A glorious week of warm sunshine and summer temperatures. The positive aspect: it puts everyone in a good mood. The negative: plants move apace and so many of those early blooms are out and over before one has had the chance to appreciate them. No signs of rain and in my garden on dry sandy soil things are undoubtedly missing soil moisture. Primroses are profuse but the flowers are short-stemmed and leaves are small. Some trees, particularly the prunus are struggling to produce leaves and their display of flowers has been sparse and fleeting. Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’ has been particularly poor and ‘Accolade’ has produced a particularly miserable display. However at least we've enjoyed the magnolias - so far just about unscathed by frost.
I have had a number of reports of daffodils failing to bloom, or at least producing few flowers. I think that’s due to the exceptionally warm, dry April last year which made the foliage die down quickly. This means the bulbs did not build up their reserves sufficiently to flower well this year. We might see the same gain next season.
I’ve been out round some of our Garden Centres talking Chelsea Inspirations, in other words talking about how we put plants together on the exhibit and how to do it in the garden. Lovely audiences, and so much enthusiasm and passion for plants and gardens. Talking gardens and advising customers is definitely my favourite part of my job. Most popular plants at the talks: Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’, Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens’, Digitalis ‘Serendipity’, and the Japanese Maples. I have to say the plants of Acer palmatum ‘Shaina’ that we have this year are cracking! Lovely strong stems with hose dark red leaves just unfurling –pretty hard to resist.
I planted Acer ‘Katsura’ in 2 pots on my terrace. This is another favourite of mine with lovely golden-olive green leaves tinged with orange-apricot at the tips of the shoots. It looks particularly good in one of those caramel-toffee glazed oriental pots on the edge of the rill around the terrace.
I made a concerted effort to get some decent pictures of Sophora ‘Sun King’. I must say it is spectacular in flower – even as a very young plant. Grown as free standing shrub it’s a sprawling individual. Should be promoted more as an excellent evergreen wall shrub. Underplant with Muscari armeniacum – that blue transforms the rather strong yellow of the sophora into a simply blue sky and sunshine combination.
It has been wonderful seeing the garden in the light after work – in the winter months I only get to see it at weekends. Arriving home to the scent of Clematis armandii (first year I’ve been convinced that it does smell of almonds) has been a delight. Even this early in the year strong midday sunshine does bleach the colour out of everything and makes those pale flowers kook hard and glaring. The soft light of late afternoon and early evening is so much nicer – maybe because it’s that much close to wine time!
Out of action this weekend – knee op yesterday. A bit frustrating when there's so much to do - grass to cut, veggies to sow, weeds to cull and still a couple of empty areas that need planting. Still that’s my chance to sit in the garden and soak up the sun – get a few rays before ‘The Only way is Chelsea’. One problem: cloudy skies and cool temperatures – just my luck!