It’s a mash-up

La Gomera

La Gomera is a lovely island, but aspects of it played with my head. For starters it has a dramatic volcanic landscape with a green and ancient rainforest on the top. And in the towns, the planting is a total mash-up thanks to the year-long climate of around 22 degrees.

I’m sure it all looks perfectly normal to Gomeran person but to a Brit some of the planting combinations in the gardens are quite startling – geraniums next to amaryllis, snapdragons alongside orchids and daturas rubbing shoulders with orange blossom.

It’s all very colourful, though. I wonder if La Gomera has the equivalent of Britain in Bloom?


St Albans

Every year I think I’ll plant paperwhites in autumn to flower at Christmas, and every year I don’t get around to it. Just as I never get around to posting Christmas cards by the worldwide posting dates, booking the sellout play/concert/restaurant that everyone’s talking about, or buying summer clothes before the winter ones start appearing in July.

My friend Huw is far more organised – he plants paperwhites as soon as the bulbs are on sale at his local market (in September). He has a steady production line of amaryllis and hyacinths too. As a result he is never without flowers of some description and has masses to give away.

These were planted outside, in mid September, and have been in flower since the beginning of November.

Lovely as they undoubtedly are, is it a little to early for them, with the autumn leaves still on the trees?? For me, early bulbs are a pleasure of Christmas, January and February – a hint of what’s to come…

Huw’s garden

St Albans

Every September, my friend Huw starts off loads of hyacinth bulbs in old coffee jars (apparently Co-op Fairtrade Instant have exactly the right neck size). And then he gives most of them away so that people can enjoy them at the dullest, darkest time of the year – often they’re out by Christmas. He keeps plenty for himself too, and when they’ve flowered indoors he puts them out in the garden to flower the following year. This year they’ve put on a great show.

I ate my lunch next to the amaryllis – its flower was almost as big as my head. It got attacked by narcissus fly last year but has bounced back. It was having a brief holiday outdoors in the unseasonably warm weather and will spend the summer outside.