April 2020 has been a full month of pandemic lockdown in the UK. The garden has been a genuine haven during this time – a place to relax, play with our little boy, and dry the seemingly endless laundry! At odds with April’s reputation for showers and unpredictable weather, it’s been almost wall-to-wall sunshine which has been a blessing, and such a contrast with the endless rain of February. I had always aimed to focus on the details of the garden with this project, but lockdown has brought a greater intensity, and I have used this as a thinly veiled excuse to buy a new macro lens for my camera. Some early attempts at using it are included but expect more from that as the year progresses.
Our Tiny Garden
The new lawn is bedding in nicely despite the dry weather and the complete lack on our part of any attempt to keep off it. It is an obvious thing to say but the lawn really has made the garden feel much lusher and greener, and has made the whole space feel more coherent. It may not be perfect in design terms, but to be honest I’m absolutely delighted with the way the garden looks at the moment and it is bringing a great deal of pleasure in these uncertain times. I have been particularly pleased with the succession of flowers that have kept coming so far, and I love the more vivid colours which have started to arrive with April.
Trees: large and small
In the corner of the garden is an ornamental cherry tree which is really far too large for the size of the space. At this time of year though it really delivers with huge, though short-lived, clouds of pink blossom. I somehow failed to get a picture of the tree in full swing, partly because the bright sunshine actually made it quite difficult to get a good shot, so these little details are all I have. When the blossom first arrived the Blue Tits seemed to be particularly attracted. Not sure if they were feasting on green fly or some other tasty morsel but they’re always welcome!
I had more or less given up on this Acer palmatum and had been planning to rip it out. It had previously been in a pot but when it started to look quite unhappy I thought I’d give it a go in one of the borders. The change of location hadn’t seemed to improve the situation and I’d assumed it was a goner, but then it suddenly burst back into life this month.
We have three large wooden planters immediately next to the house which I originally built for growing edibles before we acquired our allotment. I still use them for tomatoes and salads in the summer but also for seasonal planting at other times. In the Autumn I decided to fill them with Wallflowers, and boy was that a good plan! They may be a bit scraggly but they do deliver a fabulous hit of vivid colour at this time of the year. Their sweet scent around our little seating area has also been a boon.
When I planted all the bulbs in the Autumn I have to confess that the Tulips were a bit of an afterthought. I’d already stocked up on a selection from Peter Nyssen and actually made a deliberate decision to not include Tulips on the basis that they can be so short-lived. Then a conversation with a friend who insisted that Tulips were 100% essential changed my mind and I found myself picking up a few bags in B&Q and stuffing them into pots. I am so glad that I did because they have been an absolute joy. The exuberant orange/apricot Tulip ‘Jimmy’ (bit of an incongruous name!) has really added some zing, while the rather more sultry ‘Queen of Night’ has provided great contrast with the yellow and orange of the Wallflowers.
Over the course of April the new shoots on the Pieris have gone from a vivid red, to a more subtle pink, before finally fading to lime green. I love the punky spikes of foliage that you get in early Spring. It’s been a great focal point over the past couple of months, but it will take a back seat from here as the plants which burst to life in late Spring and early Summer divert attention.
We’ve got a couple of types of Heuchera in the garden. There are a million different varieties and they have probably become a bit ubiquitous but I think they provide some good long-lasting interest with their foliage of many hues. I think this one may be ‘Palace Purple’ but I couldn’t be sure.
The multi-headed Narcissus ‘Falconet’ lasted well into April bringing both a cheerful splash of yellow and orange and an amazing fragrance. They have since been superseded by the Pheasant’s Eye Daffodil, Narcissus recurvus, which are a little more reserved with their cream petals surrounding that red-rimmed trumpet. These too provide a lovely delicate fragrance. I hadn’t really associated Daffodils with scent before, but these two varieties have been really lovely.
Flowers of many shapes
You have to love Aquilegia vulgaris. It pops all over the place, doesn’t mind a bit of shade and provides great clusters of flowers in pinks and purples at this time of year. Yes, it can appear in all sorts of locations you didn’t really want it, but who cares when the flowers are such a delight?
When you really look closely at flowers, it’s amazing just how many shapes they come in, and how unusual they can be. The image on the left is a close shot of the flower of Euphorbia amygdaloides var. Robbiae which always think looks a little alien. on the right is the bud of Scabiosa with its little tufts of red preceding what will hopefully be many months of pink flowers.
You can read about what was happening in the garden in March here.
To see what happens in May go here.
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