If ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing,’ this was the weekend to test it. The Gods of Weather put all their talents to display, often simultaneously, and gave us blue skies, blizzards, sunshine, 80mph gusts, demented yellow clouds, steady rainfall, the lot. I was outside for around 4 hours each day, but did I get I cold or wet? Heck no. I wore thick boots, jeans, waterproof trousers, two t-shirts, a jumper, a quilted jacket, a sailing jacket, a scarf, a lined woolly hat, and on my hands gardening gloves over marigolds over woollen gloves, and I was as toasty and dry as could be.
So… did I get those bulbs planted? Hang on a sec, here we’ve got the architect, inside the flat taking measurements for our renovations, now requesting to take photos of the rear elevation of the flat. That means rapid deforestation of the jungle of shrubs and saplings on the back green that have grown so close up to our bedroom window that it seems they are trying, like underdressed teenagers outside a nightclub, to actually get inside the building. So I went outside with the loppers and cleared a three-foot gap, then picked up the rubbish that had accumulated on the ground during the time the flat was lived in by students. The things I found! The usual plant pots, crockery, barbecues, planks of wood and plastic bags, but also a decent tarpaulin, a mouldy folding seat, an unopened bag of grass seed, and a spade in near-perfect condition. I think I also found every snail in the universe.
Finally, back to the front garden. So, did I get the bulbs in? Hang on a sec, first we have a rhodadendron root bole right where I want to plant the bulbs. So with trowel, crowbar, fork and sheer bloody-mindedness I got that root bole out of the ground. Then the blizzards came…
So, did I get the bulbs in? Hang on a sec, it’s now 5pm, it’s snowing, and I’ve had nothing to eat since breakfast. I hot-footed it to Victor Hugo, and ordered a late lunch.
Sunday, and it’s raining. No matter, I’ve got my quadruple layers on, and I’m back in the garden. Now, you’ll recall that much of the soil in this garden has been under concrete paving slabs for the past twenty years, and elsewhere it is under gravel, and as a result it is sticky, compressed, full of little pebbles, and devoid of organic matter. There is quite a lot of sand covering the soil too, which they’d used as a base for the paving slabs. I’d previously thought I’d have a job getting rid of all the sand, but now saw that it was a blessing and could be mixed into the sticky soil to improve it. I also had five bags of excellent well rotted horse manure courtesy of the obliging Emily.
Having turned the manure over the soil, I now had a small bed ready for the bulbs. I also prepared a large terracotta pot using compost from a bag I found under the hedge.
So, did I get the bulbs in? YES!
Using the handheld bulb planter that Earth Mother urged me to buy (she was right, everyone should have one), and liberally dousing the planting holes with bone meal and slow release plant food, I planted my lifted white tulips and white narcissi from last year, plus some dwarf tulips T. greigii ‘Toronto’ and some Late Single ‘Menton’ that I had spotted going begging on the shelves of Homebase when I nipped in to buy the bulb planter. I also planted a small pot of Galanthus nivalis because I saw them going begging too; a happy garden has to have snowdrops. The bed is only about the size of a kitchen table, but it’s enough for now. Doesn’t matter that the rest of the garden looks like a building site; this tiny rectangle is going to dazzle with bulbs.