Sunday, 25 April 2021

April Joy

These last days of April are quite magical, with clear skies, warm sunshine, and nature burgeoning all around us. I feel entirely blessed. The garden is filled with bees and other insects, including butterflies. Already I have seen Brimstone butterflies, Holly Blues, Speckled Woods, Orangetips, Small Tortoiseshells and Peacocks. Unfortunately I am not patient enough to try to photograph them, but the plants stay still. Here are some that are giving me joy just now.

The red and yellow Apeldoorn tulips are now at their best, standing up in the grass among the dandelions I must deadhead before they seed any further than they have already.

The buds on the Large-leafed Lime trees in the Lime Alley are just starting to open, not all at the same time, since they were seed propagated by Jan Ravensburg from Clara, who supplied the young trees. There is plenty of natural variation among them, and I am starting to find seedlings here and there.

The Quince tree, variety 'Vranja', gave a good harvest last year. There is even more blossom than last year, and with the fine weather I am hoping for a good fruit-set this year. But I must remember to give it a bucket of water, as they prefer damp ground.

In the 'Wilderness', the native bluebells are spreading around, and I love the arching stems of the Solomon's Seal, with their delicate, drooping yellow-white bells. 

The cowslips are spreading well in the wildflower meadow. There is a good deal of variation in the size of their petals, with some as large as cultivated polyanthus. I suspect their are some genes from the common primrose in them, which usually produces the hybrid known as False Oxlip, with primrose flowers on a long stem. But these retain the classic cowslip colouration. I think I shall try to bring the largest ones into cultivation, away from others and from primroses, to see if I can develop the strain.

But perhaps my greatest joy is the little clump of Coralroot (Cardamine bulbifera) growing in the wildflower meadow. In Ireland it is an extremely rare garden escape. I found it in the old overgrown garden of botanist Patrick Kelly's ruined house outside Ballyvaughan in Co Clare. It reproduces mostly from purple bulbils which form in the leaf axils, rather than from seed. I gathered a few bulbils 2 years ago and grew them on in a pot, which I planted out last year. This year they are flowering for the first time, and I hope I will be able to naturalise them in my garden, as Patrick Kelly did in his.

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