The Azalea collection is blooming. One of the best on the bank is Rhododendron luteum, reliable to flower, full of mid yellow blooms and the scent drifting through the lawn. These plants grow through S.E. Europe, Turkey and the Caucasus. Strong growing, deciduous, much branching shrubs. The flowers are followed by elongated seed capsules full of seed, much of which may be viable and can subsequently lead to self-seeding.
Growing in the nursery is a fine, sturdy young specimen of Malus sieversii. A native to Central Asia and known to be the wild apple that apple breeding developed from. Through DNA analysis it is believed that the majority of the cultivars of domestic apple are related to this species which is now endangered in the wild. In bloom just now, blush pink in tight bud, turning white as the five petals open and developing an origami like shape in the centre.
Anemone ranunculoides a spring flowering native that carpets open woodland. The long spindly stems arise from delicate rhizomes that colonise moist organic soil. Atop these spindly stems are foliage and a single terminal flower, held above the foliage on a short stalk, opening a fresh yellow in spring sunshine. A welcome alternative as undercover in woodland to the more common, at RBGE, A. nemorosa. Also look out for the semi double form, A.ranunculoides ‘Pleniflora’ on the raised bed between the two alpine houses. The outer petals bleach white on senescence.
Anemone ranunculoides a spring flowering native that carpets open woodland. The long spindly stems arise from delicate rhizomes that colonise moist organic soil. Atop these spindly stems are foliage and a single terminal flower. This, held above the foliage on a short stalk. Opening a fresh yellow in spring sunshine. A welcome alternative as undercover in woodland to the more common, at RBGE, A. nemorosa. Also look out for the semi double form, A.ranunculoides ‘Pleniflora’ on the raised bed between the two alpine houses.
Look inside the open flower of Fritillaria imperialis ‘Aurora’ at the base of each of the six petals is a perfect white circle that magnifies the nectar pool. A botanical feature to attract pollinating insects deep into the cup of petals thus brushing against the pollen laden anthers to disseminate to the next flower.
There was a double take when looking up from the new growth of Polygonatum x hybridum shooting up with closed stems to the hooded parasols on the terrace. These shoots develop rapidly at this time of year sent up from rhizomes spreading horizontally just beneath the soil surface. A good plant for naturalising in a woodland situation.
Two Daffodils, two completely different flower forms. Narcissus ‘Golden Cycle’ a clump filling a crevice in the rock garden with the early morning sun making the golden colour stand out perfectly. In comparison; N. ‘Telamonius Plenus’, a misshapen, ugly cultivar that is grown as a botanical curiosity. Double or semi double green tinged flowers. Originating in the Netherlands it dates back to 1620. Having many synonyms through the centuries, one of which was ‘Master Wilmers Great Double Daffodil’, none of which would make me want to grow it. However as a Botanic Garden we grow a wide range of botanical specimens that exhibit the diversity of the botanical world.
Warmth in the air and a lack of frost will give a good flowering season amongst the Rhododendron collection. One worth searching the copse for is Rhododendron davidii. Collected in evergreen forest within Sichuan province, China near Dujinyan at 1900m. A strong growing evergreen with magnificent trusses of almost purple flowers. Appreciate the colour, being so different to the rest of the plants set out through the copse. But also look more closely at the individual flower, up to 14 can form one truss. Inside the corolla one or two of the fused petals have a subtle mottle mark.
Primula allionii seen in pots in the traditional alpine house and colonising the tufa wall in the modern structure too. Also worth a mention is Saxifraga dinnikii alba. Flowering for the first time in the tufa. Once the roots are established in the planting pockets flowering should be assured.
Amongst the array of fine spring flowering bulbs in the alpine house is a pot of Erythronium grandiflorum ssp. grandiflorum. A native of western North America found growing in woodland where the soil retains moisture the year round. Growth rises from an elongated bulb, fresh green foliage and a yellow cluster of dropped petals envelop protruding white anthers. Just one of many spring bulbs providing an early show of colour.