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April 2024

The Gardening
Year Begins

a photo gallery | 2024

Sisyrinchium ‘Moody Blues’

THE FRONT GARDEN

The garden to the front of my house includes an area of gravel parking, with box-edged beds close to the house and a yellow rose trained on the wall. The front door provides an area for constantly changing potted plants, which with the arrival of Tulip season is signalling summer is on the way. I planted these tulip pots in Autumn. I layered crocus bulbs on top of the tulips, which provided a display in February and March.

Tulip ‘Double you’

Tulip ‘Jimmy’

Camassia leichtlinii ‘Caerulea’

This is an easy perennial bulb, with flowering stems 2ft tall. My clump is nearly two decades old, growing in a bed alongside the drive in my front garden. The bright blue flowers put on a spectacular show, only let down by their brevity (at their best for just two weeks)

Allium ‘Gladiator’

The garden in front of my house and along the driveway are planted with Allium ‘Purple sensation’ which make their main display in May, but pots of Allium ‘Gladiator’ are already starting to open.

THE WOODLAND GARDEN

My Woodland Garden is an area or raised beds and brick paths framed by step-over apple trees and backed by a woodshed. It sits in the bend of our drive. The canopy of the garden — which provides the dappled shade for the woodland plants beneath — comes from an edible cherry tree, which in April is on full blossom. This month, I topped up the limestone chippings on our drive, so it all looks spic and span right now.

Polystichum setiferum Divisilobum

Aquilegia vulgaris

Granny’s bonnets have a self-sown presence in my my woodland garden going back nearly two decades. New seedlings pop up all the time. I weed most of them out, but the few I leave (or overlook) amuse me with their luck-of-the-draw colours and crazy forms. This pretty pink seedling is just perfection! more…

Brunnera macrophylla

The Siberian bugloss is wonderful for naturalistic planting in shady areas. This one is ‘Hadspen Cream’ which is supposed to have white variegated foliage, but on mine almost all of the leaves are plain green. The flowers though…!

Erythronium ‘Pagoda’

During the first half of April, the Dog’s tooth violets are simply stunning. Like miniature lilies. But more reliable! My clumps are getting on for two decades old and always produce a handsome display. more»

Winter windflower (Anemone blanda)

Still flowering in mid-April. I have found these bulbous anemones easier to establish in my woodland garden than our native Wood anemone (A. nemerosa), which is probably a good thing as I think the latter may have become invasive. Also, blue.

Wood Spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloids)

Wood spurges self-seed in my garden and hybridise with the cultivars I have planted here over the years. The seedlings that pop up spontaneously are so welcome, adding their lovely chartreuse colours in random places. I find the stems and foliage constantly catch my eye as I walk around the garden, a quality that I just can’t capture on camera.

Bugle (Ajuga reptans)

This beautiful patch of bugle is growing over one edge of a raised bed on the corner of a path. It has flowered throughout April putting on a good show. Hostas and Brunnera add to the scene. The red in the foreground is from a small-leaved Azalea that flowers its heart out at this time of year. more»

THE GREENHOUSE

The greenhouse peach tree has flowered and now tiny fruits are growing. Some of the pots of Agapanthus have been moved out into the garden. I have several large pots of lilies that I grow on inside to prevent lily beetle attacking them. They are well advanced and will be brought out close to the house soon. I grow a few choice ornamantals in here too, just for pleasure. About the Greenhouse »

Primula auricula ‘Louis’

Primula auricula ‘Stanzerl’

THE WHITE GARDEN

April — the Amelanchier lamarkii is in full flower and looking magnificent for two weeks. Although white ‘Purissima’ tulips and starflowers (Ipheion ‘Alberto Castillo’) provided the longest display.

Hosta ‘First frost’

My Hostas are now all up and flourishing. I’ve managed to keep them free of slugs and snails. The ones I grow in pots are easier in this regard. The ones in the ground are more difficult.

April showers

The waxy surface of Hosta leaves sometimes captures rain drops in perfect beads

Agapanthus ‘Silver Baby’

Several of my potted agapanthus have started into flower early. Probably a benefit of keeping them in the Greenhouse over winter. Ahead of them all is ‘Silver baby’ which is a serene white with a hint of blue. Possibly too much blue to keep in my White Garden. But that’s the beauty of pots — so easy to relocate!

Foxgloves

All over the white garden, foxgloves are rising up ready to flower. I admire them at all stages of growth, from their winter rosettes, to their fountain of foliage as the stems elongate. This one, self-sown between the summer snowflake, and white narcissus ‘Thalia’ will have to come out though, as it is clearly contaminated with purple foxglove genes.

Summer ready

By April, I like to have the garden well organised and ready for the summer: The paths have been cleaned, weeded and re-sanded. The lawn has been scarified, over-seeded and top dressed. The hedges have had their first cut, and the garden furniture is out and ready to be used.

Let’s take a stroll down the path into the pond garden…

THE POND GARDEN

The new foliage of the box plants and euphorbias provide a strong chartreuse theme. Most of the flowers will open in May — roses, iris and alliums are all primed and ready to fire… but not quite yet. So what’s flowering this early?

Euphorbia × martini ‘Baby Charm’

Here is one of several species of spurge that contribute to April’s vibrant chartreuse colour way. This one (‘Baby Charm’) is covered in masses of curious spurge flowers with bright red crescent-cross faces in yellow bonnets. In full sun, Euphorbia × martini cultivars form a 2 ft (60cm) mound of dense, upright stems. Unfortunately, like many spurges, they tend to be short lived. Several of mine died off in a couple of years. This one is the longest survivor, at 5 years old.

Bumble Bees

Bumblebees have been busy for weeks in all parts of my garden. April-flowering Clematis ‘Early sensation’ attracts them with its profusion of scented white flowers. I have found this a fickle woodbine: it is an evergreen with attractive leaves, but whole shoots die back unaccountably. Cutting them out from the tangle of healthy stems requires patience. The result is that some years it has far more flowering shoots than others. Not a consideration the Bees waste any time contemplating.

Sea Thrift

My Mediterranean Pond Garden is pretty quiet through winter and spring, until May when it explodes in a riot of colour to rival Chelsea. Thrift is the earliest flowering perennial, providing its unique colour and texture ahead of the main show. This clump is self-sown in the brick paving. It glows vividly.

Common Fox Spider (Alopecosa pulverulenta)

Look there! Sunning himself on the top edge of one of the raised bed, next to the thrift – a little wolf spider! He’s only 2cm long, so you need to get down and take a close look to see his beauty…

Snow in Summer (Cerastium tomentosum)

Snow-in-summer is a wonderful early flowering rock garden plant which forms dense mats of silvery foliage over which hundreds of tiny (18mm, 2/3in) starry white flowers dance on thin 6in stems from mid April.

Geranium pyrenaicum ‘Bill Wallis’


5 thoughts on “April – Glimpses of Summer-to-come”

  1. Another lovely post Keir – great photography and the UI is perfect for mobile. A little dose of green & colour on the train. A frustratingly slow spring this year here in North London, but lots of things primed and ready for action!
    Have you ever opened your garden for NGS visits?

    Reply
    • Thanks so much Andrew! I really appreciate the feedback about the mobile experience. As for NGS, it’s been in the back of my mind, but I’ve not looked into it seriously. Who knows, perhaps for next year…

      Reply

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