It was British Prime Minister Harold Wilson who first said ‘a week is a long time in politics’. Almost sixty years later, his words have proved as sage now as then. Had Harold Wilson been a keen gardener, and I can find no evidence that he was, he would have found gardening no less of a roller-coaster ride. One minute there’s nothing doing, all quiet on the Western Front, and in a trice it’s actions stations, curtains up, tah-dah time.
Despite every disadvantage my spring bulb theatre is going to put on a show-stopping performance, bang on cue for the Bank Holiday. An all-star cast of tulips, hyacinths and daffodils, supported by a cheerful chorus of osteospermums, is about to hit all the right notes. I am quite astonished that it’s all come together after a lot of sub text-book gardening practices were employed, but that’s bulbs for you: they have a knack of compensating for human incompetence and the vagaries of the weather.
The tulip I am most enamoured of this season is called ‘Lasting Love’. It has oxblood-red, chalice-shaped flowers. The petals have a lustrous quality which makes them come alive in the sunshine, bringing out the richness of the red. The foliage, not usually worth writing home about when it comes to tulips, is attractively wavy. I have positioned ‘Lasting Love’ next to Euphorbia ‘Blackbrid’ – a match made in heaven. Next door, a partnership fashioned somewhere vastly less salubrious is Tropaeolum tricolor with Loropetalum ‘Ming Dynasty’. Please believe me when I tell you that this unfortunate coupling was not planned, but now it’s happened I don’t have the heart to tear them apart.
Last weekend, Martin The Garden Centre Man tempted me by waggling a new delivery of pale pink rhodohypoxis under my nose. Overlooking the lurid pink pots in which the nursery had supplied them, I could see their potential as subjects for a shallow bowl and purchased three potfulls. Having not grown these diminutive South African bulbs before I quickly researched and found out they favoured a moist, acidic, gritty compost. They are possibly a little too particular in their tastes to live for long in my care, but I am excited to see how I get on.
Given a choice of unpredictable occupations, I’d choose gardening over politics any time. It’s taken me a week to write this post, in which time the general election has gathered pace, there has been another terrorist arrested in London and the pound has finally started to rally against the dollar. Meanwhile, in the garden, hostas have unfurled, pleiones have bloomed and pak choi has been planted in the vegetable garden. Weeks like that can last as long as they like.