Top Ten April Blooms.

Choosing just ten top blooms at this time of the year when ‘proud, pied April dressed in all his trim‘ struts the garden is an impossible task. Every day there are new blooms to enjoy. My winter garden is beautiful in its spring dress and I have two spring beds which I call my primavera beds.  Look at some of the beauties in bloom there and tell me how to choose favourites.

Fritlliaria imperialis are amongst the oldest garden flowers. Parkinson wrote about them in 1629.  Whereas today we have yellow, orange and red ones, Parkinson wrote: ‘whereof some are white, others blush, some purple, others red or yellow, some spotted, others without spots , some standing upright, others hanging or turning downwards’. I don’t know whether he perhaps meant the whole fritillary family or whether our ancestors  were incredibly careless to have lost such marvels as purple Crown Imperials. But the ones we are left with are gorgeous.

Fritillaria imperialis

Fritillaria imperialis

Over time, legends grew up round Crown Imperials and of course Christians early on claimed  for them a religious significance. The story was that the Crown Imperial grew in the garden of Gethsemane and when Jesus was arrested all the flowers hung their heads in sorrow apart from the proud  and aristocratic Crown Imperial. When Jesus reprimanded it, the flower hung its head and wept. If you look inside it is beautifully marked and often has a tear drop.

Crown Imperials are best planted on their side because they have a dent in the top and they can rot. They are greedy feeders if they are to flower well. Even if you feed them sometimes they will disappoint by refusing to flower. But they are worth every effort.

My favourite fritillary is Fritillaria verticillata. My clump gets bigger every year. I love the brown flowers. My son in law says they remind him of antique crackle glaze porcelain. They have long tendrils which look as if they would like to climb.

Fritlllaria verticillata

Fritillaria persica has nice dark, plummy purple bells  which are almost black and I love it but it doesn’t always bloom.

Fritillaria persica

Fritillaria hermonis ssp. amana spreads slowly, and likes a good baking in the summer. I think it is one of the easiest brown and green striped frits.

Fritillaria hermonis ssp. amona

And of course for dampish ground the Snakeshead fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris is a must with its checkerboard pattern in shades of pink and purple. As long as you can persuade the pheasants not to bite the heads off it soon seeds around.

Fritillaria meleagris

The white ones are pretty too.

Fritillaria meleagris

I like to include a clematis or two in my monthly top ten bloom posts. The very first Clematis macropetela  to bloom in my garden is Clematis  macropetala ‘Jan Lindmark”. It has huge flowers.

Clematis macropetala ‘Jan ‘Lindmark’

I find that most New Zealand clematis hybrids are not reliably hardy. But this doesn’t matter with the compact, non-climbing Clematis ‘Emerald Dream’ which looks lovely tumbling from its pot. I keep it in the greenhouse in winter but now I have it on the table outside my window with pots of bulbs which are looking good just now.

Clematis ‘Emerald Dream’

Last year I had huge hollies and laurels taken out down one side of the garden. They took up far too much room but now they are gone I have an unsightly fence which has had to be braced as it wobbled without the support of the trees. I have put in a rambling rose some jasmine and a fast- growing Clematis rubens .

Clematis rubens

Another fast growing climber which will soon clothe the fence is Akebia trifoliata ‘Amethyst’.

Akebia trifoliata ‘Amethyst’

I love this plant and elsewhere I have the purple one, Akebia quinata which is sometimes called the Chocolate Vine because it is supposed to smell of chocolate, I can’t say that I have noticed.

Akebia quinata

I have another lovely climber which is related to the akebia. it quickly covers a fence and in spring it has pink flowers which are very sweetly scented. It is supposed to have sausage shaped fruit in autumn but so far mine hasn’t had any fruit at all. But the flowers are very pretty. Mine is a little unusual, I bought it from the wonderful Crûg nursery in Wales and it had a collection number rather than a name.

Holboellia latifolia

Arum creticum is an aroid from Crete as the name suggests. It has glossy leaves and large buttercup yellow spathes with a darker yellow spadix. Unlike many aroids it smells sweet. Each year I find it has produced a couple of children.

Arum creticum

Wood anemones are early this year. There are several ancient woodlands near here carpeted with them and these pure white ones with a green ruff are beautiful. But of course we gardeners always want variety. I have the delicate primrose  yellow Anemone lipsiensis.

Anemone x lipsiensis

I love the starry flowers of Anemone nemorosa ‘Wyatt’s Pink’, they are delicately flushed with pink.

Anemone nemorosa Wyatt’s Pink’

I have seen blue wood anemones in woodlands in Cornwall. The one I have is Anemone nemorosa ‘Robinsoniana’. It doesn’t spread as quickly as some of the others.

Anemone nemorosa ‘Robinsiniana’

I don’t have as many euphorbias as I used to because I don’t like risking getting sap on my hands or in my eyes. I have heard of people ending up in hospital after contact with it. But I wouldn’t be without Euphorbia epithymoides which is nice and compact and has buttercup yellow bracts in spring.  It used to be called Euphorbia polychroma; these name changes keep us on our toes.

Euphorbia epithymoides

Euphorbia robbiae is quite invasive so I let it have its head just here. Soon blue camassias will be growing through it. I like the way it got its name, Mrs. Robb’s Hat. It was found by a plant hunter Mary -Anne Robb and smuggled through customs in her hat box. I am intrigued to know why a plant hunter would find a hat box a vital bit of equipment. This plant is useful for dry shade.

Euphorbia robbie

I have a couple of variegated euphorbias which have striking foliage. Here is one of them.

Euphorbia ‘Silver Swan’

And a black eyed one which reminds me of frogspawn.

Euphorbia ‘Black Pearl’

Euphorbia characias ‘Wulfenii’ comes up everywhere if you don’t remove the seedlings but then most euphorbias do.

Euphorbia characias sssp. wulfenii

Euphorbia mellifera makes quite a large plant and is not 100 % hardy. But it is worth a sheltered corner because the flower smell deliciously of honey.

Euphorbia mellifera

I haven’t included a tree in my list so far, the one that is delighting me the most at the moment is a crab apple that I bought a few years ago. It is called Malus ‘Princetown Cardinal’ and it is full of dark pink blossom.

Malus ‘Princetown Cardinal’

It is a perfect match for the pink Ribes sanguineum which has come back happily after a drastic haircut last year. Regular readers of my blog will know what the hosepipe is doing on the right of the picture. Yes, it is marking out where more lawn is about to disappear.

I love Pasque flowers. They come in pinks, mauves and white. You can even get a lovely fringed one called Pulsatilla ‘Papageno’

Woodland flowers are such a lovely feature of the spring garden and erythroniums make ever larger clumps if they have a nice cool humus-rich soil.

Erythronium ‘Pagoda’

Erythronium ‘Sun Disc’

Now my list of ten is complete and I will have to save some more treasures for another post. I am sure the Easter sunshine has brought ever more beauties into bloom in your gardens, please link with this post and share them.

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40 Responses to Top Ten April Blooms.

  1. Pauline says:

    What a wonderful selection you have, they all show what an amazing month April is in the garden. My Frittilaria meleagris were over long ago, I’m now waiting to sprinkle the seed as soon as it matures.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Pauline, I prepared my April bloom post earlier in the month because I knew I wouldn’t have any time this last week as I have been away. I think I shall have to do another post with all the late April blooms.

  2. Heyjude says:

    Ten? I counted more than ten in your first gallery. But i am not complaining. What a wonderful garden you have created, April is definitely a month to enjoy. If I take one plant away from this list it has to be the Muscari latifolium. How pretty is that? And I might be tempted to buy an Akebia quinata to cover a fence – fast growing you say? Lovely post Chloris. I may be back to drool over this one again…

  3. Isn’t it wonderful to see new blooms everyday? It is hard to stay inside.

  4. bcparkison says:

    Words fail me. This would be a dream ….maybe someday.

  5. Kris P says:

    Your garden is miraculous, Chloris. I would love to see it – if only Star Trek’s transporter was available! Your Clematis photos have me thinking that I should try growing more than the one I have. Of the plants you featured this month, we share only one, Euphorbia ‘Black Pearl’, which I love even if its endless self-seeding is becoming tiresome. My own mid-month Bloom Day post, possibly my most photo-packed post ever, covered just about everything my garden has to offer so I won’t repeat it with a Top Ten post this month. Of the plants I featured, the one that continues to tickle me the most is the new-to-me Nigella orientalis ‘Transformer’ I grew from seed. I’m also in love with my Leucospermum (pincushion) flowers.

    • Chloris says:

      And I would so love to pop over to your garden too Kris. Euphorbias all seem rather invasive. I have tried lovely leucospermum several times but I just can’t keep it alive. The flowers look just like tissue paper.

  6. Brian Skeys says:

    Wonderful April show Chloris. Crown Imperialis in our garden have already gone over. My modest selection can be found here:

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you for joining in Brian, I enjoyed your selection. My post was prepared at the beginning of the month this time as I didn’t have time last week.

  7. Frog says:

    Oh how wonderful ! How right you are : impossible to choose ! That fritillaria verticillata is so delicate, I had never seen it before. There was an akebia quinata coming from my neighbour over the fence, but he got rid of it. It was growing very fast, I have to say. Down here in Kent, wood anemones are often flushed with pink and a purplish pink. They are really good this year !
    P.S. I smiled noticing that hose under your currant… 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      I think verticilliata is my favourite frit. Yes, Akebia quinata grows very fast it is great for hiding an unsightly fence. I love the idea of pink and purplish wild wood anemones.

  8. snowbird says:

    I have to say that I enjoy visiting your blog more than watching Gardener’s World! It really is a paradise, you have so many beauties all year round!!! Fair takes the breath away, how on earth can a gal choose a favourite???? I bought that little freckles viola after you showed it, it’s covered in tiny flowers at the moment and I’m loving it!xxx

    • Chloris says:

      Oh what a lovely thing to say. Thank you Dina. I saw Freckles looking lovely on your blog, I am glad you like it. It blooms later than other violets doesn’t it?

  9. Was that really ten Chloris?😂 What a wealth of April plants and as always fascinating ancedotes accompanying them too. What plans are afoot with that hose making an appearance?

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Anna. Yes, it was 10 species. I didn’t count the flowers in the mosaic. OK, I cheated. The new bed will take in the Prunus subhirtella and the Flowering Currant and will be an extension of the winter garden. The lawn here has been tunnelled all winter by moles and the ground is undulating – and lawn is a waste of space anyway.

  10. pbmgarden says:

    Oh, like Kris, I want to see your garden in person someday. I had no idea about other fritillaries than Snakeshead fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris_—which to be honest I dislike snakes so much I don’t even feel comfortable with that name in my garden. Now I can try others! Everything is lovely.

  11. Tina says:

    You are a gardener rich in blooms! Your garden is just gorgeous–you need to set up some tours. 🙂 I want to join in with this lovely meme; it’s sneaked up on me again–but eventually I’ll manage some photos.

  12. Cathy says:

    Hmm, I guess Maths was never your strong point, Chloris! 😉 I am not surprised you couldn’t choose ten favourites out of the abundance you have, When I first looked at your post on my phone the pictures in the mosaic came one by one and the sanguinaria jumped out at me, as one og the Golfer’s golfing partners has just given me one. It did not surprise me to see yours as you have so many things that most other people hadn’t heard of. My wood anemones did not flower as well as usual this year, perhaps due to the dry summer I suppose, but hopefully they will be abck to their floriferous norm next year.Not surprisingly I am hankering after some different ones after seeing yours! I have taken the easy option with my ‘ten’ and just shown those that have made most impact
    Thanks for hosting

    • Chloris says:

      You are quite right, Maths has always been a problem but I didn’t count the blooms in the mosaic in my 10, they were just an extra. And I did have 10 species even if I had several cultivars for each species. Sanguinaria is a gem and it spreads nicely to make a big clump. I love wood anemones, these photos were taken earlier in the month but I now have a pretty double one in bloom.
      Thank you for joining in with your April blooms Cathy.

      • Cathy says:

        You dob’t have to justify yourself, Chloris! 😁 The friend who passed on the sanguinaria said hers only spread very slowly and only into a small clump – it must be your magic fingers!

  13. Ten? My counting must be off!
    So many blooms in your garden and some real treasures too. I enjoyed the crown imperial story, not one I had heard before.
    I shall set about finding 10 faves tomorrow to share with you.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes, lots of people have politely implied that I might be numerically challenged. But the mosaic blooms were an extra and I featured 10 species although, I admit for each species I had several flowers. OK, I can’t count. Thank you for sharing your blooms. I have been away, but I am off to look for them now.

  14. bittster says:

    Oh lucky you. You have a feast to enjoy this month, and I’m sure it will only get better.
    Most of the euphorbia don’t settle in here, but I finally have the polychroma and another type doing well. They’re not the most exciting of the tribe but are still such interesting things.

  15. Looks like you’re having a glorious spring. Normally I’m not a big fan of Fritillaries but that orange F. imperialis has me reconsidering.

    • Chloris says:

      Apparently Easter was wonderful here, but I have been away and come back to storm Hannah, with wind and rain. It’s a bit depressing to come back to winter woolies but the garden looks lush and full of flowers.

  16. tonytomeo says:

    You sure got some distinctive ones there. Although I have grown some of these, I have not grown those particular varieties. I have yet to grow a single frittilaria! The euphorbs are common, but I rather dislike them, ,so would not grow them in my own garden.

    • Chloris says:

      I don’t like all euphorbias, some are very invasive but there are a few I wouldn’t be without, specially buttercup yellow E. polychroma.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Invasiveness is a concern for us because we are surrounded by fores, and some of the forest is riparian. Even where they naturalize without getting invasive, the older plants must be culled out, which I do not like to do.

  17. Cathy says:

    What a wonderful collection again Chloris. Narrowing it down really must be tricky with so much to choose from. I haven’t seen yellow anemones for ages and had forgotten all about them… I must try and find some for my sunshine bed next year. 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cathy. The yellow anemone is charming and have you got Euphorbia polychroma (sorry it’s Epithymoides now) for your sunshine bed? It is buttercup yellow.

      • Cathy says:

        I have E. polychroma in my herb bed actually, as a gap filler until everything fills out, but I think it would go well in the sunshine bed! The anemone is on my list for my next order. Planting begins this week. 🙂

  18. Prue Batten says:

    Gosh, where do I start? What a treat. I fell in love with the fritillaria, all types, and then the pulsatilla and anemones. I have the euphorbias and one of the fritillaries but what a list of extras I’ll make. This has been a visual treat! Thank you.

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