The Garden in April

Have finished the annual cut down of our collection of grasses and perennials last month the garden can look a little flat for a few weeks while these areas, such as the Decennium, Mill End and Long Walk, re clothe the ground as part of the gardens dynamic annual rhythm. It at this time of year especially when we can see clearly just how valuable the woody trees and shrubs are to the garden, contributing structure, screening, habitat, and of course quite fabulous, if sometimes fleeting, early season flowers. While the garden does not have many magnolias Jane, San Jose and Pinkie are three that are offering an impressive quantity of scented flower just now.

The highly visible flowers of Magnolia San Jose at the top of the Long Walk.
Magnolia Jane offers scented and freely produced flowers as part of the Shady Garden planting.
Not all woody plants contribute flower, as the incredible bark of our fallen eucalyptus amply demonstrates. A family of treecreepers have their nest along one of the branches, nestled amongst the sloughing bark rather than in the actual branch. While rather lower down a water vole has made a home in the bark closer to the water edge.
Difficult to ignore are the camellias at this time of year which is the main flowering season for most types. While offering solid evergreen structure and screening all year the amazing range of flower colour, size and shape becomes very evident in the spring, such as Camellia Red Crystal along Four Oaks walk.
The almost unique shape and leaf of Acacia pravissima has been literally covered in bright yellow pom-pom like flowers since later February. Considering all the frost, wind and rain of the past few weeks this is a pretty impressive effort!
Happy in dry and shady conditions such as at the base of Magnolia Jane, the native Melica uniflora albida is already making a soft carpet of bright green foliage in advance of producing its dainty looking white flowers in a few weeks time.
Such a pleasure to see each season, and seemingly impervious to frost and rain, are the cheery starlike flowers of Ipheion which love dry and generally sunny places.
At this time of year the Shady meadow comes alive with many native bulbs and perennials such as white Anemone nemerosa Alba and the soft yellow of Primula vulgaris.
While in a more sunny part native marsh fritillaries, Fritilaria meleagris, seem entirely at home in the gardens sandy and relatively thin dry soil. As indeed does the native sedge, Carex remota, whose green foliage makes an excellent foil and will cover the ground for the rest of the season once the spring bulbs have finished their annual display.
While the bright colours of primula enliven the spring meadow in the foreground for a few weeks, the shaggy look of the Poa labillardierei making up the matrix of the Dry Meadow behind has a year round presence.
Looking from a different angle the Spring meadow gives way to the lower lying swale of the Rain Garden where primroses seem equally happy. Acacia pravissima and its bright yellow flowers back on to the top part of the swale.
The Damp garden has lived up to its name over recent weeks but Luzula Bromel (far right), Carex divulsa (centre & left), and Acorus Ogon (foreground) seem perfectly happy in the seasonably wet conditions.
Along with calamagrostis, hakonechloas such as this All Gold are amongst the first of the deciduous grasses to break into growth each year.
Cut back only a few weeks ago this Sesleria autumnalis has already produced a carpet of low green foliage.
For the past year the Dragon garden has been gradually emptied of the old planting and the soil prepared for the new. Weather permitting this month should see at least a good start to putting the new plants in their new home.
While on the dry bank of the Dragon garden the highly unusual flowers of Beschorneria yuccoides appear to be taking an active interest in the proceedings !
The orange flowers of Berberis Stapehillensis in effective partnership with the red and yellow toned foliage of photinia and philadelphus.