Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cherryblossom time

Until a few years ago I used to wonder about the fuss about the planting up of Spring bulbs in the autumn. I love the plants and even now my garden is chock with crocus and daffodil, the snowdrops have gone over and the tulips and late narcissi are waiting in the wings, but I couldn't get into the big ritual of the planting. Then a few years ago my parents were both seriously unwell and if I'm honest so was I (all are modestly well now thanks for asking). And it finally dawned on me: the significance of the ritual is that we're hoping we will all survive the winter for to see the results.

When we first moved down here back in the sixties we lived in one of a group of not-awfully-brutal blocks of flats. They were spacious, if cold (concrete floors and no central heating) and in more fashionable areas would have been going for silly money before the crunch came. This not being a fashionable area they were knocked down a couple of years back, leaving some big open spaces we weren't used to. The first year in the areas were seeded by a local group and we had a glorious summer in the company of cornflowers, poppies, corn marigolds and ox-eye daisies. This offended the council and ever since they've been careful to mow everything down to shingle level at least once a month. A few seedlings gamely spring to life along the margins where the mower can't reach; some officious council twonk goes round spraying these with weedkiller to make sure that all sense of cheer is defeated.

The last remainders of the urban landscape I used to know are the trees that were planted in front of the flats. Two black sycamores bring a touch of the exotic, with dull dark leaves that suddenly smoulder into fire in the autumn. The rest are your standard "blossom trees" that you'd have seen in the catalogues of the sixties: the big. blowsy, pink unnamed Japanese cherry; the unnamed red mayflower; and the white plum cherry. They've been there for fifty-odd years now, providing climbing frames for generations of kids and an annual confection of scent and colour. And for a couple of weeks in early May the streets are painted nougat pink in petals.

The empty plots are to be built on this year and the boards are going up round the boundaries.

I do hope we're allowed one last flourish before they bash the trees down.


Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

What is it with these town councils? When I was in Warsaw in the early noughties I was initially depressed by all the grey communist-era blocks of apartments. Then the spring came and from every balcony burst forth a mass of brightly coloured flowers. Every damn one. It was heartening, and humbling.

Gadjo Dilo said...

" garden is chock with crocus and daffodils..." You bastard, what have you done to deserve this?? I planted close to 100 bulbs in my new garden in autumn and I so far have precisely 5 crocuses and 4 tulips - and none of these are yet more than an inch high!! (I'm glad that you and your family are modestly well though.)

It's sometimes the same in the concrete blocks here, Daphne, though the ethnic Hungarians in their villages here have a higher reputation for flower growing.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Daphen: it's the working man's native instinct to try to overcome the brutality of municipal architects.

Gadjo: I planted a couple of thousand. Then replanted the half that were left after the squirrels went on a digging spree. All the iris and aconites went for a Burton but the rest are doing fine now they're nestling under a protective coating of chicken wire.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Ok Kev, I apologise, I see that we are indeed brothers under the skin :-)