Monday, 11 April 2016

we shall go to the ball

Our Chelsea Flower Show tickets arrived this morning.  Every year, once it's only a couple of months to go until the show, I fret with every post that they don't come until they do.  They always have, so far, and the Systems Administrator always tells me that they will, but I can't help thinking of the times when subscription magazines haven't arrived, and the garden magazine that did arrive addressed to somebody at another house with the same name (which I even bothered to take round to them) and the Landrover magazine for one of the neighbours that was shoved through our letterbox, and the assorted letters addressed to a random assortment of other local houses that have been left here over the years, some of which were clearly junk mail but some of which looked from the envelopes as though they might contain financial information.  In short, I don't trust the post. So I whinge and worry every year about the Chelsea tickets, once the ticket agency could conceivably have posted them, until they turn up and I'm happy.

The Systems Administrator tested the new pressure jet, and showed me how it worked.  It made short work of cleaning a patch of decking that would have taken me much longer by hand, and I was duly impressed.  Given a piece of new equipment the SA became quite enthusiastic about the project, and volunteered to clean some of the deck as it was a nice day, then went on to do the whole of the deck outside the study and the steps down to the back garden, including the brick and cobbled sections, both of which came up beautifully.  Reader, was I hoping that this might be the outcome and that I would not have to do all of it myself?  You decide.

The pots of hyacinths have finished.  Objectively speaking they are good value.  They last two or three times as long as even the most tenacious bunch of cut flowers, and my twenty-five bulbs from Kevock cost me nine pounds.  That was enough to do four pots, with five left over which I used in a small trough I had knocking about in the shed.  Add in another pound for compost and it's a lot of floral decoration for a tenner.  The bulbs will in due course go out into the garden, where they should live and flower happily for years.  Hyacinths do well in the ground on a variety of soils, from light to quite heavy.  They are happy in shade for part of the day, and if anything the flowers last longer than when they are in full sun.  I still feel regretful when I have to trundle the pots back to the concrete by the greenhouse, though.  The pots of Tulip kaufmanniana have finished as well, and the pots of taller Darwin and lily flowered tulips aren't quite ready yet.

As further proof that spring is advancing, today I unhooked the long hose that has spent the winter coiled over the end of the former coal bunker by the dustbins and dug out the spray attachment from the garage.  The spray head is at least two seasons old and the setting I use most frequently has started to corrode or else mineralise up, I am not sure which.  It is a symbolic step towards summer, the point at which there is too much watering to do in the greenhouse and on the concrete for me to trundle back and forth to the outside tap with a can.  Twiddling the kinks out of the hose, cutting out the short damaged section and leaking joint where a vehicle must have driven over it last season, and hunting around for the head, I felt that summer must be on its way.

There are absolutely no signs of life from any of the dahlia pots.  I had marked two plants that I wanted to take cuttings from, but one of the labels has fallen out.  Unfortunately while with fuchsias and geraniums you can wait until they flower and then choose your propagating material according to which ones you like, the time to take dahlia cuttings is when the new shoots are only a few inches long, before they become hollow, and months before they flower.

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