Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’ AGM

MARCH Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’ AGM In this most magical of months when there is so much happening in the garden, I want to put in a word for a member of the currant family. Again, all too often the only one available, and therefore most often seen, is the very drab pink R sanguineum. You could look out for Ribes ‘Pulborough Scarlet’ which, as its name suggests, does have very striking deep pink blooms, but my favourite is the one with snow white flowers. Interestingly, almost everywhere you read about ‘White Icicle’, it says ‘full sun’. Well this...

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Bergenia emeiensis

MARCH: Bergenia emeiensis. Bergenia emeiensis Bergenia ciliata The name Bergenia might provoke a little shudder in some people, so I hope my photograph has instantly caught your attention, because this one is about as far as one can get from the murky pinky purple offerings most commonly seen in spring. B emeiensis is a compact, hardy, evergreen plant; a species with pure white, elegant flowers on pinkish stems, above shiny mid green leaves that are more oval than wide. It does not need any special attention; indeed mine is on the edge of a raised bed and could be...

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Pulmonaria rubra

MARCH: Pulmonaria rubra. Pulmonarias are among the earliest herbaceous perennials to flower in springtime, and Pulmonaria rubra is the first; its hairy stems and fresh green leaves emerging in January are soon followed by the flowers. These are a delightful shade of coral pink or red (with not a hint of blue!) and they associate well not only with some early bulbs, (snowdrops being the perfect partner), but also with hellebores, evergreen ferns and the delicate, bronze-tinted, fading leaves of many Epimediums. Pulmonarias are happiest in partial to full shade, but they need light in the spring and so do well...

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Iris unguicularis

FEBRUARY: Iris unguicularis – The Algerian Iris. This beautiful, winter flowering iris used to be called Iris stylosa; sweet sounding and easy to remember. Easy to grow too, just plant it at the base of a dry sunny wall with no added compost, and it will thrive. It seems to love poor stony soil which is no surprise when you look at its natural habitat. For most of the year you wouldn’t give it a second glance … a scruffy collection of strap shaped, dull green leaves which often as not are brown at the tips; and horror of...

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