I’m often surprised by the number of people for whom weeding is a real pleasure. For me, it’s just something that has to be kept on top of so weeds don’t become a problem. Far more of a pain is tuliping. This is like removing weeds but, instead, you remove tulips.
Having worked in local government for some 36+ years, I suppose it’s to be expected that I’m a sort of fan of all things local government. I’m not actually but I do like a bit of massed bedding when it’s done properly. I’m ancient enough to remember the days when councils could afford to maintain large horticultural units and spend loads on prettifying roundabouts, parks and any bit of ground bigger than a couple of square metres (square yards in those days). These days, with financial constraints, things are not so universally elaborate but you can often still find some colourful gems around, particularly in touristy areas.
I have a largish bed in the front lawn which, from the word go, I designed as a tribute to those massed bedding schemes. OK, a mix of age-limited ability to bend and the cost has meant that the size of the area devoted to a mass of bedding has reduced, but I still manage to shove a couple of hundred begonias (I like them as they’re colourful and low maintenance) in each year in June and they’ll usually still be in glorious flower in late November (we don’t get frosts until late in the year here thanks to the proximity of the sea).
But that still leaves half a year of bare earth. So, a few years ago, I decided on a full year approach. The ornamental kale was a disaster, though, thanks to slugs that didn’t realise they should be hibernating through the winter. Wallflowers were ok but flowered rather late and not for that long. Primroses/primulas flowered later but had to be dug out in their prime to make way for the begonias. Narcissi are risky unless you stay awake all night to stop someone sneaking onto the lawn and removing them.
So I decided on tulips. In went about 300 in a mix of purple shadesr (I like colour co-ordination). And up came about 300 in a mix of lilac and purple and yellow and red and orange. A bit more garish than I’d wanted but, nevertheless a decent enough display to attract the neighbourhood photographers and a decent number of compliments.
I left them in, chopped them down, added some fertiliser and planted the begonias on top. Luvly. The first frosts saw the begonias removed carefully, another dose of fertiliser and the tulips duly obliged by laying on a second lovely display the following spring. Again, they were overplanted with begonias for the summer.
Spring 3 came along and the tulips looked, well, manky. So I dug them all out, or so I thought. Well it looked like 300 or more tulip eggs in the buckets when I’d finished. Begonia season came and went and spring dawned again. And I find now the bloody red tulips are appearing again. No purple shades, just the garish ones that I didn’t knowingly plant in the first place.
Thus, instead of weeding, I am tuliping.
And next week I can look forward to a day or two of crocosmiaing. That’s not the resplendant Lucifer type: they’re not invasive and their metre-high growth makes focal points around the garden. No, I’m talking of the common-or-garden type. I popped 20 in just there when I started the garden. Now 20ish years later, and despite removal by the sackful each year, they’re there, there, over here, by there, and there and, well, coming up everywhere.
And I’ll need a day of Muscariing as well to get the square metre of the blasted things down to the original square foot. Or maybe I’ll zap the lot and find that non-invasive type that I read about years ago.
Then it’ll be time to hunt for a weed!