Monday, 11 April 2016



Last year we got blessed with a good week of brilliant weather at Easter, but as no two years are the same, we have not been so lucky this year. The garden is just full of potential flowers waiting to open up once the temperatures rise. We get plenty sunshine but always accompanied by cold winds.
Plans for bulb planting last autumn included an attempt to combine tulips with different spring flowering herbaceous and rock garden plants that would compliment each other. The idea was to create several areas of great impact over the season rather than having garden colour scattered all over the place. I first saw this idea a long time ago with a large drift of Tulip fosteriana Red Emperor planted underneath a group of yellow forsythia shrubs.
Anna beside a tub of polyanthus
The show was terrific and although short lived the memory stayed with me. Taking the idea a step forward I have large drifts of yellow saxifrage, blue pulmonaria and golden doronicums in different parts of the garden. They always give a good display but I thought the effect could be enhanced with some complimentary bulb planting. The idea can work in most years, but as all plant growth and flowering is determined by day length and temperature the varying weather can affect the show if one flowers ahead of the other. Tulip kaufmaniana Scarlet Baby was planted next to my lemon yellow saxifrage drift and this year they are all flowering together, but low temperatures prevent the tulips opening up fully.
Blue pulmonaria has tulip Monte Orange and Red Revival planted within the drifts. They are not yet out but flowering and timing are looking good.
Golden doronicums were under planted with purple triumph tulip Negrita which is also said to be scented, but flowering is still a week away.
Another area where I grow peonies  has been underplanted with a mixture of Darwin hybrid tulips as well as the early fosteriana tulip Red Emperor and Purissima. The latter is also scented, but can vary depending on temperature. These tulips will be finished and drying off by the time the peonies need the space. In addition to the tulips this area also has tall oriental lilies planted here and there to show the exotic scented flowers in summer when the peonies are finished.
Narcissi February Gold, daffodils, Chionodoxa, grape hyacinths and Crocus are now all looking great and most tulips and hyacinths are not far behind.
At the edge of my winter garden the pink heather, Erica carnea is in full flower and has some blue Anemone blanda mixed into the drifts. These look like one of my successful groupings as they are all flowering together and at the same height, but in reality seeds were scattered by birds and in compost mulches.
Crocus and primroses
The first rhododendron praecox is in flower though the show has been somewhat thinned out due to an attack of scale on the leaves over the last two years. Not an easy pest to control.
Coming up in height Forsythia is now providing a great golden display and the Viburnum carlcephalum has white highly scented flowers at their best on every decent day.
Plant tubs with wallflower and polyanthus add colour to the patio but hanging baskets planted up for a spring display with winter pansies are still slow to grow, desperately needing some warmer weather. Good job I added some mixed crocus to brighten them up as the pansies are not at their best so far.

Wee jobs to do this week

Dahlia tubers stored dry over winter, or recently bought in can now get potted or boxed up in fresh compost. You can wait a bit longer until risk of frost has passed and plant the tubers into the ground allowing two to three feet spacing depending on variety. Tubers started earlier with a bit of heat, should produce several young shoots from the base of last years flower stems. These can be used as cuttings once they are about three to four inches long. I root these in small pots in a seed compost and keep them in a warm place to encourage rooting. A polythene bag over them retains moisture and prevents them drying out.


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