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.
Think remnants as you get out into the garden to tidy up now the days are longer. Birds are looking about for pieces of vegetation to use as nesting material. Do not be too tidy with the rake when scraping it through the lawn. Herbaceous leaves that have lain through the winter are now shredded and ideal as nest lining. The dead leaves soft with indumentum on Phlomis, are perfect as a lining for the egg laying. In the vegetable plot, last year’s Strawberry foliage and dry brown stalks of Rocket will be carried off nest-ward. But more than anything, birds need hedges to construct their nests in. If you are contemplating a boundary division, choose plants to grow a living hedge, not a fence. The pleasure of increased bird life in the garden will add to the enjoyment of the garden. Hedges also add to the natural corridor that enables birds, mammals and insects to move through an area forming local hotspots of biodiversity.
Arabis purpurea is a mat forming evergreen of loose habit. Interestingly the seed was collected from a plant growing on a dark shady dry bank in Cyprus. Here, situated open to the sun and flowering well. The long stalks hold four petalled flowers of a delicate pink with an equally delicate scent. Gradually the individual flowers open around the centre of the terminal whorl of buds. Once flowered and if the seeds are not needed, clip over to refresh the foliage or this species will outgrow its space. It also becomes woody at the base and left too long develops much dead dry leaf at the centre. The growing leaves are covered in a mat of fine white hairs giving a grey appearance to the foliage.
Plants are sending out growth as we approach spring. This is the last opportunity to complete any formative pruning. Take the opportunity to manage your plant collection and develop frameworks for the coming growing season before cuts bleed with the flow of sap.
From this time of year onwards Scottish gardens are coloured with Rhododendrons in flower. At RBGE Rhododendron meddianum var. atrokermesinum is flowering in the lower woodland garden. Native to NE Myanmar where collections were made by Frank Kingdon- Ward. These packets of seed returned to many gardens throughout Britain and are now seen as mature plants through the country.
This evergreen species holds many flower trusses and adds considerably to the interest of the Rhododendron collection at RBGE. Scarlet red petals on opening. In bud it is just as attractive. The flower truss shedding brown papery bracts on opening.
A flowering shoot from a specimen growing at Logan garden was selected in April 1954 by the then owner of the Logan estate, Ronald Olaf Hambro, of the banking dynasty, to exhibit at the RHS show in London where it received an Award of Merit. This was in the decade before Logan was gifted to the nation (1969) and became a regional garden of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
Ribes sanguineum ‘Albidum’ is an easily grown and propagated deciduous shrub that never fails to flower.
The racemes of flowers develop as the new growth expands. These racemes of individual white flowers resemble smudges of correction fluid so loved by the typing pool to alter the infrequent mistakes. Single specimens lack the impact that a wave of five or seven in a border provides at this time of year.
The species has long been in cultivation, introduced from Western North America by David Douglas in 1826. An early cultivar, ‘Albidum’ according to WJ Bean, was raised in Scotland in the 1840’s.
It may be of interest to know that the works of Bean are now available on line at:
All the information gleaned from years of study and correspondence with the prolific plant collectors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that Bean transcribed into his original volumes of “Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles” is now freely available thanks to the International Dendrology Society.
At this time of year wild fluctuations in air temperature are often experienced. Over the weekend, a high of 14.8oc was recorded at the Garden. The following two days also recorded into double figures. Not a reason to become complacent and much too early for an early sowing of lettuce outdoors.
Soil temperature is a more even; rise and fall affair. This benefits root growth and the ability of a plant to produce spring growth. Within a collection of herbaceous plants the range of colour, form and texture of new growth is quite phenomenal. Sharp edges to Crocosmia contrast with the concertina like unfolding of Alchemilla foliage. The best way to appreciate this new growth is as a low shaft of sunlight radiates along the ground highlighting the fresh shoots of spring. The best by far are the thumb like twists that Paeonia mlokosewitschii throws up. Seen to advantage with fresh compost mulching the ground around.
An apt name for a flower that bursts into colour at the start of the growing season. Iris ‘Vivacious Beginnings’ is one of several cultivars new to the alpine house this season. For the second week; seasonal plants of interest highlights the diversity of colour within the alpine house. The team working to cultivate these plants are producing a much admired display that is constantly replenished from the growing frames. One specimen deserving mention is Dionysia afghanica, looking literally like a perfect miniature pin cushion, covered with light mauve flowers. This plant requires substrate drainage and a cool root zone to succeed in cultivation. Here grown in a terracotta pot within a second, larger, pot. Native to North West Afghanistan where it grows through limestone and enjoys shade provided by the cliff faces from the intense sun.
A spectacular Chilean climber in full flower this week.