‘Proud- pied April dress’d in all his trim’. Shakespeare. Sonnet 98.
Our gardens are all full of the prettiest blooms now that April is here; it is the most exciting month of the year. Here are a few of my best loved ones.
The most beautiful April tree in my opinion is the magnolia. In a previous garden, I had 23 different ones, including one I grew from seed. OK , it was a very large garden and I haven’t got the room for more than a handful here. Magnolia ‘Star Wars’ is a New Zealand Campbellii x liliflora hybrid, one recommenced by the late Princess Sturdza of Le Vasterival. It blooms at a young age and has very large flowers because of its campbellii heritage. Mine is 5 years old and has more than 50 flowers.
I am also fond of Magnolia loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ which has delicate fluttering strap-like petals which remind me of flights of butterflies.
And for sheer glamour I wouldn’t be without Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Black Tulip’, another New Zealand hybrid. The goblet shaped flowers are not exactly black, rather the deepest burgundy colour.
Plum blossom and early cherry blossom are out now, but one of the daintiest early flowering trees is the lovely Amelanchier lamarckii with snow-white flowers.
There are some pretty flowering shrubs in bloom now, but my favourite is Stachyurus praecox. It has strings of flowers hanging stiffly, like primrose-yellow beads.
Another unusual shrub is Ribes speciosum. This is a flowering currant, but more interesting than the ubiquitous pink Ribes sanguineum. It has glossy foliage and dangling scarlet flowers which look just like rows of ear rings. People always mistake it for a fuchsia.
But if it’s scent you want, you can’t beat the pretty rosy- pink buds opening to white flowers of Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’. I think this is one of the prettiest of the viburnums.
Euphorbias look great in spring. Euphorbia mellifera grows into quite a large shrub, as long as it isn’t knocked back by severe winter weather. The flowers smell deliciously of honey.
Hyacinths scent the garden deliciously too. I like the forced ones a few years after they are planted out when they come up smaller and more delicate. I like the big, fat, newly planted ones in a container rather than planted out in the garden.
Honesty flowers are biennial and seed around generously. I particularly like the variegated one with white flowers; they have beautiful foliage which look good with the tulips when they open.
Lunaria rediva is a lovely perennial woodlander with fragrant, lilac flowers and later on, elliptical seed pods.
There are so many little woodland treasures to enjoy at the moment. The woods are full of native, pure white Anemone nemorosa. I love it , but I am also fond of Anemone nemorosa ‘Robinsoniana’ which has large, blue flowers.
Another unbeatable wild flower is the native primrose which is everywhere on banks and roadside verges at the moment. Even though it is always the favourite, I love any primrose. The Barnhaven hybrids come in gorgeous colours. Last year I discovered the lovely new Irish Kennedy hybrids. Primula Kennedy ‘Innisfree’ has dark red leaves and deepest red flowers.
Primula Kennedy ‘Avondale’ has pretty pink flowers with white stripes.
I am also fond of double primroses.
In Suffolk there are wild cowslips as well as primroses. Sometimes, you come across the rare native Oxslip, Primula elatior too. The long -flowering Primula ‘Lady Greer’ is very similar to an Oxlip.
Epimediums are lovely as long as you remember to cut the leaves off in time. If you forget, the flowers are hidden, or you end up chopping off flowers as well as leaves.
Trilliums are not out yet, but there are some lovely erythroniums in bloom.
The white flowers of the violet -scented Ypsilandra thibetica which I showed you a while ago, are still in bloom after several weeks, but now they have turned rose pink.
I showed some fritillaries recently, but I forgot all about this little beauty.
Out in the sunshine, there are dear little Pasque flowers with their hairy, bell-shaped flowers in various colours.
I have seen the lovely Arum creticum growing on hill-sides in Crete. It is a beautiful thing, with glossy leaves and large, buttercup -yellow, fragrant spathes. It is blooming better than ever this year and I notice there are two babies close by.
So there we have it, a few of my favourite April bloomers. To see what other bloggers are enjoying this April, go over to Carole at Maydreamgardens and join the celebration.