spring frivolity


Tulips are one of the nicest things about the end of winter.

I love them at all their stages: perusing bulb catalogues in February’s dessicating heat, dreaming of cool spring greens and wishing I was richer, tucking the shiny bulbs into bed in large pots in late autumn, the emergence of the fleshy glaucous leaves in the depths of winter, the turgid unopened greenish buds whose tips give only the slightest hint of the colour forming inside, and now, when the flowers are at the peak of their beauty.


This year, I planted a mix of bulbs called ‘romantic evening’ because a little romance never went astray. The dark crimson tulip has a subtly delicious heliotropish perfume.


I do wish they were slightly less ephemeral though, given how hideously expensive they are. I persist in saving the bulbs, sprinkling them with blood and bone when the flowers finish and letting the leaves die back unattractively before lifting and storing them in egg cartons in the coolest part of the shed until mid-March, when they go into the fridge to chill for 6 weeks before planting time.

Dordogne flowered luxuriantly 2 years in a row for me once, but every other variety I’ve tried has sent up nothing more than a few unimpressive leaves in subsequent years. After which I have buried them in a sunny spot in front of the shed in the hope that one day they might deign to actually flower.

I may be a foolish sucker but I will never be without some pots of tulips in Spring.