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Last Month in My Garden, April 2018

April started cold and finished cold but there was a heat-wave in-between and lots of rain – a real mixed bag. Plants and gardener have been left mystified as to what will happen next and I am, once again, well behind. At the beginning of the month, the borders were full of promise; then the warm damp weather brought on a huge surge of growth. When temperature goes up by 10°C, the rate of most chemical reactions (and plant growth is just that) doubles. Thus, an increase from 5°C to 25°C makes growth four times faster. An increase in daylight hours (~1.5 hours per month) also increases growth because plants need sunlight for photosynthesis; however, this is a smaller effect. The photos show how a peony in my new shady border changed during the month – from emerging buds to flower buds.

Paeonia mlokosewitschii April 1st

Paeonia mlokowsewitschii April 25th

As the month progressed, flowers of winter/early spring finished in the hot weather, including Clematis cirrhosa and yellow narcissi; some of them had been flowering for months, others had a shortened season. I have been pleased by the healthy clumps of anemones and have tried to sort out names for the many forms of A. nemorosa. In one area, I was thrilled to find that Cyclamen repandum has seeded prolifically, even into a grass path. It is ten years, or more, since I planted it but now it has really established itself. Some of the most visible flowers have been on the primulas. Primroses, Primula vulgaris, were prolific in March and have continued through April; they have gradually been joined by cowslips, Primula veris. It is a really good year for the latter and they are flourishing in the verges, as well as my garden. Recent weeding has revealed large numbers of cowslip seedlings – too many to allow to survive. Both wild and cultivated primroses have been throwing up multi-headed stems, which give the plants increased impact. Sadly, I found one clump with most of the flowers eaten off – rabbit, pheasant, pigeon?

Anemone nemorosa ‘Leed's Variety’

Cyclamen repandum

Primula ‘Sunshine Susie’

Arabis alpina subsp. caucasica ‘Flore Pleno’ with Primula veris

Primula vulgaris ‘Avondale’

Flowering shrubs have been important in April and force me to lift my eyes upwards. Not only do they please me but also the many bees in the garden and, of course, the fruit trees need bees for pollination. By the end of the month, apple trees were opening their blossoms, keeping the bees fed until they can visit my vegetables and soft fruit that will flower next month. Both the viburnum and skimmia pictured are scented so I assume that they attract moths for pollination as well.

Viburnum x burkwoodii

Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’

Pyrus communis ‘Conference’

Margaret Stone

Margaret is opening her  garden for the NGS on May 27, 2018.

Posted by Margaret Stone

Vist Margaret's garden on one of the NGS open days.

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