Random thoughts: April

The garden is coming to life and I was delighted to see the swallows swooping over the pond last weekend – surely a sign that spring is here. Temperatures have been rising, the wind has dropped and we have even see some sun. It was all to late for most of the daffodils, which had to put up with miserable conditions. But things may be on the turn.

Although the tulips are still hiding, the wallflowers are now in full flood. I mentioned them before because they are supposed to be double. Well I can now report that not one has double flowers. They are a pretty muddled mix with a mass of orange and variety of heights – not great really. But they are bright and they smell nice. When the red tulips pop open I will be even happier. I am growing these in the traditional way – sown in May, transplanted, put in flowering positions in October and pulled up in late May. I have lots of seeds left in the packet but I might not bother with them. I was watching a peacock butterfly on the flowers the other day and it was happy feeding on the blooms so at least they please the wildlife even if they have disappointed me.

Crocus come and go, scillas open and close, chionodoxa flash and fade. But ipheions just go on and on. This hardy bulb from Uruguay and Argentina is not that well known but it really is a wonder. They increase well and flower for many weeks. The grassy foliage appears months before the flowers emerge and the blooms are sweetly scented, though the plant has a garlic smell if bruised.

My ‘Fragrant Cloud’ (‘Matsumae-Shizuka’) cherry is in bloom – or is it?.This was received as a single-stemmed stick and has started to become a tree and to make an impact. It will be a few more years before it is a real tree but it is getting there. The only problem is that I am not sure if it is actually what it is supposed to be. The flowers should be semi-double and pink, getting deeper as they age. But mine does not really fit that description. I can’t detect the fragrance much either. In a way it is not that important but I wish it was pink. I now wish I had not tried to be so clever and had planted vibrant pink ‘Kanzan’ instead. The other night I did a talk in Templeogue, Dublin, and suburbia was awash with pink clouds of ‘Kanzan’, the result of the fashion for it in the 1970s, and it sure looked fine!

Update – It seems my tree may be correct and other photos on the web are wrong. According to ‘Bean’ –

The bronze young leaves emerge at the same time as the flowers. The same is true of the foliage of ‘Matsumae-shizuka’ (syn. ‘Shizuka’, sold in the United Kingdom as Fragrant Cloud, 1960), but this more upright tree has large, pure white flowers that are semi-double and strongly scented of vanilla.’

That sounds like my plant though I can’t really detect a lot of fragrance – I need to go out and sniff again.

I am glad to say that my Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ has done as expected or better. Grevilleas are a slight risk because they are not always reliably hardy but this one is possibly the toughest. It has put on massive growth in the year it has been planted and all the growth it made is studded with buds. These are starting to open and it will remain in ‘colour’ for many months. The foliage is remarkably sharp’ so maybe don’t plant this beside a path. I have an instinctive fear of ‘proteaceae’, doubting that I will succeed with them, and my first attempt at the gorgeous embothrium, which thrives so well in some gardens around here, failed. But I tried again and my second attempt looks better – it is covered in buds. More of that later if they open.

I enlarged some of the beds over winter. It was to allow more planting but also to make mowing more rational so I don’t have to go back and forth over the same areas to get to others. Although you can hardly see it, the little clump of peachy orange is Diervilla ‘Kodiak Orange’ which is new. It looks like being a nice thing and the yellow flowers are good for pollinators.

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7 Comments on “Random thoughts: April”

  1. Jaye Marie and Anita Dawes
    April 22, 2023 at 9:29 am #

    I have a young cherry like yours and the flower buds are pink, but when they open, they fade to almost white. That Kanzan sounds amazing!

    • thebikinggardener
      April 22, 2023 at 9:33 am #

      ‘Kanzan’ gets some ‘stick’ these days because it was planted widely in the 1970s and the rich pink flowers are considered rather garish. It starts rather upright but broadens with age (who doesn’t). But it is uncompromisingly vibrant and just so joyful. I think I need to get one.

  2. Meriel
    April 22, 2023 at 12:11 pm #

    I must say I much prefer what you have. I hate the bright pink double cherries! I have about 5 bulbs of Ipheon and have noticed the same long flowering period. I keep forgetting to look for more – I think because it’s not widely stocked and I don’t see them for sale – we will have to star t a trend! Photo of your extended beds with daffs looking great.

    • thebikinggardener
      April 22, 2023 at 12:43 pm #

      i hanker after the pink because I seem to have a ‘thing’ about white flowers and may be getting too many!

  3. Jackie Knight
    April 24, 2023 at 10:45 am #

    I have the pink it is small but lovely , I like your tree too.

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