Top Ten March Blooms.

Well spring has definitely sprung even if many people are too sunk in apocalypse gloom to notice much. But as gardeners we do notice and being outside in our own little kingdoms is a wonderful way to escape from the stress of it all and reconnect with nature. I saw my first yellow brimstone butterfly yesterday, necklaces of black toadspawn decorate the pond, bees are buzzing and the birds are rejoicing. And the sun is shining. So come with me and see my top ten March blooms. There is so much to chose from, but I want to select blooms from the whole month and not just now.

Early each March I rave about Azara microphylla. It has glossy, green leaves and the flowers are tiny and insignificant. But it is the most fragrant plant in the garden and the delicious vanilla scent travels several metres. I would like to have this tree dotted about all over the garden so that the scent would be everywhere. It comes from Chile and a hard winter can damage it, so mine is in a sheltered spot and it has always recovered from any frost blackening. It is incredible that such tiny flowers pack such an olfactory punch.

Azara microphylla

Edgeworthia chrysantha is another slightly tender shrub, its beautiful, custard -yellow flowers actually smell a bit like custard  if you get up close and sniff them. They can get damaged by frost. Last year I covered mine up with fleece but I didn’t bother this year. The flowers emerge from silky white buttons and they have a hairy appearance.  This shrub is native to China and Japan where its flaky bark is used to make expensive paper.

Edgeworthia chrysantha

Scented flowers always come top of the list and the vigorous Clematis armandii is very sweetly scented. You can get it in pink or white. The star-shaped flowers are borne in great abundance.

Clematis armandii ‘Snowdrift’

Still on the scented theme I have Osmanthus burkwoodii. It has small evergreen leaves, not unlike those of Azara microphylla. The clusters of  jasmine- like white flowers are very strongly scented .

Osmanthus burkwoodii

March is the month for Flowering Currant and in terms of scent we are going from deliciously scented, to a flower which a lot of people say says  smells of cat pee . But I quite like it because it smells of spring and childhood to me; when I was small every garden used to have one.  I have dug up loads of the pink Ribes sanguineum from all over the garden but I have left one bush as it is so lovely for early vases and if you pick it in bud the flowers turn out white. And as you see the bees love it.

Ribes sanguineum

The true white one,  Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicles’ is much more sophisticated and blooms earlier at the beginning of March.

Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicles’

Even more sophisticated is Ribes laurifolium ‘Amy Doncaster’ with large clusters of chartreuse-green flowers.  It comes from China. This plant sprawls about rather and is better if you train it up something, it doesn’t grow much taller than 1 metre.  There are other varieties available but none of them has such large clusters of flowers as Amy.

Ribes laurifolium ‘Amy Doncaster”

Ribes speciosum is a weird kind of gooseberry with lovely shiny leaves and dangly ear ring-like flowers which look like fuchshias. I grow it against a south facing wall as it is not reliably hardy . But it does scream against the red bricks, I would prefer a white background. It comes come California.

Ribes speciosum

And now the cherry blossom is starting and will come in waves throughout April. My March ones start with the neat Prunus ‘Kursar’  which blooms right at the beginning of the month. This has lovely dark blossom and a good leaf colour in autumn. It is one of Cherry Ingram’s hybrids and if I had a small garden and could only have one cherry, this would be it.

Prunus ‘Kursar’

To the left of the tree above is the grassy path which I have been waiting all winter to make into a proper path. At last the sog has dried up a bit and it will shortly be transformed. I haven’t got the brick laying skills of Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who knocks up brick walls and paths all the time with the greatest of ease. So mine will be a much simpler affair.

The slow growing shrub Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ is pretty in winter with its tangle of criss-cross branches and now it is a joy with its palest pink blooms. ‘Ko-jo-no mai’ means ‘flight of the butterflies’ which is appropriate if you think of the flowers as really small butterflies. All Prunus incisa varieties are known as Mount Fuji cherries because this is where they grow wild.

Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’

In the front garden I have weeping white cherry which someone else planted years before we came here. I like it because  I find white blossom irresistible. I think it is the weeping Fuji cherry.

Prunus incisa ‘Pendula’

I have some more ornamental cherries in my maids -in-waiting area.

Maids in Waiting

I shall plant them in the huge area reclaimed from the encroaching hedgerow last autumn. I have waited all winter for the area to dry out and now because of the plague I can’t get hold of a man with a rotavator. So I am going to have to get out there with my spade. I dare say it will do me good -or possibly kill me; it is about 30 metres long.

Stachyurus praecox is a delight in March. It has pendant strings of primrose -yellow beads hanging from its naked branches. Actually, ‘beads’ is not the right word, if you look at them closely they are like little bells. It is supposed to like slightly acidic soil but it does very well for me. It comes from Japan where it grows along forest edges. I don’t know why more people don’t grow it as it is a beautiful shrub.

Stachyurus praecox

So far I have featured trees and shrubs, but the flower beds right now look like Botticelli’s ‘Primavera’, except without the orange trees and the nymphs of course.  Having said that, the famous picture does feature Chloris, although nobody who meets me could confuse me with a swan-necked nymph. Or any kind of nymph.

Spring flowers are a special joy and there is an abundance of them now. Seeding everywhere if you start with just a few, are the dear  little Corydalis in shades of pink, blue and purple.   I saw it growing wild last year in the Gargano region of Italy. The name is Greek and it means ‘crested larks’ which is pretty if a little fanciful. I have not got to grips with the difference between Corydalis solida and Corydalis cava; ok, I know the first has solid roots and the second, hollow, but I am not going to dig them up to look at their roots. I have bought several named ones over the years but they seed around merrily in a range of colours. The pink Corydalis solida ‘Beth Evans’ has many pink children but the red ‘George Baker’ seems to disappear. As for the glorious blue ones, they don’t last and they don’t seed around, at least not in my garden.

Corydalis solida ‘Beth Evans’

March is also the time for a pretty, compact, little pea which is perennial and grows into ever bigger clumps. It is called Lathyrus vernus. It is native to forests in parts of Europe and Siberia but mine grows happily  in full sun. The pink form Lathyrus vernus ‘Alboroseus’ comes into bloom first.

Lathyrus vernus ‘Alboroseus’

And now the purple form is flowering too and I notice it has had a baby.

Lathyrus vernus

I am a little frightened to grow too many euphorbia since my daughter had to go to A&E a couple of years ago after rubbing her eyes after handling it, even though she had washed her hands. She was lucky that there was no permanent damage. The white, sticky sap of these plants is awful stuff; if you get it on your skin and go into the sun you will get terrible blisters. We gardeners grow many poisonous plants but this one is to be respected. But still they are a lovely sight in spring and I can’t be without the glowing buttercup yellow bracts of Euphorbia polychroma which grows from neat rosettes.

Euphorbia polychroma

I couldn’t be without the shade loving Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae or ‘Mrs. Robb’s Bonnet’ even if I wanted to, as it romps away wherever it wants to. It is a useful plant for the shade though and the panicles of yellow flowers are a lovely sight. Mine will have the blue flowers of camassias growing through it soon. I expect you have heard the story of Mrs Robb, a Victorian lady, bringing this plant back from Turkey in her hat box. Hence the common name. I wouldn’t fancy putting this in my hat box, if I had such a thing.

Euphorbia amygdaloides var robbiae

I have had to miss out so many beauties; lovely blue spring flowers would fill a post of its own so maybe I will devote one to just blue flowers soon. But for now I will finish with my favourites because amongst my many plant obsessions fritillaries come up there with snowdrops and roses. So here goes. I will start with the peerless native Fritillaria meleagris, or the snake’s head fritillary. This will spread in meadows to make a pleasing Priamvera effect, as long as pheasants don’t bite all their heads off as they often do in my garden.

Fritillaria meleagris

I love the little bells of Fritillaria michailovskyi from Turkey. This used to be rare and difficult to get hold of but Dutch nurseries have been busy propagating it so now you find it everywhere.

Fritillaria michailovskyi

The flowers of the fox- smelly Crown Imperial are opening up now, I have it in yellow and orange. This is the tallest fritillary.  The bell shaped flowers are  topped by green tufts. They are beautiful inside too. My yellow ones come into bloom first.

Fritillaria imperialis

And then the orange.

Fritillaria imperialis

These lovely fritillaries have been grown in our gardens for centuries. If your clumps stop blooming, dig them up when they are dormant and replant them with some fertiliser and good compost.
The lovely plum- coloured Fritillaria persica needs a sheltered spot because it comes into growth early in the year and the emerging stems can be damaged by frost.

Fritillaria persica

My favourite is the buff coloured Fritillaria verticillata which grows on tall stems with curling tendrils on the top. The bell shaped flowers are tessellated with brown pencilling inside. I have been told that this is actually Fritillaria thunbergii rather than Fritillaria verticillata. But I have studied pictures of the two and I can’t see the difference. Whatever its name this clumps up nicely over the years and is very pretty.

Fritillaria vericillata

So here are some of the flowers which are giving me joy at the moment no matter what is happening in the world outside. Please share with us some of your favourite March blooms. It least there is no danger in getting up close and personal with your plants. As long as it is not euphorbia.

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39 Responses to Top Ten March Blooms.

  1. Tina says:

    Beautiful blooms, Chloris. What a treat for the eyes and a “breath” of fresh air your garden is. Thanks for sharing with us! We gardeners are lucky to have space to get outdoors and experience positive sights, smells, sounds of life.

    • Chloris says:

      I always feel so sorry for people who have no outside space of their own to enjoy but particularly now when we need fresh air and flowers more than ever.

  2. janesmudgeegarden says:

    It must be glorious to wander around your garden and breathe in those heady perfumes, but I am most taken with your fritillaries, most of which I’ve never seen before. I especially like the Turkish one which is like a little old fashioned lady’s bonnet. Thanks for sharing your flowers.

  3. Oh my goodness, Spring has really come to your garden. I have to agree that the fritillaries are really special.

  4. Oh, wie toll ist das denn??!! So eine Vielfalt – einfach bezaubernd!

  5. Kris Peterson says:

    Every single bloom in your survey is delightful, Chloris. I’m seriously considering ordering that Azara from my favorite online nursery as it should be happy here, if only I can find a place to put it. Most of the rest (except Euphorbia!) would be unhappy in my climate, although that hasn’t kept me from trying some of them like the Corydalis I’ve killed more times than I can count. I posted a list of my own favorite “of the moment” bloom pics a few days ago and can offer that here (if you ignore the fact that there are somewhat more than 10 of them):

    • Chloris says:

      I enjoyed seeing all your beautiful March flowers Kris, you have a much greater range than we do here. Still, I’m not complaining, I love our spring flowers. If you want an Azara for fragrance, be sure to order Azara microphylla. I also have Azara serrata which blooms a bit later with much larger flowers but it has hardly any scent.

  6. This makes me consider how much I would love living in the UK..then there is that winter thing. I hate to say I love Amy the most but the Fritillaries are following closely. Euphorbias continually boggle my mind, many people are terrified of Pencil Cactus here, yet I love them and the wulfenii you can grow…a dilemma.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes, the winters are a problem but then we get glorious spring which is a yearly astonisment, you forget quite how lovely it is. I used to have lots of Euphorbia wulfenii, they seed everywhere but I have dug up most of them.

  7. Heyjude says:

    I say this every month, your garden is a dream! All those wonderful flowering shrubs and trees! The scent! Too many exclamation marks? How do you manage to get your Crown Imperials to flower? I have a few bulbs but every year as they emerge from the soil they get eaten. I haven’t had a single flower yet in four years! I nearly threw them into the compost bin last year, but decided to give them one last chance and planted them in my woodland border, but the same thing has happened.

  8. Eliza Waters says:

    So many wonderful blooms – and scent, too, the best! You’re fortunate to have the space to plant such variety. It is good therapy right now.
    Winter has returned to our neck of the woods with a significent snowstorm today, so your post is especially enjoyable to see.

    • Chloris says:

      Oh no, not more snow, I do hope you will get some spring weather soon. Yes, the garden is the best therapy in the world right now and I am grateful for my little bit of Paradise.

  9. Pauline says:

    What a fantastic selection! Spring has certainly arrived with us too and now that we all have to stay at home, thank goodness for our gardens, I would hate to be without it. Being out in the sunshine with the birds bees and butterflies keeps me very happy indeed, I hope it lasts! Your scented shrubs are a delight, I have a few, but nowhere near as many as you.
    Stay safe and well.

  10. gardenfancyblog says:

    How lovely to see so many blossoms so early — when all we have is a few early crocus and winter aconite! Thanks for sharing your many beauties. Hope you and your family are well in these times, and that you will be able to enjoy many warm, sunny days in your beautiful gardens this spring while at home. Best, -Beth

    • Chloris says:

      Ah but that means you have it all to come. Spring flowers are a special delight and our gardens are a wonderful solace right now. Thank you Beth and you keep well too.

  11. Cathy says:

    It’s always a joy to your eclectic mix of blooms each month, Chloris, and it never disappoints! Your fritillaries are gorgeous and perhaps I should try some different varieties again, although I have not had success with them before. I really like the informal combination in the last photo. My ten are here
    Thinking about you, as always…

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cathy. Fritillaries are a particular joy right now, my favourite is Fritillaria verticillata which clumps up and gets better every year. I’m just popping over to look at your favourite March blooms.

      • Cathy says:

        I think I looked out for that fritillary after you showed it a previous year but couldn’t track it down – but have also tried some others in the past without success

  12. Your blooms are beautiful and bring a well needed smile during these difficult times. I have been spending hours in the garden daily, as it brings so much fulfillment and peace. Here is a link to my latest post on the March garden.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Lee, our gardens are all going to be stunning this year as we are all spending so much time in them. What a pity we won’t be able to share them. But I agree they are such a solace.

  13. bittster says:

    I envy all your scented flowers! They will come here as well but there’s far less to chose from when the less hardy are subtracted.
    I love the gnarled cherry against the blue sky. Mine flowers for about three days and bores me the rest of the year. I wonder if some serious pruning would help!

    • Chloris says:

      I have to admit that some of the scented shrubs are not bone hardy. The gnarled tree trunk is actually a birch, Betula verrucosa, I always think of it as the verruca birch. It is weeping and has the most amazing trunk.

  14. tonytomeo says:

    Ribes sanguineum seems to be more popular outside of its native range. I see more pictures of it in Europe and the East than I see it here. It seems to do reasonably well, which is sort of surprising. I would suspect that it would not like rainier climates.

    • Chloris says:

      Ribes sanguineum does so well here that it seeds everywhere but I just keep one. The white one doesn’t seed about and neither do any of the others.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Wow! That is impressively happy. Mine has never done that in the landscape. I know it does so in the wild. Otherwise, it would go extinct.

  15. Thank you for the virtual tour of your garden. It was delightful indeed. Virus or no, you are right that gardeners notice what happens in their gardens, and in other people’s as well. You have so many beautiful flowering cherries, and I’m impressed that those tiny Azara flowers can be so fragrant. Generally I am not fond of fritillaries, but the F. michailovsyi is very appealing. Not surprisingly, your spring is much more advanced than ours, we have few blooms at the moment other than Hellebores and a few Crocuses.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Jason. I expext you will be enjoying your spring flowers soon, you have it all to come. We have had a week of lovely sunny weather and so everything in the garden is springing into life.

  16. Cathy says:

    Such an enjoyable post Chloris. You have so much going on in your garden that I am sure you will not feel locked in during the crisis. I love the cherry blossom. You are so far ahead of us this year… the Euphorbia is only just emerging here. 😃 Wishing you pleasant gardening weather for the next few weeks! 😉

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cathy. We have had wonderful weather for a week and it has brought everything on even more. Yes, we will, all be enjoying our gardens more than ever this year.

  17. Thanks for sharing your March gems with us all Chloris. I remember the pink ribes sanguineum growing in my parent’s garden when I was a child and I’m sure that a lot of the neighbours grew it too. I suppose that there were fewer garden centres in those days and maybe people propagated plants more and passed along. I’ve not seen as much as a smidgeon of my lathyrus vernus yet so must check tomorrow.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes, I remember when I was young every garden had its flowering currant, forsythia, lilac and flowering cherry and then a philadelphus for summer which for some reason was called syringa. Oh dear, your Lathyrus vernus should have appeared by now. I must tie a knot in my hankie to try to remember to send you some seeds.

  18. snowbird says:

    What a pleasure, as always to visit here, you sure spread the joy! Everything is beautiful, but I can’t take my eyes of your Fritillary’s, they are just stunning. My tall ones stopped blooming so I shall take your advice and dig them

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Dina. I am a great fan of fritillaries. I know Crown Imperials often come up blind, the secret is to feed. They like a rich diet.

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