Six on Saturday. Here Comes the Sun…

Wonderful warm sunshine has opened the furry buds of Magnolia stellata astonishingly quickly. It is always a worry when the snow white, starry flowers open in March as the first night of frost will turn them brown. But right now they are beautiful, and as with all fleeting blooms I’m relishing them in their brief moment of perfection. This little shrub is slow-growing but unlike many magnolias it starts blooming when young. It comes from just one mountain area in north -east Japan. I think it looks lovely underplanted with sky-blue Anemone blanda, but mine have yet to make a carpet.

Magnolia stellata

Even more beautiful in my eyes is Magnolia loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ which has Magnolia stellata ‘Rosea’ as one of its parents. You can see this in the strappy petals.

Magnolia loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’

Whereas Magnolia stellata has made a modest-sized shrub in my garden, after ten years, ‘Leonard Messel’ is a good-sized tree. The buds seem to open astonishingly quickly and yesterday, the delicate pink flowers looked magical against the blue sky. ‘Leonard Messel’ is supposed to be more tolerant of lime in the soil than many magnolias, although having said that, I grow more than ten different magnolias and they all do very well despite not having an acid soil.

Magnolia loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’

The wine-red flowers of the chocolate vine, Akebia quinata are yet to open, but I think Akebia quinata ‘White Form’ is even prettier and it blooms earlier and looks lovely right now. The creamy-white flowers have striking purple centres and they are deliciously scented. Akebia quinata is a climber which needs quite a lot of space as it grows quickly.

Akebia quinata ‘White Form’
Akebia quinata ‘White Form’

I have mixed feelings about the ubiquitous pink flowering currant. I do not object to it on the grounds of its smell as some people do, in fact it is one of those smells which gives me Proustian moments and takes me straight back to my childhood garden. But pink flowering currant is a bit of a horticultural cliché. The white form called Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’ is somehow much more refined. It starts blooming earlier too and has been going strong for ages now. Whilst it is still looking good I think it deserves to feature in my Six on Saturday. Next to it is the pink pussy willow, Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’. The bright pink catkins have now turned to grey.

Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’

Another March favourite is Stachyurus praecox. This shrub doesn’t grow very quickly in my garden. I think it would prefer a more acid soil than I can provide. But still it is healthy enough and delights me each year with the strings of yellow beads hanging from the bare branches. This is a photo from last year as the one I took yesterday is out of focus. I could take another but the sun is calling me and I can’t keep out of the garden one more minute.

Stachyurus praecox

At ground level, there are more and more spring treasures opening every day. My first Pasque flower, Pulsatilla vulgaris is blooming now. This is a pretty pink one with large flowers called ‘Rosen Glochen’ which means pink bells. In the wild, Pasque flowers like limestone meadows; the nearest native ones here are in Cambridgeshire, but it is very obliging and does well for me. I have it in several colours and soon I will have the lovely fringed form ‘Papageno’ in bloom. This pink one is always the first to open in my garden.

Pulsatilla vulgaris ‘Rosen Glochen’

Lathyrus vernus. ‘Alba- roseus’ is a small, compact, bushy, vetch-like plant with sweet pea -type flowers in two-tone candy-floss pink. It seeds about gently and looks lovely with primroses and pulmonarias. The purple Lathyrus vernus seeds about more prolifically but it blooms later and is still just in bud.

Lathyrus vernus ‘Alboroseus’

I really haven’t a minute more to spare for this post as the sun is calling most tantalisingly and the garden awaits. So without more ado, I will thank our host, the Propagator and remind you to visit him and his ever-growing team of Six on Saturday enthusiasts. And I will leave you with a gallery of just a few of the flowers that didn’t make Six on Saturday this week but are very beautiful.

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21 Responses to Six on Saturday. Here Comes the Sun…

  1. What a beautiful spring you are having. So many blooms.

  2. Heyjude says:

    Gosh your garden is full of colour already! My Pasque flowers are only just starting to produce leaves! The Akebia quinata is beautiful – do all the vines flower or is it one of those plants where you need to have a male and a female?

  3. Wow – such a load of beautiful blooms you have! Especially impressed with the Magnolias – and with Leonard Messel – it’s gorgeous!

  4. fredgardener says:

    Beautiful creamy white akebia flowers! I have some purple ones but these are beautiful too. Do they smell more?
    You have succeeded in your photos with all these magnolia flowers…I have a stellata but I must admit that the others are great too

  5. I can always rely on you to give me flowering shrub envy – and you have again.

  6. Noelle says:

    What treats you have served this week. From wonderful Magnolias to small anemones. From your Lathyrus I would say that you are over a week ahead of Somerset.

  7. Wonderful, I am afraid the currant cliche is entirely new to me! I have always lived too far south, I think. Love the magnolias, stellatas are an old favorite, Glad you are back in the garden.

  8. Jo+Shafer says:

    Your garden is so much further along than mine. What a treasure for you to enjoy and share with us. I know just what you mean by “relishing [magnolia stellas] in their brief moment of perfection.” I’ll remind myself when mine come out, although I don’t expect them quite this early, not until closer to May. If too soon, an inevitable late frost turns everything brown brown brown. Ugh.

  9. Kris P says:

    I hope you enjoy the sunny day in your beautiful garden! I’m intrigued by the Akebia, which my local garden guide suggests I could grow in my climate. The down side is that it also wants more water than I can generally provide.

  10. Oh my goodness; you’re garden is in a stunning phase currently! That Akebia is really special…well, all the blooms are special!

  11. Cathy says:

    I’m so struck at the moment – it seems like the first year! – by how far ahead you all are in the UK, as opposed to us in north-east France. Everything is happening in your garden – such treats, but I particularly loved that white Ribes. It’s almost as classy as the Stachyurus! I planted a cheap red one on a bank where I am putting cheap – not always red! – plants (just to cover the bank) and was disappointed that the voles must have eaten the roots. I hope your sunny Saturday afternoon was a pleasure! Thanks for sharing (I only wish my ‘Leonard Messel’s – two – would grow as fast as yours – tiny, still, after 3 years, but things take ages to decide they’ll stay here).

  12. Pauline says:

    A lovely selection as usual with really interesting shrubs, we all know where to come for our inspiration!

  13. snowbird says:

    Oh goodness, so many glorious blooms. I particularly love the magnolias, all of them and that delightful Pasque flower. How I’d love to wander your spring garden!xxx

  14. Paddy Tobin says:

    A wonderful selection and I must confess to enjoying the smell of the ribes!

  15. tonytomeo says:

    Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’ really is a pretty one, and I am not saying so just because it is white. The common sort grows wild beyond our landscapes, although I believe that those that inhabit the landscapes are either installed, or are descendants of those that were installed. Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’ is perplexing, since it lives in situations that do not seem to have been landscaped. However, I doubt that it is the descendant of planted specimens either, since I am not aware of any of the cultivar within landscaped areas. I am told that the common pink sort ‘can’ generate white bloomers, but I suspect that the occurrence is very rare.

  16. Cathy says:

    Gosh, I had forgotten magnolia can flower so early, as Susan is always very much later than most. I have enjoyed the two-tone Fruit Salad colour of my Mt Aso as the pollen appears, something I didn’t notice last year – I have just moved mine, so must continue to give it some TLC for a while. Glad you have time for gardening – I have barely been able to advantage of the sunshine here but am hopeful for today at least. Lovely to see some of your current blooms

  17. Fran Gregor-Smith says:

    Hello Chloris, I read the Box River News and noted that you haven’t found any Albuca spiralis ‘Frizzle Sizzle’. I have plenty, which I have recently divided. Would you be interested in having some? I live in Little Waldingfield. Fran Gregor-Smith

    • Chloris says:

      Hello Fran, I would love some ‘ Frizzle Drizzle’, how kind of you. I have broken my ankle so at the moment I am immobile. If you ever come to Groton, please pop in. The garden is a bit of a desert at the moment, but we are all in the same boat.

      • Frances Gregor-Smith says:

        Sorry to hear about your ankle! Looking at the photo of your house and garden, it looks very like Crown House, where friends of my parents used to live!  They were Bob and Gwen Wild.  Other people have lived there since then.  How long have you been there, if indeed it’s the same house? I’m about to depart for Uzbekistan, but will be back at the end of September. so hope to see you then. Best regards and happy gardening!Fran

      • Chloris says:

        Indeed, we bought the house from Gwen Wild. We have been here for 12 years.
        Uzbekistan! That is very adventurous of you!

      • Fran Gregor-Smith says:

        Hello again, Chloris, I’m back from my adventures in Uzbekistan! I hope your ankle is on the mend now. I know it’s short notice, but I’m coming by Groton tomorrow (Wednesday) morning with a friend, and can drop off the Frizzle Sizzles for you. If you’re not in, I can leave them on your doorstep. Is that OK?

        Best regards,
        Fran (Gregor-Smith)

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