Sunday, 20 March 2011

Flower power on the allotment



Earlier this week I possessed all the optimism of Tracey Stubbs from Birds of Feather.

Spent an entire day sending emails (of the freelance writer kind) and willing various people to reply - even sent an email to myself to prove my account was still working - it was. It seems the only person emailing me... was me.

There was still a blanket of fog around this part of Essex. About midday I was beginning to think I was dead and this was in fact heaven. The afterlife = a 60s tower block in Southend.

Anyway the only way to lift the gloom was to pour a drink, stick on the Archers podcast and start planting in doors. Elizabeth Pargeter needing resuscitation and Kenton and Jolene (shudder) aside it was very therapeutic.

This year on the allotment I'm keen to grow more flowers. Last year I managed Nasturtiums and some very low growing Sunflowers, which only just managed to make it up off the ground before the slugs devoured them.

This time I'm taking no chances with Sunflowers and am growing Mongolian Giant - which grow up to 14ft high. Try climb that, you slimy gits.

I also planted some Dahlias in seed trays, and chose another whopper, Giant Hybrids Mixed, because I'm with Liberace on the 'more is more' theory and think there is no better use of hot pink than on a fat Dahlia bloom in the middle of a green allotment.

Lupins were next - Band of Nobles Mixed - just because there is something pleasingly 50s about Lupins - I don't know why. I expect them to be grown in a garden in St Mary Mead. And like the dahlias, with their poker shapes in deep purple and egg yolk, they have a razzle-dazzle 'em quality which contrasts nicely with the upturned skip aesthetic of the allotment.

I took tips from Garden Organic at Ryton, as featured in the Allotment Keepers Handbook, and sowed some Tagetes Golden Gem. I also have some Californian Poppies, subtitled 'Easy For Children to Grow' so even I should be able to manage it.

I have yet to source Scarlet Flax or Red Orache but there's got to be something 'slaughterous red, luscious and fantastic'. (It's a line from Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca which I discovered thanks to Tim Richardson on the Telegraph gardening page.)

So the seeds are sown and covered in clingfilm ready to sprout. And when they do hopefully the fog will have lifted and I'll be an more optimistic frame of mind - how can I fail to be?

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