Last week I reported that we had just moved our dutch-light greenhouse as part of the preparation for the Chelsea Flower Show, hoping that all the work so far had not been in vain. Last week the Show was officially cancelled, the very first time since World War II.
As my father would have said, periods of disaster are part of life, but eventually, normalcy will return. I read this week my grandfather's 1940 catalogue foreword. The bulb collection was replaced by vegetables and in May 1940, after the occupation of Holland, his nurseries in the UK were ploughed over and converted to crop production to help feed the British people. Despite all the hardships of the war, which included being arrested by the Gestapo for naming a tulip "Spitfire", there was an underlying belief that good would triumph and life had to be carried on. Indeed, at the end of hostilities in 1945, he returned to the UK courtesy of the R.A.F bearing a gift of flower bulbs from the Dutch Government to the British people in gratitude for the liberation of The Netherlands. Our problems today, although serious, are put into perspective.
Although everything seems somewhat surreal, we are doing our best to carry on as normally as possible. Out of habit we always keep a close eye on the weather at this time of year, sunshine and frosts for the next week, excellent weather to slow the tulips down. Spring has now officially started.
I always try and measure a late or early season by the date I first pick my Apricot Beauty tulips. The average date over the last 70 years has been 6th April. Last year they were picked on 29th March, and by my reckoning this year they still have a few weeks to go. Our outdoor tulip festivals are still scheduled to go ahead, and they will have a bumper display of tulips.
Meanwhile, there is plenty to do preparing the summer garden, so I had better take advantage of the weather today, isolate myself in the garden and get on with it,