Monday, 2 January 2012

My garden is waking up

I have had a long run of migraines lately, quite common for me, but nevertheless exhausting when it happens. I often have more than a week at the time when I have migraines coming and going almost every day and I deal with it by sleeping. Sleeping and sleeping. Often 12-14-15 hours at the time, then I go up to have a bit to eat, maybe watch a bit of TV if I can stomach it (thank goodness for TV recorders!), then usually followed by a stint on my computer with emails and blogging and then back to bed for another 8-10 hours of sleep.

This way I can, with the help of good migraine medication, manage to survive having around 10-14 migraine attacks per month. But it seriously messes up my routine! After a long run of attack, especially in the winter, I have no idea whether it is night or day when I wake up if it is dark outside. It might say 5:30 on my alarm clock, but is it 5:30 am or pm?? Well, my alarm clock isn’t that advanced….and I have been thinking for years that I should get myself a 24 hour clock so at least I know, but then again, what difference does it make? My cat has a cat flap and can come and go as he pleases, he always has dried cat food to eat if he gets hungry, and anyway, he usually sleeps when I sleep, and is awake when I am awake, whatever the time is, so he’s perfect that way! The only thing that is important for me to wake up to is my many hospital appointments, and sometimes I have to do without my sleep and just drag my feet to my hospital appointment, as cancelling isn’t really an option unless I really, really have to.

This past week, being Christmas holiday, I have had no appointments, so having a spell of migraine again I have literarily slept when I felt like it, and as a consequence – and here comes the point in telling you all this – there is a reason, getting there now; I was out in my garden at 9 o’clock this morning, picking up dead leaves and taking photos! I can’t remember last time I have done any gardening at 9 in the morning!! Being outside at this time of day was not because I was up so early, it was because I still had not gone to bed :-) I slept all day yesterday, was up all night, watched the sun rise on a crisp, sunny, wonderful January morning, and I thought to myself – when will I next time get the opportunity to take photos in morning sunshine in January?? So out I went, with a thick jumper, a coat, a scarf and thick gloves. I soon peeled off both scarf and gloves, it wasn’t actually that cold, and I am so happy I decided to go out and have a look around. From this photo my garden looks pretty dormant and as if not much is happening, but look closer and the picture is quite different.

These are Sedum Xenox, lovely plants that flower in September. They have blue-green spring foliage that matures to rich burgundy. The flowers are bright pink and ‘Xenox’ is a great choice for beds and borders and excellent as cut flowers. It attracts butterflies and bees. I always pinch off the tips of my sedums in April/May, and get many more plants every year to give away. It needs full sun to get the darker colour in the late summer, or else it will stay green. January is very early for this great plant to emerge.

Here is another plant on its way up, one of my three hellebores. All three are emerging, but this one is always the first one. I love hellebores! They are such a splash of colour in my garden on a time of year when you don’t really expect much besides daffodils and crocuses. My hellebores are a bit special, one of them flowers twice a year, in July/August too! And when it does, it produces pink flowers, not maroon – never heard about that before, have you got any in your garden that flowers twice, with different colours for winter and summer? It has happened many years in a row, so it’s not been a one-off :-)

And here you can see one of the flowers just about to peek through the leaves, as you can see, this will be a maroon flower, as they usually are in the winter.

And here is another maroon hellebore, a bit more open but still far away from showing its full glory.

My cyclamens are still going strong, I have them in all colours you can imagine, this one is particularly pretty I think.

And here is a close-up of the same one, pretty, isn’t it? 

 So, January in my London garden is not as drab as it might seem at first glance; here are lots going on and I haven’t even showed you any of the crocuses and daffodils emerging, that will be for another post I think. Whenever I go out in my garden, my cat follows me outside, and he will lie on the bench or sit on the table waiting for me. Today I think he found it a bit too cold to lie down and he came up to me several times when I was sitting on my stool taking photographs and wanted to lie in my lap. Not easy when you try to lean over the flowerbeds to take a macro-shot….

And when I was walking around collecting leaves he would eagerly run to the back door every time I went to empty the bucket I use to collect leaves. I think he hoped that we would finally go inside. My cat is rather funny that way, he wants to be where I am, but he doesn’t want to be outside in the cold. Dilemma for him :-) And one other funny thing he does; despite him always using the cat flap whenever he wants to go in or out, when I am outside and seem to be on my way in, he will stand on the step, waiting for me to open the door for him, refusing to use the cat flap! They are strange those cats, aren’t they!

I was outside for a good hour today, my head was clear for the first time in 8 days, it was lovely and fresh outside and when I came back inside I had breakfast and went to bed and slept to 5 pm. Yeah, still not into a ‘normal’ routine, but tomorrow I have an appointment with my haematologist and I also need to stop by my favourite phlebotomist (not really... OK, he is quite sweet, I just don’t enjoy being treated like a pin cushion once a week…), so tomorrow I will have to get up and out of the house at a reasonable time. I think this calls for a round up for tonight, but I will be back with more photos for you soon. Until next time, take care :-)


  1. Sorry to hear you've had migraines. My sister has them, so I (sort of) know what you're going through. It is exciting to go out in the garden and see things starting to wake up. I don't grow hellebores (I think our climate is too hot/dry for them here), but your twice blooming hellebore sounds so very unusual. I wonder if you could propagate it - maybe it will make you millions! ;) Seriously, you could ask Carolyn at and she would know!

  2. Helene, I am so sorry to hear that you are plagued by those horrible migraine attacks! Glad you could go outside and find some joy in your garden. What a nice surprise that despite the garden looks pretty much asleep on the first glance you found that it is starting to wake up already. I love, love, love hellebores and your pink cyclamen is very beautiful, too. By the way, your cat seems to be quite a character and very beautiful on top of that! Hope you feel better soon!

  3. This is a great time to see the structure in a garden. Yours look with the curved path and the arch. it doesn't take long for the garden to wake! Beautiful photos. hope you're feeling better, Helene.

  4. Thank you all for your kind comments and well wishes.
    Holley: I’d love to make millions on my unusual hellebore! I am afraid that if I ask Carolyn she will tell me how difficult they are to propagate from seed, as they don’t come true, and you can get just about anything when propagating that way. Cuttings in sterile environment is probably the only way…but I’ll ask :-)
    Christina: My cat is a bit of a character! He is good company, and after 10 years together we understand each other perfectly.
    Janet: I redesigned my garden last autumn to get rid of my tiny lawn which was more of a nuisance than anything else; instead I opted for bigger beds and just a small, curved gravelled path. This year I am continuing the work by putting more plants in the beds as it is a bit sparse here and there. Can’t wait to get started!

  5. Who needs grass anyway, helen? We did away with ours. It makes more space for plants!

  6. I am sorry you have to deal with migraines. I know how terrible they are... sending healing thoughts to you ((hugs))
    Here in Florida I don't have the waking up in the garden, at least not on the grand scale your garden has, and I must confess, I do miss it (on rare occasions) like when reading you post ;)
    oh, and your cat is so handsome!! :-)

  7. Helene, I am so sorry that you suffer from migraine headaches. I had bouts of them in my early 20's so know of the pain of them. Fortunately mine disappeared once I gave birth to a child. Odd I think.

    All of your pictures are beautiful, but I especially like your cyclamens.

    Wishing you everything wonderful in this new year.

  8. Wow! How nice! I see how many interesting plants there are in your garden. And, BTW, the pics are just awesome! Thanks a lot for sharing.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.