I promised a blogpost on Anna Pavord's talk at the Garden Museum on October 1 and hey, presto, 14 days later, here it is!
Anna was talking about her new book, Bulb, which took her four years to write, and you can see why - it's an erudite, beautiful piece of work that deserves to be pored over on many a cold winter's evening to come. The talk was full of gems - her bulb planting mix recipe (two scoops of John Innes no 3 to one scoop of 6ml grit), what bulbs to pick ("the simplest route to growing bulbs is to find out what likes you and grow lots of it"), and her description of Narcissus cyclamineus as looking "like a surprised piglet caught in the wind".
What was most reassuring to me was her emphasis on the importance of remembering that it is an "unreal expectation" to asume a bulb will flower every year: even in optimal conditions in the wild, many only bloom sporadically. So it may not be your fault when your tulips don't come back year after year! If you want to get more of a flavour of what she said, read this piece in the Independent. Here she is above signing copies of her book after the talk.
I was so inspired I went straight home and planted loads of bulbs the following weekend, and ordered many more. Incredibly, I've never grown paperwhite narcissus, so I'll be giving those a try for the first time this year, and using this top tip of giving the bulbs a nip of vodka to stop them falling over (funny, that - it's the reverse in humans!) And whatever the Garden Monkey says, I'll be growing some hyacinths (white ones, probably) because I like them, and that's that.
Also in the audience were the garden designers Dan Pearson (who I'd never met before) and Cleve West (who I already know), and I got to meet Christopher Woodward, the Garden Museum director, in person for the first time. Have a look at the Guardian gardening blog for my post on the museum's latest exhibition, The Good Life: 100 Years of Growing Your Own.