160. Back in the Bulg

by | Apr 28, 2018 | Gardening bore | 9 comments

Here I am! Back from the UK* to a gloriously warm Bulgarian spring.

Man, the garden shot up while I was away. I was only gone 10 days and I swear the perennials have grown by a foot. This is the best time of year for a gardener, I think. You’ve got all the promise of the summer ahead. All the excitement of the emerging perennials that were divided and moved last autumn (which always feels like a lifetime ago by this point of the year). All the anticipation of tiny seedlings growing every day. And none of the disappointment of plant failures and deaths that will inevitably come along (slugs, snails, new things that just don’t like our soil or we’ve bunged in the wrong place).

It’s the gardening equivalent of Christmas Eve – all the excitement with none of the indigestion.

Christ, there’s a lot to do, though. Between now and early June, we’ll be working outside every weekend (weeding, planting, keeping on top of the grass), and tinkering with seedlings (thinning, pricking out, etc.) in between the weekends. But we’re ready. The wonky polytunnel is up, and we’re raring to go.

Next time, I’ll talk about what we’re growing this year. For now, here are more Gardening Bore 2018 pictures for you to enjoy or ignore as you see fit…


The big main perennial border: top right was about a month ago, top left was
just before I went to the UK. Bottom row is after my trip, with more aquilegias
coming into flower every day.


Tulips stayed in flower for ages this year, thanks to the lack of heavy rain.


Remember I mentioned we were forcing our gladioli bulbs in water?
It works. It works ridiculously well!


Baby snapdragons, carnations and cosmos growing in the spare room/seedling factory.


Wonky polytunnel tribute.


Meanwhile, in the vegetable camp…


Tomatoes growing up well. These ones are, I think, a bush pink variety called Grushkova.


Wide load rhubarb.


A random lettuce growing in our terrace, proving that, while we may kid ourselves that
the garden needs us, it does perfectly well on its own.


We’ve been eating SO much asparagus.


*I do like to entertain you with tales of my random UK purchases that wouldn’t fit in my suitcase. This time: giant palm tree candlesticks (yes, plural), brass hanging plant holders (again, note the plural), a second-hand hammered brass ball lamp that will NEVER fit in literally any suitcase of any kind. (I’m weirdly into brass lately. By the time all this shit makes it to Bulgaria, I’ll probably have got over this phase.)

I also went wild in Portsmouth’s charity shops and bought so many clothes that I had to travel to the airport wearing the big straw hat and three summer tops that simply wouldn’t squash in my (hand luggage only) suitcase. Picture me on the train to Gatwick, wearing a big straw hat and many floaty layers, at 10pm, and you have a good idea of how much of a nutcase I looked.


  1. Mark Shaw

    It amazes me how much in front Bulgaria is compared to the UK in terms of the garden. If you were here in the UK last week you have had the best of our summer then as it got to 20+ degrees for two days rain here on in for the rest of the year. Look forward to more gardening bore updates.

  2. the hippopotamus

    Dear Claire,

    I love reading your blog! Lots more gardening bore posts, please! Have you had an serious gardening failures?

  3. the hippopotamus

    I have just been reading about artichokes. They are amazingly good for you, it seems, and they have all kinds of wonderful things in them. Unlike asparagus, they do not make your pee horribly stinky. Do you have any artichoke-related posts for us?

  4. James Ruston

    Hi! Fellow Ruston here 🙂 Not sure if we're related. I'm of the North Yorkshire variety but with roots out from London too. Heading over to Sofia Bulgaria on Thursday the 17th and Belogradchik on Monday the 21st. Have you any quick tips for short stays in Bulgaria? Many thanks.

  5. the hippopotamus

    Sofia: "Made in the Kitchen" restaurant has rave reviews. The Russian Church, the Russian Cathedral, the ladies' market. Rila Monastery and the Seven Lakes are not too far away. If you are going to Belgogradchik rocks, then try to see Kom Mountain on the way and have lunch at the Pri Ivan restaurant.
    Veliko Tarnovo: just wander about. It's lovely.
    My blog's address is http://www.bulgariawithnoodles.blogspot.com and there is a post called "BG Dreams" which is all about nice places in Bulgaria. There is also a post (and nice photos) of Veliko Tarnovo too. I hope that this is helpful! Of course, you will probably like BG so much that you will want to buy a house here (they are amazingly cheap!) and if that is the case then you will need to read my posts on my blog about why you should buy a property in Bulgaria AND why you should not.

    We all love Claire's blog, James, but alas she is sometimes a bit slow when it comes to replying to comments posted on her blog, so I hope that she will not be too offended that a non-Ruston has replied for her.

  6. Auntie Bulgaria

    Hello fellow Ruston! (I've never met anyone with my surname, except for actual family members. How exciting. I'm very much of the Portsmouth variety, and there are a few of us.)

    Assuming this catches you before you go, I wrote a really detailed blog about what to do/where to eat in Sofia. Here's the link:

    I'd add a couple more recent recommendations, too: Cosmos is a fantastic restaurant that does a really interesting, modern take on Bulgarian food. Highly recommended. And last year we did the 365 Communist walking tour, which was long (knocking on 4 hours) but fascinating. If you have the time, do it.

    I've never been to Belogradchik, but it looks stunning. Enjoy! Do come back and tell me what you thought of Bulgaria.

  7. Auntie Bulgaria

    We are quite far ahead, yes. The downside, of course, is that things are over earlier. Asparagus? Already done. My prized alliums? Pretty much over. Come October/November we have very little in the way of flowers to look at. So if you've any recommendations on very, very late flowering stuff, I'd love to know!

  8. Auntie Bulgaria

    Well, last year our entire crop of tomato seedlings died. So that was a pretty catastrophic failure. Every year we try new things and some of them fail. It's just part of gardening. On your other comment, we don't grow the globe artichokes, but we might give it a go in the future.


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