The sheer vitality of May

There is no particular theme for my Six on Saturday this week other than to highlight the sheer vitality and variety of the garden in May.  Here are my six for this week:


One:  Cotinus coggygria and Wisteria

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I have written recently about our Wisteria and it is complemented here so wonderfully by the new leaves of the smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria).  The early morning sun shining through the almost translucent young red leaves is stunning.


Two:  Anthriscus sylvestris

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In total contrast is the cool haze of the woodland garden where the cow parsley is in its absolute prime.


Three:  White and purple

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In this part of the garden (which is quite shady) we have tried to combine the late season creamy yellow ‘City of Vancover’ tulips with Allium ‘Purple Sensation’.  They have overlapped particularly well this year.  The white biennial sweet rocket (Hesperis matronalis) really lights up this darker corner of the garden.  Rather less successful has been the ‘Primrose bedder’ wallflowers which are just visible.


Four:  Honeysuckle

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Whenever you walk down a Warwickshire country lane you will see the wild honeysuckle in the hedgerows.  It really likes this part of the world and so it is only appropriate that we allow it to flourish in the garden as well.  The evening fragrance is to die for.


Five:  Blues and yellows in the flower garden

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I particularly like this part of the flower garden at the moment.  Dutch Irises are such good value.  You get alot of bulbs for very little outlay and they seem to be very reliable in our soil.  We particularly like the mixtures rather than the single colours and they sit beautifully with the perennial wallflower (Bowles’s Mauve) and the lime green Euphorbia oblongata.  Bowles’s Mauve seem to keep flowering all year.


Six:  Weigela

Possibly one of our ‘unsung heros’ in the garden but I think Weigela is also worth a mention this week.  Year after year they flower in some of the ‘wilder’ parts of the garden.  They always bring a smile to our face.


The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.

 

Six on Saturday: April blossom

Well what a few weeks of stunning spring weather we have had here in the United Kingdom. The blossom and flowering shrubs are looking spectacular, untouched by frosts or rain.  Fingers crossed, we should have a good crop of pears and cherries this year as it has been warm and sunny and the bees have been flying.

I have really been spoilt for choice this week with so much coming into bloom but I have decided to concentrate on the blossom and flowering shrubs.


Viburnum carlesii

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This shrub is certainly the star when it comes to fragrance at the moment.  Its large round heads of flowers have a wonderful scent that just hangs in the air.  This mature shrub is around 7-8 feet in height now and is situated nicely by the path where we walk regularly from the house to the garden.  A perfect position.


Malus

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I am not sure of the variety of this red leaved crab apple but it is performing extremely well this year.  We planted this small flowering tree in memory of our much loved German Shepherd ‘Fern’ and it brings her back into mind when it flowers each year.  It has sumptuous rich red flowers that contrast well with the white blossom of the wild cherry tree behind.

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Cytisus (Broom)

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This white broom is one of a number out in flower at the moment.  It is probably the Cytisus x praecox Albus but the label is now long gone.  For us this white flowered variety has a much more pleasant scent than the yellow varieties which can be a bit of an acquired taste.

Broom can tolerate quite poor soil and as a member of the pea family will also fix its own nitrogen.  Its green stems allow it to continue to photosynthesize during the winter months if the weather is mild.

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Pear

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We have three pear trees around the garden, a Doyenné du Comice, a Conference pear and an interesting cooking pear called Winter Nellis (excellent for Delia’s Spiced Pickled Pears at Christmas).  Along with the Cherry blossom the pears really bring the orchard to life.  The earliest orchard tree to bloom is the apricot followed by the plums, cherries and pears.  Very soon the orchard will shift from white to pink as the quince and apple blossom emerge.


Spirea arguta

P1040019 Spirea arguta

A couple of weeks ago I was praising the rich bronze foliage of a very different Spirea, Spirea japonica.  This week it is the turn of Spirea arguta.  This is a very reliable and easy maintence shrub that grows to about 5 feet in our garden.  At this time of year it is covered with small white flowers that make it look as if it has a dusting of snow.  In a week or two there will be a nice succession as S.arguta is replaced by S. nipponica.


Cherry

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Last but not least I must highlight the blossom of the sweet eating cherries in the orchard.  I love these trees although to be fair the birds do seem to get far more of the large ripe cherries than I do.  Perhaps this year will be my year!

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The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.

Six on Saturday – April shrubs and small trees

The dry days and sunshine over the last couple of weeks has transformed the garden. The soil is now workable and everything is coming to life.

Although many of the spring bulbs are still flowering it is the shrubs and small trees that are now coming into their own. This is my selection from the garden for this week’s Six on Saturday.

Skimmia japonica

This evergreen shrub is in full bloom at the moment and looks very lush and healthy. The honey bees just love it and it is great to see so many on the plant this year. A number of people in the hamlet have hives and this bodes well for an excellent crop of fruit later in the year (and a bumper cider harvest!)

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Spirea japonica ‘Gold Flame’ (syn. Spirea brumalda)

This is a stunning shrub and its golden orange foliage simply glows in the spring sunshine. It is something that I would like to have more of around the garden and hopefully we should be able to propogate it from cuttings later in the year.

The new foliage of many shrubs is not suitable for cutting for flower arrangements as the fresh emerging leaves wilt quickly. Spirea japonica ‘Gold Flame’ is an exception to this rule as the leaves emerge from old wood and can be successfully cut and conditioned.

This has the added advantage of pruning the shrub into shape and reducing the pink flowers that are produced from the old wood. It is really the glorious foliage that you are trying to encourage with this variety.

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Viburnum tinus

This year our large Viburnum tinus in the shrubbery seems to be flowering extremely well. It does seem to vary from year to year but it has clearly liked the wet, warmer winter conditions this year. It has large hand-sized clusters of blooms which are a mix of pink and white.

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Amelanchier lamarckii

I just love this small tree when it it comes into flower. The mass of delicate white flowers contrast beautifully with the bronze foliage. A must for any garden I think.

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Berberis darwinii

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Berberis darwinii (Darwin’s Barbary) is native to southern Chile and Argentina. There is no doubt it is a very prickly beast. At this time of year however it is in its prime with this stunning show of ‘in-your-face’ yellow blooms. I can imagine it is not to everyone taste but I think it sits well with the Amelanchier and Viburnum tinus which all flower together in the shrubbery under the silver birch trees. Both the Berberis and Viburnum are evergreen and provide structure in this part of the garden throughout the winter months.

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‘Victoria’ Plum

My final choice for this week is a new Victoria Plum tree that was given to me by my daughter for my birthday last year. It is only a small tree but it is flowering profusely and the bumble bees are regular visitors.

I am trying to do a little succession planning in the orchard as my lovely old ‘Warwickshire Drooper’ plum that I planted over 25 years ago is beginning to show its age. Limbs are beginning to die and drop off! Hopefully this old tree has a few years left in it yet but I wanted to get a new tree established to take over in the coming years. Victoria is common for a reason – it is such a great plum variety and I hope that it will establish quickly.

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The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.

Six on Saturday in March – White

All the hedgerows are now full of white Blackthorn blossom. I usually think of May as being the ‘white’month and March as rather more towards the ‘yellow’. Although there is no doubt that the narcissus and primroses are beautiful and in full swing, there does seem to be a wide range of white blooms in the garden at the moment. Choosing just six has been rather a challenge but here are my six for this week.


One: Amelanchier lamarckii

Amelanchier is a real star of the spring garden. The white flowers last only a short time but create a wonderful cloud of fine bloom in the shrub garden. But it is not only the blooms that excel at this time of year but also the new copper foliage which looks lovely alongside the white flowers and the fresh green spring foliage of many other shrubs and trees.

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Two: Plum

The first of the orchard trees to flower is the apricot but the plum is not far behind. When we planted the orchard 25 years ago we thought that it would be good to plant something with some local provenance. This variety is ‘Warwickshire Drooper’, a yellow egg plum with a beautiful wine plum flavour. Although now quite an old tree it still produces far more plums than we can cope with. It does make a wonderful jam.

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Three: Thalia narcissus

One of our favourite narcissus is the delicate multi-headed white Thalia. Reliably returning each year they are always a pleasure and create a lovely show.

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Four: Clematis armandii

One of our earliest flowering clematis in the garden, this fragrant armandii was originally planted to climb up a large eucalyptus which has now long since died. However it is a survivor and has now adopted a variegated Pittosporum that has grown up in its place over the last couple of years.

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Five: Spirea thunbergii

We would not be without the long lasting, crisp white flowers of Spirea. They are an important part of the garden each year contrasting here with the yellow and green foliage of Euonymus fortunei Emerald ‘n’ Gold. The first of these is Spirea thunbergii (below) followed later in the year by the dramatic arching flowering stems of Spirea x arguta ‘Bridal wreath’ .

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Six: Magnolia stellata

The magnolias this year have been spectacular. The blooms do not seem to have been damaged at all by frost or rain and have lasted much longer than in previous years. Last on my list of six but certainly not least.

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