Spring at last?
Are you suffering from a full-blown case of tulip fever or, like me, just a slight but distracting tulip-induced cold?
Here in the UK we love to talk about the weather. And at the moment we’re moaning about the fact the mild, damp winter has turned into a cold, showery spring. Well all I can say is, get out in the garden, because this is brilliant tulip weather!
We’ve had enough hours of sunlight and just enough warmth to get them blooming, and now here’s a cold snap to keep them that way for as long as possible, with the odd burst of lucky sunshine between the clouds to help the colours glow. Those rippling breezes also show them off a treat.
My garden is tiny and every little space is filled with plants. It has now and again contained a weed (daisies, buttercups and clover don’t count as weeds). I think a brave nettle once managed to peep out of the back bed. I learnt a new word whilst watching a gardening program this week – underplanting. My spellchecker might not like it, but I do and the tulips don’t seem to mind either. My tulips are underplanted with foxgloves, cat mint, forget-me-nots, verbascum, valerian…If the daffodils and snowdrops were the orchestral warm-up, the tulips are the prelude to the chaotic symphony that, if all goes to plan, will be summer in my garden.
So if by now you’re thinking I’m some sort of mad tulip-case, who’d sell her children for the latest variety, I’d like to reassure you that I’m actually quite a relaxed tulip grower. No lifting bulbs for me; no keeping them in the fridge before planting in case the winter isn’t cold enough (as I recently read in a tulip confessional, by the otherwise seemingly sensible Deborah Orr of the Guardian newspaper).
I buy them cheap (the cheap varieties repeat flower more reliably), plant them deep, feed them now and again when in flower and after flowering, and then as each bed or pot looks a bit tired, I just replant that autumn. As an added bonus if a few pop up in ridiculous places, courtesy of the squirrels, or a pot turns out to contain only one or two lonely blooms, those are the very few I pick and enjoy indoors.
So wrap up well, enjoy the brisk breeze and feast your eyes – it’s tulip season!