Most people love Spring, that time of rebirth and renewal. This year, our spring has seemed exceptionally vibrant. While we haven’t had the extended string of beautiful, sunny days that Britain has experienced (this has been one of the coldest Aprils on record here in Indiana) we have had some lovely sunny days, lots of gentle rains, and most importantly, no storms to rip off the tulip petals and bruise the daffodils. Because of the frequent rains, even with raised beds in the potager, gardening wasn’t an option so there’s been more time to keep the Bloom Journal accurate. The cheerful peony-flowered tulip above is my new favorite. It is part of a mix called “Threedom” from ColorBlends, which included it, the single orange tulips behind it, and “Ballerina” lily-flowered tulips which will bloom later. All the bulbs came mixed together, so it’s been interesting to see how different groups of 5 bulbs vary. Next year, my order will include an extra portion of “Cretaceous” for sure!
Before “Cretaceous” my favorite was “Foxy Foxtrot,” which has been a garden staple for four years. These start out a lovely yellow, but as they age they become a beautiful soft apricot. These are much shorter, only about 10-12″ so they go in the fronts of borders, and also do well in pots. The advantage to the double and peony-flowered tulips is that they seem to hold up better in the wind. Single tulips look so devastated when losing just one petal that I feel compelled to cut them off at that point, so some of their bloom time is very short indeed.
I know many people consider Muscari, or grape hyacinth to be an aggressive thug, but I’ve had this clump for six years, and it hasn’t spread at all, much to my dismay. I love the deep blue color (although I also have the softer “Valerie Finnis” in the potager’s exterior border) so additional bulbs are already on my list for fall planting.
There is a single pink (it was supposed to be coral) hellebore in the Blue Garden (blue not being a hellebore option) because the conditions for it were perfect, and I love the leathery foliage as a contrast to the other plants there. This spring, I was delighted to see lots of hellebore seedlings. I’ll move some of them into the Front Island and some to the Fairy Slope, where the double white hellebores are already well established. It will be fun to see what off-spring results. I may keep a couple in the Blue Garden, since only a few of the “Polka Dot Polly” foxgloves returned. The foxgloves are a lovely apricot color and the five original plants have returned faithfully for five years, but this year there are only two. I was told if I kept them deadheaded they would act as a perennial, but I think I’ll let them set seed this year so I can start some new plants.
I love primulas, and acquiring more was on my “to look for” list as I visited greenhouses this spring. Of course, that’s not happening, so the primulas I do already have seem much more valuable. I have two of the “Nectarine” primulas in different locations to see which was best. While both plants seem to be doing okay, neither is expanding much after three years so maybe I’ll look for yet another location. Gardening is a moving experiment. Meanwhile, the daffodils have been exceptional this year, partly because some new varieties were added last fall in an attempt to extend the season.
I rave every spring about “British Gamble,” which has proven to be not only one of the largest, but also most durable daffs I’ve grown. The ones shown above began blooming on April 6th, and although the salmon edge of the trumpets has faded they still look beautiful today, unlike some of their cousins who were “done” days, if not weeks ago.
Another favorite, because not only is it beautiful but it begins blooming later in the season is “Delnashaugh” a double white with extra petals of apricot-salmon. As you can see, there are several buds yet to open.
“Sailorman” was added last fall to extend the season. It began blooming April 18th and still looks fresh. It’s a very large double with strong stems. Although listed as “early-mid” by Brent & Becky’s, I’m pleased that it’s blooming “late.” Maybe that will change in coming years, but it’s a winner whenever it blooms.
“Blushing Lady” was chosen strictly for its color combination and the description that said it produced three flowers per stem. That didn’t happen this year, but maybe it will next year. It prefers dappled shade, so I hope it’s happy in this location in the Front Island.
For a later-blooming narcissus, the old reliable “Geranium” can’t be beat, especially for it’s lovely sweet fragrance and multiple flowers per stem. Just a couple in a vase will perfume a room. I’ll certainly be sad to see them fade, but they will return faithfully again next year.
I’ll do an analysis of bloom-length times and a critique of the latest blooming daffs after the season is over, so I’ll know what additional bulbs I may want to order for fall planting, and to hopefully help you in making selections to extend your season as well. Just anticipating fall bulb planting should be a happy time, but with the dire predictions of another wave of virus likely then threatens to cloud the picture. We need all the beautiful flowers we can get to brighten our isolation.