Planting Bulbs Beyond Pig Row

Running down the lane in front of Pig Row is a dry stone wall. It is slowly collapsing into the field, cows skips over it in summer, horses peer over it in autumn trying to eat the good grass over our side of the wall. The wall is crumbling, and no one owns it and no one can repair it because you have to be a professional dry stone wall builder to do it and because the council say if you do it, you get sued. There needs to be a bit more common sense in the world. Cue us. Cue us saying, 'Hey there councillor, those verges look bad and we want to plant them up'. Big mouths. Big ideas. Big reasons. A planting of the verges may stabilise what's left of the verges, maybe a bit of colour will make people think twice about parking on them as they sigh about the view and then drive off destroying it. Maybe the plants will stop the wall from falling over and by gum we threw our hat in the ring and by gum that councillor stumped up money for us to plant bulbs and wildflowers in them. Now we know that daffodils beyond pseudo narcissus are not wild flowers but the people around here asked for them, they like them, we like them and we have just planted over thousand bulbs of them. 

gardening, guerrilla gardening

In this narrow strip of land betwixt wall and road we have planted the following varieties, Tamar and Mixed for Naturalising. Neighbours have looked on as we dug, the local pub owner said, couldn't we pick a better day; it was bitter out and sadly he didn't offer us any either. Ramblers, donned in scarves, thick jackets and hats speak, muffled from behind their layers to ask why and then say, 'How lovely!' They think we're mad. However, we forget that even now we can still get some bulbs in the ground, we have planted daffodils as late as January and they have still flowered at the same time. The bulbs we have here flower from February to May. They spread down the lane and across the old road and around a bench. No one knows they are there now, and come spring it should be glorious, should be shocking, should be wonderful and people may think back to one person with a bucket full of bulbs clutching a spade in December. Maybe we won't look so mad then. 


Planting with a spade is a fast process, almost archaeological in taste, the spade goes in and if we hit stone, it comes out and we probe elsewhere for deep soil. It's hit and miss. Like a bizarre crossword of half dug holes and fully opened sleeves of turf rolled back like an autopsy. We are peeling back the verges, we find some bulbs planted by neighbours, old discarded plastic bottles and the remains of someone's picnic; a cutlery set rusted and fused together. Normally the planting of bulbs involves chucking them in the air and planting them where they land but we can't do that here, all the bulbs would roll into the road and be crushed by passing cars that slow to watch us. Drivers faces pressed against the glass, we give some bulbs away to neighbours' down the lane. We make them promise to plant them where they can be seen. They go to a farm. They go to a doctor. They go to a man in a white van who lives in the dip, over half a mile away. He's keen. He's interested in what we are doing. We talk about daisies and he wonders if they will kill horses and we tell him, no. We reel off a list of horse killers Fiddleneck, Hemp dogbane, Horseradish, Milkweed, Thistles, Houndstongue, Male fern, St. John's Wort, Mallow, Buttercups (he's shocked at that one, they're everywhere in the fields), Ragwort and Red clover to name a few but we have yet to find daisies on that list.


The planting is simple, methodical, four cuts with the spade in a square and the sod lifted out. The depth of the spade is the depth of the planting for the bulbs. We're using a border spade, narrow and sharp. It cuts turf like butter even though we huff and puff in the cold. Two weekends, one bout of snow, over a thousand bulbs are planted as the sun sinks we carry empty buckets home and clean the spades by the front door. There is colour in the sunset, there is colour hidden just beneath the surface.



  1. That's great can't wait to see when the bulbs flower .