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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?