When I go all the way back to my youth, way back, the first bulb I ever bought and planted was a hyacinth. In context, my pocket money was 10 pence, the bulb cost 17 pence and on that day I had already spent 3 pence on sweets. That’s just the way we rock and rolled it back in the eighties. The flower shop owner lady in question let me off the 10p shortfall.
I remember my Dad teaching me how to force the hyacinth and in a pot with the tip peeping just out of the soil. We wrapped it in a plastic bag, elastic band to hold it in place and put it in to the darkness and the heat under the stairs.
That bit, the waiting for its hardened green point to peep out was, for me, like waiting for Santa to arrive. Sometimes I checked it more than twice a day, just to see if it had grown even a little. The funny thing is that naive-esque anticipational [now] trait has never left me. It still makes me smile see the results. I’m simply a little older.
After it had flowered, I remember planting it outside in the front garden and my brother telling me that ‘manure’ was good for fertiliser. Being that we lived in cow-less suburbia, this at the time 6 year old went around collecting dog poo to place on top of it. Yup, I know…. now.
To more recent times, when the call came in to go to the Dublin’s Botanic Gardens to meet the ex Head Designer of The Keukenhof, The Ambassador to The Netherlands and Dr Matthew Jebb ~ pause ~ the who’s who of the horticultural world and the kind of folk you could only wish to have on your pub quiz team. Round 6. Category: Horticulture ~ I of course was there in a jiffy.
I have to admit, it excited me. New plants don’t happen every day. More than that, the last bulb to be named after someone Irish was former President of Ireland Mary McAleese. That’s the level we’re pitching at here. Also it’s not boil in the bag bing popcorn. If you get me, you can’t just make nature make another one. I of course accepted the invite.
The Sodshow, the garden radio show I do will explain the story in full with all of the gardeners Top of The Pops voices on record
My advice, go to The Botanic Gardens this month and see the blank soil bed Jan Guldenmond speaks of and photograph it. Then go see it the following month on the same date and so on until it comes into flower. I promise you, if you can picture my opening paragraphs, you will not be disappointed.
If you can’t make it don’t worry, I’ll be keeping a close eye on it for you.