Garden notes: spring blooms
Spring is blooming magic, and to prove it, Jackie French picks out the most glorious flowers that can be grown in your garden.
AZALEAS Most stunning spring-flowering small shrub: Azaleas have so many flowers you can hardly see the leaves. Where to grow: Cold to temperate climates, in dappled shade. The secret: Choose a trouble-free variety like Red Wing. RHODODENDRONS Most prolific springflowering large shrub: Rhododendron Hybrid flowers are incredible, in an array of vibrant colours. Where to grow: Cold to temperate climates, in acidic soils high in organic matter that is well drained. The secret: Choose a variety suitable for your climate. Some are burnt by frost, others will flower even in warmer climates. Plant behind smaller flowers to distract the eye from the dull green leaves when they aren’t blooming. CRAB APPLES Most reliable, stunning flowering fruit tree: Crab apple blossoms range from pure white through pinks, red or mauve pink. Many give small to plum-sized red, green, yellow or purple fruit. Where to grow: Cold to subtropical climates. The secret: Grow an avenue of the same variety, or fill your garden with early, medium and late blooming varieties to have constant gloriousness for three months or more. THE WEEPING CHERRY World’s most incredible cherry blossom tree: Suitable as a centrepiece in the front lawn. Try Snow Fountains ( Prunus ‘ Snofozam’). Single white flowers cover the tree and it has gorgeous autumn leaves, too. After a cherry tree for hot climates? Taiwanese or bell cherry ( Prunus campanulata) are early flowering, with deep rose blooms that brighten up late winter dreariness. Plus native birds, like tui, love the tiny fruit. Where to grow: Almost anywhere – it’s frost hardy but doesn’t need cold nights for stunning flowers. The secret: Keep well pruned so it’s neat and the flowers aren’t too high to appreciate – unless you happen to be a bird. The bottom of the tree will grow suckers that need to be trimmed away. FLOWERING CHERRY Most stunning flowering fruit tree: There is a reason why so many places have cherry blossom festivals, their streets dressed in white and pink blossoms.
Where to grow: Cold to temperate climates, but the warmer the spring weather, the shorter time the blossom will last. The secret: Grow only in areas with reliably cool but not frosty springs. Choose early or late varieties for longer blooming. KOWHAI (Sophora microphylla) Most stunning spring-flowering native tree: Our golden yellow native flower heralds the arrival of sunnier days. Where to grow: Kowhai grows just about everywhere around New Zealand. It’s best in temperate climates, but not very prolific in strong sea breezes. The secret: The tree will thrive once it is large, but keep the juvenile protected from the constant nibbling of native birds.
A bright new world of colour erupts every spring – enjoy.