As observed during April 2013
Maximising stem space
The mature specimens of Maytenus boaria seen in the garden are laden with flower buds. As these open the four yellow anthers are prominently displayed proud of the sepals. Should the sun make an appearance the nectar glands at the base of the flower will provide plentiful food for bees.
A native to Chile and Argentina where cattle feed on the leafy growth forming a characteristic browse line.
Best black from Belgium
Hellebore seed gifted from a contact in Belgium was sown six years ago in the nursery. The resultant seedlings were grown on and flowered for the first time a couple of years ago. The planting in the shaded area on the decking of the JHG building included these dark flowered Helleborus x hybridus. In addition to dense shade they are also coping with a dry root zone. By collecting seed or through careful division of the vegetative plant once flowering has finished it will be possible to increase the stock of this fine form.
Better in bud
With leaves unfurling and flower buds poised to burst Viburnum buddlejifolium is an open growing wide spreading semi evergreen shrub native to Central China. In its present stage of development the red colouration of the tightly packed flower buds contrasts against the sepals, covered in white hairs. A highly attractive combination, not improved upon as full bloom stage is reached.
The new leaves are covered in brown felty indumentum on their undersides. Lanceolate in shape these are always produced opposite one another on the shoot. In the wild growing in its optimum range of 1000 – 2000 metres as forest understory vegetation through the Province of Hubei these sprawling shrubs can reach five metres in height with as much, if not greater spread.
A poor year for old crocks
The extended cold has taken a toll on clay pots. These pots are absorbent and susceptible to freezing and thawing temperatures. Dependant on the kiln temperatures when fired pots may be frost resistant or frost proof. Even those that are frost proof will, over the years, flake and gradually disintegrate; the rims being the vulnerable area. However this presents a good opportunity for a repotting exercise and division of stock to increase the number of plants in your collection.
Primula marginata thrive as pot grown specimens throwing out flowers from the rosette of foliage. Those botanising in the European Alps will see it growing on limestone ledges and slopes in the 800 – 3000 metre range. As the plant ages it appears to sit on a trunk that elevates the rosette of farina covered foliage.
The cultivar P.m. ‘Inshriach Form’ is highly regarded raised in the Highlands, with good flower colour and first class foliage form.
As observed during April 2012
All a tangle
This is a Clematis like no other; a leafless tangle of green reed like stems. The scandent growth mounds over itself reaching 1.5metres in height. A native to New Zealand Clematis afoliata revels in a sun drenchedposition and thrives in dry arid conditions.
The small green, almost yellow flowers are borne at the axles on the stems, 2 to 6 at each station. Pass by on a warm day as the four petals prise open and the scent is powerful but it does need warmth to bring this onto the breeze.
A Georgian gem
Aipyanthus pulchra was growing in association with Daphne, Pulsatilla, Scabiosa in grassland when collected on Mt Kazbegi in Georgia at 2298metres. Found throughout the Caucasus and western Asia it is a low growing herb with leaves and stems covered by the finest of hairs.
The flowers make the plant noticeable, bright yellow terminal clusters, the petals blotched with a dab of black. Despite the strength of this black pigment in the petal it fades to oblivion as the days pass.
Thriving in the cultivated beds of the rock garden it prefers a stony free draining root zone and winter cover from excessive damp is advisable. This protects the rootstock and clump forming centre. If in doubt about survival take root cuttings in the early winter.
What a difference a few days make
Leaving Scotland’s driest and sunniest month of March since 1929 for the east winds that turned the balmy high teen temperatures we had been used to for 10 or more days for snow storms and freezing nights was not pleasant.
Looking across the wet grey slates of the new Town the Pentland Hills gained a covering of snow overnight on the 2nd April. Daffodils were blown horizontal and the spring blossom took a battering. Visitor numbers fell from thousands a day to hundreds a day on Tuesday 3rd.
Add in an overnight frost and then count the cost of planting out semi tender bedding too early in the season. “One swallow does not make a summer” a proverb dating back to the 16th century that is just as relevant in the 21st.
All is not lost; in a sheltered corner near the Palm House the pervading sweet scent of Osmanthus decorus is a reminder that some things thrive in the face of adversity.
The two strips of planting leading into the Temperate Palm House represent spring bedding at its best. These two cultivars; Polyanthus ‘Crescendo Yellow’ and Tulip ‘Purple Prince’ make a colourful combination drifting into the glasshouse.
Elsewhere in the garden raise your eyes to the canopies. The Magnolia’s are spectacular. With a lack of frost and rain this season the trees are awash with perfect blossom. The pink blossom of Magnolia campbellii ‘Charles Raffill’ should be seen contrasting against blue sky, the colours of both then reach a greater intensity.
For previous years' highlights during this month, see the April Garden Highlights Archive page.