Whilst all this was happening our side of the garden fence, next door I saw the brightest blooms, grown for the house, and asked question after question of our wonderful neighbour about what his plants were called and why he grew them. Jim called them his jewels and that's just what they were, bright, cheery and colourful. Dahlias, glads, marigolds, sunflowers, anemones, chrysanthemums and more.
"What would you like Sara?" was always asked but there were tuts and sighs when I pointed out bright dahlias, anemones and glads. Even when I asked for Rosa Ferdinand Pichard, that amazing, I think, white and Crimson striped rose, I was told it was gaudy and to look at something else.
And then of course I found Great Dixter!! For a while Christopher Lloyd was on Gardeners World, in those halcyon Titchmarsh days, and I remember a change. An interest in how those borders at Great Dixter, whilst being a riot of supposedly clashing colours, just worked. Books were purchased and plant lists reviewed at my parents, but still the glads and dahlias never appeared.
But by then of course I had my own little plot and I soon learnt that not only are these plants magnificent, but they are reasonably easy once you've fought the snails at the beginning of the season, and they give a great display until the first heavy frosts, both inside and out, as they cut like a dream. What's not to love?
So this year on the new allotment, half of which is being given over to flowers, the dahlias and glads have begun to be grown again, in their own beds where the mix of the different forms and colours startles the eye and excites the soul. Next year there will be more for certain, mixed I hope with bright perennials such as Heleniums, Echinacea and Rudbeckia.
And in pride of place will be my new Rosa Ferdinand Pichard. Let the gaudy begin!