Chloris at The Blooming Garden has a fantastic range of spring flowers and she has select her favourite ‘ten’ for April in this post, giving me plenty of ideas for next year. Meanwhile, these are my current favourite plants around our own garden.
Spring has taken a long time to get going this year, but with the summertime temperatures reached last week everything is now jumping out of the ground, flowering and fading at an amazing rate. It appears that Nature has instituted a catch-up session, particularly with the tulips …
I’ve been sad to see how quickly they are going over, but they are wonderful while they last. It has been no hardship to check up on them each day and enjoy their lovely colours and elegant shapes. This year I’ve tried a couple of new varieties and of these I am most impressed with ‘Generaal de Wet’. These have large orange flowers and were amongst the first to open in early April (photo taken on 16th April). They have out-lasted all of the other early performers, getting progressively more blousy and attention-seeking.
I love T. ‘Brown Sugar’. I’ve grown it before and I still love its rich toffee tones, its darker maw and translucent stripes down the centre of each petal.
‘China Pink’ is another new one that I am trying and I am delighted with its clear, fresh pink colour and dramatic stamen.
‘Princess Irene’ is a favourite, but it has been a bit short this year. Great flame markings though and good in rain, hurray.
This is my only example of Fritillaria persica. It comes back each year and it is usually a toss up whether the slugs or lily beetles eat it first, hence its uniqueness. This year, so far, it has come through unscathed. I’ve pick a couple of lily beetles off it, but I caught them before any chewing had begun. So here is my baby in it’s towering glory:
Elsewhere, in the meadow, the snakes-head fritillaries are noticeably multiplying. Happily the pheasants haven’t found them and plucked their heads off (as they have a tendency to) and although they’ve seen their fair share of lily beetle, there has been little damage.
Snakes-head fritillaries, Fritillaria meleagris, in the meadow
The white snakes-heads tend to show just a faint echo of the well-known checkerboard pattern.
There is nothing nicer to shake off Winter than to see sunny yellow trumpets. We have daffodil ‘Ice Follies’ planted along the base of our front hedge and every year I watch them get pushed to the ground by rain or snow. So over time, I’ve come to the conclusion that if I want daffodils to stand up under their own steam for the duration, then I should stick to the shorter varieties. ‘Tete-a-tete’ and ‘Jetfire’ are my go-to varieties and I add more annually, but as a change I’ve also grown pale, fluttery ‘Hawera’ and super cute ‘Baby Moon’ in pots on the patio. I’ll transfer them to the garden after they finish flowering and hope that they come up next year.
I also grew several pots of sweetly scented ‘Bridal Crown’ specifically so that I could cut the flowers and bring them indoors. They have been brilliant and it is definitely worth doing again.
Primroses and cowslips
The weather has suited primroses this spring. They’ve made domed mounds studded with heaps of flowers. There’s been plenty to pick and since they are edible, I’ve used them to decorate cakes and, as the season comes to an end, I’ve been freezing some in ice cubes for summer drinks!
What do you think of this one then? It is called ‘Zebra’, but to me has a feel of Victorian Blue & White transfer ware pottery. I can’t decide whether I like it or not though!
Following along from the primroses, I love it when the cowslips poke up. These (below) are in our little meadow area, but with all the driving I’ve been doing over the last week I’ve been enjoying seeing the swathes of this pretty spring flower all over the road embankments and verges. They are prolific spreaders!
Also known as spring vetchling. I bought this little early-season everlasting pea on a Plant Heritage stall at a hyacinth day in Waterbeach several years ago. It fades away after setting seed and I thought that I had lost it, smothered by all the summer growth. Happily, it comes back stronger each year. It reaches 30-40cm.
The shrub Ribes odoratum (the clove currant) flowers in April and has a wonderful clove-scented, yellow-trumpet flower.
It is a bee magnet, but not so much as my ordinary flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum. This year I’ve noticed black bumblebees flitting between blooms (practically impossible to catch a picture of though). Eventually I identified these black bumblebees as female hairy-footed bees. They’ve been flying determinedly between the currant and pulmonaria flowers for most of the month.
Forget-me-not and Brunnera
Yes, forget-me-nots are a weed in the garden, but their clouds of bee-friendly blue flowers are too rewarding not to let some patches persist. They are another flower that looks fun covered in raindrops and, given how wet it has been, that is a pretty major plus point.
In our shady front garden I am growing the similar-looking, but well-behaved, Brunnera. To add a little more light to this gloomy area I have added some Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ this year.
Like forget-me-not, this is a flower bordering on weed status, but I mostly grow it for the orange-tip butterflies and, ultimately, its silvery seed pods
The white form works well, billowing out in the shady front garden. I’ve just sown seeds for perennial honesty, Lunaria rediviva, which has truly beautiful long oval seedpods.
My ‘favourite’ (a necessarily ephemeral category) euphorbia is Euphorbia x martini. Its bright red ‘eyes’ really glow against the lime green bracts (cyathophylls):
A close second is Euphorbia dulcis ‘Chameleon’ which is a lot smaller and has a tendency to mildew (and to seed around). But right now, with its new growth and soft plum colours, it is delightful. It is looking good with the dark flowers of geranium phaeum just opening up above it.
On the other hand, there is no missing E. wulfenii. Just glorious.
I have a soft spot for arums, particularly the common woodland Arum maculatum. I know that it is a thug and seeds around with gay abandon, but it looks lovely in dappled sunlight and it makes me think of B&W comedy sketches (don’t ask).
I also grow the marbled version Arum italicum subsp. italicum ‘Marmoratum’ (AGM award), because who can resist those fantastic leaves. I’ve read that hostas and this arum work well together, with the hostas’ leaves taking over as the arum’s fade.
I can’t grow hostas, but I love these painted lance-like leaves and look forward to seeing the stiff spikes covered in (poisonous) bright red seeds later.
Don’t forget to check other bloggers top ten plants for April through Chloris’ blog (see link at top).
What are your April favourites?