I looked again at the pots of by now going over dwarf tulips that should have been orange, and even in their faded state they were definitely pink and not orange. I have a theory, which is that I was sent 'Little Beauty' instead of 'Little Princess'. I have grown 'Little Beauty' in the past, and there are still a few scattered survivors around the gravel. The flowers are dark pink or pale red, according to how you look at these things, with a dark blue centre, and I reckon that somewhere along the supply chain somebody read the words 'tulip little' and then didn't register any further. I like 'Little Beauty' so it isn't a problem per se, except that it is nice to be sent what you asked for.
The best value dwarf tulips in the gravel have to be tulipa bakeri 'Lilac Wonder' which are naturalising themselves so that I now have more than I planted. They wander around the fringes of some lavender bushes and a Euphorbia x pasteurii that is getting quite large, and are happy unless completely overshadowed by shrubs. Tomorrow I shall plant my four little pots of the rare and precious Tulipa sprengeri, three bulbs bought at vast expense (from the chap who sold me the rogue princesses so let's hope they are the real deal) and a clump very kindly dug up for me by the couple whose garden I visited last autumn with the garden club. T. sprengeri flowers late, for a tulip, in a vivid shade of red, and will naturalise if happy. I should very much like to have them spreading freely in the turning circle. They are extremely pretty, and in the wonderful world of garden one-upmanship you get bonus points for growing them. Or at least, you used to. Perhaps the oneuppers have moved on to a new target by now, just as growing the dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff' no longer carries the kudos it did two or three decades ago.
Meanwhile, I fed the pots of dahlias in the greenhouse, and the potted box by the pond, and the rows of Dianthus on the terrace (or patio), and gave the merest dusting of food to the pots of alpines, since the garden club lecturer said they did not need much nourishment, coming from such rocky and inhospitable places, but in a pot I thought they might want something. I fed the pans of Sempervivum and Sedum on the wall along the front of the terrace, trying to pull the rosettes of leaves carefully apart so that the fertiliser landed on the compost instead of lodging on the leaves. I fed the little collection of shade lovers in pots in the dark corner outside the conservatory. I still could not bring myself to sprinkle whole pellets of Vitax Q4 on the smaller pots and laboriously crushed them with the pestle and mortar I have liberated from the kitchen for the duration, while cursing whoever decided to offer amateur gardeners the wretched supposedly easy-to-use pellets instead of good old-fashioned granules.
I also tidied the front corner of the garage where I keep my gardening tools. It felt like a slightly bizarre priority, if not a displacement activity, when there were plenty of actual gardening jobs to be getting on with, but I was getting fed up with not being able to find things when I wanted them, and although the Systems Administrator didn't grumble about it I'm pretty sure he was fed up with having to scoop the mess out of the way every time he needed to get the lawnmower out. I found all sorts of useful things, my second pair of swivel handled secateurs I haven't seen for ages, an entire bucket's worth of gloves that didn't have any obvious holes in them, two unopened packets of Rootgrow, and a spare lump hammer that the SA would like back for the workshop. I like things to be tidy, it's just getting them that way that eludes me so much of the time.
No rain is forecast. The house is unbelievably grubby because I have been saving the cleaning for a wet day, but sometime soon I am going to have to declare it an honorary wet day even if it's dry and devote myself to housework. I am not alone in this. Most keen gardeners will admit that their houses are cleaner and tidier and they finally get on top of the ironing when there's a run of wet or freezing weather.