tulips!

Tulip season is well underway now and it is a great big thrill to be harvesting such lovely, exotic, unreal-seeming blooms.  However, since we haven't planted any new bulbs for a few years now, our stocks are dwindling, and I am spending many happy hours pouring over bulb catalogues selecting the varieties we will plant in the autumn for picking next year.  There are some so beautiful varieites.  Today I've picked rich red 'Ronaldo', bright orange 'Ballerina', and lots of glorious feathered and twisted, streaked and striped 'Exotic Emperor', white with slivers of green and yellow, and a crisp crumple of little twirled-up petals at the centre.  Loveliness.  I have also been meeting two very nice women, Claire and Lucy, who have asked me to run one of a series of craft-related courses at Marie's in Ludlow - look out for the flyers!  I'm going to have a stab at teaching easy, artless floristry, using garden flowers to create a splash of joyous nature in your house.  We've been busily weeding and rescuing perennials from the clutches of creeping buttercup which likes to spread itself around the garden, and covering the neat beds with crumbly manure from Philip, the farmer.  We have also begun to plant out our hardy annuals, which are gasping to be freed from their pots and allowed to flourish in the open ground.  We've begun with two big beds of Ammi majus, the airy cow parsley- like plant which everyone seems to love, and which we've been planting with the help of Jenny, our wonderful volunteer.  We are so very grateful for Jenny's invaluable help that we make cake for her to eat, but she is fond of animals, and we have to watch her carefully to make sure that she doesn't feed her cake to the dog!