April 15, 2011

Bloom Day - The garden in April

It is Bloom day again (thank you Carol for hosting as ever,), and so time to take stock of what is going on the garden, and what it all looks like in mid April.

The growth in the garden since last month is nothing short of staggering, the wild greening up of bare brown flowerbeds this time of year is joyous - perhaps the moment of the year when the garden holds the most promise and perfection, unsullied yet by pests, disease and, erm, footballs!

The hardy geraniums are shooting up  in every border, providing the lovely, textural ground cover I adore them for, and also holding the promise of intricate little blooms for the whole of the summer.

You know, if you feel you are hopeless at gardening, or just inexperienced or have unpromising growing conditions, then you could do a lot worse than plant some swathes of the more interesting hardy geraniums, and then stick in some glam bulbs in the autumn, alliums would be my choice. Once the geraniums have stopped flowering, just cut them right down to a tiny mound and watch them spring back to fresh form within a couple of weeks. For years they will perform for you. Rabbits don't touch either, if you live near rabbits you know how crucial this is! It would just be a start, but they are real do-ers.

Talking of alliums, they are growing inches every week, and waiting in the wings, ready to take the baton from the narcissi which are beginning to go over. This is all happening two or three weeks early thanks, I am guessing, to the amazingly warm weather we have been having for the last month. A few are are already about to burst into flower, and I am excited about the way the purple explosions of flowers will look against the bronze fennel foliage planted around the allium clumps.

The tulips are the stars of the garden at the moment, Spring Green, Black Hero and Mount Tacoma being my favourites. Spring Green's name says it all really, there couldn't be a fresher looking flower,

and the other two late doubles honestly give peonies a run for their money!

Black Hero is still in bud, but when the satin-sheened, deepest purple-black petals unfurl in all their decandent glory, I will be sure to share them with you. I can't stress the difference between these tulips ad the baleful, limp little offerings available in most British supermarkets, I feel quite passionate about this, tulips were made to be grander and more passion-inducing than that - in the past single bulbs were sold for small fortunes, such was the reverence and rarity! So, see if there is a boutique flower grower in your area (good luck, there aren't many of us! Email me if you would like the list I have), or try growing a few of your own, you will be so delighted.

Rant over, back to the garden. In the woodland, the hellebores have gone over, and are producing chubby seed pods and they are remarkably successful in selfseeding all around the mother plants. They don't all come true to the plant they came from, but I have transplanted lots all over the woodland and am interested to see what will happen. The other prolific selfseeder here is the wild forget-me-nots, every year, right on cue they form wonderful blue swathes. There is something so nostalgic and cheerful about their little flowers, they make me think of my childhood for some reason...

The Brunnera nearby have remarkably similar flowers, but gorgeous silvery leaves.

Adorable little woodland primulas pop up every year too, (at least I think that is what they are, I find this genus terribly confusing).

Still in this area of the garden, ferns are unfurling in their pre-historic style and hostas are unravelling from their tight new spears of growth. The dogtooth violets are reflexing their petals, like over-dramatic divers about to take the plunge. I hanker after the white variety.

In the cutting patch, I have been busy direct sowing seed for my annuals, Ammi, Orlaya, Calendula, Cornflowers and the like, so far not much germination, but the self sown poppies and blupleurum are running riot all over my neat rows! The euphorbias are looking lush, but I always hesitate to use in bouquets because of the sap - any seasoned florists have an opinion? The colours and forms are so perfect for foliage fillers for arrangements, it seems such a shame not to use them.

But you know what I am most excited about, really trying-not-to-skip-about-like-a-kid excited? This.

Woo Hoo!! Howz about that, a brand new flower bed. Apologies have been offered for impingeing on my boys' 'mid-off' cricket zone, and anything planted there will clearly have to be, well, tough. I want a curved spine of something tall and lots of gorgeous cutting flowers. Yummm! Can't wait to be grubbing about planting. It gets plenty of sun, although very lightly dappled at the far end. Ideas anyone??


  1. Morning, I linked up right after you and rushed over to get an eyeful.

    We sear the ends of the euphorbia stems with a match or lighter, sealing in the sap. But the water in an arrangement still needs to be charged on a regular basis to keep it clean and sparkly.

    Everything you said in your post? That's what I meant too. From now on I'll just post pics and refer to you for enchanting text.

    xo Jane

  2. I've never set fire to euphorbia before, but will give it a go!! Glad you liked the post - your writing is what made me become a SmallButCharming junkie!xx

  3. I would love a bouquet of Spring Green tulips...
    Belinda, your garden is looking much lovelier than mine at the moment...

    Enjoy planting the new bed!

  4. Your picture of the fern made me go outside and inspect mine! I know what you mean about supermarket tulips and although I do buy them, I have never tried to grow any myself. I grow mostly cottage garden flowers, peonies being my favourite followed by foxgloves and delphiniums which as you will know in recent years have been developed in exciting new colours (although I do love the blue shades). I doubt they would cope well when a travelling ball hits, but with your creative hands I am sure you will turn your new bed into something colourful and well structured. I was thinking of putting in some raised beds, but am having second thoughts after seeing your garden. What are your thoughts on them?
    Have a great weekend, Abby x

  5. Hi Belinda,

    I'd love it if you were able to send a list of your tulip suppliers. Thank you!

    Yours look lovely. There were loads in our garden a few years ago but I've noticed the numbers are gradually tailing off so I need to get planting again.


  6. So beautiful, I am envious of your new garden, as soon as I weed mine I will post , maybe you can even tell me what the heck is up with my dahlia's. Can't wait to show you, but I am a bit nervous after seeing your beauties :)

  7. Gorgeous tulips. Can't even begin to draw a comparison with supermarkets. Have you read Tulip Fever by Deborah Mogach? It's a good book and even 250 years ago tulips could be £100's per bulb, a truly sought-after, valuable commodity.
    K x
    P.S The building works are going well and will continue for another 2 or more weeks. I seem to be forever answering questions and making tea!

  8. How exciting - an empty flower bed! How about posting pictures on a regular basis for us, as it develops?

  9. Belinda your flowers are gorgeous as is your blog! I can't wait to start gardening and I hope you have fun with your new flower bed!

  10. It was so nice to have you pop over, Belinda! Thank you for your sweet comments.

    Your new flowerbed is going to be an exciting addition to your already lush garden! Have fun planting it! Your blooms for today are glorious. How I wish I could buy my weekly bunch from you!
    Enjoy your weekend!

  11. Belinda, if I didn't love your blog, I would hate it today. I slammed some photos onto mine and went back to work, while you told us so much about your garden and your plans. I want to break the code on forget-me-not. I love them and don't have a single one.

    Enjoy the new bed. There is absolutely nothing so fun as starting from scratch. Sorry, boys! xoxo

  12. Beautiful photo's and excited for you to have a whole new garden bed to plant in! oxox, tracie

  13. What beautiful sweeping curves on your new flower bed, like a bulb - in fact that's it, my recommendation for planting is for a large central stone sculpture, a paisley roundel, highly decorated, planted around with silvery thistley things, poppies, Leucanthemum vulgare and maybe artichokes. A tiny spatter of deeper red perhaps, with delicate flower, might help, but I'll leave you to choose this one!

  14. Sorry, got carried away and was forgetting this is a 'cutting' garden - so I'll have to think again!

  15. After cutting Euphorbia do lots of rinsing until the stem doesn't ooze milky sap then sear the ends in hot water (easier than a match). However it is not so much that the sap is a nuisance, you must not get it on your skin or in your eyes! I know Sarah Raven swears by it and the colour is fantastic but I have never dared take the risk. What about very poisonous plants like Monkshood - anyone brave enough to grow them?

  16. I too sear the Euphorbia. Boiling water is the easiest. Do be careful! I have a friend who really burned her eyes last spring being sloppy with the stuff. It is one of the best all time fillers around just use caution.
    Thanks for the garden tour! So beautiful.

  17. What a great idea about the geranium. I'm guessing you mean Crane's Bill?
    I have a question. I have a few Felicia roses against my chainlink fence. The bed is empty otherwise. Can I plant lavender with Crane's Bill around the roses successfully?


  18. I am feeling dizzy looking at all these great pictures of flowers. Flowers, I never knew even existed.
    We would have space for a garden, but for now, we only have a yard, where Hampel horse and Morty and Boris dogs spend their days doing whatever they wish to do.

  19. Tears came to my eyes when I read this post. It is beautiful and you are a serious gardener.
    I have so much to learn and you inspire me.
    I have a post of 'In the garden' every Monday
    and tomorrow's is spectacular from a public garden in So. California. Stop by. You won't
    be disappointed.

  20. Your garden and your photography are stunning. The close-up of the curled-up fern is my favorite. Your new flower bed looks like it will be a lot of fun!

  21. I've just been to Heligan where the tulips were stunning - planted in generous pots, in large blocks of colour. It inspired me to try that next year.

  22. Thanks, Hostess, it is funny how gardens have their crescendos and then quieter times, part of the charm really.

    Abby, I think raised beds are fantastic - because you can stuff in wonderful soil and compost etc and have such lovely, friable medium for growing plantsin. I have three in my little kitchen garden and I think they work so well for veggies and cut flowers. Go for it, just think about how they will blend in to the rest of the garden visually. Have fun!

    Katie, will look up the book. Please tell me you have given your builders their own v cheap kettle and a pack of teabags etc? I've done that all day tea duty and it gets wearing!

    Sarah, tulips don't always make it through winter in the way other bulbs do. I will email you with ideas for suppliers.

    Ubancurtsy, first up your blog has the coolest name! Secondly, never be intimidated by my garden, I crop a lot and leave out the lame looking parts!

    Rachel, will do.

    Michelle, huge welcome to the blog, thanks for visiting!

    Webb, I have been away for a few days, but am hopping over to yours tonight, I know I will like what I find!

    Jennifer, wowza! How spooky, i was just thinking of a silvery look, because I have so much mid-green colour already! You have got me all skittery about a statue, like a tulipbud maybe, wooah, sounds irresistable!

    Andrea and Erin, thanks for the advice, it is a bit of a quandry.

    Shelley, I do mean Cranesbill, and sorry not to have been a bit clearer on that. Roses underplanted by Cranesbill and Lavender sounds glorious - my roses are planted with Cranesbill and the Lavender would add more scent to an already delicious mix. English cottage garden classic combo!

    Mette, is there a culture of flower growing in Finland, or is the growing season just too short? Would you ever give it a go?

    S and Z, I am so glad you liked the post so much - how lovely! I will visit your post when I get home from a long weekend away.

    Bethany, thanks for visiting, really glad you enjoyed the photos. I can't wait to get started on the flower bed!

    Lilacs, sounds lush, did you take any pics? I love how visiting gardens can be so inspiring.