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Spring Great Plants this Month

Viburnum carlesii ‘Diana’ AGM

Arrowwood ‘Diana’ I can forgive a plant almost anything if it has a good scent, and this gorgeous shrub reminds me that we are in full spring mode, it’s no longer late winter even if the weather is trying to tell us otherwise at the moment! The waxy flowers of Viburnam carlesii ‘Diana’ are rosy red in bud, opening to pink, and then fading to white as they age; they are exceptionally fragrant, and therefore worth planting…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Primula vulgaris subsp. sibthorpii AGM

Sibthorp primrose This little beauty can be ignored no longer. It started coming into flower in early February, and every time I pass it, I think to myself what an absolute joy it is; not shouty but quite unmissable. Despite its diminutive size – a scant ten centimetres high – it has proven robust, tolerant, and long lived, and over the summer months it disappears from…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Hebe hulkeana

New Zealand lilac: I’m sure I’m not the only gardener who tries to stick to the rule of three: a plant that you so desperately want to grow in your own garden but that after three unsuccessful attempts, you have to admit defeat. Well, this hebe is one of those plants that I really had to have, and thankfully on my third go, it worked!…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Prunus cerasus ‘Morello’ AGM

Morello cherry When I was a child, my parents grew a Morello cherry tree up against the north wall of our house, and even then, all those years ago, I remember thinking how amazing it was to see the beautiful snowy white blossoms looking so happy in their shady corner, to be followed by so…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’ AGM

There’s no getting away from it, skimmias are worthy but a little dull are they not? However, for the past few weeks it is their fragrance that puts them centre stage. It hits me the minute I step out of our back door, and for this reason alone I must grow it. So, they need careful positioning: suited to shade or part shade,…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Pachyphragma macrophyllum

‘Large-leaved pachyphragma’ is hardly a name that trips off the tongue, is it? And the Latin is not easy to remember either.I’ve grown it for years but do not often see it in other gardens, though once gardeners discover it, they love it. This hardy, semi-evergreen perennial with its rounded scalloped leaves is such a valuable addition to the spring garden. Happiest in shade or dappled shade, it forms an effective carpet (H: 30 cms) under trees and shrubs where its…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Tulipa turkestanica AGM

I have always grown tulips in pots. At least, I always start them off in pots – it’s easy to keep an eye on them and to judge how well they do and to see how much I like them. But every year, after they have flowered, there is the same old question of what to…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Anemone blanda AGM

winter windflower or Grecian windflower Just as the snowdrops and crocus are starting to go over, Anemone blanda is there to take their place in the spring parade. Many of the best plant associations happen by chance and I certainly didn’t conjure up this one; but when the sun comes out after a spring shower, the brilliant blue of the winter windflower against the cinnamon orange…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Rosa pimpinellifolia ‘Dunwich Rose’

A form of Scots rose that’s tolerate of wild weather – Rosa pimpinellifolia ‘Dunwich Rose’. A smashing hedge rose.

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Cercis siliquastrum – Judas tree

The Judas Tree – pretty and ideal for small gardens

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Asphodeline lutea

There are certain beautiful flowers which are severely let down by their foliage, but today’s choice is most definitely not one of those. In fact, I would go so far as to say I’d almost grow it for the silvery blue-green foliage alone. This is a clump forming hardy perennial and the narrow, grass like leaves are the perfect foil for the racemes of bright yellow flowers which are…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Polystichum setiferum ‘Divisilobum Wollaston’

It’s a bit of a mouthful this name, and for some reason I find ferns’ names amongst the most difficult to remember, and certainly the ferns themselves extraordinarily difficult to identify. However, names are important and having discovered this beauty, (I looked long and hard to find a fern that would be happy in a rather testing location), I now have no difficulty in remembering it! It is…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Peltaria alliacea – (shieldwort, garlic cress)

No question, it has to be an edible this week as we all try with varying degrees of success to grow our own fruit and veg. It’s odd, and rather unhelpful, that garlic cress is very difficult to source, and this I just don’t understand as it’s an easy plant to propagate, easy to grow, very decorative in and out of flower, and edible … what…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Thermopsis lanceolata

On bank holiday Monday a neighbour asked me to take a look at a plant in her garden that wasn’t thriving (a seven year old Euphorbia characias… time to take it out!), and while I was there, she pointed out her Thermopsis montana and exclaimed how much she loved it but in the same breath, what…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Exochorda x macrantha ‘The Bride’

We originally planted this eye catching and bountiful shrub by default. I had been after an obscure shade loving shrub whose name I have long forgotten, so when this bare rooted, twiggy plant arrived (out of leaf) in late winter, in it went and I didn’t give it further thought. Until that is, I spotted…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Bellevalia romana

My head tells me that I should be writing about one of the many spring flowering shrubs that are looking so stunning right now, but my heart tells me to go for this beautiful yet seldom seen bulb that is such an eye-catching plant despite being quite small (8”-10”), and one that fits seamlessly into…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Primula ‘Dark Rosaleen’

This cultivar, bred in the 1980s by an Irishman named Joe Kennedy, is a beautiful, strong growing, hardy primula, and having chosen it this week as my special plant, I wanted to find out where the name originated. I uncovered more than one explanation, but the one that fits for me was being named after…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Iris lazica

This is not to be confused with Iris unguicularis which I wrote about in this column in February 2017. Although closely related, their needs differ in many respects, and for that reason it is well worth giving today’s plant a plug! Iris lazica is native to coastal areas of the Black Sea in Turkey and Georgia,…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Paeonia mlokosewitschii A.G.M.

From the moment the first young shoots push their way up through the earth in early spring, I am watching its growth daily, and waiting for the buds on this captivating plant to form. The anticipation is part of the pleasure of P. mlokosewitschii (also known as ‘Molly the Witch’) … the primrose yellow, bowl-shaped flowers…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Omphalodes cappadodica ‘Cherry Ingram’ AGM

Blue-Eyed Betty Thanks to a good friend (and 3growbags follower), who reminded me of the common name of this week’s special plant, I have been dipping into a couple of books by Margery Fish. Having read most of them years ago, I am again inspired by her chatty and informative prose and am finding them hard to put down. A…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Epimedium warleyense

In our garden, Epimedium x warleyense is the first of the genus to flower and it never fails to delight. The sprays of unusual coppery orange coloured flowers, held high on thin wiry stems, seem almost to hover above ground. The effect is delicate, yet this clump forming plant is tough and a very efficient…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Cardamine quinquefolia

This rhizomatous perennial (closely related to our own native cuckooflower) always takes me by surprise when its fresh bright foliage appears in February. The attractive leaves are five lobed and toothed, and they set off to perfection the mass of pinky purple flowers which can appear at any time during March. These are always a…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Abutilon vitifolium ‘Veronica Tennant’

Thanks are due to Laura who gave me this beautiful shrub as a small cutting a few years ago. I was already growing A x suntense which has stunning deep bluey purple flowers, but its season is fleeting, whereas ‘Veronica Tennant’ is in bloom from late spring until well into the summer. This is a…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Viola labradorica: Syn Viola riviniana – Purpurea Group

Writing these twice monthly pieces, I am always learning something new, and this time I had to look up the exact whereabouts of Labrador. So now I know, and furthermore I understand why this little plant is so resilient, as it’s also native to Greenland. For me it stands out from other violas on account…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Coronilla valentina subsp.glauca ‘Citrina’

Sorry about the rather long title, but names mean everything in the plant world and in this instance ‘Citrina’ is the vital word because without it, you will get a plant which (in my opinion) bears rather unappealing chrome yellow flowers. Coronilla valentina is a member of the pea family, a small evergreen (approx. 80cms), but…

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Spring

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.…

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Spring

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;…

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Spring

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…