Hope For the Future

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.

8 thoughts on “Hope For the Future

  1. Anne

    Spring has sprung here and we are waiting for rain. Nonetheless, there is a sense of hope and enthusiasm about so that once the soil softens enough for me to get a fork into it, I plan to scatter a lot of seeds around – and visit the nursery for seedlings.

  2. Claire

    I will keep my peppermint « multimentha » ( third winter on the window sill) .
    I have kept seeds from my flat leaves parsley and from the barley .( plan to grow barley during winter for the cat’s garden).
    I am not sure about next year, a pot on a window sill is a harsh environment…
    Simple pelargonium have surprised me this year. As my windows are facing different directions, I will experiment with new plants – suggestions welcome.

    1. Sharon

      I’ve found growing eg: salad leaves or stir-fry mixes in a trough in a sunny windowsill productive. The trough holds more compost and retains moisture better. The leaves being picked individually. No being bothered by White butterflies and eaten down to stalks either – for cruciferous leaves.
      This year we also tried cherry tomatoes in 10-12″ (25-30cm) pots in a south-facing windowsill – they’re still fruiting.
      Courgettes did quite well in similar sized pots, until they got a bit large and had to go out. Maybe in a bucket or so . . . And Very Well Fed, they’d fruit for longer?
      Otherwise the Morning Glories (same windowsill) have done very well and are still flowering in their original newspaper pots. The ground was full when time came for them to go out, so they stayed in!
      In north or east facing windowsills I’ve found African Violets do well too. An orchid seemed to enjoy a north and east facing window combo, but I’ve seen Phalenopsis flowering in south facing windowsills locally too. Not sure whether they’d repeat-flower there – you say you have windowsills facing in other directions so you could try moving them until they look happy.
      And there’s always Spider Plants – Chlorophytum. They don’t mind north/east/west, or even further back into the room. Get one of them happy and you’ll never want for houseplants!

      1. Bug Woman Post author

        You’ve been very busy, Sharon! I have two spider plants who are having lots of babies that I intend to pot up. What forgiving plants they are!

  3. Sharon

    So that’s what those aliums were, Honey Garlic! Thank you. I’d entirely forgotten I’d planted them, and they’ve long since been brown seedheads.
    We got more bulbs recently, and a Really Sturdy-Looking Bulb Planter. Now all I have to do is hope that recent rains have penetrated the grass areas (‘lawn’ being too deterministic a word) and get them in.
    Meanwhile the feral garlic bulbs, endemic locally, are lying thick as gravel in some places, so I’ve been trying to rake them up a bit. In other places they’re sticking up long, thin leaves, which I keep pulling off. I don’t want them in those other places – for all they made a very welcome addition to soups back in March-May this year. And for the pollinators, of course.


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