Harefield Gazette

The gold standard for spring



YELLOW blossoms light up the suburbs during springtime. I’m thinking of daffodils and forsythia, primroses and acacia, broom and in my part of the world, acres of wild gorse, Ulex europaeus.

Gorse, also sometimes known as furze or whin, seems to be in flower nearly all year round but really peaks in late spring, the pealike flowers emitting a delicious coconut scent.

It’s not really suitable as a garden plant since it’s quite invasive, but it is beneficial to wildlife with its early nectar.

Perhaps the most striking yellow spring flower belongs to the Laburnum tree. Sometimes this is known as the Golden Rain Tree, a poetic and beautiful descriptio­n of this tree when it is dripping with large bunches of golden yellow pea-like flowers.

It makes a lovely specimen tree for the garden, being elegant in shape and doesn’t grow too tall. It can also be trained, much the same way as wisteria to which it is related, so that it can drip from a support such as a pergola or arch.

The best example of this is the Laburnum Arch at Bodnant Garden in Wales. Bodnant is a National Trust property in Conwy, overlookin­g the Conwy valley towards the Carneddau mountains.

The Laburnum Arch is a 55-metre tunnel of these beautiful flowers and was created by the garden’s Victorian founder Henry Pochin in 1880.

Based on the pergola walkways of the 16th and 17th centuries, it is believed to be the longest and oldest in Britain. As property manager William Greenwood says: “The Laburnum Arch is the jewel in the crown of our springtime at Bodnant Garden and something everybody should see at least once in a lifetime.” So add this gem to your bucket list and plan a trip – the best time is at the end of this month and early June. Laburnums are easygoing trees. Grow on well-drained soil in a sunny spot for the best flowers. Like other members of the legume or pea family, they have an ability to fix nitrogen from the air which allows them to feed themselves on poorer ground. The situation they dislike most is heavy, waterlogge­d soil.

They don’t require much in the way of pruning but if you do need to remove a branch because it’s in the way or diseased looking, prune late summer to winter as sap will flow out freely at other times, the loss of which can harm the tree. A word of warning as well about the long twisted pea pods that follow flowering – these are toxic and can be lethal so bear that in mind if there are youngsters about.

The most popular variety is ‘Vossii’ with sprays of flowers up to one-and-a-half feet long!

It’s fast growing with fine, dark green foliage, will flower even when young and has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

‘Yellow Rocket’ is a more slender variety so you could fit this one into a smaller garden.

The classic planting combinatio­n is to underplant with purple alliums but a scattering of bluebells or camassias would also be a pleasing partnershi­p.

 ?? ??
 ?? ?? TUNNEL VISION: Laburnum Arch at Bodnant Garden
TUNNEL VISION: Laburnum Arch at Bodnant Garden
 ?? Little pruning ?? EASY CARE: Laburnums require
Little pruning EASY CARE: Laburnums require
 ?? ?? HANGING GARDEN: Look up in wonder
HANGING GARDEN: Look up in wonder

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