‘I do sincerely trust
that the benediction
that is always awaiting me
in my garden may by degrees be more deserved and that I may grow in grace and patience and cheerfulness, just like the happy flowers
I so much love.’ Elizabeth von Arnim
No wonder the English talk about the weather all the time. Last week basking in temperatures higher than Athens and this week the wind-chill factor brings snow and ice. And this in April - a month associated with sunshine and those delicate rain showers that help spring clean the borders and put a shine on the faces of even the most sceptical of shrubs.
Tiny leaves of epimediums
Plants pushing their way skywards are warmly welcomed into the bosom of April whose bounty knows no bounds. In the extremely dry right-hand border of the garden under the old holly tree the epimediums are beginning to show. Perfect ground cover, they spread like wildfire and produce delicate, pale yellow flowers which contrast well with dicentra spectabilis, commonly known as Bleeding Heart because of the drooping, heart-shaped flowers, which appear at the end of April and continue unabashed until the end of June.
Dicentra just beginning to show
April sunshine brings out the best of the evergreen clematis armandii at the bottom of the garden, with its wonderfully
delicate flowers smelling appetisingly of vanilla.
This is a vigorous climber which needs to be kept in check but which will flower a second time in September if you are very fortunate.
Likewise the graceful small tree amelanchior, full of blossom now in April, which also rewards us later in the year with the most wonderful autumn colour.
Amelanchior in the snow
A miniature Japanese flowering cherry holds forth in my minute version of Vita Sackville-West’s ‘white garden’, a companion plant for the wild garlic leaves whose sword-like leaves are just beginning to thrust through the undergrowth.
Elsewhere the borders are springing into life. Pale colours dominate currently – white and lemon and gentle pink – but soon they will be transformed with forget-me-not blue in abundance and the azure shades of the bluebells with their heady perfume.