Bulbs planted: another 264
Plants purchased: 0
Sycamore leaves collected: 6243
Worms accidentally guillotined: 200 or so
I've been anguished over bulbs after having seen the tulips by Bloms Bulbs at Chelsea this year and vowing I would have them for myself. It was only after 6 months of drooling over their catalogue that I noticed the price tag of £7.50 for a pack of ten tulips. This stopped me right in my tracks. The upwardly mobile side of me (some might say shallow) was attracted by the statement on the website that said that Blom's are suppliers to Europe's finest stately homes. At last, a touch of class for Clapton, I said. Unfortunately, after endless nights agonising over Tulipa Jan Reus and wondering how I could justify it all in a recession, I allowed myself to purchase just thirty bulbs.
There is something about bulb planting time. The nights draw in and this is our last chance to be outdoors. Planting bulbs feels like a final fling of connection between the cycle of life and decay; handling bare earth lays down the foundations of the new shoots of next year. Bulbs signify the signs of life at winter's end: the gold of the first crocus that promises the passing of harder times and the first sign of thaw. Here, autumn's damp has long since sent the reggae blasters indoors. In November, I am the only one still outside, the sharpness of the cold on my hands, the song of the robin in the tree, a thin golden sunset framed by the trees.
These primaeval instincts to plant, sow and divide were not going to be satisfied by thirty bulbs. I then went on a kind of bulb binge, buying job lots of cheap ones from DIY stores. Colour scheme went out of the window. I chose the tulips from Bloms after hours of deliberation, settling for succession planting of pink, soft white and the darkest red verging on black. At B&Q, I loaded the trolley with bargain bags of more tulips, fritillaria and an iris mixed that included yellow (normally banned around here, daffodils and crocus being the exception). Everything was stuffed into the ground in a frenzy. The other thing about the act of planting was forgetting where all the other bulbs were from last year and splicing through them with the bulb planter. In this way, you can ensure I always have gaps to fill and thus feel justified in buying more plants. I also managed to decapitate a couple of hundred worms. I think I mentioned not being a very good organic gardener before.
The final mix is a combination of Bloms, JP Parkers, Spaldings (free for joining their blogger club and sticking the logo on here), Homebase and B&Q. It's a kind of sliding scale of the social ladder of bulbs.. I'm waiting to see if the Bloms ones really perform better in the spring or whether we can all rest easily knowing that spending £9.99 on a pack of 100 will do the job just as well.
|Chelsea Flower Show, 2012|