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!

Humanity Rises

I feel compelled to say, probably for the millionth time in the last two weeks, what a weird, crazy time we’re living through.

I know you all know that already (unless you’ve just returned from a three month sojourn to Mars) but I just feel the need to acknowledge how odd it all is. It’s as akin to war time as I ever want to get.

As I stepped out of the door this lunchtime to go for my daily allowance of exercise, a big, grey, unmarked plane went over.

I didn’t quite manage to get my phone out quickly enough to get a closer photo, but it had four engines and wasn’t a jumbo and didn’t look quite big enough to be an A380 so I think it was an A340 and I’m pretty sure it was a military plane. The only regular four engined plane that goes into Birmingham airport is the twice daily Emirates A380 from Dubai, and it wasn’t that. The Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham is regularly used for wounded soldiers coming back from their postings abroad, so we do occasionally see military planes. I wondered whether they’re flying back military personnel who may have succumbed to corona virus, or whether they’re flying home troops to back up the army here who are already on stand-by, should they be needed, or, could they be repatriating people who’ve been stranded abroad? Whatever the reason, seeing that made me feel even more like we’re living in war time, although I’m obviously very grateful not to have the Blitz going on around us.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised and had my faith in humanity restored over the past few days, not least by the rousing applause that echoed up and down our street this evening at 8pm as most households stood on their doorsteps to clap, whoop and generally show their appreciation for all the NHS staff who are so bravely and resolutely continuing with their roles in order to beat this foe and keep our country safe.

My hubby works for the NHS. He’s not on the front line, but he is working hard to keep that front line going, as well as all the patients, corona virus related or not!

This is now his essential work equipment.

I also have a very good friend who is a physio who is being redeployed during this crisis to wherever needs her most, and a cousin who I assume is in the same boat, although I haven’t spoken to him.

I have friends and family who are teachers who are risking their health to look after the children of key workers so that they can continue doing their fantastic work to keep the country safe and functioning.

I have friends who are part of the half a million who have offered to volunteer for the NHS to get us through this crisis. I always thought that, these days, we weren’t made of as good stuff as all those brave men and women who voluntarily signed up to fight for and work for our country back in the last century when our security and safety was threatened, but I’m proud and humbled to find that, although this isn’t a war, there are people, in their hundreds of thousands, who are selfless and compassionate enough to put themselves out there for the benefit of society.

For all these people that I know, and all the others that I don’t know who are keeping us going, I applauded you earlier, and I applaud you again. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

Social media gets a really bad write up sometimes, and it isn’t always a good thing, but throughout this crisis so far, it’s played a big part in keeping me sane. Without my WhatsApp groups, Facebook and Instagram, I would be feeling a whole load more isolated than I do. Sitting in our spare room staring at a laptop in front of a wall all day, when my phone vibrates with a message from a work colleague or friend or family member, it lifts my spirits to know that someone’s thinking of me and that I’m not alone.

Of course, also reminding me that I’m not alone are two furry things who are delighted to have company 24/7 at the moment.

Excuse the lack of make up! There’s really no point – I’ll have beautiful skin when all this is over!

They provide their own particular challenges, or Tinkerbell does anyway.

Yesterday I was on the phone to my health insurance (bad back – thanks for asking!) when Tinkerbell decided to sit on my laptop and somehow managed to make the laptop read out the email that was open in a voice a la C3P0, much to the amusement of the lady on the other end of the phone! I didn’t even know my laptop could do that! I still don’t know how it does it other than via feline bottom!

Today said feline walked across the keyboard and managed to turn it into a French keyboard! This, thanks to Google, I do now know how to fix – luckily it understood ‘how do I fiy mx kexboard’ or something to that effect!

Anyway, my browsing of social media has, again, thrown up lots of corona virus memes which have amused me. Now, before anyone shoots me, I know that this is not a laughing matter, but I do think a bit of light relief is essential for us all to get through this and come out the other side with our sanity. So, here you go, my pick of the best to finish with.

And the best of all ….

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!