Derry at Dixter
For the second year running this fair snuck up on me, but at least this time I knew before rather than after the event. It was an absolutely glorious hot autumnal day with many wonderful plants, bulbs and seeds for sale. I resisted most because of the building work creating chaos in the garden – but I did succumb to a purple leaved Silk Tree Albizia ‘Summer Chocolate’ which will go in the bed which is due to be totally replanted.
Not the 17th century variety that had people speculating vast fortunes on a single bulb, but the effect of attempting to resolve the annual problem of too many bulbs and not enough pots to put them in! Last year this was sorted out by planting them in the borders, but since I discovered that badgers dig tulips up and feast on them, that is no longer an option. They had a go at the newly planted iris reticulata bulbs last week, but they are obviously not as tasty – there were several chewed bulbs lying on the garden path. The rest of the iris are now planted in pots on ledges, tabletops and windowsills. Having badgers in the garden is a bit like having toddlers in the house – everything has to be put out of their reach!
Tulip Fever – It’s the time of year when I sit down with my friend Jo and we get totally carried away with ordering bulbs. She, at least, can justify the size of her order as she has a large garden to fill. My only explanation for my behaviour is that I’m in the grip of a serious addiction – and when it comes to tulips, all reason departs. There will come a time in early November when reality strikes as I search, with increasing desperation, for more containers that can be filled with bulbs. Either that, or, throwing caution to the winds, I will risk planting tulips in the borders where the dratted badgers will probably unearth them as a mid-winter snack. Nevertheless, there is something wonderfully optimistic about planting bulbs. It’s money in the horticultural bank, tucked underground until next spring when you will reap the rewards of your efforts. It was particularly true for me this year. I broke bones in both feet in mid March (gardening mishap) and spent six weeks confined to bed or chair. Not missing the tulips was the spur to my getting mobile as quickly as possible.
Where to Buy Bulbs – I buy most of our bulbs online from Peter Nyssen. It is the best place for buying large quantities of bulbs at heavily discounted prices. Last year I was very taken by Tulip Eyecatcher, a lovely small-flowered red and green tulip that looked wonderful emerging from a clump of Pheasant Grass, so I think I might get some more – I’m hoping that (badgers permitting) it might naturalise.
Don’t Delay – It may seem indecently early to be talking about bulbs – a bit like John Lewis putting out the Christmas decorations – but it’s best to order now if you want to be sure of getting your chosen varieties. When the order arrives open up the bags of tulips to allow the air to circulate and store them in a cool place until November. Other bulbs can be planted immediately.