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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 Susan Read 20 April 2013, 20:39top / bottom of page

In my garden it is the best year yet for the common primrose, filling a space behind the garage where nothing else seems to grow.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 21 April 2013, 12:37top / bottom of page

This has been the best ever for us too, seeding around all over the place, and even onto the sand bed, where it looks completely incongruous next to forms of P. marginata. The tolerance of the primrose never ceases to amaze me. For the first time Primula glaucescens is flowering too in quite a sunny dry spot, which doesn't accord with what I now read is its habitat in moist and shady positions, so I will probably move it to a trough.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 23 April 2013, 10:41top / bottom of page
Spring is in the ascendant

There are so many interesting plants flowering in the garden now that it must resemble the marvels of the last few Shows which sound to have brought a record number of plants together at one time. Adonis vernalis absolutely requires sunshine and warmth to open its amazing chalice-like flowers. We have a group of four or five plants grown from seed from Jelitto with a little variation in the depth of colour - this one is the palest yellow. I try to collect seed from these each year but so far this has never proved viable. Does it beat Pulsatilla vernalis? Well at the moment it probably does because the latter is still only a small plant, but if and when this makes a stronger clump I would be hard pressed to chose between them. Iris aucheri has grown well on a raised bed for quite a few years now, never increasing much, but like all irises totally unique and appealing when in pritine flower. The white form of Jeffersonia dubia though, really takes the breath away, i suppose because the flowers are so simple and beautiful (and fleeting) and the young foliage so intriguing. But lest we get carried away with very esoteric plants found only in the gardens of the real enthusiast, what about a silver-laced primrose grown from seed? In the garden this is as worthy of a prize as any other. And to finish, and chime with Susan's picture earlier of the primrose itself - this has become a terrible weed self-seeding through the helianthemums where it has no right to be, and is there a more beautiful garden plant in spring?

Spring is in the ascendant

Contribution from Tim Ingram 23 April 2013, 10:54top / bottom of page

This is the time of the woodland plant with anemones and celandines flowering flowering throughout Kent, but with none of the variation we have in the garden. The first Anemone, nemorosa 'Bowles's Purple', is the strongest coloured form we grow and a really lovely plant. A. x lipsiensis provides that unique soft-yellow, and both of these are growing on raised humus beds in part shade. But where they look nicest is combined with other woodlanders like Erythronium revolutum in the garden. Gradually making such plantings is a slow process if you want them to look as natural as possible with plants self-seeding. Regular and careful weeding is necessary to keep more vigorous plants at bay, but after anumber of years the result becomes more and more fascinating.

The erythroniums take an age to flower from seed, but once they do are amongst the most striking plants of the mix, especially the soft-violet species E. hendersonii. Celandines might be a little more 'ordinary', and for many gardeners, weedy, but sometimes they throw up nice seedlings such as this dark leaved form with pale-yellow flowers. Hepaticas are very much more choice, and generally we haven't done well with these over the years - our soil is too light and summers often too dry for too long. But probably again as a result of the cooler, wetter summer last year, this soft-pink form of H. transillvanica (which came from Beth Chatto's nursery, has a few very appealing flowers. More reliable is Trillium rivale, growing under the apple trees, and a plant well adapted to dry summers.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 23 April 2013, 11:18top / bottom of page

The most familiar form of Sanguinaria canadensis is the double variety which can form quite strong clumps. This single form seeds around on a raised bed but never forms large plants. In bud the petals are quite a strong pink, but the flowers open pure white. Why is it we always wish for a different colour form? This seeds freely on the bed, so the plant is very attractive at this time of year. In the garden groupings of plants can be serendipitous, and this almost always relies on contrast between foliage and colour. The dicentra and silver leaved cyclamen is a good example, and all I need to do is introduce a few more of those blue scillas. Another example under the apples is a red primrose with pulmonaria and snowdrops. These combinations sometimes only persist for a few years, but look very natural in the garden, as well as being a nice surprise. And finally, spring is a time to plant, and when you visit your local garden centre or nursery (we have a very good one), there are plants which are irresistable - what about this Primula rosea? This has found its place in the mixed plantings under the apple trees.

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