16 Mar 2020

Bursting into life

Bumblebee foraging on purple pansy
Good things in small packages - sitting in the sun this morning, watching this bumblebee forage.

This past week the garden has been a welcome relief from all the doom and gloom of the coronavirus outbreak (currently 22 cases in my home borough of Camden). It’s been really heartening to see plants bursting into life, a good distraction from the scary turmoil in the outside world.

The gardens that I look after here have always provided a place of peace, calm and sanctuary for me - yes, even with slugs, aphids, and foxes - and I’m grateful that I’m able to work outside in the fresh air, listen to birdsong, watch plants grow and think about the seasons ahead. (Especially important as I live in a second floor flat and am otherwise surrounded by bricks, mortar and concrete. Urban living!)

It also feels very relevant to have a space to grow food in these uncertain times and the weather feels warm enough to start sowing.  I’ve started several more trays of micro leaves - lettuce, herbs, salad leaves - on my balcony and this week will sow tomatoes and chillies indoors plus peas, carrots, spinach and more broad beans outside.

Broad beans starting to show white flowers

Speaking of broad beans, the plants that I sowed into modules last November and planted out in December are now flowering! Having never overwintered broad beans before, I don’t know if this is unusual or early thanks to a mild winter, but it’s pretty thrilling. Such are the simple things that please me.

Looking down onto the sprouting centre of purple sprouting broccoli
Ridiculously excited at the sight of those purple buds

A neighbour kindly gave me a couple of brassicas last summer. Unsure of exactly what they were, I thought they would look pretty among the perennials in the car park garden. Turns out that they’re Purple Sprouting Broccoli - quite small as they were probably in modules for too long, but they’re definitely sprouting.

Early white blossom on plum tree
The plum trees are the first to blossom, but the pears are not far behind

As is the blossom on the plum tree.  I noticed this fragile flower as I wandered the garden in a fairly forceful wind; I don’t reckon its chances much but at least there will be more blossom to follow, this time I hope in sunshine. The weather this week looks very promising. (And bumblebees are foraging, see top photo taken this morning. That bee eventually buzzed off towards the plum blossom.)

Paved cul-de-sac after being tidied
It doesn't look much now but watch this space!
And, finally, some good/bad/good news.  Last weekend I cleaned up an unused south facing paved space thinking it would be perfect for growing sun loving veg. The next day I spotted several empty but used Veg Trugs outside a closed down day care centre and was given permission by the owners to take them for my new space.  Hurrah! I thought. But the following day someone had stolen the best ones, leaving only those that had seen much better days. I won’t repeat what I said at the time, suffice to say that my faith in human nature plummeted.

But, undeterred, as is my nature, I contacted Veg Trug. They had already very kindly offered to donate new liners for the abandoned trugs - I explained what had happened and asked whether they would let me have a discount on buying a couple of new Veg Trugs? (I babysit to fund the gardens here.) Within the hour, the answer was yes. And, sometime today, two beautiful new Veg Trugs will be delivered for my new community space.

But that’s not all.  Friends went to collect the remaining old Veg Trugs and their carpenter son has said he’ll replace and rebuild the trugs for me. This is why I love living where I do, the community here can be so supportive and kind. Two very important traits in today’s world.

I hope that story has left you all with some optimism for the times we live in. Safe to say that during this virus pandemic, I am concerned about my family and friends, particularly as they're so far away. So I'm wishing you all good health, staying safe and virus free; remember to wash your hands, take vitamin C, think of the people around you and grow some greens, even if that's just pea shoots in a pot on your doorstep or balcony.

Caro xx


  1. This has to be the most uplifting post I've read today. The first three photos are icing on this cake.Thanks so much.

    Be well.

    1. Aww, I'm really pleased to hear that, Bobbie Jean. I'm so grateful to be able to focus on the good stuff right now - I'm finding reading the news somewhat stressful. Sorry about the ghastly pics of the old veg trugs; hopefully it will be a better story when they're repaired and filled with good things to eat!

  2. You left me smiling Caro, such a lovely story in amongst the doom and gloom. Being well over 75, I feel I am going to be rather isolated but a young neighbour came round straight away after the broadcast yesterday and offered all sorts of help, which I thought was so wonderful. I think this will bring out the best in most people. Stay safe and well.

    1. Thank you, Pauline, it's lovely to hear that I brightened your day for a moment. I will keep checking back to your blog to reassure myself that you've escaped this horrible virus. It's lovely to know you have kind neighbours, I think we'll all get through this by helping others - although there's been some very uncharitable behaviour in the supermarkets recently! Stay safe. x

  3. Lovely post and pictures. It's all looking and sounding good. Glad to see that the Veg Trug story had a happy ending.
    Thanks, and for you too. Take care. xx

    1. Thank you, Flighty. As usual, I now have to make the dream become reality! Luckily the weather looks good for the next week and it will be good to be outside. Let's hope we all get through the next few months safely. Stay safe and well. xx

  4. What an uplifting ending to a horrible story!!! Oh, just loved your pics, especially that beautiful bumble. I'm thrilled to see so many of my seeds up, the greenhouse is lovely and warm during the day now. Thanks, and you stay safe too.xxx

    1. Yes, all's well that ends well. I'm hoping that whoever took those better Veg Trugs had them earmarked for a community garden - too optimistic, do you think? Anyway, moving on... Watching and photographing that bumble was definitely the highlight of my day, he stayed around foraging on those pansies for ages! I hadn't realised that they were such a bee magnet. It's quite terrifying to think that our little community of garden bloggers (amongst others) could be changed as a result of this virus so I really, really hope that we will all get through this and carry on to a healthy and enjoyable summer. Wishing good health to all your family. xxx

  5. Same to you and yours. Hugs.xxx


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