Six on Saturday: Spring Surprises

Tasks in the garden currently seem to be expanding to fill the time available so squeezing in time to write a post has not been easy, but I thought I would share a few spring surprises for Six on Saturday, the meme hosted by Jon the Propagator. I expect most gardeners will have been similarly busy, but if you pop over to his blog I am sure there will still be some other Saturday Sixes to enjoy.

Change comes thick and fast in a spring garden and even though we may be expecting certain things to reappear, their timing can take us by surprise – and some things we may just completely forget about from year to year. I certainly forget about the pretty and startlingly blue omphalodes, O cappadocica ‘Cherry Ingram’ (above) and this still tiny and unassuming spring pea or spring vetch, Lathyrus vernus ‘Alboroseus’:

There is no way I could have forgotten about my greenhouse sweet peas, whose buds are now opening and providing their typical sweet pea fragrance when I bring my nose close to them – and it won’t be long before the fragrance wafts through the whole greenhouse.

Also in the greenhouse are newly emerged seedlings of Cardiospermum halicacabum (shan’t be remembering that name in a hurry), or ‘love-in-a-puff’, the seeds of which I bought on impulse. The plant climbs to around 10 feet and produces green balloon seedpods, each containing a black seed marked with a white heart – I am not quite sure where I shall grow them when they are ready to plant out, but at the moment I am intrigued by the fact that the seedlings emerge not just with seed leaves but with with a proper leaf too, although botanists may tell me that it is not actually a true leaf at all…

Cutting back old epimedium leaves always seems, like cutting cornus stems, a leap of faith and it is something I only began doing a couple of seasons ago but very quickly appreciated the benefits of. Leaving almost just bare soil, it seems remarkable that within only a few weeks fresh leaves will appear, quickly providing ground cover again, and with them the flower stems. I don’t think I had seen flowers for years until I began cutting the old foliage! This variety is probably Epimedium  ‘Frohnleiten’:

I must have missed cutting every single patch of it before, as today I noticed these red flowers which can’t have seen the light of day for many years and which I had certainly forgotten were there – there will no doubt be a label in there somewhere, but they are probably just plain E x rubrum:

Late summer last year I realigned the main borders in the garden, during the course of which at least half the existing contents were removed and temporarily potted up, before being judiciously replaced or rejected. The coming summer will show how successful the changes were, and regular inspections have been made to assess progress of both new and old inhabitants. However, I seemed to have mislaid a plant, Trifolium rubens or ornamental clover, during the process and trusted it would still emerge at some stage, perhaps missing its label – but blow me down, this week there it was, in almost exactly  the same place it had been prior to eviction, complete with label and looking perfectly perky!


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24 Responses to Six on Saturday: Spring Surprises

  1. Your sweet peas look pretty. I have only just planted some seeds so hope I will have some by late summer. Gardening is VERY time-consuming at the moment.

  2. Heyjude says:

    Epimediums definitely require being cut down in February I would say. The flowers are so delicate and easily missed if you don’t. And the new leaves are fabulous.

  3. tonytomeo says:

    ‘Love in a puff’ is something that I have never grown, even when I could have collected seed from where it was growing wild, just because I did not want to repeat the name.

  4. smallsunnygarden says:

    Epimedium is such a pretty plant; it’s nice to know there is a correct way to trim for flowering!

  5. Pauline says:

    I try to remember to cut my epimedium leaves in February when it takes a few seconds with the shears but sometimes forget until March when it is much more difficult and has to be done with scissors so I don’t cut the new flower stems, worth it though.

    • Heyjude says:

      Haha… I make the same mistake! Had to use secateurs to cut individual old foliage this year and it is such a faff!

    • Cathy says:

      Using shears is probably a good idea, although admittedly I rarely use them for anything. I have to clamber over snowdrops and between rhodendrons to do mine, but it’s always worth it – and a relief when flowers and new foliage emerge!

  6. I never have to remember to cut the epimedium leaves, as without fail, the muntjacs beat me too it. The worry is then whether they come back for the flowers!

  7. A lot of yard work – I miss it. Thank you Cathy for these beautiful flowers that you forgot about last year: mphalodes and spring pea, I love them. In the Greenhouse two events: the Sweet Peas with their fragrance have been opened and the “love-in-a-puff” seedlings with leaves a little strange but very healthy, I love them. Your epimedium, after pruning it at ground level, is wonderful and with glorious flowers, I love it. After many years those lovely red flowers have decided to come out, I love them. The luck of the ornamental clover has made it come out in the same place and divine, despite the eviction last summer, I love it. Happy gardening. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

  8. Anna says:

    ‘Cherry Ingram’ is such a pretty vivid blue. I chuckled at your words “I am not quite sure where I shall grow them when they are ready to plant out” – a most familiar refrain Cathy 😂

    • Cathy says:

      Indeed – I blame Chiltern Seeds tempting me at that point in the season although some of the newbies are perennial which won’t be an issue (yet!!)

  9. Noelle M says:

    Maybe some love in the mist to grow alongside Love in a Puff. What a great name! I have a garden far too small for all the plants I would like, but then we can grow different plants each season. It isn’t very easy to decide what to discard, but I am sure your border will be blooming lovely!

    • Cathy says:

      Haha 😀 Yes, and although I have tried to be more discerning with plant purchases these days I wonder if I will be able to resist once I feel the borders are in any way satisfactory?!

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