Reasons to be Cheerful

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It’s been a tough winter and our thoughts are with those who have experienced sadness, loss and hardship during this latest phase of the pandemic. But we think we can see light at the end of the tunnel. We know that some people are anxious about getting the vaccine and are not sure about it, but we think the vaccine roll out is a ‘reason to be hopeful’.  The Octopus Urban Growing team are really happy to be taking up the vaccine when it has been offered to them.

When I was asked to write this ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ article I wondered how to pitch it because of what we have all gone through together in this past year. I thought it would be really difficult to do, but in fact it’s been a joy to put together this collection of photos. My colleagues at Octopus have shared their photos and experiences with me and I am so happy to share them with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as we have. 

If you have any Reason to be Cheerful photos that you would like to share, send them to Caroline, and we will put them on the Octopus Website for others to enjoy. Email Caroline at Don’t forget to add a brief caption to your photo telling us why it made you cheerful.

Yes, most of our ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ photos are nature based – what else would you expect from the Urban Growing team?!


The Joy of Roses

Here we are at the time of year when early roses are beginning to bloom and there is the promise of roses to come as we move from spring to summer. In February, for Valentine’s Day, no doubt hundreds if not thousands of roses were given to loved ones.  Red Roses are most commonly associated with passion, love and romance. Some roses can also mean secrecy or confidentiality. Victorians used to consider Yellow Roses a symbol of dying love, however, these are now thought of as a symbol of unbridled and un-circumstantial friendship.

Considering the yellow rose as a nod to friendship, here's my colleague Julie’s four-word challenge - can you create an optimistic poem that you can send to a friend in which you feature the following four words? 

Sanguine: optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation.

Buoyant: cheerful

Handsome: having an attractive, well-proportioned, and imposing appearance suggestive of health and strength.

Rose-coloured: idealistic viewpoint

If anyone wants to share their poem, e mail them to Julie at and we will put them on our website.

Cheerful Robins

Cheerful Robins spotted having a snack on the viaduct bridge in Hampstead Heath by my colleague Anita when she was out walking her dog Alice. My colleague Fran says Anita should have sent in a photo of her dog Alice too, as Alice is a lovely gently hound who always makes Fran cheerful. 

Happy Birds

A robin and redwing distracting me from working. A cheerful distraction indeed.

The Pleasure of Bulbs

We were really excited to see the first bulb (a little Iris) poke its head up out of the 'potluck' bulbs we planted in November at the Community Plant Nursery. By the way, all we mean by potluck is that we mixes up the bulbs when planting so we could have surprises in the spring. 

Chilling and Relaxing

At the end of a hard day over a hot computer my colleague Tom love’s being able to look out of his window and enjoy a beautiful sunset.

Trees and Birdsong

On the 2nd February my colleague Patrick took his daily exercise by working to Clerkenwell Green. He says I went for a late afternoon walk to clear my head and noticed how it was still fairly light even though it was after 4pm. I looked up at the trees and thought before I know it, there will be an explosion of thousands of leaves. I could also hear birds singing to each other from opposite sides of the Green. It was a nice reminder that the darkest days of the toughest winter of my life (so far!) are behind us.’

The scent of Islington

Daphne odora aureomarginata. Try saying that quickly! It’s one of my favourite early flowering scented shrubs. I have been smelling it for years in Archway. See if you can go out for a walk and find it. You will probably smell it before you see it. There are lots of hidden gems, plants that delight the senses, all across Islington. See how many you can spot and name as you go out for a daily walk. If you need help identifying them e mail a picture to Fran ( and she will do her best to let you know what it is.

Blossom Beauty

Yes we are in North London and not Japan, where the season of Cherry Blossom is a major event each year! There are plans afoot to plant more cherry trees in our parks so we too can have our own Islington cherry blossom festival. Wouldn’t that be nice. Definitely a reason to be cheerful.

Cherry blossom is one of the first signs of spring. As it appears its like the world around us brightens up. It reminds us that nature is ever changing

Why not get involved with the National Trust’s Blossom Watch - it's great fun. 

Urban Connection to the Countryside

My quirky colleague Fran’s young family member is living life on a sheep farm in the wild hills of Cumbria (that’s up North for us Londoners). Fran says her relative is beautiful but its really the expression of the sheep, that makes this photo special for her. This is a wise knowing sheep.

I think my colleague Fran would like to keep sheep, chickens, rabbits and goats in a community garden in Islington. Do we think this is possible ? What are your thoughts? Email Fran is hoping to a least start with bee hives at one community garden.  

If you have any Reason to be Cheerful photos that you would like to share don't forget to send them to Caroline!


Caroline Humphries,  Plant Cultivator at the Community Plant Nursery