Around about 5.45 pm on Saturday my neighbours were treated to a loud scream of anguish which echoed around the gardens surrounding the apartment blocks in our complex. And with so many blocks piled one upon the other, believe me - screams echo well.
I love wallflowers. I've got some coming on at the moment which should soon be in flower. But there are only fifteen or so of them. For next year I'm hoping for a more spectacular display.
Last summer I sowed some wallflower seeds far too late in the season for them to be big enough to flower this year. But they're hardy and they got through the winter with no problems. They'll grow all this year and be fine for next spring - just call them triennials. But as they seemed to be coming back into growth, I thought it was about time I took them out of the seed trays and potted them on.
Now here I have to confess. You know what they say about thinning out seedlings? Forget it. I can't kill anything. If it straggles up, as far as I'm concerned it gets a chance. As long as I don't inadvertently snap its roots off when I'm separating the seedlings out, into a pot of its own it goes.
I'd planted two rows in the seed tray - and ended up with seventy seedlings. And for an hour or so on Saturday afternoon I stood there happily teasing out the roots and replanting one by one in plug pots. By the time I finished it was getting dark, so I thought I'd better clear up and go in. And that's when it happened.
Now, there are those people who have high visual-spatial intelligence and then there are those of us who are somewhat challenged in that department. To put it mildly we're congenitally clumsy - though I'm sure that's no longer the politically correct expression. We're the ones who are always covered in burns because when we take things out of the oven, we misjudge the distance and brush our arms against the hot racks. We're the ones who need enough space for six articulated lorries in order to park a mini and who eventually give up driving because it's clear that sooner or later we'll kill someone. We're the ones who get beaten by six-year olds when playing Tetris. And we're the ones who drop things, spill things, break things ... You get the general idea.
So there I was with my seventy seedlings all neatly potted up. All I had to do was transfer them from the work space to the trays where they'd stay for a while. Now where had I put the trays? I turned around to look, caught the containers with my elbow, and in a split second swept the lot onto the floor.
In restrospect the neighbours were lucky that I only screamed. They could well have been treated with somewhat more graphic utterance, which probably wouldn't have reflected the English they learnt at school ...
So, in the rapidly deepening twilight, there I was scooping up seventy seedlings and the related potting compost, and starting all over again. Luckily there's a small light on the back balcony so even when it got really dark, I was at least able to see vaguely what I was doing.
I got them all back in except six which had snapped during the fall. So I now have sixty-four wallflowers all ready for flowering next year. OK, exaggerated on a small balcony. But so what? I said I love them, and I can always give them away. Anyone want to come and collect a couple of wallflower seedlings?