In a Vase on Monday. We’ll Gather Lilacs in the Spring Again.

‘There were few houses that did not contain in their gardens… lilac bushes…And so it came about that, all through the month of May, each small house found itself dowered with an expected magnificence, a whole, silent household staff of young lilacs gathered about the door and filling the interior with sweet air and fragrant smells, a staff which could have been supplied in an Eastern fairy-tale only by a  fairy gifted with poetical powers’. Proust.

Syringa vulgaris

The scent of the lilac wafts all over the garden, so at some point each day I am stirred by Proustian moments of childhood memories. Their flowering time is so brief and so evocative of bygone times. It makes me think of Edwardian ladies with parasols. I love to cut armfuls to enjoy in the house. If you are superstitious you might believe it is unlucky to bring it into the house, but I am not, so I do it, and always have done. I think that once it was believed that the lilac belonged to the fairies and then the Victorians associated them with death.  Anyway, I am defying the fairies today and enjoying this lovely vase full of gorgeous frothy blooms.

Some years ago, in another life I had a lovely German mother-in-law who claimed that when the lilacs are in bloom then everybody suffered from ‘Frühlingsmüdigkeit‘ or spring tiredness. I don’t know whether this strange condition afflicts just German people or if it is more widespread than that. Fortunately, we don’t get it here and it is just as well because like you, I am having to spend an enormous amount of time on cleaning my shopping and washing everything in the house. And this week is National Gardening Week so of course I have to celebrate that by working in the garden. But of course, just like you, my dear blogging friends, I don’t need a special week for that, I do it anyway when I can spare time from washing my hands or my light switches and door knobs.

Cathy from Rambling in the Garden hosts this Monday meme and today she has a bit of glitz and glamour, so perhaps she is in a party mood. Lilac always makes me  feel nostalgic and this year I am nostalgic for a time when I could hug my family and friends – and be a domestic slob.


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Top Ten April Blooms.

Top Ten Bloom Day falls on St. George’s Day this year. Why somebody who was born in Turkey should be the patron saint of England has always baffled me, even if he was a handy man to have around if you had dragons  to be slain, or ‘worms’ as our ancestors called them. I know the early crusaders adopted him and had a red cross on their tunics in his memory as they embarked on their murderous campaigns, but nowadays this dark part of our history is not one that should be celebrated. I think we should reinstate St. Edmund who was King Of East Anglia and our patron saint for 300 years. He was beheaded by those dastardly Danes led by Ivor the Boneless and his head was thrown into the forest. But a talking wolf magically led his searchers to the head, saying ‘hic, hic, hic.’ I think that is a much more impressive trick than slaying worms.

And what has this to do with my top ten April blooms you might ask? Sorry, nothing at all.  Really, it is impossible to pick out just ten blooms for this month when every day brings new delights. April is blossom time and apple, cherry and quince are all looking fabulous but crab apples are my favourites because not only do you get blossom now but you get decorative fruit in autumn. My biggest  one was here when we arrived, it is Malus ‘Golden Hornet’ and it is huge and full of bloom. It looks splendid sitting next to the glorious Acer ‘Brilliantissimum’

My favourite is one I grew from a seed of Malus transitoria. As far as I can see it has come true from seed and it has the daintiest blossom followed by small yellow fruit that look like little beads.

Malus transitoria seedling

My newest crab apple is planted in the large area of garden rescued last year from an ever encroaching hedgerow. I have planted trees and shrubs here and put down a weed membrane and wood chippings. I can’t ask the Pianist to play dodgems with all the trees on his lawn mower, it would be carnage so although a primavera  meadow would be nice I can’t have one. The tree is Malus ”Wedding Bouquet’ which has lovely pink buds opening to creamy white  blossom followed by red fruit.

Malus ‘Wedding Bouquet’

The first rose to bloom in my garden is the primrose- yellow, single ‘Canary Bird’ and it is a welcome sight as it sits in a froth of blue forgetmenot. It is an old bush and was here when we came.

Rosa ‘Canary Bird’

Rosa ‘Canary Bird’ with apple blossom.

I have planted another early flowering yellow rose which is more of a buttercup yellow. It is called Rosa ecae ”Helen Knight. It has lovely ferny foliage.

Rosa ecae ‘Helen Knight’

I have talked about my love of magnolias on this blog and I have three April blooming ones which are much appreciated, specially as they usually miss the frosts which can ruin March -blooming ones. Magnolia lilifora is a dark pink one and I am pleased with this one because it is one I propagated myself by layering the tree in my old garden.

Magnolia liliflora

Magnolia ‘Susan’is one of the ‘Little Girl’ series created by crossing Magnolia liliflora with Magnolia stellata. They all have girls’ names and they are all lovely. Susan is four years old and she is only just starting to get lots of blooms.

Magnolia ‘Susan’

I also love the primrose yellow one called ‘Elizabeth’ and this year it is blooming quite well.

Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’

The prettiest white-flowered shrub at the moment is Exochorda x macrantha ‘The Bride’ which is sometimes called the Pearl Bush. It has a nice weeping habit and is smothered in pure white blooms.

Exochorda x macrantha ‘The Bride’

I love anything fragrant and the scent of Genista spachiana from the Canary Islands is fantastic. I kept it in the greenhouse for a couple of years because I wasn’t sure how hardy it is. But it came through outside this year with no die- back at all.

Genista spachiana

Nearby I have the lovely lilac-flowered  mallow, Abutilon suntense. I think it can be short -lived but it is easy from cuttings or seed.

Abutilon x suntense

And now for some smaller treasures, earlier in the month I would have been writing about erythroniums, epimediums and and anemones. But we still have gorgeous trilliums. This is a clump of Trillium grandiflorum that I have had for years and it gets bigger and better every year.

Trillium grandiflorum

Another treasure which spreads is the double form of the Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex ‘Plena’ which is a bit of a mouthful for such a pretty little plant.

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex ‘Plena’

I like to show at least one climber in my monthly top bloom round up and this month it will be the chocolate vine, Akebia quinata. I believe this has become a noxious weed in many parts of the States, but not here in the UK, although it does need a large area to scramble on it. It is supposed to smell of chocolate but I can’t detect it but it is a pretty and unusual flower.

Akebia quinata

and I also have a cream form.

Akebia quinata ‘Cream Form’

I will finish with an orchid as orchids always thrill me and this is the first time this has bloomed for me. It is a Lady’s Slipper Orchid, called Cypripedium ‘Lucas’.

Cypripedium ‘Lucas’

I am sorry to have left so many beauties out this month, I did try to make a video today because the garden is looking so beautiful. But when I sat and watched it I felt sick for an hour so my video-making skills need a bit of work. Please join me and show some of your favourite April blooms.

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In a Pot on Monday. Tulip Time.

I couldn’t bring myself to cut my tulips for a vase so I have adapted Cathy‘s Monday meme to be in a pot instead of a vase. I planted  sunset colours in pots, I wanted them all in one big pot but I didn’t have one big enough. They are all sitting on a table outside my window and I have enjoyed watching them come into bloom. There are still plenty of buds to open.

These are the tulips I used. ‘Jimmy’ ‘Cairo’, the delicious ‘Brown Sugar’ which I first saw on my friend Christina’s blog a few years ago. ‘Jaap Groot’ is lemon edged with ivory. The two double ones are ‘Sun Lover’ and the delicate peachy tulip ‘Charming Lady’.

Tulip Sun Lover’

Tulip ‘Charming Lady’

Tulip ‘Jimmy’

‘Brown Sugar’ with ‘Cairo’ and ‘Jimmy’

Tulip ‘Brown Sugar’

Tulip ‘Jaap Groot’

In another pot I have a viridiflora called tulip ‘flaming Spring Green’ which would probably be lovely in a vase if I could bear to pick it.

Tulip ‘Flaming Spring Green’

Well now I have rather adapted the rules of the meme to have flowers on pots instead of arranged in a vase I might as well take you down the garden to look at some tulips planted in the ground because they are looking stunning right now.

Still in the sunset shades we have Tulip ‘Daydream’ which looks lovely with the striking Tulip ‘Abu Hassan’ which is deep red with a yellow edge.

Tulip ‘Daydream’

Tulip ‘Abu Hassan’

And if its pinks you like then how about lovely soft pink Tulip ‘Gabriella’?

Tulip ‘Gabriella’

Or the gorgeous fringed Tulip ‘Gorilla’?

Tulip ‘Gorilla’

Or for a really luscious tulip which looks as if it should be served up with raspberries for dessert Tulip ‘Hemisphere’ is stunning.

Tulip ‘Hemisphere’

‘National Velvet’ is a gleaming maroon red .

Tulip ‘National Velvet’

The trouble with tulips is they have no staying power and after a year or two they dwindle away. I have found  the lily -flowered Tulip ‘West Point’  stays around for a few years.

Tulip ‘West Point’

But the most persistent  in my garden is one that was here when I came and it has  spread all round. It is a large yellow Darwin called ‘Golden Apeldoorn’  and it  looks lovely with brunnera and forgetmenots.

Tulip ‘Golden Apeldoorn’

The flowers  are black inside.

Tulip ‘Golden Apeldoorn’

I have lots of red Darwins  which increase happily too.

Thank you Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting In a Vase On Monday. I am sorry I cheated a bit today and there is no sign of a vase. I do have vases in the house full of Spanish bluebells but my tulips are much more exciting.

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In a Vase on Monday. Easter Eggs.

What a funny Easter- no chocolate Easter eggs, no hot cross buns, no Simnel cake and worst of all, no family lunch. But what fantastic weather we have had and a wonderful day in the garden yesterday. And here in the Blooming Garden a once in a life time event; The Pianist planted a tree. He planted it it in its pot but once we got over that little problem and I explained that the hole had to be big enough to accommodate all the roots and it really wouldn’t do if half the root ball was sticking up out of the hole, it was plain sailing all the way. And I am very grateful because the whole of this part of the garden where my new trees are going is full of roots from the old hedge line, so it wasn’t an easy task. And the Pianist is averse to physical labour and anything to do with spades, so bless him. And then we spent the afternoon reading in the garden which is a lovely way to spend Easter Sunday.

But today it is cold so I have brought a few special Easter flowers into the house. I have a French porcelain Easter egg to display them in so no calories are involved in this arrangement.

I used bluebells and for scent there are dark red  wallflowers, Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’ and some little narcissi.

Erysimum cheiri ‘Blood Red’, Skimmia ‘Kew Green’ and Narcissus ‘Pipit’

I love the tiny narcissi that bloom after all the others, three particular favourites are the highly fragrant jonquils  ‘Bell Song’ with a peachy trumpet, ‘Segovia’ and yellow and white ‘Pipit’ which has three or four flowers on each stalk. They are all irresistible.

Narcissus Segovia‘ Narcissus ‘Pipit ‘ and Narcissus ‘BellSong’

Look how cute ‘ Segovia’ is with its white petals and neat flat cups inside.

Narcissus ‘Segovia’

I have quite a few Pasque flowers in different colours, this is a ruby coloured one.

Pulsatilla vulgaris with tulip.

The erythroniums are in flower now, ‘Pagoda’ is the most common one and the easiest to grow, it clumps up quickly.

Other flowers include a  tulip, cowslips, pulmonaria, a white snakes head fritillary, the perennial wallflower Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ and a bit of the chocolate vine chocolate vine, Akebia quinata.

And I found two Eater Eggs, one is agate and the other one is amethyst, we can’t eat them but they are quite pretty.

And not only do we have flowers and inedible Easter eggs, but the Pianist has made a delicious carrot cake. That should go down very well with a nice glass of Sauternes.

Thank you Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for encouraging us to keep on picking flowers for the house to bring some normality into our lives as we try to adjust to these strange and worrying times. Cathy has tulips today and what a cheering sight they are.

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Once in a Pink Moon.

Last night the pink super moon was such a wonderful sight that I had to run outside to get a shot of it.

Super moon

The pink moon is supposed to represent rebirth and renewal and the pink flowers that bloom in the spring.  So I celebrate it today with my beautiful dark pink crab apple Malus ‘Princeton Cardinal’ which is a stunning sight right now.

Malus ‘Princeton Cardinal’

And I have a good reason to be in the pink today because at last my path through the winter garden is finished. It looked like this in the autumn and throughout the winter it was a bog.

But one of the advantages of being locked up is that you can get things done and now at last it is finished. Yippee! Come and look.

And looking back.

So now I have to get on with the other big project; it is coming on but there is a lot more to be done before I can plant my maids in waiting.

We are having such glorious weather at the moment that having to stay in the garden is a delight. Even when everything outside is grim it is wonderful to escape from the news and spend time with just the birds and butterflies for company.

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In a Vase on Monday. Primroses.

Out on our daily hour of exercise we are enjoying the banks of primroses lining the lanes round us.

I wasn’t the only one admiring these beauties, matching Brimstone butterflies were enjoying them too.

I love primroses so much that I have them everywhere in the garden in every colour imaginable and they seed around and hybridise. I wrote about them here so instead of repeating myself I will show you my little primrose dish.

I filled it with a selection of primroses from round the garden. Not only do they look pretty but they are delicately perfumed.

A girl can never have too many primroses, here are  just a few of the many which are looking gorgeous  right now.

Many thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for encouraging us to join in her meme of In a Vase on Monday. Looking round the garden for flowers for a vase is a lovely thing to do on a beautiful spring day and having a vase on Monday helps to anchor us into the week at a weird point in history when every day seems the same and we can quite easily become adrift from the calendar.

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Six on Saturday. True Blue.

If you think about it, true blue flowers are quite rare, the flowers listed by nursery men as blue are very often shades of mauve or purple. In fact there is no blue pigment in the plant world and colours that appear blue to us are actually permutations of violet or purple. To make flowers appear blue, plants carry out some sort of biochemical magic using red pigments called anthocyanins. I have read the science but I can’t get my head round it, it is magic to me. Blue flowers are universally appealing, as long as they are naturally blue and not the hideous dyed carnations and even orchids that you sometimes see for sale in supermarkets. The perpetrators of this crime against plants need locking up.

The blue flowers of spring are particularly magical. Years ago I sorted out the confusion in my mind about the names of the most gorgeous early-spring blue flowers; the little bells of Scilla lucilliae  and the starry flowers of Chionodoxa forbesii by reminding myself that chionodoxas don’t hang their heads, but have their chins up; I know it’s not quite chin, but if you slur ‘chion’ a bit it sounds like it. Chionodoxa is a lovely Greek word meaning the ‘Glory of the Snow’ which is a bit misleading as here they are blooming away now and we don’t usually get snow in April.  Anyway no matter where they point their chins the arrangement of their anthers and filaments are quite different if you look at them closely.

But now after getting my head round the differences I find that chionodoxas have been subsumed into the Scilla group anyway. But this is handy when doing Six on Saturday as I can count these as one and still have five more blue flowers to write about. But first, I am going to cheat a bit and show you how Chionodoxa forbesii comes in a pretty shade of pink too.

Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Giant’

I love the pretty, starry flowers of the Turkish Squill, Scilla bithynica. They are produced in pyramidal racemes of starry flowers.

Scilla bithynica

Still on the theme of sky blue flowers I have creeping carpets of Omphalodes cappadocica ‘Starry Eyes’. If this name is a bit of a mouthful for you, its common name is ‘Navelwort’ but I have no truck with common flower names, specially ones as ugly as that. This plant does best in dappled shade.

Omphalodes cappadocica ‘Starry eyes’

The flowers of Omphalodes look rather like Forgetmenots as do those of Brunnera macrophylla. There are several variegated varieties of this and I started off with ‘Jack Frost’, Looking Glass’ and several others. They have all seeded around now so they are quite varied.

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost.

Grape Hyacinths spread around everywhere too and can become a nuisance but there are some very refined ones which stay in nice clumps without getting everywhere.

Muscari armeniacum spreading happily in a corner of a spring bed.

Muscari armeniacum ‘Mountain Lady’ is a much smarter and quite new variety with bicolour flowers.

Muscari armeniacum ‘Mountain Lady’

I have a lovely powder blue one which Jenny Robinson found in Cyprus. It is called Muscari latifolium ‘Jenny Robinson’, but to confuse matters it is sometimes called ‘Baby’s Breath’. To confuse matters even more it is very similar to Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’. The only difference I can see is that Jenny has slightly broader, tidier leaves.

Muscari neglectum ‘Jenny Robinson’

I am going to include Bellevalia  pycnantha in with my Muscari because it looks just like it and in fact it used to be called Muscari paradoxum. It is very dark and sophisticated.

Bellevalia pycnantha


I love daisy flowers and the sky blue Anemone blanda  is wonderful for naturalising and spreads around into great pools.

Anemone blanda

Veronica peduncularis is a mat-forming herbaceous plant that gets better each year as it spreads into a large pancake bearing cobalt blue flowers in spring. I grow mine next to the buttercup -yellow Euphorbia polychroma.

Veronica peduncularis

So that’s it. As I am linking in with the Propagator’s popular Meme ‘Six on Saturday’   I have to limit my blues to just 6 species.  Except I will bend the rules just a little by putting a few more April blues in a collage;  they are all so lovely it is difficult to leave anything out. Today is glorious and in these troubling times we gardeners are lucky to be able to get out into our gardens and enjoy an abundance of wonderful spring flowers. Do see what all the other keen Six on Saturday fans are up to at the moment.

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In Vase on Monday. Ancient Aristocrats.

In my opinion magnolias are the aristocrats of the tree world and they are the ones with the most ancient lineage. Fossil remains have been found dating back to the Cretaceous period; that is 145-146 million years ago. Get your head round that Creationists! There is a huge variety of  spring-flowering Asiatic species and cultivars available.  I adore them and I have nine varieties but I would like to add to that one day when I am allowed out again. If you have early and later blooming ones then you can enjoy them over several weeks.  These are my early bloomers.

The flowers are born on bare branches and they don’t last long. Unfortunately the earliest flowering can get spoilt by frost. Yesterday, we had hail and even snow for a short time but there are still unscathed buds to open. The starry flowers of Magnolia stellata are looking a bit tatty but its relation the pink Magnolia ‘Leonard Messel’ less so. My most magnificent Magnolia ‘Star Wars’ seems quite unconcerned by the frost and hail and the blooms still look wonderful.

Magnolia ‘Star Wars’

This tree is now ten years old and  is a good size and is full of  huge blooms thanks to the ‘campbelli’ in its breeding. Lucky Cornish people can see these amazing Magnolia campbelli in their gardens but here it is too tender. Besides like the ubiquitous Magnolia soulangeana you have to wait years to get blooms. All the magnolias I have here bloomed when still young.

Magnolias don’t last long in water so I have a short- lived vase on my dining table. I have used a glass Mary Gregory jug for this as I didn’t want any colours to detract from the simple beauty of the magnolias. I used three big flowers of Magnolia ‘Star Wars’, one dark ‘Black Tulip’ and two fluttery flowers of ‘Leonard Messel’ so these are all my favourites.

M.‘Black Tulip’ left, M. Leonard Messel’ centre and M.’Star Wars’ right

As these are such ancient trees I have illustrated this with some fossils.

Magnolias are pollinated by wingless beetles as these existed long before the appearance of butterflies and moths. The flowers have tepals rather than petals which remain closed for several days enabling the beetles to crawl around inside the bloom and get covered in pollen.

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who is bringing a bit of stability into our lives by inviting us to stroll round our gardens and find choice blooms to put in a Vase on Monday. Without this it would be difficult to keep track of the days when each day feels like groundhog day.

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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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In a Vase on Monday. Daffies

It’s that time of year again at last. Cheery daffodils mean spring, although most of us aren’t feeling the usual seasonal euphoria and perhaps Hector’s expression sums up the 2020, spring vibe.  But still, don’t you feel sorry for non-gardeners at the moment?  We are the lucky ones with our own personal paradise and sanctuary where we don’t have to jump out of our skin if anyone coughs. Here in my garden there is just bird song; the sparrows are chattering away in the hedge, the Great Tits have started their rather monotonous song and the robin seems to be singing just for me as I dig. And I have daffodils.

These are the assorted ones which somebody else planted years ago in the orchard and although I have redesigned much of the orchard I still have plenty of daffodils left at the bottom of the garden. They are all different, if I had planted them I would have put drifts of one colour, but still they are lovely. It is funny that the doubled, primped fussy daffodils that we sneer at and would never dream of planting look rather pretty in a vase. I particularly like the ones with frilly coronas; oh no, I just realised I used the ‘c’ word so let’s forget the correct word for now and call it the trumpet.

Elsewhere I planted masses of white ones called Narcissus ‘Mount Hood’. White is perhaps not so spring-like but I do love them. They also have frilly er- trumpets.

Narcissus ‘Mount Hood’

My favourites are the dainty miniatures. In this vase I have a selection of them in bloom now and there are plenty more are still to come.

I love them all but my favourite is the creamy white Narcissus ‘Elka’ on the right.

The one with the orange trumpet is ‘Jetfire’ and the dainty one with reflexed petals is  Narcissus cyclamineus.

Thank you to lovely Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting the meme In a Vase on Monday and helping to take our minds off plagues and Armageddon.

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