What a difference a week makes. One week we were in Mexico City slightly (me hugely) worrying if we would get home. Normally I wouldn’t have minded being delayed for a month in Mexico. But not in the current climate! I had visions of being locked down there unable to get back. Other guests at the fabulous b&b from Canada had been advised to return. Airports were closing. Flights cancelled. Choices limited. But thankfully our flight was fine and we arrived back to London with a week or so to spare before we went into lockdown. Phew.
Had we had time we would have decamped to the cottage in Somerset. But in reality and in retrospect staying put has been the best decision. We can and do walk to the local shops. We have a brilliant butcher. Greengrocer. Pharmacy. All within 10 mins walk. We also have Kings hospital close by in case of emergencies.
I so wanted to start the dance from The Full monty in this queue on Saturday. Could you imagine Ian’s face? Especially as one of the debit card transactions was declined. You know the ones. They decline. Send a text to check and say you have to confirm in 2 mins. You don’t get the text until 10 later. Worse thing was I’d left my wallet at home and was using Ians card. I was in the shop. He was outside.
I’ve used deliveries from our local farm shop in Somerset. From our local coffee roasters in Bruton. We haven’t wanted for anything. Well that’s not quite true. The occasional bag of flour. And a week on my own (there I’ve said it). Whilst waiting at the airport to fly home I ordered bags of flour online and I will continue to use them post lockdown. However that may be. I will also at the end of lockdown have that week on my own.
The major benefit of lockdown is that we have been in one place for longer than I have been in the last 5 years. The opportunity to spend some time in the tiny garden here. Rather than there. Or there. It is tiny but I’m so glad to have some outside space. The other benefit has been seeing the tulips slowly open. Then boom. An explosion and a riot of colour. Normally we would have been away at this time of year for Easter. Easter is huge in Spain with the Semana Santa celebrations in every Pueblo Blanco and town and it’s amazing to be part of the community for these festivals. Oh. And I love our little pueblo blanco.
I have filled my Instagram timeline with tulips. More tulips. And even more tulips. I make no excuses as they have been amazing this year. My brother told me ‘ at least you’ll soon move onto agapanthus’. I will but I will be missing the allium segment, and the explosion of wild flowers on the roundabout which isn’t a roundabout in Spain.
I get my tulips from Peter Nyssen where Karen is one of the most helpful people you can find. Last year we saw this tulip at Phillipa Burrough’s open day for the NGS. Phillipa is an inspiration and I love her garden both at tulip time and for the summer explosion of planting. This tulip ~ not this actual one obviously ~ was in a pot by the greenhouse. I fell in love with it. Tall. Big. Bonkers. I knew I wanted to try it in pots for the front garden here and in the cottage pots. I also planted a few in Spain which flowered, but tulips never flower as well there. We don’t get that cold snap in the Autumn.
I added Tulip Uncle Tom to the pots which is another one I hadn’t grown before. Turns out it’s one I will grow again. A lovely peony type with a shiny looking petal in deep red. Opens up beautifully.
I also used it in the window boxes and the colour selection has been great. I’d like
To say it was a considered and measured plan. To be honest the tulips sat in their box in a spare bedroom and I planted late again. So come planting I first took the box to Somerset and planted the pots and brought what was left back to London.
I haven’t grown Angelique for a few years as I found it had lost a bit of its charm but I decided to give it a go again. Sometimes you grow the same one as you know it works. It’s been a corker in the window boxes but is now going over. One for next year but not for the window box. I have to change them year on year.
The window box combination are all of a peony type which I particularly like. When they open fully they are all big, blousy and a bit of a show off. Belle Époque, Uncle Tom, Angelique and Copper Image. In lockdown and because we have been here more and on the front garden the comments have been brilliant. Except the comment by one passing couple. Lovely roses he said as he continued walking. I didn’t get the chance to correct him.
Tulips hocus pocus opened slightly later than the others and has lasted slightly longer. It needs sun to open fully but when it does it’s pretty large.
As well as planting here in London I plant tulips outside the cottage in Pitcombe. I planted in late November and December and the last time I was there, just before we left for Mexico, they were growing but not open or anywhere near it. Sadly with lockdown there was no way we were going to see them. But worry not. Our neighbour has watered them. Our friends when out walking and passing the cottage watered them ~ we are lucky that we have a fresh water spring called Jacks Shute for them to get water. So there has been socially distancing watering!
As well as the generosity of friends and neighbours we have been so fortunate to be sent photographs. To have Instagram posts. E mails and what’s app messages. It has brought us such joy in seeing them in the photographs even though we couldn’t see them in person. You can’t beat good neighbours and friends.
Now all I need to do on the tulip front is to decide on the tulip colours and combinations for next year. I have made a start on my list with new colours and new tulips recommended to me by various friends and gardeners but no doubt I will change my mind. Just the once or twice before during and after ordering.
Back in London Ian said at the start of the lockdown ‘at least you won’t spend as much’ But at the end of the first week he muttered. ‘How many more deliveries are you expecting’ Today he said is that the last of the orders. No. I said. We have one more tomorrow. Then remembered the herb order for next week. What he doesn’t know is that as soon as we get to go to Somerset we will be starting all over again.
It’s been an opportunity of being in one place to do the things that have been on the “to do list” for a while. So paint was ordered. Floor paint. Paint for the window sills. Paint was delivered. Week 6 it’s still unopened. I need to move the window boxes after the tulips have finished and before the summer ones are planted. I have no excuse for the floors. Except diversion tactics. I’d rather be in the garden.
Plants have been delivered. Gaura from Burncose. Herbs from Pepperpot. Perennials from Todds Botanics. Hardenbergia from Fibrex. That’s it I told him. No more. Then a 4ft tree fern arrived from Todds.
The one delivery he didn’t comment on. But the one thing he’s got involved in and had me moving half the pots around the garden to accommodate ‘his’ tree fern. We have yet to plant it. But he’s decided where it’s going which meant moving two others around in the bargain. I have said no more.
The garden is tiny but is packed with pots. A large oblong planter of narcissi. Much later than usual and only now going over. Quite what I’ll put in there under lockdown though is yet to be determined. But will depend on what I can get Ooh. I’ve just remembered. I have another plant delivery. Salvias from Middletons.
I will move the tulips and narcissi to the Somerset garden which needs some TLC. It looks like we may be spending the summer there. We have a lot of work to do but needs must and if we are unable to travel then we will make the most of the time.
We have one single climbing rose in the garden in a pot which blooms like crazy. The jasmine was planted in a small pot and is now 25ft up the down-pipe. The scent from it is stunning on a warm evening. This will be followed on with jasmine clotted cream and then traechospermum with its gentle star like flowers.
But it’s not been all gardening. We have lurched from one meal to another. Breakfast merging into lunch then into supper. With snacks all the way through. The builders are on notice to widen the doors after lockdown. Here and there. There and here. I’ve gone through three stages of clothes. Fat fatter and enormous. There has been cooking. A lot of cooking. And eating. Menu planning. Shopping.
I think Ian and I invented social distancing. We have been practicing it for years. On our walks for sure. We have taken it to another level with Continental social distancing. One of us in the Uk. One in Spain.
The cats are confused. Why are you still here? Any chance you can go out for more of an hour a day. Go away for a week or two. All this attention is a bit much. Your getting under our feet.
I’m missing the garden in Spain as well as our Spanish framily, but we keep in touch with face time. Messenger. What’s app. It was three years ago this week that we signed the documents to start a new adventure and it seems like only yesterday. So much has happened in those three years. Visitors. Friendships. Gardening.
Our friends and neighbours in Spain have had it harder under lockdown. Much harsher. Not allowed out for exercise at all. One person to go shopping. Fined. Military patrolling the Pueblo blancos.
But they now have a plan. This weekend they were allowed out to walk – restricted to 1km to their home – no driving to a spot then walking ~ and the restrictions will be progressively lifted over three phases. Quite when we will be back is uncertain. But the certainty is we will in whatever way is allowable.
I’d planted a lot of new things in the garden. Things I won’t see this year. The new gaura as part of the lavender path. New alliums. New salvias. I have had photos and a video sent. I’ve heard the elusive black and white bird of paradise Is about to flower ; last year it didn’t. This is it in 2018.
But. We’ve have stayed at home. We’ve social distanced. We’ve clapped on a Thursday. We have washed hands. Smothered ourselves in sanitiser. Social distanced. Followed the rules. If we have to do that for a few more weeks then so be it. We are lucky. We are here. We are healthy.
The only question is. Which one of us will go mad first. The jury is out.