Six on Saturday 18th April

The weather’s been pretty good all week when I’ve been holed up in my home office in the back bedroom, spending my time staring out of the window longingly at the garden whilst on conference calls, and finally it’s Saturday so I can get out there …… but it’s raining!

Sigh! I did pop out to see if there was anything of interest to share today and I got drizzled on and came back in with frizzy hair (not that it matters – can’t go anywhere for anybody to see anyway!) I did snap a few damp pictures though.

The first thing to take my fancy was this Rhododendron which I (surprise surprise) liberated from a sale table last year. It’s got bluebells growing through it at the moment. No idea how I managed to plant it without disturbing the bulbs!

I had no idea what colour it would be or how well it would grow, but it’s done me proud.

Speaking of bluebells, I’ll include them as my second point.

They seem to be out earlier than usual. Or maybe not earlier, but the time between the leaves emerging and the flowers appearing seems shorter. I remember in previous years getting really impatient for them to bloom but this year all of a sudden they’re there! If anything, you’d think it would’ve felt longer this year since I’ve pretty much been sat at home, chin resting on heel of palm, waiting for something (anything) to happen!

I’m not sure if this is a new thing, or if I’ve forgotten that we’ve had them in previous years, but some of my ‘blue’ bells are pink and white!

I’ve seen other people posting pictures of Dicentra Bleeding Heart in full flower and I admit to a bit of envious disappointment that mine was just a mass of leaves, but, progress is being made!

Hopefully I’ll be able post it in it’s full glory soon.

My Erysimum is looking beautiful. Another sale table find that has come up trumps. It has at least one flower for most of the year, but this time of year and through the Summer is when it’s at its best.

Spot the Grape Hyacincth photobombing the Erysimum!

My penultimate point is one of my two Geums. This was from, yep, you guessed it, the sale table. I bought it in Summer 2018 and it wasn’t spectacular that year, but Summer 2019 really saw it impress. I’m hoping that this year will bring more of the same.

The first bud has already opened, and there are plenty more where that came from! I acquired a second Geum last year (no need to tell you where from) and I’m hoping it’ll follow suit and come into its own this Summer. It’s a beautiful bright yellow so the two complement each other well.

I’m going to finish with a pile of what can only be termed cr*p!

I’m putting this here in the hopes that it’ll give me motivation to get rid of it so I can post a cleared space later in the year. It grew and grew last year! There’s leaves, branches, weeds aplenty, slabs, pots and goodness knows what else under here and I need to get rid!

If anyone would like to take part, or read other Sixes this week, check out the Propagator’s blog. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the weekend. The weather’s looking more promising tomorrow.

Easter Progress

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you’re all managing to make the most of the long weekend, despite the challenging circumstances. I’ve spent quite a significant amount of time in the garden over the past few days, including eating lunch our there for the first (and second, and third, and fourth) time this year …

… and it really has made me appreciate being able to open the back door to step into the great outdoors. We lived in a pretty small flat with no garden before we moved to our house and the thought of going through this social distancing without some outside space to escape to is pretty grim! I really feel for people living in less fortunate circumstances.

Last time I wrote, I reported that I’d sown my first seeds of the year and I’m pleased to report good progress going on there just over a week later.

New shoots seems very appropriate for Easter Sunday. In the green bamboo pots I have a few Sunflower ‘Teddy Bear’ seedlings and in the black pots some Sunflower ‘Autumn Beauty’. It always amazes me that you can look at your pots one day and there’s nothing, and the very next day there’s teeny tiny leaves pushing through. Nothing’s happening with the Dutch Sweetpeas or the Petit Pois yet.

Having spent quite a few hours in the garden, I’ve come to realise how many animals we’re sharing our outside space with, most desirable, others less so!

We spotted the first non desirable one through our kitchen window, but we did also see him saunter across the patio brazen as anything when we were having lunch on our bistro!

Rat! On the bird table! We’ve had to decommission the bird table for the time being! I actually don’t mind rats, in fact, if we didn’t have the cats I’d have a couple of fancy rats, but I also don’t think it’s a good idea to encourage them in the garden.

We have an abundance of squirrels who also like to steal the bird food from, well, anywhere that we put it! It is seemingly impossible to squirrel proof any kind of food!

Here’s one plotting his manoeuvre on to the bird table (pre rat-retirement!) I really like the squirrels, and I’m much less concerned about them pinching bird food than rats (probably because they’re so darn cute!) I’d rather they pinch bird food than my bulbs! Hubby gets cross with them though (mostly, I think, because they outsmart all his squirrel proofing attempts!)

Moving on to insects.

This striking Stink Beetle was living in the greenhouse. Apparently he’s not a huge threat to my veg or plants so I left him.

This is quite possibly the prettiest beetle I’ve ever seen. It is, according to Google, a Rosemary Beetle. I thought it was a ladybird until I got a bit closer, it was exactly the size and shape of the lovely ladybug. We don’t have any Rosemary in the garden, but we do have Lavender which they are apparently also partial to taking a munch on.

Sticking with the insect theme, but this time a highly desirable one, is the bee.

I nearly trod on this little lady as she was resting on the floor. I gave her some sugar water which she went straight to. After a while she started crawling around and scrambled up on my leg.

I sat there with her for a while before letting her crawl on to a leaf and I left her in my birthday planter.

I went back out to check on her after ten minutes or so and she was gone so I’m hoping I’d given her enough energy to fly off and continue her bee business.

Let’s flit off (see what I did there?) to some birds now.

Since the lockdown, the traffic has been much reduced on our road, and the air traffic above has practically zeroed! I feel somewhat guilty admitting this, given my love of flying and holidays, but I’m not missing the planes! Sitting in our garden sounds like sitting in an aviary.

We’ve seen quite a few different kinds of birds over the last few days, not all of which I’ve managed to photograph. We have Jays, Blackbirds, Magpies, Wrens, Robins, Sparrows, Thrushes, Finches, Pigeons and Blue Tits.

Here are the pictures I have managed to snap.

Finally, the piece de resistance …..

I did, for a second or two, think that a Pterodactyl had landed on our ridge tiles (I’ve been stuck at home for millions of years, my brain’s turning to mush!) but soon realised that it was a Heron. You can just about see his fancy hair do in the first pic. He stayed up there surveying the gardens for about half an hour.

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at our lovely wildlife. I feel so grateful to have our garden, it really is my little sanctuary.

Enjoy the rest of Easter, and if anyone has any mini eggs, please eat some for me. I don’t have any and I’m pretty sure they don’t count as an essential item so I can’t go and get any!

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.