After the rather serious and slightly negative pair of posts this week, here is something a bit brighter. In winter I planted a dozen or so deciduous azaleas in the garden. Ten went into the hosta and hazel garden, The idea is that the azaleas will give some shade to the hostas and the hazels will shelter the azaleas. All good in theory but the hostas are up and the azaleas are budding but the hazels have stubbornly refused to leaf up. The buds are swelling but I am still waiting for that surge of growth. I suspect it is down to the dry spring and I have watered them. I need to be patient.
Deciduous azaleas bloom from April to June and my selection for here should span that season. They are all yellow or white apart from a mistake on my part so there is a pink too. I will have to avert my eyes or just get over it!
So here is the first to bloom: ‘April Showers’. Like all I have chosen it is wonderfully fragrant. Not all deciduous azaleas are fragrant and often, but not always, the orange and red and deep pinks have little or no scent. That is not necessarily a great loss but I wanted fragrance. This is largely down to childhood visits to Wakehurst Place and Nymans in the Sussex Weald in England where I can still imagine drifts of yellow azaleas floating above carpets of bluebells. I am sure I will be mentioning more in the coming weeks.
The roses are making growth too and the first to bloom is Rosa sericea pteracantha. It is hardly showy and the plant is grown mainly for its red, wing-like thorns on the new stems. But the curious, four-petalled flowers are welcome so early in spring.
Rosa roxburghii, the chestnut rose, is grown for its flowers and bristly hips but I have to say that I like it as an all-round large shrub and like its foliage and habit even before the flowers open.
I have been planting too and a parcel of hostas, peonies and iris arrived at the end of last week. Being bare-root, they had to be planted imediately. One of these was very special and is one of the first ever red-leaved hostas. Sounds too good to be true? Well it probably is. The leaves open green but, by midsummer the leaves develop a red flush. I am not sure about it really since, in the limited photos available online it looks like a plantain with nutrient deficiency. Anyway, it is tiny at the moment and ‘First Blush’ will be watched over carefully every day. At least it will stop me worrying over the hazels.
Another newbie is peony ‘Hilary’, an Itoh peony, a cross between herbaceous and tree peonies that I have mentioned before. I will be lucky if I get the first flowers next year but from those I have planted already I am hopeful it will thrive.