DAVID AND GAIL’S FAVOURITE APRIL PLANTS
Tulipa sprengeri: A true red tulip, with a small head and pointed petals. It will naturalise and spread, creating an attractive colony over the years. “We bought one pot of these many years ago and planted it in our little meadow. Now the area is full of them, and they increase year on year,” says David. A later-flowering tulip, which can continue into late May, it grows well in part shade. It should be planted approximately 4in (10cm) deep and at least 3in (8cm) apart. Height: 15in (38cm). Spread: 4-8in (10-20cm).
Trillium grandiflorum: Flowering towards the end of April, these woodland plants have unusual three-cornered flowers on attractive clover-like leaves. Colours vary, but the white ones seem to glow when planted in low-light areas. These plants thrive in shade or partial shade, with moist, well-drained soil. Height 16in (40cm); spread 12in (30cm).
Anemonella thalictroides: With dainty, dark blue-green leaves and cup-shaped white or palest pink flowers, these are perfect plants for shady woodland areas. “They are beautiful little things, with very delicate flowers,” says David. “We grow lots in pots, and there are more in the woodland area, where they grow en masse under trees.” Height 4in (10cm); spread 1½in (4cm).
Auricula: A particular passion for Gail and David, as well as the basis for their thriving nursery business. “It’s impossible to choose one variety as a favourite,” says David of these compact, upright gems, their balls of button-shaped blooms intricately marked and patterned. “It’s the detail of the individual flowers which is so fascinating. On a rainy day, we can go into the polytunnel, where they are growing in the nursery, wander round and just look at them.” Auriculas should be protected from the rain and strong sunshine, which is why they are often displayed in semi-sheltered ‘theatres’ or on purpose-built shelves. Any dead leaves should be removed and the plants watered sparingly. They prefer to grow in small pots, which restrict their roots. Height and spread 4-20in (10-50cm).
Epimedium: Delicate, spider-like blooms in a variety of colours seem to hover above the attractive, leathery evergreen leaves, although there are also some deciduous varieties. They provide excellent ground cover in shadier areas of the garden, but may be slow to establish. Moist soil is a must. “The foliage and flowers provide us with year-round interest,” says David. Height and spread 8-12in (20-30cm).