The Show Must Go On……
Even though the gardens themselves are currently closed (the nursery is very much open and busy), for the next week or two while the storm damage is made safe (see last weeks blog), this doesnt stop the annual pageant of trees and shrubs from providing their welcome displays. I have always loved woody plants and this early spring period provides an opportunity to renew old friendships with the shrubs that provide such valuable bloom at this time of year.
Especially now we have had some nice weather the camellias have decided to start providing their amazing delicate looking blooms. And what variety !
I can never decide whether I like the smaller single blooms often produced in great profusion or the often larger more showy many petalled forms which can look so incredibly perfect. Luckily I dont have to and can simply enjoy them both for these next few weeks of spring when they will continue to bloom whatever the weather.
Planted over 40 years ago Magnolia Charles Raffill probably struggles a bit in our dry sandy soil but has provided us with the largest numbers of stunning pink icing like flowers that are held high on bare branches. Always a risk with frost we have been lucky with some wonderful bloom and not too much damage!
With much smaller flowers but just as individually perfect is Magnolia proctoriana, which is a little later than Charles Raffill to come into bloom, and is just as welcome. To see its masses of white flowers against a blue sky is always a cheering sight!
Less showy but equally valuable is the winter box Sarcococca Digyna. You have to look close to see the flower but you only have to be within 20 metres on a nice day to be made aware of the wonderful scent from this unassuming easy going shrub. Yet another old friend I would not wish to be without.
A shrub with a very local flavour is Berberis Stapehill. Knoll Gardens is actually situated in Stapehill Road and some years back the whole area was a horticultural hotspot and home to several famous nurseries such as Marchants that contributed many new plants including this dark leaved berberis with apricot orange flowers.
It is easy to get carried away with all the bright wonderful blooms at the moment but we should not forget the value of coloured stems such as the cinnamon barked mrytle which continues to offer its quite stunning bark all year round regardless of weather. Beautiful now the colouration is if anything even more intense with the onset of hot dry weather.
Of course when it comes to coloured stems the bamboos are rather expert at offering an amazing range of patterns. My own favourite, probably, is Phyllostachys Castillonis which I so enjoy seeing backlit; when the sunlight is coming from behind the plant. Fabulous at any season!