Rain and strong winds continue to sweep mercilessly across our hilltop, which has been unseasonably cold since the Bank Holiday. Today’s rainfall has been incessant – and shows no sign of stopping – but there were occasional glimpses of sun at the weekend and the opportunity to snatch a few pictures of some of the survivors: shooting the breeze, indeed!
Ignoring the dandelions, which are appearing thick and fast in the lawn despite our best attempts to remove them, the borders are beginning to fill up nicely, albeit at the usual jaunty angle. I was thrilled that last year’s pots of Barcelona tulips, planted out in several clumps in the borders last autumn, to make room in the pots for this year’s selections, came up tall and beautiful again for their second spring.
They look particularly vibrant with the zesty green Euphorbia at their feet, and the blues of Omphalodes capadoccica ‘Cherry Ingram’ and the paler forget-me-nots. I am amazed that they continue to stand so tall, with their petals clutched tightly about them as the winds rip through the garden.
In the front garden, some of the tulips are beginning to look rather more ravaged. Although the beautifully painted red and yellow goblets of Tulipa Helmar, shown above, are somehow still pristine; the velvety dark red Jan Reus, and now-fading yellow and green stars of what appear to be T. Spring Green, have blown apart. These were ordered as T. Green Star, but bloomed with a more rounded shape and stripes of green and yellow rather than the spikier white and green shapes expected of the former. Fortuitously they make just as good a combination with the dark reds and yellows of their neighbours.
I love the colours of this combination, even though the pots are looking rather dishevelled, and I’m a little pleased with the narrow front bed above, where Apricot Beauty tulips tiptoe through a soft haze of forget-me-nots and the dark Blood Red wallflowers I raised from seed – though the odd bold Helmar makes a surprise appearance here too, and there’s room for more wallflowers and tulips both, as I make notes for next year.
Out and about recently, I also came upon this rather wonderful tulip in a lovely lemony yellow, with the most delicate red picotee edging. I must track it down for another year, it would make rather a fine companion for the reds and yellows we chose this year. Perhaps somebody can identify it?
UPDATE: It appears to be the Darwin hybrid ‘Ivory Floradale’, a pale lemon yellow tulip which can display hints of carmine
The last daffodils are still holding up remarkably well, though their petals are beginning to fray in the tempestuous winds that continue to assault them. These are the late-flowering Hawera and Petrel, both miniature narcissus that I added in the autumn, with multiple flowers on each stem. The delicate white Petrel have a lovely sweet scent.
Pink and white Lamprocapnos (I am reluctantly turning to their new name) bob along graceful stems, never still; and the first aquilegia into bloom is this tall purple-coated one that came from my Mum’s garden.
The tiny tiny dark buds that quivered on the impossibly delicate stems of Epimedium ‘Amber Queen’ burst open like fireworks this week – and this busy bee seems to be just as enamoured with them as I am. I find it astonishing how such substantial flowers were hiding in such small buds just a few days before.
Even the grasses are beginning to flower: these lovely russet flowers now grace the Deschampsia flexuosa ‘Tatra Gold’. The clump of Camassias that I planted in flower last spring are colouring up again, and Viola cornuta alba spills in a pool of white at the front of the border; I hope to spread these around the garden, they are such a free-flowering graceful addition to the planting.
Joining the white Anemone coronaria Mount Everest flowering in the front garden, I spotted the first deep red ranunculus beginning to unfurl, with a little glee. I planted corms of both red and white ranunculus, some in pots but most in the borders, and though I suspect we’ve lost some to the wet winter, there are definitely signs of life.
In the field border, I’ve been hoping for flowers from our first Peony since I first planted out the tiny pot bought from Malvern two years ago; such a relief that it seems to have found its feet this year, and I’m keenly anticipating the first red flower soon – that’s unless the wind and rain destroy the bud first, of course!
The plants we grow here should certainly be robust, with all that our weather throws at them, and are standing up surprisingly well. If only the rain would stop, the wind drop and the temperatures rise once more. I rather miss the spring sunshine that shyly teased us last week.