New domes of green are springing up across the garden and spreading out, gently swallowing up the bare earth as Spring finally gets into her stride.
Flowering stalks on some of the dicentras are already wringing out their pink hearts in the sun, while the stems of aquilegias are just beginning to push their way up from humps of foliage, much of which is tinged with red to varying degrees. I find the new leaves of astrantias particularly beautiful, lacquered to a fine shine, and the emerging hostas remain so far undiscovered by gorging gastropods.
I love the silver-edged strawberry-like leaves of Potentilla atrosanguinea, that will later be adorned with crimson flowers; and the scalloped edges of the curly wood sage, Teucrium scorodonia ‘Crispum’, always make me smile.
The sweet williams sown last summer have formed hearty clumps of red-edged leaves; new growth on the Deschampsia flexuosa ‘Tatra Gold’ is suddenly shooting up in zesty lime green, while the acers are unfurling their new leaves like flags of red and green.
It’s not just foliage that is singing out, or the early spring flowers still abounding; the vibrant bracts of Euphorbia martinii are coming into their own, and the tip of our young Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’ is indeed glowing like a hot poker.
And drawing me across the garden to wonder at their beauty, are the brilliant bracts of a new addition; the bewitching woodland gem, Hacquetia epipactis.
My eye has been caught several times recently by this striking plant, its tiny yellow flowers ringed by ruffs of vivid lime green bracts. I lingered over it in one of the floral marquees at the RHS Cardiff show last weekend, but somehow resisted temptation. When I stumbled upon an unexpected plant fair in our market town this weekend only to find this beguiling plant again, I could not fight its lure any longer, and a few hours later it was nestled in the mottled shade at the foot of our birch tree where I hope it will find its feet alongside the hellebores and primroses that wander nearby.
Aren’t they stunning?
The shades of green are not limiting themselves to foliage and bracts either, as our first Tulipa ‘Green Star’ has appeared in the April sun, alongside the dark plummy red of the first Tulipa ‘Jan Reus’ to emerge.
Breaking up the green, ranks of pale orange tulips stride through the dark red wallflowers in the narrow front border, while in the adjacent windswept bed the lines of flourishing greenery are dotted with lemon yellow from the tiny multiple heads of Narcissus Hawera, which have taken over where the taller daffodils have at last faded.
Less showy, but no less welcome, are the early dark flowers that have unexpectedly been pushed up by our golden sedge. And nearby, above the beautiful flushed foliage of Epimedium ‘Amber Queen’, delicate dark stems are bedecked with tiny buds whose opening I am awaiting with delicious anticipation.
It was a cold and blustery weekend, which made working in the garden uncomfortable at times, but the winds and icy temperatures were soon forgotten with so many delights to discover in the borders – I almost squealed when I found a tight round bud on the Paeonia lactiflora that has yet to flower since being planted over a year ago.
What a pleasure it is to watch the flush of green spreading across the garden, and the trees and hedgerows beyond, reclaiming them all from the drab garb of winter, with a verdant cloak to be adorned by the jewels of our spring flowers in all their glory.