Wonders of the Woodland Floor

By Dave Hand, Assistant Head Gardener

After staring upwards at the stunning Magnolia blooms, let’s take a break and focus our gaze for a minute at the woodland floor.  Drifts of delicate, intricate and exotic spring flowers are taking advantage of the spring light available before the trees come into leaf.  So many familiar favourites are carpeting Jubilee woods and Bishop Rudd including, Anemone nemerosa (Wood anemones) nestled in clumps at the base of trees and the oddly captivating Trilluims with their 3 petal flowers in whites, dusky reds, and yellows and Erythroniums (dog’s tooth violets), these little sculptural works of art vary in form, and colour, leaf marbling.

When I first came to Aberglasney, I thought I knew a reasonable number of woodland plants, however, I soon went on a journey of discovery, with fellow gardener Wil pointing out to me Sanguinera canadensis f.multiplex plena (Blood root), short lived, but spectacular, the double white flowers resemble small waterlilies. This hardy perennial exudes a red sap which was used as a dye and medicine by native Indians. Then there is the Chinese perennial Mukdenia rossii ‘Karasuba’. This clump forming perennial produces 30cm (12”) white flowers spikes from coral flower buds in March/ April followed by bronze tinted maple shaped leaves.  And if you are still looking for something white and bright to plant for early spring, try Pachyphragma macrophyllum, a member of the cabbage family, it’s clusters of white flowers emerge after the snowdrops fade to light up any shady woodland floor for many weeks.

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