Dear Readers, as I walked around the Sunshine Garden Centre in Bounds Green yesterday, my thoughts turned to the act of faith that is involved in gardening, and particularly in planting things. Every autumn, I plant some bulbs in the hope that they will come up in the spring, and that I will be there to see them. The planning that’s involved, the vision in my head (that never quite matches what actually happens) and the idea of the future all seem to me to give us a delusion of control that is comforting and uplifting, even if it isn’t actually true. The bulb may get eaten by squirrels, we might get run down by the proverbial bus, our house might be compulsorily purchased for HS2 and yet we still carry on, throwing our dreams into the future. We keep our fingers crossed, put the effort in, and sometimes we are rewarded, sometimes now. I think that gardening is a lesson in perseverance and humility, and it always exercises my creative muscle like almost nothing else.
I have two focuses (focii?) for my purchasing today. One is for the shady area around the pond, where I’m going to plant some candelabra primulas, having seen a spectacular display of them at Compton Acres gardens in Poole when I was a child, although I can’t see any mention of them on their website. I’m going to plant some grape hyacinths in the area as well, as they’ll hopefully provide some cover for the frogs, and if they’re invasive I don’t mind. I am a sucker for new varieties, hence the ‘Night Eyes’ and the ‘Grape Ice’ in the photo above, but I suspect that the good old-fashioned blue Armeniacum muscari will do best. Somewhere in this area I planted some lily of the valley as well, but goodness only knows where. I’ll have to wait until they pop up (or don’t).
I also could resist some more of the Sicilian honey garlic (Nectascordum siculum). I note that the good folk at the bulb company have rebranded the plant as ‘honey lily’. Maybe the ‘garlic’ bit is putting people off. It was my favourite plant of last year, once I’d worked out what the hell it was, having forgotten that I’d planted it.
And in the south-facing front garden, I’m going all guns blazing for crocuses. They’ll have to be in pots, as there’s only a narrow strip of soil which is completely taken up with buddleia and lavender, but at least the early bees will get something. I may well get a few more packets once I’ve got these in and have worked out how many spare pots I have, as they are so cheerful and punch well above their weight in terms of attractiveness to pollinators. I’m trying to extend the planting season from February through April, so let’s see how we get on. I am sometimes raided by squirrels at the front of the house as well as the back, but I think they prefer tulips so maybe they’ll toddle on and annoy someone who is planting them.
Anyhow, lovelies, I wanted to finish this post with a few words about my lovely friend J. I normally visit the garden centre with her, and she often shops for plants for her Mum – we usually spend a few minutes while J rings her Mum to confer on the correct colours for the cyclamen, or which variety of pansies to buy. But J’s Mum spent her 84th birthday in hospice on Saturday and if you have a few minutes to just wish her well in your heart, or say a quick prayer if that is what you do, I am sure that it will help. We are all held in a net of connections, both in ‘real life’ and virtually these days, and those moments of kindness and support are what help to keep the darkness out.
And good luck with your gardening! Let me know if you have plans for the spring, even if it’s just a pot on the windowsill. Every little helps.