Community bulbs

I can’t even remember when it started …  At the Ditchling Rise Area Street Party in September, Jo from Shaftesbury Road and I were discussing how good the cut-price onion sets from Lidl had been, and Jo said they now had packs of bulbs. Magically, medium-sized daffodil bulbs then appeared next to the water butt. Diane, Daphne and Mark planted them in the centre of the shady triangle.

Then on a visit to The Garden Centre at the end of September, I picked up a good deal on 50 Narcissus Canaliculatus and 25 Narcissus Tête à Tête –miniature daffodils no more than 15cm high – and Yolande and Marlene planted these along the sloping edge of the garden and among the ferns.

Marlene came back a couple of weeks later with a pack of Iris reticulata bulbs, which we’ve planted at the apex of the triangle, and then Mark and Daphne arrived with a small sack of medium-height daffodils. In the fading light of early November, we planted those along the back wall, by the log.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, when I went to see Bridgette of The Garden House, just along the street from London Road Station, she contributed a bag full of mixed daffodil bulbs. These are now planted along the side of the triangle nearest the water butt.

The shady triangle is admittedly looking a  bit denuded now that the ferns, foxgloves and alchemilla mollis have died down, and the pansies are getting straggly.

The Mahonia japonica is flowering but it’s still small. Miraculously the bargain-shelf fuchsias from May are still in flower and the heucheras I propagated in early spring are a mixture of bronze, green and pink. We can think of adding this year’s cuttings from Heuchera ‘Licorice’ alongside next spring and hopefully, the cuttings we made from the fuchsias will also root well.

But it’s the bulbs that now intrigue me … because they have turned out to be the truest ‘community’ plantings so far, contributed by different neighbours over the last couple of months. And because of the suspense: will they come up? what will they look like? will the squirrels get to them first? We must have planted around a hundred and twenty … perhaps then we can afford to be magnanimous in sharing them with the wider – wilder – community.

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