Neither Here Nor There

When cooking, I obviously ignore all instructions and guidelines. ‘Heat to 200C for an hour then reduce to 180C for two hours’ kind of instruction translates in my head to ‘max power for three hours’. ‘Iron on a delicate setting’ = ‘nuclear heat’. Dimmer switches? What are they?

So, when it comes to the seasons I find myself marooned between moods.

I love summer, when we have one. The heat, the watering, the leaving the greenhouse door open all day and night are all what makes the summer great.


And I love autumn. The colours of the leaves, the smell of bonfires, the general tidying up of the garden are all what makes autumn superb.


But the bit between summer and autumn are perfectly defined by the word doldrums. Sure, the nights are drawing in but it isn’t quite dark at teatime. It’s cool in the mornings but the brass monkeys are only just digging about in their wardrobes for scarves and hats. Or, if you are into origins of phrases and words, they may well be looking for some warmer undergarments. Whatever, I don’t see them bedecked and be-clothed in higher tog rated stuff just yet.

Dahlias are still doing their thing, and have been for weeks, but the bedding is all but over. There is a smell in the air and it isn’t freshly fallen leaves and candyfloss. It’s death and decay of summer. And I don’t like it.

So, I have a choice. I can hunker down, peering outside from a cold room as it isn’t late enough in the year yet to put the heating on and wait for a few weeks until autumn really kicks in. Or, I can rejoice in this window of opportunity and…plant bulbs.

phils-bulbsYep, spring flowering bulbs are my saving grace.

This is the perfect time to plant most bulbs. Do it now and next spring will be ablaze with colour and awash with scent. You can clear away all that vegetation that has gone past its best and plonk in a few wonder-structures of the gardening world. Everything that’s needed to produce a flower is packed into each bulb. Leaves, flower and all the food it needs is sitting there waiting to be activated. Moisture from the soil is that catalyst. But don’t scrape at the surface and drop your big daffs into a shallow indentation. I insist on planting daffs at a depth three times the height of the bulbs. None of this ‘couple of centimetres will do and let's see what happens’ malarkey. Better flowers arise from well planted bulbs. Ditto with crocus, alliums and fritillaries. Later in the year, when autumn has really got its teeth into the calendar, in go your tulips.

I do love the precise nature of gardening sometimes. And I guess that’s why my cooking is usually burnt; my clothes have a charred appearance; and the house is either plunged into total darkness or lit up like Blackpool illuminations. My flower displays are pretty good though!

Three to get you through the doldrums:

  • Narcissus Katie Heath: oh, my goodness - what a beauty! Great for pots and borders.
  • Tulip Muvota: totally transfixing. Get it now and plant it later.
  • Ornamental Onion Globemaster: what a whopper!