The stars of early spring

The weather isn’t playing ball this year, it continues to be mainly cold, wet and windy. Yet seemingly in defiance, the transformation in the garden is picking up pace, and there’s a sense of anticipation despite the somewhat uninspiring conditions.

It’s the same every year, the undisputed star of early spring in my garden is Clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’, which spreads 7 metres or so across our south-facing old brick wall. I love the wall as much as the clematis, and there seems to be a harmonious blending of soft pinkish colours going on here.

Normally it’s buzzing with bees, but this year I have only seen one or two. I wonder what this means.

In front of the clematis wall, marking the start of the little area I call the glade, is a glorious shrub, Viburnum carlesii, also known as Korean Spice. To my mind sweet rather than spicy, the blossoms emit a powerful heady scent that floods the garden. This hasn’t happened yet but I find the tightly packed pink buds adorable.

Here’s a close-up of one just about to burst open.

This is such an easy to grow shrub, requiring just an occasional trim, and it also has glorious autumn colour. It definitely earns its place.

A couple of weeks ago I showed you the emerging buds of this unusual Japanese maple, Acer Palmatum ‘Katsura’. Here it is now. It looks good with the woody colours of the logs I grabbed from the tree surgeon – these might eventually end up in the glade. My Belgian friend suggested I add a ‘lutin’ to complete the scene – I learnt a new word in French, lutin means elf/sprite/goblin. Am not sure that I’ll do that!

I moved two out of my three Japanese maples into pots so I could give them the conditions they like – lightly dappled shade, shelter and a slightly acidic growing medium. The second potted maple is only just unfurling:

Similar rich colours from the emerging peony shoots. These have multiplied in numbers so that’s very promising. They do flop over terribly when in flower so I will need to support these soon with twiggy sticks.

In more good news, I have seen lots of ladybirds sheltering among leaves and shoots, including in this furry new growth of Hydrangea quercifolia. Ladybirds are of course hugely helpful in eating aphids, which weaken plants by sucking the sap.

I live in hope that the weather will eventually improve – nothing ever stays the same – although next week they forecast freezing temperatures again so this means I will need to protect any emerging vegetable seedlings at the allotment.

This post forms part of the Six on Saturday collective of garden bloggers, a click on the link will take you to our host Jim at Garden Ruminations where you will find many more treasures.

14 thoughts on “The stars of early spring

  1. Fabulous clematis armandii ! The flowers are early, but the bees still seem to be sleeping here because it’s windy and rather cold. I’ll have to take a look at that viburnum

  2. Gosh, your Viburnum carlesii is way ahead of mine. In fact, I’m now wondering if mine has survived. I’ll have to go out and inspect it later once some warbler or other has finished flitting around near there. That clematis is a show.

    1. Interesting, I noticed your plants are normally ahead of mine but not in the case of the Viburnum – they do survive Korean winters though which I imagine are quite chilly!

  3. Fabulous ‘Apple Blossom’ and I have wall envy! You have a very pink spring whereas mine tends to be dominated by yellow. It is so nice to see things beginning to grow again whatever the colour.

    1. I avoided photographing the yellow forsythia – I can’t abide it but it’s still somehow here – but I do like other shades of yellow, daffs for example are allowed!

  4. What a wonderful combination the Viburnum and clematis make! Easy to see why that corner is magical!
    I need to think of ways to attract the ladybirds. I haven’t used chemicals for about three years, yet they don’t seem to be in the garden.

    1. Thanks Padraig, elves aplenty! Maybe the ladybirds need a little habitat – tuck a pile of twigs, dead leaves and hollow stems in a quiet corner and they may come.

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