I love this time of the year, all those Winter dreams are starting to bloom and the allotment is waking from a long slumber. This past weekend has been an absolute joy too, sunshine does something to you that instantly makes you happy and the grass looks so much greener too. This time of the year also marks a very special occasion in my diary and involves one of my favourite features on the allotment…. the tulip trough!
Back in the Autumn the trough had a major re-haul, the tulips that had bloomed that previous Spring suffered from a disease called ‘tulip fire’ and most of them never bloomed at all. I decided then to empty the trough of all the old compost and replace it with fresh, nutrient rich compost. New bulbs were purchased and planted out at the end of November which seems to have done the trick! The trough is in full bloom now and every single time I see those bright, beautiful flowers it makes me smile and my heart flutter.
I always remember picking tulips near my birthday at the end of April and I reckon they are a little early this year, maybe it’s been all this nice weather we’ve been having? I popped down to the plot early one morning last week with one job in mind and that was to pick some of my homegrown tulips so I could enjoy them at home. It also just so happened to be the day which would have marked my Nan’s 96th birthday and I can’t help but think she would have loved being gifted these blooms. She married my Grandfather in Scotland during the Spring and her wedding bouquet consisted of tulips, the only flowers she could get her hands on. They’ll always hold a a special place in my heart and there will always be space for them in the garden.
I’m just so happy with how well the trough has bloomed this year and I’m so pleased with my choices even if they haven’t all flowered at the same time. I’m instantly drawn to the vintage tones of dusky pink, pure white and pale green with complimentary pops of colour. Of course there’s a few of my old faithful favourites there like the vintage dreamy La Belle Epoque and the naturally stunning Spring Green. New pops of colours in the form of Orange Princess and the frilly Purple Crystal and not forgetting the ever so delicate Apricot Pride. I’m still awaiting the arrival of Evergreen and Artist but I am so excited to see them bloom, plus it will give the trough a second burst of colour which I’m very much looking forward too.
I’d just like to point out that the tulip trough doesn’t just contain tulips, it’s a name that stuck ever since the trough was installed on plot 15c back in 2014. There are in fact 8 rows of Narcissus at the far end and they are a rather recent obsession. I’ve always thought Daffodils were a little boring, the plain yellow varieties you see everywhere never appealed to me. For some reason I picked up some more unusual varieties from a garden show and since then I’ve been hooked! I particularly love the double flowering types, the multi headed varieties and the pale white blooms… in fact Narcissus are now my second favourite spring bulbs and I can’t imagine not growing them.
This year I tried a few new varieties; Sir Winston Churchill, Bellsong, Yellow Cheerfulness and Sweetness. By far my favourite has to be Sir Winston Churchill and not just for it’s name, the multi headed bloom has beautiful double flower’s which are pale white with a stunning orange centre. Dotted around the plot are various other favourite Narcissus varieties such as Thalia and My Story, slowly but surely they are taking over the plot and I’m not complaining!
It’s funny to think that when I first got my allotment I was very much focused on growing fruit and vegetables. In fact when I first introduced the tulip trough all those years ago I even felt guilty for taking valuable space up to grow a few flower bulbs! Fast forward 5 years and now at least a 3rd of the plot is dedicated to growing flowers, not only for me but for the wildlife and insects too. Of course flower’s aren’t only important for the pollinators, they sure make you feel good inside too and never fail at lifting my spirits as well as putting a smile of my face. I get as much joy bringing a bunch of flowers home from the plot then I do a trug full of vegetables and my heart overflows with pride and happiness when I’m able to bring both home.
I guess the lesson here is to grow what you love, grow what makes you happy and never stop growing them.