All in a rush

Suddenly, spring is at full pelt and the scene is fast-changing in the garden

In the last couple of weeks the garden sounds different, it looks different, it smells different. It is different. Not only with the lush growth of spring flowers rising up in shades of soft pastels, but with birdsong, the hatches of ducklings hurrying about – and of course the increased number of visitors that arrive each day.

Woodland beauties

Lamprocapnos spectabilis 'Valentine'At this time of year I particularly love Lamprocapnos spectabilis (bleeding heart) which works beautifully alongside Tellima grandiflora and Erythronium ‘Pagoda' (dog's tooth violet). In tricky, shady and dry spots they are able to get all the moisture and light they need this early in the season. Gorgeous ferns also look good as they unfurl their fuzzy, soft fronds –although they can be a target for nibbling squirrels.

Scented viburnums

Viburnum carlesii 'Diana'Now the winter varieties have finished, spring-flowering viburnums, part of our National Plant Collection are in full bloom. I’m reminded of marshmallows with their delicate, sweet colours in white and pinks. One scented performer at this time of year is V. carlesii 'Diana'. Later in the season, when their leaves come into full growth, I forget about these wonderful shrubs. They end up blending into the background, but what lovely interest for any garden! They offer such a wide range of flowering times and sizes, they’re really versatile in sun or shade and most have a great scent.

Flowery mead

Along some of our north-facing grass verges we planted more than a thousand plugs of Primula veris (cowslip). They’ve spread successfully over the last few years and are happily intermingling in the grass and beds and borders surrounding them. The grass is still short enough to see them easily. We won’t cut it until they’ve set seed. 

Crown imperials and their retinue

Fritillaria imperialis 'Garland Star'In the full sun of the Farmhouse Garden I'm happy to see that fritillaries have popped up suddenly: rich-orange, showy Fritillaria imperialis 'Rubra Maxima' (crown imperials); pale creamy-green and purple shaded  Fritillaria acmopetala and black Fritillaria persica. All look wonderful and there are many more to see. We have them on our Dry Garden in full sun, we have them in moist, shady areas and in herbaceous borders.

Pay us a visit at RHS Garden Hyde Hall and see what other wonderful spring interest there is!

Useful links

Shade gardening
Plants for under trees
Naturalising bulbs

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