April and Spring is well underway. Renewed warmth in the sun means there is a wealth of choice of plants for your garden. Here are a few of my favorites, along with varieties and how to care for them.
The month of April is synonymous with the tulip. In the past gardeners have tended to lift tulip bulbs after flowering but it is now generally accepted that most varieties will survive well if left in the ground over winter. Just beware of squirrels and mice who love a juicy tulip bulb! There are many varieties of tulip. Dwarf varieties have become popular for containers, small gardens and in gravel. Try varieties such as ‘Lady Jane’ which flowers between April and May and has rosy red petals with white edges. Or ‘Little Princess’, a stunning tulip which produces clusters of bright orange flowers in April that have a black star in the middle of the bloom outlined in yellow. Taller varieties are the mainstay of many a herbaceous border in spring, providing height and swathes of colour. Two of my favorites that go well together are ‘Black Knight’, a stunning dark black/purple flower and ‘Spring Green’ with its green-feathered, ivory white flowers.
The perennial wallflower is another must for any spring border. Providing a wealth of bee-friendly flowers, it will continue to bloom well into the summer. Most wallflowers prefer full sun and well-drained soil. There are many varieties in different colours. My favorites include ‘Ruston Royal’, a hardy evergreen cultivar that has spikes of light and dark mauve flowers that turn lilac as they age. ‘Jacobs Jacket’ has a mix of pink, red and dark orange flowers on dark green foliage. ‘Constant Cheer’ is an old variety that produces many flowers on compact stems. The flowers are pink and then age to mauve.
Primula auriculas are one of my favourite spring flowers. These delicate, brightly coloured little flowers have a slightly waxy appearance that gives them a unreal quality. They are best grown in pots as they do not like to be too wet. The Victorians were fond of large stunning displays of this little plant in tiered theaters. Try ‘Sirius’ a stunning variety with an outer ring of apricot brown and an inner ring of crimson mahogany.
The final plant I have chosen is Myosotis sylvatica or the humble forget-me-not. Clusters of tiny bright blue flowers with a tiny star of yellow in the middle. The forget-me-not is a great self-seeder but if you want to grow from seed sow in situ or in garden planters in June and July.
Jo Poultney is a RHS qualified gardener who has recently set up a business selling garden planters and garden related gifts via a website.
Photo. S. Hermann & F. Richter