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Susan’s News – January

Susan’s Musings

Birds and Branches

It is with great delight that I look out my window to see so many birds visiting my garden

I began feeding the birds back in autumn and continue to do so now more than ever. I am lucky to see the usual gorgeous Robin, all fluffed up into a little puff ball and some Blue Tits which chatter away to each other. Blackbirds, Wood Pigeons and Dunnocks also visit, they love the Peckish fatballs also the sunflower hearts and “no mess” seed that I put out for them. The branches of my Acer Bloodgood and my Cotinus Grace make good perches for them (also ideal for hanging feeders) and just over my fence there are large Pinus sylvestris and holly bushes for them to take shelter, they also loved the berries from the neighbours Taxus. They love foraging around in leaves lying in the borders. I break the ice for them to get a drink from an old bowl I have there, I’m sure for them life is good!!

Love the Garden

Yes the garden is a blessing at times like this. There is plenty to see and enjoy and for many, it’s a haven when there is nowhere else to go or if you live on your own.

It’s good to look forward and to prepare for the time ahead. Some bulbs have already been popping through the soil with the earlier mild weather. We will have our autumn flowering bulbs in stock that will be available to purchase on our web shop here. These will give you a beautiful burst of autumn colour if you haven’t had a chance to plant previously. Dahlia, lillium, begonia, gladioli, to name but a few. Plant them in your borders, in your pots or under shrubs and trees to enjoy in the days to come.

Keep Your Garden Looking Great

Keep an eye on your alpine plants to ensure they aren’t smothered with leaves and the like. Remove any older Helleborus leaves that are spotted black to prevent the spread of leaf spot. Other herbaceous plants may also need tidied up and, if the ground isn’t frozen, this is a good time to move plants when they are dormant.

Hamamelis and Sarcococca are a couple of gorgeous shrubs to have at this time of year with their beautiful scent, enjoy them whilst they ‘do their thing’! Some other shrubs can be tidied whilst they are dormant. Take away any diseased, straggly and poorly shaped or crossing stems of deciduous shrubs, also climbers, including roses. Other climbers, such as Ivies or Virginia Creeper for example, can be cut back and tied in at this time. Birds will start to look for somewhere to nest so better to do this now before they move in! Put up your own nesting boxes for the birds!

Apple and pear trees can be pruned now if you haven’t done so already. I do recommend the RHS website for more detailed information, they have such helpful advice and tips.

Plant Seeds & Seedlings

Indoors, or if you’re lucky enough to have a greenhouse, you could begin to plant some seeds of which we have many. There are numerous flowers to choose from such as Petunia, Dahlia and Sweet Pea to name but a few. Don’t forget ‘Grow Your Own’ too, herbs, chillies and tomatoes are a good start. With the weather being so cold and our days so short, please find more instruction again on the RHS website to prevent “damping off” of seedlings. Different seedlings require different conditions to do well, a good seed compost mixed with grit/vermiculite to provide good drainage will be your best option.

Making the Most of What you Have

Some of us are not lucky enough to have a garden space but window boxes, balcony areas are, or can be, put to good use. A balcony or small porch would be ideal for rhododendrons which come in dwarf varieties and evergreen azaleas too would do well giving structure all year round. Other options such as Camellia or patio roses would give gorgeous flowers. On a windowsill, geraniums have some lovely scented foliage as well as beautiful flowers and are simple to keep.

Brighten Up Your Home and Garden

Having houseplants in your home will be a pleasure to look at, health benefits from this are great, as well as calming they also are good for the air around you. Orchids, succulents, ferns and foliage mixed together would give you a gorgeous indoor garden.

No matter your circumstances, there is something for everyone at Mains of Drum to help make a start with Spring on it’s way. Please do visit our website which will be updated regularly with new items as we take delivery of our Spring ranges. Our stock of rhododendrons and azaleas from a specialist grower, our many roses from growers including David Austin and a huge variety of trees will be in stock by the end of February, so when we are able to open our doors, there will be plenty for you to choose from.

With Best Wishes


Susan Lindsay
Susan Lindsay

Plant Area Manager

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It’s tidy up time

It’s Tidy Up Time


Autumn is a great time to get outside and clear away the dead stems and foliage of flowering plants as they recede underground. Some perennials are looking a mess just now, particularly if they have been flattened by heavy rainfall or have been blackened by frost. It is helpful to clear borders now if you are planting new plants and spring bulbs. It will also prevent you from damaging new buds emerging from the ground in spring. Cutting back your borders will certainly give you a head start in spring but try to resist the urge to be too tidy and leave some plant material for wildlife to enjoy over winter.

Seed heads of plants like Echinacea, Fennel, Sunflower and Verbena provide food for birds, seed heads and hollow stems provide shelter for beneficial insects such as ladybirds, and decaying leaves benefit ground beetles and worms. Some plants also provide ornamental interest particularly when they are dusted with frost, draped with delicately spun cobwebs or adorned with dew. For example: the robust, upright stems of Echinacea, the architectural seed heads of Eryngium, the pearlescent seed heads of Lunaria and the fluffy flowers of grasses, like Miscanthus. Finish tidying up the border in spring once new growth begins to appear.

Autumn Leaves

Rake up leaves from lawns and from where they are smothering plants, to provide air and light. In particular, Alpine plants and Mediterranean herbs, like Lavender, Rosemary and Sage, should be cleared as they prefer dryer conditions with good air flow. Otherwise, leaves are best left as a protective blanket on the soil surface. Gradually, worms will pull them down, eat them and add valuable nutrients and organic matter to the soil.

Be sure to sweep leaves from paths and patios as wet leaves are extremely slippery.

Making Leaf Mould

Collect fallen autumn leaves to make leaf mould. Pile up the leaves or put them into a punctured bin liner and leave them for at least two years to break down into crumbly, black leaf mould. Do not make leaf mould using diseased leaves, for example Rose leaves with Black spot, or evergreen foliage, which takes a long time to break down. Leaves from Beech, Hornbeam and Oak break down the quickest and make good quality leaf mould.

Uses for leaf mould:

  • It makes a wonderful soil conditioner and mulch.
  • Well-rotted leaf mould can be sieved and used for seed sowing.
  • When mixed with equal parts of sharp sand and top soil it can be used as potting compost.
  • It can also be used on lawns as a top dressing.
Susan Lindsay
Susan Lindsay

Plant Area Manager

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Styled By Wendy – Summer 2020

Styled By Wendy

Lockdown your Summer Style

During lockdown, comfortable leisure clothing has been key. Now we are emerging gradually from these restrictions, our thoughts can begin to look ahead to a more dressy-casual vibe. Whilst it might seem odd to revert to our former style just yet, with the prospect of dressing up for events still in the future. Many of us have also made use of this time for a wardrobe overhaul, leaving room to introduce some new, uplifting additions to our day to day outfits.

The following edit from our Clothing Department has been selected to inspire you.


Joules Alexi print culottes are flattering, comfortable and stylish and easy to dress up or down. The Polka Dot print is a constant remain with this classic pattern being whimsical, creative, and playful. Wear with a camisole or t-shirt and trainers or elevate them with a pretty blouse and pair of wedge sandals from the selection below.


Featuring a notch collar and patch pockets, this milano-knit cardigan is perfect for layering over a plain or patterned top to add a layer of warmth and interest. The striped inner is visible at the turn-back cuffs and adds a striking finishing touch. Available in Red or Navy to complement most outfits.


These Remonte leather trainers provide on trend styling for Spring Summer. The lace-less effect slip on casual shoes in white, red and blue stripe detail with removeable comfort cushioned in-soles to provide optimum comfort.


Summer sling back wedge sandals with cross-over metallic silver front straps. The buckled adjustable ankle strap and soft-cushioned in-sock means these sandals will provide comfort under foot. Pair with the Joules polka dot culottes, your favourite jeans and t-shirt or summer dress for a casual summer look.

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Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska

The Mains of Drum



Chocolate Sponge
500g Sugar
500g Self Raising Flour
500g Butter
4 tbsp of Cocoa Powder
8 Eggs

Italian Meringue
300g Caster sugar
150ml Water
240ml Egg white
2 tsp Vanilla Essence

Baked Alaska
Chocolate Ice-cream
Strawberry Ice-cream
Vanilla Ice-cream


Chocolate Sponge
1. In a bowl mix the sugar, diced butter, cocoa powder, 1/3 of the flour and 2 eggs, then beat.
2. Now add the second third of flour and 3 eggs and beat.
3. Finally add the last of the flower and 3 more eggs and beat it once more.
4. Now poor the mix into a metal tray that is coated with baking powder and cover it with foil.
5. Put tray into preheated oven (180℃) for 30 minutes.
6. Remove foil and allow to cook bake for 5 more minutes.
7. Slice sponge into layers.
8. In a metal or plastic ring (8cm x 10cm), place the first layer of chocolate sponge, then add one spoon of each ice-cream (Chocolate, strawberry, vanilla) and cover with the second layer of sponge. Leave it in the freezer for at least 2 hours.

Italian Meringue (make once sponge / ice-cream mix has frozen)
1. In a pan mix sugar and water then let it to boil until it reaches a temperature of 120℃.
2. In a bowl drop the egg-white and beat it until it reaches an intense foam.
3. Once the water and sugar mix has reached the 120℃, add it extremely extremely slowly to the bowl of egg whites.
4. Beat the mixture until it forms a consistent, velveting Italian meringue.

Baked Alaska
1. Remove the metal / plastic ring from sponge / ice-cream mix and then, using a metal lift / spatula, quickly cover it in the Italian meringue until it resembles a mountain shape.
2. Leave in freezer until it is ready to be served.
3. When you need to serve it, put it in a metal tray, blow torch it on top and sides, then bake in the oven for 6 minutes (180℃).

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Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Rissoto

Mushroom Risotto

The Mains of Drum



0.5 Litre of Vegetable Stock

Maldon Sea Salt and Black Pepper

62g Butter

1/2 White Onion, Finely Chopped

1 Garlic Clove Peeled and Chopped

150g Arborio Rice

75ml White Wine

1/2 Lemon Juice and Zest

50g Parmesan Freshly Grated

2 Tablespoons of Mascarpone

75g of Dried Wild Mushrooms (Soaked)

1 Bunch of Asparagus, Trimmed, Shaved and Char Grilled

Parmesan Shavings and Truffle Oil for Garnish

Fresh Wild Mushrooms for Garnish


Step 1: Melt half of the butter in a saucepan

Step 2: Gently fry the onion until soft

Step 3: Add the garlic and stir to combine

Step 4: Then add the rice stir until coated and add the white wine

Step 5: Allow it to bubble and reduce

Step 6: Add the stock ladle by ladle over a gentle heat

Step 7: Stir constantly allowing each ladle content to be absorbed before adding the next

Step 8: When the rice is al dente, after about 20 minutes stir in the lemon juice, zest, parmesan, mascarpone and the soaked mushrooms.

Step 9: Sauté mushrooms and garnish with parmesan shavings, asparagus and truffle oil.

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Victoria Sponge

Victoria Sponge

Victoria Sponge

The Mains of Drum



8oz Self raising flour

8oz Caster sugar

8oz Stork margarine

4 medium sized free range Katy Cruickshank eggs

Galloway lodge raspberry jam

Butter icing or freshly whipped cream

Castleton Farm Strawberries


Step 1: Grease and line 2 × 8” round baking tins. Cream margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.

Step 2: Gradually add half of sifted flour and two eggs to margarine and sugar and mix well add the rest of the sifted four and the two remaining eggs and mix well.

Step 3: Divide the mixture between the two baking tins ensuring the mix is as smooth as possible on the top.

Step 4: Bake in the oven at 160 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.

Step 5: Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once cooled, spread the bottom sponge with the butter icing/cream and jam and then place the other half on top.

Step 6: Sprinkle with icing sugar or whipped cream and cut strawberries to decorate.

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Vegetarian Chilli

Vegetarian Chilli

Vegetarian Chilli

The Mains of Drum



Makes 5 – 6 portions

100g Tomato Puree

500ml Tomato Passata

1 White Onion

4 Carrots

3 Potatoes

1 Cup of Shredded Mange Tout

3 Peppers

2 Cans of Kidney Beans

2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon

1.5 Tablespoons of Sugar

0.5 Tablespoons of Cayenne Powder

0.5 Tablespoons of Chilli Powder

1/2 a Diced Turnip

Vegetable Oil


Step 1: In a pan, drop some: vegetable oil, one diced onion and 3 peeled and diced potatoes

Step 2: Once they start to sweat, add the diced carrots, diced peppers, diced turnip, shredded mange tout, 500ml of passata, and the 100g of tomato puree

Step 3: Mix and let cook on medium heat for 3 minutes. Then add the cinnamon, sugar, cayenne powder, chilli powder and the 2 cans of kidney beans

Step 4: Mix well and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, then serve

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Vanilla Crème Brulee

Creme Brulee

Vanilla Crème Brulee

The Mains of Drum



400ml Double Cream

100ml Milk

1 Vanilla Pod

4 Large Egg Yolks

3 Tablespoons of Caster Sugar


Step 1: Heat the cream, milk and vanilla pod to boiling point in a sauce pan

Step 2: Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl

Step 3: Whisk in the cream mixture

Step 4: Heat the oven to 120°C

Step 5: Pour the mixture into 12 ramekins and place into a roasting tray, half fill the tray with water and place into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the custard has set

Step 6: To serve sprinkle with icing sugar and glaze with a blow torch

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The Mains of Drum



5 eggs, Separated

180g Caster Sugar

300g Mascarpone

250ml Cold Strong Coffee

3 Tablespoons of Amaretto

Ladyfinger Biscuits

Ameretti Biscuits

80g Dark Chocolate, Finely Grated


Step 1: Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is light and fluffy and leaves a ribbon trail when dropped form the whisk

Step 2: Add the mascarpone and beat until the mixture is smooth

Step 3: Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, fold into the mascarpone mixture

Step 4: Pour the coffee into a shallow dish and add amaretto

Step 5: Dip ladyfinger biscuits one at a time into liquor and build tiramisu

Step 6: Finally cover with grated chocolate

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Scotch Egg

Scotch Egg

Scotch Egg

The Mains of Drum



Makes 6 Scotch Eggs

Scotch Egg Ingredients

400g Black Pudding (we recommend Stornoway Black Pudding)

50g Breadcrumbs

6 Medium Eggs, at Room Temperature (We recommend Katy’s Free Range Eggs)

Sunflower Oil, for Deep-frying

Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Coating Ingredients

100g Plain Flour

1–2 Medium Eggs

200g Coarse Fresh White Breadcrumbs


Step 1: Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the 6 eggs and cook for 5 minutes, which should give you a soft-set yolk. Drain the eggs and run them under the cold tap until cool enough to handle. Carefully shell them.

Step 2: Roll the black haggis in to 12 balls and put to the side

Step 3: For the coating, set out three bowls. Put the flour into one bowl and season it with salt and pepper. Break an egg into the next and beat it lightly. Tip the coarse breadcrumbs into the third bowl

Step 4: Take two of the black pudding balls and flatten them out into rough discs, about 6cm in diameter. Place one disc in the palm of your hand, set a boiled egg in the middle, then top with the second disc. Mould the black pudding around the egg, sealing the joins well. Repeat with the remaining black pudding and eggs

Step 5: Coat each Scotch egg with seasoned flour. Next, dip it in the beaten egg (lightly beat in another egg if you need to) and finally roll it in the breadcrumbs. Chill the eggs until you’re ready to cook them

Step 6: Heat a 5–7cm depth of oil in a deep pan to 175°C, or until hot enough to turn a few breadcrumbs golden in 30–40 seconds. Cook 2 or 3 eggs at a time. Lower them into the oil and fry for 6–8 minutes, turning regularly until golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and leave to stand for 5–10 minutes before enjoying

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