Cruel, cruel April

Tulip Roccoco
Tulip Rococo

Things are not all well in Kari’s garden. It’s May Day and we seem to be in a tiny still early spring bubble. A tracery of branches is very visible, leaves remain merely pinpricks of green, flecks against the dominant greys and browns.

In Bath half an hour away, all was lush, plumptious and lovely, chestnut candles lit, lilacs in flower, the whole shebang, not one candle on the horse chestnut is lit here today. Stuck in a traffic queue on Thursday caused by a minor shunt near Trowbridge only  few miles away, forced me to consider the woods I normally fly by, fresh leaves on the trees lapped at by primroses and a sprinkling of bluebells. The chestnut flowers were already starting to show colour down by Stony Gutter.

Here frost, followed by frost, followed by more frost this week, no I didn’t cover anything (yes stupid). Not only potato foliage gone but emerging ferns have been hit. I wish I hadn’t cut back old foliage recently, it might have offered some protection. Hydrangea foliage scorched again too.

Yesterday May announced its imminent arrival hurling rain and hail at us with swirling winds late afternoon, adding a few rumbles of thunder just for effect.

Tulip times

A couple of tulips have been in flower for weeks, Parrot Tulip Rococo one of last year’s re-emergers in a pot and pale lemon Fats Domino (which has withstood the weather pretty well).

Tulip Fats Domino just going over
Tulip Fats Domino just going over
Tulip Spring Green last year's version with more defined flare
Tulip Spring Green – last year’s version with more defined flare

Spring Green are also showing now, the previous year’s seem more slender with less of a green flash than those planted last autumn.

Tulipa saxatilis
Tulipa saxatilis

Sugar pink low growing species tulip T saxatilis will be augmented in the autumn, the loose flowers have a less formal, softer appearance. The leaves low to the ground are a bright glossy green.

Then there are the glums of the tulip world in my garden including Couleur Cardinal and Ile de France, some stunted by pigeons and other beasties stomping around under the bird feeders, for others the effort of pushing through the heavy clay soil was obviously too much.

Battered Ballerina
Battered Ballerina

I must say I’ve enjoyed a pot of orange lily flowered Tulip Ballerina bought from local The Mead Nursery. In the kitchen the scent was really noticeable, sweet paprika. As you can see after a week inside I’ve put them out to be battered by the weather. I think I’ll add more to this border in the autumn. On a dull day they add quite a zap of colour.

Tulip Dom Pedro
Tulip Dom Pedro – excuse the weeds I haven’t got round to this bed yet!

Dan Pearson in an article on Dig Delve reckons this tulip is a reliable re-flowerer (some tulips come back year on year others don’t so are best treated as ‘annuals’). I’ve been surprised by dark rich rusty red T Dom Pedro (dating from 1911) I think I first saw this in an article by garden designer Arne Maynard.  I didn’t expect it to come up again in my heavy soil – well done!

Pests and diseases

Some maggoty thing has been eating its way out of many of the quince buds (Cydonia). A couple of the peonies have been hit by blight, no silky flowers on Buckeye Belle this year. The aquilegias continue to suffer from their mouldy affliction. I’ve lost at least one recently purchased Early Purple Orchid and as usual sliced through emerging bulb shoots still underground whilst planting more sale bulbs and trying to re-locate others.

They’re promising temperatures of 18C next week, that should speed things along a bit…