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A Lakeland Alpine Diary - Holehird Gardens

This entry: April 2013 by Alan Oatway

A Late Start

One thing is certain – it is a late season! February ended well, with several cloudless days and temperatures above 10 raising the month’s average to just above 3 degrees. Spring appeared to be near, and snowdrops were looking wonderful. Most of the country did not enjoy March, but it’s an ill wind….

Our wind rose for March shows that our prevailing south-westerlies were almost entirely replaced by polar-continental air, so that we found ourselves in the unlikely position of being in the rain shadow (snow shadow?) of the Pennines for the whole month. So we enjoyed a very sunny month in the garden, with twenty days having more than 5 hours of sun. But with average temperatures of just 2 degrees, growth ground to a halt, so that for the NGS Daffodil Trail on the 24th, the star performers were as lonely as the visitors. Things could have been worse: the following pictures show the daffodils that day – and a scene just a few miles west taken the day before. Note the car’s roof rails! (Thanks to Roy Cansdale and Judith Johnson for the photographs)

Since then, things have gradually warmed up, and it has remained generally bright. The daffodils have been magnificent, and they still are as we approach the end of April. Arguably, the display is the best ever.

Alpines have woken up. The Alpine House has been bright with the usual suspects, led by the Dionysias. But the two that have caught my eye are the delightful Narcissus bulbocodium var. citrinus and the delicate Moroccan Ranunculus calandrinioides.

As always, the Tufa House is stunning at this time, and Saxifrages and Primulas hold sway. The choice of what to present is difficult, but Saxifraga x biasolettii “Crystalie” was looking very fine when I had the camera with me, so here it is!

Lastly, we should head outside. The garden is looking amazingly good despite – or maybe because of – the length of the cold weather. There seems to be a “catch up” going on, with several buds nearly ready to open on Meconopsis integrifolia, for example. By the cascade, Primula rosea is shining forth, and on the Lower Terrace, P. maximowiczii is flowering on small plants. But I have chosen another Saxifrage, the AGM cultivar S. x apiculata “Gregor Mendel”, for my final plant this month. This is growing in a wall top, close by the Alpine House. It certainly doesn’t seem to have minded the winter at all – and the photograph also shows the density of the daffodils display in the background.

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