Parkhead Gardens

discover Perthshire's hidden beauty

April - Great British Weather

433px-fritillaria meleagris lj barje2

This morning we woke to a 'whiteout' having had overnight snow showers. The snow slowly melted but the daffodils and other flowers have been knocked down and the very strong, cold winds are not helping. The temperature has gone from a very pleasant 22° to a very cold 3°...oh the joys of the great British weather.

 

Despite the unpredictable British weather, there is plenty of colour in the garden as many of the Spring bulbs and early flowering plants and shrubs are still appearing. The Fritillaria Imperialis and Fritillaria Meleagris (Snake's Head) have emerged. There are many others that will flower over the next few months, ranging from the very large to the very small:

  • Bergenia (Elephant's Ears), with their large leaves and flowers of colours from dark pink through to white (they are a plant that will grow just about anywhere)
  • Camassia, a large bulb with showy star shaped flowers 
  • Trillium, a rhizomatous, deciduous perennial suited to a woodland setting with Grandiflorum the first to appear and then Sessile and Luteum.

Another flower coming into itself is the Magnolia, M. stellata. This is a white form and was the very first magnolia I put in over 20 years ago. This will be followed sometime later by a very nice pink version of the same variety. A recent addition, M. x loebneri 'Leonard Messel', is also flowering along with M. Black Tulip. The Black Tulip is a stunning deep purple shade, a contrast to the Stellata's with their white, star shaped flowers.

 

magnolia-loebneri

I've grown many Camellias in my conservatory, many of which outgrew their place and ended up in the garden. I can only name one of them, 'Jury's Yellow'. It's white with a very yellow anemone-form centre. At one time, I tried to buy the yellow flower, C. nitidissima, but I could not find it for sale anywhere. All the others range from semi-double to single in shades of red, pink, white and white with a pink frilled edge. It's nice to see them flowering again as last year the very cold winter snow left them looking very sad with very little flower.

After last month's frenzy, life in the pond has settled down. There was so much frog spawn that we had to remove some and already there is development with tadpoles everywhere. We hope this cold weather does not affect them.

The Lysichiton (Skunk Cabbage), also known as Lysichitum, with its bold yellow spathes have emerged from the water. An unusual plant, it can become too big but we have never had that problem as we divide it every so often (as we do with so many of the plants in the pond) or they would over run the place.

450px-westernskunkcabbageOn the vegetable front, in the greenhouse the pot-grown potatoes are up to the top of the containers. I have continued to cover them with soil as the growth appears and as a precaution, they are covered in fleece while the weather remains cold. The tomatoes and cucumbers are doing well but, again to fight the cold, the cucumbers are in the propagator getting some heat. In the ground I have sown broad bean 'De Monica' and in containers broad bean 'Crimson Flowered', a great variety for a large pot. A few lettuce seeds have been sown and we will thin them out as we eat them, and then let the rest grow to full size. Despite needing sun and heat to grow well, for several years now I have grown Globe artichokes as they look very attractive and are delicious to eat.

At some time this month, we will sow the other favourites such as parsnip 'Gladiator F1 Hybrid'.