Be careful what you wish for …


And yes – you know, it really is almost the end of September.

I am not a faithful blogger. The last time I sat in front of my WordPress blog, it was late on a July night in Scotland and I was far from my own garden.


Which now looks a (very lovely) mess!


I can’t stop looking at the asters in the garden, buzzing with bees, hover-flies and other insects.


After my first Scottish inspiration blog, some people asked about my roots. I’m a Scots-Canadian (I’ve no English blood at all) who was dragged back and forth across the Atlantic more times than she cares to remember before the age of 11. This may account for my disinclination to go out any more?


My Canadian grandmother and great-aunt were passionate gardeners. The aunt was quite ‘big’ in the gladiolus breeding world in Canada. I have fond, rather lonely, memories of weeks spent on her 2 acres in Ontario. My grannie was … well, just my lovely grannie, and irises and lilacs will forever pop into my head when I think of her.


I went to school in Scotland from the age of 11, and then to the University of Edinburgh. Who couldn’t be won over by the beauty of Scotland (especially if your Canadian ancestors, and yourself, come with a ‘Buchanan’ name tag on them)? And I was so lucky to spend my adolescent years in one of the most beautiful corners of Perthshire.

If I could garden there now … I would in a heartbeat!

Like many Scots I was forced down south to London for work (in publishing) when I was 21 years old. I do hope that this doesn’t happen to young Scots any more, given a more vibrant economy.

Spent much time in the capital and was finally very relieved (being a country girl at heart) to move to a small cottage in Suffolk at the age of 32, after working at Kew and completing the Kew Diploma in Horticulture.


I don’t live in France by choice. It’s a country I never even particularly wanted to visit. I follow my husband’s work.

We were excited back in 2007 when we thought we might be living in Italy. Didn’t happen (I still mourn it). So, I make the very best of where I am and my husband is home much more frequently than he was when we lived in Ireland – sometimes every weekend!

And, since I am such a good, optimistic realist, I am learning to love where I am. What I am particularly learning to love is singing in the French language. How amazing is French as a language of song?

You will hear more about this! Whether you like it or not.


What’s happening in the garden?  Be careful what you wish for …


The Bon Viveur, once again unemployed for over 2 months, is recreating the battle of the Somme in the Hornbeam Gardens. Yes, I know your two great-uncles died there, Nick, but is this really necessary? Even as an remembrance of what happened 100 years ago?

I am assured it will be very lovely (later on) – and much easier to use. I won’t slide on my bum down the wet, grassy slope. But yes, sigh, there are more steps.


And more steps.


It really is all very lovely. I have the arches I have been yearning for and the beginnings of edges to my borders.


But I think even Nick didn’t estimate the amount of earth moving involved.

Looking down to the recently planted area in the shrub part of the lower Hornbeam Gardens. What a mess!



I’ve been fiddling in the veggie garden. I terraced this about 2 years ago. It was a continual slope and I had a deep desire to have some flat beds to work with. Last year I took both box and Lonicera nitida cuttings to make an edge to the terraces.


It worked! Most have rooted, so this is a good plan for we gardeners who are ‘financially challenged’.

Now I am doing a ‘motorway’ style planting to retain the banks on the slopes, again with direct-stuck cuttings. I’ve no idea if this will work.

It’s an experiment. On the top slope, direct-stuck cuttings of Lonicera nitida (should be ok).


On the lower slope, lavender cuttings – I doubt this, but if you don’t try you don’t find out.


I spray them over every evening.

The veggies have not been completely disastrous this year, considering I started very late. Broad beans always do well on our heavy clay (I do an autumn and a spring sowing). French beans can’t fail.

Best sweet corn in the last four years.


The broccoli is desperately late, but still good when picked and cooked. Brassicas only do well in this garden early or late – they hate heat and flourish when the nights are cooler.


Lower down the soft fruit garden is ready to plant this autumn.


And I’m finally going to create my huge herbaceous borders in the orchard, under the four Prunus ‘Tai-haku’.

Unfortunately I did a bit of glyphosate weed control down here (apologies to those who don’t approve).


Meanwhile, I’m so glad I have so many asters in the garden – they are alive with peacock butterflies and bees at the moment. I’m almost coming to enjoy the insects more than the flowers. And for that I have to thank other blogs that have opened my eyes. Look here


And, about 5 months after planting, Cobaea scandens is finally managing to produce more than one flower at a time.


I haven’t forgotten the ‘Scottish Inspiration’ posts – they are up my sleeve for a rainier, less busy day. Hope to see you again soon.










19 thoughts on “Be careful what you wish for …

  1. Molly Buchanan

    Hi, darling , that was a real treat. Thanks so much. Have had a good day. Ron, Fi and Jill were here, visited Tullibannocher and got some bulbs . Love, Mum xxx

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Paula Clements

    What a brilliant blog, I now realize the extent of Nicks work, I hope it is finished before winter arrives and although you said it hat it was a lot of work, your pics spell that out! . How I love the peacock on the asters, a real treat. I also think that the view of the garden with the church in the background is enchanting. I have missed your blogs x

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks so much Paula – yes, he has bitten off a lot of work (I’m a bit in awe and nervous of it all at the moment!) The butterflies are overwhelmingly beautiful at the moment. I feel so proud to have planted things that our garden insects are enjoying so much.

  3. aestheticflora

    Wow lot of work going on but you can already see how impressive it will be. I don’t envy you walking back up that slope but it’s a site loaded with potential and you are doing a splendid job with your already beautiful garden. I look forward to seeing the next stage in the development.

    1. Cathy Post author

      I do hope it will be as impressive … the main thing is to keep prodding Nick until he has finished. Otherwise I (it’s me who does the digging) could be left with something rather unmanageable come the winter months. Thanks so much for visiting and leaving such a nice comment!

  4. Eliza Waters

    Nice to hear from you. 🙂 Your asters (and butterflies) are beautiful! I expect you’ve had a busy summer with the plans for the gardens coming together nicely. These projects take time!

    1. Cathy Post author

      Nice to hear from you too. I am so adoring these asters at the moment – could sit and stare and the wildlife they are attracting for hours. I have never heard such buzzing in the garden! We have tried to be as busy, but there are always other parts of life to maintain as well.

  5. Sam

    It looks like you’ve been working really hard! Loads going on – well done. It’s looking great. It’s a huge project and these things take time. Lots of beauty to enjoy along the way😊

    1. Cathy Post author

      They do indeed take time, Sam. I’m a little too impatient – and Nick likes to do things very, very thoroughly. In a way, I suppose that makes for a good balance!

  6. Cathy

    Thanks for filling us in on your background, Cathy – it adds to the picture we are ablt to build up of our fellow bloggers. Do you know how long you are likely to stay in one place or how much notice you would get of a move? You are certainly making yourself at home here even if France is not your country of choice – what a strange response your visitors have… Good to catch up with your garden and what you have doing – and to hear from you again of course!

    1. Cathy Post author

      And thanks to you as well, Cathy! Learning about the ‘back histories’ of other bloggers is so important. I need to be more curious – I suspect yours is rather complex too? You do so much – am in awe! We will be here in Chatillon as long as I can manage the garden! Will try to take part in IaVoM again as soon as possible – waiting for the Christina-inspired white snapdragons to do their stuff!

      1. Cathy

        Perhaps all our back histories are complex in their own individual ways – it’s all relative, isnt it? And yes, I think some of us are more curious than others – personally, I am curious about anything and everything 😉

  7. Jacques BRALÉ

    Hi Cathy,

    After chatting with Nic for a while yesterday at night near the bonfire I was sure of discovering nice large slabs used as steps. AsI can see now what he’s achieved, he has very good reasons to be proud of what he’s achieved in your garden…Oh yes, he can. And there’s more : those lovely pictures of yours, the ones with the asters and the small tortoiseshell are brillant you know ! By the way, any red admirals around your flower beds now ? Still, it’s well over a month since I saw a painted lady. What about you ? And last, but not least, Nic shared a secret with me : you should get a nice glasshouse in a near future : how lucky you are ! Unfortunately Marie and I have got other priorities now : having new double insulated flues fitted next week, after removing the chimney above and under the roof level. It was a heck of a job ! A pity I couldn’t give you some of the slabs I got rid of…they were heavily stained with tar. In brief, cheer up ignore negative comments : some people can’t pay compliments, furthermore I’m always eager to read and enjoy your blog, it’s packed with jewels, you know !

    With my best regards,


    1. Cathy Post author

      Jacques – I’m so sorry that I’ve taken such a long time to reply (but we have seen each other since then). What kind comments you have left – it is very much appreciated, although I am sometimes slow to show my appreciation!

  8. smallsunnygarden

    Oh, I am coming by so late here, Cathy!! I lost track of a number of blogs, including yours, which is too bad as I always love reading it! At any rate, I hope you will get my comment here eventually…
    It was lovely learning a little more about you; I am looking forward to more about singing French!
    I can’t blame you a bit for having your heart in your throat over all that work, but it looks like it will be fabulous. Love your butterflies; they and the other wildlife give such an extra sense of life to the garden, don’t they?
    I also want to let you know I have just moved my own blog to an altogether new site, where hopefully there will be no more problems with commenting. I was fed up with half my readers having such a difficult-to-impossible time leaving comments! It’s not quite finished but working as of today: (and the link will now take you there anyway 😉 ) I am just adding your blog to my link list… 😀

    1. Cathy Post author

      Amy – I am so sorry to be so very late replying to you. Life has not been at all normal these days! But I’m hoping that it is settling now. The butterflies filled up hours with joy – now it is colder they are gone, but I have pictures of them on my screen-saver. I think it’s wise to consider who hosts one’s blog. I used to be at Weebly and I just loved my little world there (!!!) but I came onto WordPress because I didn’t want always to creating a diary in perfect isolation. I am not a faithful blogger – but I do so much love my blog and enjoy reading other people’s – I shall be straight over to yours. Probably a vase on Monday?!!!


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