What a mixed bag gardeners have had this spring! Some of the best spring weather for years, extra time for many of us to tackle garden jobs – and the closure of our garden centres, nurseries and hardware stores, just as the growing season gets underway. A time of changes, confusion and contradictions in all aspects of our lives – when we’ve turned to our gardens for distraction and comfort, and counted ourselves lucky to have them.
The stalwarts of the spring garden are the early flowering perennials that return year after year, offering a kind of overture before the main summer performance gets underway. As the spring bulbs pack up for another year and the cherry blossom blows away, some gardeners fear the ‘May gap’ – it’s too early for many summer flowers, roses are still in bud and tender annuals are still at risk from frosty nights. This is where the stalwart spring perennials come into their own, so this week let’s shine a spotlight on some of these old reliables. Here are a few of my favourites:
Aquilegia vulgaris – also known as columbines: These have pretty foliage and nodding flowers in almost every colour and I couldn’t imagine a spring garden without them. If allowed they will self -seed all over the garden and surprise you with a rainbow of colours. Some are a dull pink, stiffly shaped and destined for the compost heap, while others are taller, elegant and in delicious shades of blue, rich purple and coral or raspberry pink.
Dicentra spectabilis – Arching stems with dangling heart-shaped pink and white flowers (there’s also a pure white form, ‘Alba’ ). Propagate by division and grow in shady spots with ferns and other woodlanders.
Geum – these are great if you like reds, yellows and oranges and bring a ‘pop’ of bright colour to the front of a border in May. Good varieties are ‘Totally Tangerine’ and ‘Mrs J Bradshaw’.
Anne Byrne Garden Design – Creative Ideas – Practical Solutions – Stunning Gardens