Today I came across the snowdrops. I love snowdrops, they’re one of my favourite flowers. So brave, the way they venture to lift their tiny, delicate heads to meet the wintry weather, the first forebearers of Spring...
Except that my snowdrops were still in their packet, all 40 of them, and I’d forgotten all about them till they emerged from their hiding-place behind the radio and
assorted packets of Mr B’s cereals of choice (he likes them on show, rather than tucked away in the cupboard where he says he won’t be able to find them since I “tidied” it.) They should have been planted, according to the packet, between
September and November. I should have planted them immediately after purchase and given them a top dressing on bonemeal to improve flowering. Bless them, they didn’t ask for much. They would "prefer partial shade but would grow perfectly
well in the full sun" and are “ideal for naturalising in lawns, woodlands, rockeries, borders and between paving stones. Such modest requirements – and then they ended up in my shopping basket, poor things.
I don’t have a good track record for such things. I remember carefully choosing four large packets of tulip bulbs from the flower market in Amsterdam. One particular variety, yellow with
splashes of a vibrant red, reminded me of the tulips at the Youngest of the Darling Daughters’ wedding. How lovely it would be, I thought, to grow them in my own garden, knowing that every year, around the time of her anniversary, there’d be Tulips
from Amsterdam springing up all over.
Except there weren't and there won’t be. The instructions on the packet said I had to put the bulbs in the refrigerator
for eight weeks before planting. Why? you ask. I’ve no idea – but I did as I was instructed and made room for them in our garage fridge, where they nestled happily among the Diet Cokes and tins of Fosters. For about a year. I simply
forgot all about them. And though I did plant them out, just in case they might have survived The Long Chill, well there has been no sign of life from them. I don’t blame them – I’d have taken umbrage too if I’d been them.
Last spring we went to Tenerife and I fell in love with those beautiful Bird of Paradise flowers. They used to keep a vase of them in our hotel foyer, refreshed every Monday
morning by a local florist. And when we travelled high into the mountains and stopped for coffee and a cake at a tiny cafe which appeared to be literally clinging for dear life onto the mountainside, I couldn’t resist spending some of my holiday money
on a packet of seeds.
Mr B warned me that the chances of anyone rearing a Bird of Paradise flower from seed in chilly England was minimal. The chances of
me, moreover,with my poor track record, doing so were infinitesimal. He was kind enough not to mention the Tulips from Amsterdam though this might have been because he had forgotten.
Well I obeyed all the instructions on the packet which helpfully provided me with a little plastic plant pot and some kind of compost in which to plant the seeds. I put the pot on the windowsill where I couldn’t forget it. I devoted lots of time
and love to it, watering it and engaging in occasional conversations with it on the lines of: “Don’t you think it’s about time you sent out a little green shoot. Just a little one. Please.”
After three months of nurturing a plant pot with compost in it, I gave it up as a dead loss and deposited it in the bin. Mr B was pretty good about it. The words “I told you so” never passed his lips.
But you would think I’d have learned from all these sad experiences, wouldn’t you? Hence my disappointment in myself when I happened across Galanthus Vivalis
(that’s snowdrops to you and me) this morning. I have put a note in my diary for the beginning of September 2013. It reads: “PLANT SNOWDROPS”. Obviously it may be a little late in the day for the packet I bought last year. I can’t
claim to be planting my bulbs “as soon as possible after purchase.” Should I put them in the fridge in the meantime?
I love our garden. It doesn’t boast anything as posh as designer
decking, or water features, or winsome statues. But among the untamed shrubs, the green shoots of daffodils are already sprouting vigorously, despite the snow and the general wintry weather. I must have planted them, once-upon-a-time, and here they are, paying
me back for my unusual, not to say unlikely, diligence, year after splendid year.
Next year, we shall have snowdrops too. Fingers crossed...