I love spring bling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Exquisite blooms, intoxicating scents and foliage looking so fresh and new. So many of the plants I lust after at this time of year are all spring bling! They do their ‘thing’ for such a brief period, but when they do, even if it’s just for a few weeks, they are so breathtaking that we forgive their fleeting display.
I often caution new gardeners when starting to plant up their gardens to have a balanced approach to selecting their plants. At this time of year, when everything looks so gorgeous and we are inspired to garden, it would be easy to fill your entire garden with spring beauties that only bloom now and only a brief period. Instead, it is best to ensure that you have a good balance of ‘good value’ plants (plants that have features and benefits that create colour and interest over an extended period) as a framework in your garden and then add in your spring bling.
At the moment there are so many stunning blooms at Sophie’s Patch and I could rave on about all of them. So, just to do something different I am going to group them into colours.
Purple & Blues
Wisteria – what’s not to love? The colour is breathtaking ………….. and the scent of the dreamy blooms that cover our back pergola is intoxicating and takes me back to childhood memories of wisteria growing on our homes’ north facing veranda.
Bluebells are a delight around the patch, but it is the Star of Bethlehem (Scilla peruviana) that is really spectacular with its large conical heads densely packed with purple flowers.
Honeywort (Cerinthe major) is a plant that all visitors ask about with its purple flowers and grey green foliage. It self-seeds around my garden and blooms in winter and spring.
I have blue borage growing everywhere to encourage the bees and while it does self-seed, it is easy to manage by simply pulling it out when the plants get daggy or when it comes up where I don’t want it.
Other purple or blues include the native hibiscus (Alyogyne heugelii), Salvia ‘Celestial Blue’ and wallflower (Cheiranthus mutabilis).
Calendulas flower at Sophie’s Patch all year round and I never tire of their cheery orange blooms, and neither do the beneficial bugs for that matter either. At this time of year though the orange Californian poppies steal the show, self-seeding up and down my driveway, basically taking care of themselves without needing me to intervene.
Cliveas are amazing in bloom, although my pots are jammed under the back eaves and the outside of the plant gets frosted where it is not under the roof cover.
I also have some orange Veldt daises (Arctotis). They featured on the front cover of my first book ‘From the Ground Up’ and remain a favourite although I have bronze and plum hybrids also flowering at the moment. While I love these plants, I find they tend to only last a couple of years before needing to be replaced, but that may also be my heaver soil which can get waterlogged in a wet year.
Geranium ‘Big Red’ features prominently on the back wall of GROW UP, planted at the base of the rich blue container wall and also growing in metal dip tins on the mesh wall. I love this plant and have grown it in the polyhouse too. It has been bred to produce large heads of deep red blooms for most of the year, on a compact plant, giving a great Mediterranean feel.
Another striking red blooming plant is Beschorneria septentrionalis, with its tall spikes of red flowers held above a clump of strappy dark green leaves. The honey plant (Melianthus major) is also producing lots of spikes of red flowers and these are beloved by small nectar feeding birds.
In the polyhouse red nasturtiums are clambering up the mesh wall and while I did plan to grow other produce plants there, I might let the nasturtiums go as they look so good!
Yellow and Lime Green
The edible chrysanthemum or chop suey greens is self-seeding around the citrus grove and around my giant pumpkin. I have two forms of this – one bright golden and one a paler lemon yellow with a golden eye zone. I also have golden calendulas seeding around the property.
The yellow flowers of velvet groundsel (Roldana petasites) are finishing but still look gorgeous.
The lime green blooms of wulfen spurge (Euphorbia wulfenii) line our driveway at the moment, and when they finish flowering, I will cut them off before they have a chance to self-seed.
Old man’s beard (Clematis aristate) is in full bloom, clambering all over the wall of mum’s shed (the old green railway carriage) while white kiss-me-quick (Centranthus ‘Alba’) is in bloom and self-seeds in other areas of the garden.
The Himalayan butterfly (Buddleja crispa) is finishing after a couple of months of providing soft pink blooms with a delicious sweet scent, but the shrubby honeysuckle Lonicera korolkowii is just starting, producing a mass of small pink flowers showing up beautifully against its bleu green leaves.
The cerise pink kiss-me-quick (Centranthus ruber) is also blooming but I do try and mange it so it doesn’t take over.
There are many more plants in bloom around the garden, and I love them all, and that’s just a taste.
PS. Another thing I love about this time of year is the sound of spring, with the buzz of the bees, the tunes of bird song, and the occasional carryon of my flock of geese.