Monday, 9 April 2012

Pulsatilla vulgaris

One of the most tactile flowers I can think of, Pulsatilla vulgaris, is also known as the Pasqueflower. Pasque comes from 'Easter' (Pasqua the Italian - finally high school Italian pays off!) and it predictably flowers around Easter. As you can see from the photo, it is very hairy and this invites you to touch, to stroke it.

It is pretty much a fuss-free alpine perennial, and mine flower at home in my north-facing garden close to the house. So it can be placed in sun or shade, though in a shady space they will flower a few weeks later.* It might look delicate, but it is very hardy, surviving the long cold winter of 2010-11. Bees like its pollen too, so it has wildlife value, and it's seed head is also very pretty, extending the period you can enjoy it. Finally, it is happy in containers, which means you don't even need much of a garden to grow it in.

Pulsatilla vulgaris is a beautiful flower that delights anew each year. I wouldn't be without it.

*These photos were taken at Waterperry Gardens at the end of March.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

First day of the month in the front garden: April 2012

March was such a warm month and subsequently plants really started taking off so that by the first of April, the front garden is much more lush than that of March.

The broad beans have taken off fantastically, and in fact started flowering just after mid-March, very very early. I wonder if that will reduce the effects of black fly when they come, as they will in summer?

By first of April the leaves on my pear trees also started unfolding. Though they are now 4 years old, they were moved house (garden?!) after the 2nd year, which seemed to have rather halted their growth a bit. I'm hoping they will be more settled in this year and I'll get more growth and blossom.

I planted out some Lettuce Bronze Arrow seedlings a week ago, and they are taking off nicely. What a lovely colour! This variety starts off quite bronze, but develops into a more green-like lettuce with bronze tinges (click on the link to see what the mature lettuce looks like). This is my favourite lettuce as it gets growing early in the year and will keep going even through first frosts (you need to cover it to get it through winter). It's doesn't immediately bolt. And best of all, I love the slightly nutty flavour of the leaves, and it looks pretty too. What's not to like?!

I have spinach that I grew over winter that are ready to pick, and the empty space in the picture above, should see young perennial kale 'daubenton' plants in situ by the beginning of next month. This is an experiment, the first time I have grown a perennial kale. I'm hoping it will give two yields, as food, and as some over winter structure and interest to the front garden. Will be interesting to see how this pans out over the coming months.

Enjoying the spring sun was the rosemary, tulips, jonquil narcissus and cat-Merlyn :-)

And the lovely Prunus (non-fruiting) is almost ready to burst into flower. It's a beautiful breath-taking sight - I'll try and remember to take some photos of it in full flower.

I'm getting frequent visit by goldfinches too, a flower of the bird world. They smartly sit on the electricity wire, way out of reach of cat-Merlyn. As the beginning of April has suddenly turned cold again, a shock after such a warm March, their chirping is a welcome sound, reminding me that spring hasn't disappeared, just taken a short holiday. I hope...!