Friday 7th May 2021

The April/May flower show continues…

Prim perfection from Primula auricula

Plant ident.

Saxifraga x urbium

We know it better by its common name – London Pride – it comes from the same family as Heucheras and Bergenias, Saxifragaceae. A delightful little evergreen perennial, forming a spreading carpet of crinkle-edged rosettes, making it a good choice for ground cover. Best described by The Pink Wheelbarrow in this hyphenated masterpiece: ‘One of the most ground-hugging, low-growing, weed-smothering, bomb-proof plants you could have in the garden’. Fair enough. Pink/white flower panicles emerge from mid spring to summer, carried on long stems. Full sun to partial shade. Propagates easily; just pull up a rosette or two with a bit of root, and plant immediately. Garden House rating: Top Stuff.

Hesperis matronalis

Check out the frothy beauty of this biennial. Sweet Rocket smells as good as its name implies (especially in the evenings), and looks just gorgeous shimmering in dappled sunlight. It’s enough to make you go all poetic. Its white or purple flowers look very similar to those of Honesty. Deadheading will prolong the flowering period, but do let some plants go to seed as they will self-sow around the garden, choosing better places to grow than any mere mortal would think of. Any aspect will do; prefers lighter, well-drained soils.

Lunaria annua ‘Chedglow’

Another member of the Brassicaceae family – evidenced by the 4-petalled flowers. And this cultivar of Honesty is a real wowser. Deep, dark purple, almost chocolate coloured leaves contrast with luminous lilac flowers. Biennial. Come autumn, they will produce attractive translucent seed-heads, which look wonderful in the garden as well as in indoor arrangements. Will self-seed happily. Likes moist, well-drained soil in part shade. Good for bees, butterflies and moths.

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’

From the Borage family, this cultivar of Brunnera has frosted heart-shaped leaves and small bright blue flowers reminiscent of Forget-me- Nots. (That’s Myosotis, in case you had actually forgotten, which is also in the Borage family.) An evergreen perennial, it flowers from April to May. Likes moisture-retentive soil and once it is established, it will spread to provide beautiful ground cover. Partial to full shade. Brilliant in a woodland setting, so start planting trees now.

Allium neapolitanum ‘Cowanii

Another clever filler to bridge the gap between spring and summer perennials. Bride’s Garlic / Naples Garlic is a bulbous, herbaceous perennial which will tolerate poor and dry soils and has distinctive white umbels with star-shaped flowers. Sweetly scented, even though it’s a member of the Onion family, attractive to bees and lasts for ages when cut. Good in pots. Looks good grown with purple or blue Dutch Irises in a hot, dry border.

I’m glad that’s over with. Can we get on to the practical stuff now?

Now really, Puss. Have you been paying attention? What was that white flower, for instance?

What, this white one here?

I think you’ll find that is ‘Allium Cowanii’

Perfect, Puss!

The Dry Garden

Gradually, gradually things are coming together, falling apart, then coming together again. Measurements taken; plants schemed of, dreamed of; functions of areas established; flow considered; seating and tables – hmmm; landscaping materials chosen, discarded, reconsidered. It’s a process. The design progresses and the next rough drawing has been done by Liz.

And it looks like this –

Looking good

Hosepipes laid out on the ground are a good way to assess the general layout of beds and seating areas. That’s hosepipes, not hornpipes.

First, wrestle your hosepipe to the ground

I think the hosepipe’s winning…

Jobs for the week

The focus is on sowing seeds, pricking out and potting on. It’s all go. Don’t forget to water your babies. Harden them off gradually. It’s still cold out there, so don’t be in too much of a hurry to plant out half-hardy annuals.

Pot on Stipa tenuissima plants

Prick out rooted cuttings of Santolinas

These rooted very quickly. Remove any flowers which have formed, and cut back by about one third. Prick out into small individual pots.

Dead-head Tulips once flowering is over

They will benefit from a liquid seaweed feed at this stage, before the foliage dies back.

Summer pots

Start to prepare pots for their summer plantings. Remove bulbs which have finished flowering and plant into grass, borders or under hedges.

Keep going

It’s worth it

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