Part of our garden as seen from near the house. This photo was taken on Sunday afternoon when it was still quite breezy. We had great plans for our garden when we first moved in nine years ago but because of a number of reasons we have had to delay doing most of the work. Maybe, once Richard is retired and not travelling away from home so much, we can get on with it!
I am surprised at how quickly this year is speeding past. Christmas was a bit of a non-event – I can’t remember much about it at all – and since then the days and weeks have merged together into a bit of a blur and here we are at the beginning of March!
We seem to have been alternating between days of sun and days of gloom and/or rain recently. Friday began with frost and continued with bright sunshine and white clouds all day. Elinor has yet another streaming, heavy cold and took the day off college. Richard has started taking every Friday off work as he has been given extra pre-retirement leave. I went with him to Bungay where he called in at the barber’s shop for a haircut while I went to the bank and then to the post office. We then drove to Harleston which is just over the border into Norfolk, where we bought an enormous 25 litre container of de-ionised water for my iron, steam mop and steam cleaner.
My Witch-hazel in a pot by the front-door. Cynthia Reyes asked me to describe the scent of the flowers. I have had great difficulty trying to think of an adjective to describe the scent. It isn’t a floral smell at all and only smells slightly like the smell of the astringent made from the leaves and bark. I then remembered a book I loved reading as a girl and also read to both my daughters when they were small – ‘The Children of Green Knowe’ by Lucy M Boston. In it someone says Witch-hazel flowers smell like something to eat and I think that is a good description. I would say that the scent is like that of warm, spicy yeast buns or bread.
After lunch I went into the garden and stayed out there until just after 5.30 pm! Heaven! I have been doing a little garden tidying whenever I have had a moment and so far I have reduced the size of a few perennial herbs and taken out completely a lot of tired and woody plants from my herb garden. When the chance of all frost has gone I will replace them with new ones. I took some cuttings from my elderly thyme last year so those will go in and there are some little seedling chive plants coming up in the wrong places which will be transplanted to the right places. Other herbs will be replaced when I get the opportunity. I tend not to grow perennial herbs from seed (in fact I haven’t grown anything from seed for a long time – lack of time mainly). I only usually need one plant of each herb so I buy them from the garden centre – I find taking cuttings from perennials easy if I need more. I love basil and one day will grow some more from seed along with parsley and other annuals. Meanwhile, supermarkets sell pots of annual herbs for cooking which can be re-potted and grown on and garden centres sell them quite cheaply too. I hope to get a drying cabinet to dry my herbs one day. Herbs attract so many lovely insects so I let them flower. Birds visit the herbs to eat the insects and the seeds too.
My rather sad-looking herb garden at the front of the house. I am hoping that by the summer it will be full of lush, green growth with mauve and cream and yellow flowers visited by bees and butterflies.
More recently I have been clearing weeds and moss from the paths and trimming the lawn edges back away from the paths. A tiring, back-breaking job but very satisfying because all looks so neat and tidy when it is done. I finished the job on Friday!
Stepping stones through the grass that we haven’t been able to cut since early autumn. The grass hasn’t stopped growing but the ground is too sodden to put a lawnmower on!
Path at the side of the house
I also cut right back an enormous Clematis Montana ‘Rubens’ which was not only growing well along its trellis but had spread across to the shed and was trying to smother it and was also growing in the other direction towards the greenhouse. I realise that this is the wrong time of year to prune Clematis Montana but I had attempted it last summer and failed miserably. It grew so fast because of all the rain we had had and any attempt at pruning seemed to encourage it to grow faster. It won’t flower this year I know, but Richard will be able to re-paint the shed and we have regained about 3′ x 10′ of garden!
The bald and diminished Clematis. Not a very professional job but I didn’t want to take any more away in case I killed it!
My mother got a lift to her church yesterday! I spoke to a lady about it a month ago and had almost given up on her remembering or doing anything about it. However, we have a result at last! I had begun to find that I was being expected to give other people lifts home as well. I don’t like to think of elderly people being stranded but it was adding quite a bit to my mileage and driving time and, well, who was taking them there? Couldn’t they take their passenger home again?
Snowdrops at the top of the bank of the front ditch.
Richard went back to see the clinician at the hospital two weeks ago and was given the bad news that he has osteoporosis. He should have been told before Christmas but the doctor in charge forgot and had also forgotten to arrange a meeting with the surgeon at Addenbrooke’s hospital. (Addenbrookes is a hospital in Cambridge affiliated with Cambridge University. It specialises in neurosurgery, transplants and cancer treatments among others). Richard was a little disappointed. His GP (General Practitioner/local doctor) has been comforting and supportive however, and Richard feels a little more positive about it all.
A vole hole – we have lots of these.
A mole hill – we have lots of these too!
Prosaically, I have had a sore and bleeding nose for the past month and I had it cauterized on Thursday with silver nitrate. I have also a dry patch in my throat which may be connected to the nose infection and may be something else. The GP thinks it may be burning from reflux acid and has doubled my prescription of gastro-inhibitor which I take against the side effects of ibruprofen etc! I know that I don’t get heartburn and told the GP so but he wants to rule it out as a cause of the throat problem so I have to take the tablets which have caused upset stomach! Life (and doctors) can be extremely tedious sometimes.
Bluebell leaves just emerging.
My sister, who is a paramedic and has recently got a degree from university which makes her a practitioner (she can now prescribe drugs and treatment), has been presented an award at work for leadership skills. I am very proud of her and the award is well deserved.
A single solitary Winter Aconite flower
My brother stayed the night with us on Wednesday and visited Mum on Thursday. He has obtained a transfer at work and starts his new job in three weeks time but still hasn’t got a buyer for his house. He has seen a new house he would love but is afraid he won’t be able to have it if he can’t sell his old house very soon.
Viburnum bodnantense flowers
Alice, my eldest daughter, still hasn’t got a full-time job, not through want of trying. She has the date of her Viva – the spoken part of her PhD – which will be on the 23rd April. She is nervous about it but it will be such a relief to get it all over and done with. She is very poor at the moment and I know is not eating enough. I sent her some money the other day but I realise it won’t go very far.
Rather stunted pink Hyacinths
Saturday was very gloomy and windy with occasional drizzle during the day which developed into rain by evening with very strong gusts of wind. I ironed for most of the day.
The corner pond
The front ditch that flows into the corner pond. We have ditches circling most of our garden – almost like a moat!
Sunday was very bright and sunny again but the wind was still strong. We went to our church at Rumburgh for Morning Prayer. Unfortunately, there were only five of us there including Maurice who took the service. We discussed everyone’s ill health – as one does! Our Rector has had his heart operation but there have been complications and he is still quite unwell; we pray for his speedy return to full health.
The big pond with its little island on which greylag geese nest each year.
The big pond – looking towards the house
I did some more tidying in the garden during Sunday afternoon. I had discovered some daffodil bulbs a couple of days ago that I had removed from a flowerbed last autumn because of over-crowding and then forgotten about. The poor things were trying to grow so I have planted them alongside one of our hedges. Fortunately they are late flowering bulbs and as tough as old boots so they should do well. I also tidied up lots of pots and tubs full of spring and summer bulbs that I had stored behind the greenhouse. They were a bit weed-covered and the voles/mice and birds had been having fun with some of them. Stinging nettles were starting to invade the area where the pots had been so I pulled quite a few out and will keep my eye on any new shoots appearing in the next few weeks. Nettles are easy to pull out at this time of year especially with our saturated soil – thick gloves are necessary though!
Elder leaves coming out
Today started with frost and clear skies but by mid-morning we had had a couple of showers of rain and the wind had picked up again so much that the top of my bird-table was blown off. It flew through the air and embedded itself in the lawn. I am glad no-one was in its path! Elinor went back to college today but only has classes during the morning on a Monday. I shopped in Bungay and just had time to put the groceries away and put some laundry in the washing machine before I had to return to Norwich to collect her. This afternoon we had hail, sleet and wet snow showers and then more sunshine. March has come in like a lion – will it go out like a lamb? The forecast is for cold nights and windy weather for the next few days and then warmer weather with the winds coming up from the Azores instead of from Canada for the weekend. We shall see!