You are going to hate me when you’re stuck out in the cold, hands frozen, knees caked with clarty mud and the bitter rainwater trickling down the inevitable gap between coat and scarf. I don’t care, since most of you don’t know where I live. You should be able to tell in spring though, since mine is the frontage with a decent display of riotous bulbs.
Arum pictum, berries
I was unable to resist the libidinous pageant of packets in supermarkets, budget shops and garden centres. I too, will be less keen on my nasty habits, when I’m crouched over the borders in November, planting tulips. It’s hard to forgive a species that requires contact with the soil so close to winter. The blooms would have to be very special indeed; ah well, I guess that they are. Most tulips will perform once, then disappear. If you have the time and energy, dig up the bulbs once the foliage has died down. Ripen them in a sunny, dry place and replant in autumn. Otherwise, treat them like a bouquet, enjoy them while they last and start from scratch next year.
Nicandra physalodes (shoo fly plant), flower & seed pods
Narcissi can go in now and should return in future; not the posh species, in my experience. Plant deeply, to encourage strong stems able to withstand wind, gales and storms whose sole intent and purpose is to decimate your spring show. Buy cheap packs from Lidl and Aldi, provided that there’s nothing slippery, sweaty, slimy nor mouldy therein. A few fancy varieties at the front, will make a splash with your cash. Send them into the ground in groups. Please don’t throw down the bulbs and plant where they fall, since you’ll lose those you strew with too much vigour and those that you inter safely, will look measly.
Helianthus (perennial sunflower) “Lemon Queen”
Allium “Red Mohican” came from the flower show and has been a source of excitement since April. Towering sprouts at head height, turned into balls of unusual blossom with a two toned moho haircut. Online bulbs were advertised by a national retailer, so I dragged my spouse to the car, leaving his tea to puddle on his desk and drip from the hem of his trousers. We made a handbrake turn to a halt by the front door and hot footed inside, to demand supplies from a bewildered assistant. A little further research showed that it’s Dobies, not Dobbies who have cornered the market. Poot. Still, I felt obliged to get armfuls of beautiful bronze promise, some badged with untruthful photographs of improbable flowers, others in brown paper bags. I advised Attila to put the names on sacks of his choice but on returning home, I found myself unable to read his writing and neither could he. My scrawl was no better. I put this down to the thrill of stoking up for a magnificent shindig in the future. If you forgive me for encouraging garden guddling in the worst conditions, your regard for me may creep towards grudging respect. Eventually.