At last I made it to a meeting of my garden club. In January I was laid low by the aftermath of flu, and in February I poked myself in the eye the day before the meeting, but third time lucky, tonight I got there. Which was just as well as it was the annual celebrity lecture. There are some gardening celebrities I'm not so keen on, and I didn't go last year, but this year's famous guest was Anna Pavord speaking on the subject of the tulip.
I have already got her book The Tulip so perhaps I didn't need to go to the talk, if I'd been paying attention when I read it, but as I liked the book I thought it would be fun to hear the author talking about it. And Anna Pavord always comes over in her books and articles as a thoroughly scholarly individual. And one of the committee members told me she has a most beautiful voice, though I think that was after I'd already bought the ticket. In fact, so keen was I to go that the Systems Administrator would have been willing to drive me there, if the celebrity talk had been last month when I couldn't see to drive.
Poor Anna Pavord, she arrived with five minutes to spare before the start after a nightmare seven hour journey. The M25 was at a virtual standstill due to a crash, so she cut off up the A1 and found herself taking forever to get through Hertford, and she was clearly mortified to be late, assuring us that she always built in a margin for delays and normally she and her husband were left kicking their heels for a couple of hours waiting for things to start. I believed her. That is what travelling in the south east is like, and looking on the bright side the meeting began only ten minutes after the advertised start time. If she hadn't allowed that extra couple of hours she wouldn't have arrived until the time when it normally finishes. Then the remote control for her slide projector wouldn't work, and I felt for her again, knowing from personal experience how that feels.
Once she settled into her topic of tulips she cheered up, and gave a very entertaining talk, and I took pages of notes. I expect all the information is somewhere in her book, but I always take notes, an old habit left over from years of taking notes at work of every meeting and telephone call. Sometimes I refer back to them, but mainly the act of writing helps me concentrate. It was very much a talk about the wild origins of tulips and the history of their cultivation, so by the end of it we hadn't learned much about growing them in the garden, but that wasn't the point.
On my way out I collected my seed potato for the potato growing contest. I didn't enter last year, thinking I had enough things to be doing already in the garden without worrying about a potted potato, and perhaps sensitive to the potential embarrassment of the pubic weigh-in when my pot was emptied out if it turned out to still have only one potato in it, perhaps diminished since planting by the effort of growing leaves. Vegetables are not my strong suit, and I don't even know if I am supposed to chit this potato or if I should have done that last month and should now get it straight into its pot (using what sort of compost? And how do I feed it?). But then I thought that wasn't the spirit and I should throw myself into club activities with more gusto, besides which people had told me that the organiser served a lovely tea at the ritual potato pot tipping out. It is a Maris Piper. That's a second early according to the label on the bag. I expect there will be lots of advice available on the internet.