… and there is a nip in the air. The trees, for the most part, are still green and holding onto their leaves. Swallows and martins show off and delight overhead; they haven’t started queuing up on power lines yet, anxious to be away. But you can sniff something in the air. And it’s not me.
The Priory Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) – the biggie on the left. It will be a mass of yellow in no time at all
There is a crispness and clearness and cleanness that hasn’t been noticeable over the past few months.
The trees (mainly oak) lining the river
And it’s certainly colder too. I delved into the back of my wardrobe and dragged out my big winter coat. It’s black with big red patches and is smart and warm and wearing it makes me happy. Might show you a photo of it one day. Might not.
At the Old Forge, I gaze up at a dogfight sky, double check it’s not June 1940 and crack on with the mowing to keep off the early morning chill.
At the Priory, on a wet inclement morning, I hold a pint mug of scalding hot Earl Grey (a splash of skimmed milk, no sugar – obviously) and peruse the newly delivered bulb catalogue. Pretty much all the Priory bulbs come from one supplier. A bulk supplier called Peter Nyssen – and no, sadly I’m not on commission. I do recommend them but my only gripe is that the catalogue has a dearth of pretty pictures to set my pulse racing. I have to cross reference with the RHS encyclopedia and lesser (but better illustrated) catalogues in order to see what pretty, pretty flowers I might be buying.
I was going to be so strong this year. So very, very strong. Like iron. Strong and immovable. Like a rock. I would not buy any bulbs. No. No way, Sergei. Wasn’t going to happen. Then, foolishly in a moment of absentmindedness, I picked up the catalogue.
Since I started at the Priory I have planted the following (deep breath):
Daffodils – 2660
Tulips – 800
Anemone nemorosa – 200
Fritillaria meleagris – 1000
Alliums – 455
Crocuses – 900
Camassia – 200
Daffodil 'St Patrick's Day'
And a few other bits and pieces too (e.g. erythroniums, cyclamens) and, of course, there are the bulbs/corms etc that were here BM (before me).
Tulip 'Queen of Night'
So, as I had planted so very many bulbs, I had decided not to buy any more this year. Enough is enough. But then I picked up the catalogue and had a rush of E’s. Eremurus (the thought of them sends a shiver down my spine), eranthis (I walked 70 miles in the Lake District one February, saw these everywhere and was smitten), eucomis (just the name makes me keel over).
The flesh is strong but the will is a pile of jelly. Now, where’s my pen?