It’s the time of year when garden centres abandon horticulture for the glittering commercial opportunity that Christmas offers. For gardeners that are prepared to hold their nerve and ignore conventional planting times, there are often some brilliant bargains to be had. Last weekend I popped into our local nursery for some bulb fibre, only to find swathes of pansies and violas being sold off at half price. Except for a few spent flowers there was absolutely nothing amiss with the stock, so I liberated several trays and three pre-planted bowls. They are not the height of sophistication, but in my world taste goes out of the window the closer to Christmas I get. As I planted them out the scent of the flowers in the warm sunshine made me think of spring, when these pretty little blooms will really get into their stride.
Also on the markdown shelves were oodles of narcissi, hyacinths and tulips. Whilst it’s getting a little late for daffs, provided the bulbs are still firm and mould-free the worst that will happen is that they will flower a bit later than those that are already in the ground. Tulips are best planted once the weather turns colder, so are fine to be popped into pots through November and even into December.
The fact that garden centres need to clear their shelves for baubles and lights means bonny blooms for half the cash – which is all to the good as I contemplate the increasing length of my Christmas shopping list.