Unseasonably spring-like

Helleborus (Rodney Davey Marbled Group) 'Anna's Red'

Weeding in the garden today, listening to a big fat bee buzzing around the Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’, and feeling the sun on my back you could be forgiven for thinking it was Spring.  This assumption was reinforced by the flowering of snowdrops, hellebores and primulas with even the Daphne putting in a show. However it is mid December with the shortest day just two days away.  This winter has been incredibly mild so much so that it is hard to believe we will be recovering from the over indulgences of Christmas in just 5 days.

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After weekend after weekend of rain it was with pure delight that I was out cutting back hellebore leaves first thing this morning, making the most of the blue skies in case they were going to be short-lived but I needn’t have worried as the fine weather lasted longer than my energy levels or my back muscles.

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I don’t ascribe to the ‘slow gardening’ approach at this time of year which advocates leaving all the tidying up until the spring.  I think it is fine if you have a garden that is grasses and late summer perennials but with a garden like mine that I like to look as good as possible all year and which is planted in the layer style it is important to keep on top of things.  I’m not talking about putting the garden to bed for the winter – what a waste of a quarter of the year and so many delights.  Instead I love to potter and tidy and consider.  With the amount of rain we have had this month I am glad I take this approach as lifting the sodden thick layers of sycamore leaves revealed the hellebore flower buds above which were struggling to push their way through just as some of the bulbs were, you can see how little light has got to them.

Galanthus elwesii 'Mrs Macnamara'
Galanthus elwesii ‘Mrs Macnamara’

Back on the 5th December I shared my surprise at discovering a snowdrop about to open.  Finally this weekend I have had the privilege of seeing the flowers fully open and this has helped me confirm that its identify is Galanthus elwesii ‘Mrs Macnamara’, a very elegant flower with long outer petals and a nice nodding head.

Galanthus elwesii 'Mrs Macnamara'
Galanthus elwesii ‘Mrs Macnamara’

The main borders have been tidied and cleared of leaves and decaying stems cut back. I still have the very back borders to do and I have a scheme around the compost bins that I am hoping I might get a chance to carry out before I return to work on the 4th January, which does seem a very long way away being next year!  Though no doubt having seen the forecast I will spend more time day dreaming over seed catalogues and making plans for gardens to visit this year.

 

My Garden This Weekend – 18th January 2015

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As you can see the garden has had a dose of winter this weekend albeit short-lived with the majority of the snow having melted by Saturday lunchtime. I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed that it was too cold to do anything outside as all I wanted to do yesterday was hide inside.  I have been overcome with a tidal wave of grief which has crept up on me unexpectedly during the week, just like when you don’t notice the tide coming further up the beach.  It left me feeling emotional and close to tears for 48 hours not an ideal state of mind when you have to go to work.  It took  a while to identify it for what it was, going through all the usual others things, dismissing PMT, depression, concern about changes at work etc.  No it was grief, cold and hard and something you just have to accept and wait for it to pass.

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I have been getting on with life over recent months, being busy, since Dad died and although I think about him a lot I have felt I was doing OK.  But grief has a habit of creeping up on you and engulfing you when you least expect it.  I suppose I am lucky in that I learnt to recognise and accept it for what it is about a year after my sister died thanks to a wonderful counsellor.  This time it was a book that bought everything to a head.  A beautifully written book, if the first chapter or two is to go by, H for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.  The book is about the author training a Goshawk but it is also about her coming to terms with the loss of her father.  Needless to say it starts with her reacting to the news her Dad had died and I suppose it struck at something deep down because I kept obsessing about one paragraph, where they are looking for the father’s car.  I can’t even talk about the story without crying but then again I don’t think that is a bad thing because I believe it is better to let these things happen rather than fight them. We do more damage to ourselves with the British stiff upper lip approach.

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So the only gardening I did this weekend was to move things around in the greenhouse.  Rejigging the pots of bulbs so that those emerging have the best light and the late summer bulbs, such as nerines, are moved under the staging to rest for a while.

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Sunday has been a better day.  Having recognised the grief for what it was, had a good cry, I woke up feeling like my old self again and ready to battle on.  I have been decorating the hall, landing and stairs, which means endless gloss work which I can doing in stages.  So after tackling some of the bannisters Mum and I went out for a jaunt to Ashwood Nurseries which is just over an hour from here.  My boss had given me some garden vouchers for Christmas and I had earmarked them for some more hellebores and some spring flowering shrubs.  A lot of research has been done in recent evenings and a mental wish list drawn up.

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The choice at Ashwoods is extensive and always so well displayed.  I realised I have only visited at this time of year, the last time for a hellebore talk, so I must try to visit again through the year but if this is the quality of the display in early January I can only imagine how wonderful it will be in a few months.

I came home with 3 hellebores – Anna’s Red, Neon Star and Walbertons Rosemary which has been bred to look upwards, 3 heptica nobilis, a clivia and two dwarf rhododendrons that are part of my new planting plan for the border you can see in the second photograph.

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We had a nice lunch, a laugh, talked about Dad, grief, glosswork (Mum is decorating too) and strangely bought a resin tortoise (a gift for my Aunt!).  We are going back in March for my birthday so Mum can treat me to something, probably for the border above.

As for the book …. it is safely back on the shelf waiting for such time as I feel more emotional able to read it.

 

Snow Blues

Calamagrostis overdam bent over uncer  the snow
Calamagrostis overdam bent over under the snow

I really don’t think we English are cut out for the snow, well  not in the 21st century.  Personally I don’t particularly like snow, certainly not after the first initial snowfall.  I wrote nearly a week ago of the first snowfall and exploring the unsullied snow on the local common in its pristine wintery finery.  Well that was nearly a week ago and I am weary of the monochrome landscape.  I really don’t think I would do very well if I lived in the northern states of the US whose bloggers seem to cope with weeks if not months of snow; the amount of which puts us to shame. I  feel a little  ashamed  of my pathetic response to snow especially after watching an old documentary of the Big Freeze in 1963 when they had freezing cold weather for three months and snowmen built at the start of the year were still standing in March. But I  suppose we are what our  environment makes us and in recent times we haven’t had to cope with too much cold weather – we have become soft.

On Wednesday, the snow had almost cleared to the point where I could  get my snow and ice adverse automatic back to the driveway instead of parking it up the road.  But no another batch of heavy snow was forecast overnight.  I  find it amazing how we British seem to deny the existence of snow until we are knee-deep in it.  It seems that we think if we keep saying ‘oh the weathermen are just being cautious’ the snow won’t materialise.  But it does and we are unfailingly caught out and chaos ensues and I suspect we are the laughing-stock of Northern Europe.

Melianthus major giving in to winter
Melianthus major giving in to winter

Being a snow phobic and leaving in a very hilly part of the country with a good 20 minute car drive cross-country to work I become obsessive about the weather forecast when snow is possible – the same happens when it rains a lot and floods threaten.  There I was on Wednesday at work cancelling a hair appointment the next day and sorting work to do at home should the snow indeed fall.  People laughed and told me it would just be some flakes.  I parked my car up the road from home – a good 12 minute walk  up hill but at least on a main road which I know will be gritted and which would give me an almost safe journey to work.

Yesterday morning we awoke to a landscape freshly covered in snow.  Another 2 – 3″ had fallen.  The previous  snow that was still covering the garden seemed to have grown overnight and all the traces of birds and animals had been wiped out again.  More snow was forecast during the day so  I decided to stay  put and work from home .  My son disappeared off to work over the other side of the hills and luckily arrived safely – he knows better than to give me the details of the difficulties he encounters on his country ungritted route.

Hamamelis mollis ‘Arnold Promise’ hiding its charms
Hamamelis mollis ‘Arnold Promise’ hiding its charms

I worked hard getting far more done than I would in the office, always the way when you are distanced from the phone. I spent an hour clearing the snow from the driveway and road outside our house so my son could get back  home and also exploring the garden to see how my plants were faring.  The Grevillea and Bay were keeling over again under the weight of another snow fall and had to be shaken free.  I  have given up trying to help the Fatsia whose leaves, even when shed of snow, just hang down limply.  Amongst all the white and grey there was one bright spark.  Glinting out from amongst the snow were the flowers of my Hamamelis mollis ‘Arnold Promise’.  It had just  started to flower before the first snow and I find myself  wondering if it will flower for long after the snow has cleared.  I shook the snow off it so at least I could enjoy the warm sunshine yellow of its flowers from my living  room window.

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The snow stopped and the temperatures have reached a heady 1C, there is sign of a thaw.  We are told the temperatures will  improve by the weekend but that this will mean a quick thaw and possibly floods.  I do hope this  isn’t a sign of another wet year ahead of us.

 

Snow

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So the snow has arrived.  It started about 6:00am just as we were beginning to think the forecasters had been over-cautious.  Heavy snow persistently falling so that now some 4 hours later we have around 2 inches of snow laying in the garden.  I love snow if I don’t have to get anywhere in it.  I love the way it seems to erase all the details leaving an almost blank canvas in its wake.  If like me you are a gardener who is never satisfied with their space and who is  considering a serious redesign then the snow is a god send as it lets you see the space for what it is.

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The above photograph is of the garden at 8:00am with the large prostrate rosemary in the foreground.  I become very worried about the birds when we have this sort of weather particularly those that feed on the ground.  With the snow falling steadily and forecast to do so for most of the day any areas I clear for food will quickly be covered.  So I moved the small patio table up the garden, cleared the snow underneath this and put out food.  Within minutes the birds were there feeding away and fighting over the food.  I am having to go out every couple of hours to top up the food.  I have also made sure there is a good water supply.

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I decided to go for a walk to the local common probably no more than a 10 minute walk up the road in order to see it in its pristine beauty before the  sledgers and toboggners arrived.  Unsurprisingly there was hardly any one around, the silence palpable, not even a bird call or a distant car.  The only sound was the crunching of the fresh  snow under my feet.   I live on a small housing estate which is all up and down and therefore no one had ventured out on foot or by car, it would be pointless and futile.  When I reached the nearest proper road (see above) there were signs of a few cars having passed along it and I did see a solitary 4×4 but there was none of the chaos that rained a few years back when people were trying to get to work or get their children to school.  I wonder if the weather warnings and the fact it is a Friday  has made people see sense and stay  put.  During my walk I only saw two vehicles go along the major road running along the top of the common which is always gritted and passable if you can get to it.

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The common was more or less empty.  I could just make out a couple with their dog (see the tiny dots at the top right hand side of the photo) and over the far side some tobogganers, including my eldest son.  Well I think he was there! I could hear them and just make out their shapes but the snow was falling so fast that it was difficult to see very far. In the photograph above you should be able to see the Malvern Hills and the houses on its slopes or even their house lights but it is a total wipe out.

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I turned around and headed home soon finding that my footprints were already disappearing as more snow fell.  To think tomorrow when the snow has stopped falling the common will be full of children, and adults, throwing themselves down the slopes on sledges and toboggans. I will hear their screams of joy and excitement from my garden, the faint sound of cars will return.  But for today  the common was almost mine alone in its  beautiful wintery splendour and by now there will be no sign I was even there.

Update: just watched 11 Fieldfares and 2 Bramblings feeding in the garden as well as the usual Robins, tits, Starlings, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Nuthatch, Blackcaps, Magpies, oh and Pheasant!  Really pleased

How to make a Christmas wreath for nothing

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In another moment of domestic goddessness and probably because I have been looking at Martha Stewart’s website too much I decided to make a Christmas wreath.

I used to make them years back at our old house.  Back then we had a lovely front door that invited the addition of a wreath and I had more time as I didn’t work full-time.  Our front door now is Ok but its UPVC so you can’t attach anything to it.  I have tried numerous stick on hooks but they just don’t take the weight of a wreath.  Last year my son put up a hook by the front door and it looked better than I had anticipated.

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I was going to collect some holly from work where it grows plentifully in the grounds but then I remembered how badly I used to react to the scratches it causes as you try to assemble the wreath.  Instead I stopped at my parents and cut some Golden Cypress as the background plant for the wreath.  My parents have a ridiculously large Golden Cypress that they inherited with the house and are only too pleased to see another bit chopped off!!

I then collected a range of evergreen foliage from my garden and was pleased to see how many evergreen plants I have.  I went to a talk earlier in the week and the speaker suggested that you should have 50% evergreen plants in the garden for it to look good.  This did seem rather a lot but I can see the point.  Anyway, I collected ivy, rosemary, choysia, euonymous and shiny dark green leaves from an unidentified plant.

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When I used to make wreaths I used one of those really thick wire coat hangers you get from dry cleaners.  As I didn’t have any of these I used two lesser wire coat hangers and wired them together for strength.  Then I started by wiring a layer of Cypress around the wire hoop.  I had gone to buy florists wire this morning and a big red bow but the florist was shut.  I then realised that I had plenty of wire in the garage from tying in various climbers etc.  Having created a base I then built up the layers with the other bits of foliage, wiring each in place.

As I couldn’t get a red bow to embellish the wreath I  had bought some wide gold ribbon to try to make one.  The ribbon turned out to be one-sided and very stiff and the bow I created was just too big and bulky for the wreath and looked incongruous.  The only other thing I could find was some of that thin gold ribbon you use on presents so I tied a few small bows around the wreath and I have to say I am quick pleased with the effect.

It isn’t as rich and colourful as the wreaths I used to create but I think it has a certain elegance about it and it cost nothing which is even more satisfying. The rosemary also gives off a wonderful scent

I dont care what the weathermen say

“More and more I am coming to the conclusion that rain is a far more important consideration to gardens than sun, and that one of the lesser advantages that a gardener gains in life is his thorough enjoyment of a rainy day”   Margaret Waterfield (Garden writer and artist)

As I said in my last post I think this has been one of the hardest gardening seasons since I have moved here 8 years ago.  However, always one to look for positives in life I have realised that I have probably thought more about my garden and how I garden than ever before and I think this is due to not being able to get on with projects but also consideration on how I need to do things differently if we are to have this sort of weather in the future.

Strangely, I thought I had always been good at the ‘right plant, right place’ approach to gardening but I realised last month when considering my front garden, which I have a love/hate relationship with, that I have been a bit hit and miss.  For example, the soil in my front garden is quite heavy clay and when the conditions are dry it can turn into rock.  At the front of the garden there is a large birch tree and a laurel hedge and these will obviously soak up any moisture there may be.  Therefore, it is no surprise that the three Cornus I planted to give winter interest and contrast to the white birch tree trunk aren’t doing very well and are just sitting there.  They are in full sun in rock hard soil so they need to move somewhere where they get the moisture they crave but also a little shade.  I am moving sedums and bearded irises into the front garden so you can see how wrong I had got it.  I was completely distracted with the design side of getting winter interest right and forgot the plants’ needs.

In the back garden plants haven’t performed as well as in the past, in fact the Dahlias just haven’t done anything at all.  I appreciate a lot of this is due to the lack of rain we have had all year but I also think that if I gardened better I could help  my plants cope with these conditions better.  As part of the big plans I have for the autumn and winter I am editing all the borders, moving or removing anything that I don’t like, that is in the wrong environment or doesn’t work with the scheme.  Then I am going to dig in lots of organic matter.  Finally in the spring I am hoping we will have some rain, unlike this year, and I am going to invest in mulch which I haven’t done before.

I’m not a huge believer in climate change in regards to human impact but I do believe strongly that the earth goes through cycles and if you look back through history you can see similar patterns of changes in weather.  I don’t know whether it is because since taking up gardening seriously I have noticed the weather more or whether the changes are more dramatic in recent years but we have definitely experienced more extremes of weather in recent years.  However, saying that I find myself smiling when I read the scare mongers saying that this heralds the end of the English Cottage Garden etc and we will all have dustbowls. You only have to read gardening blogs from around the world to see what is possible in climates far more extreme than ours.

So for me I see it as a challenge and not something to get stressed about.   If we employ good horticultural practice, work with the conditions we have and use the right plants then surely no matter what the weather decides to do we can have beautiful gardens.

Victims of the Winter

My plans for today were thwarted again by the rain so no way I was going to get anything done at the allotment.  Instead I ‘pottered’ in the garden basing myself near the greenhouse so I could dive in when the heavens opened.  This meant I was on the patio and I couldn’t avoid the pots of squished plants any more.

Sadly a second harsh winter in a row has put paid to my Furcraea.  I can’t remember where I bought this but I feel it may have been at the Eden Project when we went not long after it had opened. I am sure I have had since about 2001.  To start with when the plant was small I would bring it in each winter and keep it in the enclosed porch at our old house.  The plant got bigger and bigger – not growing taller but getting thicker and wider.  It got to a point a few years back where it was so big I struggled to move it and so I risked it outside over winter.  It was fine until last year when some of the outer leaves were damaged by the snow that covered it but it did seem to perk up.  Well this winter has put paid to it and my thought to move it indoors probably came a bit too late.  As you can see it has turned to mush and the smell is awful.  It took two of us about a quarter of an hour to man handle it out of its pot.

As you can see my Phormium is not looking too good either.  This was planted up in the corner border and was doing quiet well.  It didn’t seem to be affected too much by the snow but this was quickly followed by some very cold strong winds which flattened the plant.  When I looked at it closely the leaves were bent to the point of being broken.  I have cut the plant back and as I’m not sure if it will recover and I have another plan for the border I potted it up.  You can see the transformation if you look at the photo belowI  have also lost a small Pittosporum and my Ceanothus is looking a little sorry for itself. My Eucomis plants have all rotted away even though the pots were placed on their side and off the ground.

The other plant I am really concerned about and am willing to be OK was a purchase last summer from Swine Meadow Nursery. I love my Ozothamnus and planted it up in a large pot by the front door.  When I checked on its tenderness it seemed to be similar to Grevillia and mine is flourishing in the front garden so I thought it would be OK.  But as you can see it is looking wane and limp!  Fingers crossed. Even my Rosemary has taken a battering and the ends of the stems are all burnt.

On the other side of the front door is a dwarf Bamboo.  I have no idea which one it is as I have had it some time but again it has taken a battering this winter and I do believe it was the extreme cold wind we had at one point.  However, I think it will be OK as you can just see some signs of fresh growth.

I have few tender plants left now and I have come to the conclusion that I will probably not bother with them in the future.  There is firstly the issue of space and somewhere to store them over the winter and the bother of digging them up and moving them which isn’t easy when they get big.  Or you leave them in the ground and worry about the plants.  I feel myself moving more towards a gentler way of gardening, maybe slow gardening where less effort is made for a good result.  Plus I don’t think the exotics really appeal to me.  I think I have bought some because they have been promoted by media and also because I see other bloggers’ fab gardens.  But I find them hard to place in the garden and I truly believe that you either go exotic or you don’t, there isn’t a half way house.  My taste has always been I suppose old-fashioned: I like herbaceous perennials and I am particularly enthralled by grasses – it just feels right and instinctive which the more broad-leaved exotics never did.

So I am sort  of thanking Mother Nature for pushing me in the direction which is better for me.

 

Oh the weather outside is frightful….

 

……well actually it isn’t really here (about an inch of snow) but in other parts of the UK it is terrible.  My brother-in-law who lives about an hours drive south of us had a foot of snow overnight so it is unlikely that he and my niece will be coming up tomorrow for Christmas presents.  So many people are having to cancel their Christmas get togethers but I think it is more important to be safe than to risk driving in hazardous conditions.  I really don’t understand why people  insist on doing it unless you  have an essential job especially at the weekend – it just gives the emergency services more to deal with.

We are supposed to be going to the Gower  in Wales the middle of next week for Christmas.  My parents are meant to be travelling Wednesday and we are to join them on Christmas Eve.  We have decided that we will make an initial decision Tuesday night and if it means cancelling so be it.  We only live  10 mins drive from each other so it makes more sense to get together here than risk them being in Wales and us here.  In case you are wondering why we were planning to go to Wales it was to do something different to distract from my sister no longer being with us, I should have just left it to the weather!!

So here we are stuck at home.  I did a big shop yesterday allowing for none of our plans happening so we are Ok food wise.  I’ve cleaned the house, the Christmas decorations are up, presents wrapped etc.  I keep telling myself that I should take advantage of this enforced confinement to do some studying for my RHS course, or maybe research vegetables so I can plan my allotment or just read some of the ridiculous pile of gardening magazines I have  or some of the books I have been sent to review or even better balance my bank account (but that might be scary!).  Instead here I am faffing around on the internet!

In my defence, albeit a shaky one, I have been distracted by the birds and squirrels in the garden.  I went out this morning and cleared some of the snow and put out lots of bird food, bread and apples. The garden is very popular at the moment.  We have seen: Blackbirds, Robins, Chaffinchs, Greenfinches, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Squirrels, Magpies, Pigeons, Blackcap.  The squirrels are making me laugh as they are chasing each other round the garden and their tails are sending the snow in all sort of directions.  I thought I would be helpful and put some bird food under the garden table but this has not proved to be popular at all, I can only assume it is too close to the house.  My son did manage to get some photos of a couple  of visitors though for your amusement.

Right enough of this procrastination, I am off to ice the Christmas Cake so I feel like I have really done something and then maybe I will start planning the allotment!

 

Malvern isn’t Narnia you know!..

….said one of my work colleagues last week.  This was during a heated debate in the office about another work colleague (not me) who had left early afternoon to travel home in Malvern due to the snow.  I work in Worcester no more than 10 miles from Malvern but sometimes we seem to be in different climates.  This is due to the Malvern Hills which form a backdrop to the town of Malvern.  Malvern, being on the side of the hills is higher than Worcester and consequently gets harsher weather and indeed more snow.  The trouble is trying to convince people who don’t live in Malvern that this is the case!!

However,  her comment made me laugh since in fact there are close links between Malvern and Narnia.  C S Lewis, the author off the Narnia books, went to school in Malvern and it is alleged that the gas lamp that the children use as a signpost to and from Narnia is based on the gas lamps which still exist along the Wells Road in Malvern.  In fact I have to say that when I drove home yesterday along the Wells Road in the fading light, under the large Chestnut trees all bedecked and bejewelled with hoar-frost and lit up by the same lights that it could easily have been Narnia.  I had my camera with  me today to take a photo for this post but typically the sun had been shining on that tiny bit of Malvern today and the frost had gone! I wonder if C S Lewis experienced similar weather and this planted the images of Narnia in his head for the future.

 

You can just see my office window tucked away
You can just see my office window tucked away

 

At work everything is covered in the hoar-frost  and people have been commenting on how beautiful  the trees look. (The pictures in this post were all taken at work just by office.  It isn’t as frosty as in Malvern but you get the idea.)

It’s true there is a special sort of magical feel about them and a sense of complete stillness. There are few birds about, presumably they are huddled up somewhere trying to keep warm and conserve energy.  There are few people and few cars – little noise.

I find the hoar-frost fascinating, I can’t remember it staying for so long.  It’s as if the Snow Queen has been past on her sledge and frozen everything in time.  I love the way the ice crystals clutch at the edge of leaves and stems changing the identity of plants completely.  The Mountain Ash in my garden now looks quite evil, as you can see in the header at the top of the page.  In other cases the frost makes leaves look as if some mad artist has been round the leaves with a marker pen emphasising the shape of the leaves

I was actually disappointed to see some of the frost had gone on my way home, I was beginning to love our magical frozen landscape.

That was a week not to repeat

This has been one of those weeks when you are glad to reach the end of it and hope that the next week will be better.

Unlike the majority of the UK here in Worcestershire we seem to have got away with only a small amount of snow, as you can see above, which is something to be grateful for after the weeks of snow we had at the beginning of the year.  However like everyone else we have had very low temperatures and therefore the real problem has been icy driving conditions.  I had a horrid journey home on Wednesday which was simply because we had a fall of icy sleety stuff (it wasnt snow, it wasnt sleet – somewhere in between) and the gritting lorries hadn’t managed to get round all the roads.  I left work early got half way home quite happily turned into a major road and everything ground to a halt because the road was so icy and everyone was having to crawl.  This was Ok until I was nearer home when I started to slide around all over the place and driving an automatic car is not a good thing in this situation.  I managed to get the car over a small humped bridge and slide into our  estate at which point I gave up, abandoned the car and walked the rest of the way.  I was shaking for about an hour afterwards it was so scary.  Luckily about 2 hours later the roads had been gritted and I could retrieve the car which was fine.

Apart from the weather causing chaos this week has been one of sad news.  Thankfully none affects me personally but they do affect people  I work closely with.  On Monday we heard of 2 deaths, and another one today.  Also a close work colleague has been diagnosed with stomach cancer and given 2 years if the cancer responds to chemo – so Monday was a horrid day. I then became completely neurotic as my youngest (18 year old) was complaining of headaches and a stiff neck.  Having lost my sister to meningitis last year I am just a tad neurotic on the subject so ended up phoning the doctor who was fabulous and even came out just to double-check on him – he had a virus and is fine thankfully.

With so much bad news around I start desperately looking for something jolly and happy to cling to.  Luckily, good news was hot on the heels of bad news and I was offered a second paid blog by Yell.com. I write a weekly post for them on gardening generally but with a focus on flowers.  After a conversation with my contact there they asked me if I would be interested in writing a second post a week but on my experiences as a novice veg and fruit grower.  I jumped at the chance but am secretly panicking!  I don’t start the second post until January so plenty of time to plan posts. Not only will this be a welcome challenge, I thrive on challenges, but the little bit of extra money will come in useful.

Another thing that has made me smile is very small and to be honest quite insignificant.  Some time ago I read on a blog on Blotanical that someone took Gaura cuttings by rooting them in water.  This sounded very easy and I wondered if I could do the same so I took some small cuttings from my Gaura and popped them in a small bottle of water on the kitchen windowsill.  A couple just died but one has a fantastic root system now and the other two are showing signs of roots breaking any day.  This isn’t really an achievement as it didn’t involve much effort on my part but I do get a buzz out of propagating plants.

Another highlight this week was seeing a fox trotting down our road.  I know many people see foxes regularly, particularly in the cities but we don’t often see them here.  I suspect he was looking for food and you can see where he was wondering around my front garden if you look at the second pic above.  Watching him made me forget my worries, albeit for only 5 minutes, but it was like taking a deep breath before carrying on. I also saw two Goldfinches in the garden for the first time in over a year which was a real treat.  I do find nature so uplifting.

So all in all not a great week  but I have always been a glass half full person so I try to see the best in things and the small triumphs more than make up for my horrid journey and worry about my son and take the edge of the sadness which is prevalent at work at the moment.