The Big Divide


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Loch Garry, sometimes referred to as Scotland’s Loch, as its shape resembles the map of Scotland

The United Kingdom is made up from the union of two kingdoms, Scotland and England (which already included Wales). It was a Scottish king, King James VI who was monarch at the time of the Treaty of Union and we then became Great Britain along with Northern Ireland. Although there are many fractions between the various country’s nationalists. one big divide is that of the weather. South-east England, I am sure belongs to continental Europe because it shares similar weather, they get the sun.

Heading northwards, the ranges of hills in northern England and southern Scotland seem to act as a filter for the sun to reach the northern parts of the country. In general our weather is often at least 10 degrees lower than that of southern England. Middle England and Wales appear to hover mid temperature difference, and Northern Ireland may have weather of its own. I sometimes think Scotland just slipped down from the Arctic!


For many years, the north-west coast of Scotland was said to have benefited from the Gulf Stream and places like Inverewe in Inverness-shire, could support tropical plants even though not in a tropical climate. 

Locally we see differences in weather, within just a few miles. That’s the cost of living in a valley. Travelling west to the nearest town which is only about nine miles away, we can leave rain behind just about four miles along the road and you can see where wet meets dry. It does have some advantages though, we can suffer least from drought. This year, although we had plenty of rain early season we had several weeks of sunshine and blue skies. This should have benefited us but surprisingly, it was perhaps more beneficial for the well-being of the people than it was for the plants. Having the long, dry, spell meant hosepipe watering and that doesn’t soak into the ground as rain does, it’s more of a quick fix.

The temperature and weather differences can also mean a difference of what can be or can’t be grown. It was reckoned that sweet potatoes couldn’t be grown so far north so I had to try. A few years ago I found a supplier of sweet potato slips who have been successful in growing them even much further north, in Aberdeenshire. I was delighted to get results but I did have to grow them in a covered container. Out of the two varieties, Ruby California was the most successful and for the other, I can well and truly say ‘O’Henry’ what happened to you?’

Ruby California and O’Henry sweet potatoes

Heading a little north from my location is another fertile area of fruit growing, the Clyde Valley. Their Victoria plums are second to none and reaching over to the north east in Perthshire, the soft berry fruit is excellent. Sadly, my Victoria plums did not do well this year. It was a new tree almost two years ago and I had a handful of plums last year. This year the tree was laden with flowers, many developing into fruit. Very few of the fruits were tasty which was just as well as the return of bad weather played havoc with what was left. The wild weather also interfered with foraging for blackberries, they went from nice, juicy looking berries to none at all.   

Plum tree (3)

Each of my own fruit bushes allowed me to taste them, but only that. The mini kiwi has now lost all its leaves and its fruit, having been caught out in the severe frosty weather we had in spring, and it never recovered either. It looks as if I will need to take more precautions in trying to make sure any fruiting plants get more protection.                    

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