Sunday, 29 April 2018



Spring is long overdue, and this feature on spring flowers had to be put back a couple of times as spring flowers were hard to find. The early flowers such as snowdrops and aconites were in full bloom when disaster struck as the “Beast from the East” descended upon us and a couple of feet of snow flattened all the flowers. Brief moments
John and Serge admire the spring flowers
with brighter days allowed the crocus to appear, but they also suffered due to cold temperatures and lack of sunshine. Cold winds continued with more snow in the following weeks and there was little improvement in the garden till the middle of April.
plants however continued to push up flowers despite the rotten weather. Tubs of polyanthus and hanging baskets with pansies have been in full flower from late February and looking great, but Myosotis, the Forget me Not, was very unhappy and quite a few died out. Early flowering tulips planted in between these spring bedding flowers have appeared but flowering is still a couple of weeks away.
My early Rhododendron praecox which normally flowers in March, attempted to flower in early April but the cold winds and overnight frosts shrivelled them up. Other Rhododendrons and azaleas are in no rush to flower so nothing to report back till some time in May.
It was mid April before any decent spring weather arrived, (apart from Easter day) and warmed
Anemone blanda
up the garden to let other flowers have their moment in the sunshine.
Forsythia was a pure golden picture against a blue sky. Forsythias are great value, very easy to grow shrubs, but can grow quite large so need plenty of room. If you have the space to let them grow they will reward you every spring with a dramatic display of golden yellow flowers.
My pink Camellia Donation came out at the same time and put on a great display, just ahead of the red Camellia Adolphe Audusson. This one makes a large bush so some size reduction pruning was done last year immediately after flowering. It soon grew more young shoots which had time to mature and ripen up the wood to produce flower buds ready for the next year.
Camellia Donation and Betula jacquemontia
Back down at ground level flowering bulbs are definitely three weeks late this year, but still the show goes on. Narcissus February Gold (definitely in need of a change of name) was one of the first to arrive in mid April, and although the flower is small it forms a carpet of yellow when mass planted in large drifts in grass verges. Other daffodils and narcissus continue the show, though my two scented varieties, Cheerfulness and the Jonquils are not yet in flower.
Hyacinths appear all over the garden and are a delight to see as they brighten up numerous dull spots. I use them in tubs to flower alongside other spring bedding plants, and then after the display is over and the
Narcissus February Gold
plants get removed, I replant the bulbs where ever I see a bare dull patch. They then naturalise and reappear every year.
Tulips are late this year, and my plan to group them amongst other spring flowering herbaceous and rock garden plants with similar flowering times is not working as well as I hoped. Tulip Scarlet Baby, just made it in time amongst my yellow saxifrage which had been in flower for a fortnight.
Other tulips amongst my blue Pulmonaria and my yellow Doronicum have yet to flower, but there is still time if the Pulmonaria and Doronicum can hang on a bit longer.
The dwarf bulbs, Anemone blanda, Scilla siberica, Grape hyacinths and Chionodoxa in their various shades of blue are all above ground and flowering whether the sun shines or not. They are happy to be left alone to multiply up, but watch the grape hyacinths as they can dominate an area if allowed.

Wee jobs to do this week
Pink orchid

House plants enjoy a warmer environment than those outdoors, so start into growth earlier. This is a good time to give them a spring feed to encourage new growth. Phalaenopsis orchids seem to have their own ideas on the flowering season. I purchased one in full flower last August at our City Road Allotments open day. It continued to flower right up till Christmas. Then it had a break for a month, got repotted in January as it was growing out of its pot, and with a monthly feed it has come back into flower again. It has been great value and very easy to grow, but keep it out of direct sunlight.

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