End of week two of lockdown ….

…. and I think I have lost the plot! Yesterday I went out in the back garden and combed the grass!

Ok it’s not quite as loony tunes as it sounds! I didn’t comb the lawn (although it probably is currently long enough to style a Mohican!) No, I combed my grasses, which isn’t quite as odd, I think!

I have quite a penchant for grasses, in fact, I’ve just ordered three Imperata Red Baron (Blood Grass) from Blooming Direct when I went on there looking for Begonias (I did order the Begonias too) and after the dormant Winter, they just need a bit of a comb through to get the dead fronds out ready for them to regenerate and get beautifully willowy through the Summer. The green grasses above are my 50p Stipas and the pink one in the middle is a Cordyline.

The weather was so lovely yesterday, hence the social distancing breach in many parts of the country. I don’t understand why people don’t see that the more they flout the rules, the tougher and more restrictive the rules will get and the longer this awful period will go on! I drove hubby to and from work (he’s a key worker) and we were quite shocked by the number of people out and about on our local high street. In relatively close proximity, there’s a Tesco Express, Sainsbury’s Local and Nisa, a greengrocer, butcher and hardware store, two newsagents and a cafe that’s still doing takeaway so people were out shopping. Stay in people!

Anyway, I came straight home after dropping hubby and took advantage of the weather in a safe way and busied myself in the garden for the first time this year. I tidied up the greenhouse which, joy of joys, was over 23°, and I sowed my first seeds of 2020.

I sowed two different kinds of Sunflower, Teddy Bear which, as the name suggests has a round, fluffy flower, and Autumn Beauty which is tall with flowers in orangy Autumnal shades. These were a Christmas present.

I also sowed some Dutch Sweetpeas. These were a present given to my Dad at the Christening of my second cousin (or first cousin once removed or however it works! My cousin’s daughter). He doesn’t have a garden so gave them to me to grow on. Luckily the instructions were in English as well as Dutch!

The Sweetpeas are in the propagator, the Teddy Bears are in the green bamboo pots and the Autumn Beauty are in the black pots. I don’t have any labels so I’ve made a note on my phone.

After this I cleared a patch behind the greenhouse which gets a good amount of sunshine, and I exploded a seedbom which was also a Christmas present.

Fingers crossed we get some pretty bee-friendly blooms later in the year.

Next up, I prepared my raised bed and sowed my first veg seeds of the year. Lovely Petit Pois! I did two rows last year and got a decent crop, but this year I’ve sowed four rows so I’m hoping for double the harvest because I really do love Petit Pois. Through the Winter, whilst there’s been nothing growing in the bed, the local cats have been making use of it, so in an attempt to save my newly sowed seeds, I’ve improvised a cover.

I’ll have to sort out something more permanent sharpish to get in place when the seeds start to sprout. I’ll give it some thought because I don’t want a repeat of last year when a poor hedgehog got caught up in some stray netting (hedgehog was fine).

I came across a bag of Gladiolus bulbs in the greenhouse that I’d forgotten I was given free at Gardeners’ World Live last year. The bulbs didn’t look too healthy.

I planted them anyway – you never know. If they survive the squirrels we might get some Gladioli.

Back to Begonia! I went to empty last year’s Begonias from my hanging basket into the compost bin, but when I cleared the debris from the top, I discovered new growth on every single Begonia in there!

I’ve excitedly hung it back up and am now keeping everything crossed for another beautiful display in the Summer. If not, I have twenty four jumbo plug plants on the way in beautiful yellows and peaches. I’m planning to put some of these in my wheelbarrow planter and I also plan to add lots more pots to our garden (when I can get out to buy some!) so any surplus can decorate these.

After a bit of weeding and general tidying, I decided to call it a day and come in. We couldn’t have our usual Saturday night Chinese takeaway because they’re shut, so we had a yummy pizza and garlic bread from the freezer for tea and a couple of glasses of Sauvignon Blanc may have been consumed (for relaxation purposes, you understand), and I decorated our living room window.

Some of you may have seen the article in the press about putting teddy bears in your window to help cheer passing children, and I’m sure everyone (in the UK at least) will know of the growing movement to display a rainbow in your window in solidarity with NHS workers and other key workers who are working hard to keep us all going. I have the odd teddy bear living around and about our house, so I’ve relocated a couple to our living room window and I crocheted a rainbow to hang above them.

It’s hard to get a decent photo from outside because of the reflection so I’ve added a view from inside too. If it cheers one child, or child at heart, then it will be a job well done.

Back to work tomorrow (in the back bedroom), but only for four days this week. Let’s hope the weather’s kind for the four day weekend so I get some more work done in the garden.

Six on Saturday 28th March

Is it really less than a week since we were allowed out for non-essential activities! I’ve been working from home all week and am going slightly stir crazy, but, it’s got to be done and at least we’ve had a couple of nice sunny days this week and I’ve been able to wander in the garden (at lunchtime, not when I’m busy working!) I do feel for people who live in flats without balconies – they must feel so cooped up!

There’s loads that needs doing out there but it’s still too cold for me to be out there much. I do not do cold! There are leaves and pine needles everywhere that need sweeping up, last years dead stuff to clear, seeds to sow, weeds to pull, roses to prune etc. etc.

Anyway, on to this week’s Six.

I have two Euphorbias. The first was a gift from my Dad and C.

I planted this shortly before we got the jungle at the end of the garden chopped down and it got completely bashed by the guys dragging all the chopped trees. That was two years ago now and it finally looks like it’s starting to recover, although it is still tiny.

The second, Euphorbia Rudolph, was from the sale table in Notcutts last year and it’s done really well and has got pretty big.

Also from the sale table was my Buddleia which I bought in the hopes of attracting butterflies. It’s also got really big so let’s hope this year the butterflies find it. Here’s a before and after.

It’s got lots of new growth coming through. I’ll have to check what to do to stop it getting too leggy.

Next up is some grass (also sale table – do you spot a theme to my plant shopping?)

I planted this in the shade last year, not expecting it to do that well because it likes sun really, but it’s thriving and has thrown up some ears. It needs some combing through to clear the dead fronds – I’ll add that to my list of things to do when it warms up!

This morning I noticed my first lilies coming through. I’m sure these weren’t there earlier in the week.

See what I mean about needing to clear pine needles? These were a sale table find too, but this time from Homebase (I think). I think this is the beautiful yellow one. I have a white one and a purple one too, but they aren’t showing signs of life yet. I’ve a vague recollection that this one was first to flower last year. I’ll have to watch out for the dreaded lily beetle!

I’ve noticed a couple more Cowslips have appeared in odd places.

This one’s growing in the cracks in the path. I’ll relocate it to somewhere where it won’t get trodden on when I can brave the elements. I’ve a feeling I may end up with lots of these now I have a couple, so I may have to be ruthless about which I keep. I do like them though, so I’m happy for them to spring up with their lovely yellow.

I’m going to end with some daffs while they’re still there.

These are Tête-à-têtes that I planted the first Summer we were in our house. They bloom reliably every Spring, and this year I’m loving the contrast of the sunny yellow with the magenta of the Cyclamen underneath.

As ever, don’t forget to check the Propagator for more Sixes. Now I’m off to dream about spending my Saturday browsing a garden centre – that’ll be one of the first things I do after seeing all the people that I’m missing while we’re all confined largely to the indoors!

Six on Saturday 21st March

Amidst all the doom and gloom, scaremongering and genuine health and well-being issues abound at the moment, there are small glimmers of hope. One is that China is showing very positive signs of this nightmare abating which hopefully will mean, given the right measures, that there will be an end to all this and return to relative normality, and another is that it is now officially Spring!

Outside (in the garden you understand, on my own) plants, trees and shrubs are beginning to spring back to life. I find it reassuring that, despite this unprecedented situation, nature is still doing its thing in its own inimitable way. It doesn’t know that the rest of us sentient beings are self-isolating, socially distancing and, in a lot of cases, stockpiling.

I’ve been working from home since Wednesday, attempting to stay motivated and keep as close to normal as possible, whilst trying not to go stir crazy cooped up inside. Yesterday, after my long and tortuous commute down the stairs, I decided to pop into the garden to see what I could include on a Six today, and I was spoilt for choice.

I’m going to start with the photo that I’ve been waiting to be able to take for weeks, that made me gasp with delight.

It’s my Eupatorium coming back to life! Regular readers will know of my almost unhealthy attachment to my Eupatorium, and some may even remember that I shared a very similar photo, complete with little green arrows, around this time last year when it started throwing up teeny tiny shoots. I can’t wait for it to get all big and leafy and amazing again, and then, never fear, I will be sharing more photos of its lofty beautiful self.

The Pieris seems to have more and more pink tips every day. This is absolutely beautiful when it’s fully turned. We were on holiday last year when it reached its peak of amazingness so I couldn’t photograph it, but this year, well, even if we’d planned a holiday we wouldn’t be going, so I’ll be keeping careful watch out of the back window to snap it. I was advised by a fellow blogger last year that it has thrip, which I admit I’ve done nothing about, but it doesn’t seem to hold it back.

I made a purchase last week because Notcutts emailed me a 50% off voucher for any plant, shrub or tree. I fell in love with this Pussy Willow so it came home with me. Its little furry protuberances have changed since it came home. They’re now more fluffy than furry.

My lovely Osteospurmum which lives in a pot on our bistro has got buds! This is exciting! I have two Osteospurmums, a yellow one and a pink one, and I can’t remember which one this is so I’ll watch with interest. Whichever it turns out to be, I’ll be happy because the flowers are gorgeously sunny.

I posted about this Cowslip a couple of weeks ago. It appeared at the end of the garden last year and I rehomed it in my birthday planter, fully expecting it to be an annual, but it’s flowering again, and has even more flowers than it had last year. I don’t like its leaves, but the flowers are glorious.

Finally for this week is Sedum. I just love it when rainwater nestles in the leaves. I remember the first time I noticed it, I actually had to wobble the plant to check it was water because it so looks like little fairies have sprinkled diamonds over the garden!

Don’t forget to check the Propagator’s blog if you’d like to read more Sixes. I started with a glimmer of hope and I’m going to end on a positive too – Gardeners’ World is back!