The garden in April demanded – lots of work! But I’m away from it at the moment, with time to flick through the pictures I took of the tulips. It seemed a shame to let them (and other small garden changes) go uncelebrated. I’m too late to join in with Helen’s end of month meme at the Patient Gardener – but here you go anyway. The star of the tulip show was definitely ‘Sweet Impression’ (above and below). It was the only tulip I planted in quantity last autumn and went into one end of the Rose Walk. I enjoyed it from the moment it pushed its white-edged leaves through the soil. A tinge of green-brown on the buds and new flowers, a good shape, and then maturing to a stronger pink. I wish they weren’t just a memory now! The ‘China Pink’ tulips (below) that are also planted with the roses in the Rose Walk have been far better than I expected (or deserved), given that I didn’t add to them this year. They are teamed with ‘Queen of the Night’, which is a bit slower to get going. The Rose Walk really started to fill out in April. A few tiny buds on the roses themselves, as well as clematis shooting strongly and the promise of May purple from chives and ornamental onions. My chives were planted as an edging because I wanted a fast effect (eventually I think I will put paving along the path). But the chives look great when the roses are in flower, which is the most important thing. And they are useful!
You can tell April was fairly dry because the silly gardener forgot to move the hosepipe before taking the picture! Up on the highest terrace of our garden, which we call the Mirror Garden, my blue pots displayed the yellow tulip ‘West Point’ that I’d promised them for two years. Beautiful for the lily-flowered shape as much as the colour. It’s one of those flowers I can’t seem to stop taking pictures of, circling it endlessly with the camera to find just the right angle to show off those elegant, pointed petals. Almost nicer in bud than full bloom. There are already ‘West Points’ up here from last year in two little square beds at the end near the laurel hedge. They were slower to flower than those in the pots. Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ was smothered in juicy buds against the warmth of the tower wall on the terrace when I left home. And I finally have the first wallflowers that I’ve managed to raise from seed in this garden. They took two years to flower, but I’ve enjoyed them so much I’m definitely sowing more for next spring. I like ‘Primrose Bedder’, but this flowerhead from ‘Persian Carpet Mix’ (below) was more photogenic. April is euphorbia time for the Mirror Garden. On the way down from the Mirror Garden in April I stop to check on Iris pallida ‘Aureo Variegata’, planted in the Vine Garden. Finally it’s large enough that rolling cats and other marauding animals aren’t really much of a threat. Back down at the Long Border (which runs along below the Rose Walk), I can enjoy my neighbour’s fruit trees flowering against the backdrop of the valley. And begin to imagine what my own four little Amelanchier lamarckii will look like when they are all growed up.
I wish that tulip ‘Attila’ would flower at the same time as Rose ‘Canary Bird’. Maybe next year? I found tulip ‘Flaming Artist’, planted in November 2014, an anti-climax. Only a very few of the bulbs came up with flowers showing the traces of flame I was expecting – the picture below is of a green ‘disappointment’ (I love greeny tulips, but when you have your heart set on a bit of flame, well …) They probably look better en masse. Here with Narcissus poeticus ‘Actaea’. ‘Actaea’ and N. poeticus ‘Recurvus’ are bulbs I’ve a dream of naturalising in larger quantities down in the embryo orchard. Just love the poet’s narcissus – the scent and late flowers make it a ‘must-have’ as far as I’m concerned. The final pictures are not of pretty ‘stuff’ – just hopeful things for the future. I have (more or less) finished for the time being in the Hornbeam Gardens. The shrubs are planted in the lower half (and the dock treated with glyphosate). In the top half (nearest the camera) I’ve planted Nick’s delphiniums (sad little sticks at present – hope the slugs don’t get them!) in a new delphinium and aster border. The sunflowers, cornflowers, larkspur, Callistephus, Ammi majus, etc. are sown in the cut flower area. Dahlias and gladioli are snugly in the ground, but not yet showing noses that would be potentially frosted. This is the first year (and there are still plenty of couch grass roots down there to eradicate), so I’m not holding out too much hope, but it is starting to look like a garden and can only get better. Sweet peas are now in the ground and I even have some spinach and peas (this is a relatively cool area of the garden). Unfortunately my youngest cat is a bit of an attention seeker and since I spend so much time staring at the seedlings, this is also her favourite rolling ground. There are now string barriers over the rows! I’m looking forward to getting home at the end of this week just in time to catch the bearded iris and my Rosa banksiae in full flood. Meanwhile, a parting blessing from one of my four Prunus ‘Tai-haku’, flowering so prettily in April.