The last two days were horrible: lazy winds that cut right through you, sleety rain and temperatures barely above zero (c). But yesterday started bright and cold and it was almost spring. How long it will last is anyone’s guess, but it was very welcome to have had a dry day.
So it seems appropriate to highlight a couple of plants. The first is a recent introduction as far as I know. It is Acacia dealbata ‘Gaulois Astier’ a form of mimosa. Mimosa is not a reliably hardy tree in most parts of the UK but it should do well in Ireland, though I have not seen many large trees (possibly because of the severe winters 5 years or so ago). It certainly does well in the east of England, possibly because of the relatively warm summers. ‘Gaulois Astier’ is said to vary from the species because of its compact habit and precocious flowering. It certainly seems to have smaller leaves than the usual plants you see and it is said to reach just 2.5m which is considerably less than the norm. It should make a better option for growing in a cold greenhouse, spending its summer outside on a sunny patio. It is also worth trying, planting in a sunny spot, in the garden, ideally against a sunny wall and away from cold winds. It can be pruned in spring, after flowering, to keep it neat and to shape it.
Apart from the delightful appearance of the flowers, they are usually beautifully fragrant but I must say that I have not noticed a lot of scent on this but that may just be because the flowers have only just started to open and it has been cold.
Lower down, just above the soil, the first of the Barnhaven polyanthus* have started to bloom. In fact there have been a few flowers for several weeks but there were enough to pick a selection yesterday. It is worth remembering that these plants are growing outside and just the day before were battered by rain and wind. Some plants have even lost leaves on the windward side because of the vicious winds. And yet the flowers stand up to the elements in a way that more modern and larger-flowered types could only dream of doing.
This little selection is mostly picked from the red and orange shades of ‘Grand Canyon’: the pinks are ‘Daybreak’ and the blues are from ‘Reverie’. This is only a start and I can’t wait for the display to really get going and more colours reveal themselves.
*These were sown last May.