Turns out I have an American neighbour on the allotment! He lived and thrived and surfed through the sixties and seventies, and is now happily living in Finland with his wife. Come spring, his plot has the most extravagant display of tulips – he told me he once bought them from the Netherlands by the handful, took them on a plane and planted them on his plot, where they thrive up to today.
He also grows the most extravagant gladioli!
He treats them as annuals, replacing the corms every year. Once, he told me, he encountered a bride on the island just as he was making his way home. A bride without a bouquet. He happened to carry a sizable bunch of gladioli with him, so he thrust the bunch of gladioli into her arms, happily. I’d like to do that for someone sometime.