It is late November now and this week I have been out in the garden planting new tulip bulbs – I want to bolster the displays of some flower beds and just fancied a change of colour in others.
It is November and you are supposed to plant tulip bulbs out quite late in the year like this to prevent ‘tulip fire’ – a fungal disease that can spread in Autumn’s wet and warm soil. Mind you, you are also supposed to lift all bulbs six weeks after they’ve flowered and then store them in dark dry place every summer before replanting in late Autumn… but my back doesn’t have the stamina for all that, so unless I needed to dig a bed or container over, then our garden bulbs have just stayed in the ground.
I do wonder if sometimes garden care instructions can be overly cautious. Especially with bulbs. Last year for example, a leak in our shed roof caused my prize new Dutch bulbs, that were stored underneath the leak, to go quite mouldy. Gardening books would of had you throw the bulbs away, but I stripped back the paper on the affected bulbs, peeled or cut out any really badly affected areas and then washed them in a shallow sink of water mixed with a capful of bleach. Judge for yourself if the resulting display earlier this year was worth the effort!
Technically, the cyclamen in our windowsill box are indoors cyclamen, however they are hardy to around -4°C and seem to have been relatively happy on the outdoor kitchen windowsill of our terraced (and therefore sheltered) side return. l covered them with a few plastic bags on the couple of occasions when the temperature really dropped and occasionally plucked off new bud stems that the frost got (you could tell because they simply never opened!) … and as you can see, they’ve pretty much come through unscathed; since the plants simply put their energy into creating new flower stems that had more luck weather-wise! I think they look quite pretty with the multicoloured heathers. These winters heathers were originally all pink as they were sprayed by the garden centre that colour, however new growth comes through in the plant’s natural white flower to pretty effect.
Clearly though, the most exciting aspect of the pots at the moment, is the promise of Spring! Lots of lovely things have started sprouting in the last 2-3 weeks. Daffodils, crocuses and even the odd tulip (not really due til May) are all there, poking through. The pansies are not quite in flower yet, which is a bit of a disappointment – but my fault really for planting them out so late that the autumn warmth had long left the ground. Hopefully they’ll fill out soon and start to bloom with their ‘cat’s whiskers’ faces in amber and gold. I will, of course, keep you updated!
Today is the day for the planting! I had some wonderful people come round and visit my garden to quote on the planting. All were very enthusiastic about the direction it was going in. After quotes and ideas were tendered I took some time to consider a) whether I really wanted to spend money getting a contactor to do the job (doubt is forever present!) and b) who to go with.
I had an expensive quote, a reasonable quote, a quote that never arrived as the contractor had such a lot on and also a contractor that politely declined the job as they felt it was a bit beyond their knowledge level, given that I had quite a defined list of ‘wants’/vision for the garden.
I have to admit that I also did take some time post quotes also to really consider whether this was a job that I could not manage myself. I did a lot of gardening book work and reading to see if I could suss it out … but every time I went to take myself to the nursery to order plants, I found I just had more questions than I did before.
So I went with the contracting. I am so pleased I did! I found that my new and improved plant knowledge meant that I could much more meaningfully engage with my plantsman when agreeing the planting list – which was a wonderful, enjoyable process. We discussed ideas for plants and he made lots of great suggestions before submitting planting lists for me to check through and agree.
It was time spent just going through colours, shapes and textures of plants. A process being coordinated *just for me*. Much as with RTL (the landscaper), this process of bringing in expertise has been a creative one – much like commissioning artists – you want to employ someone you can work with on a practical level (including the ability to have a constructive disagreement), someone you can afford/who is prepared to work to your budget, and also someone who ‘gets you’. Someone who is prepared to work to your style, provide insight and expertly shape your plans along the way.
As you know I’ve asked a few plants people and gardeners to come round and provide me with some quotes on the cost of planting up my new garden. They’ve got a great base to work from. Here is the quote spec and some drawings of the garden (overall plan is the one that is to scale) that I’m sharing to pull in the quotes:
Who said planning was boring – or that colouring pencils are for kids?!