I planted up the pot outside the front door a couple of days ago with summer bedding, Calibrachoa and trailing Verbena in coordinating shades of pink. They are frost tender and it feels too early to be putting them outside, when frost is still entirely possible, but if I leave buying the plants until the end of the month the garden centres may not have much left, and since it is not frosty at the moment they might as well get on with sending roots down in their new quarters. If we are due a cold night I will have to put the pot in the back of the porch, or even in the hall. It is a vintage genuine 1960s piece inherited from the Systems Administrator's parents, a terracotta cone that sits in a simple iron stand, and the SA's brothers insisted we should have it since we had a 1960s house and they both had cottages. I am quite fond of it, and Mr Fidget is fascinated by the drips that come out of the holes in its sides towards the base when I water it.
It will be a relief when I can turf the pots of Pelargonium and Agapanthus and all the dahlias and other tender stuff out of the greenhouse, which is so crowded there is no room to put anything down. The Pelargonium are mostly responding to the longer days, warmer sun and perhaps their dose of Vitax Q4, and throwing out new leaves and whole new shoots. They were not so vigorous last year as they should have been, and I decided that giving them the odd dose of tomato feed when I watered them was not enough and I was going to have to be more organised. The Vitax Q4 is a start, though I had better look on the tub and see how long one dose is supposed to last. Though the sprinkling I gave the pots may not equate to the recommended dose per square metre. I am nervous of giving too much.
Meanwhile spring is marching on, and this morning I tidied the pots of tulips away and put them back outside the greenhouse, since almost every petal had fallen. The last to drop its petals was 'Ile de France', which was also one of the first to open. Most of them had finished flowering two or three days ago, and I had a session dead heading them. I gave the pots a liquid feed this morning, and will leave the bulbs undisturbed to finish growing and die down in their own time, in the hopes that most of them will remain large enough to flower next year, instead of degenerating into a dozen tiny offsets. I don't risk them in pots two years running, since the disappointment if they didn't produce a show would be too great, but any good sized bulbs will go into the dahlia bed.
One minor issue has been successfully resolved at the local level. The brown bin was not emptied a fortnight ago over the Easter weekend, and when I rang the council office on Tuesday the person I spoke to said that was because the road had been closed for resurfacing and so the bin lorry could not get in. It was true that the road had been given a whole new coat of tarmac on top of the recently mended potholes, and very grateful I was too, only I did not want to miss out on a collection which, after all, I was paying for. The woman in the council office said they would try to empty it, only it was difficult because they were not in the area any more. The rest of the week passed, and the following one, and nobody came for the brown bin. I thought of asking for my renewal date to be pushed out a week, then the much more simple and obvious solution occurred to me which was to put a couple of extra bags out for the bin men with a note.
It was a carefully worded note, saying they could not come a fortnight ago because of the road rather than than they did not come, to try and sound understanding rather than accusatory. I hoped the bin men would oblige, since they must remember the road being closed and always seem perfectly helpful when I speak to them, but the rules say that extra bags left by the brown bin will not be emptied. Excellent and sensible bin men, they emptied the bags as well as the brown bin and so I am all square with Veolia waste and perfectly happy. If a company wants its staff to deliver good customer service it needs to give them the discretion to make decisions on the ground. I was once stuck waiting at the till in Tesco for ages because somebody in front of me had got a bun from the bakery section and the till operative could not match it to any of the pictures of bakery products on her little card. The queue behind me lengthened and began to mutter ominously, but the till operative would not take a decision to resolve the problem by either charging the bun at the lowest possible price on her card, or better still giving the customer the bun with a smile and a comment that her price list obviously needed updating. Paralysed by the need to follow the system, she did neither. I think eventually a Supervisor had to come and sort it out.