Vignette No.13 – Lightning Bulbs

Lightning Bulbs

Growing lightning from the bulb was one of his riskier ventures but it had been undeniably educational. Sitting with his laptop on the verandah steps at the end of the week, putting together his latest column, he tried to think of a way to describe the experience that other, less adventurous, gardeners could understand.

If you thought growing mandrakes was hard, he typed at last, think again.

He paused, looking out over the garden. The lawn would take weeks to recover from those scorch marks. It was only fortunate that he’d been able to head off the fire before it reached his prized stand of ghost willows or the rare cuttings of sleeping briar he was cultivating in the greenhouse. After that he had been in two minds over whether to persevere. But he had already told his readers about this latest project and he couldn’t bring himself to admit defeat from any plant, even ground lightning, so he had spent that entire evening trialling soil mixtures with fireproof gloves until he hit upon the right blend of earth and phoenix droppings. He now replicated the precise recipe for his readers, with the caveat of no personal responsibility should it not work and their bulbs explode anyway. That had been known to happen.

Adding a handful of hazel nuts to the compost blend is believed to help subdue the raw energy in these bulbs. So far they seem to be working for me, he wrote. Choosing a suitable pot, though, is harder than you might think. All materials that can conduct electricity are of course out, but wood can be a danger when the bulbs open, so I’ve gone with terracotta and packed them in nice and tight with lots of soil around the outside too. You can never be too careful!

No need to tell anyone about the trial and error it had taken for him to come to all these now rather obvious conclusions. He glanced ruefully over his shoulder at the charred remains of the three rustic wooden buckets that had been his first choice.

Not everyone is cut out to be an extreme gardener. There’s nothing wrong with your backyard tub of tulips! But for those looking for a real challenge and a fantastic contemporary ground cover, they don’t get any hotter than ground lightning. Just remember to keep the pets away and stick to the path (unless you are an experienced fire-walker, in which case I would still advise keeping a hose close at hand).

He was about to send it off when the pleasant smell of fresh mown grass was interrupted by an acrid waft of smoke. He groaned. “Not again?”

It looked like terracotta wasn’t such a good idea after all. Maybe concrete would be better, he decided. Heavily reinforced concrete.

© Faith Mudge, 2012

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