Bloomin’ Brilliant!

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.

When this good-looking chap is not chasing the one remaining hen left in the garden he stands and looks in the window at us and keeps an eye on the garden. He swears he has never as much as looked at an erythronium with any evil intent.

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.

On the morning walk!

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!

35 thoughts on “Bloomin’ Brilliant!

  1. Garden looking great Paddy. Love the Fritillaries and Trilliums. We have had a couple of warm sunny days this week with not much wind for a change. So we have been doing a lot of work. Our Magnolia Stellata is just about to come out and there is frost and snow forecast for Easter Monday. I have had super daffodils this year. In fact at the moment I have 8 vases full in the house and am starting to run out of containers. Like your pheasant visitors. We have some come down as well and stay near the bird feeders. Have a good Easter, Hilary

    On Fri, 2 Apr 2021 at 22:51, Paddy Tobin, An Irish Gardener wrote:

    > Paddy Tobin posted: ” 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” >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have had frost overnight and woke to a bright and chilly morning. Daffodils are good this year! Happy Easter.

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  2. The garden is looking splendid in the sunshine Paddy. Did you do something different when you loaded it?This is the first time I have been able to view the photos as a gallery – usually I have to open up each photo separately! My Snakes Heads are starting to spread about much to my delight but I have serious Trillium Envy!

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    1. No, nothing different. I inserted the photographs as a slideshow. To put them up as a gallery would make them too big on the page, I had thought.

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  3. Those magnolias, how beautiful. Dotted around the garden like clouds. Here around Lund in Sweden Magnolia X soulangeana grows everywhere – it’s the one place in Sweden they grow huge (they’re a symbol of Lund uni. where we both work). But my personal favourite will always be the stellata. Where I grew up they were really difficult to grow – but my father managed. His stellata was his pride. When he passed that magnolia was featured on the invitation to his funeral. The house has long since been sold, the new owners have changed the garden completely. But his magnolia is still there, uniquely large for that part of Sweden. A stellata was the first thing I planted in the Bubble Garden. There were no magnolias here when we loves in – now there’s five. Small still but going strong.

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    1. I live a few minutes from Mount Congreve Gardens where there are hundreds of magnolias – M. campbellii in their hundreds! It is wonderful. Your father was a keen gardener it would seem!

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  4. What are snowdrop chips, Paddy? Haven’t heard the phrase before.
    Secondly, what advice might you have when photographing red flowers? I am unable to do justice to my Camellia and roses.

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    1. “Chipping” snowdrop bulbs is a method of propagation – cutting the bulbs into segments, each segment having a piece of the basal plate. It produces small, very small, bulbs which will come to flowering size in 3 – 4 years. It increases numbers faster than natural increase and is a way of safeguarding particularly precious bulbs. Photographing red? – not in direct sunlight, might help.

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  5. The garden is looking really great, good job!

    The Fritilliaries look brilliant in the lawn. I find it immensely satisfying when something makes itself at home and seeds around. The Trilliums are a highlight for me too – they are really something!

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    1. The conditions seem to suite the fritillaries and it is well to go with what is thriving – especially when it is something so beautiful.

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  6. Absolutely astounding! The frits are a joy. I am glad that my garden is so far behind you – the magnolias are barely thinking of waking – with the cold weather forecast – I hope they will escape damage. A frost this morning.

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    1. A strong frost this morning here also but most of the magnolias have an overhand of old ash trees which gives them that little bit of shelter and they rarely get caught.

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  7. Your garden is stunning! I do love the pheasants you have patrolling your garden. The male is particularly handsome and the photos of him show up all the detail of his plumage. The Fritillaries look really good in your wild patch.

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  8. Your wildflower patch with snakeshead frittliaries is exquisite, I love it. I agree with you on Camellias, they don’t quite do it for me, I find them somehow a bit rigid, but they do serve as a great screen for the rest of the year. Glad that the goodlooking chap is leaving your gorgeous erythroniums alone now!

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    1. I can’t complain too much about him – imagine the happiness of our year and a half old granddaughter seeing him come when I whistle to eat his peanuts in front of us!

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  9. Those pheasants! They are incredible. I think your tall grass meadow is a tremendous success. Yes, sometimes we have to experiment and learn from our plants what conditions they prefer. The dappled leaves of the trilliums are intriguing. I have noticed not totally dissimilar spots on the leaves of a few other woodland plants. Any thoughts as to their evolutionary advantage? Camouflage perhaps? The erythroniums are quite graceful. The demureness of the downcast flowers is lightened by the upturn of the petals.

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    1. Yes, when you think of it, the dappling on the foliage is an unusual feature but I can’t think of an explanation. I see it present on the foliage of some of our native orchids also – Early Purple and Common Spotted are two obvious examples.

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  10. What a treat to view your garden. You have both climate, space, expertise and a Head Gardener, even so I am impressed. Many thanks for sharing.

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  11. Hi Paddy – youre snakeshead are showing me what mine could become. How many years ago did you plant the first bulbs? I’m also really impressed with your range of camellias and magnolias. You have so many beautiful ones.

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    1. Racking our brains here – we planted the first snowdrops in 2013 and they were the first bulbs in this spot. The fritillarias came after that – Mary reckons in 2014 or 2015 and she thinks we only used seed from plants elsewhere in the garden. I always thought we had planted a few bulbs but Mary has a far better memory than I.

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