Top April Blooms: Making an Impact

I took several photos for this post to celebrate (Top Ten) April blooms, the meme kindly hosted by blogger and plantsperson Chloris of The Blooming Garden, but decided finally to include just those that are making the most impact. There are oddments throughout the garden as early spring bloomers give way to the later ones, but some are just more impactful – and if the Golfer notices and comments on them then they must stand out!

Those that can be seen from the kitchen windows are always going to be noticed, especially when at their best as the tubs of tulips shown above are, and I make no apology for showing them again. Likewise, the three crab apples which have quite possibly never been as floriferous: ‘Evereste’ (left), ‘Golden Hornet’ (right), ‘Royalty’ (bottom). The main apple blossom, however, has started but is not yet in full swing.

The Golfer is very fond of rhododendrons and surprisingly most of those we have don’t seem to have been unduly affected by last year’s dry summer: dinky little R epimedium certainly hasn’t, as gazing out of the same windows tells us.

Rebuilding the clematis colonnade disturbed the resident clematis and some replacements were required, but now every post is sporting both an early and a later variety, mostly C alpina and C viticella. This is peak season for the alpinas, with ‘Helsingborg’ top left, ‘Jacqueline du Pré’ and ‘Pamela Jackman’ (bottom left and right), with newcomer C koreana ‘Amber’ on the top right. The blooms of the latter are larger and chunkier than I imagined and not what I would call ‘amber’, but it is pretty nonetheless.

Pretty and distinctive in its own way is the native cowslip which has popped up of its own accord and taken over from the Tête à Tete in the streamside grass. Despite yellow not being an overly favoured colour in the garden there is something especially sunny and spring-like about the cowslip which absolves its gentle thuggishness.

Not planted in the most suitable of places, our only magnolia M ‘Susan’ is a delight even with only a few flowers, which have only begun to appear in the last couple of years. Only one is out so far, but I liked the look of it bookended by two silver birches in our woodland and the fine green tracery of new foliage on the neighbour’s massive beech tree. Chloris tells me that Susan is one a series of 8 ‘Little Girl’ magnolias bred by crossing M liliflora ‘Nigra’ and M stellata ‘Rosea’ in the mid-50s.

Brunneras are perhaps a little underated in the garden as they are such good do-ers for most of us that we could easily take them for granted. They provide a lovely splash of blue for weeks in spring, often against pretty foliage if you have a  variety like the variegated B ‘Jack ‘Frost’, and they make a pleasing addition to a posy or vase. This one has plain leaves and is an unknown-to-me variety, passed on by a friend who didn’t know it either. It makes a lovely clump and the contrast of the blue and dark green is most attractive:

The Coop is emptying of blooms now and needs a good tidy up before the turn of the summer occupants, but this Tropaeolum tricolor has just got better and better. Before I took the photo I turned the plant round to see if this made a difference to the way the flowers face: this being a lean-to greenhouse the wall of the house is to the right thus making it lighter to the left, the direction they had been facing.


Do now make time to pop over to Chloris’ blog to view her ‘ten’ blooms and follow links to other blogs as well.

As is always the case at this time of year there is such a lot going on in the garden at the moment, and every week there will be new blooms to enjoy so May’s ‘top ten’ will be very different. Alliums may well be one of the stalwarts by then as the first blooms are now just beginning to open, with a very patient orange tipped butterfly first in the queue for nectar. I am thrilled to see have seen not just this butterfly (and with orange tipped wings in view earlier) in the garden this week, but also a holly blue and Wordless Wednesday’s peacock too.

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30 Responses to Top April Blooms: Making an Impact

  1. Brian Skeys says:

    The wild Cowslips appear to be flowering in even greater quantities along the roadsides and on common land around here, this year. They are a joy to see whether in the garden or the wild.

    • Cathy says:

      Interesting to read that you think they are proliferating in the wild too, Brian

      • Brian Skeys says:

        Well, they are in certain areas. Along one wide verge you can see a straight line where the verge is cut and the common land is traditionally cut for hay with no fertiliser used.

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    All your spring specials are beautiful but the cowslip is such an unusual yellow it is fabulous.

  3. bcparkison says:

    Pretty! Your garden is light years ahead of mine.

  4. Heyjude says:

    I have bought the C koreana ‘Amber’ and have it at the front of my house (north-facing) it is almost green to me, and will feature on SoS. I am hoping that the colour will change as the flowers mature. This year is speeding away and I want to slow it down to enjoy everything that is blooming now. So much happening at once.

    • Cathy says:

      I wondered too if the colour would change as it matures. And yes, with some rain this week growth in the garden will accelerate even further – but the ground needed it

  5. Kris P says:

    Beautiful! I’m envious of the tulips (of course) and the Clematis.

  6. Chloris says:

    Thank you for joining in with your lovely April blooms Cathy. I love crab apples, they are such good value with blooms in spring and pretty fruit in autumn. I love C. Korean Amber it is so unusual. Stunning tulip display.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Chloris – when choosing Evereste I took blossom/fruit/autumn colour into consideration and I am pkeased with my choice. The fruit is especially pretty

  7. Patsi says:

    Wow, you’re a good month ahead of us. Thinking my favorite is the native cowslip.

  8. Springtime is in full swing in your garden. Just lovely. So many things are either blooming here or on the brink of blooming. So much joy in new life.

  9. Ali, The Mindful Gardener says:

    ‘Susan’ is wonderful; I have long coveted her! I love all you clematis alpinas. I think this is the first year I haven’t accidentally pruned mine with the summer-flowering clematis, and I too am enjoying glorious blooms.

    • Cathy says:

      With having an early and later variety on each post here I am careful to prune just the later ones, but when the colonnade was rebuilt it made it harder to differentiate but things should settle down again now and the soil will be much bettee for them so they should be happier

  10. Cathy tulips I love them like crab apples. The clematis collection is wonderful. The native primula has a lovely yellow color. The Magnolia Susan is a treasure. I love the Brunneras and their blue flowers. Greetings from Margarita.

  11. Oh some delightful April blooms going on there Cathy. I think that the brunnera your friend gave you is probably brunnera macrophylla . I admired a clump of it growing at the nursery at Arley Hall a couple of weeks ago. Funny the difference between us – here the apple blossoms at the allotment are fading fast. I liked your observation about those tulips that “if the Golfer notices and comments on them then they must stand out!” 😂

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks for the info on the brunnera. And I realised after I wrote the post that the appleblossom must have been and almost gone…I had forgotten how ephemeral it was, unlike the crab apple blossom

  12. tonytomeo says:

    Those crabapples sound familiar. Do they make usable fruit, or are they only good for the birds?

    • Cathy says:

      I could make jelly from them (not what you call jelly, which is ‘jam’ to us, but a set preserve made from the cooked and strained fruit ) but they are such a pretty colour that I like to keep them to gaze at until the birds have them

      • tonytomeo says:

        Oh, I don’t make jam out of crabapple. In fact, I don’t often make jelly out of it either. I just use the juice of ours to mix with other fruits that lack pectin, to make jam (as a mixture of crabapple and some other fruit.) It works nicely with (mostly) crabapple and (a bit of) rhubarb. That would be jam because the rhubarb gets chopped up like celery, and is not strained. I have made jelly with the crabapples, but it is so mildly flavored, that it is not very impressive. If I had more time, and did not mind offending the birds, I would collect the smaller fruits from the ornamental flowering crabapples to make a more flavorful jelly. The flowering crabapples are in landscape situations, where people like the birds, so the fruit stays for them.

  13. Magnificent blooms. I’m particualrly interested to see your gorgeous crab apples as I’m going to plant 3 myself and am trying to decide which ones.
    A question about tulips – do you treat them as annuals or do they came back each year?

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Sandra – I just grow them in pots now and compost them afterwards. There’s a lot to take into account when choosing crab apples. Worth knowing that the birds don’t like Golden Hornet so the fruits hangs around and rot unattractively

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