When we lived in the house before this one, somebody gave us armfuls of beautiful Chinese Lanterns she'd grown and dried. I kept them for several years, until they got too brittle and dusty to bring here when we moved.
In recent years I've been trying to grow my own. They are supposed to be easy - but can also be invasive in moist soil.
Year one: I planted them in a dry spot. They died.
Year two: Planted them in a large pot, but didn't water enough. They died.
Year three: Planted more in the same pot, but they got overshadowed by other things around them. I had only one or two lanterns among all the foliage.
This year: Was more conscientious with the watering, but realised too late that I should have staked them. All my stems grew crooked, instead of nice and straight.
Then I had the quandary of how to dry. Some websites said hang them upside down, others said the right way up. I dried mine upside down, but now my little lanterns mostly poke upwards instead of having that pretty droppy down effect! In addition, I managed to put my foot through the green garden chair, visible in the photo above, and cut the back of my leg! Don't worry though. It has already become a story.
Next year's mission will be to grow perfect Chinese Lanterns. All advice appreciated. Every year the prospect of winter seems worse, and I need the lanterns' vibrant colours against the enervating darkness.
In other news, I am delighted to have a story close to my heart in the latest People's Friend Special, number 114. Also a poem in issue 5 of the online magazine Kishboo
. The former was inspired by my fascination with sewing; the latter, my fascination with the moon.
Kishboo publishes rhyming, light-hearted poetry, runs a quarterly short story competition, and includes various articles on writing. Do take a look.
Have a happy Halloween. May your pumpkins glow bright, and all your ghosts be friendly.