Six on Saturday 3rd April

Bank holiday has thrown me! I almost started to write this yesterday thinking it was Saturday, and today feels like Sunday. Oh well, it’s not, so here I am.

I’ll start with greenhouse progress and my seeds are coming along nicely. The only ones which are a bit reluctant to get going are my tomatoes. I didn’t take a picture of them – you don’t need to see what is essentially a pot of soil!

I don’t have labels, I have a note on my phone instead. I’d like to say that’s because I’m far too technologically advanced for labels, but actually it’s just that I’m not organised enough to buy any! So, in the green bamboo pots and the triple container there are Russian giant sunflowers, in the two six compartment containers are Pacino gold sunflowers and the tray and the teeny tray on the top right contain sweetpeas. Underneath that in the 99p tray are cosmos dazzler and the white tray middle bottom is nurturing zinnia orange king. Let’s hope they all survive the cold spell that is forecast over the next few days.

Next is an update on the suspected honesty plant that I posted last week. It has put on a huge growth spurt over the past week and now has tiny buds and I recognise them from when I grew honesty a couple of years ago so it is now a fully confirmed honesty plant. It’s a bit skewiff in the pot but I think a couple of carefully placed bedding plants will balance it out.

Next is my ‘new’ raised bed. I use inverted commas because I actually bought and assembled this last year but it was too late in the season to try and grow anything in it so it’s been sat there all winter patiently waiting. I have a bit of an issue because I can’t get the legs into the ground, but I also can’t get the screws out to remove them. I have attempted to recruit a bit of muscle (hubby) to either battle the screws or saw the bottoms off, but for some reason that I just can’t fathom, he doesn’t seem to share my enthusiasm for it! Don’t worry – I’ll wear him down in the end!

A raised bed needs compost so yesterday we popped to Homebase and picked up lots! I’m going to need more at some point, but this will keep me going for now.

Hopefully there will be enough left for me to pot this lovely lot up.

I ordered these from QVC weeks ago and they arrived a couple of days ago. I have two pots (also from QVC) ready and waiting for them. I actually expected the bulbs to be bigger, but we’ll see what happens.

Speaking of lilies, I noticed that these ones have started sprouting and here starteth my lily beetle watch! I think these are Asiatic lilies. I’ve bought so many that they all merge into one! I’m pretty sure these are the bright yellow ones. Time will tell.

See all the winter detritus covering the ground? This is all from next door’s jungle which means hardly anything grows on this side of the garden. I’ve got a plan hatching for this space though which hopefully I’ll be able to put into action soon and tell you about.

Until then, the Propagator’s blog is ready and waiting for you to peruse along with all the other Sixes for this week. I hope everyone has a great Easter weekend with lots of gardening and hopefully lots of chocolate.

A little bit of this and that

I didn’t do a Six on Saturday post yesterday so I thought I’d compensate with a general round up post today instead. I did go into the garden yesterday, phone in hand ready to take six photos, but it was just too cold and miserable to be out there so I gave up and came back in to the warm.

It’s been an odd few weeks, most of it spent enforcedly indoors, and not just because of inclement weather. My hubby works in the local hospital. He’s in catering and, at the beginning of the first lockdown he was still working but was relatively safe from the virus as he was mainly working in the kitchen then all of a sudden his hours completely dried up and he didn’t work again till January this year. When he went back his role changed and he found himself on the frontline having to visit wards and, inevitably, at some point during February he had to work on a covid positive ward. As you might imagine, that didn’t end well. This virus is so virulent that he didn’t really stand much chance against it and he succumbed. Luckily, being on the frontline meant that he’d received his first vaccination so his symptoms were very mild, in fact, he only really knew he’d got it because he got a positive result on a routine lateral flow test that he was taking twice a week. This was then confirmed with a pcr test. So, we entered our first ten day isolation.

During this time we did everything we were supposed to do – we slept in separate bedrooms, used separate toilets and kept our distance as much as possible, which is tricky unless you live in a mansion! He was fine, he had a couple of days when he cleared his throat constantly (and I mean constantly – if I hadn’t known he was ill, I’d have thought about banishing him from the house) and he was more tired than usual but other than that he had no real illness and continued with his usual exercise and housework routine. It was a real relief when we got to the end of the isolation and could go out for a walk. We headed to Kingsbury Water Park and, oh my goodness it felt good to be out and further away from home than the end of the garden! It was a gorgeous day too – hubby was in short sleeves and even I was warm enough without a coat.

On the Monday and Tuesday after our isolation finished we had the remainder of our double glazing replaced and had our back door replaced with French doors. We’d had to rearrange this from the previous week because we obviously couldn’t put the guys at risk.

I just love how the new French doors have opened out the kitchen, almost bringing the garden inside. I can’t wait to be able to throw them open when it’s warm enough to do so.

Whilst the guys were here I coughed a couple of times, but not enough to make me think anything was amiss, especially given that we were outside of our isolation period. However, over the next few days I felt worse and worse. With hindsight, I think I was in denial. I knew that there was no way I could’ve caught anything in the normal way because, other than that walk in the park where we didn’t go near anyone, I hadn’t left the house. I was considering options such as some germs having come into the house on a delivery or in a food delivery or even a new allergy. I just didn’t think it could be covid because we were out of the isolation period before I showed even the mildest of symptoms, I didn’t have a temperature and I’d also done three of hubby’s lateral flow tests, all of which had been negative. It wasn’t until my boss heard me coughing on a conference call (I’m still working from home) and made a comment about me definitely having it, that the penny dropped and I thought I’d better get tested.

I went on the government website to investigate how to go about getting tested and I found out that the testing centre that I’d have to go to was in an area that I don’t know and also the other side of spaghetti junction. Now this should’ve been more proof to me that I wasn’t well because I didn’t feel able to drive there, especially not round spaghetti junction, and normally I’d do that without a second thought. I really had brain fog and didn’t feel safe to drive so I opted to have the test posted out to me. It arrived the next day, I did the test and struggled down to the priority postbox (which is allowed) but I was still expecting a negative result. You can imagine my reaction the next day when I got both a text and an email telling me I’d tested positive!

After the initial shock, it was actually a relief to know why I’d been feeling so utterly pants for the previous few days. I thought I was turning into a complete pathetic wimp, but, phew, I wasn’t! I had a proper reason to have felt ill. I feel a bit stupid now for not taking any time off sick because I really didn’t feel well enough to be working, but the stubbornness in me wouldn’t let me give in to it! Thankfully I don’t seem to have set myself back and, apart from a slight cough which can apparently linger for some weeks and a bit more fatigue than usual, I’m back to normal now. I’m glad that I was on the mend by the time I got my positive result because I think I’d have been concerned that I might be one of the unlucky ones who ends up seriously ill, or worse, otherwise.

For anyone in the UK, I have a couple of tips. First of all, as mentioned above, you can get a home test if you don’t feel up to getting to a testing centre – I wasn’t aware of this before. I would also recommend getting a test if you feel unwell, even if you don’t have the usual symptoms. I had the cough although it wasn’t a hacking cough as I imagined it would be, but I didn’t have a temperature and the change to smell/taste wasn’t as obvious as other people have reported, in fact I’m still questioning whether that happened at all. My sense of smell certainly didn’t change (I work in the same room as the cats’ litter trays – twice a day, I would’ve known!) but I did have some cornflakes one day which left a really odd taste and I had a can of Pepsi Max cherry one day and I realised I could taste the Pepsi but not the cherry! Finally, if you are unfortunate enough to test positive, be prepared to be bombarded by NHS Test and Trace! They will text and email you pretty much daily and they will call you multiple times too. I understand that they’re doing their job trying to limit the spread of the virus and I was lucky in that I was starting to feel better by the time they called because I’d been in denial, but if I’d have still been feeling how I’d felt a few days earlier, the last thing in the world I would’ve wanted to do would be answer their millions of questions on a half hour phone call. Oh, and I’d also take lateral flow test results with a pinch of salt. Hubby’s test showed an accurate positive result, but I got three negatives when I was definitely positive for at least two of them. I find it concerning that this is what the government is relying on to keep us safe as schools and businesses start to go back.

Anyway, moving on from covid to more positive news. I have been crocheting a lot over the past few weeks (with a slight break when I didn’t have the energy). I’m currently part way through two separate CALs (crochet-alongs). Firstly I’m doing the Picnic on the Beach CAL by Coastal Crochet which has a new instalment released every Friday. I’m part way through week three of it now and I’m loving how it’s turning out.

Whilst I’m waiting for each instalment on Fridays I decided to start a blanket for which I bought the yarn ages ago. It was a CAL but I’m only just catching up now. It’s the Scheepjes histoire naturelle blanket and I’m doing it in the mineralogy colour way. It’s quite tricky, there are loads of new stitches but they provide great video tutorials so it’s easy enough to learn.

Today I decided it was high time I dragged myself into the garden to do some summer prep. It was still pretty cold out there so I decided to closet myself in the greenhouse and sow lots of lovely seeds.

I sowed Russian Giant sunflowers, Pacino Gold sunflowers, cosmos Dazzler, zinnia Orange King, sweetpeas …

… and tomato maskotka.

On my way back in, I couldn’t resist snapping a pic of my daffodils tête-à-tête. They won’t last much longer but I’m hoping the weather will allow me to go out and enjoy them in the meantime.

When I came back in I made some lunch and wandered into the living room to eat it and found this propped up against my Chilly bottle.

I’d been so concerned about getting my card and present to my Mum whilst I was in isolation that I completely forgot that our lovely furry girls normally get me a card. Well, ok, I know it’s from their Dad really but I’m sure they would if they could!

Right, I need to get off and do some more crochet before I have to go and collect hubby from work so I’ll finish here. I think I’ve probably waffled on for long enough anyway. Hopefully next week it’ll be warm enough to find some Six on Saturday photos.

Have a great week all and stay safe!

Six on Saturday 27th February

It looks so nice outside, the sun’s shining bright and people walking past our house aren’t all togged up in hats and scarves. Unfortunately we’re still in self isolation until midnight tonight so we can’t go for a walk to soak up the sun, but, we can go in the garden. It’s still a bit chilly and damp for me to be tempted to do any actual gardening but I am gearing up for it. I can feel the enthusiasm creeping back in!

I suspect my first point will feature in many Sixes this week. Daffodils! Finally the first of them have opened out so we can see their beautiful faces.

Isn’t that just a photo of pure joy? I just love love LOVE daffodils and everything they stand for! As far as I’m concerned, the only downside to daffodils is that they’re poisonous to cats so I can’t fill our house with vases and vases of their beautiful yellowness! Even the water that they’re kept in becomes poisonous to cats as I found out to my dismay when our pussy cat Willow drank it some years ago. Willow’s not with us anymore (not because of the daff incident) but I still feel guilty that drinking the water made her poorly. Daffs must be really poisonous because the water literally made a reappearance within a matter of minutes, if not seconds.

Speaking of our feline friends …..

….. this one doesn’t belong to us (our girls are house cats) but he (we think) visits our garden every day and he’s learnt to trust us and happily strolls up for head rubs and fuss. He does have an owner (he wears a collar) and is obviously well cared for because his fur is always well groomed but he seems to enjoy our garden. We’re animal lovers so we do encourage wildlife to visit our garden whenever we can.

According to Monty Don, you should be able to organise your garden and its eco-system so that it all supports itself and you should have minimal issues with pests because the birds will eat the lily beetle larvae and the ladybirds will eat the aphids etc. etc. However, despite the aforementioned black cat’s best efforts, squirrels are far too quick and clever to be caught, which means they just carry on carrying on with their daily business largely unfettered.

This is evidenced in the above photo. All week, from my home office, I’ve been watching a squirrel diligently gathering grass and carrying it off to next door’s jungle presumably to build a drey. I was hoping it was doing me a favour by clearing all the dead fronds to save me a job, but, no! It’s been busily decimating my festuca intense grasses. Cheeky squirrel! It’s a good job he’s cute. Hopefully the grasses will recover and we’ll see baby squirrels soon.

Last weekend I did do a little bit of actual gardening until it started raining.

I repotted my blueberry bush. Luckily I had some ericaceous compost leftover from last year in the shed. It’s showing signs of regrowth this week so I’m hopeful that I might get lots of antioxidant rich blueberries in a few months.

I took delivery of three raspberry canes last week and I planted them in our raised bed and now I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I tried to grow raspberries a couple of years ago and they just died on me. Someone told me they don’t like to be planted too deep so I’ve planted these ones just enough to cover their roots. Someone else told me that cutting the canes to fifteen centimetres after they’re planted can encourage off shoots so I’ve hedged my bets and cut two of them but left one as it was when it arrived. I really hope I get some raspberries this year.

Finally for this week, is a little bit of cuteness! This Harry Potter meerkat has been keeping watch over my sempervivum pot for a couple of years. You can see in the second photo what the pot looked like when I bought it. More than half of the plants didn’t make it through last winter and the survivors looked a bit sad in the original big pot, so I decided to repot it in my wicker sheep.

That’s that for this week. I’m off to check out other Sixes now at the Propagator’s blog and after that I may go and wander round the garden dreaming of tomorrow’s freedom!