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Blooming Heck! It’s Spring!


I don’t know why I get so surprised when the garden bursts into flower. There are flowers in the garden every day of the year but it really gets noticeable in March/April, with the Camellias flowering. There are many other plants, trees and shrubs that also join the “Spring-time Flowering Gang” and I’ll go over some of them here.

Magnolia “Heaven Scent”

The last we saw of Magnolia “Heaven Scent” on this blog was a picture of it shortly after it was planted a few years go. Fast-forward to now and the tree towers overhead and this is the first year the number of flowers have been counted in double-digits.

Due to the mess of stems from the surrounding shrubs, it’s difficult to discern the tree itself from everything else around it and it gives the impression that the magnolia flowers are are actually floating, suspended in the air.

Weather-beaten, but beautiful

Admittedly this display is no-where near as impressive when compared to other magnolias in the area – all of which have decades on this one, but at least it’s heading in the right direction and getting better year on year.

A maturing Forsythia

Another shrub of a similar age to the magnolia is the Forsythia, planted close-by. Aflame with beacon-yellow flowers, this shrub is currently out-shining everything else in the garden put together. The intense yellow will be with us for a couple of weeks so I’ll be keeping my sunglasses handy for when I need to go anywhere near it.

Fruit – for the birds

The ornamental blossom is not out yet, neither is the currant or raspberry blossom, but the early plum and cherry are in flower and I’m wondering if this is the year we might actually get some fruit from them. To be honest, the fruit trees have been disappointing. They have been in the ground for four years now and in all that time, we’ve only had a small handful of plums and three cherries – from six trees.

I think part of the problem is that the trees are about twice their stated max-size and they need to be pruned back very hard to encourage them to develop more fruiting spurs. The trees aren’t ill, diseased or suffering, they’re incredibly healthy, vigorous, large and leafy, they’re just hopeless when it comes to fruiting. Perhaps they’re enjoying the rich soil too much? I also have a suspicion that our acid soil is not good for stone fruit – I don’t want to think too deeply about that.

The inherited camellias began flowering several weeks ago and are now in full bloom, looking simply gorgeous. We do need to keep up with the camellia feed and perhaps try some light pruning after flowering to stop them getting leggy and bare. We’re not short on flowers though and what I really like is that several of the camellias are open-centred, meaning the bees and other insects can get to enjoy them too – they’re good for wildlife, not just for show.

Don’t tell it that it’s not hardy

If you’re brave enough to get to the very bottom of the garden, underneath the line of trees, the cyclamen are still flowering and are now joined by sky-blue Chionodoxa poking their heads in-between. The cyclamen are not meant to be entirely winter-hardy but are protected from freezing winds by their position under the trees, in a blanket of fallen beech leaves and pine needles, with the wall of the compost heap in front. Having said that, this is a very difficult position. Gloomy and bone-dry in the summer, the winter months are the only time this area gets any sun, as well as some rain. Plants here need to take advantage of this short but tough season before hunkering down again for the hot, dry, dark months.

The sweetest little daffodil

Finally, on this whistle-stop tour of blooming plants, I’d like to introduce you to the sweetest little daffodil there ever was, Narcissus Bulbocodium Conspicuus (Yellow Hoop Petticoat daffodil). With thin, grass-like leaves and standing at a majestic four-inches in height, its name is far larger than itself.

But isn’t it gorgeous? Ever since I set eyes on this particular daffodil years ago in a catalogue, I’ve wanted it and now I have a small colony of a few hundred planted around the Landing Pad. They are late (April/May) flowering daffodils, but several have come up already and they are just so sweet. Vivid star-bursts of yellow on slender deep-green stems, they’re just so….cute!

I know they look nothing like the traditional daffodil but this one doesn’t have the over-bred look of many others such as the doubles, salmon-pinks, multi-heads and they can support themselves and look robust. I will have more of these as they may be tiny but they’re utterly irresistible, don’t you agree?

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author & gardener

Sunil Patel

I'm Sunil Patel, this is me. I created the Garden at 13 Broom Acres and I open it to visitors. I also bake and write blog posts giving a "behind the scenes" look into what it's like to maintain such a garden.

Visit the blog, then come and visit the garden. We can have a good sit-down, a jolly chinwag and a relaxing cup of tea with a sinfully generous slice of home made cake.

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gardeninacity 16/04/2019 - 11:51 pm

You may start a trend with that daffodil. As for the fruit trees, most likely they just need another year or two, don’t you think? Or could it be a need for cross-polination?

Sunil 22/04/2019 - 8:44 am

Hello Jason, I think for the fruit trees it’s a lack of pruning that would form the fruit spurs. I’m hoping to do some summer pruning on them this year. I’m hoping the cross-pollination isn’t a problem as I researched the varieties very carefully so that they would overlap in blossom and cross-pollinate. The soil (acid/alkaline?) could also be an issue but I’m too scared to look into that at the moment.

casa mariposa 27/04/2019 - 2:35 pm

Aren’t those little daffodils called jonquils? I recently planted a yellow magnolia ‘Butterflies’ in my garden that I love. I wish you and Gareth could see it! Need to get back to blogging…. Everything looks beautiful in your garden! Love the camellia.

Sunil 04/05/2019 - 10:45 am

Hi Tammy! I have heard of Jonquils, but I don’t know what the difference is. You do definitely need to get back to blogging though, I miss reading your posts and I wanna see your garden!

Susan Maclean 29/04/2019 - 5:12 pm

I love miniature daffs….. I have loads of Tete a tete (cheap and reliable) but am always on the lookout for another miniatures and this spring a small clump of Hawera bloomed. Frankly I have no memory of planting them, but it just might be my age :o) .Hooped Peticoat is a lovely little lady!

Sunil 04/05/2019 - 10:47 am

Hi Mrs Mac, if these hoop-petticoats do well and come back next year (hopefully more) then I’ll be putting in swathes of them as they really are so cute to look at and they’re cheap bulbs too!

aberdeen gardening 03/05/2019 - 5:41 pm

Bloomin heck, your garden is looking fantastic. That’s not the common cyclamen we associate as being hardy. I wonder if I should risk it.

Sunil 04/05/2019 - 10:55 am

Hello Alistair, no, it’s not – though ours have survived a second winter. I think it’s the sheltered position they’re in, I’m not sure they would survive elsewhere in the garden. They are much cheaper than the hardy ones so it’s worth a risk if you have a sheltered place they could go. The hardy ones also seem to self-seed very easily too.

Jean 07/05/2019 - 1:40 am

Hi Sunil, I’m just getting to this, and I can see that I’m 3-4 weeks behind you. My forsythia are blooming (I have both that eye-popping yellow and a softer, more buttery yellow), the daffodils have just opened, and the cherry trees haven’t begun to bloom yet. I’ve never seen a pink magnolia in bloom in my area, and I don’t think they are winter-hardy here. When I lived in Pennsylvania (600 miles further south), forsythia and pink magnolias always bloomed together in the spring, and I thought of that color combination as the very essence of spring.

Sunil 20/05/2019 - 8:07 pm

Hello Jean, I’m not sure of the hardiness of Magnolias – it’s a privilege of living where we are that we don’t have to think about it and magnolias and forsythia do flower together too. I know you’re a couple of weeks behind me at the moment but I know that you’ll be catching up very quickly. I’m looking forward to seeing how the slope by the driveway developed this year.


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