A parcel came today. Narjip, our lovely, obliging postman, came all the way down the drive with it, 400 metres off his route, and tooted the horn at the gate. A very large cardboard box! I knew what it was - the bulbs I'd ordered from Melbourne.
I put it on the dining room table, and took to the box with scissors. All so carefully wrapped. Some little green plants, secure and upright in their plastic moulds, appearing not to have minded their 4 day journey in the dark at all. And packages of heavy bulbs. Big, brown, fat jonquils and daffodils. Bearded iris with bright green shoots already sprouting from their sawdust packing. Tiny, plump crocus and feathery light-as-butterflies Bethlehem stars. Smooth, hard Dutch Iris to plant among the lavender bushes.
I could not wait until tomorrow. Got the dinner organised quickly, and went outside with the packet of mixed crocus. I knew exactly where I wanted to put them - among the little nooks and crannies and corners in the rocky 'dry creek bed' that E made for me along the front of the house.
I have now, finally, almost finished planting this particular garden bed. Many of the plants have been replaced twice, sometimes three times, giving up to the frost, the scorching afternoon sun, the relentless rabbit attacks, or just simply deciding the rocky surroundings and shallow sandy soil wasn't for them. Now at last, a garden is emerging here, lots of creeping thyme and oregano, a hibertia, a scrambling rose, the beautiful green succulent roses from my grandson's Dad's cactii collection (which I inherited), and blue convolvulus clambering about.
I planted crocus in this bed last year. The first bulbs to emerge in late winter, the vivid purples and yellows against the grey river rock and dull mulch were a thrilling surprise announcement that Spring was near. Next year, I said to myself, I will plant more.
Now it is early Autumn, and the time is here. Late afternoon, the sun still warm, but a sharpish breeze tells that the night will be cooler. I get down on my kneeler, pull the mulch away, and break the soil with the trowel. The rocks are like a shelter, a built garden place that nevertheless looks like just the kind of place my crocus might choose to start a new life, if they could. I push them carefully into the holes I make with the trowel, making sure they're the right way up, cover them over with soil, and replace the mulch.
A magpie is chortling somewhere. A large black cricket rushes away from the disturbance in the soil. Orange tinged clouds fan across the sky. The breeze stirs the old elms. Down in the dark, moist earth, something will stir in the crocus bulbs soon. I will look every day, as I pass in and out of the front door, thinking of it, and waiting for the first sign.