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Plants in the Garden: April

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Started by: Tim Ingram

Go to latest contribution by Jon Evans, 29 April 2013, 15:46. Go to bottom of this page.

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Contribution from Tim Ingram 06 April 2013, 19:15top / bottom of page

Finally there are some great plants flowering too! Hepatica x media has never done so well (again perhaps the benefit of a cooler, wetter summer in 2012); Muscari pallens is beginning to flower, grown from JJA seed (here is the description in Jim & Jenny Archibald's list: 'A distinct, beautiful and local plant from the mountains of the northern Caucasus. One of the latest to flower with 15cm stems bearing compact heads of open-mouthed, palest ice-blue or creamy-white flowers); in the same bulb bed Anemone blanda 'Radar' stands out, but doesn't increase. On the sand bed Saxifraga 'Firebrand' has remarkably vivid flowers, but conditions are too sparten for it and it would really benefit from a cooler trough where watering and feeding are more controlled.

On the other hand the hybrid Mediterranean anemones (just forms readily available from bulb merchants), appreciate the sandy soil and are self-seeding. The blue anthers against the white petals of the last photograph are quite exquisite and another reason to look closely around your garden. There will be much to come in the next few months.

Contribution from Yann DUPONT 07 April 2013, 20:29top / bottom of page

Super shots Tim,i love the anemone colors

Contribution from Tim Ingram 08 April 2013, 09:17top / bottom of page

Thanks Yann - the anemones are doing well and we must try a bigger variety.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 08 April 2013, 15:01top / bottom of page

(Having looked at 'Flowers of the Caucasus' and on the Pacific Bulb Society website, Muscari pallens is obviously very much paler than the plant I have shown - which must be one of the other Pseudomuscari group. Does anyone have a picture of M. pallens grown from JJA seed? Or grow this in their garden?).

Contribution from Tim Ingram 19 April 2013, 08:26top / bottom of page

With the warming weather at last more and more plants are beginning to make a show. Iris unguicularis subsp. cretensis (a kind gift from Michael Baron) would be a wonderful plant if only it produced more of its flowers, because these are held well above the neat foliage. It probably pines for the hotter and more challenging conditions of its homeland. The same is no doubt true of Fritillaria persica and although we have a good colony of this in the garden, it only flowers sparsely; but what flowers! Scillas on the other hand are mostly excellent garden plants, flowering and self-seeding reliably (with the exception of the extraordinary S. peruviana - the trick with this seems to be a moister and richer soil, which you might predict from its bold habit). On a bed mostly devoted to bulbs, S. melaina is flowering well (in the 'Bulb Book', Martyn Rix places this very close to sibirica and cilicica; in 'The Smaller Bulbs', Brian Mathew describes it as most clearly related to cilicica and says that the bulbs have blackish-violet tunics - I must lift some bulbs to have a look).

Peonies are growing strongly around the garden, my favourite always being P. tenuifolia with its remarkable finely cut foliage - when this first emerges it is one of the most curious plants in the garden. The Mandrake has opened its flowers fully in the sunshine, and is really a very attractive plant, despite its rather undeserved historical reputation. And Primula elatior 'Lady Greer', given to me by Gill Regan, is like the most beautiful small version of the primrose, an extremely attractive garden plant.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 19 April 2013, 08:47top / bottom of page

Primroses and their relatives do grow well with us, despite the sometimes long spells of dry summer weather. Many gardeners will be enamoured of P. 'Garryarde Guinevere', with its bronzed foliage and pink flowers, but this very fine plant is surely eclipsed by P. 'Maisie Michael', with soft-yellow flowers, which came from Aberconwy Nursery last year. Mind you I am quite happy with both! Washfield Nursery continually figures amongst the plants in our garden (and must do in very many others), and for me is an indication of how small specialist nurseries are at the heart of fine gardening. Geranium phaeum 'Samobar' is a superb form of the species introduced by Elizabeth Strangman, and almost resembles some of the Pelargoniums in the colouring of its leaves. It seeds around and varies in the strength of the markings, but this one is very good. The second plant also came from Washfield and has taken over a decade to form this little patch in the garden - but what an exciting plant it is! This is a petite form of the normally sturdy Paris polyphylla. Ironically I have so far been unable to establish the normal form!

Under the apple trees Hacquetia epipactis 'Thor' is now showing very well and a range of Pulmonarias look good. These latter often don't persist, but seed around. Some forms are very good and P. 'Diana Clare' is one of these (the third picture), and for the first time has produced a seedling with similar leaves but slightly 'bluer' flowers. At this time of year they are amongst the most attractive plants in the garden.

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