It is quite a while since I have written about my garden in general – I seem to have been concentrating on specific plants or areas, so I thought it was time to take you on a walk to focus on the signs of spring that have been developing day by day throughout April. After a very warm winter I would say that spring is surprisingly slow to get going here in Suffolk. I usually have lilac in full flower for the bank holiday weekend but my trees are some way from flowering right now. In fact earlier today I was out weeding in my winter gardening coat and a scarf when a hail storm complete with thunder and lightening hit. It feels more like mad March than the end of April! I digress however, so lets wrap up well and begin our walk.
This old door opens into the garden from the road – I call it my ‘secret garden’ door as entering the garden from the quite busy road through this door always reminds me of my favourite childhood book ‘The Secret Garden’. This photo was taken from inside the garden and shows the newly planted King Alfred daffodils that now run all along this wall. I rarely plant such bold bulbs, but this location really needed a shot of colour in the early spring and the display was perfect. They started flowering in February and were just going over when I took this photo at the beginning of April.
This bed runs along the terrace at the side of the house – it is primarily planted up with roses and low growing perennials to compliment the roses. At the start of April the first tulips to flower are always the Purple Prince variety that I planted five years ago – this is a tulip with real staying power. There are just a couple to be seen in this photo as they were just starting to open.
The large back garden is divided into two parts by this clump of mature trees – I have underplanted the trees with a variety of daffodils which flower from February to early May. After that we leave the grass under the trees to grow long until late August. I never dead head these daffodils in the hope that they will seed and add to their numbers. This photo from early April shows the yellow flowering varieties just as they started to go over.
I use a lot of hyacinths in my spring pots and every year after they have flowered I add the bulbs to the beds that flank this woodland path. This year there were so many in flower that the scent could be picked up before you even see the flowers.
Do you remember these two bunnies – Bonnie & Clyde. I have not shown them for a while but they are still thriving and have moved back outside this month to enjoy the spring weather.
White hyacinths are my favourite and every autumn I pack the pots around my house full of them.
Looking back at the house you can see how the bed along the terrace sweeps around the side and back of the house. I have used largely evergreen plantng on the corner to divide the planting areas which are filled with roses, phlox, lupins, peonies and delphiniums.
This lovely pergola was here when we moved in although the planting is all new. It is home to more roses, hydrangeas, peonies and fuchsia, as well as plenty of box. It is quite a shady area as it is over shadowed by a large lime tree in the summer.
Opposite the house there are a series of curved beds with plenty of evergreens for winter interest.
Looking back towards the house you can see increasing numbers of Purple Prince tulips flowering in mid April with the greenhouse in the background.
This is my tiny magnolia tree – I planted it four years ago so it is growing very slowly but it finally flowered its socks off this month so I am more optimistic about its future.
April is the month of blossom and every year this pink cherry flowers for at least three weeks. Again it is very slow growing so probably does not like the soil or position or both, but it is very pretty when it flowers so I will be patient with it. Underneath I plan to add a lavender hedge for summer and winter colour and structure.The two new trees you can see are silver birch so should look very elegant when they have grown a bit. These beds (most of which you cannot see in this photo) are in a very dry sunny position and house my collection of bearded iris as well as plenty of nepeta.
My lovely ladies are down to four now – I lost two last year. They are all looking well and are laying again now that the days are longer.
Behind the greenhouse is the spring border which is full of white hyacinths, the white narcissi Thalia and plenty of muscari. For winter interest I have planted the Birch Bark Cherry prunus serrula, a number of the sweet smelling Winter Box sarcococca confusa and my collection of helleborous niger. Sadly these Christmas roses did not flower until very late this year – they were rather swamped by an overenthusiastic viola, the ever increasing muscari and the self seeded forget-me-nots, so I am gradually thinning out this border so that I can give then more care this year.
White narcissi are my favourite and I am increasing their ranks every autumn – this one is called Cheerfulness.
If you look back at the photo at the top you will see how this area has changed over the month – it is now a sea of white narcissi Pheasants Eye and Silver Chimes.
I planted the great white cherry Prunus serrulata ‘Tai Haku’ a few years ago and it is finally starting to look more established.
Whilst I was away in Barcelona I was able to catch up with a little blog reading – Chloris of The Blooming Garden was talking about her new stumpery and asking readers to see it as her grand vision and not just a pile of logs. I thought I would show you my ‘stumpery’ which looks very similar to hers and fulfils my own romantic notion of a stumpery on a grand scale – it is also a great home for hibernating wild life. It will eventually be surrounded by numerous ferns. At present the tulip Spring Green is putting on a lovely show and will be followed by the allium Purple Sensation.
Now, at the end of the month, the tulips are really taking a staring roll -here the white hyacinths have been replaced with a splash of colour from tulip Apricot Dream – you will be pleased to know that I deadheaded the hyacinths today.
The dark tulip Queen of the Night is a very reliable long lasting bulb – I planted these at least three seasons ago and they contrast perfectly with the euphorbia and black elder in this bed.
And aren’t these fritillaria imperialis magnificent!! I have a whole swathe of them flowering in the woodland.
Moving briefly to the Cutting Garden I have grown a selection of tulips in my raised beds as it was easiest for me to plant them here after my knee injury. After my discovery of tulip fire in my usual cutting beds however, I am destroying all the old tulip bulbs and will then need to rest the ground for a couple of seasons, so I expect I will be using the raised beds again for tulips next season.
The sweet pea frame is up and ready to be planted with this years sweet pea crop, but the continually low temperatures have made me reluctant to move my seedlings out of the cold frames just yet.
This is one of my two dedicated peony cutting beds – the peonies are growing strongly now and I will be adding string to the supports in May to help keep the heavy flowers upright when they arrive in June.
April has been a month of varying temperatures with plenty of rain – whilst some parts of the garden are ahead others are still lagging behind – my spring flowering viburnums have not put in an early appearance this year and the rhubarb is only just getting going. I can hardly believe that May is so close and I am still beavering away to get my hardy annuals planted out and to try to keep on top of the weeds – a fruitless task I know but I do like to try.
I hope you have enjoyed this stroll around my garden and that you are as excited for all the lovely flowers that are about to arrive as I am!