The garden ark is increasingly showing signs of plant overload, the gorgeously profligate growth of spring revealing both new treasures and armies of weeds every day. In my damp nook under the mountain it is is a little too damp, between regular showers from the mountain, indispersed with bouts of steady rain, occasional gale force winds and water runoff from the hillside above, it’s very very wet.
Sadly lost one foolish planting in the Kentish cherry bordert that was waterlogged most of winter. It was a seedling from a scabiosa like plant (I’ve forgotten its name but will follow up!) we had collected in the Peloponnese in 2010. Luckily the mother plant, a big generous bushy dome baking in the warm dry heat by the lower deck, still looks healthy as it continually produces charming lilac blue scabious flowers. Surprisingly, both the sparkling blue grass Helictotrichon and Salvia dolomitica planted beside the ‘recently departed’ have survived the water logging. I’m very fond of this grass, nice clean blue blades, handsome tall flowering stems, and very amenable to division but doesn’t show any sign of seeding itself all over the place.
The ‘Golden twig’ ash is passing from its spun gold stage to a soft limey green while the gledistia has barely woken up, the lacy leaves of the small Japanese maples are opening, my favourite coral bark maple that has gleamed Chinese red stems for me all winter is sporting its soft bright leaves, the pears and the quince have finished flowering (very hopeful of a fully developed quince this year, although the rain and wind may have limited pollination)
Peonies are still flowering, the species peonies have been glorious, and I’ve realised that Paeonia ludlowii has a satisfyingly long season from first fatty buds in September to the last butter yellow blooms almost hidden by the new leaves now. Later beige-streaked-red seed pods shaped like little cornish pasties will hang down, providing another source of visual pleasure.
One of my favourites below, Paeonia cambessedesii. A little beauty with wonderful pewter leaves that form a perfect foil against the pink blooms
And a new treat, this delightful little dwarf bearded iris, another one from the Plantsman, I think it’s ‘Blue stitch‘
Spanish bluebells have been a pool of blue in the front, and do look lovely. However they are toughing their way across more precious plants and the big juicy leaves simply don’t die back as subtly as one would like. It’s time to dig them out and move them to an obscure and difficult spot elsewhere, maybe outside the fence. Of course babies are always left behind to fight another day.
See below the wonderful new purple stems of Iris x robusta ‘Dark Aura’, they will fade as the growth ages but then come the elegant flowers. See also the Forget-me-not (no chance of that!) and Nigella damascena seedlings with which I constantly do battle. I love the Nigella, but the other has become a curse.
Dicentra have spread their ferny silvery carpet across their allotted bed, happily stifling the three new K&D white azaleas as they go. The azaleas are looking rather lovely with their generous white flowers so I’ll encourage them with some TLC.
Each spring I renew my rather late-in-life love affair with rhododendrons, not all rhododendrons mind, not those with screeching puce,washy mauve or flagrant coral colouring, or weird splotchy speckled throats (yes Sappho, I’m looking at you) , but the cool yellow Saffron queen, exquisite little Blue diamond, rich red Babiani, (grown for that reassuring lift of rich colour in late winter) Kallista with huge fragrant trumpets like creamy matte satin, and most of all the gorgeous scented Princess Alice
I’ve been really pleased, and surprised, to see the lime green nicotianas survive winter and bushing up again, I’ve already picked flowers from the most advanced plant. I had assumed they were annuals and the frosts would see them out.
And as usual, the last word from the Spotted Dog himself