these days of awareness of high energy costs, when it comes to home heating, is ivy for insulation (outside – obviously!) worth considering – or is it a creeping menace? I ended up talking to this chap at a party the other day. It turned out he was a planning officer. We ended up …

Continue reading


Picture the scene. Somewhere between the island of Chusan and the China coast in the middle of last century, a Chinese trading junk is being rapidly overhauled by a pirate craft, intent on robbing and sinking the vessel. The pirates sail to within twenty yards of their prey then unleash a broadside.

Forsyth’s Plaister – how a wily gardener hoodwinked the government

The story of Forsyth’s Plaister illustrates that when times are uncertain – whether because of pandemics or our United Kingdom’s political acts of self-harm – special government advisors sometimes appear out of the woodwork, attracted by the chance to make money. (Yes, agreed, we’re not usually very political on this site…but you’ll see where I’m …

Continue reading


Scotland’s Worst Garden Pest Do you have a wood pigeon in the garden? How things have changed. Once upon a time there was a grey doo that kept itself to itself. This pigeon lived in the forest and nibbled harmlessly on acorns, beech-mast, weed seeds and so on. It was quite an agreeable existence. There …

Continue reading

HORSETAIL – The very worst weed of all?

I’m nominating horsetail as the worst weed in the garden. Mind you, some of us are troubled by docks, while others are plagued by dandelions – though it’s a shame about the gardener’s war on thrawn-rooted dandelions as they provide vital food for bees in early spring. Anyway, some gardens have too much of their …

Continue reading

DWARF IRISES IN SPRING – early delight and slug breakfast

In the Garden of early delights… Come the spring, those slugs which have survived the winter by skulking under stones in the rock-garden, or under outdoor pots, stretch themselves and think about dwarf irises in spring. Except in slug world they are known as ‘breakfast’. As it’s spring, the Hostas haven’t appeared, while the Ligularia …

Continue reading

WINTER COLOUR – light up the winter gloom

Best flowering shrubs and plants for winter colour. When it comes to winter colour and winter flowering shrubs in the garden, my dad, years ago, used to shake his head and utter dire predictions if I mentioned I had been out on the plot, say, any time after October’. ‘Oh, dinna ging intae the gairden …

Continue reading

THE AUTUMN GARDEN – season of mists and leaves everywhere

Colour in the garden in the ending year Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, eh, in the autumn garden? Well, either you like autumn or you don’t. What does it mean to the gardener anyway? An excuse to go wild in the daffodil bulb department, maybe. It’s still not too late to plant some in …

Continue reading

THE ROBIN IN THE GARDEN – always happy to see you

A Robin in the Garden – it’s cheerful The robin in the garden likes the thick screen that shelters us from the westerlies, even though the hedge seems less secure now that its hawthorn leaves are down. It’s a mixed hedge as well as hawthorn, with beech and holly to give all year interest. But …

Continue reading