There’s a lockdown meme going round saying there are two kinds of days, those with deliveries and those without. All I can say is, roll on delivery day, I’ve just excelled myself with a bumper order of plants that will keep me busy for months.
The plopping of the J. Parker’s spring catalogue through the letterbox was proceeded by frantic activity as the pages were pored over and grand ideas drawn up for a not-so-grand garden. That little A5-size catalogue is like a treasure chest full of colour and the promise of good times to come. Plus bargains, and I like a good bargain, who can resist buying two and getting one free? Not me certainly, I’m from Yorkshire.
With ten months of restrictions and counting, due to coronavirus, our gardens have become our sanctuaries and little shrines of happiness. At the moment all I can see is bare soil, with little piles of earth where the cats have left me presents to dig up in the spring, thank goodness I have a terrible sense of smell. As is always the case this time of year, everything in the garden looks sorry for itself and you do wonder whether summer will ever come. But it will, the J Parker’s catalogue is testimony to the changing of the seasons. Its pictures cannot lie.
I thought it was just me who got all giddy over catalogues, but it turns out a number of my running friends also salivate at the prospect of planting. At our weekly Zoomathon, usually reserved for tales of #notparkrun success, there was massive enthusiasm as I waved the catalogue in front of the screen. I even resorted to showing off packets of seeds, which went down very well too, we all want to get growing. Then it was like a confessional, we all had a not-too-secret hankering to buy plants, it’s going to be a very colourful summer for runners.
The 200-or so bulbs I planted in the autumn are starting to poke their way up through the soil. Growers and retailers had all on to keep up with demand and by the time I got to Morrison’s, who do a good line in bulbs, all that was left was a broken bag of daffodils. Fortunately J Parker’s have a bottomless bulb pit so I went a bit mad and ran out of places to put them. All I can say is the neighbours’ gardens are also going to look very pretty come spring.
Marker pen in hand, I settled down with a cuppa and the catalogue. This could take some time, I advised Noel who was looking expectantly towards the kitchen where his meal was waiting to be made. Flowers first, I told him. Cauliflowers? he asked. This is what I live with.
I Googled as I thumbed through the pages. I don’t have a large garden, so the attractive Sarcococca Confusa with its shiny black berries might look good in the pictures, but with the potential of reaching 2m tall, I’d have to fight may way through its branches to get to the greenhouse. In the end I opted for an order including Mahonia Soft Caress, because I liked the name, Salvia Amistad, because the bees will give it the thumbs up, if they had thumbs, Anemone September Charm, because it’s good to have colour in the autumn and seed potatoes for the allotment, because we all need potatoes. As a reward for spending far too much, I get 50 gladioli free, whether I want them or not. Now I like gladioli as much as the next flower-lover, but I have no idea where I’ll put them, the garden will be officially full.
As I took my daily exercise around the village I bumped into my mate Betty, if it’s possible to bump into someone two metres distant. She had also spent a few happy hours putting in her J Parker’s order. Betty is 90 and loves her garden, actually we all love her garden, it’s stunning and a prizewinner at our village show. She confessed she had spent enough to qualify for 100 free gladioli, but was at a loss where to put them. We agreed we’d donate them to the village plant sale.