Although the warm patches over the Easter holidays were lovely, and it was exciting watching growth in the garden accelerate, I was quite glad when the weather turned and everything slowed down again. At one point plants were appearing so fast I could barely keep up, and I was worried the tulips would be over before I could really enjoy them.
But I needn’t have worried, they are all pacing themselves nicely.
You’ll have to forgive the somewhat repetitive nature of my posts at the moment – it’s partly record-keeping (nice to have a visual reminder of what the garden can do when you are staring at a muddy puddle in the middle of the winter), and partly the thrill of having a seemingly endless supply of tulips outside the back door.
The photographs above are of a small mixed bunch of tulips – Princess Irene (the orange one) and Rococo (the crazy red and green parrot) – mixed with a few sprigs cut from a nameless euphorbia and some grape hyacinths. Having used an old golden syrup tin for a bunch of white roses, sweet peas and fennel flowers last summer (you can see it here), I was determined to do something similar with a treacle tin.
Above is a similar mix but without the grape hyacinths. I enjoy picking little posies for the kitchen and other parts of the house as I find that they are easy to doctor day-by-day: when one flower fades I can pluck it out and pop something fresh into the mix. Below is the same bunch a couple of days later, revitalised with the addition of a few bluebells which I tucked into the gaps created as the parrot tulip began its dramatic collapse.
Although I have filled the garden with enough plants to keep me in cut something or other all year round, my garden is not large enough to contain the kind of abundance that larger displays would require. And greedy, dissatisfied gardener that I am, despite having plenty of lovely plants to tend and admire, I still dream of being able to cut great armfuls of flowers and greenery for every room in the house.
For height and drama I usually have to exercise a little patience and wait for the Crocosmia, which will be out in August, if not a little sooner. But by then I’ve usually succumbed to the gaudy charms of supermarket gladioli – why do I always forget to plant any of my own, especially as there are so many wonderful colours? More for The List.
But last weekend I decided to cut the drooping, storm-bashed euphorbia at the bottom of the garden. It has been in flower since February, providing bulk and greenery through the dreary winter months. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of bringing it in before, except, I suppose, that I had tried it before and it hadn’t really worked – it flopped tragically and smelt decidedly iffy. Anyway, this time I followed Sarah Raven’s advice about preparing the stems by dipping them in hot water, just off the boil. To stabilise them in the vase I used my mum’s brilliant trick of scrunching a piece of clear cellophane into the bottom. The euphorbia lasted about four days before smelling rank; the tulips, all picked last Friday and Saturday are all still up there on the mantelpiece doing their splendid thing. Apart from this little lot, that is …
They’ve been putting on a spectacular performance on the kitchen table – I changed the water this morning and I think they’ll last another day or two. Better sign off now, Martha is having a birthday party tomorrow (though her birthday was back at the beginning of April) and I have pirate stuff to find/make/curse over and a cake to bake.