Instant Lift

22nd January

Almost a year ago I ordered some new fruit trees to replace the ones killed by deer before we had new deer proof fencing put around our orchard and vegetable plot. A few days before Christmas I got a message that my new plants would be delivered during the next few weeks, and here they are!

It’s Christmas in January! ©Christina Hollis, 2021

Planting trees is an investment in the future. Fruit trees—especially apples—are beautiful all the year round. Their bold winter framework is followed by gorgeous flowers, and later by delicious fruit. When this box was delivered, it was like getting a late Christmas present!

Winter is the ideal time to plant bare-rooted fruit trees. The weather this year has been far from perfect but I finally got them all in.

It will be a couple of years before these young apple, pear, and plum trees produce any fruit, but there was also a bundle of autumn-fruiting raspberry canes in this parcel. They will grow fast enough this year to give us some fruit from late summer onwards. I can’t wait!

12th January 2021: Spring Really Is On Its Way!

© Christina Hollis, 2021

Look what I found in the hedge this morning—catkins! If that isn’t a sign that spring will soon be here, I don’t know what is.

We had some new deer-proof fencing put in last year, which meant we had to uproot a big colony of snowdrops. They were only a few feet from the boundary, and while the fence-builders were good and careful workers, they couldn’t have guaranteed the flowers wouldn’t get mangled.

It was safer to move the snowdrops, so Martyn dug them up with a huge amount of the surrounding soil and moved them out of danger. To be honest I’d forgotten about them until the first shoots appeared at Christmas!

© Christina Hollis, 2021

There’s an interesting story behind these bulbs. They’re descended from a clump of twenty rescued many years ago from Sir Stanley White’s old home, Hollywood House. The building had become offices, and a new car park was needed exactly where these snowdrops were growing. The caretaker asked if I’d like to give them a home. I have no idea what the variety is as Sir Stanley White was a great plant collector who bought all sorts of things from the old Giant Snowdrop Company, which was in Chalford, Gloucestershire.

Despite all the recent frost and snow, these snowdrops have kept going, and they’re now out in full flower. They’ll be going back to their original site as soon as they have gone over.

I hope you enjoyed these latest signs of spring!

5th January 2021

christmas gift boxes under fir tree
Goodbye to all that (but only until Christmas 2021)…
Photo by Oleg Zaicev on

The first week back to work after Christmas is always hard. Everywhere looks bare now that the decorations have come down, it’s a long time until payday, days are short, nights are long, and the weather has been foul. To cap it all, the whole country has been put into lockdown again because of Covid.

My PhD research is on a depressing topic and it’s in danger of dragging me down so I decided to create this page as an antidote to the world situation in general, and my Seasonal Affective Disorder in particular.

The idea is that if I come across any heartwarming or cheerful things to give us all hope, I’ll post them on here. If there’s anything that works for you, let me know and I’ll try to include it in a future post.

shallow focus photo of european robin bird
Photo by Martin Dickson on

Here are a couple of things to get the party started. Everybody loves robins, and Tweet of the Day on BBC Radio Four has featured their songs several times. Brett Westwood presents their autumn song here, while everybody’s favourite Sir David Attenborough plays their winter song while giving some likely reasons why Robins feature on so many Christmas cards here.

Lenten Roses (Helleborus Orientalis) seed themselves all around my garden, and usually flower in the weeks before Easter (the clue is in the name!). This one made an early appearance in time for New Year’s Day, and it’s lucky I took this photo when I did. We had an inch of snow that night, and the poor flowers were flattened with the weight of it! Luckily they rose again with the thaw.

What keeps your spirits up in lockdown? Let me know here, and I’ll include the most uplifting ideas in future posts.