You know, an early winter afternoon, a few leaves still hanging awaiting the next heavy frost, a dry crispness in the air, perhaps a bonfire as evening falls. Huh.
Here today, the sick yellow-grey clouds start at treetop level, rain streams down the windows. I can hear an ominous drip out in the garden room, and must look for a bucket. And there’s so much needs doing outside. A few bags of tulips, names long forgotten, a pile of narcissus bulbs, and odd knobbly things with spike roots (what the **** are they?), all need to go in. Potfuls of tatty violas need pulling apart and replanting, so that we can have pots of their glorious rusty ruby flowers on the wallhead outside the corridor. Yet if I dig a hole today, it will fill with water. And now, at lunchtime, it’s as dark as early evening.
Still, there have been excitements. A dry day (amazing) last week saw some redcurrants planted, a bush in each of the big tubs beside the seat down in the kitchen garde, each underplanted with pink tulips. The whopping greeny-blue urns at the top of the lawn (Ok, it’s narrow strip of grass really), got crammed with lemon yellow ones. And…
Well, I got a mysterious yen to visit a long unvisited garden centre outside Edinburgh (New Hopetoun Gardens). And two excitements, one minor, on major.
The minor one was a half-price offer on some bulbs. I once spent three years studying grape hyacinths (Muscari), at the end of which I promised myself to have nothing more to do with them. Ever. But that was long ago, and my resolve weakens. The muscaris in the bag were called ‘Golden Fragrance’, though made no mention that it was in fact Muscari marcrocarpum. It’s an oddity, flowers the colour of a just ripe banana, heavily perfumed (banana mixed with vanilla), hugely inflated seedpods, and fleshy persistent roots below the bulbs. It also has unusually large chromosomes. It and a close relative are sometimes assigned to a separate genus (Muscarimia), though all those decades ago I thought they were best placed as a subgenus.
So, I shall have to rush down to my beloved shed, getting drenched no doubt, find a nice pot, and get them, rather late, planted.
They’ve a lovely story. They were popular in 17th century Turkish flower markets. Bored ladies of the harem hung bunches of them out of their windows to signal that their master was away. I wonder how many men took the risk of finding out if that was true.
And the major excitement? Ah… The next post…