Brightening our lives in April are a huge variety of flowering cherry trees bedecked with delightful displays of flowers that range in colour from pure white to vivid pink.
It’s peak cherry blossom time but there are also some varieties that flower over winter, offering a very welcome burst of colour to a dormant winter garden. The species includes weeping trees, compact varieties, large spreading trees and those with ornamental bark.
One of the most beautiful is Prunus Pink Parasol. Its branches are covered in large pale-pink double flowers surrounding their green centres and hanging in long-stemmed clusters. The leaves appear before the blossom and are initially a dark copper bronze, becoming green over the summer and turning yellow in autumn. It has a spreading habit and its eventual height is up to five metres tall.
Pulmonaria is an old cottage perennial that is known by many other names, Lungwort, Soldiers & Sailors, Jerusalem Cowslip, Spotted Dog, Joseph & Mary, and Adam & Eve are some of its nicknames. Most varieties have flowers that open pink and turn blue, and the leaves range from plain green, via sploshes of white, to silver. An excellent ground cover plant, Pulmonaria flowers early, and being low-growing is a great partner for spring bulbs and hellebores. To thrive they need cool moist growing conditions, preferably in dappled shade.
Large clusters of pink buds followed by pure white blossoms are reason enough to choose this Viburnum, but without doubt it’s outstanding characteristic is its wonderful fragrance. The flowers are followed by small oval berries which ripen to black in autumn, whilst the foliage turns red. Plant near the house so you can enjoy the perfume, or use it as a hedging plant. It’s a large bush growing in time to 2.5m x 2m, and likes well-drained soil in sun or dappled shade.
Spring is finally on its way and March is the perfect time to plant shrubs, roses and climbers, both pot-grown and bare-rooted.
The Magnolia Stellata is one of the smallest Magnolias, growing slowly to the size of a shrub and needing no special conditions, so is suitable for most gardens. It puts on a fantastic show of large, white or pink lightly-scented flowers in early spring before its leaves open.
Other old faithfuls flowering at this time of year are Forsythias with their abundance of spiky yellow flowers, and Camellias, spectacular evergreens with glossy foliage with blooms in every shade of pink, red and white. Once it has finished flowering the attractive glossy foliage is a useful background to other plants that flower later on in the season. If you don’t yet have some of these versatile and low-maintenance shrubs in your garden you might want to plant them.
Thinking ahead to what we’ll be enjoying in early summer, do you have room for another English Rose? We recommend Darcey Bussell – a shrub rose bred by David Austin – compact bushy growth with deep crimson rosettes which flower freely, repeats well and, most importantly, has a delightful fragrance.
And for a reliable climber, there are many varieties of Clematis that will keep going right through summer into early autumn. One of our favourites is Sieboldiana – gorgeous single white flowers which are offset by deep purple stamens. The flowers appear in late spring or summer amongst the semi-evergreen foliage. It grows to about 2.5m so is excellent for a container or to weave up and through a wall shrub.