10th April 2022
Magnolia 'Star Wars' .
There was a strange moment this week when I realised the daffodils had finished. For so long they have been the embodiment of spring that they had felt inevitable every time the sun shone.
I have a few ragged flowers hanging on but there is nothing springy about them. The promise that once possessed them has definitely left and in its place there is enough spring sunshine
to be worth sitting in and nights that are cold enough to need in a thick jumper. Showery rain has been a mixed pleasure. The garden had dried out in March and some water was needed.
I had planted out a few things and they look much happier after some rainfall. It also suggests the arrival of April showers, interrupted gardening and the end of the planting season.
Things that are still in pots in the next few weeks will be staying in them for the summer.
Magnolia 'Star Wars' has opened, offering a splash of new colour. It isn't such a magnificent show this year - I knocked the main branches off when I felled an Ash last autumn.
The Magnolia will forgive the indignity eventually, it will sprout new growth and fill the gap but it is looking a little lop-sided for now.
10th April 2022
Fritillaria meleagris .
In the meadow the daffodils have long gone. Sheaves of green leaves are camouflaged by the lengthening grass. The bluebells haven't started yet, the scene is green.
With greedy efficiency I have been considering planting a late daffodil over the top to get a second show. There are plenty of cultivars that would make an interesting display
in the first week of April. I have 'Pipit' being delightful a few metres away but I don't think it is strong enough to compete in grass. I could use one of the late poeticus cultivars
but they really need eight weeks after flowering before the meadow can be cut. That would take it into July by which time the grass is so long that the mower has trouble coping.
The arrival of two Fritillaria flowers at exactly the right time suggests that I should make more effort to establish them more widely. In 2007 I planted 20 bulbs as a trial
and they seemed to disappear. However last year I had two flowers and this year I have two flowers. It isn't impossible that they will make a decent display, it is just going to take some time.
This might be the year to add some more.
10th April 2022
Rhododendron 'Vuyk's Rosy Red' .
Some things are celebrated for their bright colours, dispelling the grey gloom of winter. Others are celebrated for illuminating the dark corners of ignorance.
This week Rhododendron 'Vuyk's Rosy Red' has achieved both things and is doubly delightful.
I have a long running battle with the identity of evergreen azaleas. I sowed the seeds of it thirty years ago when I planted out a lot of spares to fill some gaps with colour.
They were planted with levity, to get them out of the way. They were planted with exuberant abandon, they had outgrown pots and were effectively unsaleable.
I planted them as a joyful release. Unfortunately I also planted them without labels.
This one started flowering in December when there was certainly some gloom to dispel. Just a few flowers here and there as a promise of things to come. It is very cheerful,
it is 'Vuyk's something'. The problem is that I grow both 'Vuyk's Rosy Red' and 'Vuyk's Scarlet' and I can't tell them apart. There is a slight difference in the shade of the red flowers
but they have to be side by side if it is to be seen. This week the second plant flowered and I can confirm that my winter blooms were 'Vuyk's Rosy Red'.
10th April 2022
Iris Pacific Coast Seedling (ex 'Night Gown') .
I had been wandering around rather aimlessly in the genus Iris when I stumbled into the species from the pacific coast of north America. They have a reputation for
being short-lived and difficult to transplant but that hasn't been my experience. They occur naturally in ground that is almost marshy during the growing season
and since I have wet conditions they seem to have settled well. There are a few species and named cultivars available in the UK but my most spectacular plants have all been grown from seed
from the Pacific Coast Iris Society in the USA. If they get re-potted promptly then I can have some flowers in the second year, but the third year is more reliable.
Just as I was getting excited by the peak of the Pleione season the first iris buds appeared and I have been waiting for days in excited anticipation.
This is the first flowering of a seedling from 'Night Gown' and it is the darkest flower I have raised so far. 'Night Gown' was raised by Joseph Ghio and registered in 2011,
it is described as "red-black". This seedling from it was almost black when it opened and has developed some plum tones as it ages, so it takes after its parent as I had hoped.
April is always a busy month, things need planting before it gets too hot. The garden needs mowing again, the greenhouse needs watering, the season of active management has returned.
If there were quiet moments they would be easy to fill with dithering and delights.