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Easter extravagance...

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Adamn Greathead
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree

Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Posts: 44
Location: West Midlands

PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 1:05 pm    Post subject: Easter extravagance... Reply with quote

...when is a line crossed and a garden becomes more of a chore than a place to express inner emotions..

This week has Easter attached to it, bringing garish eggs and quirky little chicks with it. All this bypasses the Greathead household rather dismissively. The real consequences of Easter are the children are on holiday; the weather is always unpredictable and the garden is stirring with life. In the first week of Easter we can pretty much rely on the first tulips such as Tulipa 'Tres chic' appearing with vengeance, constantly striving for more than a perfect show. Tulips have come to play an important role within this garden, for instance they are planted in the border which receives constant shade throughout the day, in the mixed border which is subject to baking sun and, lastly, in pots and bowls. So, all-in-all the tulips here have to put up with and endure moist shade, dry sun and the all-to-familiar varying conditions that patio containers create. All these attributes make for the tulips popularity amongst gardeners across the globe but it remains common knowledge that nobody does it like the Dutch. Go to Holland between April and May and you can be guaranteed a thrilling show will be put on for you whereby you can follow their progress from bud to bloom in the matter of a week or two. It never fails to amaze me how shockingly beautiful tulips are and I confess to adoring them more when they are in bud as opposed to in full bloom simply because this is the stage at which they hold so much promise, so much anticipation. To single all the varieties down to a favourite one would be, for me, as impossible as it is for any self-adoring politician to tell the truth, despite this I do find the buds of Tulipa 'Chinatown' truly enchanting. The buds-and flowers- of this variety flaunt three colours all in one: china pink, jade green and wedding cake white. Also on the bulb market is a lovely little variety called 'Blue parrot', 30 of which belong to the mixed border here where they inject a cross between violet and cyan into the planting scheme- and it on my to-do-list to plant masses more in the autumn to, if I'm quite frank, show off. An additional variety which does nothing but show off is Tulipa 'Orange monarch'.

This magical variety appears like an ephemeral being in the garden by allowing its orange flowers, tinged with lime green, to float aloft its dwarf neighbours. Showing off purely to ourselves rather than to anybody else- after all if a garden fails to breathe interest into it's owners then when is a line crossed and a garden becomes more of a chore than a place to express inner emotions which otherwise would remain locked away.

Also at this time of the year a delicate family of plants belonging to the Primula erupt from the bare earth and thrust their trumpet-like blooms in your face. Here we came to the decision of planting P. denticulate (Drumstick primula); this specific species hosts globular flower heads fabricated by numerous individual flowers, illustrious indigo in colour. They usually appear the first week in April and receive their encore until well into the glorious month of May. In the bog garden exists a different species of primula and that is P. bulleyana. Candelabra primulas rarely die so they are ideal for anyone who has a reputation of killing everything great, green or growing. Be sure to plant them in a moist soil and they will revel in it, surviving longer than any other elaborate species which is forced to cope in unsuitable conditions. Get the conditions spot on and your plants will adore it thus, their show will be twice as effective. Anybody with half a brain would have planted some kind of clematis in their garden, purely for their ability to overwhelm the gardener- and they can continue to overwhelm me any day. At this time of year C.alpina are the star performers and i have added 5 in this garden- 2x 'Constnce', 2x 'Frances Rivis' and 1x 'alba'.

My favourite would have to be 'Constance' every time because, where it is planted, it contrasts beautifully with our Forsythia intermedia making for a sexy and seductive spectacle.

Clematis armandii is another plant which is flowering at the moment and it really does warrant the space it is given. Currently, it grows up a hazel wigwam in the mixed border and absolutely thrives there. In fact this year has been its best which has meant its awesome scent is twice as delicious and three times as beautiful. It has evergreen foliage so is therefore ideal for colour all year round.

If you happen to be looking for something to fill a shady corner where nothing much will put up with it then may I tempt you in trying a pulmonaria? Although sounding very similar to some deadly disease it actually happens to be the most wonderful of groundcover plants and long will they remain my firm favourite groundcover plant. Pulmonarias have the most well-kept foliage around which is mottled with cream speckles and has clinging to it small hairs that make working with the plant a laughing matter. The flowers can be pink, white or blue but the one which I grow here is P. saccharata 'Dora Bielefeld', such a variety has fabulously baby-bottom pink flowers that, when fading, evolve into translucent cyan tissue paper delicate enough that they fall in a matter of days before May arrives.

Going back to the fact that it's Easter, many of you will be giving and receiving eggs from friends, foes and relatives. Not me. Whereas eggs symbolise new hope and life within the world, I enjoy my idiosyncrasies, one of which is that a garden can and will only be the place for me to signal new hope and all that is promising within the world. As a rule I would not admit to be religious or spiritual in anyway but once you've tended a garden for so long it almost becomes inevitable. And there is always the feeling that your safety is assured in a garden and as long as you're there the everyday worries of life simply drift away and desiccate in the balmy sunshine which pours upon us at Easter...
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