Saturday, 18 February 2012

Beating the February blues

In April 2012 I shall have been writing my blog for five years.  Blogging is just built into the fabric of my life now.  If I haven't blogged for a few days I begin to feel a bit itchy, not quite guilty but certainly aware that there is something due, a bit like when you know you need to phone a friend and haven't got round to it.

Five years of writing means you can look back.  Mostly I look back at the garden and the end of month view posts.  But you can also look back at what you were doing and how you were feeling at the same time last year, and the year before and the year before that.  I have been looking back today and the pattern is clear as day: in February I get grumpy.

It is the lack of light and warmth I think.  It hasn't been a hard winter up here in North Wales so far but it still seems a long time since it was light in the evening and warm enough to sit outside.  I have had enough of a sky like a dustbin lid and enough of mud and murk.  The garden remains closed down so there is not much scope for distracting myself with seed sowing and cutting taking, although I might have a go at root cuttings, following the excellent advice here in An Artist's Garden.  I have a fancy to have a go at echinacea.

So today I have been looking for things to distract myself with, inside and out.

Outside there was the great snowdrop count.  I did this last year for the third year in a row.  This year's count produced only eighty or so new snowdrops but taught me something I had not known.

All the established snowdrop areas continued to increase.


There were two areas though where I lost snowdrops.  Here snowdrops had been planted at the base of the wall to the kitchen garden and much of the area against the wall had been in darkness because we stacked some slates against it.  Clearly depriving the bulbs of light as they died down was not a good idea.  Someone with more scientific horticultural knowledge than I have might be able to tell me why all the bulbs in this area have failed to show this year.  Have they gone for good?  I suppose so.  I shall split the larger clumps in other areas and hope to fill the gap and take great care not to let it happen again.


I admired hellebores.


I began to feel quite hopeful about the earliest of the daffodils.  I even got as far as thinking I might do some gardening outside and went for my gloves and secateurs to start tidying the sedums and the valerian but as I did so the sky darkened, the wind blew cold and hard and the scudding cloud dumped a load of icy rain on my head.

So I came inside.  I made cheese scones and ate two of them.  I sorted out my gardening books and made a pile of some which had originally come from charity shops so they could go back to the charity shop in order that there might be room for some more on the shelves.  I put all  my Anna Pavord books side by side, alongside Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto and Mirabel Osler and Monty Don and all the books on growing vegetables and stood back to admire how lovely it all looked.  I contemplated how very much I needed to sort out paperwork and sewing stuff and garden records going back to houses I no longer live in. With determination and resolution, I retired downstairs for another cheese scone.

Off to the pub in a little while.  This seems to be how to beat the February blues: snowdrops, hellebores, cheese scones, a little light sorting out, the pub or a glass of wine.  What works for you?

47 comments:

  1. February is definitely the toughest month I agree - love your remedy! I enjoy all the things you do plus lighting the wood burner and making the most delicious gingerbread I found on The Start-up Wife blog. Yum!

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    1. Gingerbread sounds as if it should be added to the list!

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  2. A useful plant in February is St John's Wort. Its products and preparations have sufficient guile to lift many a mood and if this doesn't work there is always your blog to remind us to get up, get out, come in and make cheese scones. You may be grumpy but I wish I could sound so buoyant even when I am in a good mood. Your snowdrop bulbs, weakened by lack of sunlight, may have been eaten by mice. Easy for them to dig as well, maybe, under the slate. I guess a snowdrop bulb is their equivalent of a cheese scone.

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    1. Well I don't mind too much the idea of the snowdrop as cheese scone for mice! Seems more palatable than they died as a result of my ignorance.

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  3. Oh, this year nothing seems to work for me. I have never felt so confined as I do this winter, in town, with houses on each side and across the street. The only view of the hills is at the back, where there is only one window, and that out of the way, so I am not only grumpy, but whining as well. I have just done a blog post as a way of cheering myself (I will be six years in July) and I have to say it is not as uplifting as yours. I would go to the pub too, but besides the foul weather both Charles and I have vile coughs.....I played the piano for an hour and a half this morning, and that seemed to help and its just about happy hour now, so time to get the Orange Brandy out.

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    1. I have never heard of Orange Brandy but sounds an interesting addition to the armoury!

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  4. It's pouring rain here and the February greys and blues have set in. I long to light a fire and curl up to fall asleep on the couch, book in hand. Why don't I do that right now?

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    1. Sounds perfect! I am contemplating a short walk but could be distracted by your alternative.

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  5. Your cheese scones would do it for me - and I'm having a glass of red right now. Still snow on the ground here, but we do have sunny days. I'm visiting you from Hildred's blog.

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    1. Hi and welcome to the blog! A glass of red will be added to the list.

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  6. It's good to know that I'm not the only one struggling with the short, grey days. I love coming to your blog - regardless of the season - for your peaceful writing style and the beautiful photos - even in the dead of winter, there is always something green to see, and I miss that so much here in this concrete jungle that is Seoul, especially in the dead of winter when the little green we do have is brown and dormant. This winter has been especially hard for me as I have come from over 11 years of sunny, fairly warm winters in the American Southwest, and I am still struggling to adjust. Wish we had a fireplace - the high-rise apartment building doesn't provide much in the way of coziness...

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    1. A fireplace does help but you can still bring on the cheese scones and the glass of red wine treatment Caroline.

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  7. I absolutely agree! February is crabbiness personified for us in what feels like the eternal rain abode called Seattle. Curling up with a hop cuppa ginger tea and a good read works for me. Shopping is the next happy option, of course.

    The cheese scones sound terrific, especially on a dark, gloomy day.

    P.S. The snowdrops are beautiful!

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  8. Here in similarly rainy Vancouver, a blustery wind made the raindrops seem to be falling horizontally. Now that I'm home, I'm going to bake cheese scones and watch an episode of Midsomer Murders with my cat.

    An Irish coffee would not come amiss, either. :)

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    1. Midsomer Murders and an Irish coffee? Unusual but compelling alternative. I might have two of the coffees perhaps and a snooze! Would obviously include the cheese scones and the cat!

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  9. Hi, first comment, this blog looks interesting, am looking forward to browsing current posts and devouring new ones.

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    1. HI Mark and welcome to the blog. Good to meet you.

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  10. I do like Suman's phrase above "crabbiness personified" - I shall have to remember that one!
    Glad you enjoyed the root cuttings post Elizabeth, and thank you for the link. Nothing really works to relive the "blech" that is February, but, its nearly over and in March we will be rushed off our feet.
    Beautiful hellebore, and your snowdrops are making really significant clumps and are looking good
    K

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    1. I haven't got to the echinacea yet Karen but it is on my list for the week!

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  11. Reading your lovely blog always helps! And I agree about February, but like you, the sight of snowdrops always delights and the way daffodils tease, the promise of spring around the corner pulls me through.

    Good to catch up. Five years of blogging, eh? How far we've all come...

    xx

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    1. Seems amazing that is five years doesn't it!

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  12. I become "itchy" to get outside in February, thinking there must be SOMETHING I could do out there with the frozen ground. Instead I find myself reading blogs such as yours with lovely photos and that settles me - for a while.

    You and others have inspired me to plant snowdrops this year; they are lovely.

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    1. Snowdrops are beautiful and lift the spirits. Definitely to be recommended.

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  13. Writing my blog has helped with my winter blues. I also try to get some exercise. Swimming always makes me feel better. But best of all is sowing some early seeds such as sweet pea or broad beans. Seeing them germinate gives me great pleasure.

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    1. I must sow my sweetpeas. That is a great idea.

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  14. Your idea has inspired a poem, I have dedicated it to you (on my blog.

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    1. Thank you. How lovely. Off over for a read.

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  15. Ah yes; beating the winter blues with snowdrop whites. And, of course, the hint of daffodils; a natural for Wales.

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  16. How consoling to meet another February grump. People say its the shortest month but I think they fib. Seems to go on for ever in a lardy lethargy. Thanks for brightening with your views, posts and pics.

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    1. I agree entirely about the lardy lethargy. Am striving to get out it right now.

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  17. This post made me look back to see how long I have been blogging. I missed my anniversary which was late January and its four years now. Like you blogging is part of my life now and I get a niggle at the back of my brain if I havent blogged for a while.

    I am curious about your hellebore picture, I have an image of you lying in the mud!!

    I need some sunshine. Though this winter hasnt been as hard as the last two I think actually I cope better with the snow as at least there is an obvious physical reason why I can't do things and the snow can be pretty. This grey, murky stuff is really getting me down

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    1. The camera was much lower down than I was for the hellebore picture! And yes about the grey and murk!

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  18. Its lovely to see the Spring bulbs peeping up.
    You have some wonderful flowers there.
    Five years is a very long time in the blogging world.
    I I must have started just after you.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

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    1. It is long time I suppose! That must be why it feels like a truly ingrained habit!

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  19. Snowdrops would work very well. You look at them individually and they seem delicate. You look at acres of them in places where they grow well and take them to be tough. You try to grow them where they don't want to be and they are as unwilling as any exotic. I came across a little clump (clump!) of four yesterday - and was impressed. That's about all 'round here' can give rise to.

    Cheese scones would be good too - except I don't think they'd be very animating. I'd just sit down, eat my way through them - then make some more!

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    1. It is fascinating that snowdrops have such a mind of their own. I have been trying to get them established in various places here and some work, some don't work so well. They also migrate of their own accord!

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  20. It's a pleasure to just look at your photographs.I live in Maine.In my nature guide, February is titled "Survival." (January was "Endurance:)" I am making terrariums, which I haven't done since the 70s. That cheers me up,plus walking and getting lost in a good movie. Also reading Trollope.But I am tired of winter. Everything here is still grey,white,black and brown.

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    1. I rather like the idea of making a terrarium! I remember doing that with my mother as a child and being totally fascinated. Also Trollope!

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  21. "Dustbin lid" - what a perfect description. I'm grumpy too, though snowdrops and hellebores are certainly helping, as is the sight of crocosmias and geums sending up fresh growth. I love cheese scones but try not to make them as I end up eating way more than just 3. I made walnut bread, which is strangely comforting, and to filling to eat too much of. Perfect with chutney and strong chees though. And wine is always good. But oh, how I long for a sunny day!

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    1. I love walnut bread and haven't made it in ages. It's on the list!

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  22. That's a beautiful hellebore. I too have had enough of February but have been able to garden a bit today - not too much as I'm suffering from some sort of mild virus which is leaving me distinctly lacking in energy. So now it's knitting and reading time - and come to think of it I have some cheese scones in the freezer!

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  23. I am planning to sow my sweetpeas on Thursday which looks like the first day I will have time. That will make me feel things are on the move.

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  24. Your February cures are just the same as mine!

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  25. Well, the WI very jolly skittles group, and today's cheese scones and lemon cake helped rather a lot! Chin up, it's going to be Spring very soon.....

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  26. Yes, you are right. Not long to go. Might have to go out and look at the daffodil snouts again!

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