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Waves of blossom wash through the garden
THE petals of early blossom trees and shrubs have fallen for another year, dainty Amelanchier and rampant wild plum stepping into the shadows once again.
Luckily the next chorus is waiting in the wings and ready to do their stuff as they move up to the footlights and have their moment of annual glory.
Our garden has been planted by the previous owner for wonderful spring blossom and we are so lucky to benefit from her years of work. The blossom begins in January with fragrant winter honeysuckle and mahonia and continues well into May with lilac and hawthorn.
Along the way is apple blossom, bird eye cherry, cherry plum and several species of viburnum, as well as other specimens I have yet to identify. It has been a steep learning curve since we arrived here 18 months ago.
Evergreen Viburnum tinus has bloomed on and off since the winter with clusters of fragrant white flowers nestling among the glossy dark leaves. This is a good workhorse in the garden, useful both as a dense hedge and a specimen small tree. Hedges should be pruned immediately after the main flowering time, which is usually in April or May, to encourage plenty of new growth. A specimen tree will require lighter trimming and as it grows taller the lower stems can be removed to lift the canopy and reveal the trunk.
Viburnum davidii is another evergreen member of the family with long dark green leaves and strange dull flowers that sit on the top of the foliage. It seems a rather heavy, lumpy looking plant but an overgrown specimen can, like Viburnum tinus, be cut into a more interesting specimen by opening out the plant with careful removal of individual stems and clearing away all side shoots from the main two or three stems coming from the ground.
Not all of the viburnum family are evergreen and one at its most beautiful at the moment is Viburnum x carlcephalum. This is a more open shrub with long stems six feet or more tall in a mature specimen and wonderfully fragrant flowers, pink in bud and opening into white.
The grey-green foliage sometimes produces autumn colour before falling. It will grow in most situations in moist soil, the flowers looking especially good in lightly shaded spots. A young plant can be trained as a wall shrub, the stems tied to a support while they are still pliable.
WE HAVE a golden hop that is years old and which travelled with us from our last garden. It is grown in a large metal dustbin and seems quite happy to have its growth restricted in this way, which
is lucky as this plant will take over a garden in one season if planted out in a bed.
Now is the time to get the stems tied to their support before they become tangled with each other, since this plant will put on an enormous amount of growth this month. It will climb up fence posts or into shrubs and trees with no help, but needs more encouragement to grow horizontally to cover a wall or fence.
Wires fixed along the length of the area to be covered are ideal, the stems will need to be wound along by hand every couple of days to keep them in order, but it is worth the effort for in a few weeks the whole area will be covered in large yellow green leaves and even some hops at the end of the summer.
In aid of the National Gardens Scheme
56, Hull Road, Cottingham, HU16 4PU, on the north west edge of Hull. 1/3-acre suburban garden with mature trees and shrubs, mixed borders, a pergola with an old wisteria, formal pond, fernery, gravel garden and plenty of seating areas. The garden features many spring bulbs in May. Open 1pm to 4.30pm, admission £3.
24, Red Bank Road, off Whitcliffe Lane, Ripon, HG4 2LE. Plant enthusiast’s small garden planted for year round interest with raised beds, rockeries and gravel, alpines, a wide variety of perennials including species peonies and shrubs chosen to cope with dry sun and dry shade. Open 2pm to 6pm, admission £2.50. Also open Wednesday May 16.
Stillingfleet Lodge, Stewart Lane, Stillingfleet, YO19 6HP, six miles south of York off the B1222. Large garden with a wild flower meadow, natural pond, 55-yard double herbaceous borders and a modern rill garden. Near the house the garden is divided into smaller areas each based on a colour theme with an emphasis on foliage plants. Open 1pm to 5pm, admission £4.50 adult, 50p child 5yrs-15yrs.
Oswaldkirk Hall, Oswaldkirk, YO62 5XT, four miles east of Helmsley. Four-acre garden on a slope with steps leading from the terrace to a lawn, ha-ha and mature copper beeches. There is also a kitchen garden, stumpery, herbaceous borders, white and herb gardens and views across the valley to the Howardian Hills. Open 1pm to 5pm, admission £3.50.
• 24, Red Bank Road, Ripon, details above.
gardening tv and radio
8am, BBC Radio Humberside, The Great Outdoors. With Blair Jacobs and Doug Stewart.
9am, BBC Radio Leeds, Tim Crowther and Joe Maiden.
2pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. Panellists Bob Flowerdew, Pippa Greenwood and Matthew Wilson visit Malvern Spring Gardening Show together with chairman Eric Robson. The gardening weather forecast is at 2.40pm.
3pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. Eric Robson chairs the discussion from Thornbury in south Gloucestershire where he is joined by horticultural experts Chris Beardshaw, Bob Flowerdew and Bunny Guinness. Anne Swithinbank revisits a listener’s garden and the gardening weather forecast is at 3.40pm.
8.30pm, BBC2, Gardeners’ World. Monty Don looks at planting bearded iris and water lilies, Carol Klein looks at the world of ferns and there is an update on the novice gardeners at Didcot army barracks.
Saturday, May 19.
7am, BBC Radio York, Julia Booth. Presenter Julia holds her weekly plant surgery with horticulturist Nigel Harrison.