A weekend in the garden – finally!

I haven’t done a Six on Saturday for a couple of weeks, partly because the weather’s been so rubbish that I’ve barely been able to get out in the garden, and partly because due to said pants weather nothing’s really been happening out there other than weeds growing! I’ve also been speed crocheting a secret present which has taken up every spare moment, but is now almost finished (more on that when it’s been gifted).

However, despite a terrible weather forecast this weekend, I have managed to get out there in between showers and downpours. Yesterday I spent a bit of time in the greenhouse. I have lots of happy places, but one of them is definitely in my greenhouse with a compost filled table, some bits of paper (last year’s Gardeners’ World calendar) a trowel and some seeds.

I noticed in the week that something had started to eat my seedlings!!

How annnoying is that?! They’ve chewed my sunflowers, decimated my cosmos and absolutely obliterated my zinnias. I found the culprits – nestled underneath my seed trays were two snails and a slug! All three were swiftly disposed of down the end of the garden where they can eat weeds to their hearts’ content for all I care!

I do have some have intact seedlings/plants left and I decided that some of them were big enough to move to the new cold frame to start hardening off. First of all I had to remove the biggest herb Robert I think I’ve ever seen! This weed thrives in our garden, and especially, it would appear, likes the heat of the cold frame!

It would seem that the slimy things don’t like sweetpeas because they’re largely unscathed and three sunflowers look to be redeemable. I must remember to go out this evening to lower the lid.

Back in the greenhouse, I did some replacement sowing and some later seeds that needed doing. I sowed my petit pois in my raised bed a good couple of weeks ago, and absolutely nothing is happening! I don’t know if there’s any hope or if they’ve been eaten and/or dug up by animals but in case I don’t get any from the direct sown seeds, I sowed some in pots to transplant (hopefully) so I at least get some petit pois. I also sowed some more cosmos, because out of twenty that I sowed (most of which were growing nicely) I now only have three that haven’t been chewed! Then I decided it’s finally warm enough to sow my runner beans.

Then I potted up some pansies and begonias that have been patiently waiting for some time.

I did actually still have a couple of pansies in the pots which had managed to survive the winter. The begonias in the wheelbarrow are a yellow and orange mix again. If they turn out like last year’s did, then they’ll be beautiful all through the summer (if we ever get one) and into the autumn. I’ve ordered these from Thomson and Morgan the last couple of years because you don’t seem to be able to get yellow and orange from garden centres very often and they are just so pretty. I hope there are enough in the planter. I ordered fifteen, but a couple didn’t survive the post and three went in my hanging basket. We’ll see.

I decided to try something a bit different for my other hanging basket.

I bought this grass Nigrescens a few weeks ago intending to put it in one of Granny’s pots, but I changed my mind. I think it’ll be ok in here, and it’ll be nice to have something in there all year round. I can always pot it on if it gets too big.

Just before I headed in, I decided to go and dig up the euonymous that I noticed at the end of the garden. It was quite tricky to get up because it seemed to be in several pieces all surrounded by nettles and borage (work in progress!) but hopefully the bits I got will thrive.

Today I headed back out there not sure how long the rain would stay away, but apart from one brief shower, it stayed away until well into the afternoon.

Our garden can be quite daunting because there’s still so much to do, and I’ve found that it’s best to pick a small area or job and concentrate just on that, otherwise you run the risk of coming in feeling overwhelmed and a complete failure. Today I picked this area behind my birthday planter.

I think I did a pretty good job getting the weeds up. I’ve learnt not to be too precious with gardening. It’s never going to be perfect, so it’s best to just accept that from the get go. There were some giant stinging nettles that did their best to sabotage me. There were right in the corner behind the hydrangea, next to a holly bush and some brambles! A somewhat spiky area to tackle.

You can’t see the bramble, but I decided to leave it in the hopes that we might get some blackberries. If it gets too wild in the meantime I can always change my mind. You can just see on the left that the rhododendron is teasing me with pink flowers. Hopefully they’ll pop out soon. Bottom right is my much-loved eupatorium. It’s taking it’s time (as is everything else given the cold spring) but it’s slowly getting there.

Towards the back, in the middle is a new addition. My Mum gave me this grass from her garden when I saw her briefly at Granny’s funeral. Driving back from Surrey with it in the back of the car was like having someone dancing in a hula skirt in the boot all the way home! I’ve been trying to decide where to put it, and Mum said it needed somewhere where it can go crazy, so I settled on here. Hopefully it won’t mind the shade of next door’s jungle.

I made two discoveries in this area. One is a fern in the back corner. Hopefully it’ll grow nice and big.

The second has self seeded from a Juncus Spiralis grass in my birthday planter.

As you can see, I’ve dug this one up and potted it on to get a bit bigger before I decide where to put it. It’s also called corkscrew rush, and you can see why.

This is exactly the look I was aiming for when I practised curling my hair yesterday ready for my first proper night out out post lockdown in a couple of weeks. Nature does it much better than curling tongs!

Sticking with the self seeded plants, I decided to fill my new wall basket with beautiful self seeded cowslips.

Since the very first cowslip appeared at the end of the garden, we’ve had a few more appear each year. Good job I like them, but then, you probably can have too much of a good thing. I’m not there yet though. I’m going to put something floral on the bird table on the left but I haven’t decided what yet. Probably something trailing would be good.

It was somewhat muddy out there, given all the rain we’ve had recently. I was very grateful for two things: first, my rubber gardening gloves that you can see in the corkscrew photo. They were much better for pulling up wet weeds and scrabbling in mud than the fabric ones that get all soggy and second, my new doormat to stop our kitchen getting mud trailed through.

Two family members were very pleased when we came back inside.

They’re really not used to being on their own anymore since we’re nearly always at home in this new covid lifestyle. Now, I think I’ll go and do some more crochet and play with these lovely little girls. Hope everyone has a good week.

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!