One of the side-effects of ageing is the urge to garden, which, unfortunately, tends to rear its head just when your knees have turned into agonising swollen purple turnips.
For me, decades of being unable to procreate has manifested itself in the desire to produce flowers. Preferably, I’d like to do this without ever reading a single instruction, either in a manual or on the back of a packet of seeds. I don’t want to do the homework; I just want to watch the miracles rise from the earth, thank you.
This spring, I had such raging success with a tub of tulips – blooms of such beauty! – I was quite tempted to transport them up and down the street in a pram. But, inevitably, the flowers blew themselves inside out and dropped their petals. Such is nature.
Rather than do some actual research, I turned to Twitter, asking: what should I do with my dead potted tulips? The answers came thick and fast and, in true Twitter style, the advice was split straight down the middle.
Half my garden gurus instructed the removal of the bulbs from the pot. These bulbs (not to be confused with corms or tubers) should be dried, then kept somewhere dry and dark, preferably in a brown paper bag, until repotting season in September. The other 50% suggested doing bugger all. “Just leave them!” they cried. “If they’re going to come back next year, they’ll come back next year.” Gardeners, it seems, fall into two camps: those who really enjoy grunt work, and those who would rather do absolutely nothing, leaving it entirely to fate.
Despite being very new to this game, I already know which group I fall into.