Christmas has started

Hopefully just about time for a quick blog post whilst my blueberry, coconut and sultana baked oats are baking. There are six oaty muffins baking and I have two at a time for breakfast so that’s enough for my whole working week. Yep, I break up for Christmas on Wednesday! Woohoo for three day weeks.

So why, you ask, is this post entitled Christmas has started if I haven’t broken up yet? Well it’s because I’ve been in Surrey this weekend for the annual Christmas pressie swap with my Granny and my Mum. I don’t get to see them very often because there’s nearly a hundred and fifty miles between us so when I do get down there it’s always special. I listen to Christmas songs on the radio all the way there and back and it always makes me smile if Chris Rea’s Driving Home for Christmas comes on because, whichever direction I’m going in, it feels like I am driving home for Christmas.

Granny’s had a rough couple of years! I’m sure she won’t mind me telling you that she’s eighty eight but almost exactly two years ago she had a heart bypass and recovered from it quicker and with more aplomb than someone half her age would’ve done, and this year she’s had various medical issues and a couple of stays in hospital, the latest being just a couple of weeks ago when she lost a pint of blood after knocking a scab off which happened to be on an artery (her bedroom and hallway currently look like a scene out of a horror film!) Anyway, she’s bounced back from it all but it makes it all the more important to spend time with her. My hubby calls her Super Gran. She really is amazing!

Despite all of this, she’d still taken the trouble to get all my favourite things in to feed me! You wouldn’t believe how excited I was to see these sitting on top of the fridge when I arrived!

I LOVE crumpets! Especially Warburtons and I hadn’t had them since May when I started Slimming World! Of course, I could’ve rung her before I went and said I’d bring baked oats instead, but somehow, it completely slipped my mind to do so!

Ooooooh! What a treat! Hot toasted crumpets with Flora Buttery and, you either love it or hate it, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Marmite!

I devoured my crumpets whilst Granny popped to the shop to get her paper (a kind gentleman paid for it for her – Granny has an admirer (in my head at least!)) and while we were waiting for my Mum to arrive. Much excitement – hadn’t seen her since last Christmas!

Mum brought with her Christmas presents, a knitting stitch holder because I’d forgotten mine and news of my Great Aunt who’s unfortunately suffering from fairly advanced dementia. Mum initially moved away from Birmingham to help my Great Aunt when she was in the early stages of the disease but she’s now ably cared for in a home.

A home which apparently also caters for donkeys! She doesn’t look overly impressed, does she!

We had a lovely day together just chatting and catching up. Granny’s still catching up on sleep after losing all that blood and didn’t feel up to Scrabble so Mum and I had a game. My Mum is the Gyles Brandreth of Scrabble (or Suzy Dent for the younger amongst you) but somehow I managed to be winning, right up, that is, until she went and got ninety something points for one word! Honestly, I ask you! How does she do it? Anyway, she ended on something like three hundred and twenty nine and I managed two hundred and ninetyish so I don’t feel too beaten up.

I headed back up the M40 after the tea of kings! Granny’s Shepherd’s Pie! It deserves to be capitalised because it’s soooooo good! She makes it the day before and reheats it when needed. It’s some concoction of lamb mince, celery, carrot, onion salt and vegetable stock topped with potato, but believe me, even with the correct ingredients it is impossible to make it as well without the Granny magic!

It tastes a-ma-zing! Sets you right up for the rest of the day.

Today I’ve had a relatively lazy day chilling out with hubby and the gorgeous twosome …

… but, and I think I deserve a round of applause for this, I did go out in the garden, in the bucketing down rain, to harvest the remainder of my produce.

Now, if we can all just imagine that I intended to grow baby potatoes and baby leeks, then it will have all been worth it!

These are Musselburgh leeks which, according to the internet, should be ‘whoopers’ and reliable and easy to grow. Hmmmm! I sowed them in about April and this is what I got! They look like spring onions. I assure you they’re not! Oh well, they’ll be fine chopped up in a stir fry.

The potatoes are Charlottes and I planted them in bags about the end of September time. They were advertised as ready for Christmas, which I suppose they are, but I was rather hoping they’d be big enough for our roasties. They’re not!

They sprouted masses of leaves to start off with. This is how they looked halfway through November …

… but I noticed last week that all the foliage had died down so I thought I’d best check if any potatoes had actually grown.

Anyway, my baked oats are cooked and cooling …

… so I’m off to get some beauty sleep ready for my last three working days of 2019. Nighty night.

Six on Saturday 7th December

I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks, and I’ve missed my creative blogging time. I’ve just had a lot on and haven’t found time to write. It also feels like I spend my whole life tired at this time of year so even when I have found myself with a few spare moments in which I could’ve shared what I’ve been up to, my brain’s been too sleepy to work!

I will try to find some time tomorrow to write a general catch up post of what’s been going on in the land of Green Girl Gardener over the past few weeks, although some of it I’ll have to tease you with because I have to keep some of my exciting news under my hat for now.

Anyway, enough of that and on to my first Six of December. It may also be the last of December – the impending festive season means a distinct lack of free time on Saturdays. We’ll see, maybe I’ll be able to squeeze one more in.

1. Hydrangeas

We have one Hydrangea in the back garden which was gifted to us by my in laws when we moved into our house. I finally planted it out at the end of Summer 2018 and it’s done well this year having more room to spread its roots.

However, when I checked it this morning …..

….. something has trampled it and broken off some of the faded flower heads. This, I think, is not good news. The old flowers protect the next year’s growth underneath so now I’m concerned that it might be damaged before the weather improves. Incidentally, please excuse the weeds – this area was almost inaccessible throughout the Summer because the Sweet Pea frame was in the way.

We have another Hydrangea in the front garden which I salvaged from a sale table this Summer, and it did really well and looked so pretty all Summer. I’m hoping it’ll get quite big and fill the corner of the garden.

I was really surprised to come out this morning and find some new growth on it.

I can’t remember what variety it is, but I’m sure it’s not supposed to bloom at Christmas!

2. Roses

We have lots! I love them!

This one is a patio Rose that’s in a pot on our bistro and it’s still valiantly trying to flower for me. There’s a teeny tiny spider currently making a home in its petals.

This one I think could be described as a mummified Rose! It’s my Rose Hot Chocolate which did really well this year. It’s become somewhat lanky so it needs a hard prune. I’ll have to check when to do it.

Finally, in the front we have beautiful Rose hips. This Rose was in the garden when we bought the house so I don’t know what variety it is, but it’s lovely.

3. Staying in the front garden, the Camellia has buds!

This also seems early. It flowers oh too briefly in very late Spring/early Summer and I’m always sad when the beautiful pink flowers turn brown and drop. I hope any potential cold snaps don’t ruin its chances of flowering next year.

4. Daffodils

Close inspection of the area in front of my birthday planter this morning revealed Daffodil shoots emerging. ALREADY! I’m sure they didn’t peek their heads into the world before Christmas last year. No sign of the Crocuses yet though. I wish I’d planted more Daffodil bulbs this Autumn. Last year I planted these ones in a row and whilst I loved their cheery yellow joy in the Spring, I think they’d have had more impact if I’d have planted them in clusters rather than a straight line.

5. There’s good news and bad news in the greenhouse. I always eat my sprout (singular!) first when eating my Christmas dinner so in a similar vein of getting the worst out of the way first I’ll show you the bad news first.

These were my cuttings, emphasis on the past tense! So disappointing. They were doing so well and now they’re really not! I don’t know what went wrong. Too cold? Too damp?

Anyway, sprout dealt with so on to the turkey and roasties.

The Fuchsias and Gazania seem to be coping ok with the cold. According to my thermometer, it’s been down to – 1.5° in the greenhouse. Let’s hope it doesn’t get any colder (for my sake as well as the plants!)

6. In case I don’t manage to squeeze another Six in before Christmas, I’m going to finish with Euphorbia ‘Rudolph’ for obvious reasons!

Unfortunately the reason for its seasonal moniker isn’t obvious during the festive season. You can just about see the pink tinge still but during the Summer it had bright red ‘noses’ just like Rudolph. This was from the sale table in Notcutts and I’m really pleased with how well it’s done.

I’m really late finishing this post this week (I started it at about half eleven this morning in the hairdresser’s) so if you pop over to the Propagator’s blog there’ll be plenty of other Sixes to catch up with in his comments. I’ll try to be back tomorrow with another post to make up for my extended absence.

Six on Saturday 16th November 2019

Is it officially still Autumn? It doesn’t feel like it (especially not as I have a man in my porch fitting a smart meter meaning the gas is turned off hence no heating!) It’s soul destroyingly Wintery.

Anyway, I went wandering in the garden this morning to snap some pics for a Six and the sign in my greenhouse seemed very apt.

I think I’ll start in the greenhouse for number one. It’s chilly in there as is corroborated by both my posh and accurate thermometer …

… and my pretty but slightly less trustworthy thermometer.

The cuttings are having a very similar reaction to the cold as I am – a bit lacklustre and definitely not as happy as a couple of weeks ago!

A fellow blogger advised me a few weeks ago to keep them fairly dry but not bone dry, but, despite not having watered them for well over a month they’re just not drying out at all! I need a heated greenhouse, but that would send the new smart meter into spasms of panic I fear!

Conversely, the Gazania and the two Fuchsias (one hardy, one not but I can’t remember which is which) seem quite happy with their surroundings.

I’ll have to ask my Mum which is which when I see her as she took the cuttings. It’s not going to hurt having them both out of the cold given how small they are.

Meanwhile, back outside we have today’s number two, which is two Cordylines looking beautiful.

They’re both in planters, the green one stands proud at the back of my birthday planter and the pink one is nearer the house in my patio planter. They give some welcome interest and much needed colour to the sleeping garden!

There are still a few plants desperately soldiering on and producing colourful petals to cheer the gloom. For number three I’m going to share my Erysimum.

This was from the sale table in Notcutts in Summer 2018. I planted it out last Spring and it did well all through this Summer. I’m not keen on pink, but this pink is rich enough to delight the senses.

Number four was a recent purchase that was planted out towards the end of the Summer.

Fatsia Japonica, whose leaves have something of a look of a giant Marijuana plant! How do I know this, you may ask with a knowing smirk? Well, you try going to the Caribbean and not seeing Marijuana leaves depicted on every piece of tourist tat for sale! Anyway, there’s nothing illegal about this lovely specimen. It’s supposed to get pretty big and it’s grown quite a few new leaves already so here’s hoping.

For my penultimate point I’m using a photo that I took purely because I liked the way the rain looked on the leaf.

This is a cluster of leaves on my Scarlet Patio Rose. I love how the leaves are tinged with pink, picking up the pink of the emerging shoots below and the blurred Heather in the background, and the rain droplets that reflect the light and accentuate the leaves’ veins.

I’m going to end on a festive note which I think is acceptable given that the big day is only five and a bit weeks away.

Holly! We have an abundance of it in the garden which can be painful when it gets too big and requires pruning! None of the Holly bushes flower or get berries which I think must mean we only have one sex of Holly bush resulting in absolutely no copulation at all, and therefore no offspring.

Right, I’m off to do something that doesn’t require gas or electricity now I can see exactly what it’s costing us! While I’m freezing to death in the dark why don’t you pop over to check out more Sixes on the Propagator’s blog.