SUMMER was truly spectacular, but from mid-month it would not be unusual to see regular, heavy, and prolonged rainfalls drenching the garden.
Of course, on the other hand, when rain starts here, it more or less forgets to stop.
Still, whenever it holds up for a day or so and the soil dries, I set about the adorable misery of planting yet more spring-flowering bulbs.
Any unoccupied square foot is a contender, every pocket of bare soil, or indeed any aspect, will present an opportunity.
I get tired, bored, sick to death of the job, but every year I find afresh how worthwhile it all is.
In my mind’s eye I picture the beauty of Erythronium, the purple and reds of Trilliums, and the pureness of soft yellow in varieties of dwarf daffodils such as Sun Disc (illustrated). Imagination flowers them, and all the riches and the wonders of spring are mine for a few magical moments. When the dream eventually becomes a reality, the miracle, and wonders come true.
All the toil I found was certainly worthwhile.
So, is there any way in which I can entice you to try planting a few extra bulbs this month? Instead of going for the same old tried and tested, would you care to source a few of the newer introductions?
One of the earliest bulbs to appear (featured here many times) will be the gently nodding bells of blue Chionodoxa (glory of the snow) along with yellow winter aconites.
Add to these a score of cheap, easily sourced, and reliable Anemone blanda in white or blue, and follow these in turn with crocus, especially Blue Pearl, white Ard Schenk and Snow Bunting, or Cream Beauty.
In gravel, get yourself a half dozen or more of Narcissi Tete-a-Tete (also featured recently) and they’ll look stunning as they appear early in the New Year.
Their tiny cups and modest rush-like leaves will stand to attention irrespective of what wind or driving rain may be thrown at them.
Those cups are delicate in appearance and come in odd numbers on each stem; three, five and seven depending on how early you plant them and the attention you give to feeding and general cultivation.
Take it then that a mere ten Tete-a-Tete will give you anything from thirty to forty blooms.
For something a shade taller and later, would you be interested in two extremely good narcissi, one of which is deliciously scented, and the other with tiny, flame cups set against large petals which appear laundry white and over-starched?
Bet you would. Three I recommend are Actaea, which is as perfect as bone China, Sun Disc in soft yellow and Pheasant's Eye, which is simpler but more rustic.
Mix neither. In fact, never mix bulbs no matter how you yearn for the natural wild look.
If you do, the different kinds will flower spottily at different times between February and May and the whole effect of having masses of bloom a number of times during spring will be lost.