Gardening in the warm sunshine for a change

This week’s blog is by student gardener, Francesca Miles…

“This week has seen the horticultural students remove the last of the spring bulb displays, while the warm sunshine has afforded visitors the opportunity to enjoy spectacular sun-dappled primulas in Jubilee Woods.

“Elsewhere, shrubs and deciduous trees have delivered equally eye-catching performances. Davidia involucrata is the star of the Asiatic Garden. This deciduous tree is covered with dark green flower clusters, subtended by two large white bracts, which lends it the common names ‘handkerchief’ and ‘dove’. In years to come, it will face competition from its immediate neighbour: a deciduous tree called Toona sinensis ‘Flamingo’, which displays bright pink spring foliage.

“Beneath the pergola at the top of the Asiatic Garden, Millettia japonica ‘Hime Fuji’ offers a quieter May-time performance. Renamed Wisteria floribunda f. microphylla ‘Hime’, this deciduous climber is commonly used for bonsai and bears the narrow bronze-green leaflets that are characteristic of the species. Although suitable for growing against a wall or through a large tree, its vigorous, woody stems have allowed it to flourish here as a shrub. It requires attention, because its tenderness makes it difficult to grow in the UK. In the coming weeks, it should produce racemes of pea-like flowers – although it is known to be a little fussy about bearing flowers in our climate!

“Returning from the top of the garden along Bishop Rudd’s Walk, Enkianthus campanulatus ‘Red Bells’ provides a worthy background to blooms of white Trillium grandiflora. This low maintenance, ericaceous shrub has reached its peak this week; its dense clusters of bell-shaped flowers have been enjoyed by bees in warm sunshine. In the Upper Walled Garden, springtime vines have lost their flowers and made way for Wisteria sinensis var. sinensis f. alba, which is beautifully offset by the white-splashed tips of Actinidia kolomikta’s variegated leaves. In the Sunken Garden, Aesculus pavia ‘Atrosanguinea’s panicles of red-pink flowers, offset by bright green leaves, beckon hot summer colours. It has been a lovely week to work in the garden.” 

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