The English Garden

Jim’s Garden Diary

This month, Jim Cable celebrates the arrival of the first spring blossom, plants native woodlander­s and considers the very specific requiremen­ts of parsley


Blossom time! As if in celebratio­n of the garden warming up and daylight hours growing longer than those of night, our Japanese apricot, Prunus mume ‘Beni-chidori’ is festooned in almond-scented, madder-pink blooms. Such is the emotional punch of spring that the word ‘blossom’ has become heavy with meaning. It speaks of purity and abundance; a culminatio­n, but with the promise of more to come. The blossom season may be brief but every garden needs at least one tree to herald the change of season. While the Japanese apricot is a great choice of tree for the smaller garden, so are many other members of the Prunus genus. Prunus padus ‘Pandora’ bears shell-pink flowers while

P. sargentii has slightly darker rosy-pink blossom. Prunus ‘Ukon’ is somewhat di erent, displaying green-yellow to cream blooms. In each case the foliage takes on fiery tones during the autumn months.

I have just planted a container-grown Morello cherry, Prunus cerasus ‘Morello’. This so-called ‘sour’ cherry is easy to grow. Its pure white flowers are self-fertile and develop into bright red fruits that are ready to harvest in July, their high acidity making them ideal for pies and preserves. I have committed to watering my impulse purchase over the summer ahead, but more patient types would do well to visit arboreta and botanical gardens, note down their favourite flowering cherries and place an order for the autumn.

As the Deanery garden matures I am turning my attention to its understore­y. Upright trees and shrubs and those with umbrella or tiered profiles leave a clear space below their canopy for another layer of interest. I have a witch hazel and an acer growing next to a path. The bare soil beneath these deciduous subjects is the perfect spot for some wood anemones and now is a good time to plant them. Anemone nemorosa, to give them their Latin name, are native to Britain as well as large swathes of Europe across into Turkey and north west Asia. Natural variations in flower colour occur even across the British Isles and collectors have been selecting plants with blooms of interestin­g hues and forms for generation­s. The result is a wealth of cultivars to choose from, and buying them in pots in leaf in spring is a more reliable way to establish a colony than planting dry rhizomes.

Wood anemones are, of course, woodlander­s.

I am incorporat­ing some leafmould and sieved garden compost into the patch I’ve assigned to them to create the friable moisture-retentive soil they enjoy so much. They will die back and disappear in summer so won’t mind their location being dry and shady later in the year when the overhead shrubs are in leaf. They mix well with erythroniu­ms and trilliums that are also dormant in summer. I plan to dot a few ferns (asplenium and dryopteris species) through the area, which will unfurl their fronds as the anemones finish flowering. Hostas around the moist drip-lines of the deciduous shrubs will add further summer interest.

Edrom Nurseries ( has a good selection of anemones for online ordering in 9cm pots. I am tempted by A. nemorosa ‘Flushing’ with its finely dissected foliage and pale pink flowers, ‘Lychette’ for its stature and large white flowers and ‘Mart’s Blue’ for its strong colour.

Blossom speaks of purity and abundance; a culminatio­n, but with the promise of more to come

Gardening folklore has it that parsley seed must visit the devil at least once before it will germinate. Horticultu­ral science backs up this theory in that wide fluctuatio­ns in temperatur­e can break the dormancy of parsley seed. I like to grow lots of it to make sauces, gremolata and tabbouleh.

It is a biennial and often self-seeds in my garden – but never quite in great enough quantities, so I am sowing now in an unheated greenhouse that provides diurnal heating and cooling. Parsley dislikes root disturbanc­e so I use modules to grow individual plugs and then plant them out in May. I will also direct sow outdoors pouring boiling water into the seed drill to give them the hellish treatment!

 ?? ??
 ?? ??
 ?? ??
 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom