The early morning panic moment.
I’ve messed up.
Yesterday I was madly planting tulips. I had mainly white tulips this year: 100 Hakuun, 100 Ivory Floradale and 100 Purissima.
Planting this late? Yes December is a bit advanced when you think that I have had the bulbs for a month at least. But the weather has been so mild that I haven’t been concerned. The tulips need the cold. And we haven’t had much of that. Apparently if you plant them when the weather is too mild you can suffer from an affliction called tulip fire. A fungal nasty.
If you are keen to be more informed, have a look at the Royal Horticultural Society’s website for details: https://www.rhs.org.uk/Advice/profile?PID=252
I had planted them up in all the usual places – the planters in the courtyard, in the pots in the potager.
It took hours as I had to thoroughly weed the pots and planters first. And when you are working close to an area that has no soil, you can’t afford to be messy with your work. Our courtyard is ‘weed free’.
I had to put down a tarp, then shovel all the gravel into buckets (and sieve as I went to avoid any soil). Then carefully dig out the old compost, lobbing old bulbs and lilies in one bucket, and weeds in the other.
Then plant the bulbs. Fill with new compost from the area behind the potting shed. Add the old compost to top up. And then finally, finish with gravel.
All this for a few flowers in spring.
But it is the equivalent of having a dinner party and being forced to tidy one’s house. This makes me clear up the planters and prepare for spring well ahead of schedule. I would have put off this job for ages had I not needed to get in the bulbs.
Have I been to restrained with my palette of colour? We shall see next year. But what I do know is that 300 tulips are not enough. I must order 400 next year.
I wanted a bit more fun and delight at the entrance to the farm when you pull into the area near the east garden. The lilac bed is a disgrace.
The ivy has invaded. As have vinca and brambles. But I shoved them all aside to get in the very last 30 tulips and vowed to add ‘weed East Garden’ to my list of winter tasks.
But what of the mistake?
Earlier in the day I was looking at my beautifully weeded and neat soft fruit orchard and thought; it would be fun to have some colour in there in spring.
So I set about digging out the soil in a few quadrants and shoving in bulbs. It didn’t take long as I had weeded and cleared earlier. In went a lovely mix of all three tulips and then I covered them up and walked away.
The 535am moment? The mole rat! This is where he lives. He has gnawed his way under the blackcurrant not one foot away from where I planted the bulbs.
What was I thinking?
It’s the equivalent of leaving fat balls out for the birds and finding them eaten whole the next day, by the fouine (pine martens). You don’t want to read the observations on coming across pine marten poo after indulging in an entire fat ball, believe me.
So today’s first thing (apart from lighting the fire, putting on a load of laundry and hauling firewood) was to undearth the bulbs, plant them in plastic pots and rebury them.
And it was just in time. I even found the perfect entrance to the area where the mole rat lives. It was in the top of the area I had planted the bulbs.
Let em eat plastic I say. I promise you I will take photos of these tulips if they come up in spring.