It's been a long winter, but spring is finally here and at the RHS Gardens there is plenty to see and enjoy, from delicate bulbs to cheery daffodils and blossom-filled trees.
Spring-flowering bulbs take centre-stage in the earliest days of spring, with delicate snowdrops paving the way for crocus, Iris reticulata and, of course, that most recognisable face of spring, the daffodil. The orchards and arboretums are filled with clouds of cherry and apple blossom showering natural confetti with each passing breeze. Elsewhere, look out for show-stopping magnolias, camellias and rhododendrons throughout the woodlands.
Each of the RHS Gardens has something different to offer the springtime visitor...
A facelift of the popular lakeside Edwardian Garden will be complete by Easter, with the rectangular pond at its centre being relined and remade using sandstone quarried in West Yorkshire. With new paving throughout and a new drystone wall, visitors will be able to get closer than ever before to the pond, which will feature moving water for the first time in some years.
Near the garden entrance, the new Curator’s Choice bed will be filled with more than 8,000 tulips planted by Harlow Carr’s army of volunteers, with the flowers looking their best in April and May. Curator Paul Cook has specially selected 10 colourful varieties to create a spectacular display.
Pockets of vibrant spring colour can be found all around the garden from March, when early bulbs including daffodils, tulips, muscari, hyacinth and iris will begin to appear in borders and containers. The display of daffodils, crocus, tulips and anemones in the kitchen garden greenhouse is not to be missed.
In April, Harlow Carr’s Streamside garden comes alive with the sunny yellow hue of marsh marigold and the unfurling of ferns, followed by early primulas. The spring display of specialist specimens of fritillaria and alpine primulas in the Alpine House is a particular highlight. Meanwhile, the woodland that occupies half of Harlow Carr’s 58 acres is flushed with trilliums, dog’s tooth violets and pulmonaria and many varieties of magnolias and rhododendrons.
Hyde Hall's major investment projects near completion this spring, and work begins to create beautiful new horticulture in the Hilltop area. In the meantime, there will be plenty to find around the Hilltop Garden on the Spring Trail, including the delightful pink and white blossom of Malus ‘Butterball’, fragrant Viburnum x burkwoodii ‘Anne Russell’ and double-headed Narcissus ‘Thalia’. In late spring, look out for rich blue spires of camassi,a with its striking star-shaped flowers on tall stems.
On Clover Hill, plants that have earned the RHS Award of Garden Merit offer plenty of seasonal inspiration for home gardeners. The burst of golden flowers on Forsythia x intermedia 'Lynwood Variety' AGM are a welcome sight in early spring, while the pink-flushed white blossom of Japanese quince 'Moerloosei' AGM will put on a show for several weeks. The earliest-flowering rose of spring can also be found here: the sunny yellow blooms of Rosa xanthina 'Canary Bird' AGM appear in May to herald the coming summer months.
Check on the progress of the new Winter Garden close to the Visitor Centre and see how the planting has been designed to create interest throughout the year – not just winter. The drooping sprays of bell-shaped yellow flowers on Stachyurus praecox ‘Rubriflorus’ in early spring offer a contrast to the fluffy white balls of blossom appearing on Prunus maackii ‘Amber Beauty’. Elsewhere, containers of tulips including deep purple ‘Recreado’ and lemon yellow ‘Budlight’ can’t fail to raise a smile.
RHS Garden Rosemoor, Devon
Work begins this spring to transform the Spiral Garden into the new Cool Garden to a design by RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist Jo Thompson. Set to open in 2019, the garden will feature a pastel planting scheme in shades of blue and white in contrast with the nearby Hot Garden.
Enjoy bursts of vibrant colour from rhododendrons in the Woodland Garden and camellias in the Stone Garden. Glorious displays of camellias, rhododendrons and early magnolias will be joined by daffodils and hyacinths to celebrate the very best of the season. Then on 21 and 22 April, rhododendron lovers can enjoy a second spectacular show at the RHS National Rhododendron Competition.
Across the garden, more than 40,000 spring-flowering bulbs have been planted for an even more spectacular display this spring, including 10,000 Narcissus and Camassia through the newly established Devon apple orchard. The apple orchards themselves put on a show as they burst into blossom, along with the Japanese cherries planted throughout the garden. Then in late spring, the wildflower meadows become a dazzling display of buttercups. Look closely when visiting the wildlife pond near the Learning Centre, too, for the signs of new amphibian life – tadpoles in early spring and later, perhaps young frogs.
The Conifer Lawn shows some of the earliest signs of spring colour, with a carpet of white, lilac and purple crocus stretching as far as the Alpine Meadow. Among the many varieties of snowdrop to be found in the Rock Garden in early spring, look out for the dainty hues of Iris reticulata, which can also be found lighting up Seven Acres in drifts beneath some of the trees. Later in the season, the garden reveals swathes of cheery daffodils in many more shades than yellow, as myriad cultivars demonstrate the diversity of the springtime favourite.
In the Cottage Garden, the shell-pink blossom of Prunus pendula f. ascendens ‘Rosea’ forms an avenue along both sides of the garden, followed by the vibrant purples of Syringa vulgaris 'Sensation' AGM and Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ AGM. Look out for the 170 varieties of peony on show vying for the RHS Award of Garden Merit, as well as 40 different Viburnum plicatum.
Meanwhile, a beautiful new scheme on the Top Terrace area will greet visitors to Wisley this spring, as the much-anticipated Wisteria Walk is set to open in May – a grand new focal point close to the entrance. This contemporary-styled showcase for the popular spring-flowering climber will be uplit to highlight the suspended racemes in shades of silvery white and violet-purple and is set to become an iconic photo stop for visitors as it matures.