Collector's Items

Things sneak up on you whilst you're not looking.

I'm thinking about the inability to put your socks on without sitting down, the decline in efficiency of the car brakes, obviously greying hair and expanding waistlines. But plants do it as well.

I was having my morning stroll around the McCann estate when I noticed a previously unremarkable repetition. Daffodils. Don’t for one minute think I have a massive garden with rolling hills and fields. Far from it. But my patch is now home to a few different daffs. It all started a few years ago with a traditional daff – yellow trumpet, no frills, no spills just a straightforward daff. But one variety is lonely. And those white ones looked nice. Up to two. But they all seemed to flower around the same time. 'Maybe a few of the really early ones would be nice' – and in they went.

One thing led to another, and another and then another; soon, without realising it, I was custodian to twelve different types.

It didn't stop there. The worse thing any gardener can do is to visit another garden. I know I'm always going on about open gardens for charity, Yellow Book gardens and even shows, but they only tempt you into more plants. After a particularly beautiful day at a large stately home type garden I was inspired (infused?) to gather up more daffy varieties. Twelve turned into fifteen that soon, with the addition of some irresistible blooms that to me resemble Cadbury's Creme Eggs, totalled twenty. It didn't stop. It hasn't stopped. I know in my heart that it will never stop. Twenty-six is this morning’s count. All in flower, with two more still to open. Only a few of each, no massive drifts, but they all count.

But I'm not loyal to one flower. Oh no, the same is happening with dahlias. That all started with a dark-leafed variety called 'Bishop of Llandaff'. Not a plant you can ignore and definitely one you should have. That grew strongly as the collection diversified into a few of those gorgeous pompom types with blooms the size of golf balls. Reds, pinks and white. And loads of them. Of course, I had to try some of the whoppers, the really big 'uns with claims of blooms reaching 25cm diameter. I did. I now have four different types ('Sir Alf Ramsey' is one of the best).

I've just realised I also have seven different varieties of gladioli on the go; four different carrot seed varieties ready to sow and the snowdrops, now fading away to rest and recuperate for next year, total seven different types. At the moment. None of those numbers will be static.

So, let me know if I am alone in my collecting habits or if you have a predilection for peonies, an itch for an iris or a tilt towards thyme.

Notes to editors and fellow gardeners: Other chocolate other than creme eggs is available but as yet I am to find any plant that resembles a Kit-Kat, family bag of Revels (no one likes the coffee ones surely?) or Crunchie. I will keep trying though.