It has been a weird winter, with more rain than ever recorded – in 360 years I think it is, but the plus side of that has been the mild weather we have had here in London. Still no frost in my garden this winter, and I hope the rest of March, or April for that matter doesn’t have some silly surprises for us, like snow – the latest I have experienced snow here in London these 15 years I have been here was 8th April! The snow didn’t lay for more than a few hours but it was cold for a few days and the frost killed all the flowers that were out on my camellia. No silly things like that this year please!
My garden is filling up with colours after having looked mainly green over the winter. Many of the spring bulbs are up, some are already finished flowering like the snowdrops – not a single snowdrop left this week. And all the Tomasinianus crocuses are gone but some of the later Vernus crocuses are still flowering, but not for long, another week of the warm weather we are having and they will be all finished.
At the moment I have pots everywhere! Later on, many of these pots and containers will be moved into the flowerbeds to fill in the gaps the early spring bulbs will have left, but for now they have to be parked up here along the path.
And here is the amazing magnolia that I have been eagerly waiting to start flowering for the very first time!
The nursery I bought it from said it was Magnolia soulangeana 'Heaven Scent', and it was labelled so. I have checked many websites and every website says either that 'Heaven Scent' is highly fragrant or strongly fragrant or something similar.
The flowers starts out tightly packed and it took many days from this stage....
....to this – and then....
....to fully open. The flowers are so incredibly beautiful, and surprisingly thick and solid when I touch them.
But they don’t smell anything! Even when I stick my nose all the way down in the flowers, I can’t smell anything else than a very faint ‘flower smell’ and when standing here beside the magnolia, to be honest, all I can smell is my hyacinths growing 5 feet away! How can that be?
I did try to smell several flowers, in case one was produced without any scent (!), but they are all the same. I wonder if I have been sent a different magnolia than what it says on the label? The flowers are beautiful, even without any scent, but I must admit it was a surprise and a letdown to discover there is no scent. I wonder if it will come when the tree is more mature? Anyone got any experience here?
And now to the next big thing to flower, this was my Clematis armandii 'Apple Blossom' in May last year. It spent the summer growing and growing and growing....
And look at it now! I have no idea where I should let it grow from here and have already started to cut off some of the new shoots that were growing into my neighbours.
Most of the flowers that have opened so far are in the top left corner, but the whole plant is totally covered in buds.
The flowers are cute, you can see why it is named 'Apple Blossom'.
Slightly pink on the outside and completely white inside.
Let’s move back to the patio area, my new camellia ‘Takanini’ is still in full flower, I adore those double anemone-formed flowers.
And my teacups are still here, although the irises are finished flowering, emptied out and the bulbs put in the ground – hopefully they will come back next year. These two cups left have anemones, or what’s left after the squirrel has helped himself to lunch several times!
Here are more anemones, this one has not been raided as much and almost all bulbs are here.
Anemone Blanda Mixed.
Anemone Blanda Mixed.
Anemone Blanda Mixed.
The bed down from the patio is filled with spring bulbs, some finished, some in flower and some yet to emerge.
The most fragrant at the moment are the hyacinths I mentioned earlier, I have 9 in total, but they are spread out a bit too much to all appear in the same photo.
Hyacinthus orientalis 'Fondant'.
Some of the Iris reticulata in the pots down here are still in flower, although it is soon over for these too. This is Iris reticulata 'Pixie'.
And this is Iris reticulata 'Harmony'.
Iris reticulata 'Harmony'.
The last of the crocuses, Crocus Vernus mix.
Crocus Vernus mix.
Crocus Vernus mix.
And the daffodils have been flowering for a while too, this is a tiny newcomer to my garden called 'Hawera', although it looks very different than on the pictures I found on Google – another nursery mislabelling? I’ll see when the rest comes out, there are 49 more to come, maybe the rest looks more like they are supposed to!
This one is definitely a mislabelling, as these were supposed to be Narcissus 'White Lion' and they are definitely not. 'White Lion' is a double daffodil, I have no idea what these are, but I like the colours and they smell absolutely beautiful.
This photo as rather special, perhaps you need to click to enlarge it to see what I mean, but here I have daffodils in full flower flanked by fuchsia ‘Annabel’ on both sides – both with lots of buds only days from flowering. I have never had daffodils and fuchsias in flower at the same time ever before!
The Loropetalum chinense is in flower again, this tiny amazing bush doesn’t seem to have a set flowering time, instead it throws out a new set of flowers every few weeks.
And the mouse plants have just started to flower too. I will take more photos of these amazing plants later on, when they get a bit bigger and resemble mice a bit more, here is the first baby mouse.
Moving down the garden, the camellia is starting to look great.
With some flowers out – and many hundred more to come. Once this camellia has finished flowering this spring I will give it a serious pruning, I haven’t done that for many years and it shows - it has become rather lopsided. I am afraid it could topple over eventually. I am not looking forward to the job, the camellia is very wide, and taller than me and I am 5’9”.
Just down below the camellia, some of the tulips have opened up, this is 'Madame Lefeber', a fosteriana tulip which usually comes again and again. 'Madame Lefeber' has been in my garden for 4 years and I have not lifted the bulbs, but I have some white and pink fosteriana bubs here too and I am not sure they have survived our extremely wet winter. It seems many of them are coming up blind or distorted or not at all.
It seems the Madame is the toughest of them, surviving being waterlogged for almost 3 months!
Let’s move down to the bottom of my garden, as here are much of the spring plants right now.
The most visible one straight away is the Rhododendron 'Christmas Cheer', it has been flowering for over a month now and there are still buds just opening.
It is nice to have a rhododendron in flower this early and lasting so long, my other rhododendron flowers much later and it is usually a lot warmer by then so the flowering season is over in just a few short weeks.
I have flowers a lot less showy, here are my brand new Scilla Siberica 'Bright Blue', flowering for the first time. I have 50 of them spread out down at the bottom of the garden. They are absolutely tiny so you have to be up-close to see them, but I really love these cheerful little flowers.
I also bought 50 of these Puschkinia Libanotica, now flowering for the first time – they are a tiny bit later than the Scillas, this one was the most out of the ground I could find today.
Here in the woodland area there are cyclamens too, lots of them.
In all sorts of colours and different leaf pattern. I let some of them seed every year.
The hellebores have been flowering for what feels like ages by now, they started 2 ½ months ago, in last week of December and some of them are still producing new flower buds.
I couldn’t resist buying a couple of new hellebores this year too, here is Helleborus hybridus 'Double Primrose' , the first yellow hellebore in my garden.
And here is Helleborus ericsmithii 'Winter Sunshine', a rather different hellebore.
Helleborus ericsmithii 'Winter Sunshine'.
Purple Helleborus hybridus close up.
Helleborus hybridus 'Double White Spotted'.
Helleborus hybridus 'Picotee'.
The ballerinas in my garden has emerged again, this is Trillium cuneatum and this lovely clump of trilliums has grown from just one plant in 10 years.
These two look like they are having a dance together. The flowers were not fully opened when I took the photos yesterday.
But just before I was going to pack up and go in for the evening I noticed that one of them had opened a flower - just in time for me to take a photo.
And just behind the trilliums is a plant I rarely photograph, a Euphorbia amygdaloides 'Purpurea'. Most of the year it is just an evergreen plant but now in the spring it gets these amazing flowers, deep bronze/purple coloured and it thoroughly deserves to be mentioned.
And before we leave the back garden, let me tell you what the squirrel has been up to lately. He has got a taste for my rosebuds! I have never seen him eating them before so maybe this is something new on the menu. He sits on the fence and rip off the new shoots and it seems like he eats the small inner part of the shoot....
.....and then he throws the rest on the ground. I find these every day and if he doesn’t stop and find something else to eat, I won’t have any roses this summer!
He even made a dive into the camellia today, probably finding tasty new shoots there too. He isn’t scared of me at all, these photos were taken with me walking around taking photos of him less than 5’ away from him, he just looks at me, probably knows he can outrun me very easily. He is not that fond of the cat though, and my cat makes some half-hearted attempts to chuck him out of the garden now and then, but he can’t really be bothered – and the squirrel can’t really be bothered getting that scared either. Most of the time the two of them seem to tolerate each other as long as they are at opposite ends of the garden – the cat sleeping in the chair and the squirrel munching away on my plants and bulbs. I am not happy but what do I do?!
OK, let’s finish up with a trip to my front garden. The window boxes I planted up in December are bursting with flowers.
These double primroses look very different to my cream coloured Primula vulgaris, I think they are gorgeous, almost like roses.
They are called Primula vulgaris Belarina 'Amethyst Ice'.
And just like the fuchsias in the ground in my garden, the fuchsias here are in full flower too. These have been flowering non-stop since last autumn and I wasn’t sure if they would take a break or what they would do but they have all just continued so I have started to call them my evergreen fuchsias – that’s effectively what they have been this winter. This is Fuchsia 'Velvet Crush'.
That was the trip around my garden this mid-March. I have many more plants in flower but this is already a seriously long post so it won’t be possible to show you everything. But I can tell you that all my fuchsias are in flower, I still have all the cream Primula vulgaris in flower – non-stop since September 2012 (!), and I have many more types of daffodils in flower than I have showed here. I also have lavender in flower and the lovely Chaenomeles 'Crimson and Gold', some more primroses and I have some violas just come into flower.
I am linking this post to Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, if you visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens you can see gardens from all over the world and see what’s flowering right now. Until next time, take care.