End of Month View: March 2013

Oh goodness me, I wish I hadn’t just looked at my End Of Month View for March 2012. It has made me realise how very delayed everything is this year. It’s still very cold and we are no nearer to any signs of the Spring warmth. It was unseasonably warm in March 2012 and the plants and flowers shed their Winter hibernation and burst forth in full splendor. The other day, when the temperature was just above zero, the weatherman happily reminded us that it was 20C on the same day in 2012. No wonder the plants are not doing their thing yet.

For example, the Kerria was in full bloom, covered in yellow pom-poms, but today there are only a few feeble little buds trying to break through.

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The Montana Elizabeth Clematis was a mass of leaves and pink buds. This year I have had to hunt for any sign of life, in fact, I almost thought it had died, so was cheered to find a few leaves – all is not lost.

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I can’t even start to show you the blue Anemones, the Pieris in flower, or any tiny Violas as there are none – yet.

However, on a more cheerful note, the Forget-me-nots are beginning to flower and will soon spread some pretty colour in the flower beds.

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About a month ago, with the help of a friend, we managed to reduce the ivy at the bottom of the garden down to the height of the wall. Actually, he did the majority of the work, I just chopped it up and put it in the garden waste wheelie bin. The intention was to then have a go at the ivy to the left of the garden, but the weather has been so appalling we are yet to get out there again and tackle the next stage. It is amazing the extra light that is in the garden now and how much more there eventually will be once it is all down to wall height. You can see from the photo below how much needs to be removed.

DSC_0502 (800x533)There are a few more signs of Spring, albeit slow. The Forsythia is covered in tight yellow buds with just a few beginning to open out into flower. The extra light it is receiving now has clearly made a difference.

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I think the Spirea Firelight is also benefitting from no longer being stuck in the shade of the ivy. I love the bronze leaves on this plant that appear in Spring, it’s a back to front plant, because the colours are what you would expect to see in the Autumn.

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And the Ribes is dripping in pink buds. During the Summer, when it does absolutely nothing, the thought is always that I should remove it but then when Spring arrives and it flowers I am reminded how pretty it can be, despite the unfortunate cat-like smell that follows in a few more weeks.

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The other plants that seem to be doing well, despite the cold weather, are the Peony (I do hope it flowers this year) and the Erysimum. The foxglove is looking as though it’s going to do something soon too.

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The front garden is slightly ahead of the rear, this is because it is drier, lighter and receives a little more sun, when it comes out. The tete-a-tete daffodils are a colourful welcome underneath the front window. They are totally unphased by the snow and icy cold days, but at the moment are the only daffodils in flower, all the others are still thinking about it.

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I have a number of pots of Spring plants, including a variety of tulips, down the side patio, all placed so that I can see them from the kitchen window. Some of the pots I had to cover with chicken wire because there was a little critter that kept digging up the tulip bulbs. It was suggest it could have been a squirrel. Anyway the bulbs seem undeterred and if I look carefully between the tulip leaves I can see some flowers beginning to shoot up. They should be pink and white striped and apricot tulips so will be lovely to look at whilst washing up.

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Fingers crossed that the April End of Month view will have a lot more colour and feel of “Spring has arrived”. I expect like me you are desperately in need of some warmth and sunshine. This EOMV is a few days early, as they are usually posted on the last day of the month, so at the end of the month please hop over to Helen’s blog The Patient Gardener who hosts this meme. There you will find a number of posts from other gardeners with an update of how their gardens are faring this time of the year.

Bowel Cancer update:

It’s felt good to get back into writing gardening posts, the last few have been about the bowel cancer I have been recently diagnosed with. As a brief update, the lung specialist confirmed that it has not spread to my lungs, which is a huge relief as you can imagine, not only for me but for my family and friends. The next step is for a CT guided biopsy on Wednesday (3 April) on the enlarge lymph node deep in my abdomen, which I am told is about the size of a hen’s egg. You would think I could feel something that size wouldn’t you? Once they have that result which is the final piece of the jigsaw, I will be told what treatment/surgery I have ahead of me. The waiting is horrendous, but made much better knowing that my lungs are ok. Now, all I need are some good weather days to make it possible to get out into the garden while I can.

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Patience, Green Tea and Turmeric


Patience has never been my strong point, add that to being an inveterate worrier, this last week has been difficult to say the least.

On Saturday, I received a copy of the Consultant’s letter to my GP. Seeing it in black and white completely freaked me out, especially the detailed setting out of the CT scan findings. The words and phraseology coupled with some of the content that I don’t recall from the meeting made a very tough letter to read. Along with the fact the weather was awful (again), Saturday was a very weepy day, and I didn’t get out into the garden or write a gardening post which I had promised myself either.

The Consultant’s letter, dated 14 March, also said that he had requested urgent referrals to “…further investigate the histology of both the gastro-hepatic lymph node and lung nodules…”. You would think under those circumstances that an appointment might have come through early in the week wouldn’t you? Perhaps my idea of urgent is not the same as mine. I called the Colorectal Macmillan nurse several times this week asking her to chase things up.

Being at work this week has been a panacea, it has made me forget about the cancer and I felt that life was back to normal again, whatever normal is. I have told my work colleagues and being able to speak about it has released the pressure building up inside me. Everyone has been so kind and supportive, although there have been one or two, understandably, who have just nodded as they walk past not knowing what to say. I was surprised however at the number of people who said “You are so brave”. I don’t feel there is anything brave about this at all, I am just getting on with my life and my job until surgery or chemo commences. The quote in the picture above sums it all up really.

Reading the Beating Bowel Cancer patient forum I saw that a lot of people swear by an anti-cancer diet consisting of plenty of green tea, vegetable curries – turmeric is supposed to have excellent anti-cancer properties and absolutely no sugar. That means no biscuits, cakes or hot-cross buns!

Fruit, especially berries for breakfast, with ground linseeds and sugar free cereals, especially oats
Vegetables soup or salad for lunch, with whole grain carbs
Veg curry and brown rice for tea.
Choose something from the brassicas, mushroom and onion families every day.

Occasionally eat:
Meat as a treat once or twice a week
Oily fish twice a week
Eggs once a week
Use soya products instead of dairy as often as you can.

Do NOT eat:
sugar – including fructose in drinks / sweets etc
white flour / bread / cakes / biscuits / croissants etc
white rice / pasta
hydrogenated fats / margarines etc
bacon or any deli meats.

I am drinking at least 3 cups of green tea a day and slowly acquiring the taste and the other day I made lashings of vegetable curry. Not surprisingly, my kitchen utensils have gone yellow – turmeric has great staining power. Anyway, the whole point of this is that I intend to do anything possible to fight “Eric the Invader” and hope he hates curry and will vacate my body.

I got home last night (Thursday) to a message left on the house phone with an appointment today (Friday) at 2:00 p.m. I spoke to the x-ray department this morning and have been told that the Consultants have looked at the CT scan and decided they need to do an ultra sound first to determine if it is possible to undertake a needle biopsy. If they can’t then it will have to be done another way – yet another wait for an appointment!

I am seeing the Lung Consultant on Tuesday at 10:15 a.m. It is going to be at least another week or two from then because they have to have their Multi Disciplinary Meetings to review all the findings. I was told that I probably have had bowel cancer for a few years and it is slow growing so another few weeks won’t make any difference… well I have news for you medical profession!

It makes a lot of difference to me!

Related items:

Coming Face to Face with Eric

The First of Many Highs and Lows