Golden and silver Valley

10 November 2014
Ben Pentreath

The weekend got off to a shaky start for some.


It was bonfire night in the village, where we watched a fantastic display under the stars… and then the real party started in the village hall. I went to bed at ten. Charlie got home at 4am, with a pair of trousers ripped to shreds. Don’t ask me what happened. History doesn’t quite relate, but I believe it involved the entire village dancing on top of the bar. 

The following morning the house was understandably quiet. But we decided nonetheless to tackle bulb planting. I don’t know what it is about ordering tulip bulbs, but it happens every year.  I have a glass of wine or two and go mad. Then the boxes arrive. It’s kind of scary.

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My task was relatively light. The beds and pots outside the house. Charlie was in charge of rows of tulips in the veg patch, and I reckon he planted something like 700 bulbs, or maybe 1000.  Bonkers. The power of dancing. Here are my meagre beds.P1060581 P1060582

It poured with rain half way through and we escaped into town and came back to find the valley suffused in an extraordinary golden light. I love this time of year at the best of times but the weather has been truly beautiful this weekend. A Golden valley.
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Even the sheds at the top of the house glowed.P1060611


Even the pile of manure glowed. There’s nothing more that I love than a huge pile of manure.  But you see what I mean?P1060615

We worked like crazy and as dusk settled we were nearly finished. The following morning was incredibly clear and bright.P1060619

I still had my pots to do:P1060621

But first, a walk around the garden to watch the rising sun.P1060623 P1060626 P1060630 P1060632 P1060633 P1060634 P1060641

Pots ready to start:P1060642

Pots complete:

Spring green, Purissima, Black Parrot, and narcissi Avalanche, all safely in.

There is something so incredibly optimistic about gardening.  Just as the year is turning into the deepest winter, and the shortest day is a few weeks away, we were in the garden in warm autumn sunshine thinking and plotting and planning next spring. P1060657 P1060659 P1060664

The day sparkled with silver.  In between torrential showers, and the small Remembrance Day service in the church, the light shone in a way that I haven’t remembered in a long while. P1060674P1060670

It feels like a time of new beginnings, already.

15 comments on this post


My fiancé believes I have a bulb problem. I have just shown him your blog to compare with my modest 100 or so for the garden and 3 pots of paper whites. He thinks your bulb problem is bigger than mine. But than so is your garden…


A reminder that all that beauty comes at a steep price, both for the bulbs and one’s back! Nevertheless, your life looks like a fantasy from here. Cheers, Ben.


Love your life, thanks for sharing.


The shortest day of the year nearly there? Lawd, that must mean the longest day is nearly here here. Batten down the hatches!

I’m with Claire (except I’d like tulips AND a picture of Charlie). I scrolled down thinking that what the photos needed was a bit of human presence. Don’t usually think that when I look at your pics.

HA! “Even the pile of manure glowed.” Too funny! But it really does, and so does everything else. Beautiful photos!

Ben , Feck all those tulip bulb pics, what about a picture of Charlie?? Just the smallest one.

Dear Ben, I am sitting here with a bad case of tulip envy! Alas, I cannot grow them in western PA, the deer find tulips a great delicacy. However, they mostly leave the other bulbs alone, so I’m grateful.

I decided the bulbs needing separating this Fall. The acidanthera and daffs went especially bonkers. After digging up soccer-ball-sized clumps, and even after spreading them all around the property, everyone on my Christmas list will get pots of bulbs this year! There are a couple dozen pots over-wintering in the garage. Come spring, (summer for the acidanthera) the ones I don’t give away will line all the walkways, and some will be displayed in window-boxes on my front porch railing. Perhaps I will get some tulips after all, as yet I don’t think the deer come onto the porch. (But I wouldn’t put it past them.) Thanks for sharing the photos of your garden in the golden after-storm light, and looking lovely even at this time of year.




Tulip-o-mania indeed! Looking forward to the springtime show. Some primroses are out already in the garden in East Devon and narcissi bulbs are well through the topsoil. Just have to chuck some more compost on and hope for the best. Very nice manure heaps by the way. Nicola


So happy for you. <3


Lovely, lovely photos; the garden is beautiful as it prepares for winter. Can’t wait to see the tulips blooming in the spring. Thank you so much, Ben, for sharing with us.


Love the bulbs – I can picture the spring – I have just had spring and my bulbs are over for another year – I always say I can live without anything but not without flowers. Charlie will tell you my house always has flowers x

Deby (in Canada)says:

Bonkers!!!!… but in the nicest possible way…
I was planting bulbs in Canada today… lots but not bonkers lots!
Such a blissful post- the light was a treat and even more fun to think of
Charlie at your Village Hall!

Southern Galsays:

just looked at the christmas offerings in the shop… oh my those ornaments are glorious… wistfully eyeing them however dont think they would survive a trip across the pond.

Southern Galsays:

looking forward to seeing the blooms next spring!

your garden looks ready for the long winter… love all that dark earth – looks so lusciously fertile

The valley and the garden look magnificent in the warm glow of autumn. I was just speculating about when to plant my own bulbs as I’d left them in a corner of my basement after purchasing them at a local nursery a few weeks ago. This post has spurred me on to get the job done.

Narcissi Avalanche are my favorite and you get to reap the benefits for years to come as they multiply with little effort. In fact, just yesterday I noticed their green tips are already peaking through the earth (I garden in San Francisco). This is extremely early and worryingly so.

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