indoor flowers

The paperwhite narcissus in the bulb vase is now in full flower. As a single plant it’s not massively impressive, but nice to see, anyway.

The second batch of forsythia is now fully out, and I cut a third batch which is in the cool front room, to be ready when the second batch starts to drop.

Upstairs, the amaryllis in the bathroom is sadly just about over. It never lasts long, but is a splendid post-Christmas treat.

paperwhite narcissus


forsythia blossom

garden bits

A frost this morning, making delicate patterns on the cyclamen leaves. The winter-flowering clematis is unaffected of course, but I’m a bit worried for the camelia, as the buds are entering a sensitive stage.

cyclamen leaves


clematis flowers


camellia bud

not a brilliant week, so far

Last weekend, Mum went into hospital with very low blood oxygen (88%), which after investigation turned out to be due to fluid on her lungs. After three days on supplementary oxygen, she came out yesterday, but it’s unclear if the problem has been resolved.

Monday saw the start of roofers working next door – Rupert and Abby are having their roof entirely replaced. I don’t think mine needs doing (I rather hope not, at a cost of over £5,000!) – my suspicion is that theirs got upset when the previous owners converted the attic. Much loud banging and use of power tools with noise travelling down the walls – though one of the younger roofers was just cute enough to be worth occasionally watching, even swaddled up against the winter weather.

However, the front shared chimney was in a state. After a couple of discussions with Rupert and the senior roofing guy (who says he’s a former structural engineer), we decided that as neither of us uses the fireplaces this chimney serves, it should be reduced in height by seven courses and capped off. Dodgy /fallen out-of-use TV aerials to be removed, of course. My half of this work is several hundred unexpected pounds …

marmalade marathon

Day one of a three-day marmalade marathon! It has to be spread out, as my biggest mixing bowl only just holds 4 litres plus peel plus pith to soak overnight. And my big muslin square seems to have vanished! But my grandmother often used a pillowcase as a jellybag … so I’ve done likewise (after putting it through the washing machine, with no soap powder!)

24 Seville Oranages, 5 lemons


Bowl of zest, juice, water


pillowcase as jellybag

sign of spring

I’ve been off Facebook for three weeks or so, and avoiding contact – a bad depressive episode has floored me. I’m now starting to poke my head above the parapet again, rather cautiously.

It’s one of my personal rituals to bring forsythia indoors on New Year’s Day: I’ve been doing it for over 30 years now. This morning, the first buds opened, bringing a sense of moving forward towards spring. Upstairs, the amaryllis flowers have opened on the bathroom windowsill. I’m pleased with this one – it’s the 7th year its blossomed for me.

Quarter of an hour in the garden this afternoon – the first time this year it hasn’t been frozen solid! Thecages over the kale and chard, which had been flattened by snow, have been sorted out. I’ve also planted (more in hope than expectation) some byzantine gladioli that I got last spring – they’re supposed to need to be frosted, so here’s hoping!

forsythia flowers opening


amaryllis flower

still chilly

It continues to be most exceedingly cold – I’ve lit the stove almost every evening. There are still one or two tiny patches of snow left over from 28th December, and today has settled to being foggy with a very hard frost riming the garden plants.

I spent much of the morning setting up “Ring” doorbell and chimes, though I won’t actually install the doorbell until an angle bracket for it arrives.

clematis blossoms in a hard frost


The very last remains of the couple of inches of snow we had a week ago (28, 29, 30th December). The daytime temperature has been barely above freezing, though the snow melted where it was in direct sunlight in the middle of the day. The forecast is for daytime maximum temperatures of 2 or 3 C for the next week.

I’m actually glad of it. We haven’t had a proper prolonged frost for two or three years, and I suspect that’s why there have been so many garden pests for the past 18 months, Hopefully, this will reduce the slug and aphid population!

last remaining snow, in half-barrel.