Waterford, south-east Ireland, Friday, 2nd April 2021
The return from the garden was greater than the effort given this week. Poor weather hindered any chance of doing a bit outside earlier in the week and other things interfered at the latter end but, despite my lack of input, there has been a wonderful burst of blossom. Magnolias have been a highlight while Snakeshead fritillaries in the grass have never looked so well. Trilliums have performed wonderfully while some erythroniums actually escaped the attention of the pheasants and have flowered well. Evergreens don’t always appeal to me but when camellias come into flower it would be unreasonable of me not to acknowledge what valuable plants they are.
The Head Gardener headed off on another of her circuits of the garden this week – taking it bed by bed, border by border, weeding, freshening and doing anything which needs to be done. I put my attention to the Ash Bed and The Lane and got a bit bogged down with the removal of bluebells, those Spanish bluebells which we planted so many years ago with beginner’s enthusiasm and which ever since we have regretted leaving into the garden. In some places it was reasonably easy to remove them but when they were among the roots of shrubs it became more sensible not to do damage to the shrubs and settle for preventing them self-seeding in order to curb their progress to some extent.
Another regretted planting, some type of small bamboo – something along the lines of that “Gardener’s Garters” – was also taken out, along with an old willow, Salix fargesii, which has been struggling for a number of years. The space had been mentally reserved by the Head Gardener for a nice shrub she has held in pot for nearly two years until she was happy she had found the spot for it – a daphne, Daphne ‘Fragrant Princess’, which promised to be a beautiful shrub in time, evergreen, floriferous and gorgeously fragrant.
The snowdrop “chips” were moved to the cooler conditions of a shaded cold frame where they may continue growing for some time and the space cleared by their move was filled with pots of arisaemas which had been stored in the garage, wrapped in dry newspaper, over the winter. One species, Arisaema taiwanense had already come into growth so, perhaps, I had left their potting later than in previous years. They will respond quickly now to the moisture and the heat and should flower quite soon.
Before moving to my pictorial review of the week let me recommend Sarah Raven’s latest book, A Year full of Flowers, which I read and reviewed during the week – an excellent book. She has a book on a similar theme, with a similar layout, on growing vegetables in preparation and I think that will be another outstanding volume. One to watch out for!
Let’s start with a dash around to get a flavour of how the garden is at the moment:
Magnolias have suddenly exploded onto the scene and their exuberance staggers us as it does every year. There is always the worry with magnolias that a heavy frost will turn the pristine flowers to a brown mush overnight but the weather has been very kind to us and the few cold nights have done no more than tinge a few of the petal edges. About half of the magnolias are already in flower and we will have more in coming weeks.
Camellias produce a wonderful display at this time of the year though, to be honest, I can’t say that I am in love with them. When in flower I appreciate their colour and beauty and when out of flower I appreciate their function as a screen close to the garden boundary and it is perhaps this latter which is more important to me.
The Snakeshead fritillary is naturalised in many areas in England, a plant of river meadows. We have a small area we refer to variously as our Bulb Lawn or our Wildflower Patch or even “The High Grass”. It began life as an area of grass where we planted some bulbs – snowdrops and crocus were the first with hopes of a carpet of white each spring. The snowdrops have not done fabulously well; they have grown reasonably well but have not really thrived, never making the increase they have done in other areas. I think that the ground may be a little too wet for them in winter. On the other hand, a handful of bulbs of the Snakeshead fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris, have exploded in numbers over the years, self-seeding very generously. Obviously, the damper conditions suit them perfectly. Sometimes nature will show you what is best to grow in an area and it is best go with that and enjoy it.
Trilliums have become a special favourite of mine over recent years, sparked no doubt by having a few which have grown very well for me. Plants purchased as dry roots have always been so terribly slow to get established, to flower and to thrive while a few plants which came as gifts, lifted from friends’ gardens, have simply romped away and increased as well as any regular herbaceous perennial. Trilliums chloropetalum, kurabayashii and albidum have proven best here and are in good number – I planted out 85 T. albidum seedlings a fortnight ago and am dreaming of how they will look in a few years time. Here are some established clumps of Trillium albidum in the garden and they will always remind me of the generosity of the late Miss Rita Rutherfoord.
Finally, a few erythroniums which escaped the attention of the pheasants – I am blaming the pheasants though it is without actually seeing them pecking at the flowers. The damage may well have been done by mice! They are gorgeous flowers, beautifully arranged and so perfectly elegant.
I’m sharing this blog with a group of fellow bloggers who contribute to a “Six on Saturday” theme which is hosted by “The Propagator”. To read more contributions go to The Propagator’s entry for today, scroll down to the comments and you will find other bloggers have posted links to their Saturday entries there. Lots to read!