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.
Camassia leichtlinii ssp. suksdorfii has long linear leaves as you would expect from a member of the Agavaceae family. This is a stunning perennial that repays planting space in the border with a reliable show of multiple upright racemes, covered in blue flowers. Opening from the base of the spike, the long petals twist together as they senesce.
Enjoys an open situation with a moist root run, yet dislikes waterlogged soil. Native to western north America and generally hardy with us. Once planted leave to their own devices as they resent disturbance.
The second half of May and we hope the frost is finished for the season. Make sure all half hardy and tender perennial stock you are planting out for summer display is hardened off before sinking a trowel into the soil. As you can see from the attached images a late frost followed by early, bright sunshine can have devastating effects on tender young growth. These woody plants sit out in all weather. Trees and shrubs form the backbone of planting and still thought must go as to where in the garden these plants are situated. The large woolly leaves of Hydrangea sargentiana were full of sap which thawed too rapidly as the sun hit the foliage. The tender tips of Pterocarya fraxinifolia will recover, this is a young plant grown from seed collected in Georgia. There are mature, wide crowned, specimens growing successfully elsewhere in the garden. Decoratively, the most noticeable damage is on the young Pieris japonica ‘Variegata’ the showy red shoots are burnt brown, spoiling the display.
The strap leaved Viola spathulata is thriving in the tufa wall that forms the backdrop to the alpine shelter here at RBGE. A native to cliff faces in Iran where the roots push into hairline rock crevices to gain a secure hold and draw up moisture to ensure survival. Here the individual tufa rocks were bound together to replicate these natural limestone landscapes where distinctive flora’s develop.
Covered in the typical viola flowers, V. spathulata is composed of five petals, four facing upwards and the fifth pointing down. Light mauve in colour with a darker colouration in the throat.
Amid the seasonal blossom and mass flowering of spring are interspersed subtle touches. Often unnoticed, these all add to the interest of the garden in spring. Acer davidii ssp. grosseri, a deciduous tree from northern and central China can be seen growing on the Pyrus lawn here at RBGE. At the base of the multiple flowered pendulous inflorescences are recurved delicate pink bud sheaths. These turning deeper red with maturity. These are shed as growth extends and the flowers mature to clusters of the traditional winged seeds.
If there was ever a plant that deserved to be in this category it is Polygonatum humile. A delightful herbaceous member of the Ruscaceae family it razzles through the soil forming a tidy compact mass of foliage. Naturally found in open woodland and through grassland in the Himalaya’s and western China. Replicate the conditions in cultivation – semi shade and moist organic soil and this plant will send out rhizomes colonising bare soil. Pendulous, waxy, almost white bell shaped flowers shading to green. At the end silver gilt marking to the tip. These are borne singly in the leaf axil, several to each stem.
The crown of the tree fern, Dicksonia antartica, has rushed into life. Catching the warmth from the sun and surrounded by four walls in an enclosed courtyard it always makes good growth.
The unfurling frond has regularly placed “steps” to resemble a ladder. These will rapidly extend and a complete rosette of new leaves will form especially with this spell of continuing warm weather.