Spring in the garden

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Talking about this year’s gardens, it would be easy to concentrate on what’s not happening, rather than what should or could be.

But how many times can you remember all the spring bulbs – snowdrops, crocuses, Iris reticulata, daffodils, early tulips – even grape hyacinths – all flowering at once? Quite a spectacle in one of our borders.

We should be seeing the first of the spring blossoming trees opening their petals, but apart from our native sloe and one or two early flowering plum varieties, they are not even showing their buds.

Herbaceous perennials are hardly through the ground, but the early flowering pansies are beginning to make an effort.

Assuming that the weather will one day improve, what we are likely to see is a profusion of spring plants – crab apples, flowering cherries, laburnum, early summer perennials and spring bedding – all in bloom at the same time, so get your cameras ready.

The one plant which hasn’t let us down this unusual season is the hellebore.

Whether you have magnificent hybrids such as Pirouette or the “cheap and cheerful” seedlings of the Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis), they have all flowered their socks off.

Many species of hellebore seed themselves with promiscuous abandon, so, unless you are an obsessively tidy gardener and pull out every “weed”, one plant of H. orientalis can provide you with dozens of new plants in every shade from pure white, through pink, to deep maroon.

There are some excellent specimens in garden centres at the moment; if you plant now and leave the seed heads on, you will be well on your way to your own collection.