Sometimes, at any time of the year, you just turn around in the garden and, wham bam, the light spotlights something and you gasp. And the other day, I just happened to have the camera around my neck, and ‘Tiny Wine’ obliged with photogenic new foliage breaking out in a flash of early morning sunshine. This is such a good shrub. Not too massive, though it is now about 1.5m x 1.5m, and such a good performer. From this glorious happy coloured foliage, the leaves darken to a plum red, small pink flowers appear later in spring, and then in the autumn the first colder nights really flame the foliage. I love it. I can only grow it in a damper part of the garden as it really doesn’t do dry, but I wouldn’t be without it.
I yank out Euphorbia chariacas subsp. wulfennii by the handful all year round in the garden as they are such prolific seeders, but in the spring, with the citrus lemon flowers shining, they are magnificent- so the next cull can wait till they have finished flowering. They catch the light brilliantly- see top left in the photograph.
This Kerria japonica ‘Albiflora‘ was one of my bargain basement buys last year, and looked pretty weedy till last month. Unlike it’s bright yellow cousin, which I also have, I have been smitten by the charm of this woodlander. It likes semi-shade, moistish conditions, which, for me, means only one place, but it seems to have settled in well. The soft cream-coloured flowers are charming and are matched with sharp, emerald green foliage. If it is as tough as the yellow one, it will do just fine.
Here was another turn-around moment this morning, catching Ranunculus ficaria ‘Brazen Hussy’ with a stunning, frosted outline. Normally, I would have cleared the area around this little Ranunculus so that we can see it better, but this year, projects and tendons mean that it is still a bit covered with winter rubbish. But the frosting makes the leaves sing.
The frost doesn’t spoil the game for this rose, Rosa banksiae lutea, which is about to flower any minute. Unfortunately, here in Tostat village, an over-helpful gardener has pruned our lovely Banksiae in the lavoir, including removing most of the buds. You have to prune after flowering, and allow the rose to build up old wood for next year. Darn it. Actually, to be honest, I don’t even really prune it, I just lop off any over-excited arching branches that get in my hair, literally. It doesn’t need more than that.
This plant, Gunnera manicata, always makes me think of zombie hands coming through the earth in any number of trashy horror films. It really claws its way out of the winter debris around it- no need for a helping hand from me. Growth rate is fast, pretty soon it will be towering above me, and drinking like a fish from the canal it is planted near. It wouldn’t stand a chance otherwise.
I am sorry that I can’t remember the variety, but no matter, I thought of a daffodil pas-de-deux, it made me smile. This one below is definitely Narcissus ‘Thalia’, which I really love for the drama of the dark greeny blue leaves and the pure white flower. It is almost the last to flower with us.
This is the first flowerhead on my clumps of Eryngium eburneum, which is such a good plant for me. Forming big clumps of draping scissored leaves, and sending up flowerspikes to well over my height at 5 feet, it handles everything except winter wet, always looking a bit desperate by the end of winter. But, within a few weeks, it picks itself up and gets going again. A great sign for the year to come.