Better late than never…and at long last spring is here. It may be a month or so late but finally the daffodils are out, magnolias, cherries and rhododendrons are cautiously unfurling and herbaceous plants are beginning to make a dash for the warmth and light.
What a long, cold winter it’s been! There has inevitably been some frost damage around the garden (a few casualties of the recent gales too…not to mention floods which ushered in the season back in November) but you can’t keep Mother Nature down – nor the spirit of gardeners. Together we have hopefully weathered the worst and the garden is springing back to life.
Rhododendron ‘Snowy River’ and Camellia ‘Charles Puddle’
On The Terraces all eyes are on the first of the magnolias; the ivory Magnolia stellata and an early pink Magnolia campbellii close to the Laburnum Arch, a towering tree whose silky petals look beautiful against a blue spring sky.
Camellias have been illuminating the garden for some weeks now and are still putting on a fine show throughout – but look out for delicate pink and perfectly formed Camellia ‘Charles Puddle’ near the Round Garden. Rhododendrons are now beginning to gather speed – among them the vibrant purple Rh ‘Snowy River’, Rh ‘Budget Farthing’ cascading with cerise blooms, willowy pastel Rh. sinense, the scarlet of Rh ‘Ethel’, a Bodnant hybrid, and electric blue Rh ‘Bluebird’.
In the Shrub Borders we have daffs, daffs and more daffs…as far as the eye can see throughout the grassy Glades and peppering beds. Other seasonal sights to enjoy include golden yellow Corylopsis and Forsythia, flowering cherries such as the rosy pink Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii’ and amber Berberis lologenis.
Skunk cabbage, drumstick primulas and dwarf daffodils in the Dell
In The Dell herbaceous plants are now taking hold. The landscape is bursting with cyclamen, miniature daffodils, wood anemones, bright blue clumps of omphalodes and pulmonaria and, here and there, surprise dashes of the lilac drumstick primula, P.denticulata.
The unmistakable scent of skunk cabbage has returned too! Love it or loathe Lysichiton americanus there’s no doubt these yellow caped invaders are sculptural, creating impressive swathes along river banks.
By gardener Fran Llewellyn