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.
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.
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.
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.